December 18, 2008

Yes We Can!

If you think about how bad the Raptors have been this past week, then multiply by 20.. that is how bad the Detroit Lions have been this season. Actually, it's really more like multiplying by 500, considering that they've been bad for over a decade. Still, let's just stick to the 2008-2009 season. They are currently 0-14, having lost all of their games up to this point with 2 games remaining.

To me, the only way to salvage their season is by losing all their games. Yes, I said salvage.

They'll make it into the history books, get their names bronzed and be remembered for something significant, the only team ever to lose all their games in the NFL, to go winless for an entire season. Famous for mediocrity is better than not being famous at all. 1-15 is for losers.. 0-16 is an artform.

Yes We Can!

December 15, 2008

Heart Like Yours

I haven't done this in a long time, but I felt like my readers would be missing out if I didn't.. and given the fact that it was released 4 months ago and I didn't even know it existed says this album needs some free advertising. I'm not much into reviews these days, but I'd like to say that this is a great album and encourage anyone to buy it. So here's my "Heart Like Yours" (SonicFLood) mini-review/plug.

I picked up this album at a Family Christian Bookstore down in the states during our trip down to Lebanon, Ohio. I honestly didn't know SonicFlood was still around and upon checking, found they aren't.. at least not the original Grammy-winning group. Rick Heil does deserve some credit though, as I felt the sound was similar to the original group. You can read up on it at Wikipedia if you're interested. I think of this album as old SonicFlood meets Chris Tomlin (but with a little more originality).

Lyrically the album is not particular strong, but the music itself seems catchy and original. I think it's fair to say this is the second best SonicFlood album ever made.

December 12, 2008

December 09, 2008

Can I go 5 rounds without drafting RB?

I'm just gonna put this here on record so I can look back someday.

In my keeper league, my top 3 keepers are going to be:
RB Brian Westbrook
RB Frank Gore
RB Steven Jackson

3 studs. Don't ask me how I got them.. suffice to say there is no one else of any kind of value left on my team. But 3 studs may mean nothing if I go into the draft next year and go crazy and draft more RBs that I don't need.

I predict I need to draft at least 3 receivers and a quarterback in the next 5 rounds, possibly 2 QBs if I waited until the 7th round to draft the first.
Can I go 5 rounds without draft a runningback?

Time will tell..

November 10, 2008

Alive and kicking

A little bird told me that I should make a post so that everyone knew I was still alive and kicking. So, here is what's been on my mind lately:

On life in general:

Life has been good. Ina and I are a week away from 6 months of married life it's felt like a lot longer. Not to say that it's boring, we've just gotten so used to eachother and our daily routines that the time has just literally flown by. No house yet, still looking. Might wait til next spring as the market continues to bottom out. A couple of houses we really liked ended up selling $100k less than they originally listed for, so we'll continue to play the waiting game.

On serving:

Ina and I have been looking for areas for us to serve together. After weighing several options, including joining a couples' small group, continuing on with where we are currently, or helping out with youth fellowships, we've decided to start our own small group together, focusing on new Christians and seekers.

As for worship team, I took the summer and fall off, and now I'm considering giving it up altogether. I've completely lost interest in it.

On missions:

It's possible that I'm being led astray, but lately I've felt no urgency or excitement towards going to Longlac. In fact, I've had a weary attitude towards it. I think it has something to do with the church deciding to start ministering to #77 entirely, even though we invested the last 5 years ministering and building relationships with #58 (3 years for me). It just seems to me like not finishing something you started. I still chat with some of these kids on MSN. What am I supposed to say to them when they ask me if I'm coming to visit this summer? No. Actually, I'm not. I'm visiting your neighbors but not you?

Anyway, I'm currently exploring an opportunity to go to China for a short term mission trip. I contacted the pastor about it but after 2 weeks he still hasn't gotten back to me about it.

On politics:

Obama won, the first black president so it's big deal -- for those who see color.

He promises "Change" but what is he planning to change? The political climate? Bush is gone so that would have changed regardless. Racial prejudice change? Economical change? Change in attitude towards warmongering Americans?

I think he's a great speaker and a great leader. He's a great motivator and speaks with conviction. He says what everyone wants to hear, and sometimes, what everyone needs to hear.

It's a great time for the young people, because they voted and it finally made a difference. It's a great time for the soldiers who've spent the last half decade risking their lives in Iraq searching for the weapons of mass destruction that never existed. It's even a great time for Christian Americans. No more sitting on your hands, people. Time to get a move on. Your leader (of ambiguous religion) will make sure of this. However, it's not so great a time for unborn babies with reluctant mothers. Better hope your mom changes her mind before she murders you... because Obama supports that.

On basketball:

I'm beginning to notice why all the doubters believe the Raptors are going in the wrong direction. Same problems as last year, only now we have a $22M contract staring us in the face. He will go away in 2 years, but wouldn't it have been better to trade for guys who actually address our problems?

We're 4-2 right now, and we will probably make the playoffs, and we might even win a series. But I honestly don't think we're any closer to being contenders than we were last year. We added a former all-star, but we also still have 2 starters who are better suited as role players. And our bench, don't get me started on our bench. Half these guys shouldn't be playing in the NBA.

October 03, 2008

Priority swing

It's been awhile since I missed an entire month of posting on my blog. It seems like a lot of things have become a lower priority for me since getting married.

As a single guy I immediately noticed how guys would change once they got into a serious relationship, and then even moreso when they got married. Things they once appeared to hold dear to them fell away from them. Priorities change and I understood that, but what I couldn't understand is how they so quickly lost interest in things that I thought they were interested in.

I always thought that when I got married, things would be different. That could never happened to me.. I am set in my ways and I'm stubborn. It's a scary thought from a single guys' point of view, seeing someone change. But once you're in those shoes you realize there's nothing scary about it.

For those of you who haven't tried it yet, married life is fantastic. Nothing compares to it -- it's just the greatest thing in the world. I'm often puzzled when married people ask me, "So, how's married life?", as if they didn't already know how awesome it is.

One thing I noticed immediately pretty much since Ina and I started dating was my lack of interest in music. If you've been following this blog for along time, you'll know I used to buy a lot of music CDs, and I'd even review them here. I don't think I've bought a CD in since we got married. I just stopped caring and realized I had better uses for my money, and better things to do. All of a sudden, radio is good enough for me.

Another thing I've noticed is my interest in movies has drastically diminished. I go less overboard about movies, I'm no longer excited about a movie coming out, or go out of my way to watch one. I no longer feel the need to be the first guy to see a movie when it comes out. To me it's become just another form of entertainment. I can be entertained at home just as well as in a theatre and at home I can go pee when I need to, and leave my cellphone on.

I've also lost interest in what is happening in Hollywood. I used to know all the ins and outs, who was cheating, the feuds and the embarassing photos online. I used to know who deserved an Oscar, not because they were nominated for one but because I'd seen every worthwhile film that year and could make a fair assessment. What I've come to realize is that it was pointless to fill up my head with all that useless nonsense.

I've also seemed to lose interest in the Toronto Raptors. Usually I would be super excited for the season to start, especially at this time of year. This year -- I feel nothing. I know it's coming, and I just picked up my Raptor tickets. But for some reason I feel nothing. I'm not excited or anxious for the season to start. I tried reading up on the team to whet my appetite, but I get nothing. I just don't care that much any more.

Once you're married, all those "fun" things you did as single person no longer seem fun. Everything you used to do appears boring and mundane. I've found that you truly begin to realize what's important in life and your priorities change for the better.

August 23, 2008

My popo


About a year ago Ina and I went down to San Francisco, but before that we stopped in Hayward to visit my grandparents, who were being looked after by my aunt. At the time my parents thought it'd be a great chance for us to see them because they were likely too old to travel up to Toronto to attend our wedding the following May.

My Popo and I have had some epic battles back in the day. She would come up to Toronto to visit during the summers from Taiwan and look after me during my summer holidays, and stay until it got cold. We had a lot of fights because Popo was super stubborn and refused to ever let me win at anything, and I hated that because I hate losing. She never let me win, and on top of that often would gloat after beating me, relishing in my defeats. I remember vividly once we were playing Chinese Chess, and once again she creamed me and so I picked up a playing piece and threw it at her in frustration. She threw one back at me and the next thing I knew were we throwing them at eachother. Come to think of it, those things were pretty heavy, I'm surprised we didn't break anything. She got me on the shoulder and I started to cry. She just laughed.

Popo was also way too smart for her own good. I had heard that various pastors and ministers had come to try to share the gospel with her and she refused to believe. She was too clever, Christianity was too "easy" for her, it was silly to her. Even when my mom shared her personal testimony and invited her to church to hear it, she came but she was too stubborn to acknowledge whether or not she was touched by my mom's story.

My Popo never really worked, she painted beautiful paintings using the Chinese watercolor method. I remember back in our old house in Unionville, my dad picked up an old drafting table and set it up in the dinning room, and Popo set up her painting scrolls and paints and brushes and would sit there and practice. She taught me to how to paint too, how to hold the brush (mao bi) properly and how to write. She had these special practice papers which you could paint on over and over with water and the water would just evaporate quickly. She taught me how to paint the flowers, leaves and branches. Our house was filled with many of her painting scrolls. I used to spend about 30 minutes after getting home from school, and practice my writing skills and painting skills while I ate those pineapple filled biscuits (fong li su).

