Taking a break – or, “How I Spent My Autumn Vacation”

Hello everyone! I made a solemn vow to not speak about PHP or coding at all for at least one blog post. Instead, I’m going to talk about last weekend, when I took my vacation days from work and went on a little trip. It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it, and now I get to tell you all about it!

I left last Friday to head to Toronto for the season 3 finals of theStarCraft II World Championship Series. When the tickets first went on sale, I noticed that the event was going to be in Toronto – and seeing as how that’s only 2 hours away, I decided that it would be a fun thing to do. I made it up a little bit earlier than I expected – I had planned for a typical bridge crossing at the border (30 minutes) and at least some Toronto traffic (maybe add an hour), and neither of those things materialized (well, I did have a little traffic in Toronto, but only on one highway, and only for about 5 miles. Not so bad. The only hiccup was when I was crossing the border – I had built a computer to take up and give to Sarah, and the customs agent at the Canadian border mentioned that typically there would be a gift tax (but he didn’t charge me – “Hey, you built a computer for your girlfriend. Good for you, I’m not gonna ding you for that.”).

Anyway, I ended up getting to the convention center about an hour earlier than I expected to – which meant I had time to get in before the event started! It wasn’t too crowded on Friday (I imagine many people had work or school on Friday), so I was able to get a great seat – 3 rows away from the player booths. While on Saturday and Sunday those seats were reserved for people who bought the “premium passes”, it was really cool to be able to sit so close to the players!

While I can’t tell who the other player is, the player on the left is MMA.
While I can’t tell who the other player is, the player on the left is MMA.

While I didn’t stay for the latest games on Friday (I found out the next day that they went until 1 in the morning), I still had a lot of fun. It was even better on Saturday when, while I didn’t get as good of a seat, I still managed to sit right in the middle of the crowd for the first few series. I later lost that spot, but only because there were players signing autographs. As it turned out, it was fortunate that I did lose that seat, since while I was over in the autograph line I ended up being right near the side of the stage where the players went back to their area from. This meant I got to see Jaedong walking off the stage after he lost out of the tournament on Saturday. While I didn’t have a camera that could handle the low light levels (I’ll check my camera’s memory card this evening to see if I took any pictures at all), the image will stick with me – he looked, as he walked down from the stage, as if the world had fallen on him. He signed autographs later that day, though, and I had the chance to meet him – he speaks English quite well, and I told him that he was still my favorite Zerg player. He looked up, smiled, and said “Thanks a lot”. I hope that I made a pretty awful day for him a little bit better.

Day[9] was the person who originally got me really interested in StarCraft and e-sports. It was really cool to finally meet him!
Day[9] was the person who originally got me really interested in StarCraft and e-sports. It was really cool to finally meet him!
I also met a couple other people that day – specifically, Polt (a Terran player from Korea who’s currently going to school in Texas) and Day[9] (a caster, former player, and general ambassador of StarCraft). Day[9] is possibly one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. He took so much extra time in order to actually have conversations with the people who were waiting to meet him – we talked for a few minutes and it was just so neat that he actually took the time to do that.

I met Polt here too, which was really neat. What a cool guy.
I met Polt here too, which was really neat. What a cool guy.

I did end up staying all day on Saturday, and when I woke up on Sunday (to the fire alarm going off – this happened both days in my hotel, at 9 in the morning! Ugh!), my throat was completely wrecked from all of the cheering. Still, I was ready for Day 3.

I ended up checking out of my hotel early on Sunday to make sure I could get to the convention center a bit early, as I expected it to be crowded for the finals. I ended up being right – while I got to stay inside waiting for the convention hall to open, the line outside stretched quite a ways back. There ended up being over 2500 people attending on Sunday, and the already-impressive crowd was that much more passionate and energetic. This series(game 1 linked), between Maru and MMA, was really a great example of how awesome the crowd was – and they were like this all weekend!

Met this little guy in the convention hall too! Thought he was gonna cannon rush my chair…
Met this little guy in the convention hall too! Thought he was gonna cannon rush my chair…

Sadly, that series was the last one of the tournament that I could stick around for, as I had other places to be – specifically Ottawa, where I was looking forward to spending some time with my wonderful girlfriend Sarah. I ended up leaving Toronto around 7:00 pm – a bit earlier than I had planned, but it worked out alright as I got into Ottawa right before midnight. (Traffic out of Toronto was quite a bit heavier than going in – nowhere that it was actually stopped, but it was still moving pretty slowly for a while).

Sarah and I went out for dinner on Monday to a lovely restaurant downtown called Murray Street. I was expecting it to be good food – a lot of their stuff is sourced locally – but I was really blown away by how good the meal was. I had a lovely rabbit dish which I was really impressed with, and also got to try the poutine (which was made with duck confit and goat cheese curds!). After dinner and a nice glass of wine (a Sangiovese from Italy), we had to find room to try their dessert – which ended up being a perfect way to finish off the meal. I, personally, would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone, and look forward to going back again!

My trip was capped off with some time spent in IKEA. I had never been in there before, and I was quite favorably impressed with the land of cheap furniture. I ended up buying an end table for $13, which was pretty awesome – I’m currently using it to hold my cell phone, glasses, and e-reader when I go to bed, and pulling it out into the living room as a footrest when I’m not sleeping. It’s quite a nice little piece of furniture.

Billy the Bookcase says hello.
Billy the Bookcase says hello.

It was not a fun thing, leaving Ottawa. Seems like it’s always that way – I’d really rather stay! Darn responsibilities, and money, and stuff. I will say, however, that it’s a lot better now. I remember when it used to be a 60-hour bus trip to get there. Now that it’s only five hours by car, I can make the trip a lot more often.

That’s the interesting thing about the East Coast, really. It’s not just Ottawa that I’m closer to – I’m within a day’s drive of New York City, where my best friend Matt is living these days. I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to go down and hang out with him – hopefully that’ll happen soon too!

Anyway, I’ve written what must be feeling like a novel at this point. Think I’ll call it a day here. Hopefully, I’ll post another blog up soon.

Leave a Reply