November 28, 2006


What is meaningless, and what isn't?

This past Friday for small group, we did a Bible study on Ecclesiastes 11.

Personally, I think the best way to describe meaninglessness is to look at the opposite of meaninglessness. That is, when I die and Judgment comes, which parts of my life does God keep in the "Good bin", and what parts does He toss by the wayside?

Delving deeper into this topic of death and judging our life, I believe there would be 3 "bins" total.

1) Things I did to advance His kingdom.
2) Things I did bad.
3) Everything else -- this is the "Meaningless Bin".

You might be wondering where is the "Things I did that were good" bin -- I believe this is a given as Christians that we do good things. We all know that doing good works won't get us to heaven, so why the bins? While I agree, good works aren't the ticket into heaven, I do think we'll be rewarded for our good deeds. If anything I would argue that the rewards are pretty clear even before we die, but I do think that God will reward us even more after we die. Anyway, the point is I don't think we should be rewarded for regular good things, it should be automatic.

If you want the real fire and brimstone answer, one might say God only looks at what you did wrong, and even "Things I did to advance His kingdom" fall into the "duty as Christians" bin.

So, when I die I would imagine God taking out a list of everything I did from the time of birth until my death, and categorizing each thing into one of these categories or bins.

I've been told/criticized that I often the view the world in black and white. I think the reason for that is that in my opinion, God looks at everything in black and white, and I prefer to do it this way so that I can at least attempt to see things from His perspective and thus, attempt to live the right way. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) And by "attempt" I do mean that I fail a lot. But I guess that's the point isn't it -- if I saw all grey, I'd never fail.

For instance, should Christians get baptised -- my answer is, of course. Why? Because God tells us to. It's that simple, right? Should we tithe? Of course -- why? Because God tells us to.

Yes, I am going somewhere with this. This leads into an interesting discussion we had, about what in our lives was meaningless. I shot up my hand and said my work is meaningless, which started a very interesting debate about whether or not work was meaningless. After all, if God provided us with jobs, how could they be meaningless?

I guess that depends on how you see yourself in the big picture -- God's picture. Let's say you're a computer programmer for Microsoft -- maybe you think God gave you that job so that you could make really good programs so that people could run Windows and not have headaches from all the bugs. Or, you could have a broader view -- God gave you this job so that you could bring your co-workers to Him. Or even broader, God gave you this job so that you could earn enough money to live a comfortable life and then spend every other waking hour serving Him. Maybe God didn't give you that job at all, it was Satan all along and that explains why often your work interferes with the ministries you're involved with, or simply doesn't give you any time to serve God at all.

I'm sorry but if you're a programmer for Microsoft, my opinion is that what you do at work is meaningless. What I do at work is also meaningless. I think at some point during our conversation on Friday night, Stan (SG leader) felt bad that I thought my job was meaningless and tried to find some hope for me, by saying that because I work for the government, my work affects the public and the people of Toronto. While I appreciated the gesture and assurance, I don't need that kind of silly justification about my job. I can fully accept that it's meaningless. It's not a big deal for me.

Another one I've heard is "if I don't do my job, then the company will be in bigtrouble". Unless your company is SIM, World Vision, or your local church, or you're working in medicine or teaching, -- I'd shuffle that one into the meaningless bin too.

So why did God give me this job in the first place? I believe my purpose there is to build meaningful relationships, show and pass on Christ's love, and answer questions if needed. I'm in contact with literally hundreds of different people.. I support an application that is, thankfully, full of bugs so I get to talk to a lot of different people. Sometimes things just happen to come up and I find myself talking about my faith, about God, about the bible. Just the other day a muslim friend of mine called me to get a report working and then while we were waiting for the page to load, he starts asking me about the bible.

For me, that's when my job becomes meaningful.

I started writing this post a few days ago, kept putting it off.. I'm still not finished but I think I should just publish so people can discuss.

What in your life do you find meaningless, and why do you suppose God put this meaningless thing in your life?

