I pray that the Zhang family may finally begin to get some closure to this horrible tragedy.
anyway, it was a pretty tough night 'cause we had some people on vacation or injured, so we were short. plus, it was so humid and nasty tonight. i was sweating just standing around. :P then even before the game starts, one of the girls get hit in the face with a ball. (she was fine after...) ugh, and then i collided with a girl on the other team and we bumped noggins. my head actually still hurts right now and i just realized that my cheek is swelling up a bit. argh, i hope it'll be better by saturday morning at kris and marion's wedding.
Not that long ago, I would regularly go out with friends to coffee shops, hang out at parks, get together for dinners, or meet up to play board games/sports. We would use these occasions to catch up with one another about family, school, work, etc, pray / share with another, or just 'shoot the breeze'. Now, many of these things that I've mentioned we still do together, but much less frequently. And in the process, it seems that we have lost some of our 'social' skills.
Conversations are briefer and with less 'substance'. Instead of doing things that encourage chatter, we prefer to do activities (e.g. renting movies) that require little or no interaction. Going out to dinner seems to be more for function (i.e. to eat/drink), rather than an opportunity chitchat and share. Gatherings can often include more 'moments of silence', where you can literally hear the crickets chirping, until someone breaks the ice with a, "how 'bout those Raptors?" :D Either we don't know what to talk about anymore, or we're just all afraid to 'open up'. :P Also, with the amount of time that we spend in front of our computer screens--and I am guilty of that--talking to each other nowadays often means e-mailing each other or instant messaging. I'll concede that these inventions have allowed me to maintain contact with more people and keep in touch in especially long distance friendships. However, sometimes I think I've gained quantity at the expense of quality. There are many people I know, but there are also many whom I don't really know.
I've also found that there are commonly more instances of miscommunication. By talking to each other, people can see eye-to-eye, read facial expressions, listen to tone of voice, or even directly respond. In instant messaging, I find that it's really easy to misread things. Misusing a word or not typing fast enough to respond to the right line in a conversation are recipes for misinterpretation. Chatting through MSN, I could be wrongly imagining someone else's tone of voice or intention. E-mailing or blogging, like I am now, is one-way and might be used for ranting or venting frustrations, but doesn't allow for much reciprocation. It's quite easy to misread someone else's words without the chance to immediately ask a person to clarify/explain what they meant. I've been on both sides. I've wrongly assumed or read too much another person's thoughts or feelings, because I misread a MSN conversation. Conversely, others have mistaken my intentions because they took an e-mail out of context.
Anyway, so am I getting anti-social? No, at least I don't think so. :P I still have many friends whom I can get together with, hang out and talk to each other in meaningful ways. Still, there are times I'm a little disappointed that some other friendships are virtually online. I feel that those friendships could really grow and thrive if developed the 'old fashion' way. :)
And so I digress...
"Spirit of the Game - Ultimate has traditionally relied upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player himself. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed-upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play."it's funny how serious some people can take a game that is mainly for fun and relies on the honour system. i would have never expected a game that involves a frisbee, or flying disc, at the recreational level would get ugly. in our game tonight, we had to deal with a 'crybaby' on the other team. it was pretty ridiculous. although there is not supposed to be any contact during the game, much of time there is a little bit of 'incidental' contact as we jump for the disc. however this poor sport just wouldn't give up grumbling and whining about every play during the game, just 'cause he got 'bumped' a little. even though his team was already beating us, at one point, he even accused us of making up rules to try to keep the disc. for some of us, it got to the point that we wanted to 'accidentally' run him over just to shut him up--ok, maybe not, but that's what we were thinking. :) anyhow, the rest of his team was pretty fair and sportsmanlike. but it just sucks when there's one rotten apple who gave a bit of a sour note to our game.
still, it was an successful night for our team. we fought it out 'til the sweaty end, but we lost by a hair 14-13. although we couldn't pull out the win, we managed to score more in one night than our first 3 games combined! and our confidence in throwing the disc to each other was much better. with a little more practice, we'll be sure to pull out our first win soon... knock on wood... :)
i don't even remember the last time i tried making that stuff from scratch. (nowadays, i usually cook the pre-packaged stuff from the supermarket.) when i was younger, i tried to make some along with my mom and my grandma, but after a few minutes my mom just yelled at me to go away 'cause i was too slow, they were too ugly, or they just fell apart. evidently, my skill/dexterity for making them has not improved at all. while everyone else would be churning them out with regularity, i would be lucky to produce just 1 every 3 minutes or so. i think if i was in a plant, i would have been fired already. :)
nonetheless, it was fun sitting around the table chatting with one another as we got our hands dirty. it turns out too the other guy at our mini-party was somebody whom i'm acquainted with through softball in my sunday night league--thomas from CHAOS. what a small world. i guess once you've played enough ccsa, spn tournaments or whatever, everyone knows each other. (darn, i just realized that i should have gotten some softball tips from him... hehe...) anyway, we even got a chance to watch an episode of jeopardy! and the incredible ken jennings. this is the guy who has won 33 games (and counting) in a row and over a million dollars. i've only seen him play a couple of times, but i'm amazed at how easily he conquered/destroyed his opponents. he seems to have this great vault of knowledge, can pulls facts out of his ass, and is lightning quick on the buzzer. he 'questions' every 'answer' confidently and even knows how to make jokes.
