I forgot how hard it is to blog with my phone. Maybe the webmaster (i.e. me) should look into enabling some kind of mobile-friendly interface.
After wrapping up some rather hairy issues at work, I had begun to mentally check out around 4pm. The euphoria of going on holiday didn't actually hit until I was out of the building and walking home in that familiar Wellington damp and darkness. I find travel exciting, even by myself, and I'm looking forward to all the delicious Malaysian food and of course, seeing family and friends whom I haven't seen in three years.
Oh food. The holiday has already started out well on the food front. I got a Zinger Double Down from KFC last night. I should get some KFC from Malaysia too, they have hot and spicy all year round and the chickens are much bigger and more succulent than what you can find here. Of course I will be wanting my laksas and cendols and kuihs too!
Sitting here in the middle of the check in plaza surrounded by all the duty free shops is somehow surprisingly serene. Some sound speaker is emitting native bird chirps every ten seconds or so. Unlike the last time I was here for my US trip, my flight plan is pretty straightforward and documentation is minimal. I've got people to take care of me at the other end so I'm not really worried about anything going wrong.
Unless there's some of those waterspouts that were over the harbour yesterday.
Okay I just checked, the weather is looking pretty good at the moment.
I'll try to blog a bit and I'll post some highlights on Facebook. Stay tuned for more!
The word "home" in English commonly means one's place of residence or a geographical area that one identifies with as their place of belonging. When I talk about home, my home is in Wellington, where I work and live. When I talk about home, my home is in Auckland, where I grew up and lived for 20 years of my life. When I talk about home, it's odd because I'm using the word in a way that many Malaysian expats will use it - our "home" is Malaysia. When we go back "home", we're returning to the motherland; and though I am officially a New Zealand citizen, Malaysia will always affectionately be "home", because it's where I was born.
The last time I was back in Malaysia was Christmas 2009/New Years 2010. It was full of fond memories... much of it spent enjoying the fantastic food, but also a great excursion to China and Hong Kong, and of course, seeing family that I had not seen in over 7 years. I'm always looking forward to long haul trips, and I can't wait to catch up with everyone and eat everything. People often have a list of things to buy or things to see when they go overseas - when you go to Malaysia, you have a list of things to eat. Whether it be the aroma of durian from pasar malam, or the anticipation as your favourite roadside cendol is prepared, or cooling off with some barley water as you wait for the bak kut teh or yong tau foo to arrive, or playing mahjong while your auntie prepares her famous nasi lemak - my favourite memories about Malaysia are often associated with food. It is such an important part of our culture and who we are.
It's been a while since I last blogged... Robot Unicorn Attack 2 has been out for almost a month now and is doing very well, with over three million downloads the last time I checked. We also released Turbo Racing League, a snail racer based off the DreamWorks Animation movie due out in July. Work has continued to be busy as I wrap up my duties before I leave for holiday.
At the start of the month I was in Auckland for Reuben and Shereen's wedding. Though the rain was torrential, the ceremony and reception were fantastic and it was great to catch up with people and celebrate the marriage of two of my good friends. I got to play piano at KCC's Sunday service and had a great time, and I got to see my nephew as well. It was a rushed weekend, but thoroughly enjoyable. The following weekend, Surya had made his way down to Wellington after graduating in a Masters of Science, so we went out for dinner at Ozeki and milk tea at Noah's Ark.
Finally, a decent milk tea place!
I went ice skating last night with Amy, Mitchell and Chloe. I was surprised at how good they were - it never really occurred to me that they had such hidden talents! The last time I had been ice skating was probably 10 years ago, at Sunway Pyramid in Malaysia, so it was a very awkward start to getting back on the ice. I've never really been one to ice skate or rollerblade or do anything graceful like that, so for most of the hour I was clumsily flailing like a moron around the rink. Despite my frantic yelling and panicked expressions, I had a good time and was proud that I bailed only once during the time I was there, and furthermore, only Mitchell was around to witness my elegant barrel roll, from which I recovered quickly and nonchalantly resumed skating.
It's now only four more sleeps until my flight back "home". Still many things to sort out and people to catch up with before I leave - exciting times ahead!