November 27, 2006

NCAAB Rankings #1

I've decided that it would be a little fun to rank my top 25 teams in NCAA basketball. This early in the season it's almost impossible to predict where teams will be 3 months from now, so I suppose it's more of a challenge to get the right rankings. When I started this I didn't look at any of the AP or ESPN rankings, going purely on my own data and list of NBA Prospects. Based on the number of potential NBA players on each college team, I've put together the following rankings. After I completed my list, I went to Yahoo! Sports to check their actual rankings, which I've posted in parenthesis:

1. Florida (1)
2. UNC (2)
3. Arizona (15)
4. Ohio State (4)
5. Kansas (10)
6. UCLA (5)
7. UConn (18)
8. Duke (9)
9. Georgia Tech (19)
10. Washington (16)
11. Georgetown (14)
12. Texas (26)
13. Marquette (13)
14. Gonzaga (27)
15. Pittsburgh (3)
16. USC (unranked)
17. Texas A&M (11)
18. Alabama (8)
19. California (unranked)
20. East Washington (unranked)
21. Colorado (unranked)
22. Florida State (34)
23. Rice (unranked)
24. Boston College (23)
25. Virginia Tech (40)

I wasn't quite right but it's not a perfect science either. I'm pretty close, at least the top 15 were actually ranked teams whereas beyond that, there are several teams that I picked that no one else even knows about. To be honest I didn't even know there was a team called "Rice" until today, but they have a player who's projected to be taken in the late first round in next year's NBA Entry draft.

I'm surprised at how low Arizona is ranked, way down at #15 by Associated Press. They have 4 players who could be drafted into the NBA this year. Though I agree that perhaps Kansas deserves to be higher than 'Zona because Kansas has almost an entire roster of future NBA players, though many are not ready this year. I guess it all depends, for all I know they could all declare this year, throwing my rankings in for a loop. So I suspect as we get closer to March, my rankings will change due to players stepping up and showing scouts they are better than most people thought.

But all in all, not bad for a 'first-crack' at it. And.. I realize this goes over the heads of most reading this, but I had to get it down as many of you know, I am pretty obsessed with this kind of stuff. I think my dream job is to be sitting at a desk analyzing sports statistics all day long.

November 25, 2006

Review: Chris Tomlin's "See The Morning"

Chris Tomlin is a great worship leader who is also a great song writer and a budding guitarist. I've always been a big fan of his work because his songs are easy to play and therefore great for worship leading. On his CD's you will always find he's singing it at capo 4-5 because he likes to sing high, but if you tone it back down, his songs are great for (normal) people.

I picked up the special edition of this album because it had a few extra tracks -- 3 "unplugged" tracks, and 2 completely new songs. I must say that getting the SE of the album was worth it because the final song "Over Me" has become one of my favorites.

This bit may come as a surprise and you may be thinking: "What, eBrian being critical? Against Chris Tomlin? No way!".

I'm slowly finding that, to me, Chris Tomlin (and this totally just my opinion) is starting to sell out or is in danger of doing so. What does it mean to sell out in a Christian context.. of course I'm not saying he's gone secular. I mean this in the kindest possible way because I'm a huge HUGE Tomlin fan, but if you look at his track record of late, it seems like a whole lot of self-promotion going on. Again I could completely wrong about this and maybe my views are way off and incorrect, but to me a worship leader is about writing songs for people to use to worship with. When an artist starts putting out "Greatest Hits" albums, " Concert", or "The Early Years" albums, then it's no longer new songs popping out, it's re-packaging old songs into different profit-inducing self promotional material. Granted I'm sure the proceeds go to very charitable if not God-driven ministries. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, back to the album itself. The album itself is good. There are definitely a few songs that can be used for worship -- "Made To Worship", "Everlasting God" (one of my favorites), "Glorious", "Rejoice", "How Can I Keep From Singing". I really like the last one, it's based off an old hymn and basically redone, and it sounds great. Also one of my favorites is "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)", he basically does Amazing Grace but added a tag to it that makes it sound a little more contemporary and actually really fun to sing.

Overall, I would say this album is missing the kind of "Oomph" that the last album had. I remember listening to "Arriving" for the first time and being completely blown away with the lyrics of "Indescribable", and just playing it over and over and ignoring the rest of album for weeks, and then getting blown away for each song going forward. "Arriving" stayed in my car's CD player for at least 5-6 months before I got tired of it. Whereas "See The Morning" lasted about 2 weeks, and then I went into a rock phase and bought Guns N Roses.

In that sense "See The Morning" certainly has some great songs, there aren't any of those songs that you hear and go "Wow.. what a song. He is so right.." and prompt you to do some self-reflection or break out in prayer and thanksgiving. Perhaps another way to look at it, is that I didn't even bother to post any songs or lyrics up from the album.

So, a breakdown (I'm going to start using a scale for these).

Creativity (5/10) - Most of the songs sound very close to the previous stuff that we've heard from Tomlin.
Worshipability (8/10) - Songs are easy to play and can be used for worship on Sundays or fellowship. Not very many "fun" songs for jamming.
Value (8/10) - Although I did get more songs for the Special Edition, I also paid $27.
Longevity (6/10) - Perhaps because the songs all sound the same, there's nothing particular memorable about this album. When I started writing this review, I was listening to the album, but halfway through I got tired of it and switched to another band altogether. (Which also means another review is coming soon.)
Intangibles (10/10) - This is a fake category for me to boost an album's ratings. Haha.. but seriously this is about the packaging. I'm a big proponent of buying CDs and not mp3s. The album cover is nice, lyrics are neatly printed out. Also the special edition gives a 20 minute video of Tomlin, talking about his inspirations for many of the songs on the CD.

