Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The "Opportunity"

A long time ago, I mentioned something about an opportunity that was presented to me while I was working a shift at my fast food job. The woman wouldn't go into much detail about it, other than her husband would set up a meeting with me and we'd talk from there.

I was intrigued. Also, kind of desperate for a job. Any job. So I agreed. Don't worry, I didn't end up in some guys basement or in the ditch somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Trust me, that would make a great series of blog posts (or maybe I'd just write a book about my experiences and sell it) but what transpired was not exactly pleasant.

And to think, I almost didn't back out in time.

Our first meeting felt more like an interview than anything. The man across from me, tried to get to know me a bit better, we'll call him K, and his wife, L. I badgered him with as many questions as possible. He kept information scant, insisted that what he would eventually share with me was again, an opportunity, not a job.

And only after getting to know me a bit better would he share what exactly this opportunity was. This included going to meetings with other potential candidates, and individual one-on-one meetings. He wanted to see that I had the motivation and ambition to do this, to go through and learn, and be coachable.

But here was the kicker, K had been working at this "opportunity" for 3 years with his wife, L. And now, were on the verge of making 60k a year, without doing a thing. The people who had coached the two of them, were now making well over 100k a year, without a thing and were now retired. Everyone discussed so far is under 30.

I was being baited. I knew it, but I kept going. I wanted to see if any of this could be true.

To put things in perspective, in theory, if the third phase of Project Derp was successful for me, I could be making 60k a year without any additional effort. Unfortunately, I still can't make phase 2 of the project self-sufficient (I'm halfway there though). What I saw was potentially another way to get to that level of income, and I had to know if it was possible.

And so, I sat through the group meetings, listened to how great this thing was, success stories, how easy things would be. And a red flag began to raise in my head.


It had to be. We're entering scam territory here.

But no no no, they said. we're better than that, because we're something called MLM or Multi-level Marketing. And it works.


The fun thing about being a Psychologist is that you begin to notice psychological tricks and tactics used more often in your everyday life. And here, I was being bombarded with them. The biggest one were the inspirational recordings and books to keep you in, positive, and convinced that everyone around you is just as positive and hard working as you are. Ignore outside influence and objections and stay with us.

Bit of a cult mentality going on here. And my science upbringing would kill me if I didn't try to be objective about the entire situation. I began to do my own research, look into this "opportunity" a bit further and come to my own conclusions.

What I found was partially surprising.

And some, not very.

Unfortunately, the head company behind this has been known to shut down blogs or go after bloggers who write disparaging things. So this company will have to remain anonymous in my post. What I can tell you is that they've been around for a while and are well-known for their sketchy tactics.

Unsurprisingly, many people have lost a lot to this MLM stuff. And I'm not talking about just money. Success rates were unsurprisingly low and other statistics and calculations provided were less than satisfactory. That being said, it was possible to this to succeed and work. K and L did, as well as the people who mentored them. Talking to people I know in real life also revealed similar (albeit rare) success stories. You just have to really, really work hard at this for a while

The more I looked into it, the more I realized how it wasn't worth the effort needed to succeed. The chances were slim, many problems were already arising, and don't get me started on the individual cost. There were plenty of other things I could devote my time and energy to with a greater chance of success.

I'm not exactly rolling in cash here.

Yes, some of my money did go into this before I was fully aware of what I was getting into. But don't worry, I have successfully gotten most of it refunded back to me. Actually just today I confirmed the last bit of money being returned. It could have been a lot worse, but overall I only lost a little bit over $100.

Not a bad price to pay considering how it really could have been a lot worse. Especially if I had continued with this for a longer period of time. Things really rack up very quickly.

Needless to say, K and L haven't contacted me since. Good, now maybe I can focus on things that might actually give me financial independence.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Cough

It's been a while since I've discussed anything wrong with my health. In all honesty, I'm pretty much fine. The blood tests and x-rays must have been fine because I never got a call back with regards to it. I have an appointment with the sleep clinic to verify some results but I'll go to that later.

So all in all, I should be ok. Or at least, in the clear.