Early last year, after finishing Extinction Squad, we began development of Robot Unicorn Attack 2. I did a few bits and pieces on our store tech before jetting off to the US for a month holiday. Upon my return, I had found out that I'd been put onto Rise of the Guardians Dash n Drop instead, and there I stayed for five months. It wasn't until the start of this year that I was put back on RUA2 to take over as lead programmer while Thomas shifted onto another project. The past four months have been challenging but I know the team, myself included, are extremely proud to have the game finally out on the App Store. We've hit #1 on the Canadian store, #2 in the US, #3 in Finland and #4 in the New Zealand and Poland stores, and have had several glowing reviews and Apple features to boost our rankings and downloads.
I saw Iron Man 3 last Wednesday. I felt it was better than Iron Man 2 (which I saw for the first time the previous day), but it was pretty much still the same old cheesy action movie. Nevertheless, it was fun and enjoyable, and there was a good Avengers tie-in at the end of the credits, so make sure you sit and wait for that. Congratulations to my friends at Weta who worked on the movie!
Following that, we convened at CGR Merchant & Co for a few drinks to count down the time until RUA2's release at midnight on the New Zealand store, and then to Hadley's house since all the bars closed at midnight for ANZAC day. I had a big day ahead so I didn't stay too long after midnight.
Though Thursday began quite overcast and showery at times, the sunlight slowly broke through and produced some great summery weather. We were out at Eastbourne for an explore around Pencarrow Lighthouse and Lake Kohangapiripiri. The trail is about 8km one way, so the trek there and back took us the whole afternoon. There are some magnificent views of the Wellington region and the South Island from Pencarrow Head, and the deep blue seas reflecting the brilliance of the skies above only made the scenery better. There are numerous goats and sheep around the hills as well, and because the area is so exposed from the south, the winds were excitingly blustery. A day well spent, but I was so tired from the exercise that I was asleep by 9.30pm.
Work will continue being busy for the next month or so, and then I'll be off to Malaysia for two weeks for my cousin's wedding. Woohoo!
...has been absolutely manic. Following on from February's packed schedule, I had events on each weekend in March. After our failed comet viewing attempts at Makara, we decided we'd keep going back for the fantastic night sky and the shooting stars. As winter settles in, the sunsets become earlier and the skies become cloudier still, so we're taking each opportunity as it comes, and we've never been disappointed.
Well maybe that one time when Chloe and I saw all the shooting stars and Mitchell missed like, seven of them. Zing!
Apart from our frequent trips out to the west coast, I've been at Tom and Astrid's pirate-themed engagement and housewarming celebration, as well as Dale and Bec's engagement party. I went bowling at Bowlarama for Jono and Karlyn's farewell, checked out Pete and Bronwyn's new house, saw some dragonboating and did some Shufflin' and Gangnam Style at Luba's D-themed birthday party.
I spent Easter up in Auckland, catching up with the old KCC gang and getting some good old milk tea from Momo's with Sam and Jo, who have now relocated to Melbourne. I played Dominion, 7 Wonders, Citadels and Dixit. I spent a day at Auckland Zoo with my nephew, checking out all that has changed since I was last there 15 years ago. There was curry and steak and seafood... and more steak, and more seafood. Easter was full of great people and delicious food.
The following weekend, we made our way down to the South Island for Matt and Clare's wedding at Peel Forest. Having never been to the South Island before (gasp!), we went for an epic road trip that spanned 1,500km over three days.
First leg of our journey was Wellington to Picton on the 2.30am Bluebridge Ferry. We secured a private cabin for ourselves so we could get some sleep for the long drive ahead. We were expected to land at Picton at 6.30am but they lost power to the main engine and that delayed us until 8am - a blessing in disguise as we managed to get that little bit extra sleep.
We hit Picton just as the sun began to rise over the islands of Queen Charlotte Sound and started the drive to Nelson. The sounds were misty from the early morning, and the water totally still and glass-like. We picked up some breakfast at Havelock - a bacon and egg pie for me - and reached sunny Nelson around 10am. We continued on to Murchison where we had lunch, then crossed over to the east coast via Lewis Pass. The scenery through Lewis Pass is so diverse, with forests, rivers, mountains, snow and barren desert all visible in the space of a two hour drive. We had a quick squizz around Hanmer Springs (not enough time to relax at the pools unfortunately) and made our way to Christchurch for dinner. With sunset rapidly approaching, we picked up the pace and headed out to Peel Forest.
