Serenity

It was nice to get back into routine, especially after the earthquakes. Work was only out for a day and the gym was out for two days, but things have pretty much resumed normality. I'm lucky I'm not near any of the condemned or cordoned areas, but the disruption never really hit me until karaoke was in jeopardy. We ended up at New Kor for some soju-riffic fun, singing a lot of old, classic songs from their slightly antiquated song list.

Badminton was also back on, thankfully, or I would have been truly sad. The weather was gloriously sunny on Saturday but I ended up just sleeping in the afternoon and gymming quite late as a result. I spent the evening at Phil and Will's for a bit. On Sunday, I was at church for music, where I played Hallelujah in tribute to Leonard Cohen, who passed away two weeks ago. This did not go unnoticed by the congregation, and lots of people were quick to mention their appreciation after the service - and I'm so glad that I can make people smile like that.

The weather continued to be fine, so Dana, Loic and I went out to Owhiro Bay to see if we could catch the tail end of the Leonids meteor shower. At 10pm, there was still a bit of twilight to the west, but this darkened quickly, bringing out the Milky Way sitting on the horizon. Venus was so bright that you could see its reflection on the water. Overhead, I saw seven meteors streaking across the night sky over the course of the hour we were there. Truly beautiful.


Chaos

It's been a strange week.

Last Wednesday, we watched the US elect Donald Trump into presidency, a move that stunned the whole office - the whole nation - into disbelief and horror. I'm not one to spout my opinions on politics on my blog, but I will say that I hope the minorities and vulnerable people he has consistently attacked throughout his campaign will find peace among such a tumultuous time, especially with reports of Trump supporters actively harassing such people.

On Thursday, things were much better for me as I jetsetted to Sydney for a holiday, that just happened to include capturing the Australian regional Pokemon, Kangaskhan. After landing on Thursday afternoon, I walked from my hotel in Hyde Park to Chinatown and Darling Harbour to grab a feed, and it was barely 200m down Liverpool Road that Kangaskhan appeared - and caught successfully! Over the course of the four days I was in Australia, I captured another eleven more, so I can trade them off when that feature is ever introduced.

On Friday, Mat and I covered all the major landmarks. We wandered through Hyde Park, past St Mary's Cathedral to the Royal Botanical Gardens and Mrs Macquarie's Chair, where there were some stunning views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. We continued through the gardens to the Opera House, where we sat in the Pokemon Gym at Opera House for a good 10 minutes. Continuing down past the Rocks, we watched a traditional Aborigine dance being performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art for their 25th anniversary, then headed to the Bridge Climb office and decided $300 was way too much for what it was. We ended up walking the length of the bridge, stopping at one of the concrete pillars for some great views of the city. We had a quick look around Luna Park, then trained back to the CBD and did some shopping before going up the Sydney Tower. We ended the day at Criniti's at Darling Harbour, and rested at the hotel for a little bit before heading back to the Opera House, where they had lit up the sails with some beautiful red poppies in a light show, in commemoration of Armistice Day.

After some overnight rain and thunderstorms, the weather had cooled down quite dramatically. We visited the Chinese Garden of Friendship in the morning, and wandered through Paddy's Market and Chinatown. The clouds had disappeared bringing through some intense sunshine, to the tune of 30C, so we bundled some towels and headed out to Bondi Beach. It wasn't as packed as I thought it would be, but it was still incredibly busy. The water was amazingly refreshing and loads of fun with the waves breaking on the shore. We headed back to town and I met up with Joel, who took me for dinner at Mekong, then dessert at Koi, and drinks at the Palace Hotel.

Sunday was pretty relaxed, just finishing off our shopping at various spots around the city. I found a piano at the Queen Victoria Building near the Town Hall, and played Let It Go from Disney's Frozen, and the Pokemon theme song, both of which had drawn a sizeable crowd of passers-by to the piano area. Despite ruining the last note in Let It Go, I was pretty happy with how I played, and was beaming from ear to ear as I left, happy that I had at least brought a smile to some people that day. Unfortunately Mat never took a picture or video for me, so I have no proof. I went back to get a picture of the piano there, and someone was playing the most amazing classical tunes on there...but no one was applauding! Poor guy.

