December 14, 2007


December 12, 2007

December 11, 2007

Pasta Sauce

I had been experimenting the last two times I cooked, on trying to make a meatless pasta sauce. You're probably thinking -- has Brian gone mad? No meat?!

I think generally pasta is kind of a very heavy, filling meal. But if you take out the meat, then it becomes this starchy by light meal if you do it right. I had this idea of making pasta where it was more pasta than sauce, which is something completely foreign to me, having grown up eating spaghetti *drenched* in meat sauce.

The first time I tried making it, the result came out completely different from what I had pictured in my mind. I had this idea of the spaghetti being dry, and covered in olive oil and oregano. That part I had down pat. But the sauce didn't work out quite so well. I wanted to have this super strong flavored sauce so you didn't need a lot, and fresh tomatoes cooked, but chopped and sprinkled over the sauce.

Instead, I basically ran out of garlic, for one thing, and then I got lazy and didn't put onions, so it was, in the end, a mushroom and tomato mixture with tons of oregano, pepper and salt. What's worse is I cooked the tomato first and it turned into a mush, and the shrooms shrank to almost nothingness. By the end of it I barely had enough for just one meal, feeding 1 person, me.

For the second try I put the tomatoes in last, but it still ended up a mush. I bought garlic but once again left out onions. I rarely ever cook without onions, so that part was already a mistake. I also picked up some basil and sprinkled that in.

What I had pictured in my mind was totally different, but the sauce ended up being pretty tasty. Ina didn't particularly like it (she likes saucy stuff whereas I had never planned to make my creation saucy) but Darryl and I both thought it turned out decent.

Tonight I plan to try yet again. I have been reading up on pasta sauce and people talking about using canned stuff, just because it makes life easier and it's still possible to make it home-style even with the manufactured ingredients. To me that's something I may try later on, but for now I want to try to make it myself. I'm thinking to add diced mango to add some new flavor tonight (because I have mango in the fridge and need to get rid of it), and of course onions.

Looking forward to it.

December 10, 2007

Bogged down

On Saturday at 6:30am, I was sitting there in a circle with the rest of the Ishskwaday committee members, and we were sharing about each of our spiritual walks, how we felt Ishskwaday fits into the grand scheme of things, and what it means to us.

It was to me kind of a rude awakening of sorts. We've been going pretty much full on over the past 3 months, meeting every other week and taking care of business as business needs to be taken care of. Promotional kits had gone out to various churches who were interested in promoting the conference, marketing was being done. The website was ready, the video finished. Some of the speakers had been contacted and contracts were being drawn up.

But then we all kind of realized that although we were going full on.. was God with us? So for this week, we all kind of reflected on this and didn't do any administration stuff at all.

What was revealed to me after a bit of reflection, is that I'm totally bogged down by the busyness of life. Spiritually, I am near my wits end, the bottom of the barrel. I think the biggest thing for me has just been that I haven't given God the time of day. I'm stretched thin in different areas serving God, but not experiencing God. I've got this mindset of wanting to help people, but deep down I should be helping myself.

You know it's like you believe in something so strongly, but after awhile you lose sight of it. It's still there, still a goal you strive for, but the meaning behind it is lost.

November 30, 2007

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Reading Wil Wheaton's "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" really conjured up so many childhood memories for me. Several reviews I had read said that Wil's book has a nostalgic feel to it, making you think of your own childhood. They weren't kidding. I finished reading it just now, and I all I can think about are the little moments in life that are etched in my memory. He is definitely a great story teller, and because he's a blogger his writing flows as easily as reading a blog.. which probably explains how I managed to finish the entire book so quickly. I feel a little jipped actually.. wish it was twice as long.

I don't know Wil Wheaton nor do I care about him. I don't care about the things he faced or experienced in school and as a child. The truth is I couldn't care less. But he's such a great story teller and the way that he describes everything makes you think about yourself. About all the little things you did as kid, things that were so important to you but might not matter now as an adult. Rules to live by for a kid. And.. and being able to remember the things you really cared about, and mattered, and things you were so afraid of and things that annoyed you to your core as a child. And how innocent we all were, in our own little worlds.

I don't think I knew many kids who were as geeky as Willow Wheaton was. Sure I dabbled in Dungeons & Dragons during Chinese School, and yea I got picked on at school because I was puny. And yea I sucked at sports, and was constantly distracted by video games. I was also great at dodgeball, not so much because of my agility but because more because no one really paid much attention to me. I too, hated to be embarrassed in front of other kids, often hiding in a corner and crying about it. I too labored and gawked at the toy store, staring up at hundreds of action figures that I wanted but could only afford at most 1 per month, and considered saving up for a few months to get a big one. I too got board games for Christmas when all the other kids my age were playing Nintendo.

How do you play board games when you're an only child? You don't. So you develop an overly active imagination, start playing games left hand against right hand, invent different personalities in your brain so that you could pit one against the other. For 9 years, that's what I had to do. For years Wil played D&D all by himself.

I don't pretend to be the same as Wil. We're far from being the same, I was certainly not a child actor, although maybe a pretender. But reading his book really reminded me of things that I really loved and cherished. It's a great, short read and I look forward to reading more.

November 28, 2007

Star Trek

I started reading Wil Wheaton's "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" today. For those who recognize the name but can't quite put your finger on it, Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you still don't know what I'm talking about, please go away and never come back. You are not welcome here and I do not want to be associated with you.

It seems that reading paper books is rather laborious at least for me. I don't seem to enjoy reading books as much as reading things online, like on a computer. It's a completely different feel. For one thing when reading a book, I'm usually in a fairly comfortable position, and what do I enjoy doing when I'm in a comfortable position? SLEEP.

So it's rather non-conducive for me to be reading a book while sitting comfortably. And even in uncomfortable arrangements, like on the subway for instance, what would I rather be doing? SLEEPING. No one ever believes me when I say this, but I have fallen asleep several times on the subway while standing. Every time I've done this, it was done while standing against the wall next to the doors.. except for this one time when I tried sleeping while standing in the middle with no support but the pole, which I was stretching out to reach and was hanging on by 2 fingers. When I fell asleep that time, and the subway stopped, I nearly ended up falling on top of someone. That time was pretty bad.

So back to Wheaton's book. His writing is actually a lot like blogs, and in fact a lot like my blog, except he has a way better vocabulary. And he seems to have a far more vivid memory than I do. I may have memories of my childhood, but do I remember the struggles I had deciding which kind of gum I wanted, or which toy I should get given my tiny 25cents/month budget? Actually I guess I do.

In the book he claims actually that all the entries were taken from his blog, and likely were not even properly edited beforehand. So it's almost like I paid $15 for something I could have found online! I've already found several typos. I wonder if that's because he was too cheap to get it properly edited, or did he leave them in there to prove that he'd just pulled them directly off his blog.

I used to hate Wesley Crusher. I don't know what it was about him that I hated, maybe because he was this annoy little kid on one of the best shows ever, he seemed more like a nuisance than anything, and then how he behaved, he was like a deer in headlights all the time, not cool like the other characters on the show. Plus he was just the biggest geek, completely awkward and socially inept. He was goofy. A total nerd and overachiever. I guess there was also a jealousy factor.

I still remember a few weeks ago when Pastor Daniel preached about something.. which I don't remember.. but what I do remember is that he mentioned Star Trek, and the line "Shakka.. where the walls fell." I think it was at that moment that Ina realized I was a trekkie, and that incredulous look she gave me when she said "You're a trekkie?".

It would have been so cool to work on that set.. to be part of that tiny pocket of pop culture, the Star Trek cult classic. To have the opportunity to work with so many great actors like Patrick Stewart, and, um.. right. To see all the neato costumes, or even to wear that awesome Federation uniform. To have met Marina Sirtis. To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life, and new civilizations. To boldly go where no kid had gone before.. vrrooooomm.. dooo do-do doooo, do-do dooo.. do-do-do-do-do doo doo doo do-do-do-doooo.. staar trek.. staar trek.. do do do do sta-a-ar trek.

November 21, 2007


One big problem with blogs I find is that if you don't write often, people stop reading your site and then when you finally have something important to say, no one reads it. This of course changes when you've got an rss feed, but not everyone has that.

Anyway.. Heroes.

Heroes has kind of been really crappy up until 2 episodes ago after creator Tim Kring came on and apologized for how crappy season 2 had been. Since then it's been pretty awesome, right back to how good it was last season. It's one of the few shows where Ina and I have an understanding that we just can't miss this show. Basically our schedules for Monday evenings is worked around the show to ensure that from 9pm-10pm, we are free.

I am really, really confused about Heroes these days. What confuses me is time travel. How one can go back into time, alter it, and what that means for the present day. How can two different times exist. With Back To The Future, Marty always carried around a picture and that would help him to figure out if his action had carried through to make a result in the present.

But with Heroes, because of the nature of the show requiring to show present time and past at the same time, things get confusing because you aren't always seeing the results right away, or even at all.

(Spoilers galore if you aren't caught up.)

