My Brother’s Alarm Clock

As probably mentioned before, my brother and I shared a room while we grew up together.  At some point he got a new alarm clock.  It was a fancy one that was also a radio and a CD player.  It was pretty bulky, as the built in speakers were loud enough to make it double as a boom box.

As we all know, right out of college, he got a job at Raytheon at a location that required him to wake up at 5am to make a reasonable commute time.  So, naturally he used the alarm clock mentioned above with it set to CD mode.  To prevent himself from getting too comfortable with the song being played, he would cycle through his songs and CDs.  This nostalgia trip is brought to you by the songs that I can recall hearing all the time:

Even though I woke up about an hour later to get ready for zero period orchestra, he was still pretty good about waking up and turning the alarm off within a few seconds.  Some days he woke up to the sound of the CD player starting up and he was able to disable it before any music played.  Other days, the whole intro of the song would play out and then he would wake up.  And once a blue moon, he would turn off the alarm and fall back asleep.  Several minutes later my dad would come in to wake up him up, followed by an audible “oh shoot!” as my brother sped through his morning routine.

It’s hard to fault him on it though, waking up at 5am is no fun.

Community Service

Back in Middle School and High School, when I was still a piano student, my piano teacher would have us visit convalescent homes to play piano for the elderly there.  She never really prefaced it much.  She just called it “Community Service” and told us students that we were required to go.  Really, it was just an excuse to have scattered mini piano recitals throughout the year.

My piano teacher would coordinate with the same convalescent home every time, and have us come in early in the morning.  Despite going there multiple times, I vaguely recall it always being a cloudy or gloomy day.  The nurses and care takers would wheel in the elderly into the multipurpose room and line them up.  At the front of the room was a rickety piano that was slightly out of tune and needed a phone book to stabilize the foot pedals.  Over the years, it would be pretty clockwork in terms of how things ran.  We would line up youngest to oldest and sit in front of everyone.  Whoever was the oldest student there was in charge of essentially being an MC (welcoming people and announcing who is next).  Each student would play their prepared song, and it would follow with a small applause.  90% of the audience was probably asleep, inattentive, or didn’t have the ability to applaud; so most of it came from the nurses and parents standing in the back.  At the end, we would be presented certificates in appreciation from the staff.

For the most part, it was get in and get out.  I remember counting down the number of students left to play.  Since there was often a large age range, the first half would fly by due to little ones playing their level 1 and 2 songs.  And then the last 2 or 3 students would take forever because they would have a 10 minute sonata.  I just wanted to go home and have a fun filled Saturday.  I don’t know if any of this was particularly meaningful to our audience.  It may have just been something to watch or listen while the nurses cleaned their beds and rooms.  I’m sure those that were attentive appreciated the change in activity.  I think if we weren’t there, a typical Saturday morning involved a book reading or watching TV in that same room.

I never really thought much of it.  I mean, who would when you had to wake up early on a Saturday morning to do something you didn’t really want to do.  Upon reflecting a little bit, I think it’s a pretty cool concept now.  For the younger or more shy students, it gave them some experience performing in front of an audience, albeit in a more casual setting.  For the older students, it was somewhat of a leadership opportunity having to be responsible and publicly speak on behalf of everyone.  Whether or not this was intentional, I appreciate that my piano teacher did this now.  As for the elderly I played for, I’d like to think that I impacted them, if even just a little bit.

Pokemon Memories

 

With all the hype and craze of Pokemon Go being passed around, I can’t help but reminisce on the nostalgia surrounding it.  I’m still not going to play it, in fear that I will be too into it.  It’s true that pretty much everyone plays.  A few of my office mates that are ~40 year old women talk daily about Pokemon Go and their latest encounters.  Apparently their middle school sons got them hooked.  I meant to write this post earlier, but I got caught up in some other things.

Anyway, time for some memories.

I remember learning about the concept of Pokemon during one Saturday afternoon at my cousin’s house.  It was a simpler time, so going over to play and what not was a common occurrence.  If my memory serves me correctly, this was around the time he had broken his arm.  The mystery of all the different types of Pokemon and their respective attacks; so interesting and cool for my 3rd grade self.  It wasn’t too long after watching him play a bit that I wanted a copy of the game.  I chose Blue version because I like the color blue and because my brother chose Red.  Perfectly fine logic, right?