At least, until this cough of mine kept getting more annoying.


What's annoying is that this cough isn't normal. See, when you cough, you cough, and that's it. When I cough, I have urge the to vomit. It's like, everytime I cough, I'm somehow triggering my gag reflex. so here, you have me with this itch in my throat, but I'm trying to suppress it so I don't feel like puking. Or at least, find somewhere where I can cough and heave like an idiot for a little bit.

It used to happen once every few weeks, then once a week, a couple times a week, and now I can't go a day without experiencing this. And it's not just one cough, I need to have a coughing session to order to clear out my throat and experience that gagging sensation before my body feels back to normal.

I don't think it's life threatening, but it's getting to be a bother.

And it won't be fun if I actually vomit all over the place.

I'm not quite sure what started it. I think it might have something to do with my jaw or my neck muscles acting up. Because sometimes when I wear my mouth guard, the next morning I spend the day with that urge to cough.

But the cough also has happened when I've just finished eating.

Or after a work-out.

Or as I'm typing this blog post.

Yay, for consistency. Though when I feel fatigued I'm more likely to get that urge to cough.

I wonder if my brother next door can hear me hacking my lungs off.

As much as I'd like to go see my doctor about this, what can he really do? Send me off to get more x-rays? As I've learned the hard way, these x-rays aren't showing anything. They would have picked up something long ago if my lungs had problems.

Plus my doctor is on vacation until the middle of August.

So I'm not sure what to do. I have no idea what this means but a cough that makes you want to throw up can't be great. I don't think it's indicative of anything and when I casually mentioned it to some of my friends in med school, they had no idea what it meant.

So it can't be that bad.

Or I die.

We'll see what happens. I probably should be more concerned about my health but I'm tired of worrying and wondering.

Even if the coughing is starting to bother my lungs too.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Home Alone

Whenever a family vacation happens, everyone goes. This has happened for years from as young as before Kindergarten to as old as University graduate. If one member of the family couldn't make it, then the whole trip was cancelled or moved until all of us could go.

That is, until this year where my siblings and I insisted (more than usual) that my parents take some time off for themselves and go on a vacation alone. And after much prodding, they did. For the next few weeks my parents are on a cruise that will make numerous stops around Asia by themselves.

Which means I'm essentially left alone to my own vices.

Aka. This.

So far, I haven't starved to death. Or slept in to the point where I miss my shift at work. Or set myself on fire. I think this means I am a fully functioning and capable adult human. My parents were really worried that my siblings and I would kill one another while they were gone. While this may have been true when we were younger, I don't think it applies anymore.

We mostly keep to ourselves and do our own thing. We go to work and come home at different times. Go out and do our own things. No one questions each other. It's really nice. I imagine this is exactly what living with roommates would be like. Except my roommates actually pick up after themselves and share their food with me.

Everyone wins.

No one bothers me while I'm on my computer either.

If there is one issue we've been having, it's our overly worried Grandmother. She calls us A LOT. As in, sometimes over a dozen times in a day to check up on us. The sad thing is that often, no one is home. So we come home to numerous voice messages asking where we are.

It's also a bit worrying because she keeps asking us when we're free because she wants to take us out to lunch. The problem is that we keep telling her that we're all busy and none of us are all free on the same day. So she acknowledges that. Ok, no problem.

And then asks when are we free for lunch. We're busy. Ok, no problem.

So, when are you guys free for lunch?

Are you guys free? I'd like to take you out to lunch.

Makes me wish my Cantonese was better.

Alzheimer's does run in my Mom's side of my family, and my Grandmother's sister recently died of the disease. So we're all very worried about my Grandmother but we're not really sure what else we can do for her. She's kind of like me, really stubborn. And it's not like we can force her to do Sudoku.

Hopefully my Grandmother gets better. And I'm going to continue to enjoy my freedom while it lasts.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Steam Summer Sale: Prison Architect

Unfortunately the Steam summer sale of 2013 has come to an end. As always, I bought too much but I regret nothing. This will be my last post on the sale until Christmas, when the Steam Winter sale will begin. I will binge on games I won't have time to play and get all excited all over again.