Hiro traveled back to 1671 to the time of where his childhood hero, where a legend named Kensai existed. This was a story that his father told him when he was a boy. Circa 1985.

So he goes back and there he sees the coming of age of this hero, who discovers he too has an ability -- regeneration. So that explains how he was able to fight all those amazing battles and not die. He gets stabbed but the wound heals. Kind of like Wolverine without the adamantium. But during this time there is a girl involved and to make a story short, she falls for Hiro instead of Kensai.

Since Kensai is regenerative, his cells never get old and therefore he's immortal. But Hiro doesn't know this. Kensai vows to get Hiro back for stealing his girl.

So fast forward 400 years later, Kensai shows up a rooftop with Hiro's dad and pushes him over the ledge, completing quite possibly the longest lasting "grudge" in the history of the world. Imagine this guy waiting all those years, planning this one day that he could exact revenge on a guy who kissed his girlfriend 400 years ago. Turns out Kensai's name is now Adam Munro.

His role at this time eludes me but I'm sure it'll be answered soon.

But what happens now is even more complex. When Hiro returned to present time, he thought Kensai was dead and when he learned of his father's death, he tried to prevent it by going back a week in time and telling his father about it. But his father says basically that they shouldn't play God and just go with the flow. Fate, if you will.

So Hiro lets it happen, allowing the murder to occur, but he freezes time just before it happens so that he can find out who the killer was. Of course to his surprise it's Adam --err.. Kensai. And then later you see him at his dad's funeral.

You know what I'd do -- I'd teleport myself to NASA, steal an astronaut suit, then go back to 1671, grab Kensai, and teleport myself into space, somewhere near the Sun. Of course I'd be able to breathe and take the insane non-air pressure.. but Kensai would essentially implode on himself, and his body remains would burn into the sun. No more regeneration. Teleport back to 2007. Problem solved.

Or even better still, I'd travel back into time when I first met Kensai, not kiss the girl. Problem solved. Fast forward 400 years later to meet your good pal Adam, in a reunion of hugs all around.

Just doesn't make sense.

November 06, 2007

Review: David Crowder Bands' "Remedy"

I've gotten a chance to listen to David Crowder Band's latest CD called "Remedy" more. I mentioned earlier that this was a bad CD, as several have pointed out I said "to avoid it like the plague", but after listening to it several times I think I can give it much fairer review. We had been cramped and frustrated in a car, waiting in line at the US-Canada border the first time I had heard the CD, and therefore my previous assessment may have been a little too harsh.

By the way, if you're looking for a more scathing review of the album, check out CCM's take on it here. His review sounded a lot like mine for "A Collision".

I would say the fairest comparison is Crowder's breakout album, "Illuminate". "Remedy" has a lot of upbeat songs and there is a heavy use of computer effects and electronics. Best way to describe most of his songs are that they are "busy". If you listen to track 7 you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're into that kind of thing you'll like this album a lot. They do a good job of not going too over the top with it, and mix it well with the usual band instruments. The first time you listen you might think it's a bit much -- but it grows on you.

One thing evidently missing from this CD are useless tracks of people walking up and down stairs, or whistling, or a phone conversation. That's a good thing. Little interludes like that bring no value to an album and fortunately for us, "Remedy" has none of these fillers. (Remedy is nothing like A Collision).

The music in "Remedy" sounds fresh because it doesn't follow the usual Christian Music formula that all the other worship leaders follow. It's very different and feels "new" -- although not necessarily ground-breaking -- but at least it's not that 'same old thing' feeling with some other bands. The caveat is you can't really play any of the songs at church for worship.

Creativity (8/10) - David Crowder Band pushes the envelope when it comes to creativity. There is no other band like these guys in the Christian music scene. There is a strong mix of electronic stuff in with the usual band repertoire, making their music much edgier than the other Christian bands out there. This however is the bane of the band, as CCM points out, you know these guys are capable of so much more but for some reason they prefer to just make really noisy songs.
Worshipability (7/10) - There aren't very many songs on this album that I could see our church ever using in worship. Personal worship is another story. Even singalongability is low on this album, I'm just starting to figure out the lyrics after hearing the album about 20 times.
Value (9/10) - I bought the CD in the US for $5 less than it would have costed me in Canada. So yea, it was a good deal. It loses one point because of a couple songs in the album that already existed in previous ones.
Longevity (8/10) - One thing I find interesting (or is it more annoying?) that David repeats himself in his songs, several songs he repeats the same line over and over to the point where I want to punch something. I can understand you want to emphasize a point by repeating it, but this is a bit too much for me. I could see myself becoming violent, but thank goodness for FastForward. Due to DCB's catchy tunes, I can see myself listening to this CD off and on for the next few months at least.
Intangibles (9/10)- It's a nice little case, and not a hard plastic one. It's paper but it's sturdy and it's thinner than the average CD case. It's also got a neat cover and a different slot for which the lyrics come out.

Overall: 41/50

November 05, 2007

Foot in mouth?

I had been talking to Alf about how one of the Vice Presidents of Inter-Varsity Christian fellowship had contacted me, wanting to meet with me over breakfast or dinner -- the short version of this story is that I gave them a lot of money at Urbana last year, and they were hoping to wine and dine me into doing it again this year. I declined (I had given my lump sum tithing, which I supposed was considered a 'large' contribution. But again it was more 'duty' than me supporting IVCF -- not that I don't support them but.. I think you get the idea).

Anyway, Alf had this to say about my recent blogging: "You’ve been blogging about not wanting to tithe to an institution like church. I would hesitate to give to a church that subsidizes working people who can afford to fly to Urbana." Ouch, guilty as charged -- I applied for subsidy to go to Urbana, and thus was a direct contributor to the church spending their income on people who obviously didn't need it. On a personal note I'd call that money well spent, seeing as it helped me to find my future wife. :)

On the plus side it's given me an idea about a trick I can use to divert funds towards where they *should* be going. This is what I love about Alfred though.. he always keeps me honest.

In other news, I was also sadly mistaken in regards to the Patriots-Colts game. Although there was some half-truth to what I said. The Patriots finally showed a little respect to the NFL and its fans by not "going for it" on several the opportunities they had to do so. Apparently "taking a knee" is in Bill Belicheat's vocabulary after all. I guess you can't really mess around when you're playing a real team. The Pats' joke of a schedule had given them a 8-0 start, but I can't say I wasn't impressed by their win against the Colts, even if they were depleted by injuries. The Colts and Pats will meet again in a few months, whereupon I hope the Colts can exact revenge.. also next time, the Colts should really think about dressing more than 3 WRs.

Coming up next, I review David Crowder Band's latest offering "Remedy". The results may surprise you!

October 29, 2007


I considered making this another post about the New England Patriots and their unsportsmanlike play of late, and how they would meet the Colts this weekend and face justice. But just as Indianapolis Colts' coach Tony Dungy said after winning last year's Super Bowl, "God doesn't care about football games."

People have asked, in fact I too have asked, how do you know when God's talking to you? I think God's been talking to me, through a series of interesting coincidences over the past few weeks. God's been putting something else, far more important than football in my head the past few days and weeks. The idea of "justice". It all started a few weeks ago when I read (and blogged) about the meaning of justice in Amos 5:21-24, how we should be thinking about where our money goes when we tithe. The idea that God meant for tithing to be used to help the poor, the needy and hungry -- not for the church which is where most of our tithing is spent.

Last Sunday, we had a special guest speaker at church, Ray Barnett. He started reading the scripture he'd be covering and I wasn't even paying attention until I realized he was talking about the same scripture I had just blogged about. Amos 5:21-24. It felt kind of like God smacking me and saying PAY ATTENTION, THIS IS IMPORTANT. So I woke up, and I was riveted by this sermon, about how God didn't care too much about how grand our sanctuary was, awesome worship team, our songs and prayers -- everything inside the church -- unless our church was focused on what was outside of the church. He was talking about Justice.

Throughout the week actually (we had a Missions "Week" at our church), I had been repeatedly bothered by the message they seemed to be saying. They kept saying that if we wanted to help further God's kingdom, we should go overseas. Why do we need to go overseas to help God's people? There are plenty right here at home. It reminded me of this guy I met at Perspectives, who told me his church "trains" their youth for missions, by using Native Missions as a stepping stone to what he called the "real stuff", which was the overseas stuff. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

That's not to say that those going overseas is not doing the right thing, but I think the senders need to carefully consider what the needs are of this country too, and not just focus on people across the ocean. After all, the rest of the world is sending more missionaries out than North America is. Way more. And many of them are being sent HERE.

I think one of things I absolutely love about my fiancee is that she has a heart for people who need God, regardless of where they are in this world. I'm so thankful that Ina and I see eye-to-eye on this and both have this burning desire to help people.

Saturday night, Ina 'dragged' me out to a worship night at Unionville Alliance Church. We had planned to go all along but I was really tired and still a bit too emotional because of the upcoming funeral for Auntie Jean. She thought it'd do us both some good to enjoy some worship time. I remember thinking I should just do this for her because I am such a great future husband, but deep down thinking I so did not want to be there. I think deep down she knew this was happening but maybe God was nudging her to go. She even suggested that we could leave immediately after the singing.. maybe this was to entice me to go. But anyway we ended up going and staying for the whole thing. And it was again God telling me about justice.