Peel Forest is in the middle of nowhere. It was only on Friday morning that we realised that our accommodation was called "Peel Forest Ecolodge". It was so "eco". No flushing toilets (ugh compost), wasp infestation in the main room, five minute walk through moderate bush from the carpark and cold bunk beds. Even the beds on the ferry were better. I mean, it would have been fine if we were there for a camping trip but we weren't - we were there for a wedding and we needed modern amenities. We arrived around 11pm, after many difficulties finding the place, and passed out.
We were up around 8am and headed out to Lake Tekapo, only 90 minutes drive away. The day was overcast and the usually azure lake reflected the greys of the sky. We stopped by the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd and admired the grandeur of the Southern Alps in the distance, with its sprinkling of snow clearly visible. We hurried back to Peel Forest for the wedding.
The church was tiny, fitting maybe 80 people at full capacity, but nevertheless the ceremony was lovely; both the bride and groom tearing up at various points in the service. The reception was in a marquee at Peel Forest Lodge, where we had quite possibly the best rare steak ever. Juicy, succulent and tasty - everything that meat should be. After hitting the dance floor (yet more Shufflin' and Gangnam Stylin'), we adjourned to the lodge in anticipation of another long drive the next day. I could not help but admire the crystal clear skies from the Ecolodge (we were in the middle of nowhere, afterall) and spent about 30 minutes staring up at the heavens. The Milky Way was quite visible, as were many familiar southern hemisphere constellations. And in a moment of pure magic, there was a shooting star across the sky!
We were grateful for the extra hour of sleep from Daylight Savings, and we left the Ecolodge for Christchurch. We let Google navigate us to Cathedral Square, but the effects of the devastating earthquake have rendered many of the city center's roads off-limits. We parked near the closed Rydges hotel and wandered around a bit, looking at all the grim sites of rubble and destruction. We followed the Avon River down to the new shipping container mall, which had a nice vibrant atmosphere and was bustling with buskers and filled with Sunday morning coffee aromas. We had a quick brunch in Upper Riccarton before taking State Highway 1 to Kaikoura.
Kaikoura's awesome. The peninsula boasts some fantastic views of the mountains to the west and Pacific Ocean to the east, and right down by the coast, one can enjoy some delectable seafood from the world famous Original Kaikoura Seafood Barbeque shack. I had a seafood chowder and whitebait fritter, but people on other tables had splashed out for some grilled crayfish. Yum! A few minutes driving north, we stopped at Ohau Point to take a look at the adorable seal pups swimming upstream under State Highway 1 towards the local waterfall, before continuing the journey to Blenheim and Picton to take the return ferry.
We arrived in Picton with plenty of time to spare and had some takeaways before boarding the ferry. The boat ride to Wellington was as smooth as the trip over, and in three hours we were back on the North Island.
It feels like summer's definitely on its last legs. While today is cold from the southerlies and dull, grey and overcast like only a Monday could be, yesterday was magnificently warm and sunny.
I took a chance. Yesterday was the southern hemisphere's last chance at seeing Comet Panstarrs in the sky. I knew it would be very low in the horizon and we still might not be able to see it through the twilight brilliance, but I recruited a crew and we bundled a picnic dinner in my car and headed back to Makara.
We went up Opau Bay Road to check out the wind turbine farm first. The area boasts some fantastic westward views of the South Island and the vast sea beyond. If you head out on the Short Turbine Walk, you'll walk past a lone turbine standing guard over the ridge between Opau Bay and Makara Beach. From here, you can look back at the turbine farm and get a sense of their majesty; a true representation of how technology and nature can be harmonious. There's not much else to do at that side and the gates close at 6pm during summer, so we headed off. One day we might return when it's really windy to see what it's like...
Down at Makara, there were plenty of other beachgoers taking advantage of the great weather. We unloaded our food and began our walk on the track to embattlements. We arrived with good time, and after dinner, Jordan guarded base camp and read his book while Mitchell, Chloe and I went for a quick explore around the hill. We found a lot of sheep poop.
