Locks and Key

Growing up, one of the house rules was that we were not allowed to lock the doors to our bedrooms.  Well, actually my parents allowed themselves to lock their own door, because they’re the parents.  And, it didn’t take long before my sister gained the privilege to lock her door “because she’s a girl”.  And there would be times I would be locked out of my own room because my brother was studying.  So really, unless I was in the bathroom, only I was not allowed to lock a door.  I never really asked for the real reasons behind it; even to this day I chalk it up to being the middle child.

My sister made a habit out of locking her door.  Whether she was taking her daily 3 hour nap or just on her computer, it remained locked.  It was such a habit, that she often locked herself out of her own room.  To which, she would always come bursting into our room and walk through the conjoining bathroom.  It was pretty annoying at times.

The locks on our doors are actually simple button door knobs.  That is, all you need is a toothpick or paperclip to stick into the other side to unlock the door.  Unless my mom was in a hurry to wake up my sister, she would try to refrain from coming through my room to get to my sister.

So, when I was still into Gundams and building its models, I had an Altron.

You can actually remove the fancy the blades from the ends of its weapon, and you would be left with a ~3 inch gray stick.  I found that stick to be quite effective in unlocking doors.  I showed my mom this when she had trouble finding something to get my sister’s door open.  One day I came home and my mom told me the stick had snapped in half.  I wasn’t mad or sad or anything as I was pretty much growing out of Gundams at that point.  Over the years, it’s broken a few more times and is still being used.

Now that my sister has grown she takes 4 hour naps and as small as that stick is, it’s still has enough reach to unlock the door.

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Operation Cheesy Cat, Attempt #2

Our college days were over.  We graduated, got jobs and started growing up a little bit.  For Eddie, Lauren and I, our friendship continued in the form of a Facebook message thread and scattered hangouts.  At some point, Lauren would introduce us to the game Hearthstone.  An online collectible card game that was free to play, who could resist?  Not me.

Naturally, if I found out a friend played, I would add them to my friend list in the game.  One of these friends was Katrina.  She posted on Facebook that she played too, so I messaged her for her game ID.  I was a little surprised that she responded, I was afraid she would ignore me because the last time I spoke to her, we were sophomores.

Once a blue moon, I’d log on and see that she was playing too.  We’d chat a little bit, though it never moved too far from small talk.  It was kind of weird talking with her, because she basically didn’t exist socially from 2010 to 2013.  In those sparse conversations, I learned one piece of vital information; she had a boyfriend.  No, it didn’t mean she was off limits for me; rather she was off limits for Eddie.  At least for now.

Months would pass and the conversations continued.  And then something happened.  Since our conversations were usually 1 – 2 months apart, the question of “what’s new?” often had legitimate and fresh answers.  On this particular evening, I happened to ask how things were going with her boyfriend.  She said that they had broken up a while back and I expressed my sympathy.  At this point, a trigger went off in the back of my head.

DING ding DING! Operation Cheesy Cat Greenlighted! Go go go!

But I needed a catalyst of some sort..

Another grade hangout!

I just knew if I could get those two in contact again, something would happen.  All the magic, romance and cheesy stuff they experienced as Freshmen would come surging back.  I just needed them to look at each other again or something like that.

But first I needed to test the waters.  The next time I saw Katrina on Hearthstone, I talked to her about the idea of helping me plan a grade reunion.  She liked the idea too and I asked her to also help me hype it up and promote it too.  As soon as that Facebook event was made, I messaged Eddie.  Being upfront, I told him “I’m getting you back together with Katrina”.  I think he was skeptical again, but Lauren supported my idea.

The plan was simple.  Have a grade hangout, let them reacquaint and let the magic happen.  I even went as far as essentially structuring everything around her.  That is, scheduling the hangout on the only night and time frame she was free and such.

Little did I know there was still so much energy between them.

Again, not so much my story to tell, but before we even got to our grade hangout, Eddie and Katrina got back together and became official.  She ended up messaging him to make sure things wouldn’t be weird.  They met up for coffee and reconvened.  The grade hangout still happened, but it was now just a formal presentation of the new Eddie and Katrina.

Operation Cheesy Cat was a success.