Surprisingly, the worship time wasn't the highlight of the night. There was a segment at the end where they had open-mic time, and allowed people to come up and share about things they were thankful for.

One by one people went up. But I thought what was most striking to me was that the subject of justice came up again and again. There was this one guy who serves in a ministry at Jane & Finch, he said he was thankful to be alive, to have food to eat and water. A perfect Sunday school answer but he said it with conviction, indicating that he meant every word of it. This guy reminded me of Shane Claiborne, or perhaps the image I have of Shane. And it wasn't just him.. various people went up and spoke about justice, about the poor and needy and about how we needed to love them.

There was God, again, talking to me, again saying PAY ATTENTION TO THIS.

October 26, 2007


For Christians, when a person dies there is two or three things that come to mind. One, is that God has decided to bring that person home. Another, is a wonderment of why God decided to take that person away from you. Third, is the human side, the pain and the grief of losing someone.

Last night, I came home exhausted at 9pm and laid down on the couch to relax and watch the World Series. My mom has been in town for the last 3 weeks and will be here for another week. She's been such a blessing for Darryl and I, we've had home cooking for the past 3 weeks. You wouldn't believe how much money I've saved on food. Not to mention the food is just better. I wonder if 30 years from now my son or daughter will come visit Ina and I and be grateful for our cooking. I find that really hard to believe. Neither of us can cooking particularly well. And yet "great home cooked meal" seems to be a constant for all generations. I guess that means my cooking skills are going to improve drastically in the next 20 years... Anyway, about my mom, she was planning to take a trip to Syracuse for the weekend, to visit some old college friends that she hadn't seen in a few years.

Boston had just taken the lead on a two-out double by Mike Lowell and I was pumping my fist in celebration. The Leafs had just beaten my Penguins and I needed something to lift my spirits. Mom couldn't understand what I was celebrating about, and went back to her room to do whatever moms do. After a little while I heard her say "Oooh!". I called out to her "What happened?", and then I heard two words. "Jean died.". There was a crack in her voice.

Brian: "Oh." Brain: "OH!".

It took about 3 seconds to register and that's when I jumped to my feet and raced over to comfort my mom, who was sobbing by the time I got there.

I remember as far back as age 6 or 7, when our family used to go over to Uncle Albert and Auntie Jean's home for fellowship. My parents were in a cell group with a few other parents that I probably wouldn't be able to name, but all of whom are likely going to be at my wedding next spring. At that time their youngest daughter Ruth probably wasn't even born yet. Rachel was around my age and her older sister Lynn was around a year or two older.

My parents went to visit her when they were here back in March. I guess they had given Uncle Albert my phone number, because after the car accident in May, he called me up to see if I was okay. He knew all about it I guess through my parents, and also even asked about how Ina was doing. It really took me by surprise because the last time I had talked to Uncle Albert was probably about 7-8 years ago. Probably one of my fondest memories of Auntie Jean was just how she always remembered things about me. All of my parents' other friends would ask me the same old things like how's school, how's your brother, things like that. But Auntie Jean always picked out specific things to ask me and so you could tell she wasn't just talking to me because I was my parents kid, she actually cared about me and how I was doing. As we got older we saw that family less and less, but whenever we did visit she'd remember me, and talk about the old days, she was a very nice lady, very kind and very loving.

Auntie Jean was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. But I guess because I hadn't seen them in so long, it didn't affect me the way it might have, had it been someone who was 'currently' close to me. I prayed for her off and on, but most of the time I just forgot. Sometimes you just forget, when there's so much in the world to pray for.

I don't know about you guys but when I see either of my parents cry, that is a real tear jerker right there. Nothing can really prepare you to see your parents cry. I guess we are just wired that way -- we're so close to our parents that, when they feel something you feel it too, even if you shouldn't. Seeing my mom devastated by the news made it a whole lot worse for me than it really was.

You just know that none of that is helping her emotionally, because you've also lost a loved one before and none of those statements helped you feel any better either.

After hugging my mom for about 5-10 minutes, she finally stopped crying. I never know what to say to people when they're crying and dealing with grief. Crying for physical pain is a little easier to comfort, or because you hurt their feelings, that's all about just saying sorry and hugging them. But for grief, a loss of a life, that's hard. There's always those token phrases that you know just doesn't help at all, like "She is in a better place.", or "She died peacefully.", or "Don't worry we will all see her again some day.."

Mom muttered something about how she had wanted to go see her but Jean had asked that no one come visit her because she wanted them to remember her as she was, and not as she is. Then she sobbed some more and then told me how they were expecting their first grandchild in 2 weeks. Damn.

When I got back to the couch and started to think about how close Jean and Albert were to her and what it might be like for me, how could I understand or wrap my head around how she was feeling. I really wanted to empathize with those affected by this huge loss. I thought about some of our (Ina and I) closer friends, like Stan and Yee Lee, Nancy and Duncan, and how it might be like if one of them died. We've known these people for on average 5-6 years, and have grown really close to them over the past year, but my parents had been friends with Jean and Albert for 25 years. Imagining the magnitude of friendship from that standpoint fast forwarded me to the reality my mom was dealing with.

It also made me think about Jean's 3 daughters and husband, and 2 son-in-laws, and how they were feeling at this particular moment. Jean was expecting her first grandchild, due in 2 weeks. She died peacefully, with her husband and youngest daughter by her side.

These emotions stirred inside me as I prayed the night away. Grief.

October 25, 2007

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October 22, 2007

Money not well spent; Crocs aren't all ugly

We went to Buffalo on Saturday to take advantage of the strong Canadian dollar and cheap US prices. I ended up spending a whopping $67.

The first place we went to was Target, where I made the bulk of my purchases. I bought a Nelly Furtado CD "Loose", which I can tell you, has 2 good songs on it and not much else. I got a great "deal" if you think about the price I paid compared to how much it would have costed buying in Toronto, but overall not a very good buy at all.

The second thing I bought, was kind of a double whammy. They had two David Crowder Band "Remedy" CDs left, so I grabbed them both and gave one to my friend who was with us. So we both bought it. Again, overall according to my calculations we saved $6 each on the disc. I opened his up so we could listen to it for the remainder of the trip. Boy did it suck.

What in the world has happened to David Crowder Band, after promising albums like "Can You Hear Us", and "Illuminate", this band has completely lost it. "A Collision" was a total disaster, and for a second I somehow thought maybe they would get back on track with this one. Never again will I waste money on DCB. Avoid this CD like the plague, if you haven't already made the same mistake as I did.

The other purchases I made were wedding cards. Both were bargains because I paid the US price.

We then headed over to the fashion outlet where I bought some "Crocs" slippers. Amazingly this was the best purchase I made. Crocs are super comfortable, even if they are ridiculous looking. I got the kind that look like slippers -- open-toed, slippers. These slippers are not ugly, they're just slippers. No silly looking plastic clunkers, just regular slippers with fantastical soles. They are easily the most comfortable pair of shoes/slippers I've ever worn.

October 15, 2007

Why the Pats are so good, or why the NFL salary cap sucks

Personally I've never been a fan of the New England Patriots. Cheering for them is like cheering for Tiger Woods or Roger Federer -- but none can deny that this is a franchise that has figured it all out. They have figured out the intricacies of the NFL Salary Cap, and built a team that has stood the test of time. Few franchises in professional sports have enjoyed the success that the Pats have attained, and their appears to be no end in sight. Watching last night's game was a great indication to me why the NFL salary system is flawed. The Pats completely dominated the game, in every facet of the game.

In most cases in any sport, you will have a team that dominates offense or defense, but rarely both. Last year's NFL champions were the Colts, a team that dominated offensively. They beat the Chicago Bears, who had the NFL's best defense that year. Even if you look at years past, what helped the Pats win championships in previous years was their stout defense. But this year, the Pats are dominating on both sides of the ball. Their defense is excellent, but now their offense is also excellent.

The analysts talked about how Tom Brady is having such a huge year, now having been surrounded by a cast of very talented receivers. Starting with Randy Moss who is one of the top 2-3 receivers in the league, Donte Stallworth who was the Eagles' #1 WR over the past 2-3 years, and Wes Welker, the all purpose wonder-boy from Miami last season. Adding to that they also have Laurence Maroney, a budding young superstar who's only flaw is probably his injury woes, and a top tight-end in Benjamin Watson.

The scary thing about the success of the Patriots over the past 5-6 years, is like I mentioned, the fact that this team was already loaded with superstars on the other side of the ball -- on defense. Guys like Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Asante Samuel, Rosevelt Colvin, Ellis Hobbs, Mike Vrabel. Heck, they even have Junior Seau! It's a wonder how a team loaded with players like these could afford to load up on superstars on the offensive side too!

If there is one thing that the Pats' success over the years has shown, is the flaws in the NFL's salary cap and collective bargaining agreement. In no other league with a cap can you load up on the amount of talent that the Pats have on their roster.

