Found 17 blog posts with tag: fireworks

Countdown to Christmas

It hasn't quite hit yet, but the end of the year is rapidly approaching, and that means I'll be heading home to New Zealand very soon. I'm super busy at work, trying wrap things up before going on holiday, as well as preparing to speak to a bunch of high school kids about the games industry and what it's like to work at Ubisoft.

My badminton racquet strings broke. It was really sad. I ended having to borrow a racquet from the front desk but it had no grip and I was getting increasingly frustrated and played so badly. Luckily it was easy to get to the Eaton Centre and get it fixed, but it wasn't that long ago that I had it restrung.

I went to the Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square a few weeks ago. Every year they light up the Christmas tree there and have a big fireworks display too, it was pretty awesome to watch. Though it was cold and slightly wet, there were thousands of people crammed into the square, listening to the music and enjoying the festivities, and I love that kind of busyness in a city. It makes it feel alive and vibrant.

There's tons of Christmas parties coming up and I have to do some Christmas shopping... but it really isn't long until I'm off, and it's slowly beginning to hit...!


Canadaversary

Tomorrow marks one year since I landed in Canada to start a new life. It's gone by pretty quickly, but I'm still thoroughly enjoying my job and the city - and especially now that it's summer, it's incredibly exciting to experience all the events and sights that Toronto has to offer. Each weekend has been filled with something to do, something to eat, something to see. I shared 100 oysters for $100 with three others, had All You Can Eat Peking Duck, tried Xinjiang and Teochew cuisines; there was dim sum, office breakfasts, birthday dinners and barbeques in the park. There was karaoke, a hike around the Niagara Falls Whirlpools, Canada Day fireworks by the beach and a road trip to the Blue Mountains, where I drove on the right side of the road for the first time. I caught up with Dionte and we walked around Graffiti Alley. The company had its General Assembly last Friday, where we partied until midnight.

Last weekend I was in Chicago catching up with Loic, Dana and Marc. I went to a baseball game, which went exactly how I thought it would, in true American fashion: the hand on the heart thing for the national anthem, the sloppy greasy food and cheap beer, the whole atmosphere of Wrigley Stadium was just like I had seen on TV or in the movies. It did rain a bit though, and it would persist throughout the time I was in Chicago. We also explored Wicker Park, the area around our AirBnB, and I even snuck in some time to do a few Zapdos raids in Millennium Park. The four of us did a escape room, then watched the fireworks off Navy Pier. Of course, I had the famous deep dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno too - I wouldn't have left the city without it!

My weekends are so packed that the weekdays need to be quiet so I can relax and chill out. But I love it. I need to maximise my time before winter comes.


Montreal and Ottawa

Last weekend was Victoria Day Weekend, which is approximately equivalent to Queen's Birthday in New Zealand. I went roadtripping with my badminton crew to Montreal for one night, and Ottawa for the second night!

I was a bit surprised when I found out the trip to Montreal would take 6 hours. It's around 540km away, which means it's only 100km less than the Auckland - Wellington distance. It was cloudy and a bit wet in some places, but we made it there around 5pm, having stopping at various service centres along the way. I was also missing Community Day for Pokemon Go, which featured Charmander, but thankfully Brian was willing to play my account for me. We had dinner at an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant, then wandered around the old part of Montreal for a while. The last time I was there was in February 2017, and it was bloody cold, so it was nice to walk around without my face hurting.

In the morning, we walked around Parc des Rapides, named after the rapids of the St Lawrence River passing by. The park is a bird sanctuary, and we managed to spot a few of the great blue herons nesting on some logs in the calmer part of the water. After another all-you-can-eat buffet, we went to Ottawa for the tulip festival. By that time, the sun was out in full glory. We parked over by Dows Lake, and I opted to kayak around the lake with Rohit, while the others shared a canoe. After being on the water, we walked around the tulip gardens until dusk, and settled in for dinner by the lakeside. After it got dark, we enjoyed a pretty sweet fireworks display over the water!

On Monday, we had our third all-you-can-eat meal before exploring the Parliament buildings and then crossing the river to Gatineau, where we did a two hour hike in Gatineau Park. Despite the dozens of flies and bugs swarming our heads, we made it out without any bear sightings and started our drive back to Toronto, finally arriving close to 11pm. What a weekend!