After Eddie thanked me profusely, he told me I won the award for Wingman of the Year 2015.  I jokingly told him to commemorate that with a trophy or medal.  And now that they’re married, he did:

One of my finer moments in life, I’ll treasure this forever.

Desert Bus for Hope

A while ago, I discovered the comedy troupe known as LoadingReadyRun.  I enjoy watching their videos from time to time as it it appeals to my nerdy side.  Their content usually consists of things about video games, board games and card games; among other nonsense.  Notably and once a year, they host an event called Desert Bus for Hope, which I’ll let you read about here.

I remember hearing about this event, but never thought much of it.  When November rolled around, I had remembered it by chance.  I read some articles about it, saw some snippets and found some gifs; I decided this was something I wanted to be participate in.

During the week that it aired, I tuned in with whatever little free time I had.  Admittedly, I would sometimes watch a little bit during my lunch breaks.  I made an account so that I could immerse myself in the chaos that is Twitch chat.  You would think that a lot of things go unnoticed in chat, but they do a pretty good job of keeping tabs on what’s being said.  I was the one that asked what ‘creepy doll’ was.  You can view that snippet here.

I even submitted a question for their trivia:

Part of the reason why I tuned in was because I had found out they had sold out of their exclusive pins within the first day.  Remember, tell Josh something is exclusive or limited edition, and he’ll want it so bad.  The only way to get one after that announcement was to win a raffle or auction.

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So then I made a donor account and brainstormed on what to bid on.  Part of the appeal of a charity auction is that some people use it as a money sink to get a better tax break.  These generous donors set the bar high with some items going for thousands of dollars.  I’m not swimming in money so I kind of had to look for reasonable things to bid on.  I eventually won a silent auction for two tickets to see a screening of “Director’s Cut”, a movie produced and written by Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller).  Of course, the tickets were for a theater in San Francisco, so they were of little use to me.  There was a bit of a mixup as I waited to receive said tickets, which lead me to be in direct contact with Penn’s wife (text messaging) for a bit.  I thought it was cool that I wasn’t just forwarded to some support personnel, but rather straight to the source.

In addition, the auction lot includes the following:

A signed copy of a Spider-Man / Deadpool comic that featured Penn and Teller:

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A signed magic kit:

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A signed copy of Penn’s book, “Presto!”:

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All pretty neat, though I was happiest to see my pin come in the mail:

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All cool stuff aside, donating to this cause felt especially good.  It hit home the more I learned about Child’s Play and what they do.  I remembered the time my sister was in the hospital and how boring and dull life must have been for her during that period.  I thought about how there are probably a lot of kids out there that don’t have parents by their side the whole time, Netflix or a stack of their brother’s DVD collection.  How tragic if there wasn’t even a TV in their hospital room!  Anyway, I can relate a little bit.  I’ll leave you all with these:

Most Treasured Pokemon Cards

I don’t have a super extensive Pokemon card collection, but considering they’re almost 20 years old, I’d say they’re pretty vintage.  Yes, I was 6 or 7 when the craze hit North America.  I remember the inflation of the booster pack; somehow Orbit justified selling one booster pack for $7 a piece.  It was probably the peak of Gamekeeper before so many of their storefronts closed down.  There were lines that lead outside the store, with a buying limit of 10 booster packs per customer.  I was buying packs throughout the Jungle, Fossil and Team Rocket expansions until I eventually grew out of it.

It’s not much, but here’s the shoe box that houses my old Pokemon cards.  I even still have the few decks I made:

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Due to me not sleeving my cards, I can’t imagine they’re worth much, not even my Charizard.

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Before he got married and moved out of his parents’ house, my cousin handed me the remnants of his collection.  This handful of cards:

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All those aside, perhaps the cards that I treasure the most are these:

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They are movie promo cards.  Not to be mistaken with the cards you get when you watched the movie.  I don’t know if card publishers still do this, where they release cards with movie snippets and info on it, and they’re sold in a booster pack as well.

