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Quebec- Day 1

The idea Quebec trip first came into mind when a friend within my group of 1st year Asian Engineering students was moving to New York, and we were jokingly saying that we would visit him. Somehow, one thing led to another, and it quickly became an actual idea to go on a 3 day trip along Southern Quebec. We picked Safeway, the most Asian tourbus, which also meant we were the only group of people who were under 20, let alone 30. As a group of 6 good friends, what could possibly go wrong?

Anyways, the first day was to Montreal. First stop was a boat tour on the Thousand Islands, which had a nice sea breeze and quite scenic. After that, it was a 2 or so hour stop in Ottawa, where we went through the Mint in like 20 minutes, refused visit Parliment  due to the consensus amongst us that the building was the largest source of hot air in the country (next to city hall) and opted to see the Unknown Soldier’s tomb nearby instead (much to our tour guide’s confusion).  A stop at Gatineau to visit the civilization museum (where the best part of it next to the Japan exhibit was the kid’s section of all places), and off to Montreal we went.

Once we got to the hotel, that’s when things started to go… interesting. The original room plan was as follows:

Room 1: Me, Leo, Kenneth

Room 2: Jen, Emily, Geoffrey

Why the guy in the girl’s room? Geoffrey and Emily were dating for the last 10 months or so, and it seemed like that there wouldn’t be ANY issues about it, or so we thought.

After unpacking everything and whatnot,  I went to go meet up with Joyce, since I figured that she was in the city, and Emily had a friend of hers living nearby come over too, so why not? On my way down, I noticed Emily was crying, and her friend (Amy) and Leo were comforting her. I was told not to worry about it, and I thought it was simply a minor thing, like a small argument or something. While getting poutine (A 30 minute walk from the hotel), I noticed that the couple were acting… different. Again, I thought that it would pass.

Back in the hotel, while I was getting ice, I had (stupidly) locked myself out of the room, and had to wait until my friend would be done showering. That’s when I had some time to talk to Joyce, and that’s when the “news” dropped, which turned out to be a lot worse than I thought.

They broke up. On the first day of all appropriate times. Not surprisingly, he was gonna sleep the night at our room.

As for me, having lost a month to this bullshit earlier in the school year, decided to give as many fucks now (read: none) and downed the big bottle of Heineken I bought earlier.

Drama aside, I need to point something out: I hate Ontario’s alcohol laws. The drinking age of 19 doesn’t bother me that much, it’s that I can’t get a beer in a grocery store and would have to get it at certain locations that close WAY earlier than the former. That’s why for 18 year old me, Quebec was awesome. The feeling of being able to buy a big ass bottle of Heineken for 6 bucks at a grocery store, and be able to show real ID is quite good. As my friends explained it, I was acting like being “a kid in a candy store”. Also, self checkout hates me and my friend, our booze was double scanned as we put it away to pay for it -___-

Back to Montreal, the next morning (6 AM to be specific, with everyone getting 3 hours or less of sleep due to the newly created atmosphere). Nothing too off happened for the rest of our stay in the city. Visited the Notre Dame Basilica, nice view of the city from the top, Biodome, and the Olympic Tower, and we were off to Quebec City. But before that, lunch. ohhh man.

At the beginning of the trip, we were debating whether or not to go to the tour’s buffet lunches, which I was warned at least a few times by others that it was a bad idea in some cases. One person argued that we could be put in the middle of nowhere, so lunch it was with the tour group then. When I asked Joyce about food, she told me that Chinese food was not only generally expensive, it often tasted like crap. This buffet only proved this sentiment further. What was supposed to be lunch ended up with us complaining for an hour about all the things they screwed up on, which included, but not limited to:

– Sushi was not vinegared, and at right temperatures

– Soup which was more like water

– Jello that BOUNCED

– Some fried triangle thing that was stale to the point it was unbreakeable

By the end of lunch, I accused my friend of attempted murder, though at least they didn’t screw up on things like chow mein, and the nuggets were decent (tasted like the ones at McDs, which can be a good/bad thing).

After a year of neglecting this account….