Sunset was at 7.50pm yesterday, and in amongst the self-photographs, we watched as the sun dipped behind the mountains of the South Island. The glow of dusk began to illuminate the hills around us, but this soon gave way as the first star of the night, Sirius, became visible. Looking to the west, the horizon was still too bright to see any signs of Panstarrs. By now, several more stars were appearing in the night sky - Orion and Taurus in the north with Jupiter, the Southern Cross out to the east above the aura of Wellington's light pollution, and the dim fuzziness of the Milky Way becoming more prominent as time passed.
And then came...our first shooting star of the night!
Oh the magic of shooting stars.
We saw another two during our time there. It would have been around 9.30pm when we decided to call it a night and we began the drive back to Wellington. Much to Jordan's bemusement, a wild possum appeared in the middle of the road and I stopped the car so he could try and photograph it. It looked him timidly, and then scurried off along the ditch by the road. He tried to follow it, but it eventually clambered up the hill to safety, away from the intrusive paparazzi lens.
The days are shortening and the southerlies are definitely more noticeable. Summer has paved the way for autumn, though we may still see some more of that warm sunshine that we were blessed with this year.
Comet Pan-STARRS has been supposedly visible in southern hemisphere skies for the past week or so. Always in search for an adventure, I recruited Mitchell, Chloe and Hayden (while he was down here) and we went out to Owhiro Bay to see if we could spot the comet. No such luck, as we presume the southwestern hills around Red Rocks were in the way. We headed out to Titahi Bay, but still no luck. Today, we drove to Makara but there were still hills in the way; we decided we weren't going to leave without a quick exploration of the area, so we followed the track to Opau Bay and the wind turbine farm for about 15 minutes, putting us just over the western ridge of Makara beach and giving us splendid views of the Tasman Sea. As night fell, we gazed aimlessly at the stars, watching the brilliance of Jupiter in the north and seeing the Milky Way arching overhead. Then, in a moment of sheer magic, we caught two shooting stars streaking across the northern sky!
But no comet. Oh well.
Last weekend was pretty busy for me. Mark's last day with us was on Friday, and we had a "final" game of Battlestar Galactica. With Rob's horrendous dice rolling putting the humans dangerously low on population count, it looked like Team Cylon - Mark and myself, and Mitchell, kinda - might have clinched victory, but some sweet blind jumping from Jordan netted a destination 3 card which put them on the home stretch. Not about to be outdone, I shot Rob in the face and caused Tim to die in the same turn, but sadly that wasn't enough to pull morale down to 0. It all rested on a final dice roll, and Team Human took away the victory with a strong 8 roll. Epic!
After our regular Saturday morning badminton, I met Damon, Joe, Chloe and Mitchell for some hot drinks at Milk Crate, and we relocated to Caffe L'affare for brunch. Afterwards, the group minus Damon visited Jos and Ian at Garage Project headquarters, before heading home to find Smudge - with little success. We trekked over to Central Park to play on the swings and flying fox, but there was some kid's birthday party going on and it felt awkward just shoving them off the playground, so we went our separate ways. I met up with Damon, Joe and Mitchell again for dinner at Oriental Thai, and we joined Alan and Aaron at their place by Chaffers Docks, right where Homegrown was on. Rocking times!
We had an "autumnal celebration" barbeque at the Treehouse, full of fantastic meats everywhere - my kilogram of roast pork that I had purchased from Yan's was very popular. There were sausages and skewers and steaks to be had, and for dessert, Charlotte's scheming resulted in a deliciously moist and rich chocolate cake with fancy sparkly candles, decorated as if it was someone's birthday celebration.
It's going to be a busy month, with both my work and social calendars full of events and deadlines to meet. Looking forward to time off over Easter, then the South Island trip early next month!
That's okay though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the fun times and the awesome people I've been hanging out with over the past two weekends. Now is the time to make the most of the sun before it fades away behind the abysmal weather so typical of Wellington for ten months of the year. Summer has been great and it's sad (if not alarming) that it is March very, very soon.
Last weekend, we went out to Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt to watch some jousting after badminton. It's not particularly like what you would imagine (or what Hollywood would have you imagine). The tips of the jousting lances are fragile and break easily, and are colour-coded for each person. The idea is to land a hit against your opponent (with rules around where you can and can't hit - no hitting the horse!) and points are given based off aforementioned criteria. As the lances break, the resulting fragments are clearly identified by their colour to assist in the judging. There were also longbow displays and sword fighting re-enactments, but none as exciting as the jousting.
