Sunday December 28, 2014
I made it to Melbourne on Boxing Day after a very early Jetstar flight with plenty of unhappy babies. Anyway, after a tiki tour of the CBD, we were taken to the Upper Plenty Conference Centre and we've been here since.
We're kinda in the middle of nowhere but it is incredibly serene and pretty. This area was ravaged by the bush fires a few years ago and it's easy to see the evidence of that devastation, but at the same time, quite inspiring to see the regrowth coming through. There are wild kangaroos around, and we saw a baby huntsman spider too. We've been playing cards and going on bush walks, but most importantly there's been heaps of preparation for Blake and Jacinta's wedding. It has been fun catching up with various KCC people - it always is!
Today has been pretty hot, but the wedding went off without a hitch and we're about to tuck into some food. Tomorrow we'll hit town for some adventures in the city!
Thursday December 25, 2014
It's been a busy time in Auckland, catching up at various eateries with friends and family. On Monday I caught up with the Pokemon gang at Sun World, Newmarket for yum cha, and then the Auckland PikPok crew at Tae Neung Korean Barbeque for dinner. On Tuesday, I met up with Matt at My Kitchen and then went with my parents to Tatsumi in Newmarket for their Christmas Special Degustation - sooo good. Expect an emotionally charged food blog post about this in the new year.
On Wednesday I was at Reuben's playing 7 Wonders with the Babel expansion and a quiet dinner at home before heading out to Milse in Britomart for some fantastic summery desserts. The night was not over yet though, there was some Smash Bros to be had at Julia's. Yuss!
And finally today, I got to see my adorable nephews - one almost four years old and the other almost a year old. We drove out to Missions Bay for a classic Kiwi Christmas picnic; we were one of many hundreds of people enjoying the wonderful warm weather around the city. We ended the day with a turkey roast back at home.
Early flight to Melbourne tomorrow!
Monday December 22, 2014
The last week of work was a fun but hectic mess of frantic game jamming, as we pulled together to stick code, art, design and sound into an enjoyable experience that would wow our colleagues. Jimmy, Linda, Jayde, Nathan and myself were Team Four for Game Jam 2014 and unfortunately, four is also where we placed - just outside of prize money contention. Nevertheless, we produced something we were quite proud of so that's something we can take away from the week.
On Saturday, Mike, Will and Phil bundled into my car and we began our journey to Owhango, on the west side of Lake Taupo near National Park. Mike had kindly offered us the use of his holiday home for the night, so we took advantage of this and enjoyed the fireplace, pool table and spa pool. It was good to break up the road trip to Auckland, especially since we had a big day the next day...
I had been keeping close tabs on the weather for Taupo all week. The forecast had consistently said showers for Sunday, but as we drove towards Taupo, the clouds in the sky began to open up to brilliant blue and sunshine. We had one agenda in mind only: skydiving. This was an idea that began during the Great Kayaking Trip in Motueka but didn't happen because of strong winds. Two months later, this crazy idea became a reality as the four of us committed ourselves to the wind and sky, leaping out over the Great Lake Taupo with the most fantastic scenery around us. Mike, Will and Phil chose the 12,000ft jump; I opted for the 15,000ft jump. I watched them as they were forced out of the plane into the air below, becoming increasingly nervous as my time approached. My tandem master signalled and I shuffled forward to the exposed hatch, and then with no time to be scared, I was shunted out.
The few moments are completely terrifying, but once the free fall kicks in, you're much more relaxed and can start enjoying the scenery. I remember the glittering blue waters of the lake below, the greens of the forests around the area and the clouds in the distance that were covering Ruapehu. It was exhilarating but over too soon as the parachute deployed. I gasped and hyperventilated as my brain started to acknowledge just what I'd done, and as we continued our descent, I was still trying to get my head around just how lucky we were with the weather and conditions. It was absolutely fantastic and such an amazing experience.
We continued our journey to Auckland and I arrived back home around 7pm, in time for some soup kambing and sambal seafood that my parents had made for dinner. I rushed off to Massey badminton courts for a few hours of high-intensity badminton before finally hitting home and taking a well earned rest.
What an awesome start to the Christmas holidays.
Monday December 15, 2014
Yesterday was truly a glorious summer's day. I gathered Mana, Will and Phil up for some KFC down by Oriental Parade and then took them around various beaches - "I didn't realise Wellington had beaches" and "I've never left town" were some of the exclamations I heard while driving. I was so impressed by the weather that I convinced them to stay up late and accompany me to Owhiro Bay so that we could catch a glimpse of the Geminids Meteor Shower which peaked in intensity last night.
Insufficiently equipped with our hoodies and a picnic blanket, we set up right by the carpark heading to Red Rocks on the stony beach and within minutes of lying down, a magnificent trail of light and smoke streaked across the sky majestically. Over the next hour, we saw several more meteors streaming across the skies, each as exciting as the last, but it was the cold that stopped us from staying too long. We said goodbye to the other crazy people who had joined us and headed home, satisfied with the amazing astronomical display we'd just seen.
Sunday December 14, 2014
It's that time of the year when the parties go wild and the people start gearing up towards Christmas and the end of the year. Most of us are looking forward to the holidays ahead, even among the stress of Christmas shopping and looming deadlines, and, for the PikPok crew, the competitive nature of this year's Game Jam. Several of the teams have already begun their prototyping ahead of the final week, so it's shaping up to be a tough competition indeed.