Some back story.  It was a Saturday afternoon and I was just in my room playing with my toys or something.  My mom was running errands and on her way back she picked up a pack of those cards pictured above.  She didn’t know that they weren’t the playing cards.  She just saw Pokemon and a pack and figured it was what I’ve been wanting.  I remember her asking me if they were the right ones as she handed them to me.  I solemnly said “no..”, but still appreciated them (it was a Pokemon item after all).  Keep in mind that I’m 9 years old in this story, yet a part of me understood the thought and effort she put into it.  I even added it to my card binder, putting them into its own 9-slot page section.  Come to think of it, that pack of cards might be the only pack of cards my mom ever bought me.  Other than Pokemon, I played Overpower, Yugioh, Magic and Magi-nation.  The sentimental value is through the roof.

Handshake

Leading up to his wedding, I thought it’d be appropriate to talk about the interesting friendship I have with Daniel, whom many of you refer to as Danny.  I was asked how I know him and I started by giving the usual response that we grew up in the same church, he’s only a year older than me, we did the same church activities and now we serve together in college Sunday school.

After all was said and done, I then realized, he was my first small group leader in Hikoi!

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It was probably the starting point of when I got to know him.  I’m sure there are plenty of funny or weird interactions between then and now.  Anyway, we do this weird thing where we shake our hands without shaking hands.  That is, we touch hands and stop there; like two literal dead fish shaking hands.

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I forget when or why we started doing that, but it’s here to stay.

That’s all!

Those Stargazing Sophomores

Hikoi Winter Retreat 2005

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As I’ve mentioned before on previous posts, my grade at church was pretty split.  The girls kept to themselves, as did the guys (not that us guys made it easy for the girls to talk to us).  On top of that, we were all pretty clique-y.

For whatever reason, it usually takes one retreat or Summer camp to spur some change.

Maybe it was because we were sophomores and all this was still new to us.  But we made the most of it by forcing ourselves to eat together and interact during free time.  It was all pretty cool, but the big turning point came on the second night.  The edge group leaders (when the concept still existed) gathered and decided to do a grade bonding activity.  Thanks to all the poetry I was learning I was a budding romantic, which lead me to have the clever idea to go stargazing.  I was surprised that it was considered a good idea.

So the lot of us (counselors included) went out in the chilly evening to a dark spot under the stars.  As we looked up into the night sky, the floor was open for anyone to speak.  Without much hesitation, there were a couple girls that had plenty of harsh things to say about the guys.  Before their tirades got too far, the counselors shut them down.  After they were done, we had a chance to have real talk.  That is, we agreed to be more intentional with others in our grade.  The theme for the year was “No Borders” after all.  We looked to break down cliques and talk to those that were more or less outcasted.

As we came back from Camp Sky Meadows, I thought that retreat was so cool, I needed to remind myself everyday of those events.  So, I folded an origami star everyday, numbered it, and placed it in this jar:

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This would also serve as a reminder for me to read my Bible.  Sure, our fire for interaction would die down within a few months, but this was a huge step in our development as a grade.  This stargazing moment would become iconic for the remainder of the Hikoi year.

It’s funny, in recent years, I’ve confronted some of the girls regarding their animosity towards the guys and they 100% deny it.  Then again, not everyone has a memory as good as mine.  I mean, it’s cool, there’s no bad blood or anything like that; I just wanted to know how annoying we were.

The Vase

“What do you want for Christmas?”, Sharon asked my cousin Princeton over AIM.

Prince and I were at our grandma’s house, as we always were after school let out.  We were 9th graders and it was just a couple weeks before our Winter break.  We were doing homework, and I happen to be on his computer.  After the initial “ooooh, you’re talking to a girl”, I pointed at his laptop screen as he rummaged through his backpack.

“Just say anything, it doesn’t matter”, He said looking up at the screen.

He might have meant for me to literally type in “anything, it doesn’t matter” into the chat box, but I interpreted it as I can request anything I wanted.  I scanned the room really quick for some inspiration.  I sent Sharon the following:

“Get me.. a vase!”

And that’s the story of one of Princeton’s and my greatest inside jokes.  That’s why we always get little giggly at the mention of vases.  Throughout the rest of our high school career, there was a lot of back and forth.  I would get him a vase for Christmas and he would tell people I really wanted a vase for my birthday, and so forth.

The last instance was our senior year.  That year, I was really into making gifts, rather than simply buying something.  Over time, I had been collecting Snapple bottle caps (with the facts); specifically from the green tea line.