When I was little I loved to eat (and still do) these little banana cakes, (shiang giao gao), and my Popo figured out how to make it. I mean this was before the internet when you could just look it up and find a recipe. She made it by tasting it and feeling its texture. She'd never made it before and she just figured it out, somehow.

When I was 11, my mom, my brother and I went to Taiwan and stayed there for 6 weeks. This was during the school year so I missed all that time from school, though I took lots of homework and textbooks to keep up. I remember going shopping with my grandma, just the two of us. We'd go into the grocery store and they had this conveyor belt just for your shopping cart to take it upstairs because there was no other way to take it up there. I guess it was to save space. Then when you bought stuff you stick it back on there and it brings it back down for you. She used to buy me all kinds of yummy goodies and little toys with wound up rubber bands as engines. At the apartment she always made me this pork that I loved.. I still remember it. It had just enough meat and fat on it.. I think we ate it almost every other day. It was so good.

I have so many fond memories of Popo.

Anyway, while we were visiting in Hayward, my aunt told me that Popo hadn't really spoken in some time. She did most of her communication by pointing to things. But while I was there I got to talking to her and she spoke to me. It was a touching moment for me, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I introduced her to my future wife, and we talked a bit about the old times, memories and silly things I used to do to make her laugh. I found out that she had accepted Christ, which was really great news.

Popo passed away on August 21, 2008. She will be missed.

August 19, 2008

Liukin vs Kexin

Before I get into the matchup, just wanted to give a shout out the Jamaican girl who won the 100m. That had to be one of the funniest and silliest celebrations we've seen in the Olympics, she looked so happy running around with the flag, and confusing the cameramen by changing directions and falling over herself with pure joy.

Yesterday we watched and listened to the entire sequence for both CBC and NBC's coverage of the women's individual gymnastics on the uneven bars. There was some hoopla over the scoring for the event, mostly coming from the US, which ended in a tiebreaker that awarded the gold to Chinese He Kexin over American Nastia Liukin. Since none of the American commentators new the rules for tiebreakers, they ended making a huge fuss over it.

I actually thought Liukin's routine should have scored higher. Having watched both the US and Canadian coverage of it (each channel has a camera from opposite sides of the apparatus) it seemed to me Liukin made 1 or 2 less mistakes. "He" had a pretty awesome double release move, but at the end of the day they both had the same start value and difficulty, so you would assume the person who made less mistakes gets a higher score. But then again what do I know -- my experience as a spectator of gymnastics spans approximately 8 days.

I found it interesting that the CBC coverage simply explained the tiebreak, whereas the US coverage went on and on first about not understanding the logistics of the tiebreak, (at which point they were blaming the computer, which I take exception to). Then upon being enlightened of the rules, they thought the rules were stupid. Which is pretty much what anyone would say if they lost on a technicality, which Liukin did. But it still seemed pretty comical coming from the commentators point of view.. reminded me a little of a Pro-Line commercial and the US being on the losing side of one.

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August 18, 2008

Eczema and other annoyances


Over the past few years I've noticed that I get a rash in the summer time on my elbows and knees, but this year in particular it's been pretty crazy. I used to just wash it thinking it was just sweat, but recently I found out it was eczema. I remember a few years ago scolding AT over and over again for scratching her scars, and now I understand why she wouldn't stop. Boy is it ever itchy!

Now I'm the one with scabs all over my arms, elbows and knees. I'm the one rubbing steroids into my skin and trying not to scratch. What a pain in the butt this is. Maybe I shouldn't be using the word "butt". I'd hate for this thing to spread over there..

Ina and I have discovered while watching Olympics that we need to pick and choose the station based on the sport, which can have varying degrees of annoyances amongst the commentators. Either you choose the American commentators of NBC who are extremely biased towards the USA, or the Canadian commentators of CBC, many of whom have no experience commenting on the sport they've been assigned to so they often sound like complete morons.

So it comes down to US Patriots versus Canadian Idiots. I am one of those Canadians that absolutely *loathe* American pride. And yet in this case, I choose the bias because outside of swimming the US hasn't really been doing all that great. China seems to be winning everything else except for track and field where the Jamaicans are cleaning up. Besides, other than media types and journalists the NBC commentators have been pretty gracious.

CBC commentators are the absolute worst, particularly because they hired a bunch of former athletes who have no business doing commentary. This becomes apparent particularly in diving, where Anne Montminy seems to be reading from a script which contains these two lines:

1) That was a miss for him/her/them!
2) That was terrific!

She's got a 50% chance of being right, and it seems like she gets it right half the time so my guess is she's using a random number generator to decide which line to read. My favorite comment in diving so far came from her partner, who we heard say "Looks like the judges don't agree with you" after she had commented that one of the pairs of synchronized divers had missed badly.

Anne also believes these two women look exactly the same:
The second annoying commentator is Paul Romanuk, commentating for Olympic basketball. I can't think of too many guys who could screw this up more. Perhaps Rod Black, who thankfully works for CTV. There is nothing worse than a hockey play-by-play guy doing basketball.

Finally, if you have spent any time in the subways, or watching CBC, or driven by the billboards you should have seen Bell's latest ad-campaign. The annoying little beavers are finally gone, ill-advised if you ask me, and they've got this new "er" thing. Which makes very little sense, I have no idea where they are going with it, but I'm having a lot of fun.

August 14, 2008

Narrow eyes

Ina and I had a pretty good laugh after I showed her this picture, which has sparked a lot of controversy over the past few days. I've had some interesting conversations about this with various people. Since Jose Calderon is in the photo, there's been a bit of hoopla coming out of the Raptors community. Apparently some people feel Jose Calderon must be a racist based on this photo where he is spreading his eyes apart and supposedly offending all Chinese people as a result.

For me, it seems harmless enough. I happen to have narrow eyes, I was born this way and it is part of my identity. That got me thinking about what they could have done that REALLY would have offended me. I came up with a few ideas:

How about trying to make a mockery out of what was easily the most spectacular Olympic opening ceremonies in history of the world? How about if they blamed a bunch of accidents on Chinese people, who obviously purposely used toxic materials to make toys so that they could harm children? Oh, maybe they could make fun of our culture and diet, how we eat things that are absolutely disgusting that makes you want to puke. The Chinese won double gold in team gymnastics? There could be no other explanation other than that the Chinese were under-age, after all they've been lying about their age for years. Chinese people are all a bunch of liars. How about a picture of the Spanish basketball team all wearing gas masks because apparently the Beijing air is toxic and if you breathe it you will die, and 16 million people living there must be mutated because otherwise how else could they possibly breathe?

You want to offend Chinese people, see the above for ideas. Oh wait, they've all been done before.

August 12, 2008

Jubilation

... is the word I would use to describe the 4x200 men's relay in finals swimming. Watching the US overcome a significant lead by France to win the gold, with the help of an older man on the team. That was awesome, and helps Michael Phelps continue his quest for 8 gold medals! To see him celebrate in joy was great too, I think that picture will be one of those images we will see again and again for the next couple weeks. Simply awesome!

Before I begin the following rant, let me just say that the opening ceremonies were spectacular. They were by far the best ever without any doubt. I can't help but shudder at the thought of what Toronto could have come up with. Granted, China likely operated on a limitless budget, but still. What is Canada famous for? What legacies do we have, what are things we can be proud of? I wonder if Steven Harper would even bother showing up.

Ina and I have watched a lot of Olympics because of our ability to record everything. We've been recording the CBC feed, but have noticed that they re-run a lot of footage, and skip a lot of the things we want to see, while showing a lot of stuff online instead (which we can't view due to a slower internet connection). Furthermore, why would we watch on a little screen after we paid for HD content? That's been pretty disappointing to say the least, when you consider that in the past CBC has been a treat compared to the available US feeds.

We're at the brink of switching all our recordings to the US feed, who have more emphasis on things we actually want to watch, such as team gymnastics, swimming, rowing. It seems that CBC has "sold out" a little bit, putting more emphasis on Canadians, even though they all suck. Rarely do we get to see an event that Canada is not involved in, except for maybe beach volleyball. I don't know about the average Canadian viewer, but personally when I'm watching the Olympics I would rather see the best compete -- excellence, regardless of who is competing -- than watch yet another Canadian fail.

For example, why show the entire match of the Canadian boxer who got pummeled mercilessly by the Kazakh, 20-1? How necessary was it show that entire fight, not to mention twice more in various re-runs. You didn't make us watch Sue Nattress miss 25 shots in shooting, so why force us to watch a Canadian getting the snot punched out of him?

Also, say it with me -- "LAST PLACE". There is no such thing as 4th place out of 4 teams, 12th place out of 12 competitors. Nobody needs to be patronized. It's last, so just say it.

August 07, 2008

Madden Curse


The question is, was the trade and all of the bad publicity a result of the Madden curse, or has the curse not taken into effect yet?

And since Favre is wearing a Packers jersey in the cover (which EA has no intention of changing), does this mean that both Green Bay and Favre will be cursed this season?