anyhow, we finally started eating at around 9 or so. they were actually really good and hit the spot. after our hard work, we deserved it. :D i can't wait to do this again...
Anyway, we didn't want the night to go completely to waste, so Brian, Ken, Kevin and I decided to stay and watch King Arthur. I hadn't heard many good reviews, so I wasn't expecting much. Naturally, I wasn't proven wrong. The premise itself was interesting 'cause the setting was more like Braveheart, instead of the typical fairy-tale atmosphere. However, the dialogue was meaningless, the action scenes were way too long and drawn out, and Guinevere was such a silly/pointless character--unless you have a thing for Keira Knightley and S&M. It's one of those movies that will be utterly forgettable. Even as I'm writing this, I can't remember one good line.
On the other hand, the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony was an extremely traditional, yet beautiful service. It's more of a ritual 'cause everything was scripted. The program they handed out was like a script for a play--15 pages long! :) The priest recites/sings everything to the couple to bless them in their marriage, and another priest responds in song. (Imagine reading a Shakepeare play, but making every line sound like a verse in a song.) During the ceremony there were many acts/rites that symbolize, I believe, the GO faith. The bride and groom actually say little or nothing and are there just to participate. Even though it was only about an hour long, it seemed like forever. Thankfully, I decided to read along ('cause two-thirds of the ceremony was in Greek), or else I would have fallen asleep just like my mom. :) A funny thing too at the end of the service--even before the bridal party and their family had left the sanctuary, the janitorial staff was already ripping down the decorations. I wonder what all the rush was?... :)
It was absolutely crazy out there as most of the Asian population in northern Toronto showed up. Finding parking was ridiculous. I must have bumped into around 20 different people from various stages of life--former housemates, Waterloo friends, church friends, aunties/uncles and even my own brother. Jam-packed into the plaza's parking lot, there were various festivities/activities going on: a basketball tournament, a ball hockey tournament, cheesy 'Midway'-type games, stage performances like singing, dancing and even rapping. (It's hilarious seeing Chinese people act like 'chiggers'. If there were real rappers in the audience, they'd get their asses kicked. :lol:)
The best (or some say the worst...i'll get to that in a sec) part of the market was the food. We tried various types of food offered at the tents--Korean pancakes, curry beef/fish balls, teriyaki skewers, bubble tea, and sesame balls. However, the one thing that everyone will remember, whether you like it or not is the, is 'chow-tofu' (a.k.a. Stinky Tofu). For those who don't know, it's deep-fried fermented tofu that has this incredibly wretched smell. I can't begin to describe it, but as one person put it, "the smell is pungent and heavy, reminiscent of fish sauce, and seemed to greet us physically, like a hug from a musty bum." Many people walked through the crowd covering their faces and you could constantly hear people yell out, "It smells like sh*t." :) I guess you either love it or hate it 'cause amazingly, it's the one thing that everyone seems to line up for too. The line to get this stuff was around the corner, people must have had to wait about 20 mins just to get them. On this night, none of us were brave enough to try it. Maybe next year. That's a BIG maybe.
Anyway, time for bed. Actually shower first 'cause I STINK. :p
It's pretty interesting when you try to mix up all of the various groups of friends together. We had Marion's work friends, Mcgill friends, church friends and the older 'aunties'. It's kinda difficult to mingle people 'cause everyone is of different age and background. As expected, people kinda stuck to their own group. :)
Anyway, it was still a fun afternoon. We had a good time chatting and eating, playing some games, and opening gifts. It's funny how weddings seem to be mostly geared toward the brides. The guys just need to be there and smile. Even though it was suggested that people bring gifts for the kitchen (Marion) or the tool shed (Kris), as it turned out 90% of them were kitchen-related items. Kris' eyes would light up when they received anything that was 'manly'.
My day started off with my mom coming to my room and giving me a red envelope ('Lai Si' ). Yay! It's always exciting to get them... :)
At lunch, Jacqueline took me out to Sushi Bong for my favourite... Japanese food... yummm... It was funny though 'cause Jacqueline decides to tell the owners it's my birthday. Mr. Bong, who knows me through my mom, rummages around his shelf and gives me a big Swiss chocolate bar as a birthday gift. I thought it was hilarious 'cause it was probably given to him by another customer and I wonder how long it's been sitting on his shelf. :) Still, it was a nice/thoughtful gesture on his part.
