Free Comic Book Day 2015!

Hey all,

Went to my first Free Comic Book Day!

I first heard about this about three years back, but I have always been too intimidated to actually go to comic book stores during the event. I had no idea how it would go. Was it awkward if I just took books and left? Do I just grab free books? How do I know which ones are free? Why are they free? *suspicious glare*

Well, now you can learn from my experience. It was positive, and one word of advice, go early. The earlier the better.

Why are stores giving away free comic books? The aim is to get comics back into the hands of the people. You get an issue to get you started, and hopefully you discover your love for comic books. For me, it mainly gave me new reading material to discover, allowing me to stray from the usual comics I would read. It’s also a great way to get people to visit their local comic book stores. Free Comic Book Day happens every year on the first Saturday of May. Make sure to check the official website to see which North American comic book stores are participating! Don’t show up at a random comic store expecting free comics.

For the actual free comics, let’s look at Golden Age as an example.

The line up was out the door, and when you got in, you loop around the store. It’s nice in that you get to look at their merchandise and books as you lined up (great idea to get people to buy their stuff! I don’t blame them at all!). The whole line took about 40 minutes to get through. At the back, you get to an island of free comic books. Most of these have “Free Comic Book Day” printed on them by the publishing company, so you know they’re safe to take. If not, and the store has extra overstocked comics they don’t think they can sell, and they’re nice enough to give them away as well, it’ll be marked.

At Golden Age, they limit you to 4 comic books per person, and you should be taking different titles so there’s enough to go around. There was a huge selection. You grab your four, and then make your way to the front to get a bag for them.

Again, go early. My friend and I had a whole route mapped out for comics, but we eventually found that stores run out pretty fast.

My haul!

My haul!

If you didn’t go this year, I suggest you go in 2016! You do have to put up with the lineup, but hey! It’s free stuff!

-Karen

Contingent Contemplation: Summer? No thank you.

Hey all,

One thing I’ve realized since growing up is my view on summer. Let me start with what summer used to be:

Summer was one thing I always looked forward to. Once I returned to school in September, I started a mental countdown towards summer in my head. What would I be doing once it gets here? Basically what I’ve always done since the first summer vacation I can remember: do nothing.

There’s something amazing about being gluttonous, filling up on food, and mindlessly spending all your time watching TV or gaming the days away. It just felt right to not do anything.

Here’s my problem: I’m no longer happy with doing nothing.

opening in trees

My dilemma since January when I returned to school after working for two school terms was wondering what I would do this summer. I applied for a few jobs I was interested in, but I didn’t land a position. Then there was the idea of starting my own project, or developing an idea for the summer. But that seems so un-concrete and not satisfying because I did not know where that will lead. I guess it’d also help if I had an amazing idea I could pursue, but right now, I don’t.

Then I thought about traveling. Broadening my horizons, and getting inspired through learning new cultures. Quickly another roadblock came before me: I didn’t have money for travelling.

I liked last summer when I knew I was working on multiple project at TrojanOne. I liked the summer before, when I spent it interning in Hong Kong, allowing me to travel and work. What in the world am I going to do with the four month break ahead of me?

It’s weird how something that I used to see as paradise now looks haunting and ominous to me. I want more experience, and I want to do something productive with my time. I want to throw my heart and soul into something for the next four months. I WANT TO DO SOMETHING!

I guess we’ll see where I end up?

– Karen

Beautiful British Columbia: Our BC Backyard

Hey all,

That’s a lot of “b”s in my title I now realize.

I recently took up hiking again, since Summer’s just around the corner! I was itching to go explore nature again, and luckily, my boyfriend was super on board! Since we don’t have a car, the bothersome thing about hiking is the commute. Getting away from civilization takes at least an hour or two. Then getting back sucks because you’re tired, but you’re not home for another two hours.

I think spring is the best time to go hiking. The air isn’t muggy, but crisp and fresh. Mosquitos aren’t roaming for human flesh. And students are still mostly in school, so there’s slightly less people hiking the trails.

There are times when I cannot believe that we have views like this right in our backyard:

IMG_0421

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Pack a sandwich, grab a fruit, fill your water bottle. It’s nice to escape away from the city. Something about knowing that the snapping of twigs you just heard was made by nature, and not by something man-made. If you live in Vancouver, go out there and seize what you’ve got! (Believe me, having lived in asian countries where they’ve ran out of natural land to develop and had to turn to land reclamation, having natural trails within arm’s reach is a blessing.) I’d recommend using Vancouver Trails to figure out which trails to go to!

– Karen

Late night cravings – Vancouver edition

Hey all,

If you’re a Vancouverite, you’ll realize that when you’re looking for somewhere to grab at bite past 11PM, things get a little iffy. When I moved back from Hong Kong, I was creeped out by how early everything closed. I thought I might make a post to point out a few places I’ve personally been to when I get late night cravings! They’re in no particular order but are 24 hours.