Consider this: Green Bay has likely ZERO chance of making the playoffs now, after botching the handling of this entire situation. They've estranged their own fans and insulted an NFL legend. I don't know about you but if I'm GB why would I side with a relative unknown and unproven Aaron Rodgers? Just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

As for Brett Favre, he's joining a really bad team that will all of a sudden become a team that has a chance at the playoffs. I think they can do it because Brett makes them that much better. But is Favre is cursed?

August 05, 2008

Melon diet: FAIL

Ina and I planned to go on an all-melon diet on Monday. I declared it on Saturday, saying that on Monday, we would be going for the All-Melon diet. An All-Melon Monday.

We bought a bunch of melons: 1 watermelon, 2 cantaloupes (they were on sale, 2 for $5), 1 honeydew, and 1 canary melon.

Monday, late morning I chopped them up into bite size pieces and we started to eat them, because we were pretty hungry.

We'd bought some kind of chinese soup mix with watercress and meat and all kinds of goodies. Ina decided to make this while we were on this diet. It seemed innocent enough, but I think it may have led to our ultimate failure.

So around 12pm, we were still munching away on cantaloupe and honeydew, and I was getting really, really hungry. My stomach was full, and yet the hunger lingered.

At about 2pm, the soup was just about ready and Ina had a taste despite our diet. It smelled soooo good. I just had to have some. I only had the liquid.

At 2:30, I couldn't take it anymore. I declared it to be a No-Meat Monday instead, and as we were both famished we each cooked up some instant noodles and ate them up ravenously. My noodles tasted like (bleep!), but I was so hungry I gobbled it all up.

(Ina and I bought 5 packets of instant noodles each, a few weeks ago, in a fun attempt to find the best instant noodle that had a great mix of low price and good taste. I found a few that were 33 cents each. What a deal!)

Oh, might as well add the Push Up thing to the subject header too. 100 push ups? I haven't done any since Ina got back. FAIL.

July 24, 2008

Consequences

Pastor Ian preached about Consequences this past Sunday. It made me think about a lot of the choices I've made in the past. One of things that's been on my mind, obviously, is blogging. But moreover I've been thinking a lot about how much the world has changed, how close we are together and how easily we can reach eachother.

Whether that's a good thing or not can be left up to you to decide.

But about blogging. Of course I've always known that this blog is readily available to anyone with internet access, except perhaps those with restricted access in various countries. But it never really became so apparent to me as it did a couple weeks ago. It's just the realization that ANYONE could be reading this.

I never really thought twice that what I said here could affect other people. The consequences of sharing my experiences a year ago could have huge repercussions. It's one big web of dissension.

Perhaps the word itself "blog" is somewhat deceiving. Originating from "web log", it is a log that is found on the web. It's accessible to the general public. But when you think of logs, or journals, or perhaps diaries, the word "public" does not enter your mind. To view a log usually takes some work. You might need to retrieve a log, say from a storage device. A journal might require you to search under someone's mattress or pillow. Finding a diary might not be good enough, a lot of them have locks and require a key to open --- and heaven forbid if you did open it up --- reading someone's diary is widely considered an invasion of privacy. But a blog.. a blog is read by everyone.

(In fact, the moment you press "Publish" it is pretty much etched in stone. Even if you retract it, it's already too late because people have those pesky RSS feeders that retrieve it the instant you publish.)

Pretty crazy. Kinda makes you want to think twice the next time you post, eh?

July 22, 2008

Perfect pitch

I only know a few people with perfect pitch. Many people say they have perfect pitch but then they prove otherwise by their singing. I don't know if that means they don't have perfect pitch, but I do know they didn't sing in perfect pitch. Or could it be that I'm so way off myself, that perfection sounds off? I'm not so sure.

For whatever reason, I've been listening to a lot of Carpenters lately. Two weeks ago I was listening to a whole lot of rap music at work, then I saw Hellboy II, and found myself listening to Barry Manilow. Then for some reason I started looking up Carpenters, and now I can't get enough of it. Karen Carpenter had such a great voice, it's soft and gentle, yet assertive. And she's got perfect pitch for sure, there's no doubt about it. She sounded pretty damn good in her day, makes me sad that she died so young.

--

Day 3

Level 1: 5
Level 2: 4
Level 3: 4
Level 4: 3
Level 5: max (at least 5)

So I went ahead with the program last night, just after dinner. Everything went fine, this morning I'm not sore at all, I'm not sure what to think of that. Anyhow, I managed 12 on level 5, just barely bettering my previous record of 11 in a row.

Although the program suggests 3 days per week, I kind of want just keep going on this every other day thing that I've been doing so far.

July 21, 2008

The best movie ever made?

On Saturday I went down to Mel Lastman Square to check out the CCSA mid-season mixer. There were a few bands playing, a couple of them comprised of kids from our church so I just wanted to see how good they were. I called my brother and we met up there, listened to the bands play and then we got bored and decided to go home.

As I headed back into Empress Walk I wondered aloud if the theater was showing The Dark Knight, because sometimes it doesn't show the big blockbuster films.

We went up the escalator and lo and behold there it was, and it was starting 15 minutes! So in we went.

Amazingly the theatres were all full, they had been showing the film all day and even ours was full. Rule of thumb: If Empress Walk theaters are full, then it MUST be a good movie.

I don't know if I would call it the best movie of all time, although some people believe it to be truth. It was pretty damn good, though flawed in that I felt like it could have ended a whole lot sooner, but I understand they wanted to do Dent some justice.

But easily the best Batman film ever. By a mile.

Anyway, go watch it. 15 million others already have.

--

Day 2 of the push up plan was as follows (I did this on Saturday):

Level 1: 4 push ups
Level 2: 3 push ups
Level 3: 2 push ups
Level 4: 2 push ups
Level 5: max (at least 4)

90 seconds break between each level. I managed to get 11 at level 5, once again smashing my old record of 9 in a row. I guess I was overly optimistic to expect a linear improvement, going from 4 to 9 to 11. Am I peaking? I hope not. I was feeling pretty sore after Day 1, whereas today (for Day 3) I'm not feeling any soreness at all. Could I hit 15 today, or 12?

July 17, 2008

Week 1, Day 1

In the hundred push ups plan, day 1 of week 1 has 5 levels:

Level 1: 2 push ups
Level 2: 2 push ups
Level 3: 2 push ups
Level 4: 2 push ups
Level 5: max (at least 5)

You're supposed to give yourself 1 minute between each level of break time. I seemed to do relatively well, on Level 5 I managed 9 push ups in a row, smashing my old record of 4 in a row. The instructions say to give at least 1 day between workout days, I guess it gives your muscles a chance to tear and heal. Anyhow, I plan to do the next day on Saturday. I hope you will keep my accountable.
--
There's the kid who performs at Market Square (that's the "square" in front of Metro Hall) once in awhile on Thursdays for "Indulge". They have food for sale and a farmer's market and live music. Anyway this kid is named Jordan John. He's a drummer but he can sing and I saw him play the electric guitar once. He's amazing..

He's living proof of how hard it must be to break into the music industry. The fact that he's not considered one of the more talented Canadian kids out there is amazing to me, unless he's simply just not interested in fame. Seeing him today playing drums and singing at the same time was really cool. I think what impresses me is that he plays the drums so effortlessly.

He'll be back next week and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

onehundredpushups

I found this site, http://www.hundredpushups.com yesterday through my newsfeed on Lifehacker yesterday. It's a 6-week training program that promises that by investing 3 days a week for a total of 30 minutes per week, you will be able to (or be well on your way to) do 100 push ups in one go.

The beauty of course with push ups is there's no equipment required, and you don't have to go anywhere to do it. That pretty much fits well with my lifestyle.

The site should was down for most of yesterday (they call this phenomenon lifehacker'd, but when it came back on I downloaded and printed out the PDF complete plan.

There is an initial test before you get started. This helps to determine the level of difficulty that you are about to embark on. The training itself has 3 levels, based on where you ranked on the initial test.

Rank 1: 0-5 push ups
Rank 2: 6-14 push ups
Rank 3: 15-29 push ups
Rank 4: 30-49 push ups
Rank 5: 50-99 push ups
Rank 6: 100-150 push ups
Rank 7: 150 & above

It's also broken down by age. Less than 40, between 40 and 55, and above 55. The above scale is for anyone under 40. I guess if you're at rank 5 or higher, you don't really need this training thing at all. I fell into Rank 1, managing just 4 push ups in one go. I haven't worked out seriously since 2000 back in Ottawa, so although getting 4 seemed low, I think it sounds just about right. My arms are much smaller than those days, and I'm also about 15 pounds heavier.

They said that most people fall between Ranks 2 and 3 and not to be discouraged by your rank, because the training will put everyone on an even playing field. They also say it's important you don't cheat or cut corners because it'll just mean you will fail when you go through the training. Push ups are all about the right form, if you don't have the right form you could just be wasting your time, not to mention endangering yourself to injuries.

I plan to start the program tonight.

July 08, 2008

Response

My hands have been literally shaking and my heart has been pounding as I typed this up. I really do feel awful about this. It's not the first time I've gotten in trouble for blogging, but for something that's so close to my heart, it's pretty devastating in my opinion.

I'd like to apologize and respond to a recent comment made to a post I wrote about a year ago, regarding one of the journey entries about my trip to Longlac in 2007.