So, I’ve realized that I haven’t wrote on here for already a whole school year. There’s probably a billion things that happened between my last post and now, but I never had the time to really write them down, mostly because… I don’t even know. Maybe because I prefer writing in short bursts, explaining my absurd surge in facebook posts over the last few months. Anyways, my first year of engineering is  (almost) ending [will get to that later], so to skimp on details, a fast recap:

–  Blog was put on hiatus during Hong Kong, despite my original anticipations of keeping regular track due to some really unforeseen circumstances (Primarily being my grandma transferred to a senior home, resulting in almost daily visits and the fact that I didn’t have real long term internet access), and not so unforeseen circumstances (example: In China for 2 weeks)

– First semester goes terribly. Near complete emotional dissociation as a result of some “certain things” going horribly wrong. My politics and film prof is a dick, a 1.8 GPA is the result and I go on probation, though not for failing any courses. Just for doing bad, which is even worse because that means I should be repeating a number of courses (only one of which I actually fully repeated, because screw liner algebra).

– Rob Ford is our dear leader. I don’t think he’ll be able to actually do much detrimental, save completely scrapping Transit City. Bastard.

– I still don’t know which cellphone to use as my primary. Cellphone collection goes up to 13. I think.

– Ski trip with fellow engineering students in February, 9 first year engineers in a single cabin with food and lots of… substances. You can imagine how this turns  out (not surprisingly, I don’t remember much of it).

– Successfuly get out of probation by the end of second semester. Awesome.

– Harper is now also our dear leader. I have no further comments.

So now I’m still short of a few courses from moving on to second year Computer engineering, and being the masochist I seem to be, I’m taking electrical circuits and Physics: Waves and fields over the spring (courses started two weeks ago, and ending in the beginning of July). For some reason, EVERYONE is conveniently making their plans of hanging out/partying etc etc around this time so I can’t go to any on them. This also means I didn’t go to Anime North this year, which sucks.

Starting from now, I’ll see if I can write more often here. It’s not an easy thing to do for me at times (I don’t think I’ve  actually written anything over 700 words for anything in general since my last post), but I’ll see what I can do. I just need to find a time where I have some free time that doesn’t involve playing TF2 or drinking my head off.

CBC in Asia: Day 1&2- Arrival, Culture Shock

Note: This was written on July 19, 2010.

Hong Kong, a former British colony with a ridiculously high population density, and with a culture that’s completely different to its mainland counterparts. Having not been there for almost five years, and me going to university in less than two months, I’m visiting Hong Kong, among some other cities, to visit my entire mother’s side of the family, before I head off to university and expect to not go back for a long while, perhaps longer than five.

Having not been to Hong Kong for so long, and becoming much more aware of Toronto as a city and the everyday things in life, culture sets in real quickly when you reach Hong Kong, in my case the moment I landed. Having never been to Hong Kong in the summer before, I immediately felt the high humidity that is Asia. In seconds, my hands go moist, despite having dry skin. Having gone through situations where my lips cracked and would not heal for the rest of the trip during the winter, it would seem that I would be able to survive the climate. Unfortunately, pollution is another issue. If the air doesn’t kill me first, then the allergens will. With ten million people relying on gas based utilities, the amount of pollution adds up, resulting in an environment where you can experience smog, high humidity, and temperatures of at least 30C all at the same time.

Then there’s the issue of language. Having been essentially whitewashed, I am generally unable to read Chinese, and can speak just enough Cantonese to survive most conversations, so the first day was to say the least odd. In fact, seeing my grandma today, the first thing she told me was (translated/paraphrased) “You don’t know Chinese, and you still tried to take a bus?” [Details later]. So communication has been hellish, though I’m slowly picking up on/remembering my vocabulary the more I talk, so I should talk more while I still can.

Meanwhile, having hung around the city for a grand total of one day (First day was at my grandparent’s apartment), I have come across a lot of differences between Hong Kong culture and Canadian culture. A quick list (Warning: Some Canadian telcom bashing ahead):

–          Everyone pays in either cash of Octopus card. Essentially, cash based society.

–          Cellphones are cheap and aplenty. $2000HKD ($250CAD) can buy most phones in the market, and rates are dirt cheap as well. I bought a China Mobile SIM at the airport, 5 cents/minute non peak time, 12 cents/minute peak time. So a penny a minute, or two pennies a minute. Beat that, Rogers/Bell/Telus. As a matter of fact, my relatives were shocked at how not everyone in Canada has a cellphone, especially when the general reason is the price.

–          There are only two companies that provide cable TV. Prices are the same, so they somewhat go through the crap we have to face in Canada (Rogers/Bell), though not as bad.