Overall: 38/50

November 23, 2006

Review: Wii Sports (Wii, duh)

Wii Sports comes with the Wii Console as a throw-in. And as a throw-in, I believe this game is very much underrated. Wii Sports is comprised of 5 different games that are said to introduce gamers to the world of Wii, that is, using and getting used to the wiimote and nunchuk through various sports that are quite intuitive to the controls.

There are 5 sports included with the Wii Sports -- Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Boxing and Golf. What's interesting is that everyone who purchased a Wii in North America got Wii Sports -- but everyone else who bought a Wii around the world got a game called "Wii Play", which actually contains 10 different mini-games. The mini-games are: Table Tennis, Laser Hockey, Fishing, Find Mii (variant of Where's Waldo), Pose Mii (not sure what this is), Shooting (Duck Hunt?), Pool, Charge! (apparently some kind of bull-riding game), and Tanks. Although some of these sound pretty stupid, it seems a little unfair that we don't get this package. The latest rumors are that eventually, we will get this game as a throw-in to a new controller, possibly in the new year.

I'm going to go through each sport and give each its pros and cons before wrapping up the game as a whole.

Oh, before I get into it -- What is a "Mii"? A "Mii" is a basic profile on the Wii console. Wii allows you to create profiles, which can be attached to your wiimote so that you can use your wiimote and profile on other Wii consoles. You can customize your Mii's appearance with an editor built into the Wii. It's a fun concept and I even made a Mii that looked somewhat like me, but all in all, it's pretty silly.

Wii Golf

The golf game is decent. You hold the wiimote like it were the shaft of a golf club, and hold A to swing. It measures how far back you swung from, your follow throw, and how quickly you swung. If you swing wildly, you'll shank the ball and it'll spin out of control and likely miss where you were aiming. I found this to be pretty tricky, because I would have just wailed it and now I have to control my swing. After a few holes (with scores of +8, +9 on par 4s), I settled down and managed to get a few pars and bogey's.

Wii Boxing

This particular one is not great. You require the nunchuk to act as your left (or right, depending on what-handed your Mii is) and basically you punch it. Overhead punches are jabs while low ones are body shots. I've managed to get a few uppercuts but they're almost always blocked. If you hold your hands up, you'll block punches to your face, and low for blocking body shots. If you hold the wiimotes to your waist and lean your body, it will detect that an your Mii will lean back and away. This is great for avoiding punches. The biggest problem with this game is that the sensor is unable to process quick flurries of punches. You need to punch by reach far forward, and then retract back to your body before you punch again. If you don't do this your Mii's arm reaches out for a punch and then stays out there. The Wii isn't very good at sensing that you reached back for a new punch. I find this to be the case for any action based on reaching forward to backward.

Wii Tennis

This is the best game in my opinion from Wii Sports. You hold the wiimote like the handle of a tennis racket and just play tennis. I haven't fully mastered it yet, I know that there is a way to get a very fast serve in, but I've only gotten it once or twice. Swinging fast or slow does seem to make a difference, and timing is a big thing, if you hit early, it will take a bigger angle, later, big angle the other way. Wii Tennis is doubles' only, so you can choose to control one player, or two. You can even control all 4, but I think you'd get tired pretty quickly. Wii Tennis moves the players around for you so all you need to do is swing. Often this is a lifesaver because if you are controlling two characters, if the front guy misses, you still have a chance with the guy in the back. I'm totally loving this game as I've found it provides a pretty good workout for the arms.

Wii Baseball

Wii Baseball is okay. There isn't a whole lot of control, you are either swinging (swinging low or high makes no difference) or pitching (throwing motion is standard, you can't actually control your pitch). By holding different buttons while pitching, you'll get different types of pitches like a fastball, curveball, sinker. For swinging as far as I can tell no amount of buttons will help you. I strike out a lot. A LOT. I've hit 3 homers out of playing about 10 times. You also don't run around the bases or do any of the fielding, it's all done for you. A single just means if you hit the ball and none of the infielders caught it. Even if it's a grounder to third base, it's an automatic out. If you hit it into the outfield and no one catches it, it's a double by default. I have heard of people getting triples.. I have never seen this yet. Other than that, it's pretty straight forward. What I do like about this game is that you can swat the bat around and imitate stances. For instance, Gary Sheffield and how he kind of shakes the bat a lot while he's waiting for a pitch. But it adds nothing to the swing so it's just for aesthetics.