What had happened was I had posted my thoughts and feelings about something that had happened on one of the evenings and those comments offended some people. Well .... given that it's readily and available on the internet, I likely offended more than just a few people.

I'd like to apologize. What was said was not only insensitive, but it gave the perception that I was "better" than the people I was describing, and that could not be further from the truth.

First of all I just wanted to say that these things that I post here are solely of my opinion only -- I don't represent other people and therefore if anyone is still angry, that anger should only be directed at me. I say a lot of dumb things.. it happens.

My post regarding my experiences in Longlac -- particularly the one about the incident at the church. In that post I described some kids as "demon-possessed". I didn't mean to imply that the children were actually demon-possessed, it was more that I was scared, and my post was a reactionary "in the heat of the moment" description of the events that took place.

I want to apologize for hurting anyone's feelings and for conveying a negative message.

I also wanted everyone to know that I've taken down all of my Longlac sharing blogs to ensure that no one else will read them and get the wrong idea about the people of Longlac, and both reserves.

One of the #1 questions I get about Longlac is why I keep going back every year. If I like kids, why not just work the inner-city Toronto kids? If I like missions, why not travel overseas? Why go back to Longlac each year?

The thing about Longlac, the honest truth.. is that I love the kids there. Maybe it sounds a little selfish but I love spending time with the kids, playing games and just talking to them. It's such a joy to be amongst them and I feel blessed for being part of their lives, and I hope that some day they feel the same way about me. The best thing of all is going back each year and recognizing faces.. and I get such a thrill when some of them remember me.

With these recent events coming into light, it pains me even more that I'm not going this year. It was a difficult enough decision to begin with, and now it pains me that I miss out on the opportunity to apologize in person and to show how much these people mean to me.

Again just to reiterate, I'm truly sorry for the things I said. I know that this response probably isn't enough to heal hurt feelings, I only hope that in time, you will forgive me.

July 04, 2008

White bred

Here is a self-portrait.

Let me tell you a story, it's not something I'm particularly proud of, call it a moment of weakness.. but it is what it is.

This never would have happened if my co-worker hadn't ditched me. We were supposed to go to Burger King for the fish burger deal, but at lunch time I poked my head out of my cubicle to find that he had already left. So I went down to BK myself, but halfway there I had a craving for Bourbon St Grill.

Bourbon St Grill is a food court restaurant that has huge portions, relatively cheap and huge portions. Did I mention huge portions? I ordered the same thing I always get, the blackened fish with green beans on steamed rice. The fish is to die for, and the beans.. I've tried to make them but I can't figure it out. Somehow it's soggy the way I like them, but also crunchy the way I like them. And juicy. They're perfect. Their rice leaves much to be desired though, it's sort of this hard, non-sticky kind.

I stood in line and ordered, and then to my delight I found I had perfect amount of change to pay $21.54 so I could get $15 back in bills. Love it when that happens.. anyway I grabbed a handful of sauce packets, plastic cutlery and headed back to the office.

So anyway I was sitting there eating my lunch when I noticed I'd picked up some a packet of soy sauce amongst the packets I usually get (plum sauce, hot sauce). And that is when it happened.

With all the hard chewy rice, I wondered how this would taste with some soy sauce.. Right away my conscience spoke up ---

"Thinking about putting soy sauce in your rice?! What are you, a WHITE boy?"

I shook my head at the thought and continued eating. But the rice was really hard.

"Don't you DARE! BRIAN -- Stop this at once! Don't even think about it!!"

But I couldn't help it. In my mind I was already reaching towards the little packet. I was finding the rice hard to swallow, nearly choking on it. If I put some soy sauce, it might be easier to eat, I thought. Plus it would add some flavor.. The thought crept back into my head while I tried to resist the temptation to commit the unfathomable.

Finally, I stopped eating. I put down my chopsticks and looked around to make sure no one was looking. When the coast was clear, I tore into the soy sauce. I splashed it around in the rice, cackling with an evil but sinister super villainous laugh. It was like one of those homicidal pyromaniacs who splash gasoline all over their victims in the movies, before they light them on fire. All the while being extremely cautious as to not attract any attention, of course. Then I stirred furiously and, in a matter of seconds, my white rice was now brownish. I had done it.

I had mixed soy sauce into my rice, and somewhere, in the great beyond or perhaps underground, an old chinese man rolled over in his grave.

July 03, 2008

The lap of luxury

I saw this Dinner in the Sky thing on Breakfast Television this morning. It looks fun and all, but COME ON people.. is this really necessary? Do we have so much money that we need to blow it on something like this? I mean really??

Can you think of a better way to say F*** YOU to all the starving kids in the world, than this? Not only do we have more food than you, we are EATING it up in the SKY. Are we so bored that we need to be entertained this way? Yup, we're so well-off and spoiled that we're paying the big bucks, so we can be lifted into the sky and eat up there, hang out feet off the ledge -- cuz hey, we're rich and you're not!

June 27, 2008

Mangosteen: Gross

Finally got my hands on a pair of mangosteen. According to wikipedia, it's supposed to be one of those "super fruits", with tons of anti-oxidants and other kinds of goodness.

One thing they forgot to leave out was how gross they taste. For $6.49/lb, I would recommend sticking with blueberries.

June 20, 2008

RB with a new QB

Someone asked me whether or not I thought Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant could repeat his amazing rookie breakout performances this season without Brett Favre. That's big question because without Favre they're going with Aaron Rodgers, who has never started in his career. Being thrusted in this type of role will be a huge responsibility. I don't know about Rodgers but personally I'm not too worried about Grant. I have him in one of my keeper leagues as my #3 RB behind Steven Jackson and Maurice Jones-Drew although I'd argue Grant could be my 2nd best guy.

I'm sure many other fantasy owners are wondering whether opponents will just stack the line and stop Grant, forcing Rodgers to win games with his arm and hope he makes tons of rookie mistakes. I won't disagree that Rodgers has to be half-decent for Grant to have a great year, but I don't think it's reason to downgrade Grant.

Grant became the main ball carrier for Green Bay starting week 8, and amassed 1048 yards (929 rushing) and 8 touchdowns in that span. He did that in 10 games. This means he averaged 104.8 yards (93 rushing) and 0.8 touchdowns per game as a starter.

Over a 16 game span, Grant would have had 1677 total yards and 13 touchdowns. That's pretty good for a rookie.

In the past there have been several RBs who not only performed well despite a rookie quarterback taking over, they did exceptionally well -- some of them turned in career bests. Marshall Faulk was huge in Peyton Manning's first year. (I'm not comparing Aaron Rodgers to Peyton Manning, so take a chill pill.). Hold your breath, there's more -- Antowain Smith had his best season playing for the Pats in Tom Brady's first season. In Phillip Rivers' first season as starting quarterback, LaDainian Tomlinson had his best career as a professional football player. Frank Gore had his best season in Alex Smith's first full season as a starter -- in fact if you count Smith's starts in 2005, Gore career pretty much took off the same time as Smith's did. I don't know if you remember this far back but Duce Staley had a pretty nice year til he got hurt, and Jerome Bettis was so good in relief he made it to the Pro Bowl, his first time in 3 years. That was in Ben Roethlisberger's first season. In Tony Romo's first season 2006, that was the year Marion Barber broke out for 14 TDs. Heck, even when Kyle Boller took over as starter in Baltimore in 2003, Jamal Lewis had his best year ever as pro.

I've included average QBs such as Kyle Boller, Alex Smith, Tom Brady (just kidding!) to prove that Aaron Rodgers doesn't need to be a superstar quarterback for Grant to succeed.

The only guys I can think of where a young quarterback took over for a team and the RB sucked was Jay Cutler (no notable breakout for any RB in Denver), Matt Schaub (TJ Duckett and Warrick Dunn, neither had a huge breakout season).

As long as Aaron Rodgers doesn't turn out as bad as Cutler or Schaub (two guys who aren't necessarily bad QBs as they just didn't have good runningbacks), I think Grant is going to be just fine. And you can only assume that Rodgers will get better or they'll get a better QB. Packers fans simply won't stand for years of mediocrity at QB (see Baltimore, Miami for details,).

June 10, 2008

Demanding excellence

We are now a couple of years removed from the Raptors initial "break-out" season when we won 47 games. Sam Mitchell won coach of the year, Bryan Colangelo won Executive of the Year. We had a 20 win turnaround. A couple of years ago, if you had told me we would win 41 games, I would have been stoked but now I think it's only fair to say that I have higher expectations of this team. No longer is "making the playoffs" a hope, but rather an expectation. I want to see this team win a series or two. I want the team to be built to win championships.

After watching a handful of high-caliber playoff games between teams that were built to win championships, it's clear to me that our team is severely lacking in several areas. This isn't just about adding an athletic wing, or bringing in a good defensive rebounding big man.

Our team can shoot but we can't defend, and maybe it worked for the Phoenix Suns, but I think it's more of a case that they are the anomaly. Many teams have tried to build their teams like the Suns, and all have failed. In fact, the Suns themselves abandoned their approach because it was clearly not working.

Starting from the shortest and working our way up, here's a realistic look at the Toronto Raptors and just how we match up with other playoff teams and championship teams:

PG


It is looking more and more like the Raptors are planning to commit to Jose Calderon as their future starting point guard. At times Jose has looked like one of the most efficient point guards in the league. He rarely turns over the ball, and makes great passes to open teammates. He has great court vision, and is becoming and expert in pick-and-roll situations. He can hit open shots, although he still need to work on hitting those do-or-die big shots.