The next day, we were out at Adrenaline Forest in Porirua for part one of Ben's birthday celebration. Swinging, climbing, gliding and shuffling (often struggling) our way through the treetops proved quite the physical challenge at times; not so much the mental challenge I was expecting since I was so focused on the obstacles, I barely had time to look down at the ground. Unlike previous ropes courses I'd been on, this one is more individually managed so you clip yourself onto safety ropes to traverse the trees instead of being belayed by a group of people on the ground. Additionally, you're equipped with your own pulley and hook system so you can clip yourself onto the wire and ride the gradient to the other side with some gravitational help. There's some great Indiana Jones-type swings, including one into a large spider web of ropes on course six!
Part two was competitive go-karting - teams of two doing 30 laps each. Jordan and I paired up to deliver a relatively unrisky and consistent display that landed us fourth place out of eight (not last, yay!). The karts supposedly reach 50kph and handle pretty well, though my skidding and sliding were not as masterful as I would have liked. I kept feeling like I was going to topple the kart over. There were fortunately no coloured turtle shells on the track.
I went for an improv show at the Gryphon Theatre on Ghuznee St, then to dinner at the Matterhorn on Friday night. I was last at the Matterhorn in 2009 and they have changed the menu and the style of eating since. The intention is that you order a selection of plates to share instead of having individual meals. Essentially it is like yum cha, except ten times the price. We found the concept complicated and were a bit nervous when the waitress asked us if she could have the authority to place food on our tab without our explicit permission. We shared some oysters with champagne sorbet, crispy pig tails, deer fillet with blackberry, potatoes with roast almonds and various other plates that I can't recall off the top of my head. The company was great and the food was good, but the messy logistics put me off and wouldn't recommend it - would have been much better if we had just had individual meals and maybe some sides to share.
Yesterday after badminton, we had the PikPok Barbeque at the Mt Victoria Lawn Bowls club. It was a family-friendly event, with a kids-only bouncy castle (much to the disappointment of many of my workmates), face painting and board games available. There was of course the lawn bowls outside, and in defiance of the Wellington wind, beer pong on a table decked out with some fantastic Flick Kick Football artwork. Time passed quickly and it got a bit chilly around 6pm so I left for another barbeque out in Island Bay with my church's family group. Though it was a brief event, it was good to catch up with various people and I was absolutely smitten with the two guinea pigs called Pip and Squeak. I ended the day over at Andrew's flat in Roseneath, taking one hour to set up a new board game called CO2 and three hours to play. Would not recommend.
Finally, to finish it off, I celebrated Chap Goh Mei, the last day of Chinese New Year, at Big Thumb in style, with plates of chicken, pork and seafood in dumplings, buns, rice noodles and deep fried!
Though we don't have the fireworks and fantastic lion and dragon dance displays that the Auckland Lantern Festival provides, I've had fun celebrating Chinese New Year in my own way. This will be memorable for years to come.
Though I've just had a five day weekend, I feel exhausted from all the people I've caught up with over the past few days. It's been an enjoyable Chinese New Year celebration, seeing both family and friends over my time up in Auckland.
It is tradition to have Reunion Dinner on Chinese New Year. This is when all members of the family gather for a meal to bring in the new year; though the rules are a bit more relaxed as family members tend to be more dispersed around the world these days, the reason and meaning remains the same. My parents cooked some delicious food on Wednesday (we didn't even celebrate it on the real New Years Eve!), each dish symbolising various aspects of well-wishing that are common at the New Year - prosperity, abundance, wealth and happiness.
I caught up with Melbourne Dave on Thursday in town. We walked around the waterfront and Wynyard Quarter, we visited Moustache and for old times' sake, trudged up the hill to Albert Park and the University of Auckland. Seems like not much has changed, though there's some heavy construction around the Maths/Physics and CompSci buildings. Dave is doing well and it was great to catch up and see him, and hopefully one of these days I will make it over to Melbourne to visit him and the other people I know there!
