Games with Friends

24 Mar

One of the ways James and I have been coping with the isolation is playing games online with friends. On Saturday we played Codenames on Tabletop Simulator (I was able to link “concert”, “guitar”, Shakespeare” and “dance’ with the clue “performance” and was quite pleased with myself).

Then in the evening we played Drawful 2. We were all on the same Discord chat and James used his PS4 to stream the game on YouTube so everyone could see the prompts as we played. Aside from some lag it worked out pretty well.

For those who don’t know how Drawful works, everyone gets a prompt for a random thing to draw. Then the game will show one person’s drawing, and everyone else has to write a prompt for it. Then everyone but the drawer will guess what they think the actual prompt was. It’s fun because the drawings are almost always awful (you can’t erase!) and the original prompts are so random that almost any answer is plausible.

Our favourite answer was Kyle’s in the bottom right: Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 08.38.18The one that most people thought was the correct answer was “man yelling at tomato”. The actual correct answer was “yelling at a peach”.

James has also been playing Heroes of the Storm with friends and they’re talking about starting a DnD campaign. Meanwhile I’ve bought a Nintendo Switch for Animal Crossing (fingers crossed it ships and they’re not out of stock).

Also last night when we were playing Gloomhaven, Mouse was perched on James’ shoulder and they were both concentrating really hard on James’ hand of cards. It was so cute – I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo!

Coronavirus Update

17 Mar

What a start to 2020. =/

Last night SF (and most of the Bay Area) banned leaving your house for non-essential reasons. You can still do grocery shopping, go to the pharmacy, walk your dog, get takeaway food, etc. but obviously it’s affected a lot of businesses. We are more fortunate than most in that it doesn’t impact us that much – James has been working from home since last week and we’d already been staying in to help flatten the curve.

A couple of months back I bought some yeast and a few kg of flour because I wanted to try making no-knead bread. Which was really lucky because now everywhere (including the online store I bought the flour from) is sold out of bread and all bread-making products.

This was attempt #2 (#1 didn’t rise enough and made a very stingy loaf):
IMG_20200311_172546 (1)I was pretty pleased with it! That night I made some tomato soup to go with it for dinner and it felt really nice and homey.

James went for a run this morning (which we’re allowed to do as long as we stay 6 feet away from others) and popped into our local Safeway just in case.

IMG_20200317_090943 Bread: IMG_20200317_090807(He said the tortillas were completely cleared out too and suspects that people have been using them to wipe their bums)

Toilet paper:
IMG_20200317_090643_MPI know that the shortages are logistical and that if people calm down then supply should go back to normal, but it’s hard not to panic a little when you see empty supermarket shelves, then go online and see that Target and Amazon are both sold out. Plus Australia started their panic buying before us and they still have shortages.

If there are still toilet paper shortages in a month we’ll be in trouble, but as of right now we’re OK. I did my usual bulk buy a couple of months back and this is our current stash:IMG_20200310_132021They’re the mega rolls as well, so they last a lot longer than normal ones.

But like I said earlier, we’re in a much better position than most since we keep a well-stocked fridge and pantry to begin with. (All Will has in his fridge is beer, seltzer and hummus – how does he live like that??) James’ job is safe and tech companies switched to working from home very early on. I’m mainly worried about friends and family in more affected industries.

But anyway, in happier news, yesterday we brought up a desk from downstairs so James could have an office nook instead of working off the dining room table:
2020-03-17He went to work yesterday to grab his big monitor and some other WFH things since he wasn’t sure he’d be allowed to today. Also there at work: a big pack of ginger beer we bought earlier this year. Score!

The cats have been thrilled at the additional James snuggle time and have been attending his video conferences to keep up company morale. It’s usually Mouse jumping on James’ shoulders, but James said sometimes Kyoto will peer at his webcam and all everyone can see is a close up of his nose and whiskers.

It’s my 37th birthday later this week and I guess we’ll be celebrating by ordering in. =) Though James’ parents are sending me a gorgeous pie plate from this Etsy store which I’m really excited about:
il_1588xN.989340577_o2wwI’m going to make quarantine quiche! (Or we’ll see, depending on egg supplies – we have eggs but maybe I should be rationing them. But I’ll make something).

Entertainment-wise we’re pretty set – it’s like we’ve been training for this our entire lives. I have a library membership so I can borrow all the e-books I want, we have Netflix, a PS4, and a massive supply of board games. I think we’ll finally be able to finish the Gloomhaven campaign that we’ve been slowly chipping away at for over a year.

