Beginning of the End

This past Sunday last year was the last time I saw my friend Gregg healthy.

Gregg, Brandon and I went to the Los Alamitos Wings, Bolts,and Something show for a photographer day out.  Gregg had said he’d been a bit under the weather but he thought going out for a nice day of walking would be good.  So we walked down to the base to look at planes and classic cars.

We split up to get lunch.  When I came back to see Gregg, he was holding a bottle of water in line for his food.  He motioned to me to look at his hand.

His hand was shaking. Not a caffeine jitter kind of shaking. It was it’s cold out shivering kind of shaking. But it was 75F and sunny.

“Dude, I know you haven’t tweeted in about an hour, but…” I joked at first. He chuckled. “Do we need to get a paramedic?”

He shook his head and motioned me to come closer. He leaned in and spoke. His voice was coarse.

“And the weirdest thing is I lost my voice just as I ordered my food.”

“Okay. You just had your voice a second ago. You’re really worrying me now.”

“I think it’s the smoke.”

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay? We don’t have to go through this if you don’t want to.”

He waved all of that away.

“Let’s eat first, and then we’ll see,” he managed to croak out.

We blamed his not having had anything to eat earlier for the shakes and the smoke for this voice being gone for a moment. After lunch, his hands weren’t shaking too much any more, but he was still hoarse. We decided to continue on our day out.

The sky was blue. The sun was out. The temperature was just right. Lots of people but it wasn’t crowded. Well, except for the line going through the C-17.  All of us took tons of photos. It was a great time.

Gregg bid farewell and promised to rest up.

As it turned out, his voice never completely returned. He thought it could be a sudden onset of laryngitis, but he continued to feel worse.

By Friday, Gregg was admitted to the hospital.  Satursday was Halloween, and he was still in the hospital. Brandon and I decided to go visit him in costumes.  Gregg did joke about me coming to visit in Slave Leia outfit.  I thought about it but didn’t want to give anybody a heart attack. (David did point out that it would be a perfect place for anyone to have a heart attack. LOL.)  So I donned my Jedi costume instead.

Looking back, boy do I regret chickening out on the Slave Leia costume.

We were told later that they had found a mass in his chest. And soon after he was formerly diagnosed with some type of rare cancer.

Gregg fought it tooth and nail. And we all went along with him on that fight.  Friends and family circled around Gregg to stay with him, take him to his appointments, take care of anything he’d need.  All I could do was to cook Thanksgiving feast for friends and family just in case it would be hist last.  And it was.

We were there along side him all the way through when there was nothing left to do.  I went to see him in the nursing home before I left for my New Zealand trip in early April.  I brought him electronic drum set he could play while in bed, a throw back to our legendary Rock Band sessions at his house.  I held his hand as he napped.  I kissed his bald forehead goodbye, promising him to do a grand presentation of pictures from my trip when I get back, not knowing at all if I would ever see him again.

Gregg passed away while I was still in New Zealand.

As this Sunday was the anniversary of how it all started, it was hard not to think back of the entire journey.

OakMonster Hangout

Geek-style Brunch

OakMonster Hangout

I might have just done one of the geekiest things so far.

A few Saturdays ago, I joined a tweet up tequila brunch via Google+ Hangout.

Flash back about a year or so ago when Annette/@dananner, being the instigator of all things social media, introduced me to a very small group of tweeps who get up with the birds to go to work. Our little group  greet each other daily at the crack of dawn.  And once in a while we’d joke about having tequila for breakfast.

So I said, how about we all meet up for a tequila brunch? We thought it was a brilliant idea, and I managed to find a restaurant who actually has tequila brunch and is located centrally as we would be hauling in from all different directions and distances.

We finally picked a date that most people were free and Malo in Silver Lake as a central location. And the plan was set. But then, the day of the brunch was during the time when SoCal decided to be Seattle for the week. I drove through the storm up to town from Orange County. An hour later, Annette and Hank came in from Lancaster.

That was it for the grand plan of the Great Tequila Brunch Tweet Up.

It’s been about a year since then. And the weather looked like it was going to hold the summer pattern all the way through Halloween at this rate.  I decided to try putting the brunch together again. This time in Downtown LA at Mas Malo, the second location of the same restaurant.

Alas, I missed my own party.

The crab I ate the night before decided to fight back. I couldn’t leave the house.

But being a nerdy little group that we are, we already had plan to have other non-LA-based folks join us over Google+ Hangout.

Annette came to the party armed with her laptop as she withstood some weird looks from the waitstaff when she asked for a table with an outlet because “my friends are joining our brunch online.”

I dragged myself to the home office and popped in to say hi to my online friends (@hankito@phatemokid, @scbound and @LoveMeDeux ‘s daughter @TheMads), and watch everyone eat for a few minutes before I retreated back to the couch.