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I knew I wanted to do something with them, but I wasn’t really sure what for, so I just accumulated them.  So I got a vase and filled it with those caps.  I wrapped it up nicely and gave it to Princeton for Christmas.  We got a good laugh out of it.

Perhaps the funniest thing was a little bit after the fact.  As he was driving home, he made a sharp turn, which tipped the vase over in the backseat.  It didn’t shatter, but it spilled all the caps out.

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The last vase he gave me…

Phil Wickham’s Autograph

Although I do understand the value and cool factor of having an autograph of a movie star, athlete or musician, I never thought too much of it.  Weird, right?  You’d think someone like me who values the randomest things would eat that concept up.  Frankly, I think I would value one of Stu’s napkin doodles over a guitar signed by Jon Foreman (and I love Switchfoot).

So, all that being said, the only real signed object I own is this:

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Phil Wickham’s Signed Self Named CD

So, in 2006, FCBC LA had a Good Friday Service where we invited Phil Wickham and band to play at.  As far as I knew, he was a nobody.

1929817_38407645787_290_nThe only real picture I have to commemorate that day.  The rest are lost since my hard drive died on my first laptop…

The Service was given the theme “Free”, and he played some of the songs that we all know and love (Grace, Divine Romance, and I Adore You).  He wasn’t bad, and it was certainly a nice change in pace to seeing the same faces play on stage.  After the service, they had a table to sell CDs that they signed on the spot and they allowed you to take pictures with them.  But I actually didn’t line up and buy the CD then.  All my friends did and one of them actually gifted it to me as part of super nice birthday present package.

It was funny, by chance, Phil Wickham started to make a name for himself after that Good Friday Service.  My friends and I began to hear some of his songs on The Fish and Air 1.  So I guess I value it more now.  But probably more so because it was a gift.

Balloon!

As early as middle school, kids have been passing and sending grams to each other for birthdays and other relevant holidays.  Honestly, all it is was a half sheet of paper with a design on it, a note from the sender, and a small piece of candy taped to it.  I remember some kids getting as many as 5 on a given homeroom time.  But if you were like me, (regular, not-that-popular, would rather keep the 75 cents it would cost to send the gram), the only gram you really got was the during the last homeroom before Summer.  Student leadership would gather all the Summer birthday names together to send out to because there would be no other opportunity to do so.

And then high school came along and almost everyone brings their friends balloons, baked goodies and signs and stuff.  Again, I never received any of that.  Sure, there was Summer school, but it’s Summer, so who really cares anymore?  I can’t blame anyone, I was in the same mindset.

It might sound silly, but I always wanted that; the balloons and goodies.  And even all the hassle that accompanies it: carrying everything from class to class and having acquaintances approach you for a cupcake.  I think I learned to cherish and appreciate sentimental value early on in life.  You can see from my previous posts that I hang onto and put value into random things.

This year, my birthday happened to land on a Sunday.  I had shared the things mentioned above with some friends and they made my wish come true.  I got a balloon!

but it flew away when they opened the car door.. (see that tiny dot in the sky?)

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But that’s okay, cause I care more about the thought.  I would keep this portion of the balloon anyway (the weight).  A good memento.

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Thanks Leti!

Mementos

During my time at Flavorus, there were a number of people that left, for various reasons.  And when people leave, they usually leave a handful of junk on their desk or in their desk drawer.  So I started this weird tradition where I would rummage through their stuff (after they left) and keep something as a memento.

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Bumper stickers from Will.  The classmate that helped me get the job in the first place and a genius of a programmer.

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An EDC poker chip from Nick.  Great project manager and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

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Jeff’s slinky.  Great designer and he was the type of negative that was funny to be around.

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Sharpies and Toban‘s business cards from Jonathan’s desk.  Funny guy.  He just disappeared one day without telling many people.

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[Ajusshi] Ivan’s orange stress ball.  Another great programmer who taught me everything there was to know at Flavorus.  He was also the only other Asian guy in the office for a while.  Because of that, I trusted him too much (so much so that he pranked me for it, haha).

I thought about passing these on to someone else as I left, but another coworker mentioned that if I had any amount of attachment to these things, that I should keep them.  And so I did.