If you're tired about me talking about my gaming purchases, you can scroll to the bottom and leave a comment about pancakes or something.

I went to Ihop for the first time the other day, they were pretty good.

Today we'll be talking about another indie game. I'm certain that most people have played or heard of Simcity, the game where you're tasked with designing and caring for a sprawling metropolis. You control everything from taxes, to where residential areas are built, or getting more police to deal with crime.

Prison Architect is in the same vein of gameplay, except you are now in charge or building and maintaining a maximum security prison. You decide their daily regime, how many cells are in maximum security, what kind of staff to hire, and even providing power and water to your entire facility.

Things get hectic very fast.

It's such a simple concept, but it really makes you think about the kind of decisions you make. Should a man on deathrow have a window in his cell? A fenced off area outside technically counts as a yard, but should you put the effort of adding trees or weights for your prisoners to use? You're low on money, is it ethical to lower the quality and quantity of the food provided?

The decision is yours. If you wanted, you could even take in more prisoners than your prison can handle. Just keep the excess in a holding cell forever. Who cares right? You're still getting money from the government. Which is actually what some prisons do so it's not completely unrealistic.

But to keep things interesting, each prisoner has an individual psychological profile. And you have no way of knowing what they're actually like. Is Prisoner A just quiet and boring, or is he actually quietly waiting for a chance to start a riot and murder everyone in his cellblock? Is Prisoner B spending a lot of time in visitation, or is actually getting contraband from his family?

Or I can just search Prisoner B all the time for no reason.

But your prisoners will care and will complain if they aren't treated right. For example, I thought that simply serving food in a canteen was enough. Nope, turns out prisoners don't like standing and eating. In fact, they hated it so much that after a week they started rioting, and murdered all my staff. I can only imagine what would happen if I revoked visitation rights.

The game however is still in its alpha stages. So things are still very buggy and features are continually being added. For example, there's a glitch where a fire can start but prisoners will continue to eat and burn to death. I have personally experienced workmen refusing to construct things for me.

I'm personally excited for features such as parole. 50% of your prisoners will claim that they're innocent, but only a fraction of them actually are. And now you're in charge of deciding who gets to be released early.

Riot police would also be nice if they actually did anything.

Prison Architect is still available for purchase and because it's in the alpha stages, you can pay a bit more to get addition benefits. For example, I paid just enough to name a prisoner and provide his personal information.

Regular posting will resume later this week.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Steam Summer Sale: Surgeon Simulator 2013

The spending continues. As mentioned in my last post, from July 11th to the 22nd, Steam is having it's annual summer sale, where games are anywhere from 25% to 85% off. My brother and I have been buying probably way too much for our own good,  and I still will not disclose how much I have spent.

(It's doubled since my last post).

In my defense, when I see something that's normally $30 and it's on sale for $5, I'll buy it, hoard it, and then give it someone later as a gift. I'm literally stockpiling birthday and Christmas gifts right now.

I am so clever.

But let's not just talk about my horrible spending habits, let's talk about another great game that I've been playing. Ok, some people may find it absolutely horrifying, others may find it absolutely hilarious. In reality, it's a bit of both.

Who here has ever wanted to be a doctor, but didn't want to go through all the training and debt that comes with medical school. Well, now you too can become a surgeon and perform operations all by yourself with Surgeon Simulator 2013!

(Note, do not try anything you see in this game in real life.)

Yes, that is a fire hydrant being used.

You play as Nigel Burke, a man who literally has no experience being a doctor but has been forced into the role of being a surgeon, and it shows! The controls are clumsy, unintuitive, and difficult at best. He only operates with one hand, and each finger must be individually controlled to grasp anything. With separate keys for each digit, moving the arm up and down, and turning the hand.

And this is where the fun begins.

Now, using these klutzy motor skills, you, yes you, will attempt to perform anything ranging from a heart transplant in a surgical room, to a brain transplant in the back of a moving ambulance using the most awkward of tools in uncompromising angles.