Yes, I got to see all of them. Yes I got to see what they were eating. And yes, it was an absolutely nerdy good time.

Sure, I’ve done video chat before, but I haven’t done much of it until Hangout came around, making things easy for everyone.  However, I never did a video chat as a social event.

This little geeky experiment is now giving me an idea to “have a meal” with my friends somewhere else around the world.  You know, we schedule a time (according to the internet, 9 a.m. PST seems to be the golden hour of social media) and bring our meal to our computers.  Heck, we can even cook the same thing and share our experience!

But of course, said friends will have to get themselves a Google+ account.

Would you be interested in doing a virtual Sunday brunch with me sometime?

Getting a new perspective

Getting My Eyes Opened

Getting a new perspective

It’s been 6 months since my career change.

I have experienced so much in half a year than I’ve ever had in a long time. Obviously, I’ve experienced being completely and totally unemployed. I’ve experienced life as an independent contractor, working with a few clients on a few small projects; as a hired hand for any odd jobs; and as a party hostess and promoter for a product. And now as a full-time freelancer at a huge advertising firm.

I’ve always wanted to work in advertising since I made up my mind in 8th grade. I did summer internships at Ogilvy & Mathers in Bangkok the summer before college, and the following summer with Leo Burnett. I applied to any and all advertising jobs fresh out of college. But the dream veered into the dot com right before the peak of the boom and I found my true love in technology instead.

Now that my feet are in the door in an advertising firm working on tech projects, it is indeed a full circle.

This freelance gig is a huge eye opener for me for many reasons. This is my first freelance full-time contract job. This is the largest company I’ve ever worked for. This is also the most fun office I’ve been in. Well, since the dot com glory days.

It’s weird driving to work at 9:30 a.m. to a bustling office instead of shambling off the bus into an empty one a 7:30 a.m. Then again, I also never got to experience the empty 405 freeway at 2 a.m. either.

The hurry-up-and-wait, almost manic-depressive in nature, really, needs some adjusting to. I feel useless some times and I couldn’t leave my desk for a bit some other times. Never quite like that at the old gig.

It’s weird when we are encouraged to use instant messenger to talk to your colleague a few desks over when the old work place doesn’t even officially sanction Google Chat.

It’s weird not knowing everyone on your floor. But yet, there is always somebody walking around sharing donuts or cupcakes or some other food treats.

I often griped about having to dress professionally and rebelled against it with my knee socks and platform maryjanes to keep it lively. It’s weird now that I actually have to make a decision about which t-shirts to wear with my jeans. I never thought I’d be in a wardrobe dilemma when I can wear jeans everyday, but here I am.  Then again, when you were getting really comfortable with your boxer shorts and fuzzy slippers working at home, putting on jeans and t-shirt seems to be a bit of a hassle. LOL

Everything is different now than what it was six months ago. Heck, it’s even different now that just a month and a half ago!

And in a month’s time from today when my contract comes up again, things may change once more.

I thought this whole experimenting with companies and career choices should’ve been wrapped up by the time you turn 30. Here I am, 2 months from turning 35, learning something new everyday and adjusting to a life completely different what I had 6 months ago. It’s definitely weird.

But, well, ya know, I will survive and all that.

pac-12_commercial

Powder Blue Panties in a Twist

USC Marching Band drum major has been stabbing his sword into the middle of the football field for god knows how long as a part of the band’s act.

Our field. Their field. Any field.

We have been taking special pleasure when we play at the Rose Bowl because our Trojan ALWAYS gets to stab through fucla logo in the middle of the field.  I don’t know where the bRUINS have been this whole time but we’ve ALWAYS noticed.

Now that the familiar scene to us Trojans got included in the PAC 10+2 promotional video, suddenly the fucla athletic director got his panties in a twist and bitched, as reported by the LA Times. Somebody’s excuse was that this is so much more offensive to them than watching it live in the stadium or having the same footage broadcasted nationally during the live game every other year because the promo will keep repeating. Blah blah blah…

So PAC 10+2 actually pulled the footage from the promo.

But not before someone got a hold of the clip…

For Trojans, you can enjoy the whole video. For those non-fans, you can skip to 1:25 on the time code.

Fight on!

intensedark

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Pairings

While I *am* indeed the official partner of Ghirardelli and a hostess to the upcoming Ghirardelli Intense Dark Pairings event for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there was a glitch in promotion and folks are being sent here to OakMonster HQ for information on the event instead of to Food.OakMonster.com where all the coverage of the event will be. Click on the banner on right or…

Click here and head on over to Food.OakMonster.com now!

Get the information on the event and see how you can get on my invite list.

Ah. The woes of having an internet empire. 😉

Disclosure: Posts on the blog and twitter about the Ghirardelli Intense Dark Pairings event are based on an advertising relationship. I have been paid to host and promote the Intense Dark Pairings event for Ghirardelli. However, the opinion about the products are all mine.