The question is, where does Jose stand amongst some of his perennially successful peers? Where does he stand amongst his fellow point guards, those who are playoff contenders? Would Jose Calderon start ahead of: Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo? Probably not. Fisher is far more composed and takes big shots when his team needs them. Rondo is a far better defender than Calderon, and is quicker and longer. He's also almost as good at taking care of the ball as Jose.

What about those eliminated earlier: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Andre Miller, Jameer Nelson, Rafer Alston, Allen Iverson, Damon Jones. Okay, you can make a case for Calderon over a few of these guys -- Jones, Kidd (at his spry 523 years of age), Nelson (although he outplayed Calderon in this years' playoffs). But the point is, as a defensive liability, Jose is not amongst the top guys, and would be lucky to crack even the top 10.

SG

Couple years ago I thought Anthony Parker was a great addition to the team. I still do, but do I think he's the answer? Having watched Mo Pete all these years, he was a big upgrade due to his consistent shooting, and solid defense. He's easily our best one-on-one defender. Fast forward to present day, yes, he's still a solid player, but if you compare him to other shooting guards, how good is he? He's reached his peak and is on his way down. He's a bit of a glue guy, like a poor man's Shane Battier but older (turning 33 in a week), smaller, weaker, and slower. How does he compare to the guards in contending teams?

Would he start ahead of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Manu Ginobili? What about Tracy McGrady, Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans, Joe Johnson, Raja Bell, Jason Terry, DeShawn Stevenson, Willie Green, Delonte West, J.R. Smith, Morris Peterson? I would put him somewhere in the middle of the latter group, which puts him in similar territory as Calderon. If you include non-playoff SGs, he falls out of the top 10.

So far our starting backcourt ranks around 10th in the league.

SF

Our starting small forward is long, athletic and but raw. He can defend at times, but is better as a help than the first guy one-on-one defender. Great leaping ability gives him the ability to block shots, but most of the time he fails in this because he doesn't have the smarts to be in the right position at the right time. Settles for jump shots despite athleticism that enables him to drive and hit higher percentage shots. We often find him missing his man, and has been criticizing for not taking the game seriously enough. Sounds familiar, huh?

Jamario Moon is a rookie, but he's also 27 years old so that eliminates the upside. He's our starting small forward and I'd venture to say that he likely doesn't start on 95% of the teams in the league.

Comparing him to the top small forwards in the league, you see right away where Toronto needs the most help in. Tayshaun Prince, Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom, Bruce Bowen. No comparison. What about Rashard Lewis, Josh Childress, Caron Butler, Andre Iguodala, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Josh Howard, Peja Stojakovic, Kyle Korver, Boris Diaw, Shane Battier. Where does Moon rank? #16 and only because we made the playoffs. I can think of a few other guys better than him who didn't make the playoffs -- Gerald Wallace, Rudy Gay, Ron Artest, Vince Carter, Luol Deng just to name a few. The reality is that he is one of the worst starting SFs in the entire league.

PF

Chris Bosh is our only feature player. Some teams have 2-3 star players. We have 1. The power forward position is likely the only position where I can honestly say we have one of the top guys available. While every other position is questionable, at PF I am happy.

Amongst the best teams - Vladimir Radmanovic (Pau Gasol if Bynum were healthy), Rasheed Wallace, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett. Some argument can be made that Bosh deserves to be mentioned amongst these guys. David West, Dirk Nowitzki, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Joe Smith, Amare Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer, Luis Scola, Josh Smith, Antawn Jamison, Hedo Turkoglu. Bosh is definitely amongst these guys. Some of them are better rebounders but they can't score like Bosh can. He has an uncanny ability to take it to the rack and draw the foul, something I believe he needs to do a whole lot more rather than settle for jump shots. There aren't many big men with his free throw shooting ability.

At PF we're right around 7th or 8th overall.

C

Despite approximately $20M invested in big men to play the center position, we do not have a single guy who is the #1 clear-cut starter and this very unfortunate. Bargnani has gotten considerable time here because he needs the time to learn to play the position. Rasho performed great for us down the stretch in the regular season, but as he's done throughout his career, he completely disappeared in the playoffs.

However, all is not lost. If history has proven anything, you don't need a big time center to win championships unless his name is Shaquille O'Neal (and he's not 150 years old).

Looking at the top teams' big man position, Antonio McDyess, Kendrick Perkins, Pau Gasol (or Andrew Bynum), Fabricio Oberto all shed some light on just how badly a great C is needed. Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Samuel Dalembert, Brendan Haywood, Shaquille O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Tyson Chandler, Dikembe Mutombo (Yao Ming), Erick Dampier, Marcus Camby, Mehmet Okur. All these guys are hands down better than any of ours. But if there's something we can take from this listing is that none of these guys are required to be the highest scoring player on their respective teams, and that the worst rebounder was Erick Dampier at 4.2 rebounds per game.

Our highest rebounding C in the playoffs was Rasho Nesterovic at 2.6.

Amongst the centers in the league, the Raptors are amongst the worst, and dead last amongst their playoff counterparts.

You can forget about bench. Starters play approximately 80% of the minutes, so even with a great bench, you're only winning 20% of the time. Certainly a bench helps, but this should not be a concern until after you've establish your championship calibre starting squad.

The Raptors have a long, long way to go.

June 06, 2008

New blog

Ina and I have started a new blog to document our life together. We're co-authors of it, so from time to time we'll post there. As we feel that God united us to be a couple to live out the rest of our lives, we've aptly named it "United to Live".

I will likely continue this blog, but if history and experience has anything to say about this, the likelihood of maintaining two blogs is not high.

To join us on our new journey:

http://united2live.blogspot.com

May 14, 2008

3 days remain

Many of you are probably wondering, "How the heck does he have time to blog with 3 days remaining?". Well, I took only a half day off today, it's my last day at work.. well, last morning and I've got absolutely nothing to do. I've already set up my email and phone so I won't even attempt to do any more work today. I'm just sitting here checking my email (personal) and looking up on MEC some of the neato things I could buy when I go there in a bit.

I'm pretty excited. There are still some daunting things, like speeches and not screwing up on the vows, but otherwise we are down to the home stretch. Ina and I are so ready to get married that we wish it were already finished. There's still a lot to do but there's no more looking back. Pastor Vic gave us some good advice: If you get 80% of what you wanted that day, you were lucky.

Something that dawned on me a few days ago, was how will I keep up with my newsreader? When I get back from the honeymoon, that'll be nearly 3 weeks after the last time I read news.. there's gonna be over 2000+ items for me to catch up on! Yikes!!

May 09, 2008

Timbits

I heard in the news that a single mother of four was fired from her job at Tim Horton's for giving away a 16-cent Timbit to a small child. At first you hear this story and you think her boss is an idiot. I mean, the Timbit (which is a donut hole, by the way) is only worth 16 cents, and secondly she gave it to a cute little kid. So you're reading this story and thinking this boss person is a ruthless tyrant. Then you hear that upper management of Tim Horton's gives this lady her job back. Yay, you think. Stick it to the man!

But upon reviewing it further, were they right to fire her in the first place? There are several factors involved here.

First off, is it company policy to fire an employee for giving away their merchandise? If you went into a shoe store and an employee gave you a shoe for free, wouldn't that employee get fired? The 16 cent Timbit might not be the issue -- maybe Tim Hortons has a policy of firing their employees when they give things away for free.

Secondly, do we know the entire story? Maybe this lady was a bad employee to begin with. Maybe she shows up to work late every day, and this little Timbit escapade finally broke the straw on the camel's back. Maybe she ticked off her boss for several other things that led to the firing. Maybe this wasn't first time she'd given something away.

Third, the entire store is a little too.. sensational. Tim Horton's would never have had to re-hire this lady if the story hadn't gotten so much publicity. What if this story had been about a high school dropout working at the store, or some older dude, like a child-molester who had just been granted parole? Would it have gotten as much attention? What if instead of a Timbit, it had been a bottle of pop, or a dozen donuts? Would such a story have the legs to go national the way the original story went? I bet it wouldn't have even made the local news.

May 08, 2008

9 days remain

Barf alert!

On Tuesday, Ina and I went to our last "marriage counselling" class. Technically it was really just to go iron out the final details of the marriage procession. Anyway, on the way there we had dinner at Ajisen, one of Ina's favorite Ramen places. After which we were both craving dessert so we walked over to T&T and bought some popsicles.

Then we walked back to our cars (we came seperately) while eating these totally awesome 50 cent lichee popsicles. As we drove to the church, I followed her of course otherwise I'd get lost. At every red light Ina would blow kisses at me through her rear-view mirror, and show me how much popsicle she had left. And then I'd blow her a kiss and she'd act like she was catching them. It was totally awesome.

It was at this time that it dawned on me, one of the many purposes God had for me, this was one of them. To be a loving husband. It was just at one of these red lights that I realized how much I love Ina and how great our lives are going to be together as a married couple. It's like I was born for this.

Hey, it's not like I didn't warn you about the barfing..