So anyway, that’s my update. Hopefully we all come out of this OK. =)

A Summer Hike

9 Mar

Last year we went on a mini hike with some friends to the Tourist Club near Mt Tam. It’s a member’s only German-style beer hall that’s open to the public a few days a year, so we thought we’d go check it out.

We parked at the trailhead and hiked to the lodge. We climbed a billion stairs on the Dipsea trail, then walked through some nice fields and forest.
MVIMG_20190825_114214I see you in the distance, fog!

The Tourist Club was charmingly tucked into the forest.
IMG_20190825_175428Even though we got there early there was already a line. We could bring our own food and snacks but they asked people to buy drinks there, which was pretty reasonable. I think they even had some pickles for sale.
IMG_20190825_174857 We got a good table and had brought some games to play so it was just a really nice, chill afternoon.

This photo was taken at close, but during the day the stage and the ground were completely covered in people.
IMG_20190825_175316Us and our precious, precious table: MVIMG_20190825_175217On the walk back the fog was definitely rolling in and it was even a bit chilly.IMG_20190825_180158 I just thought this was a nice photo. =)
IMG_20190825_180700One last group shot before the stairs and then the drive home.

A Quick Visit Back to Seattle

24 Feb

James and I had been promising our Seattle friends that we would visit and, five years later, we finally fulfilled that promise.

We stayed with our friends who live in a gorgeous house right by the Puget Sound. They regularly go out on a boat or paddleboard and catch crabs, which is so cool.

Madeleine with her catch:
MVIMG_20190704_110928The crab cooking process:
MVIMG_20190704_115459Tada!IMG_20190704_122115The next day Greg and Harin invited us to their place to see the 4th of July fireworks show. We also got to catch up with Roula and Lachlan so that was great.

They have a fantastic view of South Lake Union:
IMG_20190704_195708 Which was great for the fireworks: IMG_20190704_223642Our final day in Seattle, Luke and Madeleine suggested we go for a hike. That’s one of the things I really miss about our Seattle group – how outdoorsy everyone was.

I’d forgotten how gorgeous the hikes are:
IMG_20190705_113205 Our lunch spot (which we shared with some flies). The lake was initially covered in fog, but cleared up partway through. The reflection of the trees in the water is so cool.IMG_20190705_121810A group shot! The lighting is a little weird because James had his phone in night mode, but you can see the fogginess of the lake and also that I’m doing my part to help carry baby accessories.
IMG_20190705_125808Walking back:
IMG_20190705_131331Other stuff we did that was not pictured: dinner with some of the old gang, and ramen and cocktails (and Rachel’s Ginger Beer!!!!) with AJ and Surabhi.

I couldn’t believe how much Seattle has grown since we’ve been gone. There are a ton more restaurants, the light rail got extended, Amazon is even more massive, and traffic in the Belltown/SLU area is awful now.

It was just a short trip and we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted, but I guess that’s just incentive to go back (hopefully before another five years go by)!

A Series of Google Outings

28 Jan

James’ Trip to NYC 

(A couple of weeks after our other trip to NY). He sent me this mysterious photo from the Google office.
MVIMG_20190620_145722Edited to add: James saw this post and said the lion was a gift to YouTube Music from DJ Khalid. How strange.

Great America Theme Park

Every year YouTube has a summer picnic thing where they rent out a theme park. Food and rides are free and they even give you some credit that you can use on games.
IMG_20190626_115506This year was better because they didn’t overcrowd it (apparently a lot of people complained last time). Only one of the rides had a line and all the others let you stay on if nobody was waiting when it finished.

We ate a ton and then rode rollercoasters, which in hindsight was not wise.

Pumpkin Making

James went on a glass blowing work outing. He made a glass pumpkin!
Oktuberfest (get it??)

YouTube celebrated Oktoberfest with stein holding competitions, pretzels, lederhosen and giveaways. James said they were giving away free glass steins (if you came in costume they upgraded you to a boot) and I told him to get one.

He said the queue was long, and he was quite bitter about me forcing him to line up. This is the annoyed photo he sent of the line:
IMG_20191011_150618Later on he sent me a photo of the stein and then I was like “oh, that’s shit, we already have that one”

I took a photo of our two steins.

Halloween at YouTube

Look at their fancy Halloween cookies!
IMG_20191031_100348Look at their spooky Google graveyard!download_20191004_204444Unfortunately we missed the Christmas party last year because we were overseas. But it was at a location we’ve been to before (one of the big pier warehouses in SF) so we probably didn’t miss out on much.

James also had a couple of work outings that I skipped over, including a winery that he said wasn’t that good, but I only posted the stuff I had photos of. He also said there might be a visit to the Paris office later this year which would be awesome.