Or just fill the patient's chest cavity with everything you can.

Hack your way into Patient Bob's ribcage using a hammer in order to remove his defective kidneys, saw out his old heart with a bonesaw, and remove unnecessary organs in order to make room for the new. Lungs? Who needs lungs! Onto the floor they go.

Of course, you need to be careful. Slashing around mindlessly whether you want to or not is going to cause your poor patient to bleed and lose blood. And as we all know, losing ALL of your blood is the only way to die.

For anyone still interested, the trailer is below. The game is currently 40% off until July 22th and I highly recommend it for a good laugh.

Note: The Team Fortress 2 Downloadable Content is also free with the purchase of the game. It's good to fool around with if you're a fan of the series.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Steam Summer Sale: Don't Starve

I'm a big fan of deals and a big fan of good PC gaming. So it's not a surprise that I am particularly fond of the digital distribution platform, Steam, which is notorious for it's sales. Right now, tons of great games are on sale for anywhere from 15% to 85% off. I've managed to snag several for $2.50 so these will make great gifts in the future.

I however, will not disclose how much I've spent so far, or how many of these games are going to sit untouched. I have a tendency to stockpile games and let them gather dust. I am also told this is a common occurrence.

All hail Gaben!

But one game I have been spending a lot of time with is Don't Starve. You are a scientist, and for whatever reason, someone or something has dumped you in the middle of the wilderness to fend for yourself. Now you have to make sense of the new world you've been placed in, gather enough resources to survive each passing day, defend against wild animals, and most importantly, don't starve.

It's such a simple idea but it has a lot of depth to it. With each passing moment, it gets closer to night and you need to make sure you have enough light to dissuade monsters from taking a bite out of you. You need to constantly hunt and forage for food but not everything is edible. And being alone in the dark can really take a toll on one's sanity, resulting in hallucinations which can eventually manifest and attack you.

And they never leave you alone!

But you are a scientist afterall! Find the right materials and soon you can craft better forms of light, research farming methods, and build armor and weapons to help in your fight for survival. Cook food to make it more nutritious, build and bait traps to catch prey, and begin to tinker with magic that can freeze your enemies or even bring you back from the dead.

Speaking of death, Don't Starve is in the genre of of rogue-like. This means that if you die, your entire world is deleted and you need to start all over again. While it does ramp the difficulty curve up a bit, it makes survival that much more pressing. You need to explore to get food, but running through a dangerous swamp could be deadly. Chopping down trees for fire is necessary, but it's hard to do when besieged by a swarm of spiders.

This also gives the game a lot of replay value. You are given a completely new world to run around in each time you start over. Plus, after playing through a few times, you'll unlock new characters, each with their own quirks and traits to mess around with.

For example, Willow starts with a lighter.

For a game that's only in the beta, it runs very well, has a lot of content, and is continually adding more content with each passing week. New areas like caves are being expanded on, as well as new characters and gamemodes to try. I highly recommend taking a look at this game, especially since it's currently 40% off until July 22th.

Anyone who isn't convinced so far can watch the trailer below. If you'll excuse me, I have more games to buy.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Project Koi: Beverly

Another project update, this time, with regards to my attempts at online dating. Believe it or not, I managed to talk to a woman who was interested in going on a few dates with me. She was fairly cute, slightly quirky, and very shy. Her name was Beverly and online she seemed ok and so I agreed to meet with her in person.

I know some of you are tensing up in anticipation. Did Damian accidentally date a crazy cat woman? Is Damian typing his last blog post from a dumpster? Is Damian now homosexual after one too many bad dates?

No, unfortunately Beverly wasn't nearly as exciting as that. She was a bit disappointing really.

I can hear your collective sighs from your computers already.

See, Beverly was a nice guy girl (nice catch Fang). But excessively shy and indecisive. She was so strong willed and much more vivid online in her messages and conversations. But in person? She withdrew. Quiet, difficult to engage in a conversation, and was ok with everything.

