Sunday, 18 August 2013

Some things never change

I've been staying with a friend here in Vancouver. I lived with him before I moved to Korea. In the same apartment. I don't think he's cleaned it since I was here last, 10 years ago. There is a thick layer of dust over everything. I opened a closet the other day, there is now a mark on the carpet from the door moving the dust off the carpet. It's truly disgusting.

My friend is Asian. Hong Kong Chinese, to be exact. He is unlike any Chinese/Asian man I have ever met. Maybe that is why I'm so bitter. I was expecting all Asians to be like my friend. He is also socially awkward, like most of my friends-- a little weird, but he is one of the most kind-hearted, generous people I know. He puts up with me after all. He's never rude, always tries to be respectful and would give you shirt off his back. He also smokes more dope than any one I know, including myself.

Naturally, being Asian from Hong Kong, my friend eats a lot of Asian food when he has to cook for himself. His cupboards are full of noodles and strange salty sauces. Ironically enough, in his fridge is a tub of kim-chi. Out of sheer laziness, I ate kimchi and rice for dinner a couple of days ago because I didn't feel like cooking. I guess I had to cook the rice, but again, being Asian, my friend also has a rice cooker, so I didn't do much other than but rice and water in a pot and press a button. I swore I would never eat rice and kimchi together in the same meal again. I was wrong, but I only ate that one meal, not three in a row for 8 months. It has been at least four months.

Coming back here made me remember how much of Asian culture I had already experienced years before I ever went to Korea. Seeing this apartment again made realize how nothing, and I really mean absolutely nothing has changed in 10 years. The boxes of crap are in the exact same place with 10 years of dust covering them.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

No WiFi

Is both a blessing in disguise and a pain in the ass.

It is a blessing because I might actually get some work done. When you're main job and source of income is your own creative juice, you need to spend a lot of time squeezing it for all it's worth. It's difficult to find the energy sometimes. The inspiration is everywhere, but actually following through is like exercising every day-- you want to do it and you know you it needs to be done, but any excuse to procrastinate is welcome. It's so much easier to waste hours on Facebook, or watching videos or TV. With no WiFi, I can actually spend time finishing the dictation of my novels, do the very much needed rewrites, maybe even finish those paintings I've been putting off (as soon as I get some actual paint to paint with).

It's a pain in the ass, because as a person who is constantly in a different place, the only way I can communicate with the world at large or read the news or actually work, I have to leave the house and hunt down somewhere that offers free WiFi so I can check my email, search job sites for freelance work, reassure my friends & family I ma in fact still alive and work, such as writing this blog post.

So here I sit at Starbucks, drinking iced coffee and leaching WiFi. It turns out I have 20 new email messages, only two or three that have any importance. The rest of it is pretty much spam even though I don't have my junk mail filter deleting them. There's no new messages and nothing really of interest on Facebook either, so I'm not missing much.

I spent a couple of hours walking around my friend's neighbourhood. It's like a residential Chinatown with hipster cafes and eateries. The local corner store is (inevitably) run by a  Korean couple. I brought a smile to their faces when I realized they were Korean and communicated almost entirely in Korean with them. At a crosswalk, on each of four corners is a bank. There are two small family-run grocers on either side of the street and a traditional toy store with a ceramic painting section. A little further down the street is a gallery/walk-in studio. When I find a source of cheap paint, I may go and use the facilities. I bought some cheap sunglasses and a hacky-sack(it seemed like the Vancouver thing to have) at a local dollar store.

I also got a pen-like device (it looks like a silver bullet) to use on my touch screen that attaches to my smartphone by using a plastic headphone jack insert. It's good in concept, poor in execution. When you plug it in, you won't lose the pen, but you also won't hear any of the ringtones or notifications because the stupid smartphone doesn't realize it's not a pair of headphones...

Another friend of mine lent me a bike. I haven't got it yet, but I pretty happy about it. Now I don't have to use the dumb bus system. Not only is it outrageously expensive, but the BC Transit system, in their infinite wisdom, have a new fare system where the tickets for the bus and skytrain are no longer compatible. So, if you use the bus and switch to the train, you have to pay twice. It's a blatant money grab and shameful for such a world-class city. They also don't have very many options for reduced fares. For a city that prides itself on it's forward-thinking and environmentalism, this is a huge FAIL. High fares and price gouging only encourages people to use cars instead.

If I was staying here for longer than three weeks, I would buy a car or scooter. I have a bike instead. I'll be super fit by the time I get to Bangkok, another bonus since I have a 50 lb. bag to carry along with all my computer gear, sketchbooks, notebooks, & paintings. I decided the backpack I have specially designed to carry art supplies was too much, so I didn't bring it with me. I have a large sketchbook, some coloured pencils, brushes and blank canvases, but no paint or any other art supplies (I have a lot of different things you wouldn't expect to need, like rulers,French curves, various grades of pens and pencils and tools for carving). I'm sure I can find a small cheap starter set somewhere for a couple of dollars and I'll use up all the paint on one painting. I'll just buy a new set every time I want to paint a canvas.