With spring in full force, my social calendar has been filling up. I visited High Park for the white cherry blossoms, and Trinity Bellwoods for the pink cherry blossoms. I watched Eurovision at Pauper's Pub with Marc. I shared 50lbs of lobster with my workmates (it was so good). Things are definitely becoming more exciting as we head into summer!


2018

The temperature peeked above zero for the first time in a few months. Snow turned to muddy slush on the sidewalks and roads, and it wasn't painful to walk around without gloves. It hasn't been an easy road though, last Friday and Saturday hit -20C with a windchill of -30C. That was tough.

It's a new year. Almost an entire 365 days since I left New Zealand. I had a relaxing week off, staying mostly indoors to shelter from the cold, but I did go into town for karaoke, badminton and a New Year's Eve party. They shot some fireworks off at Nathan Phillips Square, and hordes of people still turned up despite the severe cold warnings. It was a great atmosphere, though my time outdoors was thankfully brief. I ended up going to bed around 5am, it was that good. Later that day, I played board games with some of the badminton crew, and got to play around with some awesome VR games, including a 3D drawing sandbox.

We're back at work too. The first week was quiet, many still away on holiday. My manager has unfortunately fallen ill with pneumonia, which sounds pretty serious, so we won't expect him back until next week. Otherwise I'm just trucking along. Console projects take time, and they're definitely not as fast paced as mobile games. It's sometimes hard to see progress when you're focused on one small portion of the game.

I'm not as homesick as I used to be. I've expanded my social circles and have people to hang out with on weekends. Most importantly, I'm busying myself, because I think too much when I don't have anything to do. Today is particularly significant because it marks 19 years since Mum passed away and I still think about her a lot. She'd probably be pretty shocked to find out where I am and what I'm doing though, but secretly proud that I did what I did.


Chinese New Year

Food is love, food is life. That's pretty much the message being driven home at the moment, as we celebrate Chinese New Year in 2017. The first meal is always reunion dinner on CNY Eve, where I spent it with my father's brothers having a very lavish meal. In between, we followed the epic semifinals tennis match between Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov - what a game!

For the first day of CNY, all of dad's side of the family gathered for an epic lunch at my uncle's house - 28 of us in total. So awesome to see everyone again, and really a special time with family enjoying some delicious food. At night, we went to a friend's house in Tropicana where again we ate and drank like kings in an opulent house, perfectly designed for entertaining dozens of guests.

As we drew closer to midnight, we set off some firecrackers and fireworks - and what a show, much better than what Auckland Sky Tower puts on for the Gregorian new year!


It's Cold

Happy New Year - it's 2016! I'm finally back in Wellington after a long miserable 8 hour drive through very wet roads and chaotic traffic down State Highway 1. Of course, the first thing that greeted me when I got home was some jerk parked in my car park, so I wasn't particularly happy about that. Turns out he's in Japan for a few weeks and I can park in another car park for the time being. Lucky for him, or I would have towed his ass out of there so fast.

Over the past couple of weeks, I got to catch up with heaps of people. There was never really a dull day, I was always out meeting up for lunch or dinner, or if I had some spare time, I'd even go to the gym. There was yum cha and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, I was back at Milse and Giapo, and went to Nol Bu Ne and Shao Lin Kung Fu Noodle. New Years itself was spent with my school mates on top of Mt Victoria in Davenport watching some very disappointing fireworks on the Sky Tower. It looked like someone was just running around the rim shooting off Roman Candles. We were too busy watching the fireworks being let off on the mount that we missed the end of the Sky Tower ones... and there was no big finale either. Lame!

Work tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing everyone again.


Nous Sommes Avec Vous

What tragic news to hear on Saturday afternoon after badminton. Several coordinated terrorist attacks hit Paris, killing 129 people and wounding more than 400. In the midst of France's darkest hour, it is comforting to see the outpouring of sympathy and solidarity: the hashtag #PortesOuvertes from Parisians to offer shelter to tourists or displaced people who didn't have accommodation for the night; the stories of people who took bullets to save others at the cost of their own lives; the red, white and blue lights on landmarks around the world.