May 07, 2008

Losing Chuck Swirsky

When the Toronto Raptors lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, that I could swallow. The Orlando Magic are a better team, so it was expected that we'd lose. Besides it wasn't a total loss -- we gained more playoff experience, Sam Mitchell discovered Jason Kapono was actually good -- a lesson I hope he remembers when next season begins.

What I do find hard to swallow is the loss of Chuck Swirsky, the Raptors' color commentator. This is a devastating loss to the Toronto Raptors, the organization, the city and the fans. It is one thing to have a person who comments on the games, it is another to have the type of class-act that Chuck Swirsky is, as a man, as an ambassador to the game, as a fan. Chuck was often criticized for being a homer, someone who said things about the Raptors that a professional like himself should never say. He voted Andrea Bargnani as rookie of the year, even though every single voter voted for Brandon Roy. He was the only man to vote for Bargnani.

But say what you will, broadcasts without Chuck Swirsky will never be the same again. To have that kind of chemistry is difficult enough, but to find a man who loves our city and our team as much as Chuck does, that will be irreplaceable.

His shoes will be tough to fill.

May 06, 2008

11 days remain

About a week ago, I started noticing a droning sound around my office. Like a constant humming reminiscent of the sound you hear when you're on an airplane. I thought this had something to do with the air conditioning, but I noticed I could still hear it in the hallway, in the foyer, and even in the elevators. This spread into my daily walk home, on the subway, in my building elevators, in my home. Dinner time is weird when people are talking to you and you are trying to make out what they're saying over the sound of a 747 turbine engine going off in the background.

It also feels like I'm underwater sometimes, where everything is just muted. It's been off and on. There are times my hearing is absolutely completely normal.

I also found that when I wake up initially from bed, everything is fine. It doesn't happen until I'm at work and then for the rest of the day pretty much. I wonder if I cleaned my ear too much and now it's sensitive to sounds, or changes in air pressure.

Right now there is no feelings at all, just normal. And I'm at work.

May 05, 2008

12 days remain

Thanks to those of you who read my annoying wedding related questions blog and came up to me and asked me those very questions -- very funny.

Well, we're really coming up on it now, just 12 days to go. Ina and I are just about ready to take the plunge, my mom and dad are both in town now and I've been getting tons of "expert" advice. Work is starting to wind down just enough to give me a little space so things are generally good. There are still some little things left that I know I need to do but also that I continue to put off.

When I was young, I would try to imagine what life would be like if I were married, or had kids. But I just couldn't picture it. I have quite an imagination, and can think up some pretty crazy things, and when I was little I used to imagine myself as a rock star, or war hero or spy. I could run around the living room with an entire battlefield drawn out and imagine myself running around shooting and dodging bullets. But one thing I couldn't imagine was what my future would hold. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to one day get married, or to raise my own family. It always felt so far away and I couldn't grasp that thought in my mind. There were probably times in my life that I thought it would never even happen, let alone trying to imagine it all.

Now, less than two weeks away I can finally see it.

April 29, 2008

18 days remain

On a more serious note, I think I have been losing sleep over this so I'll blog about it. After booking all my vacation days for various things such as days leading up to the wedding, the honeymoon itself and Christmas holidays, I found that I only had 3 days of vacation days remaining.

This is something that Ina and I have been praying about, which is what to do with these remaining days. As most of you know, for the last 3 years I've been going up north to Longlac, to spend a week or two with a native reserve to help out and work with the children there. It's something that is important to me. I know that there have been people who would skip a year because of something big (like a wedding), but I also know people have gone out of there way to go even if it was a big problem (like last year Daniel going 2 weeks before Maki was due).

Something that I always wanted to make sure was that I didn't allow my personal life to get in the way of my ministries, these two things should either work hand-in-hand, or that Christ should take precedence. But lately I've also been thinking maybe I just want to be selfish and take some time for me, for a change. I'd like to think I earned these vacation days, and I keep spending them on others... when is it my turn? And is it wrong to think this way? Don't I deserve to have some fun too?

An added kink to all of this is that Ina will actually be out of town for the month of July on various business trips, so even if I stayed home she wouldn't be there. Although I would rather take a Friday off here and there and then fly out to see her for the weekend.

Lately I've just been feeling like my heart isn't in it. Like I just don't want to take on anything right now, just want a break. Longlac just seems like something a long way off. At Ishskwaday, although it was a good time and all, I felt a little alienated like an outsider looking in even though I was one of the organizers.

Anyhow, the deadline to sign up is tomorrow.

April 28, 2008

19 days remain

As our wedding day approaches, one of the things I've really gotten tired is the questions people ask us. It's the same questions over and over again. As the wedding nears, they come more and more frequent. Another I noticed was that work has really eased up.. I guess they know it's a stressful time. Anyway, here the list of questions we keep getting:

"How's the wedding planning coming along?"
"When is it again?"
"Wow, only __ more weeks. Are you excited?"
"Are you ready?"
"Where will you be living?"
"Your parents must be really excited?"
"Who am I sitting with?"

Rinse and repeat, these questions are coming at a rapid pace and I'm totally sick of it. It's almost like you know the question is coming when you run into pretty much anyone. And, after talking to some friends in other stages of life, the sad reality is that after the wedding, there will probably be a whole different set of questions..

April 25, 2008

22 days remain

Maybe it's just me being a pack rat, but something I've learned is that women don't keep things like men do. While moving and packing my clothes, I noticed a whole lot of pants and shirts that I hadn't worn in about a year. But they're still good clothes. There's no sense in throwing away good clothes right? I mean they still fit. Fashion is cyclical anyway.. within a few years most of these will be back "in-style" again, right?

Anyway, I've been packing suitcases of clothes to move over to Ina's place every couple of days, and it seems like every time I pull out one of these lesser worn shirts or pants, she's all like "Do you even wear that? When was the last time you wore that? I've never seen you wear that.". And then she neatly folds them and puts them in a separate pile from the rest of my clothes.

Which is cool because one thing I'm okay with losing is the freedom to choose what clothes I wear. I've never been a good dresser and I'm happy to admit it. I've noticed a few of my friends dressing noticeably better since getting married and I'm not only okay with it, I'm looking forward to it. As long as I feel comfortable in my clothes, that's fine. And if I look good and don't have to be the one who worries about it, that's perfect.

--

The Raptors finally won one last night. We got it done when it mattered, but the truth is games 1 and 2 mattered but they couldn't pull it off. I'll be at the game on Saturday.. I hope they can win.

April 24, 2008

23 days remain

Today is April 24, 2008. I'm getting married in 23 days... gasp! For the next little while, I'll blog a bit about my general thoughts as this day approaches, amongst other stuff.

Although there are some who have told me marriage is the best, the vast majority of people tell me it's not as great as you think it's gonna be. I've heard a lot of people say you have to really work hard at it. Maybe I'm crazy but I'm really looking forward to that hard work.

My general impression of wedding planning is that it's a bit too over-the-top. I think most brides would emphasize that it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and the biggest day of their life. Whereas some guys, myself included, would say that it's just one day. Why are we spending this much on ONE day?

That was me about 4-5 months ago.

I think weddings are a magical time for the bride so they are generally more involved in the planning process because they care more. The groom is kind of just there, making sure they don't spend too much, but also his role is pretty much to keep a hands-off approach but close enough to ensure his bride's happiness throughout this process. And providing reassurance that it isn't too much.

For me, I've been pretty much hands off for most of it. I've seen the wedding more as a formality, just something we need to get done for the sake of family, friends, God, and that whole official-ness of it. Many times we've actually both considered just eloping because of all the pain it would avoid. But in the end we're definitely both looking forward to this big day.

That's not to say I don't plan on indulging on this day, soaking in the moment and making the most of this once-in-a-life-time experience.

April 23, 2008

American politics

Can't seem to avoid this stuff, as it's brought up every day at lunch time in our lunchroom. If you're eating lunch with my co-workers, you pretty much have no choice to talk politics at some point, which kind of annoys me because it's not even OUR politics.

Anyhow, I came across this video that I'm sure many of you have already seen. It's called "Yes We Can" by Barrack Obama.. I thought it was pretty cool:



Hahaha... oops.. my bad. I am so sorry for that. Here's the real one.

April 22, 2008

Asparagus Mystery

There's something strange I noticed a few years ago while eating asparagus. It was around the time when I had dusted off the Hamilton Beach Grill I had. Someone had brought asparagus to a barbecue I attended and all they did was put olive oil and salt on it to season it.

It tasted amazing so I went home and did it myself.

The strange thing was, for the rest of the evening my pee smelled really gross. Kind of like rotten cabbage. I didn't think much of it until about a few months later, I was over at Pastor Vic's place for a BBQ, and we were all eating kabob's, and I offered Mike some asparagus, and he said "No thanks, I don't want my pee to smell funny afterwards."

Since then I've always noted the smell of pee after asparagus. It's quite a phenomenon. I even told my mom about it but she didn't believe me because it never happened to them.

As it turns out, asparagus has amino acids, whereupon if they can be broken down by your stomach enzymes, one component called "methyl mercaptan" really really smells. And only 40% of the world's population experience this.

Apparently scientists are split when it comes the actual cause of the smell (why some people smell it and some don't). Some believe that more than half the world's population lacks the genetic enzyme required to break down the amino acids to methyl mercaptan, while scientists believe that everyone can do this but only 40% of the world's population have the genes to be able to smell it in the urine.