The fact that you can go and front-load a players' salary with a gigantic signing bonus that can be pro-rated over the contract length so that it doesn't hurt the cap rating, and then structure the deal so that it is back-heavy. With non-guaranteed contracts teams can 'conveniently' say goodbye to awful contracts. This is something the New York Knicks (who are $75M over the NBA cap) can only dream of. The ability to restructure contracts, or the fact that contracts are not guaranteed would help Isiah Thomas not look like the buffoon that he is.

The NBA has minimum salary wages, based upon a players' experience in the league, his average pay and the league's average pay. You wouldn't be able to go out and get a Randy Moss and give him a substantial pay cut, because of the rules behind salaries in the NBA. And why wouldn't you take a cut if you could get yourself on a team full of all-stars and not worry about some kind of minimum salary sliding scale. If the NBA were built like the NFL, the Boston Celtics would have no problems adding a solid, if not very capable bench behind Garnett, Allen and Pierce. They'd even be able to restructure each of these superstar contracts and go pick up a Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Lebron James for added measure.

You also wouldn't be able to give up essentially nothing to trade in a guy like Moss, because there are trading limitations, based on percentages of salary cost on the players changing teams.

NFL teams also have the ability to create an entirely incentive-based contract, which allows the amount of money counted against the cap to be fairly minimal, depending of course on the types of incentives.

Simply put, there is no way that a team like the current 2007 New England Patriots -- a team that could likely represent the AFC in this years' Pro-Bowl -- could ever be assembled under the NBA Salary structure.

I used to think that the NFL was the great pro-sport league in the world. I still believe that. Yes, the cap system is seriously flawed, but if all teams could figure things out the way the Pats have, we wouldn't have to sit through these blowouts between teams that have the same record but are clearly in completely different leagues.

The NFL is a well-oiled machine that makes a ton of money. There is no league that has sustained its popularity the way the NFL has over the years. Everything about it, from the 16-week grind, to the 80,000+ seating domes, to the fact that at any given play you might break your neck. Football is just awesome, plain and simple.

Some might blame the system but I blame the GMs. Look at a team like the New York Jets. Why in the world do they even use Chad Pennington? After years of inconsistency. The Jets have stuck with Pennington for 5-6 years and he is hurt all the time and sucks. Why do you stick with a guy like that. Why did it take so many years until you drafted a new QB? What if Clemens sucks, will you wait another 5 years of mediocrity before drafting another? And there are teams like this all over the league, making horrible personnel decisions over and over again.

October 10, 2007


I'm usually pretty good at calculating change. I like it when I have just the right amount such that when I pay, they give me a perfectly even amount with no pennies. Lately though, I've been noticing that I've been getting the wrong change. I have calculated it in my head, but when I look down I see a different amount that I was expecting. It's less. I hate being cheated.

Ever since the value of the Canadian dollar surpassed the US dollar, I have noticed that more and more of the change in my pocket is American currency. I feel like I'm being ripped off. What the heck --- that isn't the Queen! Why is there a White House on my nickel? What's this? An eagle?! Yo, that's not 25 cents. That's like... 24.6 cents.

I want Canadian change please. None of these American 'pesos', thankyouverymuch.

October 08, 2007

Is there a difference?

What's the difference between shows like Entertainment Tonight versus shows like Sportscentre?

October 05, 2007


I've been reading this essay and found it really interesting. Basically what the guy is saying is that the early church gave nearly all of the offering and tithings it received to the poor. Not just to be nice, but as a principle.

I'm not about to say what's the right or wrong way to do things, I'm fully aware of the cost of running a church in terms of the building, rent, taxes, electricity.. all that stuff that comes even before paying the staff.

But I do find it interesting that the early church made it priority to give back to the community first, before worrying about their staff, whereas today's church makes it a priority to look after all its costs first, then whatever is left, may or may not go to the community. Today's tithings and offering benefit the church whereas before they benefited the non-church.

You can take one page out of the tribes of Israel's book. The Levites were assigned to take all the offerings and tithes and give them to those who needed it, ie the poor. The bible says that the clergy were to be entitled to a tithing of the the tithing, which is basically 1%. So we are looking at 9% for the poor and 1% to the church of the total 10% tithe.

If we were to pick a side without knowing the big picture and past history and how these early churches arrived to the decision to give back to the poor.. I mean if i were to just throw caution to the wind, I would tend to agree with the early church. It's really hard to argue against some of these historical leaders and clergy such as Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Irenaeus, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Aristides. Not that I know really who any of these people are, but I have heard of them and I do know that they did great things.

I'd arrive to the conclusion that indeed all that money *should* go to the poor. As Shane Claiborne once wrote "I'm convinced that God didn't mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff."

What I'm really talking about here is justice. We need to bring justice. As I mentioned I am fully aware of what it costs to run a church. But if there is no justice, then what's the point of church?

Here's what God has to say about church with no justice, from Amos 5:21-24:

"I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

I can't pretend that I have come up with a grand solution as to how our church could survive if all tithings and offerings were given to the poor. I can't and I won't. Back in the days, they used candles and maybe their sanctuary was outdoors, maybe they lived in countries where there weren't 6 months of winter.

So to sum up:

God is telling me that tithing should go to the poor, and God is also telling me I have to tithe to the church, and the church is spending the tithing on itself.

As Christians we must tithe, and if tithing was meant for the poor and isn't going there, then I must give 9 percent to the poor. If I give my money to the middle man, he or she may put it all into the electricity bill instead of giving it to the poor.

Therefore I need to skip the middle man and give it directly to the poor.

October 01, 2007

Dear Google,

Are you ever more forgiving of one thing over another? For example, maybe you have one sibling who has an annoying habit that you complain about every time he/she does it, but then someone else in your family has the exact same annoying habit but you look the other way? Another one I can think of is how I am ever-forgiving of Nintendo for not coming out with any good games for the Wii, and continuously tell people that the Wii is awesome even though I haven't played the thing for about 7 months.

What I've been finding is that we're a little like that with Google Mail. When Gmail came out it was the coolest thing ever. It was fast. It had conversations. It had chat. It had POP access. It had 2 gb (and counting) of disk space. It had auto-complete for emails. It had a chat log. The search tool was fantastic. It had great spam protection. It used Ajax so it was quick and functional, no annoying page to page screen loadings. I told everyone I knew about Google Mail and encouraged them to join.

3 years have passed and all the great features are still there. The unfortunate thing is, everyone has caught up to them and surpassed them. That's what happens when you sit around and twiddle your thumbs. Yahoo Mail has every single feature except for the conversations feature. It has chat, it has POP, auto-complete, Ajax. The search is there, and spam protection. It's all there. And it's fast, which is something that can no longer be said about Gmail, which seemingly has slowed down to a crawl. I dunno about you guys but I'm tired of clicking on something in Gmail and seeing that "Loading.." thing popup, and you can't even cancel it, you have no choice but to sit there and wait for it to load. On any other application, if you want to cancel, you press Esc or STOP. With Google mail, you wait. And you wait. And you wait.

Why is it taking so long? Is it wrong to assume that opening an email should be faster than the Google search tool which datamines the entire internet and comes up with a result in less than a second?

Did I mention Yahoo Mail has *unlimited* space? And the spam protection has been upped to a notch where I no longer receive as much spam as I do on Gmail. Did I mention Yahoo Mail has a built-in RSS reader? 1-button to erase all my spam?

3 years is an awfully long time for an application to sit in Beta testing. If any other company put out something that sat in Beta for 3 years, they would have gone out of business by now.

I'm ready for an upgrade, Google. I think we deserve one. Years of us telling people how great GMail is, but now I look back at Yahoo! Mail and see a far superior web-based email application. We need something to back us up on our claims that Gmail truly is the next best thing. I don't want to be called a liar.

Help me be honest.

Yours truly,

September 26, 2007


Now that some of the dust has settled, I'd like to weigh in my opinion on this huge NFL scandal. Although the fines have been handed out and the Pats' success this season has proven that talented teams win (nothing new here), I believe this scandal has only reached the tip of a giant iceberg. Believe me when I say the NFL is literally reeling from this entire fiasco.

But that's a story for another day.. the jury is still out on that stuff.. about how the NFL "destroyed" all records of cheating material before even allowing us to hear about it. You can read all the conspiracy theories on the internet. To me there is only one thing that matters, because I love this game and I believe in this game. The question that most people have today is whether or not this cheating could have affected the New England's tremendous success over the past 4-5 years.

I have read all the theories about whether or not illegally taping opposing team signals can or cannot give a significant advantage to the perpetrating team. There appears to be a consensus, that, since you only play teams at most once or twice per year, taping their signals shouldn't help you all that much. And teams probably change their signals from game to game, you'd have to be stupid not to. You're standing across the field in plain sight of the other guys. Most teams have designated staff to keep an eye on their opponents' signals.

The fact is though, New England Patriots -- or "America's Team" did cheat. That much we do know. NFL rules forbid filming the opponents' sideline or recording opponents' signal calling. The question that I have for those who believe that Belichick's cheating brought them no decided advantage is this.