Wii Bowling

Wii Bowling is second to Tennis. It's a whole lot of fun. You hold down B and go for the bowl, and when you release B, you release the ball. I have seen stories of someone letting go of the entire wiimote and have it hurtling into a television. I've seen screenshots of CRACKS in peoples' televisions because of this. This scares me A LOT. However, if you look past that, it's a whole lot of fun. You can put a lot of spin in the ball or none at all, depending on the orientation of the wiimote during your bowling motion. It's not completely realistic though, as I bowled a 186 on my first try. In real life the best I ever bowled was a 149, and I usually average around 60.

So, each of the games has it's moments and in particular, Tennis and Bowling. I would rank them in the following order:

1. Tennis
2. Bowling
3. Golf
4. Baseball
5. Boxing

Moreover into the game features is a training mode where there are mini-games for each of the sports and 3 different types of challenges that help you to hone your skills in each sport. My favorite one is a target practice with Tennis, where you are basically hitting the ball against a wall as practice. This is incredible for working out, and you really get a good feel for timing your hits and switching from front-hand to back-hand when needed.

On top of the training mode is an interesting tool that put you through 3-4 of the mini-games and measures your "fitness age". The first time I ran this thing, I scored 49 years old. Ouch. I did this a second time a few days later and scored 31. Now that's more like it..

The sounds are pretty mundane, nothing special but then again, how special should it be, you're just hitting a ball in most cases. Graphics are nothing special either, they're completely cartoonish-driven, the golf scenery is nothing to brag about. What I do like is that the wiimote emits sounds so when you hit a ball, you hear it get hit. This is and will be a great feature for likely any game for the Wii. Feedback sound is just a really great idea and other consoles should have thought of this too.

Overall I really enjoy this game, a lot more than I thought I would. If you'll recall I bought Call of Duty 3 because I wasn't sure Wii Sports would hold me over very long. But I often find myself popping that disc back in to try to beat those darn computers at Tennis.

Sound: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Value: 10/10 (after all, it came free!)
Fun Factor: 10/10

Overall score: 45/50.

I haven't even played this game with other people yet, and I'm betting it will be even more fun, considering it was designed for multiplayer. I can hardly wait to have people over and watching the looks on their faces of smiles, determination and ultimately, frustration while playing this.

I think I might have them sign a waiver in case a wiimote goes flying towards my TV, someone must pay!!

November 21, 2006

Review: Call of Duty 3 (Wii)

I bought Call of Duty 3 (CoD) on a whim. Standing behind the cash register at Electronic Boutique Games (EB) I pondered about when I would be receiving my Future Shop (FS) games in the mail. It was a Sunday so I knew it would be at least a couple days. Could Wii Sports hold me over for 2 whole days? I had heard Wii Sports has no depth at all. And having seen a cool video of a person playing Call of Duty 3, I decided this was the game to get, so I slapped down an extra $65 on top of my console, controllers, etc.

This being an impulse purchase, I was immediately cast into doubt when the guy beside me at the other cash registered pointed out to me that CoD doesn't have multiplayer. But with me being silly and basically too giddy to think rationally, I ignored him, signed the receipt and walked out of the store proudly, beaming from ear to ear.

Initially, I found the controls to be pretty awkward. While playing First Person Shooters (FPS) with XBox and GameCube, I had grown accustomed to sitting down, laying back and just playing FPS with my hands in my lap with the controller. But with the added remote controller aspect of the Wii, I now had to have one hand holding the remote and pointing it at the screen at all times. Little movements of my hand from side to side would make my guy turn left and right, while the nunchuk controlled movement forward, backward, and strafing. The biggest difference is that on a conventional console, you can only shoot at whatever is in the middle of your screen. Now, you can aim anywhere on the screen and then to make the guy turn, you need to point just outside of the guys' field of vision. So think of it as a rectangle "shooting area" within the screen, and when you pointed outside the screen, the player would turn.

So initially I had a helluva a time, even just getting through the tutorial. Another problem with the controls I found was that the grenade buttons (Left and Right on the directional pad) was too far up from where my thumb was resting, which was at the A button. Furthermore, to need to reach down again below the A button to the "-" key in order to commandeer vehicles or stationary guns a little troublesome. My hands were just too small or maybe my thumb was too short. In the tutorial I had to throw a grenade into a window, and I had a really tough time pointing above the window without making him just look into the sky, and then reach way up over to the grenade button. It really makes shooting and throwing a grenade at the same time quite difficult -- though I suppose it's a little more realistic.