This is pretty fascinating to me. This means that some scientists believe that two people could be standing side-by-side in a bathroom and one would smell the awful pungent smell of asparagus pee, while the other wouldn't smell a thing..

Does your pee smell especially worse when you eat asparagus?

April 16, 2008

Blog killer

Can a blog be killed? I think so.

How can you kill a blog? Take the blogger, give him someone better to talk to than a computer. Give him a friendship that lasts forever, someone to hold hands with, someone to love and who loves him back. Someone else to shares his deepest secrets with, his burdens and also his joys. When you can do this to the blogger, the blog dies.

This blog is nearing its end.

April 07, 2008

Blue Jays Drunkfest

I think they serve too much alcohol at these games.

On Friday we went to the Blue Jays' home opener at the Rogers Centre (it's not the Skydome anymore!) with the small group. Organized by one of the SG members who happens to be a big baseball fan.

The last time I went to a baseball game, it was with Euhan of all people. He had gotten free tickets at work and we went because he'd never been to Skydome before. We left around the 7th inning because it was so boring.

Friday's game wasn't all the different, except we were in the 500 level and apparently, it's all one huge drinkfest up there. Game, what game right? It's so far away from the field you can't really see anything.

They decided to honor Roberto Alomar before the game, which was nice because I don't think I've been a fan since those days. I couldn't help but feel a bit emotional as they played clips from the glory days. Robbie came out in his usual swagger/walk and thanked the fans. It was pretty nice. But then it just turned south after that. In a surprise move Paul Godfrey decided to also honor Paul Beeston. I have utter respect for the guy, but after you just did Alomar was this the right move? It took a little thunder away from Alomar in my opinion.

Before long the game was underway, and after about 3 hours, we were into the 2nd inning and Ina turned to me and asked "Can we go home now?".

Baseball is by no means a spectator sport. In my opinion, they should play the game with no crowd and record the whole thing, and then show it on television, edited to remove the boring parts. Then they could pretty much play it as a commercial because there's probably only about 45 seconds worth of good footage. I wouldn't mind if they played this commercial several times over the day to get plenty of coverage. But to have it on television, for people to have to pay money to go see this snooze-fest..

You find yourself looking at the scoreboarding every 4 seconds to confirm whether the last pitch was a ball or strike. They've got this board letting you know how fast the pitch was, and whether it was a slider, cutter, curveball, changeup, fastball, knuckleball. This was all they could come up with hoping to entertain you. You could have drinking games to the tune of what pitch was thrown. My monies on a curveball next. No I think it'll be a change up. Drink up, losers -- it was a SLIDER What the hell is a slider anyway? Look, it's Jerry O'Connell falling from the sky!

My biggest question about the evening was why they didn't have replay. It's bad enough that something exciting happens every 15 or 16 hours, but to have no replay means that you have to wait that much longer for something interesting to happen. If you missed it because you were asleep, or too busy reading the little tidbits of bio information of the player at bat, you're going to have to wait until essentially next week to see the next great play. Kinda makes you feel like the guy on Polka Dot Door, missing the Polkaroo for the umpteenth time. "The Polkaroo was here???!? AND I MISSED HIM AGAIN!??!?!?!"

I can't count the number of times we were trying to guess how fast the next pitch was going to be, and we heard the crack of the bat hitting the ball, some cheering, and you look down and realize you just missed the most exciting moment in the past 13 hours. In fact from where we were sitting, even if we WERE paying attention you can't see what is happening. The angle was off and the ball disappeared just below the front row of our section. Our reaction was pretty much based on looking around at the rest of the crowd to see how they reacted. They're cheering, therefore we must cheer! YA!! GO BLUE JAYS!!

Every hit looked like a potential home run from our angle. Every pitch looked exactly the same as the last. We just had to trust the scoreboard to be correct that it was a ball or strike.

Around the 6th inning or so, everyone stood up in our section and a few sections over to the left. Something was happening, only it wasn't on the field. A few sections over to the left, some shirtless dude was pounding away on a guy in a suit. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! Meanwhile the game is still going on. Some sucker at bat is probably thinking we're all cheering for him -- as if anyone actually cares about the product on the field.

We started seeing rows of people chanting something at the ushers and cops as people were arrested. Then it all died down, and we resumed watching this incredibly boring sport.

About 15 minutes (or what felt more like 30 hours) later, all of sudden everyone was standing again and looking at this same section again. This time, there was a blond with a pink blue jays t-shirt on, standing up, with her hands by her sides getting ready to pull up her shirt. And she did. Boobies. Cheers from the crowd, drunk teenagers all whooped it up, and she pulled her shirt back down and then raised her arms in victory.

Ushers came running again trying to stop it and kick her out, but this time about 2-3 sections were protesting "LET HER STAY! LET HER STAY!". Memories of Growing Pains when Mike Seaver locked himself in his highschool with "Heck no, we won't go!" chants flooded into my head.

Eventually these poor ushers relented, unable to wrestle this girl, who was now hiding behind about 20 of her friends. Then the cops came finally and arrest her, along with several of her accomplices.

From all corners of the dome, people start throwing their "Rally Towels" onto the field. These towels with the old Blue Jays logo and the new logo on it. They gave them out prior to the game and now they had become ammunition for people to throw and protest how boring baseball was. Even the lower bowl got into it, throwing their freebies to the field. You would see an usher go and retrieve one, and just as he turned around to head back to the dugout area, someone else would throw another. This went on for approximately 45 hours.

Then we notice there were 3 ushers in our section, looking around for the unhappy towel throwers, we guessed. We didn't have a bad section with flashers and fighters, but we did have some raucous fans booing anyone who walked up the aisle wearing Red Sox clothing. We also had a lot of "BOSTON SUCKS" and "F___ you Ortize" chants. I even threw in a few of my own "VC Sucks" chants but not loud enough for people to hear, because I'm not a big guy.

Then all of a sudden an usher ran up to a bunch of 13 or 14 year old kids a few rows ahead of us. All through the game we saw them passing this large carton of Tropicana. Being the innocent people we were, we thought "hey look, those kids snuck in a carton of juice to the game, that's smart since the drinks are so expensive here". Turns out it was alcohol. The usher grabbed the carton opened it up and took a big whiff. You could see from his expression it was not freshly squeezed florida oranges in there.

At this point the raining towels were coming down in big droplets of 1 in every 5 seconds. It was really getting crazy.

Then, after another 30 hours of baseball fun, another roar from the crowd. I looked over to the troubled section but everyone was looking down. There were another 2 more morons who had jumped the wall and were running on the field with no shirts. A woman with a bra and a man. These guys are so drunk, they aren't even streaking the right away. The girl got stopped pretty quick but the guy ran out and deked out the guards pretty good. He may have potential as a future CFL runningback. Finally he was tackled by an usher. The crowd was loving it. More towels, bottles and cups go flying.

We put on our jackets and got the hell out of there.

April 04, 2008

One hurdle at a time

I find that I can't handle more than one big hurdle at a time. There are major things in life that I feel I need to get out of the way before I can do another big thing. Like for instance, a job opportunity came up about half a month ago. I've been just about "okay" with my job and I've been looking for changes. But with the wedding coming up, I feel it's too 'big' of a hurdle for me to jump over while looking for work at the same time. It's a fairly large undertaking to look for a job, apply, get the resume in order and all that.

Another one is planning for Longlac. I've been tasked or asked to lead at least a week of Longlac short term missions for the church this year. I haven't even thought about it for more than maybe 3 hours total in the past 3 months. I just don't have time for it and I don't feel like I can think about it until the wedding is done with.

So for now I'm stuck behind this wedding thing.

There are also different levels of hurdles. Little things would be like if I had to take care of an errand that might only take me an hour to do, but it was something I didn't really like doing, I might put it off until I have taken care of something else that is slightly more stressful. Like if I had to make a presentation at work, I might put off doing the dishes for a week. That kind of thing.

I feel like I need a clean slate before I can perform certain tasks, even if they are simple tasks.

I also feel like I often save tasks to the end, not to procrastinate but rather so that I can do things all together. I find that Ina is the same way when it comes to this. Like for instance I got one of my buddies address so I could send him an invitation, but rather than sending it I'm still holding out for another address. Instead of just mailling it, I want to do them all together. Which is probably a mistake because by waiting this long it will probably be too short notice for the both of them and then neither of them will come.

April 03, 2008

False advertising

...Photoshopping gone terribly, terribly wrong. This cereal is so great, it changes the pigment of your skin!

March 26, 2008

March 20, 2008

Coffee experiment: It's over

The experiments are over. I have had two straight delicious, non-leaking perfect coffees, not too hot or cold, no leaking, no dirty looks from the cashier ladies, no defective lids, and yet, no winners.

One thing I have discovered, though, is my co-worker who sits behind me has won 4 times out of 10 on large cups of coffee. I'm at 1 out of 11, for medium. So bigger is better.

March 13, 2008

Coffee experiment: Parts 5, 6 & 7

I'll try to make this brief.

Part 5 coffee lid wasn't perforated properly. One side opened as usual but I had to tear the other just to lift it. Right away alarms were going off in my head as I knew I would be writing this blog to tell you that I had lost due to a defective lid.