People express condolences in different ways. Some pray. Some light candles and lay flowers. Some sing songs. Some will change their profile picture on Facebook to one with a Tricolore overlay. And that's okay. As long as you can truthfully say with purpose and intent that you stand with the French people, then people are entitled to reflect and remember in a way that has integrity for them. At the same time, we should also think about other devastating attacks that have amounted to a huge loss in human life and continue to remember those in constant struggle, in places like Syria, Iran and Iraq. May we be forgiven for not always knowing about these events, because any loss of human life like this is tragic.

I was out last night at Owhiro Bay for the Leonids meteor shower. I saw an opportunity as the clouds cleared late yesterday afternoon, so I made a call to commit and recruited my trusty crew. The moon was 19% illuminated and definitely affecting the visibility of the night sky, but the brightest Leonids shone through. None of them were as spectacular as the Orionid we saw a month ago, but all in all, I would have seen around seven meteors. As the weather warms up, hopefully we can make these trips more frequent.

We had our PikPok Developers Conference for the year and I spoke on two topics: development for the new Apple TV, and ray tracing, a subject I hadn't touched since 2007 back at the University of Auckland's COMPSCI372 course. I also ran the second PikPok Programming Puzzle-o-rama with much success, and on the same day, rushed down to the council to watch the All Blacks victory parade. I've been to karaoke twice in the past few weeks, had yum cha, had all you can eat chicken wings from Tequila Joe's and watched the fireworks display at the waterfront.

The social calendar is filling up fast for the rest of the year!


Easter

Easter has been pretty quiet; I opted to stay in Wellington instead of flying up to Auckland for the first time in seven years. This was partially due to the fact that my schoolmates were supposed to organise a trip somewhere but nothing eventuated. Nevertheless, Jordan, Christine, Josh and I ended up day-tripping up to Martinborough to visit Damon on Saturday. We went for a wine tasting at Haythornthwaite Wines - for only $5, this was a bargain. Most of the ones we had were quite dry and tart, but I was partial to the Gew√ľrztraminer dessert wine. Full of lychee aromas and delightfully sweet!

Afterwards, we headed to Poppies for some food platters - there was a delay in getting our table ready so it wasn't until quite late that we were seated, and when the food arrived, we ravenously devoured the olives, salmon, capsicum, beef, roast pork, tomatoes and cheese on the plate. So goooood. We had a bit of time to kill before heading back to Wellington, so we played a few games of werewolf, and by 6.30pm we were on our way back to the city.

The sky had begun to cloud over around 3pm, and by the time we hit the Rimutakas, it was already raining. Not good news for the total lunar eclipse that night. However, when we reached Wellington around 8pm, the skies were pretty clear and the moon was definitely visible. I dropped everyone home, got changed, and picked up Jimmy, Charlie, Phil and Joe, and headed out to Lyall Bay for Fleur's birthday party. There was a perfect view of the full moon from her balcony with no clouds around, and sure enough, around 11pm, the face of the moon began to enter the penumbra of the Earth's shadow. As time progressed, we saw the first glimpses of red as the moon slipped into the main shadow, and finally at 1am, we had totality. Awesome! We set off some fireworks down by the beach, but I was tired and had to head home because I was on music at Central Baptist the next day. Thankfully, I got an extra hour's sleep from daylight savings, so I wasn't too out of it for the Easter service.


Almost Summer

We had a few brilliant days of sunshine last week, so the parties were on and the barbeques were fired up. I was at Vincent's on Friday for a crazy animal-themed party, Hadley and Jimmy's on Saturday for the 80s Party III, and Thomas and Astrid's on Sunday for a barbeque and really also to play with the cats. Saturday was also the Guy Fawkes fireworks down by the waterfront - we had a pretty good view from Joe's rooftop right by New World Chaffers. It was a pretty busy weekend indeed.

There's been a spate of new food and drink establishments popping up too. I was at the Bresolin on Tuesday for a quick drink (nice place down by the motorway on Willis St, but the service had a few teething problems) and Burger Liquor on Wednesday (burger joint that took over Crazy Horse, pretty good feed), but have also heard about Five Boroughs in Mt Victoria and the Hideaway on Plimmer Steps. Would be keen to try those at some point, and if their standard meets expectation, maybe a food blog post is in order too.