–          Can’t say much for internet, because the place I’m staying in doesn’t have internet (my aunt doesn’t have a computer, as a matter of fact), though I know for a fact that mobile internet is cheap. By the time I upload this, I’ll be surfing with a 3G USB stick. Meanwhile I also hear that people have just as many complaints as we do towards our most favourite ISPs, though not on stuff like bandwidth caps, which are non existent in HK.

–          Technology changes REALLY quickly. One of those reasons seems to be from the fact that most electronics die out quickly from a climate that’s brutal to electronics.

–          People on average carry two cellphones on them. I still don’t know why.

–          American cars rarely seen, for obvious reasons (left/right driving). According to my uncle, they generally only show up at night, so that they don’t much up traffic in the day.

–          Bus routes go everywhere, and some bad things can happen if you’re not careful. Today (July 19, 2010), I tried to take a bus which was supposed to go from Kwai Fong station to a place near Kwai Hing station, where I was supposed to go. I somehow ended up in Sha Tin from taking the 47X (OH FUCK moment was as the bus headed to the tunnel to Sha Tin). While getting lost isn’t necessarily a bad thing especially when it’s expected that staying at home is a good idea, I was supposed to visit my grandma, who’s still in the hospital right now. (getting better luckily, but she has to stay for a bit longer to make sure nothing else bad happens). I was heading to Kwai Hing to meet up with my mom. Needless to say, she was not amused, and had to head to the hospital without me. I ended up getting there 45 minutes after my mom did. Hence, the quote earlier in this post. Got bonus points (though not a lot) for taking the right route number, which my mom noted. So lesson of the day? Route numbers are half the info. Know where it’s actually going. Also, stick to the subway when possible.

–          When you’re in a store, there is a 90% chance that a salesperson will approach you at some point, and asking if you need anything.

–          Chinese people are very social. This also results in a VERY loud society, with people talking even in the subways. Oddly enough, I like the quietness in the TTC’s subways, good for sleeping.

–          Night/Day patterns are a lot different. While Toronto usually has sun until about 9-10PM. Hong Kong is pitch black by 8.I don’t know why this happens, but given the near unbearable heat, this is probably a good thing.

–          Stores close late. For example, HMV doesn’t close until 11:45PM. Everyday.

So that’s my experience, less than 48 hours after landing. I’ll see how the next few days hold out.

Summer (Part 1).

Exams were finished weeks ago, and summer began. Unfortunately, I came down with a flu like sickness (If I actually got the flu, then I failed so hard in life that I got the flu at the time of the year where you’re not supposed to have the flu) the day before my last exam (physics), and missed out on a party where apparently 80% of the gifties got smashed. Sucks, but not a huge deal, I guess.

Meanwhile, things have generally been relaxing, like any other summer: Gaming, going out for random reasons, watching movies/anime, biking from one end of the city to the other with friends, and so forth. I also got my marks back a week ago, and adding up my top 6 marks,  I just qualify for scholarship (80.0% average for top 6 marks), so I’m glad I’m not screwed over by a fraction of a mark for once. As much as I wanted to look for one, I don’t have a job to keep me busy for the summer and stop waking up at 2 in the afternoon all the time, mainly because of me leaving the country in less than a week from now, giving me a grand total of 2 weeks to work. Like anyone’s going to be happy with that.

In about a week or so, I’m heading to places in Asia over the span of 6 weeks, mostly for visiting my entire mother’s side of the family (My mother is the only family member on her side of the family that lives outside of Asia). The cities are (Don’t have the itinerary, so length of times are estimates) :

Hong Kong (2 weeks)

Tokyo (4 days)

Beijing (4 days)

Shanghai (1 week)

Hong Kong (again) (2 weeks)

Lots of places to go, and lots of chances to collapse from heat stroke. From that point, I should be updating this site much more regularly than I am right now, and will probably continue like that from then on. Due to the great firewall of China though, I might not be able to update when I reach Beijing until I get to Shanghai (relative’s VPN service) or when I get back to Hong Kong (Colonization can do some good, after all). Until then, I need to start packing.

Arbitrary Day 2010

Since sometime around February, I had made the decision to make a full switch from Digg to reddit. After adjusting to the community, one of the things I had noticed was that they had a secret santa back in December, and how it was apparently awesome. Somewhere in my head around that time, I was thinking “Damn, I missed out on something fun.”

Soon after a few months of comment posting and generally lurking around the site, I see a reddit ad saying that they were doing it again. In May (They should’ve done it so that Arbitrary day fell on July 25th, so that it would actually be possible to say it’s a Christmas in July.). Remembering the Secret Santa, I decided that I would participate in the event this time.