I met up with Chris and Sharon, and they took me for dinner at Ms G's in King's Cross, and a quick tipple at the Glenmore Hotel's rooftop bar before heading home. As I was settling down to bed for the night, Geonet started buzzing frantically, with a 7.5 earthquake hitting the South Island near Kaikoura. Facebook started filling up with worried posts from my Wellington friends, all exclaiming how intense the shaking was. Hundreds of aftershocks followed in varying magnitudes, dozens over 5 and 6. I'm lucky to have missed it - I would have been hysterical. There were tsunami warnings and damage to some of the buildings in CBD, but my friends seem to have escaped injury, and for that I'm thankful.

I arrived back in Wellington today, and was relieved to see my apartment had escaped damage too, save for a few bottles and trinkets that had fallen over. I'm still experiencing aftershocks and am unsure how the night will fare, especially as strong wind and rain buffets the city. Of course, the inclement weather has also meant we missed out on seeing the greatest supermoon in almost 70 odd years. Classic Wellington.


November

November has rolled around. Work has been pretty busy for me. While mostly working on the latest Doomsday Clicker updates, I've been pulled on to help fight some cloud saving fires on our next big release - Rival Stars College Football. The soft launch was to New Zealand and Australia last month, and the hard launch will be soon to coincide with the college football season and Thanksgiving. I may be pulled onto something new soon as well - and that's exciting!

Over Labour Weekend, Mike, Mana and I went to Stonehenge Aotearoa near Carterton, a man-made rock monument very much like the original Stonehenge, but modernised. Still astronomically correct and useful, and surrounded by green fields and the blue mountains of the Wairarapa. We stopped by Martinborough and had lunch at Cafe Medici, who were still serving their Wellington on a Plate burger, which was amazing, and then we made our way to the Pinnacles near Cape Palliser. We spent some time walking the track in some gloriously sunny weather, then returned home for a quick meal at KC Cafe.

The food over the past month has been delightful. Little Penang held a fifth birthday celebration a few Sundays ago. Juliann and I were invited to this exclusive event, and boy, what a memorable lunch that was. The entire restaurant was packed with friends, family and loyal customers, here to celebrate a restaurant with such humble beginnings but truly authentic and soulful food that only Malaysian cuisine can bring. There was also haggis night at James and Navi's, as well as Canadian Thanksgiving, complete with massive turkey.

We also held a music-focused worship service at Central Baptist - the first I've seen in the 8 or so years I'd been going. Being on the piano for a full hour was pretty gruelling, but I had heaps of fun with the other musicians and the small but enthusiastic crowd that had gathered. Thanks to those who came!

I've also been playing the latest Phoenix Wright game - Ace Attorney: Spirit Trials. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, loved the build up to the final trial and the big reveals that happened along the way, with plenty of nostalgic throwbacks to previous games. I felt they went a bit too overboard with some of the dialogue, which made for some extremely unlikeable characters that you just wanted to punch in the face but never got the full justice treatment. Pokemon Sun and Moon aren't too far away, so that'll be the next big time sink for me.


Days Off

Taking the two days off after daylight savings weekend (the weekend where you spring forward an hour) was a great idea. This morning, I got up, had breakfast, played some Final Fantasy Record Keeper, then fell asleep again until lunch time. So good. It hasn't been all relaxation though, the weeks of neglect from going out to hunt Pokemon have left my apartment in a little bit of disarray, so there was plenty of cleaning and vacuuming to do. I still want to hit the gym at some point today. I might have an early dinner and go late to avoid the regular Monday night rush.