Jeanne then picked me up from work and we stopped by Cafe Maxim's on the way home. We were only gonna stop for a drink, but we ended up having dinner and dessert. We caught up with each other about our long weekends over smoked salmon salad, chicken wings and chicken fingers. A strange combination, I guess, but tasty nonetheless. To top it off, we had Mango Cheesecake and Strawberry Almond Meringue served with coffee... I was starting to get sick/sleepy thanks to all the food I ate.
After the unexpected dinner, I quickly tried to swing by softball practice. I was so LATE... :P... I did manage to get in some batting practice and test my arm out a bit, which I dislocated a couple of weeks ago. Ugh. After practice, my team also surprised me with a chocolate 'birthday' log cake. :) It was very sweet of them to do that.
To end the night, Ben got a few people together at Milestone's for drinks. Kevin, Brian, Wayne, Gaston, Nicole, Eric, Jimmy & Tracy all came out... I had a big glass (or jug as some would like to call it) of Hoegaarden and shared some Spinach & Artichoke Dip... Good times, good drinks & good food!
Anyway, thanks again to everyone for helping to celebrate my birthday!--including those who called, left messages and/or sent cards. It was greatly appreciated and it will make the rest of my week a breeze to get through... I probably ate way too much food yesterday, but what better way to enjoy one's birthday than by eating with friends?! :)
Again, both Nicole and I were so glad that we didn't end up driving back and forth from Thunder Bay. We were so grateful that we essentially saved ourselves around 35+ hours of driving and could relax/sleep on the plane. And like I said before, we had much more time and energy to spend with Tim. Tim was a great host by letting us stay at his place and renting a car to show us around the city/area.
The weather ended up being reasonably good while we were up there. Tim had mentioned that there had many gloomy and rainy days during first few weeks he was there. We were fortunate to have a good couple of days of sunshine to enjoy the fireworks and hiking.
Personally, it was just a good time to get away too. It's been quite a while since I last went on a 'trip/vacation' where I could just be a 'tourist' and enjoy the city. :) I was glad that I didn't have to think about work, softball, and other so-called stresses in my life. It was great peace of mind to go out and spend time in such a beautiful environment appreciate God's creations.
Most of all, I was thankful for the valuable fellowship time Tim, Nicole and even Dom. It was good to see Tim and catch up with him a bit after two months. And I'm sure Tim was glad to see some Asian folk again. :) It was also fun to hang out with Nicole, whom I really only knew from church and softball. Although, we only got to see Dom for a couple of hours, it was nice to talk to him in person about his missions trip, instead of just reading about it in the church bulletin. I think that Dom too enjoyed our company as it was his last chance to get some relaxation before his hectic week ahead. It just worked out well for everyone involved and I know that God had a hand in getting us together. :)
What a great way to start off the summer months...
Anyway, the afternoon was spent at Fort William Historical Park. It's pretty similar to Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. Everyone was dressed up to depict life in the area in the 1800s. They also remained in character as we went around the site touring the various buildings. Everyone had fun pointing out Tim's unwise choice of wearing sandals on the rainy afternoon. They warned if he didn't fix the holes in his 'moccasins' that he would get foot rot and get it amputated. haha. Although the weather wasn't very cooperative, we still had lots of fun posing with the various tools and furnishings of the era... Boy, I really feel like I was at another school field trip. :)
For dinner we met up with Dom, who was on his way to Longlac #58 for a missions trip--a team from our church are heading up there to evangelize to people in the Aboriginal community. He was stunned to see me and wondering what the heck I was doing there when I went to greet him at the airport. Of all the places, who would have guessed that we would get a chance to meet up in Thunder Bay? :) The four of us really had a good dinner together talking about our stay here, Tim's work experiences up here and also Dom's concerns about his missions trip. Anita mentioned how amazing God is in that He gave us a chance to meet up with one another in Thunder Bay. You could tell that Dom was a little stressed after a long evening at his cousin's wedding and all the preparations he still had to do for the trip. Also, I think Tim was glad to finally see some familiar faces over the past couple of days. Even though our time was short together, God is good for providing us such valuable fellowship.