Why would you blatantly break the rules -- why go out of your way and risk suspensions, shame and fines, unless it gave you some kind of advantage? It's like a terrorist standing before a judge and saying "I wasn't actually planning to do anything on the plane.. I just wanted to see if I could pull it off...". Uh-huh. Let's think about this for a moment. Bill Belichick is no idiot. He knows about the above facts/arguments that I have pointed out. And he knows just as well the risks and consequences of cheating. So why then, if it brings the team no significant advantage, would you bother? Why throw away all the honor and respect you've gained over 5 seasons of *great* success if it doesn't even help you?

Why would a team with so much success over the past 5 seasons, a team that won 3 Superbowl Championships in 5 years, with stifling defense and a QB that some consider to be one of the best of all time -- why take such a huge risk of casting doubt over all the achievements and accolades this team has accomplished -- unless it didn't give you a considerable edge over your opponents?


My answer to this question is that if Bill Belichick believed that it'd be worth the risk, then you better believe it gave them a substantial, if not *MONUMENTAL* advantage.

September 20, 2007

I dream of mango

I love produce. Every Thursday they have Farmer's Market just outside work, at Metro Hall just outside in the courtyard. I love to just go out there and look at all the produce. Lots of potatoes, and I don't even like potatoes. They've got all kinds of stuff, and whenever I see something I've never seen before, I buy it. Especially fruit. Last year I discovered a kind of pear called "Flemish Beauty". These things, when ripe, literally melt in your mouth. It's like a poached pear only it's in its natural form. So juicy and delicious. The year before last I discovered the "Campari" tomato. To this day, have not found a tastier kind of tomato than the Campari. This year I discovered "Clapp" pears. They're okay. My brother likes them more than I do.

I few weeks ago I read about these special mangoes on Epicurious. The blogger described them as if they were so good, you'd see people stick their whole face right into the mango, and *wear* the peel on their face. The way he described it, had me dreaming about mangoes for the next while. Every time I'd hit a supermarket I'd look for these mangoes, ones that supposedly are only in season for 2-3 week per year.

As result, I had the strangest dream last night..

I was sitting in class. We were writing some kind of exam, and then I thought to myself, "Hey, why am I in class? I already have my degree!", so I told the teacher and he said we were in high school, and I hadn't completed grade 14 math. 14?! Since when were there 14 grades? So anyway, we all realized that there's only 12 grades (13 back in the day, but) definitely not 14.

Next thing I know I'm in a dark alley, with I believe it was Ken, Holly and Charita. We hear about some kind of mango sale at a supermarket so we go there but it's closing. But they're still letting a few people in. I see these mangoes. They're like huge mangoes, like 12 inches long, and they look kind of like big eggplants, only with mango colors. I thought to myself, these had to be those special mangoes that you wear on your face because they taste so good. The sign says 99 cents each and I'm thinking I'll grab the rest but I could only hold 2 of them, they were so heavy and big. By now they've grown even bigger, they feel like watermelons in my hands.

Anyway, I get into line and the lady says, the store closing time has elapsed and therefore it's no longer 99 cents. She tells me the mango is $5.79. I reach into my pocket and I find I've only got $6. So I reluctantly put 1 mango down and buy just the one. Then, this lady behind me says she'll take the one I couldn't take. And then, the cashier lady says "Okay, you can have it for 11 cents."

11 cents!! What the hell?!? I was pissed, I started yelling at her, and I went over and started telling all the customers how I had been cheated, but the cashier lady was sticking with it, she was totally screwing me over. I told everyone and then finally Charita came over and pulled me away. During all the ruckus, I lost my other mango.

As we left, I heard Ken say "Man, did you see that? That Brian is one crazy m-----f-----!".

(I've been watching this cop show on HBO called "The Wire". I'll talk more about this show later, but let's just say it has a lot of profane language and maybe it's starting to rub off on me.)

That's pretty much how the dream ended. I guess I'll never find those mangoes..

September 11, 2007

How are you doing, spiritually?

I was sitting with a friend yesterday, catching up and enjoying some ice cream when the proverbial question came. "So, how are you doing, spiritually?".

Not sure about the rest of you, but I've always had trouble with this question. Perhaps it's just the wording of the question that confuses me. Spiritually, how am I doing? How am I doing from a spiritual perspective, as opposed to a physical perspective, or emotional.. or vocationally?

What puzzles me is whether or not I'm capable of separating myself out into these categories. Other than Physical Brian, I'm not sure I can split Spiritual Brian, Vocational Brian and Emotional Brian. There is only one me. And is it even right for me to be able to do that, when God should be part of my entire being? If I am able to separate Vocation Brian and Spiritual Brian, does that make me a Sunday Christian?

Most of the time when I'm asked this question, I want to run away because deep down I am thinking to myself that I haven't spent enough time with God and that I am about to be exposed for not being a perfect Christian. I suppose from that I've discovered that I often feel a sense of guilt and duty when it comes to my walk with God. So when the question is asked, I often feel like a deer in headlights, and a sense of fear and guilt comes over me. What do I say? "Okay, okay. You got me. The truth is finally out there folks. Yes. I'm a bad Christian. I spend more time watching sports than reading the Bible. It's true and I am ashamed. Also, I often fall asleep when I'm praying at night, and I have passed up about a billion times to share my faith because I am scared to offend the other person." Cameras flash and tomorrow you see me, plastered on the front page of every newspaper, and the caption reads: "Guilty: Man claims to be a Christian".

Sometimes I find when I'm asked the question, I start making excuses in my head. As if I can some how justify myself. I'm thinking "Well.. I just did some missions, so I'm definitely half decent right now.." or "My devotions are almost non-existent, but I pray every night, and plus I'm serving on the worship team so that has to count for something right?"

I think generally it is difficult or people don't really want to think about that aspect of their life. Or maybe it's just me. We want to believe that things are A-OK, because as Christians we want to appear as if everything is fine and dandy, that life is perfect in an otherwise depressing and imperfect, world.

September 07, 2007

The first

People like to be first. They want to get things first. Like a new DVD, or a new gadget. Someone would say "Hey, that's a great phone, but I got it first." People line up for hours so that they can be the first to see a new movie, so that they can tell their friends "Nah, I saw that one already. I saw it first." Or to be first to get into the arena get a great seat.

Of course everyone wants to be first. They want to win, and get that coveted first prize. First in your class. First to graduate. In piano I would always strive to get that "First Class Honors" grade. In violin, you want to be first chair.

As I approached a red light on the road, I slowed my car down and this guy sped past me and cut me off. He wanted to be first. First in line baby. He sure showed me a thing or two.

Second is just no good. And heaven forbid you come in third. People want to be first so badly, that someone who came in second came up with a silly rhyme so they wouldn't feel bad about not coming in first.

A teacher asks a question and a bunch of little hands shoot right up into the air. "Me! Me! Pick me, I was first!". And what an honor it used to be, getting picked first during a game of kickball at recess time. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

"Let me be the first to congratulate you on.."

Jacob went to great lengths to fool his own father that he was first.

Parents gather around, patiently awaiting their child's first word. First step! The first 5000 people in the arena will receive a free bobble-head. Sorry, you don't get a bobble-head, you weren't first. I cried tears of joy last year when Toronto was awarded the first overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft.

It's a wonder to me, after a life of wanting to be first, we don't strive to be better Christians, we don't strive to be first where it actually matters.

We rush through our entire lives, trying to achieve first place in all that we do, but when it comes to pleasing our God, we're satisfied with just being where we are. Myself included. Are we being too complacent?

You won't see me trying to cut in line to signup for Sunday School.

Here's a signup sheet for prayer ministry. Who wants to sign up? Who wants to be first on the list? No one's signing up. There isn't even a lineup.

Sunday Service ends, everyone rushes out of the sanctuary, trying to be first in line for snacks. Let me grab a cup so I can scoop more cheese sticks than you. Hey, what are you doing? I was first. Here it comes..

We really don't know what do with ourselves though, do we? God chose us. God picked us first. But how do we respond? God's God. I mean, we're just a bunch of human beings rush from one place to another. Let someone else be first. How can we pick God first anyway, amongst all the other important things in our lives? God's everywhere and around all the time, so He won't mind. He's God.

I'll catch you later, God.. I've got things to do in the meantime.

September 06, 2007


My brother and I took a break from Rainbow 6 Las Vegas to catch a glimpse of what we hoped to be an exciting tennis match between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. Instead, we ended up switching back and forth between Roger's total domination of Andy, and a movie called "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny". The movie itself was just awful, probably one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time, but far more entertaining than Federer's dismantling of yet another opponent. The movie kind of reminded me of those "boy becomes man" road trip type movies full of horny teenagers getting high, only instead of teenagers it was Jack Black and some other old fat guy.