Surprisingly enough, /r/secretsanta is a very active community. It only has ~3000 readers, and yet it’s much more updated than other subreddits with higher numbers such as /r/anime, where there’s about ~5000 readers and with posts coming in a lot less often. Admins are great too, most of the issues that I see posted by others are dealt with really quickly, though that’s probably from what happens when you have a small, tight knit community.

After doing all of the necessary things that need to be done to join the event, my match was a redditor from South Dakota. At first, finding information on him was frustrating. Despite being a fairly active user, he originally didn’t have any information to give to me. There’s a section where you write your likes/dislikes, and that wasn’t the case. Googling his username and actual name came up with nothing, aside from the fact that he was a fan of competitive video games. After messaging him from a throaway account, I got enough info of what to get him.

One of the things that stuck to me when getting a gift was what he indirectly posted to “me”:

Dear secret santa, buy me a car as my lease is running out. Thanks.

At first, I thought it was certain that it would be impossible to get a car. The next day, though, a friend suggested that it doesn’t necessarily have to be an actual car. So I decided that I would give him an RC car.

Having had Bit Char G cars since grade 4, I figured that it wouldn’t be hard to get one. I was dead wrong. While looking for one, I found that:

  1. No one actively sells them anymore.
  2. Even if they did, they weren’t as close to what I had expected.

The ones that sold at One’s are basically old stock of the cars that no one would want ( The brand that sold the Honda Stream I sent [Caul] also made Nissan Skylines, which they obviously didn’t have), or bootleg looking Chinese cars. So I had to bite the bullet, and get the best looking one, which was the Honda Stream.

Meanwhile, I decided to put everything I would send in a hollowed out NES. Having 2 dead ones that have been essentially gathering dust since I got them, I decided to gut one. After a few days of dremeling away and struggling with superglue and nothing to clean up with but 70% rubbing alcohol, I managed to get it in a decent shape.

When I went to the post office to send the package, the original weight was 1.001kg. the problem with this was that Canada Post has a small packet option, where the maximum weight was 1.000kg. Being off by one gram, this made the shipping cost 30 dollars. Oh hell no. So after repackaging it with less packaging tape and unnecessary things, the weight came down to 0.987kg, and the price was $11.54. Go Canada Post. /s

About a week after I sent my gift, I got mine. I was given three books from a person in Coquitlam, BC:

  • Flatland
  • Neuromancer
  • All the Pretty Horses

I had no idea what the books were about aside form the third one, because of the English ISU (Didn’t pick that book, though I had considered McCarthy’s The Road when picking one), and after a bit of googling found that they were apparently awesome books. I haven’t read them yet since the days have been going haywire lately, but I will over the summer.

And yesterday, the gift that I had sent arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, he didn’t have photos, since he apparently doesn’t have a camera, but at least it made it through.

So overall, arbitrary day was pretty fun. I’m looking forward to the secret santa in December.

Happy Arbitrary Day!

Edit: Completely forgot to post a picture of the said NES. Here it is:

http://i.imgur.com/ig3t6.jpg

So…The year in a nutshell.

There’s a few more days until the end of the school year, marking the end of grade 12 and high school. Overall, it’s been a good year, with lots of dramatic things happening in between. Quick recap:

 

Fall (September-November)

– Getting a spare everyday from proedding Advanced Functions (was not supposed to happen, but did anyways)

– Tech it away, and hanging out in the STEP room

 

Winter (December- March)

– Birthday, paintballing, playing on the 360 with friends (which then promptly RRODed on New Years)

– Getting drunk on New Years

– Midterm Exams (Where I completely bombed and my marks dropped at least 3% per subject with an exam)

– SOES (lots of drama happened here, luckily not the bad kind though)

– Switch to Reddit from Digg

– Mount Tremblant

– HGSS Grinding for 2 weeks

– 2 Day suspension for router incident in the STEP room (Half of the network was inaccessible because of it.)

– Streetcar named Desire play

 

Spring (April- Now)

– Filming of “Photographs”

– Prom

– Anime North 2010 (Not as great as last year)

– Arbitrary Day on Reddit

– Cramming for exams (Which is clearly what I’m doing right now)

 

So yeah. That’s generally the year based on the things that happened (or at least most of it).

O HAI.

Made this account for no reason. Rambling will come soon.