A Broadway-Heavy Itinerary in NYC

20 Jan

I am incredibly behind with blogging – this is a trip we did in early June last year (last decade)! James had to go to NY for work and I tagged along so we could see a few Broadway shows.


We arrived and met up with Will, who took us to a traditional Jewish deli. We had this meat sandwich that we couldn’t finish – we should have just shared one. What fools we were.
IMG_20190603_195754Because it was kosher, James didn’t have to worry about there being any dairy with his meal. =)

Tuesday – Hadestown

Hadestown was the most popular new show on Broadway, so good seats had long sold out. But apparently shows keep prime orchestra seats until a few days before the show in case some VIPs want seats, then if they’re not used they sell them to the public. They were still eye-wateringly expensive, but way cheaper than what (much crapper) seats were going for on the secondary market. Also, good thing we got in before Hadestown won Best Musical because they jacked up the prices!
IMG_20190604_184345The seats were perfect and the show was amazing. Afterwards we lingered to take photos of the empty set, but didn’t realise that after the show they hand out little red flowers (a prop in the show) at stage door. I was a bit bummed about that, but oh well.

We then had dinner at Carbone’s, which is a touristy Italian restaurant with massive portions. We thought we were smart because we ordered one appetizer (that’s what Americans call entrees, and they call mains entrees – have I ever complained about that?) and one main pasta dish, but we should have just shared the appetizer. Again, what fools we were.
Wednesday – The Cher Show and Network

On a whim I entered a bunch of lotteries and won for The Cher Show. I went in not knowing a lot, but was told by one of my fellow lottery winners that Stephanie J. Block was supposed to be fantastic in it (she ended up winning the Tony that year for Best Leading Actress in a Musical).

My seat was to the extreme right – but can’t complain for lottery prices!
IMG_20190605_133738The show was fun – I wouldn’t have paid full price but for $30 it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

There was no point going back to the hotel after since we had evening tickets for Network and I was already in the area. But then I realised that Hadestown had an afternoon show that day, and I might be able to make it to stage door and grab one of the red flowers!

Me texting James to boast about my success:
Screenshot_20200120-104905Our previous chat had been completely unrelated – he just knows me too well.

After that, I went to pick up our Network tickets at Will Call. Bryan Cranston is one of James’ favourite actors and I’d read that even though the show was so-so, it was worth seeing just for his performance. It also had a couple of other actors that I like – Tatiana Maslany and Tony Goldwyn. Even though Network was closing soon (I think because Cranston was leaving to do a TV show or movie), there were still a few good seats left – I guess because people didn’t want to pay a lot of money for a show that had gotten middling reviews.

The view from our seats:
IMG_20190605_183831Anyway, the reviews were correct. The play was clunky and you’re basically paying to watch Bryan Cranston act. But what a phenomenal actor – totally worth the price of entry.

Afterwards at stage door he took photos and signed memorabilia with everyone who lined up. He spoke in a whisper to preserve his voice, which was pretty interesting and not something I knew performers did.

Here he is signing our playbill and James’ souvenir mug:
MVIMG_20190605_221014(I’m laughing here because I’d told Bryan Cranston that for the photos, James was feeling self-conscious about a pimple on his nose but that you couldn’t really notice it, and then Cranston joked “I can totally notice it!”)

He must have been so exhausted after his performance, and it was incredibly kind of him to stay around for all his fans. What a great guy.
Thursday – Phantom of the Opera

I was excited to win another lottery – this time for Phantom of the Opera.
MVIMG_20190606_133621It was pretty nostalgic for me because when I was a kid, my cousin was obsessed with Phantom and would make us perform the musical with her (I was Carlotta btw).

I enjoyed it, and kind of want to go back to see it with James. I’ve heard good things about Ben Crawford as the Phantom but that performance was the alternate and his voice wasn’t having the best day. =(

So anyway, that was our Broadway-heavy trip to NY. It was a bit of a whirlwind – especially only a fornight after our big Europe holiday. Then poor James had to go back to NY for another work thing, plus another few trips – Venice Beach, Seattle, Sonoma, and then of course another Europe trip. I told you I was behind!!!

Overheard Conversations

10 Dec

Sometimes in the mornings I’m half-asleep but vaguely aware that James is getting ready for work. Apparently he and Kyoto have a ritual where Kyoto sits on the vanity while James shaves and … they talk to each other? One morning this is what I heard:

James: Do you love Kaye?
James: (in a “duh” voice) We all love Kaye.

I’m so pleased that they talk so kindly about me when they don’t know that I’m listening! ❤

(But also, James – why do you mock the cats for words that you make up for them??)