My very first Pokemon was Bulbasaur.  I remember this because I thought it was pronounced bubble-saur, and so I figured he was the water type.  I was so eager to play that I didn’t check and just went with it.

I spent a portion of the game being underleveled, because I caught pretty much caught every new Pokemon I saw and I was scared of battling.  I would run away and avoid wild Pokemon and even try to sidestep trainers.

The same cousin that introduced me to the game, Andy, traded me a Ghastly very early into the game.  It was cool until it stopped listening to me because I didn’t have enough badges.  The boosted experience was nice too, it would eventually become the first Pokemon I legitimately trained to level 100.  This is partly why Gengar is my favorite Pokemon.

My First Pokemon roster consisted of Venusaur, Gengar, Pidgeot, Dugtrio, Nidoqueen and Articuno.  I had a Golem, but I traded it away to Andy.  We had a Pokemon battle and he wagered his Level 70 Dragonite.  It was his Dragonite versus my entire team of ~lvl 40 Pokemon.  Naive me thought I could win.  He almost Hyper Beam swept me, except Hyper Beam can’t hit Gengar.

I barely beat the elite four and Gary at the end of the game.  After battling Lance, I had two Pokemon left.  It came down to me using a PP Up and Max Ether on Articuno’s Blizzard, so that it could sweep his entire team.  For some reason, I refused to “black out” in the game.  I know you only lose a little in-game money, but still, it was like the end of the world to me.

I went on to play Silver, Sapphire, Leaf Green, Diamond and Black versions.  And then after that, I stopped.  I stopped caring to keep up with the latest Pokemon and I think I grew out of playing a DS.  Keeping up with 649 Pokemon was too much (and now there’s more).

BUT before I stopped, I got into competitive Pokemon battling.  I remember coming home from high school to watch the latest MTG Xerxes battle video.  And to a lesser extent, ZeldaMasterTimmy and TheShadowProjekt (whom have deleted their accounts for some reason).  I didn’t know many people that battled, so I did most of Pokemon battling on a simulator, Shoddy.  Now known as Pokemon Showdown.

During Generation IV, my favorite Pokemon battle team consisted of Azelf, Lickilicky, Gengar, Steelix, Bronzong and Jolteon.  The team centered around the fact that ⅚ of them used Explosion and Jolteon was there to finish everyone off.  No one ever saw it coming.

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During Generation V, my favorite Pokemon battle team consisted of Ninetails, Venusaur, Salamence, Shedinja, Donphan and Cresselia.  This was a “Sunny Day” team.  It was horribly underrated and difficult to play.  The wins felt so rewarding though.

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Enough Pokemon memories for now.. perhaps more will come to me later?

3rd Grade Flashback

I had the oddest flashback.  It occurred as I stuck my office key into the doorknob when I arrived at work the other day.  For, turning the key reminded me of a moment in 3rd grade.  My best friends and classmates in Carver then?  Winston and Tiffany.  Winston found a key on the ground, and he kept it in his desk.  During down/free times in class, he would try to “sell” it to us by bringing it out and spinning it in slow motion while humming this song:

If you didn’t play Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you might not fully understand that.

Anyway, the flashback went a little further in my memory as I recalled that we used to collect eraser dust.

Yes.  Eraser dust.

It began as an innocent hobby.  Amongst some of the prizes our teacher, Mrs. Dambrun, gave us was erasers.  There were a few colors to choose from, and they were the type of erasers that looked like this:

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Except, they didn’t erase pen (yet).

I forget who started it, but one of them thought it was cool to collect the eraser scraps/dust into a lead pencil case.  The mixture of teal, pink and other colors in a clear container made for a poor man’s confetti in a bottle.  And because our imaginations were HUGE, we decided that these containers would be like our Pokemon.  And to “train” them, we would fill it with more dust.  We even drew Pokemon on a small piece of paper and taped it on.  Remember, we’re 7 and 8 years old at this moment in time.

It soon got to a point where we couldn’t wait to erase things anymore.  Rather, we essentially harvested the erasers manually by whatever means we could (erasing nothing, friction, etc.).  And then we became 4th graders and forgot about it.  I wish I dug it up and had a picture for you, but no, I’m very certain I threw mine out a long time ago.