1. Duffin’s Donuts
Location: East Van
Hours: 24 hours

duffinsDespite their name, they serve a lot more than just donuts! You can get anything from shaved ice, fried chicken, vietnamese subs, tamales and more! They operate much like a fast food joint, so you can pick up your food and go, or you can stay and take a seat to finish off your food.

2. No. 9 Restaurant
Location: Richmond
Hours: 24 hours

No. 9 is famous in Richmond for being the place to go after your late night happenings to grab some food. If you’re into asian food, this is probably the perfect place for you. It’s a part of Lansdowne Mall, but has their own entrance since it is 24 hours. They have fried rice, noodles, chicken wings, asian desserts, soups, etc. Basically, anything you’d expect to find in a Chinese diner. Everything here just tastes better at night!

3. Lucy’s Eastside Diner
Location: East Van
Hours: 24 Hours

Lucy’s has an amazing breakfast menu. In fact, even if I go there for lunch, I get a breakfast option. They serve shakes, burgers (they have a burger challenge you can try your hand at!), eggs any way you like it, and basically anything else traditional diners serve. You can also spike your shake with a bit of alcohol ;)

4. Breka – Bakery and Cafe
Location: East Van, Downtown (x2)
Hours: 24 hours

Photo credits: yelp

Photo credits: yelp

I have only ever been to the Breka on Fraser and the one on Robson, but I know there’s a third location near Davie street. Breka serves cakes, bread, sandwiches and wraps. Of course, they also have a selection of crafted drinks, and occasionally has soup. This cafe is great for late night studying (but during finals seasons, don’t expect to find a table here), but also if you just wanted a place to sip on a drink while having late night convos with friends. If you manage to grab a seat, it’s pretty cosy and nice! Free wifi.

5. Pho Extreme Xe Lua Restaurant
Location: on Broadway
Hours: 24 hours

If you wanted a late night bowl of Pho, look no further. There’s a few other 24 hour pho places in Vancouver, but Xe Lua is close to more modes of transport (Canada line, busses), and is in a more popular part of town. When I came here, I ordered vermicelli, which came sprinkled with peanuts. I apologized for not having notified them of my allergy, and they were more than alright with making me a new bowl :)

6. Waves Coffee & Blenz (Richards street, downtown)
Location: Downtown
Hours: 24 Hours

Photo credit: Vancouver School Bus Charters

Photo credit: Vancouver School Bus Charters

Waves was my favourite place to study (not really in school anymore since I’m technically working)! Bigger chains are less likely to kick you out of the cafe, even after you’ve been there for more than six hours. I once had a barista there ask me if I stayed overnight because I was there the night before before she ended her shift, and I came back the next morning to study again. So when she clocked in, she saw me in the corner again and couldn’t help but ask. It’s mostly a regular cafe with a few sandwiches and desserts. Waves is always bright at night, which is perfect for studying (many coffee shops are dim, and makes me sleepy). And the big bonus here is that if Waves is full, across the street is Blenz—also 24 hours. I just prefer Waves in general. Free wifi in both places, except Blenz makes you re-connect every hour or two.

Last but not least—a myriad of fast food places:
– McDonalds (Main & Terminal, Knight and 57th are the only ones I’ve been to)
– Denny’s (Your regular diner food, except overly greasy. But I mean, no one cares at 4AM)
– Church’s Chicken (The branches that are 24 hours may not have seating. So you’ll have to drive thru!)

Siegel’s Bagels is also 24 hours and I’ve always wanted to go, but it’s too out of reach for me, especially when it gets late. I’m not even going to recommend Calhoun’s because it’s always packed with students, given its proximity to UBC, but by all means, I really liked their sausage roll!

This list is not exhaustive, but I still wish there were more 24 hour options in Vancouver. Or even just later night in general. But I guess as a culture, the city decides to shut down earlier, and everyone has kind of revolved around that. And in Hong Kong, there’s a culture of keeping things opened later? Anywho, happy late night food hunting!

– Karen

ECCC – Third time’s the charm!

Hello all,

This post is about a month late, but I went to Emerald City Comic Con 2015! This was my third year, but it was no less exciting. It was the first year where my cosplays required props. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience of lugging around a me-sized bow around the convention floor, but it did add that much more to my cosplay, so maybe it was worth it.

Although we had a 3-day pass, we missed Friday because a few of us had classes and could not get out of school in time to make it to Seattle before 7PM. However, Saturday and Sunday were hectic days of us running from panel, to photo ops, to trying to purchase all the things on our list at the artist alleys and exhibition floor.

I cosplayed Ashe from League of Legends, and my boyfriend did Malzahar! Here’s a random group shot we did with several other League cosplayers (and a random Cloud). It’s always so much fun running into people in the same fandom!

league group cosplayMy second cosplay was from the adult cartoon Archer. I was Dr. Krieger’s Virtual Girlfriend, and of course, my boyfriend was Krieger.