I think what's boring about men's tennis these days is the lack of any kind of true rivalry. Federer is so good, he rarely looks tired or winded after a match, playing the other so-called best players in the world. I think for tennis to become any thing more than remotely interesting again, we need a second player who can actually put up a fight against Federer. And don't give me Nadal, that's only 1 tournament. Last night I felt like Roddick's only major accomplishment was the fact that Federer started to sweat a little bit. I mean, if you can get Federer to sweat, you must be playing pretty good tennis..

Some may argue that golf is the same way with Tiger Woods. No question, the fact that he dominates his sport is very much like the way Federer dominates tennis. But tennis is an exciting sport while golf has never been exciting. We are looking at opposite ends of the spectrum. Tiger makes golf barely worth watching, while Federer makes tennis predictable and boring. And to be honest who really watches golf other than for some ambiance noise while you take an afternoon nap?

September 04, 2007

Extra thin wallet

A few months ago I bought a wallet and reviewed it. I've been using this wallet for some time and I find it amazing that it's so thin. Sometimes I don't even have my wallet and I think I do because I've gotten used to its thinness.

This morning I found it extra thin.. to my chagrin, I had lost several pieces of my IDs. What a disaster. While I was in Vegas last week, I showed my dad this awesome wallet I had and all he had to say was "Look how loose it is, your cards are going to fall out!".

At the time, I only scoffed at him, but today my only response is: "Damn it.."

So, if you're looking to buy an ALL-ETT Billfold wallet.. watch out! One entire pocket emptied itself somewhere within the last 3 days. And I have no idea where I lost it.


August 24, 2007


I don't follow baseball so I didn't hear about this until today.. but apparently on Wednesday the Baltimore Orioles suffered one of the most overwhelming defeats in the history of Major League Baseball. They lost to the Texas Rangers, 30-3. They say that no team has scored this many runs in a game in 110 years!

I couldn't stop giggling to myself as I thought about this, a team losing by 27 runs, how demoralizing that must have been.. hmm.. what's wrong with me.. I'm evil!! Why am I revelling in other people's misery?

I was just asking my cousin about how a team could win like that without feeling bad about it. I mean when it's 24-3 going into the ninth inning, why are you thinking to yourself about the possibility of scoring 6 more runs? Your opponents are demoralized, beaten and battered, why rub salt into their wounds? That's just mean.

Losing like that is the worst. This totally reminds me of when I used to play in the Chinese Christian Softball Association (CCSA), man that I was probably some of the most demoralizing experiences in my teenage life (well, other than being a geek and having no friends). We would lose games just like the Orioles, only it would come EVERY week, not every 110 years. Game after game, slaughter after slaughter, it was awful.

August 23, 2007

Fried Rice

I made fried rice a couple days ago, it's the first time I've ever tried it since fried rice traditionally contains eggs. I had a craving for it and went ahead and tried it. The picture really doesn't do it justice, I just took a photo of the leftovers which isn't very much at all. I had to take it really close because there was so little left.

Anyway, I was scouring the newsgroups for a recipe that didn't contain egg, and the funny thing is all these white americans wrote in that egg was more of a garnish and unnecessary in fried rice! Most of them rarely used egg in fried rice, or had eggs in fried rice before! Can you believe that? I think it's sad that all these people who are supposedly good cooks have been poisoned by these North American chinese restaurants, of the Ho-Lee-Chow and Manchu Wok variety.

August 17, 2007

It's not just me

As I've mentioned many times before, I have this thing about bags. I *love* bags. I want to have that one bag that will have just the right number of pockets to fit the many little knick-knacks that I feel I need to carry or else I will die.

Today I discovered I'm not the only one. asked its readers to submit their "Go Bag", and a picture of all the items within. The gallery can be found here. It's not just me.

A few years ago I developed a fetish for a good bag. Me and this other guy from work would frequent MEC looking for the ultimate bag. I found it -- in the form of the MEC Pod Sling Pack, but shortly after that I found everyone was getting one, including friends I hung out with. It's important to find that unique look, if you know what I mean. So I had no choice but to move on.

That's when I discovered the MEC Transit 6 Shoulder Bag". I've been using this little guy for the past 2-3 years. It's not perfect, but the fact that it fits everything that went into the Sling Pack, plus a bible and notebook, is pretty decent. It's not exactly the coolest looking bag but it's functional.

There are a few bags out there that are kind of out of reach, such as TUMI bags, which simply aren't available here and well, they cost quite a pretty penny. There are also timbuk2 bags which are also very nice, but again, out of reach for me at this time.

A few months ago I found this bag called the slotBar. It's made by UrbanTool, and it is coming out on September 12, 2007. Due to my own selfish reasons, I've done my best to hide this bag from others because I know that everyone will copy me once they see it. I know how silly that sounds.. but it's true.

Here's a link to what I hope will be the ultimate bag for me.

August 15, 2007


Thanks to everyone who did wish me a happy birthday yesterday. For those who didn't, don't worry about it, it's not like I celebrate my birthday anyway.

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my co-workers. He started working for the City a few months ago and is going to be a victim of the cutbacks in the City, he'll be laid off by this Friday. It was really sad to talk to him about it, pretty much anyone who becomes a temp with the City is almost guaranteed to eventually become permanent, and thus are set for life. That's pretty much the route I took with my career at the City.

But talking to this guy you really see how important a job is, especially when raising a family. I think it's something I really far too often take for granted. So we were sitting at the lunch table talking about it and asking him if he was able to find another job, which he wasn't. He mentioned something about doing some hard labor for $10/hour. Then I asked him about if his wife worked, he said yes, but that she didn't make enough to support the family. And then he joked about how he was glad he didn't buy a house. Wow, can you imagine if he had, talk about a family crisis. Then we talked about some of the other temps who are being laid off, most of them were either gone already or still had a couple of months left. Because he was the most junior of the lot, he was getting let go first.

That really sucks.

Edit: So today I was talking to this guy again, and he was telling me about how he brought his car in for service and they tried to rip him off again, it was all over about $50, but due to his financial/job situation, that's like a week of food for him and his family. Then he started talking about some fruit he bought the other day and how his lunch came out to $8, and that if he told his wife she'd probably kick him out.

That's pretty depressing..

It's just the way and manner in which he carries himself, you really feel for the guy, he's really great at lamenting. I feel so bad for the guy that if I had my cheque book I'd probably give him some money.

August 14, 2007


Rock, the executive chef, won Hell's Kitchen last night and order was restored to the universe. My brother and I were sitting there thinking, what would it be like if Bonnie had won. What a disaster that could have been. You walk into the Green Valley Ranch restaurant, and plop down $20 for a prawn fettuccine that even a nanny could have made.

Not to take anything away from Bonnie's signature dish, I'm sure it tastes great, but who would want to spend money on that when you can make it at home in less than 20 minutes? Where's the draw? What's compelling you to go to the restaurant at all?

Of course there was no way she could have won. I think Jenn was robbed a finals appearance and probably could have beaten Rock, but like last season, Ramsey put an obvious winner against a cutesy girl. Why does he do it? Is it for ratings? Me, I'd rather see the two best chefs go head-to-head. I don't need a "Cinderella" story in my book. Had Bonnie won the competition, Chef Ramsey would have lost all his credibility. It would have been a travesty and an embarrassment for the cooking world.

August 09, 2007


Take a wild guess as to what this is.

Anyway, I've been doing some cooking lately, I think Darryl and I have now had home-made dinner for about 2 weeks now, still going strong. I haven't followed any recipes, just made stuff off the top of my head, whatever inspires me.

One thing I've been having fun with is cooking with tomatoes. The tricky thing about tomatoes is that it all just falls apart when you cook it. And that's not a bad thing -- it tastes quite good. I made tomatoe/onion/mushroom/chicken breast dish last week, and quite a bit of it to last, and it actually turned out great, it was the first time I'd ever cooked with tomatoes.

Last night I made a similar one, adding cauliflower and substituting the chicken with a marinated ground beef. I found marinating the beef a lot better than what I'd done with the chicken, which had absolutely no taste in my last dish. What's great is that it's simple to make and cheap too, and it's all you need to go with some rice.

The above picture is a "watermelon steak". It's made from watermelon, cooked at 350 degrees in the oven. It was dotted with butter and has sherry poured all over. I guess it's a dessert. Add salt and pepper to taste..

August 07, 2007

Spiritual Leadership

Before he left, Daniel encouraged me to step up more a spiritual leader after the first week at Longlac. For me, it was something I was already looking and trying to do, so getting some encouragement was nice. To me being responsible for the spiritual well-being of our team wasn't as hard as I thought it could be. The thing is you're on a missions trip so God is right there with you, it's impossible not to pray for something before you try it in that kind of scenario. If anything, you're even more in-tune with Him than ever. It's nearly impossible to forget about God while doing God's work.

With God working right there with us, almost hand-in-hand, I barely felt any kind of pressure or burden to lead, other than to lead by example.

Lately, I've been thinking more about spiritual leadership from a relationship standpoint. When I get married in May 2008, I'll have to take on a new responsibility, as head of the household. And more importantly, spiritual head of the family.