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Three’s company..

The Best Worst Distraction

I meant to write about this a while back, but I was a little embarrassed.  Anyway, this untold story and nostalgia trip is brought to you by this YouTube video:

It was Spring 2013 in school and we were about half-way through finals week.  Eddie and I were gearing up for our last finals of the quarter.  For me, it would be my last final ever; for Eddie, he still had Summer school to finish up a couple of classes.  The two of us were diligently studying as dinner neared.  Finished with finals already, Man Lauren stopped by to visit/bother us.  In typical 140E fashion, the door was unlocked anyway, so there wasn’t much impeding him.

He didn’t stay for long, but before he left, he told us of this anime called “Attack on Titan”.  He even convinced us to watch the first episode with him.  It’s hard to turn down his charming smile, and besides, we deserved a break leading into dinner.

Long story short, Eddie and I watched the next episode as we ate dinner.  And then we watched another one…

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And another one…

Until next thing we know, it’s like 9pm and we’re all caught up with the show.  Joe, Rachel and Ann stopped by later (with pizza) and inquired about what we did all day.  To which we shamefully described this same story.  And then we hurried back off to studying, distracted with the same thought on our mind:

“I can’t wait for the next episode to come out next week!”

Thunder and Lightning

During Thanksgiving lunch at my grandma’s house, I had a faint memory.  I was in my great grandma’s old room.  Due to her old age, my grandpa housed her there for many years.  She passed away a few years ago, but her bathroom was still usable as all the other ones in the house were occupied.

While there, I remembered how my cousins, siblings and I spent a fair amount of time in her room.  If she wasn’t giving us candy or money with coins taped to it or scolding us, we were in there to hide from the loud sounds of thunder.  Granted, a lot of it was probably a monkey-see-monkey-do type of thing, it’s easy to just do what everyone else is doing when your ages  4-10.

One particular instance went like this.  Five of us (Jeremy, Grace, Andy, Ashley and I) were hanging out/playing in the living room on a stormy night.  Back then, the house wasn’t very lit, except for the light bleeding in from the kitchen and any residual light from outside.  We sat by the glass sliding doors as we did what kids did in the 90’s (play with their imaginations together).  When suddenly, a flash of light blinked, followed by a loud crack of thunder.  It wasn’t terribly loud, but it was enough to cause my sister to get scared and run into our great grandma’s room.  The rest of us giggled a little because of how scared she was.  And then as if God was punishing us for our teasing, an even louder crack of thunder occurred.  That cued all of us to run into our great grandma’s room as well.  Needless to say, we spent the remainder of our evening there as she sipped tea and talked to us.

Also, I remembered this:

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Lost

So I saw this video floating around Facebook the other day:

From that, I was reminded of that time I got lost in France with my sister and cousin, Andy.  It’s actually a simple story.  It was my aunt, my uncle, cousins Grace and Andy, my sister and I as we went on a ~1 week vacation in parts of France.  For this part of the trip, we weren’t part of the tour group yet and we were just exploring.  We used the train/subway system to get around and we were heading back to the hotel.  As the train came to a halt at our stop, a street performer came in and started playing his accordian.  The thing is, he blocked the entrance and so we (Andy, sister and I) attempted to go out the other door.  Automated for a fast paced environment, the doors began to close before we could get out.  The train sped off as we saw our aunt running after it.  Grace and my uncle were able to get off as well.

It might not seem like a significantly scary moment, but bare in mind that I was 13 in this story; which meant my sister was 11 and Andy was 15.  Visibly, my sister began to freak out a little bit.  I was scared, but I remember I was so focused on giving the accordion man a dirty look.  I didn’t even know that street performing on a subway/train was a thing.  Cellphone-less, we didn’t have a way to contact the others.  Money-less, we couldn’t buy a ticket to go backwards one stop.  Although, I’m sure we could have waited for another train to go the other way and just hop on.  Anyway, Andy was smart and decided we should just walk back in the direction of the other train stop, and ultimately, back to the hotel.  He lead us down the streets as if he knew what he was doing and within half an hour, we were back in our rooms, playing Gameboy to pass the time.