At least, I think she was. I really couldn't tell you. I made so many of the decisions of what to do, and where to go, and she just kind of went with it. And it was a bit difficult to again, have a conversation with her in person because so many of her responses were "I don't know" or "I guess".

I won't lie, I have a thing for shy, demure girls. But this, this is a bit too extreme for me.

I also have a thing for pale girls with red (not ginger) hair. Shhh....

So, I don't know what to do with her. On another date we ended up sitting in a field, with grass, trees, blah blah blah, I'm trying to talk with her. She's being her usual, quiet, mumbly self. It was here I decided to push it a bit. I gently grab her head, and kiss her on the cheek.

Younger Damian wouldn't have been as ballsy, I can tell you that for certain.

She get very flustered, blushes red, this is getting very cliched, very quickly. I'm not sure what to do beyond this, I think I asked her what was on her mind, to which she responded "I don't know". Eventually I managed to get out of her that she liked it. Well, at least, she wasn't going to call the police.

And I didn't get slapped either, so double points for me.

For anyone curious, I managed to properly kiss her later that day as well. It was, awkward. She claims she had a boyfriend before but I wouldn't have been able to tell based on her kissing skills. It was like she was a goldfish.

Also, her head kept tilting up. Did she want me to bite her neck or something? Sorry, I'm not into that sort of thing.

I think she was interested in pursuing a relationship with me. That was made clear during a drunken Skype conversation. Unfortunately, after a few dates, I don't think I'm not interested in her. She's a nice girl, I will not deny that. But her personality is just, very offputting. I like people who can tell me what's on their mind and tell me what they want.

Maybe I should lower my standards a bit though, least I be single forever.

In the meantime, it's back to the dating websites. Another woman just messaged something along the lines of "Lol, u r cute". Anyone wondering why I'm cautious about this should read my previous online mishap with Cheryl.

I wasn't aware that it was a common thing for Caucasian women to have yellow fever.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Project Jason: Time to Lift

I've been blessed cursed with a ridiculous metabolism. It's to the point where I can eat anything and not gain weight. I mean, you'd think you'd notice some change in your physiology after eating an entire dinner of just fatty pork belly, working in fast food for years, sleep, stress, junk food, etc. etc..

I've maintained the same weight for the last decade, thin as a stick. I have abs thanks to just being so slender, I don't even need to try. Fellow bloggers like Matt and Mark are around my age, both were/are unhappy with their physical appearance, and both have been hitting the gym. And often have to go through hoops and hurdles to get there and back.

So when a fitness center opened up in the mall where I work I realized that I didn't have an excuse anymore. So I went in and purchased a year-long membership and hired a personal trainer for a bit.

No time like the present to get buff.

The idea is that because it's in the mall where I work AND it's open 24/7, I can drop by right before I start a shift at my fast food job, work-out for an hour, and then head to work. The facilities are fairly decent, new machines, I don't have to wait for equipment like some of the other gyms I've been to.

Oh, and private showers. Yeah, I'll be honest, there are few things I hate more than communal showers. Give me a little bit of privacy and we'll go a long way. Private lockers are also nice, just make sure to bring your own lock.

I'm considering buying towel service too, because I don't want to lug around a towel, and have a damp piece of cloth sitting in my work bag during my shift.

Seriously though, I don't like looking at other naked guys. Not for me.

So I went in for my first workout in years today. And it wasn't so bad? I hope I'm using the equipment properly because again, I haven't touched some of these things in ages, and some, not ever. I guess that's what the trainer will come in for.

I'm slightly stiff, my joints feel more sore than the rest of my body so far which worries me a bit. Suggests that maybe I was using at least one of piece of equipment wrong. I generally work 3 times a week so that's 3 workouts a week.

In theory. Public transit is horrendous at best. It's hard to tell if you missed a bus or if it's 10 minutes late.

I guess I could also walk/run to work. It'll only take half an hour.

Note that almost no one except you guys are aware of my work-out sessions. My extreme thinness has been a bit of a sore spot with me so I don't want people to find out I'm trying to fix it. Well, until it becomes odd that I'm not longer so thin.