I feel a lot of pressure with this one, and rightly so.. to have the responsibility to ensure that we as a couple are living the life God intended us to live. I think about my brother and I, and how I encourage him to attend church and read the bible regularly, but when he doesn't there isn't a whole lot I can do on my end. Yes, it's somewhat my responsibility but not really. I advice will only take him so far.. in the end he needs to make his own adult decisions.

I talked to my dad about this and he didn't seem to have an answer. My parents don't pray together, nor study the bible together, although both do it avidly, they also do is separately. I suppose it is, once again, about living by example. Dom mentioned how he and his wife do devotions together every day, and they pray together too.

I was telling Daniel about how I'd read an article from Focus On The Family, about a woman's expectations, which basically said many Christian women are looking to marry the pastor-type or someone pastor-like. Daniel concurred, saying he was rather surprised even of his own wife's expectations on this subject, even though he IS a pastor. It's definitely a surprise, especially for oblivious men like myself to have an expectation like that upon us without any prior warning.

So what does it take? Are we talking about devotions and prayer time? Or setting ground rules like mandatory quiet times (like we had at Longlac)? Or is it more about leading by example (which doesn't always work)?

I'm looking for advice and/or ideas. What do you think it means to be a spiritual leader of the family? What does it take? Feel free to leave me your thoughts.. thanks!

July 06, 2007

I hate this book.

I really hate this book I've been reading. It's called "Irresistable Revolution". I think the title is misleading, because to me I think I've "resisted" this revolution my entire life. The gist of the book is his interpretation of how Christ has commanded us to live.. but I'd rather prefer not to believe his way of thinking because if I do, it will wreck my life.

And I don't want to wreck my life because I like it the way it is. In fact I love it. But reading the book makes me see that certain aspects of my life should be different, there are things.. comforts, that I don't want to nor have any intention of letting go of. And that's why I hate this book because I am a person who prides himself in working hard to do things the "right way" and this book proves that I am all talk and no action.

I would recommend this book to anyone is okay with messing up their life. But if you're happy and have no intention of heeding God's call, leave this book alone. Believe me, the old saying "ignorance is bliss" applies here 100%. It kind of reminds me of Perspectives, how you can go through life not really knowing what God's *really* called you to do.
"You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too. But I guess that's why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest."
I think what really gets me about this book is that he's laid out a foundation on how to live, how to follow Jesus -- the way Christ meant it to be.. life that is. And that I'm not willing to accept it because I'm not ready to let go of everything.. It's me admitting that I can't.. or won't live the way God has commanded us to live. And being okay with it.
I'm convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff.

July 03, 2007

Knocked Up

Been looking forward to seeing this one for a long time now, finally had a chance last night. Went to see it with Ina after we checked out a bunch of restaurants for the wedding reception.

If I were to use one single word to describe this movie, I would use the word "awful". It's just a really bad movie, in every sense of the word "bad". The acting was a total disaster, but this isn't a big deal normally in comedies so I'll lay off on it.

In terms of the story, it was just bad. The character Ben Stone seemed to go from not caring at all, to pretending to be caring, and then not caring again, and then moments later he's in love. And then there was the subplot between the husband and wife that made very little sense, and seemingly really had nothing to do with the main plot. The story was predictable, yet not because you just couldn't believe these people could be so stupid.

So was it funny? There were definitely moments that I thought was really funny, but then there were also moments of complete raunchiness and nudity that I cannot even describe. This movie was borderline soft-core pornography, and I honestly can't remember hearing people say the F word so unnecessarily (as if there was ever a necessary reason to use the F word) as often as in this movie.

I just don't get it -- what's with all the vulgar language, does a script containing over 120 F-words really add any value to the movie? And the nudity? Why?

Speaking of value, we saw it on a Monday evening, which is probably my fault, but still.. we paid $24 for 2 people, which is insane. Had I known more about this movie before going in, I'm not sure I'd have watched it if someone paid me.

Plot/Story - 5/10
Acting - 5/10
Script - 2/10
Entertainment - 6/10
Value - 0/10

Overall: 18/50

July 02, 2007


Something that's been running through my mind lately..

I'm disgusted by the way people glorify Hollywood. How, in the news you read about how some celebrity is in jail, or one's in rehab, or how another has gotten married for the 5th time, how A is having a feud with B. Why do we care so much?

But then that got me thinking, what about sports? I read about athletes and the big bucks they made in an endorsement deal and how much they make. I scour the internet for insider's information about trade rumors, dealings and signings. I spend countless hours looking at player stats, their personalities, tendencies..

Is it any different from people who follow their favorite actors and actresses? Am I just as bad, wasting my time obsessing over sports stars as those who do the same for movie celebrities, instead of devoting all my time towards a worthier being, Jesus Christ?

June 28, 2007

Mock Draft

Tonight is the NBA Entry Draft. As usual, I'm super excited about this entire process, even though Toronto doesn't even have a pick!

Here's my mock draft:

1. Portland: Greg Oden.
2. Seattle: Kevin Durant.
3. Atlanta: Barring a trade, Al Horford.
4. Memphis: Mike Conley Jr.
5. Boston: Yi Jianlian
6. Milwaukee: Jeff Green
7. Minnesota: Joakim Noah
8. Charlotte: Corey Brewer
9. Chicago: Brendan Wright
10. Sacramento: Spencer Hawes
11. Atlanta: Acie Law (Raptors: Julian Wright)
12. Philly: Al Thornton
13. NO/Okla: Julian Wright
14. LA Clippers: Javaris Critteton (Acie Law if Toronto traded in)
15. Detroit: Rodney Stuckney
16. Washington: Nick Young
17. New Jersey: Jason Smith
18. Golden State: Morris Almond
19. LA Lakers: Sean Williams
20. Miami: Tiago Splitter (Javaris Critteton)
21. Philly: Daequan Cook
22. Charlotte: Thaddeus Young
23. New York: Wilson Chandler
24. Phoenix: Marco Belinelli
25. Utah: Alando Tucker
26. Houston: Rudy Fernandez
27. Detroit: Taurean Green
28. San Antonio: Derrick Byars
29. Phoenix: Josh McRoberts
30. Philly: Jared Dudley

June 25, 2007

All weekend

Another fun filled weekend. Friday we had small group, then Saturday was Kevin and Anita's Jack & Jill party, and then Sunday was my church's annual English Congregation picnic.

Ina was out of town this weekend, so I spent the whole entire weekend answering #2 questions, over and over and over and over again.

"Congratulations! ...where's Ina?", and then followed by
"So.. how did you do it? Tell us the story!!"

And then people would gather around and I'd tell all about how I proposed to her and all that.. the embarrassing and silly parts. Ina and I had felt like we'd told everyone we needed to tell -- evening changing our "Status" on Facebook, but it seemed to me that there were still quite few people left. At the picnic, people really came out of the woodworks to congratulate me, some people I've rarely ever spoken to came up to say hi and ask about the story. That was really cool though.

One thing I found kind of neat, was how every time I told it, people would be hanging on my every word like it was some sort of cliffhanger to a movie. Plus I'd remember more things to add to the story, little details that I'd missed out in the past. And then everyone would be like "Awwww.." at the end, which was weird because I didn't think what I did was all that romantic..

Anyway I had this pretty funny conversation with one of our friends at the picnic. We were talking about how my parents were planning to move back to Toronto after my dad retired.

O: So are your parents moving back?
B: Yea, after my dad retires, the plan is to move back to Toronto.
O: Oh, I see.. is he retiring soon?
B: Yea, he was was telling me the other day he's planning to retire in 6-12 months.
O: Cool.. When they move back, where are you gonna live?
B: I'm going live at Ina's place.
O: (puzzled look) Okay.. and where's Ina gonna live?
B: Huh? We're gonna live together.
O: (incredulous look) Um.. okay.. but.. um.. shouldn't you get married first?

That's when I figured out she hadn't heard about our engagement, so I told her and the world made sense again.

June 15, 2007


Is there a way to refine the topics? Seems like I create a new topic name every time I create a post, so that in the end, I have about 2 post for all 80 topics because I come up with a new word to describe it each time. There's got to be a way to refine it, rename 3 to 1 and have it automatically switch for me..

June 14, 2007

Rod Stewart

I've been listening to a lot of rock music lately, classic rock. Ever since I started really getting into the game Guitar Hero, and Guitar Hero 2, I've been interested in learning all these rock songs. This morning I heard this song on the radio by Rod Stewart, I know I've heard it before, but it never really hit me before, the lyrics..

Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you theres no one else above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles thats what you do

For the morning sun in all its glory
Greets the day with hope and comfort too
You fill my life with laughter
And somehow you make it better
Ease my troubles thats what you do
Theres a love thats divine
And its yours and its mine like the sun
And at the end of the day
We should give thanks and pray
To the One, to the One

I listen to Q107. It's just classic rock now, it's all the good stuff :)

June 13, 2007

Spurs in 4?