Again, despite my efforts to try and play Pokemon or failing that, work on my Game Jam game, this week was quite busy in terms of social events. We watched a horrible Ewoks spin-off movie for 80s Movie Night on Tuesday, then on Wednesday I was out at the Fringe Bar to watch Joe's improv graduation show and then stayed for another show by Wellington Improv Troupe. On Thursday, good old Bryce had come down for Kiwicon so we caught up with him at Crafters, and on Friday... it was karaoke!
Jules is turning 30 this year so she's been having a series of birthday-related events, one of which was an amazing karaoke session last Friday. We started strong, with some good classics like Final Countdown, Bohemian Rhapsody and Keep on Movin', followed by some more contemporary songs like Tay Tay's Shake It Off. But the highlight of the night was the Idina Menzel Let It Go battle between myself and one of Juliann's friends Sarah, who rose to the challenge and duetted the iconic Frozen song with me. We channelled the frozen fractals and icy blasts, crescendoing to the final note, and at the song's triumphant end - the cold never bothered me anyway - we high-fived a job well done as the entire room erupted into wild applause.
The night had not ended there, however. We finished up at KZone and headed to JJ Murphy's to see Vigz's band Zephyr playing some cool 70s and 80s covers. There was the oldest mosh pit I'd ever seen. But the environment was jovial and light-hearted, and we ended up mobbing the dance floor during Summer of 69, so there were plenty of good times to be had.
On Saturday we had the final PikPok badminton session for the year, and then it was off to the bakery for some pies, and then to LBQ with Thomas and Astrid for another MKR BBQ. Despite the weather, Ian and Sandie had set up their equipment and were making some delectable things. I chose the Hefe marinated Lamb Loin on Bruschetta with Goat's Cheese Mousse and Mint Pea Crush, which was pretty good. The goat's cheese mousse was wonderfully smooth and had such a good flavour to compliment the other ingredients. We stayed for an hour and a bit, and then headed off to the Apartment bar for the PikPok Christmas Party.
And boy was it a party.
There was Smash Bros set up on the Wii U and Giant Jenga all ready to go. We had five PikPok-themed cocktails from Oreo, Into the Dead, Flick Kick Football Legends, Robot Unicorn Attack and Rival Stars Basketball. There was much joviality and plenty of shenanigans to go round. At one point in time I was singing I'll Make a Man out of You and also Let it Go in French. At another point in time, I started the Animaniacs Nations of the World song. I was also balancing on top of a tower erected from the Giant Jenga blocks and I was also involuntarily trust falling into the loving hands of my co-workers.
We moved on to Little Penang for some food around 8pm, where I promptly declared how amazing the night was all over the table - it must have been those three shots right before I left. Thankfully Nic, Damon, Mana and James, who were with me, took care of the mess as I was ushered into the bathroom to clean myself up. I felt much better after that, and continued on to the Fork and Brewer very briefly to see Ben off, before being walked home by Polly and Vigz.
I posted a rather dire-sounding message on Facebook making seem I was in quite a bad place, so several people had texted me to ask me if I was okay, and I reassured them everything was fine, that I was just drunk and overwhelmed because it's the first time I've ever done that, and I amended the message on Facebook as soon as I could. But it's humbling to see that I can count on all these awesome friends to be there for me if I ever need them.
For that, I am truly blessed and thankful.
Sunday December 7, 2014
My copy of Pokemon AlphaSapphire arrived on Friday, but unfortunately my weekend has been so stacked with events that I simply haven't had time to play it. On Saturday I had badminton in the morning, then I met Mana at LBQ to check out the food being served by Dai and Dal, the Laotian girl team from New Zealand's version of My Kitchen Rules. I stopped by the Southern Cross briefly to say hi to Sunni who was having her 30th Birthday, but my back started playing up so I needed to move... and ended up at Mana's for the Singstar Party. Paul texted mid-afternoon for a quick drink at the Sprig and Fern that night so I obliged too. I dragged Mana and Phil along and I met Paul's flatmate Alex there too. It was a pretty crazy Saturday and I was absolutely shattered by the time I got home.
Today has been pretty tiring too. I made it to church for the second Sunday of advent - peace - and I was out to Churton Park for the last family group gathering of the year. By the time I got home, it was 3pm and I passed out on my bed for a three hour nap. So good. I'll get a bit of chance to play Pokemon after I finish blogging...!
Last weekend was pretty crazy too. After badminton, I met Jimmy at the gym (because it was still Bring A Buddy For Free Month) for some more upper body workouts, but the highlight of Saturday was 8-player Smash Bros on the Nintendo Wii U. So awesome. I seemed to have some dominance with the Pink Powerpuff Duo, Kirby and Jigglypuff. The Wii U version feels great and looks gorgeous in 1080p. We had dinner at Little Penang and I hung out at Mana, Will and Phil's for a bit before heading home for the night since I had music at church the next day.
On Monday, I was at Campbell and Linda's for a very satisfying steamboat and Mana, Will and Phil's on Tuesday for the 80s Movie Night - this week's choice was Labyrinth. It feels like I've missed out on a lot of 80s movies, so this is a good opportunity to catch up on some of the films that have been so iconic of that era. The week before we watched Princess Bride - not particularly to Mana's liking but I appreciated the odd sense of humour which would have been far more appropriate for that time period than today.
We found out our Game Jam teams for this year and have started brainstorming ideas. GJ2014 will be in the last week of work, and will conclude what has been a pretty busy year for me at PikPok. Next year will be full of challenges too, and I'm looking forward to completing my first commercial Unity project.