After dropping Dom off at the bus terminal, it was our turn to say goodbye to Tim and Thunder Bay. (Un)fortunately for Tim, it was not the last that he'd see of us. At the check-in, we discovered that our flight back had been delayed 2+ hours due to severe thunderstorms in Toronto. There's only so much you can browse through at the souvenir shop, so we gave Tim a call and he was nice enough to come back and hang out with us a bit longer. Amazingly, we packed in some more fun stuff with our extra hour here. First, we went down to the Marina and enjoyed some homemade ice cream. I had 'Apple Pie' and it was quite good 'cause it actually had real apple and crust in it. Then we headed out to Hillcrest Park where there was an incredible view of Sleeping Giant, so I was able to get some more great pics. Finally, we drove around a bit checking out more of the biking/hiking trails--too bad we didn't get a chance to actually go on them... I think if Toronto actually had the nature and scenery of Thunder Bay, I'd actually go walking/biking so much more often...
We finally flew out of Thunder Bay at around 9:45, but even after we landed there were still delays. With the back-ups still lingering from the afternoon, they couldn't find a gate to drop us off. haha. Thankfully, my mom was patient and nice enough to still pick us up from the airport. Anyhow, I finally got home at 12:30...
Well, it's been an exhaustive weekend, but tons of fun... Time to get some rest... :)
After a quick lunch at the food court in the local mall, it was off to to the supermarket--The Real Canadian Superstore--'cause Tim was hosting some other SLP/OT placements later in the evening. One funny thing that caught my attention was that they sold 'gai mei bao' (Chinese Cocktail Bun) and some other typical Chinese pastry in the bakery. Considering that there are few Chinese people in Thunder Bay, I found it odd to see it there. I wonder if they had to specially import it up here. haha. Anyway, I just HAD to get one to see how it tasted. It had a little too much bread and not enough filling, but otherwise it was pretty good. Maybe there are some Chinese people hidden somewhere up here... :)
The rest of the afternoon, we managed to squeeze in a little more sight seeing at Kakabeka Falls, also known as Niagara Falls of the north. Although it's not as grand or majestic as Niagara, these falls are still a sight to see. The rocks are shaped/positioned really neatly making the water come down even more intimidatingly.
Finally, it was back to Tim's place to meet his friends/co-workers. We had barbecue chicken and salad, but we ended up not eating until 8:30 'cause the stupid charcoal grill wouldn't stay hot. We ended up baking the chicken and then putting it back on the grill for a few minutes to give it that 'BBQ' taste. :) So the tip of the day: buy a gas grill. Dinner turned out pretty good in the end though. The dinner guests were from all over the province and they had really interesting backgrounds/stories. One of them even made us a lemon ice pie for dessert. It was delicious... yummm... As an aside, one of the benefits of living far away is that it forces you to live 'outside of the box.' When you know very few people in an unfamiliar place, you have to take the initiative to talk to others and get to know them. Otherwise, it's pretty easy to be lonely and just live in solitude. Sometimes, I feel that I get a little too comfortable with just those who I know well, and only talk to 'new' people out of necessity. Anyway, dinner was extremely fun as we conversed through the night and not wrapping up until around midnight. In Thunder Bay, it's easy to forget how late it really is 'cause there's still daylight around 10:30.
Oh yah, to add insult to injury, as we're cleaning up the grill at the end of night we finally find the coals nice and red hot. Damn rocks. :P
First, we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Scandinavian and enjoyed some Finnish pancakes. Pretty good stuff. They taste like crepes. Afterwards, we passed by the Terry Fox Memorial. I am in awe that even with cancer and one leg, he was able to run 26 miles a day and reach 3,339 miles in his attempt to trek across Canada before succumbing to cancer. He's definitely an inspiration.
Then it was off to Sleeping Giant provincial park. The park's name has a pretty interesting legend behind it 'cause from afar, the park actually looks like someone lying down. Anyway, we did a bunch of hiking in the area. It was such a great day. The trails up there are amazing... you really can't find anything like them in the Toronto area. We were climbing around everywhere and the views were incredible. We went to a couple of lookouts and God's creations were there for us to see. Just beautiful. After about 3 hours, I was pretty sweaty and exhausted. Man, hiking is such a good activity just to get in shape. :)
For lunch, we stopped off at this little restaurant called "Karen's Kountry Kitchen". Notice the intials? :) Still, it was really good food. Hit the spot. And they had some really tasty desserts too, which we just had to try. I had a raspberry brownie and it was sooooo good.
Incredibly, we still had more to do. :) We went to the Cascades Conversation Area and did more hiking. We got a little more adventurous and started jumping around on the rocks. By the end of the afternoon, my pants were pretty wet and muddy. Yuck. Anyway, I do have to say that Thunder Bay is a really beautiful city. If you love nature and such, it's definitely for you.
To end our day off, somehow we found the energy to catch 'Spider-Man 2' at the SilverCity. I guess Thunder Bay is just like any other city with a big cineplex. hehe. Pretty good movie, Tobey McGuire is perfectly cast as Spidey. He has that sympathetic every man look about him. Still, I'm not sure if I enjoyed it as much as I would have liked considering I was pooped. Oh well.