So far, I'm loving Vancouver. I never realized how much I really missed this city.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Vancouver, bitches!

A new journey has begun. For the next three weeks, I'll be enjoying Vancouver and all the riches British Columbia has to offer. My flight out here was uneventful. And for that, I'm glad. It would really suck to crash upon landing. The more uneventful any flight is, the better. No thrills air travel is the way I like it. To say I'm excited to be here would be an understatement for more than a couple of reasons.

First off, I'll be able to hang out with my daughter who, except for a brief few hours a couple of months ago, I haven't seen since she visited me in Seoul more than a couple of years ago.

This was my first real home after high school, so I met a lot of people during my 13 years here and like Kitchener, it's going to be awesome to reconnect to all those people. If it can be managed, a buddy of mine has agreed we should go on a little road trip to Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast to visit some friends. The only problem, (and it's to be expected, really) is all those people now have kids and/or real 9 to 5 jobs, whereas, here I sit in a bar drinking (a) beer (and more than a couple of cups of coffee) and writing this blog, which is essentially my only job right now (which is good for you, otherwise you wouldn't have something to waste your time while you're at work ;-).

That's not entirely true. Since I arrived at 1 am, I barely slept on an uncomfortable bench at the airport and then used their electrical plugs and WiFi for a few hours. During that time, I changed my location settings for a few websites like Facebook, Kijiji (here & here), Craigslist (here & here) and Linkedin. Applied for a few jobs and made my plans for the day. As long as I can continue to find free WiFi wherever I go, I'm golden. Thanks to that same potentially free Wifi and free text messaging plans, as well as the fact I left a big deposit on my phone when I was connected to Roger's service, I don't even have to change my phone number until my service is disconnected when I go to Bangkok. If I can figure out how to unlock my phone without paying Rogers $50 to do it for me, I can use the same phone with a different SIM card when I get there. I love technology.

So the plan later today is to meet Z, meet up with some old friends, reminisce about the past, catch up on the present and plan for the future.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Looking back

One cool thing about keeping a record or diary is the ability to look back at what you were doing years ago and see how things have changed. I can't look that far back, only last year, but it's still cool to see.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Friday night, Friday night, Friday night!

And it's pissing rain. For dinner, I had a pizza. I made the pizza from scratch, including the dough. Then, I made cookies. It was awesome.
I'm still making myself scarse from my sister, but I made two bracelets with/for my nieces.
Then I went out. I bought a couple beers to go to a birthday party. From the time I left to the time I arrived at my destination, about 30 minutes, it went from beautiful sunshine to a dark and stormy night.
The party is at a pub in the next city. I haven't seen the birthday boy in 20 years. I'm not sure what he looks like anymore. The pub is cool. Like the Cambie in Vancouver, or Hollywood in Seoul. All the girls wear a uniform consisting of a black tee with short, catholic school girl skirts. I don't mind the wait.
I'm not prepared for the weather.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Today, For breakfast, I ate...

I did zero sit-ups. It's been that kind of day. I actually started this post yesterday on my stupid smartphone, but I lost the post in the ether of the interwebs and had to start over. I have no idea what I was writing about before other than I was only writing for the sake of writing at least one thing today. Now, it's tomorrow. It hasn't change much. I'm still only writing for more of a placeholder than anything else. A record to show that I did.

Now, I'm killing time. My departure is imminent. I'm counting the days until I leave. In the meantime, my mother is babysitting my nieces. The idea that I'm (not really) looking after my sister's children for a week is a comedy of tragedies. I've been mostly staying out of the way. My computer needed fixing, I had plenty of things to occupy me.

For the first time ever, in my entire (20+ years) computer tech career, I did a complete systems backup. I've never backed up a computer in my life until yesterday. I've never needed to, and when people bring me their computers to fix, by then it's way too late, or they wouldn't be bring it to me. I usually just save what files I can and re-install Windows.

I got a new hard disk and it was the easiest upgrade/install I've ever done. My computer is clean and has no problems, though. I saved a basic backup disk image to a portable USB drive, swapped out the hard disk in my laptop for a bigger, faster, and uncut hard drive, restored the disk image from the backup in the portable drive to the new hard drive, and butta-bing, butta-bang, I'm back to working on my computer exactly as I left it... 12 fucking hours later... Watching little progress bars scroll across the monitor is worse than watching paint dry (which is worse than watching water boil. I know this because I can now say I've done all three). The process isn't entirely automated. I have to be there at certain points to click "ok" every so often. It sucks. That's why I charge the big bucks for this kind of stuff. It's boring.

I dictated a couple more pages of my novel into my computer. I sit here and talk to a computer for at least 2 hours a day. I'm in a house with 3 other people for 8 hours and I barely say a full sentence to any of them. How fucked up is that?

That's it. That's what I did for 2 days. For lunch, I had...