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


... 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.