I went to a new physiotherapist today (same clinic, though) who took a look at my back and told me my spine was "straighter" than normal, which meant a lot of the pressure fell at the back of my pelvis instead of more centrally. This could be causing all my problems with the leg and back pain I've been having. Some damn complex muscular and nerve system shenaningans. In any case, I opted to try dry needling, which is similar to acupuncture in that needles are inserted into trigger points to contract and release muscles, except the needles are flicked instead of having an electric current passed through them. It seems to alleviated some pain in the back and given me some mobility, but time will tell if the treatment and the assigned exercises will actually solve my problems. I've also come away with a large line of tape stretching around my back to the front.

Fun times.

The end of year is nearing and I'm looking forward to the time off, especially the trip to Melbourne over New Years. There will also be the drive up to Auckland, which may or may not involve skydiving. We shall see.


2014

Home (in Wellington) at last. The weather sucks.

Firstly, Happy New Year! I drove up with three friends on New Year's Eve to Northland, stopping by Wellsford, Ruakaka and Whangerei before settling in Kerikeri at a motel. Before midnight, we drove to Paihia to join all the partygoers for the amazing fireworks display over Russell. Great atmosphere and awesome way to welcome in 2014! The next day, we hit Mangonui for the Fish and Chips, Te Puki for the giant sand dunes and Cape Reinga for the stunning views before driving back to Kaitaia for the night. The final day we drove to Kai Iwi Lakes for a swim in the warm relaxing water, before returning to Auckland via SH16 as SH1 was totally blocked from Wellsford to Warkworth.

I've also been strawberry picking, saw Anchorman 2, held my new nephew, went to Eight at the Langham and got some milk tea. Holiday has been great and it's almost time to go back to work. Whee >_>


Back in Wellington

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.


Site Woes

Since the other website I secretly work on is down, I thought I should come crawling back to this thing and post some stuff. I have a lot of photos on my phone I need to upload as well...

Anyway, something is definitely up with IGN's webservers because it's been down for the past two days. We found some malicious scripts in two of the PHP files which I managed to remove, but who knows what else has been compromised. Sigh. In any case, I can still work on it I guess, it's just that there's nothing to show for it.

Let's see, in the past three weeks:

There was an awesome fireworks display over Wellington Harbour on Guy Fawkes' Day. It was damn cold and really windy, but we were sitting by the back end of Te Papa so it slightly sheltered. We got to lean back against the concrete wall and watch the spectacular pyrotechnics in the sky.

There was the All Whites Victory Celebration and the Santa Parade. It was boring. There were three things that interested me: Snoopy, Pikachu and the adorable corgis. Oh, and I'm really happy for the All Whites, but I don't care much for soccer sport in general, so meh.

Sidhe celebrated two shipped projects (Madagascar Kartz and Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5) and two submitted projects (Rugby League 3...and one I can't say but it's for iPhone and I worked on it) with yet another ethanol-filled night at Red Square. Lasers were included, as well as a generous bar tab, thanks to securing more work for us. Yay employment!

Got invited out for a wonderful lunch at this couple's house in Titahi Bay last Sunday. I totally miss home cooked food. The wife is a magnificent baker - the Tiffany cake is for royalty. Besides that, it was cool to listen to their stories. They've certainly had some fantastic experiences, including a three week voyage over the Pacific Ocean from Auckland to Miami (back in the days when air travel was super expensive). A few years ago, they even got a photo with the then junior senator of Illinois... Barack Obama!

After a big lunch, we went for a walk on the beach. The sand was so perfect and untouched, I felt the urge to write in it.



Of course, this led to discussion about parabolas, trignometry, differentiation...all part of a normal day's work.


The End of the Reign of Chaos

Yay so I finally beat all four campaigns of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, properly too without cheating, although I had some initial problems when I had accidentally set the difficulty to "Hard" instead of "Normal". Next: The Frozen Throne!