I'm not going to make too much fuss over the graphics. The Wii's graphics are equivalent to XBox/PS2 graphics. I find this game a little darker than it could be. I'm also sure this game would look better on 480p, but unfortunately the component cables don't come out until December.

Eventually I did get used to the controls and started to kick some Nazi butt.

Other aspects of the game include: Setting up explosives, paddling a boat, driving a tank, driving a jeep, operating turrets, wrestling enemy soldiers. I had the most trouble wrestling. Basically there are times when a german will get the jump on you and you find yourself face to face with him and he's trying to use the rifle to choke you to death. A little window pops up to show you how to manipulate the controller to fight the guy off, and the subsequently knock him in the face with the butt of your gun. It sounds easy but it is NOT.

The most fun I had outside of plain running and gunning, was the driving. It's a whole lot of fun. You hold the nunchuk at 9 o'clock and the Wiimote at 3 o'clock, and you just start driving as if your hands were on a wheel. This is absolutely great fun! The Wiimotes vibrate and give off sounds and I had a great time driving this one jeep through a tank area, whenever one fired upon us, you'd feel a strong rumble from the wiimote. It was absolutely great and gives me great insights as to how great a racing game will be. Possibly a Mario Kart or something of that sort.

If there's one thing I would have to complain about Call of Duty 3, it's the value. With no multiplayer capabilities, this game has limited replayability. Once you finish all the campaigns, there's nothing left except to try it on a harder level. This creates havoc because you're spending $65 on something that might last a month tops, but more likely, 2-3 weeks. If you were a kid and had more time to play, I could see someone finishing in less than 2 weeks, which really limits the value of this game.

One other thing that bothered me was how far back they put you when you die. You could spend 20 minutes getting through a mission and if you die right before you complete, you're sent all the way back from where you started 20 minutes ago. That's a big pain -- though if I recall correctly, the Call of Duty series has always been this way.

So in summary: Call of Duty 3 is very fun. Lack of multiplayer gives it low value and low replayability. Adjustment is needed to get used to the controls. Sounds are great, though a little repetitive -- when your mate yells out "Outta here!" for billionth time, I am thinking "shut up!". Cutscenes are great, good conversation and voice acting. Graphics are average. I think they could have done better, though I really have nothing to compare it to at this point.

Sound: 7/10
Controls: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Value: 6/10
Fun Factor: 10/10

Overall score: 38/50.

If you like FPS games, you will like this game, regardless of it's longterm value. That I am quite sure of. I love FPS, but I'm also looking for longterm value.

Note: I called EB to see how much I could get for this game if I traded it back. It was a measely $22 -- for a 2 day old game!! I then found a person on RedFlagDeals to trade with. I'll be trading CoD for Super Monkey Ball tomorrow evening.

November 20, 2006

Urbana: Power trip

I got my Wii today, after service.

The sermon was actually pretty good.. or had some great potential. I always find that the premise of sermons at TCCC are really good but then they fail to close it out. I think that's what I find most unsatisfying about the church, it's the sermons. The topic was "Unanswered Prayer". Pastor Kinson started it out by sharing a story in his childhood of praying for someone who was sick but they ended up dying anyway, and as child, being challenged with this idea that maybe there was no point in praying because it didn't make a difference.

To me that alluded to a very challenging message and something that really hits the core of being a Christian and the struggles and challenges that we face. But then he watered it down and just went into these 4 points about unanswered prayer, about how it protects us, strengthens us, deepens us, etc.

Anyway, about Urbana. I feel like these people are on a power trip. Since it's no longer on a campus this year and just random hotels, I want the comfort of living with friends. Urbana is different this year in that there are several different tracks to choose from and each track is quite different. All the friends I'm going to Urbana with are going on the "Open for Business" track. This is for business people, like finance, business administration, entrepreneurs. It's totally not me. But in order for me to be able to live with them, I need to enroll in the same track.

So I did. As soon as I got registered in the room, I changed my track to what I wanted, which is "Slum Communities in the Developing World".

Then, they moved all "Open for Business" people to another hotel, making everyone re-do the housing. So we did it all over again, I switched back to the Business track and got re-invited into the hotel. Then I went to register for "Slum" again, and it said the track was full! What the heck, so I picked the "AIDS" one instead.

Couple days ago I go back in and notice that they're letting people sign up for Slum but it's a waiting list. Since that's what I wanted to do, I switched to that one.

It kicked me out of the hotel room that I had been reserved for, saying this is a Business hotel and no one else is allowed to stay there. What the heck..