I had lunch at the ever-delectable Tatsumi in Newmarket on Friday with my step-mum and grandmother. Never failing to disappoint, the "deluxe lunch" option with three main dishes, appetisers and a petite dessert was delightfully satisfying. Friday night went until 3am, visiting Jay's Tea on Dominion Road and playing 7 Wonders with the guys.
Saturday was relaxing, doing absolutely nothing all day except mowing the lawns in the early evening. I tried to organise something at night since my parents were out at a party, but unfortunately most of my friends were having their own reunion dinners and nothing eventuated.
After church at KCC and lunch at My Kitchen on Dominion Road, I spent the rest of Sunday playing more 7 Wonders. Some pretty grim low-resource games at the end, but fun nonetheless. Okay not really fun, but it was good to catch up with people, and next time I'll teach them about the Leaders expansion.
Did you know it's been five years since I moved to Wellington? I've been at my job for longer than I was at University. Time has gone by so quickly, with people coming and going in and out of my life. I remember this hilarious and thoughtful but a bit disturbing music video that the guys had made for me before I left for Wellington. It was to the Spice Girls' Goodbye, which has the lyrics "Goodbye my friend....it's not the end...so glad we made it, time will never change it". The weekend reminded me of how strong our friendships have remained in spite of the distance between us.
It was poignant then, that the song came up as Matt drove me to the airport, since it was the last time I would see him before he moves to Taiwan. The weekend was a time to reflect on how things used to be, and on what I cherish each time I come back to Auckland for a visit. Thanks to all of you for making my weekend what it was, and blessings in the year of the snake to all of you.
The Metservice says that we're supposed to have a sunny spell for a whopping ten days in a row. Not sure if this is unprecedented for Wellington, but it certainly seems like something novel since I've been here. Plenty of things have been happening to take advantage of the summer weather!
After badminton yesterday, I celebrated Australia Day with a few of my workmates with a low-key barbeque. There was plenty of fine meats to be had, and lots of good old fashioned Australian racism too (JOKE). I was sad I couldn't stay for longer as I had to rush to the Sprig and Fern for Matt and Claire's engagement party. Good to catch up with people and form some sort of plan for the trip down south in April. Looking forward to it!
Last weekend was Wellington anniversary, and I went to the Game Master exhibition at Te Papa with Jordan and Loic. Highly recommend it and had heaps of fun there - there's an impressive collection of video games there dating back to the old arcade-style games to the newest consoles - Wii, PS3 and Xbox360 - and with the advent of mobile gaming in the past few years, some iOS and Android games as well. I was blown away by how well some of the arcade games had aged; while some were very difficult to play, they're still incredibly fun and it was interesting to play them with their original control schemes - joysticks and track balls galore.
The exhibition really brought back the nostalgia, with Sonic 1, Sonic 2 and Super Mario Brothers showcasing the pinnacle of platformers in the 1990s, and in comparison how these IPs have evolved and branched out to Sonic Generations in 3D on the Playstation 3 (though I was having a bad time with this) and New Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo DS. Moving on from the Sega and the Nintendo sections, there was Blizzard (Starcraft 2 and Warcraft III), Will Wright (Sim City... and then his later games like Spore and The Sims which I didn't care about), Tim Schafer (Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island), a large open area for Dance Central, Singstar and Rockband, then a section for Indie games and mobile games, including Castle Crashers, Braid, Flower, Flow, Journey, Minecraft, Fruit Ninja Kinect, Jetpack Joyride, Chopper 2 and of course, Sidhe's own brick-breaking phenomenon, Shatter!
There was some kid playing Shatter when I arrived and he was playing it wrong. I suggested he hit the Right Ctrl button to unleash Shard Storm against the first boss, but he ignored me and continued being wrong. Jerk.
I have been playing Sonic 4 for a while, which I bought on Steam over Christmas, and like Sonic Generations at Game Masters, I was having a bad time with it. The physics are all wrong and there's no sense of momentum in the game. The trajectory of Sonic as he runs and jumps feels difficult and nothing like what his good old 16-bit days felt like. Though the game is pretty, it simply doesn't compare to Sonic 2 or Sonic 3 on the Genesis, and it's a pity that the series has devolved to this state. Frustrated from this experience, I turned to Lego Lord of the Rings. The game has some great humour and lots of content, but is quite easy and the first few stories can feel tedious and grindy. I've progressed to the point where I have lots of abilities, so it's much more interesting and fun now.