Kriger cosplay

The best part of the cons are usually what I physically take away with me in terms of merchandise. Vancouver sucks at selling geeky, fandom-related mercy, so I have to go on a spree every time conventions come around.

stuff we bought

I also got several of my comics/graphic novels signed! Joëlle Jones was there to do signings at Darkhorse for Lady Killer, and Bill Willingham signed my Fables stuff! He also recognized our cosplay from Archer, and told us how he met the main character’s voice actor not too long ago. Kelly Sue Deconnick was super nice, and always had a line up. I managed to snap a photo with her!

kelly sue

I guess one of the biggest things for me this year was taking a picture with the legend himself: Stan Lee!

stan lee

I really wish I took the picture with my normal hair, but my cosplay for the day would not have worked. In the end, I decided to just go with the pink wig, which looks out of place. BUT oh well, Stan Lee!!

Next year, ECCC is going to be a 4-day con! I really hope my schedule works out so that I can go again :)

– Karen

Vault hunting on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Hey all,

game-page-banner

There was a sale on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! so my boyfriend and I got it! We had both played Borderlands 2 on solo campaigns so it was refreshing to play co-op!

Honestly, the game is new, but it didn’t feel new. It felt as if I was merely continuing my adventures from the previous games but just in space. They could’ve done a lot more with the space environments. They integrate the need for oxygen to be refilled, as well as the ability to prolong your jumps with oxygen. You’re driving moon buggies, the things you loot sometimes fly off due to low gravity, but otherwise, everything feels exactly the same.

claptrap

I played as Claptrap, and my boyfriend played Nisha. Claptrap’s special is volatile and completely random. It’s hilarious when you press “f” in hopes you’ll get one of the many random special attacks that Claptrap possesses, only to summon one that ends up killing your whole team. I enjoyed playing Claptrap because he was very funny, and humor is such a big part of Borderlands. One tip though: if you wanted to see Claptrap’s crazy antics, don’t play as him, but have your friend play him. I never get to see my silly outfits, or the comical things I do because it’s first person view.

That being said, the NPCs were lacklustre compared to the ones I encountered on Borderlands 2. Remember Tiny Tina? Ellie, Moxxie’s daughter? Sir Hammerlock? I do. The old characters are still very vivid to me. Who’s in the pre-sequel? No one’s particularly memorable. My favourite character probably was Felicity, who’s badass and smart. But (spoiler so just skip the rest of this paragraph to avoid it) in order to fulfill Jack’s request, you end up having to kill her.

I also didn’t appreciate the co-op aspect where loot is shared, so when we find a gun, we had to figure out who should get the snazzy super-strong pistol while the other has to hope for something else to come along. There also isn’t a greed/need/roll system, so you kind of just talk it out. This was most likely the same for Borderlands 2, but like I said, this was the first time I’ve used their co-op system.

I think $30 for this game was a fair price, but there were more bugs in it then I expected (e.g. when you get frozen by an enemy, you sometimes get stuck walking really slow. You can stop a quest midway at times, but it completely messes you over and you have to restart several times so that certain doors will open to proceed in the game). If this is the first time you’re starting the Borderlands franchise, please don’t start with the pre-sequel. Go do the first or second game, then treat this one as a supplement to it. It’s a decent game, but not worth $60. Honestly, looking back, $30 is probably the max I would pay for it.

– Karen

You win some, you lose some

Hey all,

So I had my toughest interview two weeks go. It all started at the beginning of March, when I got a preliminary email in response to my resume and cover letter submission. Microsoft wanted to interview me! They said they were intersted in getting to know me more. I was thrilled!

The one pic I took from my time there :P

The one pic I took from my time there :P

I did the interview and I thought it went pretty well. My interviewer held the role I was applying for and was very nice and friendly. I got to understand the role more and he got to understand why I was here. I think my interest in the IT industry really shone through, especially in the question where they asked where I wanted to be five years down the road. Without a doubt, in the gaming industry, in a community role.

I remember signing in at the front desk before the interview and spied a name of a classmate of mine– her achievements were amazing so my confidence fell. They also had interviewed numerous candidates for the week.

A week later I got another email! They wanted me to come back for a second round of interviews! Now the candidates were cut down to 4. The email also outlined how the interview process would go. I was to be interviewed by 5 managers I would be working with in the position. FIVE! I was pretty nervous, but in the end what caught me most off guard was how taxing the process was. Imagine being at the Microsoft office for 2 1/2 hours (there were breaks in between to match the manager’s schedules). You’re trying to make the best first impression. Five times. To five different people. You feel your energy start to drain, especially after the second interview.

The managers who interviewed me were all generally nice! One was extra encouraging, and I really liked her. One was a wild card one, who asked you the randomest questions that would catch you off guard. Then there was one who was technical, and in my opinion had the hardest questions. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go through the interview process. I didn’t get the job. I learned you can never be prepared enough, but try to be genuine and let that shine through.

Now comes the terrible part where I have to scramble to find a job for my next co-op work term before summer begins! I’ve got about one more month. Oh gosh. I need a job.

– Karen