So I registered back in the Business track, got reinvited into the room, and send a complaint letter to the Urbana people.

What gives? I paid $450 to go to Urbana, spent another $300 on flight, and further I'll have to pay for my own lunches, and housing. And they won't even let me choose who I get to live with or what seminars I get to attend? What's the point? Certain individuals have a particular conviction to attend certain plenary sessions or seminars, and instead they decide to force everyone to go a certain way. It just doesn't make sense.

Urbana 2006 is completely chaotic. I hope they will get their act together, I am slowly losing interest.

November 18, 2006


I watched "The Upside Of Anger" this morning. I missed the first 15 minutes, so when they found the body, I had no CLUE what was going on. I thought I had changed the channel by accident. But otherwise I thought it was a pretty good movie. While I was watching this movie, for the longest time I had her name on the tip of my tongue, and then at about the 45 minute mark, I finally blurted out "JOAN ALLEN! YES!!". I gave myself a solid Tiger-Woods-pumping-fist and congratulated myself for finally remembering her name.

--I've noticed that lately I've been really bad with naming stars I see on television or in the theatre. I think this is a good thing though, because it shows that I stopped caring about completely useless things like this. This happened again later on in the afternoon while watching "Wedding Crashers" for, what I believe to be the 11th time. What.. it's entertaining! Anyway, it wasn't until the beach scene where they were playing the slapping game that I raised my arms up for a touchdown and blurted out "RACHEL MCADAMS! SCORE!!". My apologies to those who take pride in memorizing movie star names.

Ina lended me "10 Things I Hate About You" and "Serendipity". I'll comment on the latter first. I liked this movie. I don't think there has been a John Cusack movie that I didn't like. I'll give the movie a solid 8/10, which is really good considering it's a romantic comedy. Excuse me for saying this, but Kate Beckinsale is hot. (And no, I didn't have to look up that name.)

Onto "10 Things". I actually watched this a week ago. This movie reminded me a lot of Swingers, in that many people talk about the movie, many actors got their start in the movie, and it was just one big disappointment and waste of time. Jon told me it was based on the Taming Of The Shrew. While that may be the case, I have no idea what that is nor do I care. But I can tell you is that all teenage romantic comedies have the same approximate plot, so at least this one is original considering that it's fairly 'older'. So aside from the originality, this one was a stinker. Whatever the case may be -- I give it a rating of *yawn* out of 10.

--Sometimes movies that are 'ahead of their time' lose their effectiveness when they've been done over and over and all you can really say is "but that's the movie that started them all!".

Now for a BIG apology.

I watched a movie called "Flight of the Phoenix" on TMN OnDemand. Mind you I've been cleaning my place all day and wasn't really paying attention to the movie. But I read the synopsis and caught the words "plane crash" and "survive in desert" and that got me all excited since I love those types of 'survive in the wilderness' movies. All I can tell you about this movie was that it crap. It was so bad I can't even rate it out of 10. To show the magnitude of it's crapiness I'll have to move to a scale of 1 to a billion. I give it a 0/1000000000.

--I swear I'm always surprised to find my "guess bathroom" so dirty. I never use this bathroom because I have one in my own room. You would think that guests would have the decency to try and maintain the cleanliness of it. You would be wrong. What the heck are people doing in there? I dunno about you but when I'm at someone else's house I try my best to be as clean as possible in their bathroom.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. Wii-rival is tomorrow!

November 11, 2006

I miss my mom

It was my mom's birthday a few days ago, and I sent her a great big happy birthday email..

I know -- I could have done better. I could have easily taken a few minutes out of my busy schedule to give her a call, even despite our time difference, it would have been worth it for her.

As I sit here behind my computer and keyboard, in my pajamas, eating a microwaved meal for the 3rd time this week, 3rd only because I skipped dinner twice, I am in total awe of what an amazing woman my mom is and how much I miss having her around.. or being around her.

In the past I would have said that my dad is the ultimate father/husband. He does it all, he's the total package. I've had friends telling me that my dad was "Super Dad", and they barely know him or barely scratched the surface. But I'm here to talk about my mom today.

Yesterday for Small Group, we studied Proverbs 31:10-31, which is the Prologue of Proverbs, and talks about "a Wife of Noble Character". Our SG leader took translations of each passage and asked us whether the statement was true for the person we were thinking about. (I've quoted The Message so that it can apply more to modern terms):

A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
This is definitely true, my mom is worth more than diamonds -- in fact all the wealth in the world doesn't measure up to how much I value my mom.

Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
No doubt about that. Dad trusts her with many things, except maybe to not scratch the car (haha).

Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
That's certainly true as well. Sure they have occasional spats, every couple does.. But in the end they love eachother immensely and their love overflows into our family dynamics and even far beyond that.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
That's definitely true, Mom has patched many, many of my pants, ripped jackets and shirts. She once made a laundry bag for each students graduating from highschool. She helped me sew together my grade 6 tear-away pants that to this day, I believe I deserved an A on, not to mention some kind of patent, I could've been rich, no thanks to you Ms. Paul! Mom taught me how to sew too and I'm pretty good at it now.. Mom help me fix all the mistakes I made after I tried to sew a stuffed doggy for a girl I had a crush on. I wonder if she still has it.. And mom even made macromay flower hangers for a few of our potted plants. So yea, mom can definitely sew/knit.

She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
Whenever Mom goes on a trip somewhere, she buys us something. She got me a shot glass from The Orleans hotel in Las Vegas, a Niagara-On-The-Lake sweater for when she went there on a business trip.

She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
I don't think there are too many mom's out there who hasn't gotten up early to prepare a meal for her family. This one's too easy.

She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
Mom definitely has done her share of lawn care and gardening. Our front lawn had been decimated by cinch bugs once, and mom went out, pulled out all the weeds and grass, and literally re-seeded the entire patch of dead grass on her own. It was pretty amazing, if you go and take a look at the house now, that's the most healthy patch of grass on the entire lawn, if not in the entire neighbourhood. Every year I remember we'd always be the first house on the street with beautiful crocuses (which of course always bloomed pre-maturely and died from frostbite because of a 'fake' spring). We always had tulips too, and all kinds of other plants. Mom took me out to the back to meet Mr. French, our old neighbours in Unionville, and let me spend time with Mr. French to learn about wildflowers. How else would a 6-year old be able to tell the difference between Lady Slippers and Lady-in-the-Pulpit?

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
Mom is always the first person awake. Even now, when we go visit, she's always the first awake, to go feed the dog, or prepare our breakfast. I'm an early riser and she even beats me to it. Maybe I get it from her? Come to think of it I don't think Mom ever 'sleeps in'. She's alawys the first (except for Christmas mornings when I'd get up pretty much when everyone went to bed).

She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
Mom spent many late nights (as most accountants tend to do), fixing other peoples' mistakes. I remember how relieved I was when mom finished her CMA so that she wouldn't be coming home late anymore. Mom definitely put in her time to provide for our family.

She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
There's a centerpiece and a couple of fake potted plants in my condo that Mom made. She's very skilled.. if you ever came to our home in Vegas, you'd see all the paintings and drawings she's made. People come over and see them and think we bought them. That's definitely Mom's handiwork right there, making our home a warmer place, full of artwork. Since my parents moved to Vegas, Mom's been a full-time housewife.

She's quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
Mom has always been one of the most compassionate persons I've known. She's always the first to start crying when she sees something sad or sees someone suffering. And she's always the first to go help someone when they're in need. She really goes out of her way to help others.

She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
This kind of goes back to the sewing thing, but Mom always had us ready for winter. All the winter clothes would be out and ready, she would always make sure we were bundled up warmly. I remember we could never lose our mitts or gloves because Mom tied a string through the back and sleeves so that they'd just hang off and never get lost. In retrospect I should have done that with my gloves.. I just lost a pair last winter.

She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
This was probably the only one I couldn't say was true. Mom's always dressed very humbly, never too fancy or flashy. I think some of the clothes she wears could be older than I am. But I think this might be the one point in King Lemuel's writings that is out of place. Mom conserves her own personal spending for the benefit of everyone else. Less new clothes for her means new clothes for the rest of us, and it's that generosity that really shines through.

Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
Even this is true. Dad works for the government so that covers the "city fathers" part. And he's sent me newspaper articles about him and the work he's been doing there. No doubt you have to be well respected to get your picture in the news!

She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
I'm not sure if Mom has ever sold any of the clothes she made.. though we could've made a killing on those tearaways! (Yes, I'll never let that one go). Mom made me and my brother's Hallowe'en costumes. Darryl was the cutest pumpkin on the block, and wow we got so much candy when we took him out in that costume!

Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
Mom does worry about us a lot sometimes, maybe a bit too much. Mom is rarely worried about anything to do with herself. It's always us, or my dad, or my grandparents that she really gets worried about. The whole clothing thing -- again I don't see that as a big positive anyway.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
Mom is pretty soft-spoken, although I know that she has opened up a lot in Vegas with her women's bible study group, all those ladies seem to know so much about me and Darryl. Anyone who's known my mom knows she's a very kind woman. Even when mom's nagging me, there is always quite a bit of truth in what she's saying, even if I'll deny it. (I will *always* deny this!)