"Please play again"

Conclusion: If the lid is defective, you are going to lose.

Next coffee, I am pretty sure she gave me cream instead of milk by accident.

"Please play again"

Conclusion: If you don't get what you ordered, you are going to lose.

Today's coffee. Looks like they ran out of milk. I got maybe a drop and she didn't bother opening up a new carton and instead just poured the coffee into maybe 1/4 of the milk I should have received.

"Please play again"

Conclusion: If the Tim Horton's server is too lazy to get more milk, you are going to lose.

March 10, 2008

Coffee experiment: Part 4

As usual we went for coffee and I got my coffee. The thing is my friend was going to redeem his free coffee, so I didn't know if that affects mine or not. I tried to act like I didn't know him when we got to the front of the line, because you never know right?

As we were walking back to the office I noticed that the coffee kept dripping out. Little drops fell into my hand and I'm thinking oh man, this coffee cup is defective. It must be a loser.

I got upstairs to my desk and opened it up, and holy crap it was full right to the brim. The miniscus was all that was keeping it from spilling! What in the world.

I took a big whiff of it, it smelled fine, it wasn't as hot as I'd like it to be but it tasted fine as well.

"Please play again"

Conclusion: If the cup is leaking or filled too high, you are going to lose.

March 06, 2008

Freebird! Freeeeeebirrrrrrrrd!

I remember listening to Freebird for the first time in my life. I was standing in front of my television with a plastic guitar controller strapped to me. My brother and I had been taking turns on songs to finish up Guitar Hero, and we had done it, we'd finished the game. The game called for an encore and was preparing us for one final big finish song, and they said it was a song called "Freebird". Of course neither of knew what it was, so we were excited. The game kept asking:

"Are you ready?"
"Are you sure you're ready?"
"Are you really sure?"

And we were thinking YES damnit, let's play it!

So I'm playing the song, for about 5 minutes I was there, playing the guitar, and it was a joke. Turns out Freebird is a slow song by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Maybe it gained popularity because of it's lyrics? It's a slow song so it's a little bit anti-climatic. After all the songs we thrashed our way through, to end it all with this soft song, it's nice but it's not what we had hoped for.

So 5 minutes into the song, I'm getting bored and wondering if maybe I can transfer the guitar over to my brother and let him go for a few minutes. But then, hello, it starts to speed up a little bit. It's getting faster. Next thing I know, the tempo quickens and I'm playing a short solo, only it's not a short solo, it's a long song, like 2 minutes. Then 3. Then 5. What's this, a 10 minute solo? I'm going crazy now, my brother is like "what the heck.. does it end?", and I'm like "OMG this song rocks". I'm playing this impossible solo that I can barely keep up with and it lasts forever. It's like a crazy mother of a song, 15 minutes in total and the second half sounds nothing like the first. Just when you think it's over, it starts again. The two of us are going nuts. What the heck is going on, does it ever end?

Finally, the song ends. We erupt in excitement over what has just transpired. I feel like I just ran the marathon. My fingers are exhausted and I'm sweating like a hog. We go from "What the heck is Freebird" to "OH EM GEE.. Freebird is the best EVAR!".

March 05, 2008

The coffee experiment: Part 3

My efforts to make a completely ridiculous conclusions from Tim Horton's Roll Up The Rim To Win continues. Yesterday I went to redeem a free coffee, being careful not to reveal that I had the winning rim until after they had selected the cup and poured the coffee. Because hey, you never know right?

I opened up the lid to take that initial first whiff. It smelled burnt. It smelled like they had used burnt roasted beans or something, but either way it just did not smell right. Now if you take into account the conclusion from Part 2, you know what I was thinking -- "this coffee doesn't smell right, therefore it will not taste good, and therefore it will not be a winner".

But amazingly its taste did not agree with its smell -- the coffee tasted fine. In fact it was better than fine, it was nearly 90% as good as the the winning cup. So there I was thinking, the coffee tasted fine, but it didn't smell right. As far as I could remember, the winning cup of coffee smelled normal. I mean, it's not like I noticed anything peculiar about it, right? What does this mean?

Conclusion: If your Tim Horton's coffee doesn't smell right, it is not going to be a winner.

In other news, this is what happens to your body when you drink a Coke.

March 04, 2008

The coffee experiment: Part 2

I'm trying to think of the last time my coffee tasted as good as it did today, and I think the last time was actually when I decided to try some Country Style coffee about a month ago. It tasted sweeter than usual.. like the sweet taste of victory.

Anyway, today's results were rather astonishing because they in fact somewhat contradict my previous findings. The coffee, as I mentioned, was fantastic. But what's surprising was, I didn't even check the result until after I finished drinking. So in all likelihood it COULD have been a losing cup. But it wasn't -- it was a winning cup.

WIN / GAGNEZ UN CAFE / COFFEE

Conclusion: Winning cups of coffee taste better.

February 29, 2008

Doing fine dot org

If you haven't noticed by now, there's a huge ugly ad on the side bar under "Sponsor". I didn't design it so don't look at me. It's for a web forum, who's advertising agency contacted me to help them advertise. It seems the forum is all about people who are doing fine, which is actually kind of refreshing when you consider the majority of web forums out there are where people go to complain about something, argue with eachother, or sell things.

Anyway, these guys contacted me a week ago and I figured hey, why not. In return (if there are indeed folks reading this blog) they will give me a substantially huge reward, likely in the form of pennies. We're still in test stages to determine whether it is worth it for them -- so click it now!

*By the way, please don't abuse this. They do have ways of knowing if you are abusing it.

February 28, 2008

Amazing discovery

I made an amazing and shocking discovery yesterday. I'm going to do a little more experimentation, but I thought it'd be interesting to post my initial results below.

As we've always done for the past few months, at 2pm, a co-worker and I went downstairs to get coffee in order to beat the afternoon food coma. We lined up at Tim Horton's as usual, and I ordered and received a medium regular coffee, with milk and sugar. We went back upstairs and parted ways as we arrived at my desk. I put my coffee down on the table.

I took off the lid of the coffee, and poured the coffee into a mug. The reason I wanted to do this was so that I could take an early peek at the rim, to see if I had won a prize. So I rolled up the rim.. and saw the words "Please play again".

Now here is where it gets really crazy. (Warning: Do not continue reading if you have a weak stomach.)

I grabbed my mug to take a sip of coffee..

...and discovered...

THE COFFEE DIDN'T TASTE AS GOOD AS IT NORMALLY DOES!!!!!

Possible conclusion: Tim Horton's coffee loses some taste when you already know you've lost!

February 27, 2008

Songs that remind me of..

Ina and I were trying to think of good romantic songs to use for our "first dance" at our wedding, but it seemed like every song I came up with, she said no to because that song "already belonged to someone else". I couldn't help but feel a little jealous about this...

Anyway, it got me thinking about how certain songs remind me of things, maybe not people in general, but of moments or milestones in my life. Over the years I could put together an interesting little soundtrack of my memories.

"One and One" by Robert Miles

This song reminds me of my 1st and 2nd years in university. My roommate (and highschool pal) Keith and I would always play this song just before every exam. At first it was more coincidence -- playing mindless dance music was the only type of music that mindnumbing enough that it didn't make us think or lose focus, but also repetitive enough that it kept us alert. But then as exams came and went, we'd play it more and more, until it became part of our ritual.

I heard this in a store a year ago and feelings of exam anxieties came over me. It was pretty eerie.

"Open The Eyes of My Heart" by Sonicflood

As overplayed as this song has gotten over the years, I will not forget this song because it was the song that motivated me into buying a guitar and teaching myself how to play guitar. I'd heard it many times before but there was this one time when we were in Ottawa at The Metropolitan Bible church. Every month they had worship night at "The Met" as they called it. Anyway there was just that one time when they played it there that it struck the heart of me, opened my eyes -- to the wonderful sound of acoustic guitar. I remember sitting in the front row, this guy Geordi or something, he played it, and as I sang and looked up (they had a skylight) I was looking into the sky -- it was pretty amazing. I would be forever changed by that one evening of music. I bought my first guitar a week later.

"Under The Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

I'm trying to think of a song that I've recited more times than this one.. I can't think of any. First time I heard it was at chinese school at Agincourt Collegiate, some kid had brought his ghetto blaster and were blasting this song in the hallway. It must have been grade 7 or 8. I'm trying to remember how I could have memorized the words to the song without having a tape of it.. but nevertheless I did memorize it and years later I still find myself singing it to myself.

It's one of those solitudinal ballads that you find yourself singing when you're bored, lonely or sad. Which to me seems like something I experienced a lot as a pre-teen and adolescent.

Anything by Mariah Carey

I learned to sing by singing along with Mariah Carey songs. Well.. maybe that not the full truth -- I learned to sing from being part of the T3C Children's Choir. That, combined with uber musical genes from my parents made me the singer I am today. Which isn't saying a whole lot.. but..

I remember many a night, broken hearted or "in love", where I would sit at my desk with my head phones on blasting Mariah Carey songs. Or when I was home alone, I'd belt out her tunes as her CDs played in the background. Showering I find is another great time to sing Mariah.

..

I guess it's just fun reminiscing of old days, and seeing how there's songs that just stick with you when they happen to be playing during certain moments in your life.