I haven't really watched too much of this series because the Spurs are a boring team to watch. They're methodical and effect, but just boring. Plus I never really thought Cleveland had a chance. I didn't think they were even the best team in the East, they just got lucky behind some pretty terrific play by Lebron James. In fact, I think any of the top 8 Western teams would have a pretty good shot of beating Cleveland in a 7 game series. You think of Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Golden State, Utah, Los Angeles, Denver.. all these teams could probably beat Cleveland if they had made it to the finals. And since the Spurs beat all of them.. I mean it's not rocket science.

I'm not a fan of either team. However I can't help but cheer for the Spurs because of Matt Bonner, the former Raptor who was a fan favorite in Toronto. The Red Rocket, as he was nicknamed because he liked to take the TTC to work, was just a hard working forward who had a knack for hitting open 3s. In terms of basketball smarts, he never really had any but it was his hustle that got the fans behind him.

So the Red Rocket is going to win a championship ring. How great is that?

Another reason to love the Spurs is Eric Williams. This guy, supposedly the centerpiece of that ill-advised Vince Carter trade, this so-called great model role player who ended up whining and complaining about not getting enough playing time, when in all honesty got more playing time than he really deserved, *was* a San Antonio Spur at the start of this season. But the key is he's no longer. And you just have to laugh because somewhere out there he is sitting there watching this series and pondering what might have been.

June 11, 2007

Undeserving sequels

This might totally gross some of you out, but I thought of this great analogy for movies that should never have had a sequels. Mind you I'm not talking about bad sequels. Sometimes you had a good movie that had a really bad sequel to it, like Speed 2, or Ocean's 12, Dumb and Dumberer, etc.

But what I'm talking about are sequels to movies that were so unbelievably bad that there was absolutely no reason to make a sequel to it. I'm talking about movies like "Fast and the Furious" which was so bad and yet they made 2, yes TWO sequels to it. "Pirates of the Caribbean" which was just gawd-awful and they again made 2 of them. How about "Weekend at Bernie's", can you believe they had two of those? How dead can the guy be? Wouldn't the body start to rot after awhile? Unbelievable.

Or another example is the most recent 3 Star Wars movies.

One thing I always thought that maybe George Lucas could have done, was say after he made the first one, upon seeing what a disaster it turned out to be, could have just cut ties with the other two and just plead insanity on the first. Like he could have just come to the media and just "Hey you know what, this guy had a nuclear missile pointed at the country and said he'd blow us all up if I didn't make this movie. So I did but then I managed to disable the missile so I'm not making any more of them. Yea I know I said I'd make 3 but I don't really want to subject you to that again, besides I was under duress at the time because I love America and I couldn't let him do that to us." Something like that might make those Star Wars movies slightly more bearable. Then you'd kind of be like "Man, that was the worst movie I've ever seen.. but did you hear that he saved millions of lives by making that movie? Man that George Lucas, what a noble guy, dragging his reputation through a pile of crap just for us. You know, he's my hero."

Anyway back to my gross analogy. When I was little, sometimes I'd take this huge dump and you know it's like the dump is one long strand and it's so unbelievable because it's so long. Some of them would be wound right around several times like a really long snake of poo. Anyway, I'd tell my parents or my brother to come see this unbelievably long piece of crap.

But then the next time someone had a super long crap, they'd invite us to see it but then we'd be like "Umm.. that's okay. I think I'll pass this time." And they'd say "No but this one is really big, and it's got some corns stuck in it.. YOU GOTTA SEE IT, ITS BETTER!", and you'd still maintain your position of "That's okay man, I've seen a long piece of crap before. Even with the extra stuff in it, it's still a long piece of crap and I really don't feel like looking at that right now."

That's exactly like some of these terrible movies that are getting sequels made for them. Can you believe they're making an "Alien vs Predator 2"? And a second "Fantastic Four"? Someone was saying that they think the second installment of Fantastic Four might actually be better than the first. Well I'm thinking that it wouldn't take a whole lot..

Holding nothing back

This CD by Tim Hughes kind of fell through the cracks for me, probably because I spent so much time listening to the Hillsongs United studio album "All Of The Above", in preparation for the concert. In the end, they only played 2-3 songs from the album. The concert was amazing by the way. Check out Andrew's blog for details and a video.

What initially attracted me to this CD was the first track "Happy Day". I had been at Mitchell's with Ina to pick up some greeting cards when I saw the CD on the sample wall. You know, where you can sample the CDs. The first song was so great I had to have the album, so I waited til there was a sale and went and got it.

Unfortunately I've lost my hosting site and can no longer post MP3s as I used to. You'll just have to buy the CD yourself, unless someone's got any suggestions of where I can host my media.. or check out his website for some samples. (

One thing I think that sets this album apart from his other stuff is that instrumentally it's just so much better. The music... fills the room better, if that makes sense. It's fuller, if that makes any sense at all. I'm not sure if I observed that in his previous albums. I mean, we've always known that Tim Hughes is a great songwriter. Lyrically he is solid, like Matt Redman. But musically I think this CD stands out because you can kind of get the sense that it was produced well and that they invested a fair amount of time into it.

Maybe he got better equipment, or his band has just gotten a whole better. Lyrically and musically the album is solid. I am just getting to know the other songs and discovering bit by bit how good these songs are.

Without breaking it all down, I give it 47/50. Go buy it.

June 06, 2007


When I look under my desk, I see a mess. There are wires and cables strewn all over the place, and dust bunnies settled in every nook and cranny down there. It's pretty gross.

With all my electronics and everything that I have under my desk, it's no wonder that there are so many wires and cables. I don't even have my computer covered up, the case is somewhere else in the room (probably underneath a pile of clothes) so there is even more dust in there. That's probably the only thing that reminds me to vacuum once in a while.. the fact that there's all that dust that is in danger of clogging up my hard disks.

That's just my desk too. Moving on to the living room, it's just another big old mess behind my television. Think of all the cables it must take. As I have a home theater, I have inputs and outputs coming out of every device and going in all different directions. On top of the TV, there is the digital cable box, Wii, XBox360, PS2. At one point I even had a DVD player and a Gamecube but fortunately these two became redundant when I got my 360 and Wii, respectively.

There's wires everywhere, and dust everywhere. The worst thing about them is that they're both up against a wall and the only way for me to get back there is to pull it out, and when I do that, things get unplugged.

Whether you're a gadget freak or not, you're bound to have some area in your home with wires strewn about. What do you do with all your cables? Are you organized or is it like my desk and living room, just a great big mess of wires underneath and behind?

Here is a neat way that shouldn't take a whole lot of work to produce. It's very creative. I'm convinced it doesn't have to necessarily be beneath a desk but also against a wall or side of a desk. All it takes is a big board with holes, and a bunch of plastic ties, a drill and a few nuts and bolts!

Pretty "neat" huh?

June 04, 2007

A night of food coma

Last night I had a steak that had to have been at least 1 pound of meat. It was quite easily the biggest steak I've ever eaten. The amazing thing is my brother had an even bigger steak, however, what's more amazing is that I out-ate him. I finished my steak while he only ate about half of his.

The thing about the steak was that it was pre-marinated from St. Lawrence Market, and it was supposedly Black Angus beef. Although I'm still not sure about that because it was really chewy with lots of tendons and fat.

Anyway, I ate about 2/3 of it at dinner time and then slowly finished it off and was finished by about 10:30. Then I immediately went to bed, and I guess I had food coma all night.

The thing about that is my stomach is hungry now, even though I had this humongous hunk of meat. The blood has been in my stomach working to digest it all night, and as a result I feel like I didn't sleep at all even though I planned to catch up on sleep by sleeping 9 hours!


Some of my friends, including my pastor, refer to food coma as "itis" or "the itis". I had always wondered where that came from. As it turns out, according to Wikipedia "the itis" is actually derived from a racialist connotation, "niggeritis", used by slave owners to describe why their slaves did not like to work immediately after lunch. This word was then shortened to "itis" after slavery was abolished.

You can read more about "the itis" here.

May 31, 2007

Canada's team

I read an article in the paper the other day that said Canada had embraced the Ottawa Senators (with 16 Canadian players) as Canada's team because they've made it to the Stanley Cup finals and have a chance to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada.

The reception for this has been pretty bleak. In years past I have seen us cheer for the Canadiens, the Flames and then the Oilers. But Ottawa it seems, hasn't gained the same kind of support as those other teams did. I'm not exactly sure why this is, maybe because of all the past years of choking so much and failing to meet expectations. Or perhaps because the team is led by an arrogant moron named Daniel Alfredsson. Or maybe because one of their best scorers is Dany Heatley, the man who threw caution to the wind and drove his Ferrari 160 mph into a tree to kill his best friend and teammate.

Last night while lying in bed, I wondered who had won game 2. I heard cars drive past on Yonge Street, honking their horns repeatedly and I concluded that Ottawa must have won game 2 to even up the series at 1-1. I woke up this morning to check the score. Boy was I wrong.. Ottawa had lost 1-0.

Fans were driving down Yonge Street honking their horns to celebrate Ottawa's misfortune.

Canada's team my ass.

If you're trying to decide what team to pick, go with the team that has the most Canadians. That'd be the Anaheim Ducks with 21.