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Darryl and I used to say that Mom was against us having fun. Whenever we were having fun, Mom would come and burst our bubbles, and get us to do some work around the house. Vacuuming, washing dishes, mopping, these things always came up whenever we weren't being productive. So this one's definitely bang on!

Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
I think this one goes without saying.. we definitely love and have the utmost respect for Mom and what she has accomplished in her life.

"Many women have done wonderful things,
but you've outclassed them all!"
I don't mean to make comparisons, and let's not go down the "my mom's better than your mom!" road, but out of anyone I know personally, Mom surpasses them all.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Mom is always stressing us (me and Darryl, and even to Dad to some extent) to read His word, giving us books of wisdom to read, and urging us to be more active in our faith, to be Christ-like, to be ambassadors of God. She is always telling us to behave, and be nice to old people, to be generous and humble, honest and trustworthy, patient and faithful.

Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!
I had to look that one up. A festoon is like a garland. After reading this scripture, and going through this lesson of noble characteristics, I can say without hesitation that my Mom is a noble character!

Happy Birthday Mom! I miss you!!

November 06, 2006

The Prestige

I'm not going to pretend -- I have not seen as movies this year as I would have liked. There's at least a half dozen movies out there that I thought to myself "Ooh.. that looks good" but never got around to seeing them. After last year's batch of politically themed films (and hence, movies that were boring as hell), I have been a lot more gun shy when it comes to spending my hard-earned dough on big-screen entertainment.

So I haven't seen very many movies, but I should say that I'm glad I went to see The Prestige. This was one I did want to see, it being a Christian Bale movie, and also a Christopher Nolan movie. And Scarlett Johansson, did I mention Scarlett Johansson?

I'm a big fan of Christian Bale, I like his intensity and the way he manifests himself into characters that he plays. The guy lost over 80 pounds just to play his role in The Machinist, and then following that, gained all that mass back as muscle so that he could play Batman. If that's not dedication to your craft, then I don't know what is.

Hugh Jackman I'm not as big a fan of, but he was decent in this movie. I think with Jackman, I always find that he's tries too hard to keep his pretty-boy image intact, I always feel as if he's going to say his line and then wink to the camera and give his "Hey ladies.. I'm being a badass because I know you think I'm hot" look. He's also got this famous 'scowl', the "Whoa.. how did he do that amazing magic trick?" look, or the "Hundreds of mutants and yet I'm always the one that has to save the day?" look, or the "How many more of these things to have to kill?" look (from Van Helsing). He's yet to show me he can actually act.

Michael Caine was playing his 'loyal friend that doesn't really get mixed up with the conflict of the story' role much like he did opposite Bale in Batman Begins as Alfred the butler. And to Scarlett Johansson -- if you are reading this -- we know you can play a promiscuous woman. Show us something else! Or don't take acting seriously and just be the "eye candy" of every film you make.. that's also fine with me.

But really aside from the average acting, it really was a great movie. Complete with several twists and a shocking (actually, disturbing) end. I can't say any more about the plot without giving it away.

I recommend this movie to anyone and give it a stellar 8.7/10.

November 03, 2006


The topic of burgers came up today at work, and immediately I brought up my favorite burger place, In-N-Out burgers. Actually the conversation started when one guy had interest in buying Tim Horton's stock, and then we got talking about various franchising which finally led to the discussion of burgers.

One guy told me about Fatburger, which is a place I guess I will have to try out when I go this Christmas.

But the thing about In-N-Out burgers is that they're made fresh -- never frozen, and you can pretty much order it any way you like. They have a secret menu where you can order certain things and they'll bring out a burger according to the code name.

One popular burger is the # x #. So say you order a 3x4. That's 3 patties and 4 slices of cheese. 4x4 is 4 patties and 4 slices of cheese. Check out this guy, who had a 100x100 (if you just ate, don't click.. it's kinda gross in a very funny way).

Another one is the "flying dutchman", which is one I will likely try this winter. It's two patties, two slices of cheese. No lettuce, no tomatoes, no buns, no anything. Just meat and cheese.

The one I already knew about is "Animal style" which basically means they give you sauteed onions instead of fresh uncooked onions. What I didn't know is that you can also get animal style fries, they top your fries off with secret sauce, cheese and sauteed onions.

Secret sauce is just Thousand Island dressing, btw.

One other one I wanted to try is the "Protein Burger", this is just a regular burger but they wrap it in lettuce instead of buns. So no bread at all, just patties and cheese wrapped in a lettuce, kinda like that Peking Duck thing.

Here's a PDFof all their secret stuff, and a site. Check them out.. they have pictures.