I especially don't want my family to find out. I know parents can mean well, but I also know that if I decide to sleep in one day or something I can hear my Mother already. "Why aren't you at the gym? Why are you sitting around? You should be at the gym right now. What a waste of money and time, you could be working out.".

So few things are more demotivating than having someone nag you to do it. It doesn't matter what your intentions are, the end result is the same.

Can't lecture me about something if you don't know about it.

Oh, and for anyone wondering why this project is called Project Jason, it's because one of the staff members working at the gym is named Jason who happens to be an ex-coworker of mine. And if I can't land a full-time job anywhere, I might just take up one at the gym.

Money and free gym use? I'll definitely consider it.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


I've always liked Vancouver but it's been years since I've been back. For those who are not Canadian, Vancouver is a coastal city in the province of British Colombia. It is highly populated by Asians and has the nickname "Hongcouver" because of the high number of people from Hong Kong there.

As a kid whenever we traveled there I enjoyed myself. The city is alive, bustling, with things to do, see, and eat. Completely opposite of my city. I wanted to move to and live there one day. And now that I've been back, I can safely say I still want to move there.

Though I'd be happy to move out of my parent's house regardless of location.

I'm fond of Japanese food and I especially love sashimi or raw fish. Erin and I went for sushi at least 3 times during my trip for my hunt for sea urchin. We're right by the ocean, the fish is fresh, it's cheaper, what more could you want? We would walk down any street and pass by half a dozen sushi restaurants on our way to our destination.

And fine, not in the mood for Japanese? There are tons of other little restaurants and cafes to stop by. There's just so much variety, fresh food, and quality. Maybe it isn't so good, I don't know if I have any readers from Vancouver to refute my claims but compared to what I can normally get in my city, it's really good.

Did I mention I like sushi? I really like sushi.
But to love a city for just its food is a bit silly. Luckily Vancouver is bustling, thriving, and full of people. I love seeing construction of buildings because it shows growth. Meanwhile the only construction my hometown seems to do is on the roads, and not a very good job at that.

The one thing that Vancouver has that is slightly unnerving is the proportionately increased number of homeless people on the streets. Normally if I encounter a person asking for change I decline, and offer to buy them food instead. They are often more than happy to accept and appreciative of it. 

I can't risk doing that in Vancouver. I'll be broke in a week.

And then I feel bad when I walk past them and not make eye contact.
I could go on about how lovely Vancouver is. More to shop for, more to see, more to do, efficient public transit. But unfortunately with my current financial and job situation, that dream is unlikely to happen anytime soon in the near future.

Plus, the homes there are extremely expensive. Rumour is that Hong Kong business men are holding onto as many houses and apartments as possible and artificially inflating the prices, making even the smallest home cost at least a million CAD. People have been waiting for the housing bubble to pop for the last half decade and so far, nothing.

In the meantime, I can hope for a good job, save money, and move once the bubble finally pops.

I loved Vancouver, and now that I'm back home, everything is quieter. I hope my views aren't biased because of excitement I felt thanks to being on a vacation. I'll be honest, I just want to live somewhere busier. Toronto would also be a good place to live in my opinion, plus, I have relatives there.

But I'll have to sit put for now. I'm deep enough into dept as it is.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Canada Day! (And I'm back)

To anyone who isn't aware, today is Canada day. So to all my fellow Canadians out there, happy Canada day. I hope you're out enjoying the fireworks, parades, or other events. Myself, I'm sitting at home alone in my basement room with a beer all by myself.

I assure you, it's a lot less depressing than it sounds like.

Also, it's suffocatingly warm outside.
I'm also back from my little vacation. It was lovely. I ate a lot, and a lot of fairly unhealthy food (such as Korean barbeque with a ton of pork belly)  and I didn't gain any weight at all. Erin grumbled that she did not have the same metabolism as I did.

Also, completely confirmed that Erin does not have any attraction to men. Oh well.

For anyone wondering, online dating (or Project Koi) is not going any better.
So I'm back to regular posting, I'm excited to see what everyone has been up to while I've been gone.