Last Sunday we met up with John who was in Wellington en route back to his medical placement, and had a few drinks at St. John's by Te Papa. Following that, we split for a few hours while the Street Kids went to their church, then met up again at the TSB Bank Arena for the Diwali Festival celebrations there. I planned on getting dinner there but little did I know, it was all vegetarian! >_> Anyway, it was edible and we didn't stay for too long, but we did enjoy the fireworks over the harbour. The sound they make just echoes over the whole city, it's truly amazing.


Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

As the poem goes, the city of Wellington celebrated Guy Fawkes Day with a fantastic display of pyrotechnics streaming from the harbour.



But for some, these fireworks meant more than watching a myriad of chemicals combust in the sky. These fireworked heralded a change. A change that attracted the interest of the entire globe as we followed the US Presidential Race during the later hours of the afternoon, until its pinnacle as Senator Barack Obama claims the 44th Presidency of the United States of America, defeating rival John McCain, 338 electoral college votes to 156. It is certainly a phenomenal landmark in the history books as America gets set to crown its first African-American President.

But of course, my project team and I were busy discussing important matters at our team meeting.



¨.¨


Sleep Habits: Screwed



I was up until 4.30am last night watching the Opening Ceremony. Gah. The performances and the choreography and the fireworks were fantastic though, really awesome and vibrant. My favourite parts were the fireworks making footprints, the introduction to the scroll, the blocks that moved up and down and the tai chi display, and the lighting of the Olympic Torch was definitely spectacular too. Pyrotechnics were top-notch throughout the ceremony.

We had a farewell dinner for Bjorn on Tuesday night at Two Souls, where the food was fantastic. On Wednesday, Mel and I ate at Rasa on Cuba St before going to Central Baptist where we played on the piano for a good two hours or so. Friday night I met up with Laura and her friends at Lonestar (I had the ribs - they were awesome) before heading home to watch the Opening Ceremony streaming live from the TVNZ website.



Today - I am being very Asian and I'm boiling some barley water \o/ Thanks to my parents for providing the oversized pot. I had been thinking of boiling barley water for ages, and it wasn't until I got the opportunity to grab some barley from the Asian grocery store near Pak'n'Save that everything started falling into place. I couldn't find any rock sugar, so I tried the Asian supermarket on the corner of Dixon and Cuba, and I managed to get a packet of rock sugar crystals. Hopefully this won't be an epic disaster.

Speaking of epic, apparently it's now a verb at work. You just got epicked.


Meat

Yesterday we had a flat barbeque. I suppose it's kind of a flat warming, since it's the first big party since the four of us moved in together. Despite the cold weather, the food and alcohol proved a big hit, and people were having a good time. So good in fact, that they started cranking out the Ceroc moves on the lounge floor. Yes. Quite.

At 10pm, we whizzed off to Te Papa to see the fireworks, as part of their 10th anniversary. Check the Gallery for the pictures I took.

Today I went back to the Streets for the morning service, with Andrew and Bjorn. I have to say, the morning service was a lot more welcoming and familiar than the night service, even if I didn't know any of the songs. It's a similar structure to KCC and we also had communion, which was good. Yeah, much better atmosphere in the morning...but it's still a little big and intimidating, haha.

After that, we met up with some others and had a barbeque/roast meat lunch. Roast duck, roast pork, barbeque pork and spicy chicken wings! :3



I also took the opportunity to try a honey milk tea, which was very average. Although it was better than the one from Cha (See my post a few days ago), it still doesn't compare to Momo's. Sigh.



Finally, I forgot to post this a few days ago, but here is the Wat Tan Hor I had from K.K. Malaysian Restaurant.


Happy New Year!

Wow..it's 2008 already. Happy New Year indeed - I hope you all had a wonderful celebration with family and friends.

I don't know, I feel a bit down. I'm uncertain of what 2008 holds for me, especially with moving down and starting work. I miss Debs, because I would have liked to spend New Year's with her. As I write this, she still has another 3 hours to go lol.

Anyway, in summary of what I have done: Burgerfuel was closed so Sam and I went to this takeaway called Alligators where they serve huge burgers; spent time with the youth group just chilling and playing games; went to Point Chev beach and watched the fireworks at the Sky Tower; made a toast (with Grapetiser) with the youth group to the New Year; got locked inside Coyle Park (damn Auckland Council); got let out from Coyle Park; went to Momo's :D and played DotA. It's been a great night.