Another half hour later, the others came back and found us in our rooms.  They were relieved, but were mad at us.  Apparently they were waiting for us at the station for the past hour.  In hindsight, it would have made sense for them to do that and for us to go there first.  Again, we’re 13, 11 and 15 in this story.  Logical thinking was not very developed yet.

The Choir

During the start of my college career, I would come home for pretty much every weekend.  Especially during freshmen year, where I didn’t have a car to use yet, and it was just easier for laundry.  For every English Speaking Worship Service (formerly Worship@11), I always had a weird sense of peace as service ended.  The way our church always has the choir sing after the benediction reminds me of this scene in HBO’s Band of Brothers:

War-torn, battered, injured, dejected… that’s how it felt sometimes after a week of school (academically, of course).  The scene also describes the members that were missing or killed in action.  This resonates as well, as sometimes I wouldn’t see my friends as they were stuck studying at school or working on a project.  So, to hear the choir before I needed to pack up and head back to school was soothing, even if there was nothing to be worried about.  Sure, most of the time I wouldn’t go back until after dinner, but the concept was still there.  The fact that I had to wake up for class the next day still sat on my mind.  Even now, the fact that I have to wake up for work the next day still sits on my mind for the rest of Sunday afternoon.

With that being said, I enjoy and appreciate the choir in service, as meaningless as it might seem to others.  That’s just me.

KZ

I’ve mentioned KZ (Kevin) a couple of times on this blog.  Remember?

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This nostalgia trip is brought to you by “Secrets” by OneRepublic.  More specifically, starting from here:

This song came on during my haircut on Tuesday and I was instantly reminded.  You might be wondering: “Why would this song remind you of him?”.  “Secrets” was, and might still be, his ringtone of choice.  Whether it was an Epic event or if a bunch of us were just hanging out at an apartment, it would usually ring.  It was almost iconic.  Hear the song.  Think of Kevin.  Tell him his phone is ringing if he’s in a different room.

As you may know, I didn’t really know Kevin through during his time in college; I got to know him after he graduated from CPP.  When I still played League of Legends, we would spend many an evening together over Skype.  In between games and during loading screens, there were many opportunities to chat about life and other regular stuff.  And of course, on multiple occasions, I would suddenly hear his phone ring, with the same ringtone.

We actually haven’t talked in a while.  I’ve systematically quit and started playing again for various reasons.  Maybe it’s time for me to start up again…

Cold Pizza

I had pizza more than once this week, so I was reminded of this instance.

I actually don’t quite remember which trip it was we got back from.  It was either my first China trip, or the Italy trip with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  My only frame of reference is that it was after our house was remodeled (post 2001).

Anyways, my siblings and I were still young, which meant we didn’t really know how to beat jet lag.  We just stayed up on the plane to watch movies or play Gameboy.  The weird thing was, the jet lag didn’t hit us immediately, rather it got us a day and a half later.  It started with me, who suddenly woke up around 4am.  I tossed and turned a little bit and let out a sigh as I realized I was wide awake.  As I stared at the ceiling I suddenly heard my brother whisper to me:

“Are you awake..?”

“Yeah..” I replied.

I mumbled something like “let’s just play N64”, to which my brother agreed immediately.  We turned on the lights and moved to the far corner of our room.  We had previously set up a TV there for our entertainment.  Sure, we owned an Xbox, but for whatever reason, we were looking to revisit some old games.  We stuck in the Super Mario 64 cartridge and began to play.  We had a blast realizing we were a lot smarter now that we were 4-5 years older.  Suddenly the game wasn’t so frustratingly hard.  We kept quiet knowing that everyone else was probably asleep.

We were probably still a little noisy, because not too long after, our sister came into our room.  Apparently she woke up and couldn’t sleep either.  We ended up getting all 120 stars in Mario before we switched to some other games (Super Smash Bros, Kirby 64, Mario Kart).

While we were being restless, we all noticed we were getting hungry.  We had some leftover pizza in the fridge from dinner.  My siblings elected to reheat their pizza in the toaster oven, but I was impatiently hungry; I decided to eat it cold.  It was the first time I ever had cold pizza, but I still enjoyed it.  Little did I know that cold pizza was actually a thing.

It was a cool time to be young.  To let jet lag defeat you and to be able to spend the time with siblings doing slightly out of date things.  We played until the sun rose into the sky and we went about the rest of our day as if it never happened.