Works has been going well. Before I left for the US, I was supposed to be on a particular "barfing rainbows" project; I was reassigned onto Rise of the Guardians on my return and since its completion in November, I have been maintaining the company's core code base - as well as the fantastic Game Jam week we had to finish the year. Though the barfing rainbows project was also supposed to finish in November, it's been extended until March and I'm fortunate enough to be put back on that project. Most of the game is there and functioning, but it's a very valuable IP so we want to make sure that the metagame and the UI system are high quality and well polished. Looking forward to seeing this out on the App Store!
First post of the new year. Not quite back at work yet - my past self was wise enough to apply for these first three days off as time in lieu. My sleep schedule is all wrong and I'm still quite tired.
New Year's Eve was really nice. I had some friends over for a potluck dinner which turned out to be a feast of meats and deliciousness. There was ample food to go around and plenty of leftovers for the next day. We played a few games of Spaceteam and Taboo before heading out to the peninsula to watch the Sky Tower's annual "worst New Years fireworks I've ever seen". We ended the night in style with a glass of strawberries in Lindauer.
It was such a fine day the next day that we met at Wing Wah for an impromptu yum cha, then went to Cornwall Park to spend the afternoon. We talked a lot about goals and resolutions for 2013 and decided that to start off the new year, it would be a great idea for Alice to go pet a sheep in the paddock. Sadly this mission failed. Nevertheless, after giving up, Alice randomly blurted out that she wanted Steamboat, and so plans were set in motion for Steamboat at mine. Awesome!
Equally as random was our decision to head out to the Pinnacles in Coromandel for a day trip trek. Planning for this took approximately 20 minutes. We met at mine at 7am and began the two hour drive to Thames, via Greenlane Countdown for some supplies and McDonalds for some breakfast. After some dusty gravel roading, we reached the base of the track around 10am. It was another brilliant day, with ample sunshine and a light breeze to keep the temperatures down. The trail led us through some classic New Zealand bush, full of beautiful greenery. We reached the Pinnacles Hut around 1pm for lunch, and then the glorious peak around 2pm for some fantastic 360 degree views of the Coromandel Peninsula. And of course the first thing people do is check their phones for 3G reception and post to Facebook. We returned to the carpark in just under 3.5 hours to start the drive home at 6pm. Despite some traffic woes along State Highway 2, we were back at mine at 9pm. Day was seized!
I spent Thursday cleaning the house in anticipation of my parents' return from Malaysia, but enjoyed yet another round of Peking Duck from Sun World with some ex-colleagues and current colleagues. Mitchell and David were feeling a bit adventurous, so we made our way into town and got some milk tea from Hulucat. Asian things that you can't get easily in Wellington :( Their taro milk tea with mango pudding is still as good as I remember.
On Friday, I was at Charlotte's house for hers and Jono's engagement party. Though it was a bit windy, the barbeque was stacked full and grilling a multitude of steaks and sausages. We did run out of gas though, so we resumed cooking on the frying pan. There was plenty of food to be had and it was great to meet the rest of the bridal party, with plans in motion for the stag do as well! Exciting times... Jono and Charlotte's wedding will be only one of three weddings I'm going to this year!
I had dinner with my parents and grandmother at Star Cafe on Manukau Road on Saturday, then went to Ben's for some games afterwards. I got to play Mafia as a real player for the first time in forever, and dominated as a civilian (bahahah). Some interesting rules in this game, I didn't quite like the voting and trial system, but thought that it was interesting that the sniper dies from guilt if he doesn't shoot a Mafia. Might just steal this for my own games ^_^
Sunday was church in the morning, Mexicali Fresh in Newmarket for lunch, DotA in the afternoon (it was grim...), a quick catch up to see my nephew before leaving, then a BBQ with the CSC at Sarah's. Good to see them, even if it only happens once, at approximately the same time each year. I felt a bit bad for turning up (almost uninvited too, trololol), eating, then rushing off to catch my flight.
And so today is Monday and even today is drawing to a close quickly (I've had two naps today). I've had a great Christmas and New Years but it's time to head back to work... soon.