The past week has been relatively quiet too. We released Shadow Wars, a puzzle/collection game, for both iOS and Android. I had a minor part in this one - the platform services integration - so I'm to blame if the cloud sync or your achievements goes wrong. It's been an interesting experience though, it has made me more aware of how terrible certain technologies are, especially how we have to work around Xcode to get our entitlements and provisioning profiles working. Because we're using Unity, it generates the Xcode project at build time, meaning we can't use Xcode's GUI to manage our provisioning or entitlements or capabilities. We end up having to script in our changes to enable iCloud, allow push notifications, add associated domains, etc. The whole process takes 20 minutes to test and debug as well. It was definitely one of the most frustrating things I've had to do, but we got there in the end. It's one of those things that you tend to do once and then forget about until the next project.

I still need to catch up on food blogging. Maybe that will be a tomorrow job. I'm not always one for completely vegetating throughout the whole day, but it's nice to not have a specific agenda and to just relax and take things at my own pace.

I should take more days off.

Edit: It started raining. I did not make it to the gym. I ended up making my own apple sauce though - it's so good!


World Famous in New Zealand

A lot of things have been happening in the last couple of months. It's been hectic, chaotic, exhilarating and draining all at once. I'm finally able to sit down and write in my blog because... well, I don't need to go out and catch Pokemon anymore - I've caught them all!

As a fan of the games, it's been interesting to see how Pokemon Go has represented the franchise, and especially its ubiquitous motto - Gotta Catch 'em All. Though the game lacks polish and usability in many places, what they have managed to do very well is - and excuse the pun - capture the core of the Pokemon games: collection. From a developer's perspective, it's been interesting looking at how particular features were implemented and how I could use that to my advantage - density and distribution, spawn points and timers, known locations and nests of particular Pokemon, and so on.

My last Pokemon was a Lapras, which I caught down by Oriental Parade at 7.59pm on Sunday 11 September 2016. It was pretty surreal, I was incredibly excited and sat in my car screaming for five minutes. The NZ Herald got wind of my story and published an article about my achievement, but incorrectly assumed that I was the first in the country to do so. Nevertheless, there were a few other media appearances - I was interviewed on Flava the radio station, and Jeremy Corbett briefly mentioned me during TV3's 7 Days show. It's been funny because I've never had this much attention in my life, and though I'm not a household name nor have I been stopped on the street, friends of friends have noticed my achievements and those friends have then told me about it, and that's awesome.

I think my friends would agree that it's no surprise that I would get this far. Pokemon has been a major part of my life, especially with the management of Psypoke, and it's no secret that all through high school, University and now at work, it's one of my favourite video game franchises. At the same time, I've still held my job, socialised with people, been to the gym (the actual lifting weights gym) and played badminton all in my regular routine, I've just squeezed a bit more Pokemon in every day so I can catch them all.

What now, then? There's four region exclusive Pokemon to catch - Kangaskhan in Australia, Farfetch'd in Asia, Mr. Mime in Europe and Tauros in North America. Generation two must surely be on the cards soon as well. I can prepare for that in advance by making sure the new evolutions are ready to go once the update drops. There's the buddy system too and I can continue levelling everything up. The opportunity to travel is exciting and a good excuse to get out of the country.

In other news, Wellington on a Plate was a blast, as usual. That will be a completely different write-up on my food blog - so much to talk about. On the whole, I thought the burgers last year were of a higher standard, but many this year were still very enjoyable. Mid-autumn festival was last Thursday and on Saturday I cooked a vegan dinner in celebration, and on Sunday I cooked a non-vegan dinner in celebration. Both turned out very well and people were well fed.

In short: there were a few very strong earthquakes centered east of New Zealand that were widely felt in Wellington on September 2; I went with Mana, Mike and Tim to Red Rocks to see the seals; I saw FFXV Kingsglaive and thought it was okay; work has been tough and I've had to put in a few more hours to get things done but the end is in sight.

We're only three months away from Christmas. The year has gone by so quickly >_<