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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Toga Update!

Tonight I had a white elephant gift exchange with some friends, where I received this very cute penguin gift card for a brief moment before I gave it away to someone else. Interestingly, the gift card was so mesmerizing that everyone spend minutes staring at it before someone else is forced to snatched it from them.

All this penguin talk reminded me of my post last week about the missing penguin in the UK. The latest news is that Toga (the missing penguin) is still not found and now there is a $8750 reward for the penguin's safe return to the zoo! If you are the sick person who stole Toga (it's not me), the zoologist says that "the brown-and-white penguin refuses to be fed by human hand and is probably already severely dehydrated." And "Everybody's on a bit of a downer now, because we thought we had him back. ... Everybody'’s really tired, it'’s very emotional."

Some places are calling for help from Higher Powers: "Media reports said congregations at two churches in America were even praying for Toga, who is said to be very vocal, with a voice like a donkey braying. "It gives you renewed faith in the human race," Bright said."

First, I wonder what a braying donkey sounds like, but I am more interested in what this Bright character thinking. It just doesn't make sense to me, if anything, it would make me lose faith in the human race. After all, churches are praying for a penguin ... shouldn't they be praying for other people? I would understand if they happen to be praying and then someone prays for Toga, but if they held a special prayer meeting for a penguin ... i don't know ... I just don't know.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

The Kiss of Death


For some reason, the family Christmas conversation took a strange turn tonight and we briefly talked about kissing. Yea, it's probably not one of the things you want to talk about with your parents and relatives, but some sacrifices must be made for quality time with the family. My sister told the most interesting story about how this girl who has a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend who had just finished eating a peanut butter snack. Which, if anything, should make you think twice before you have your next kiss!

I wonder what happened to these kids after they had their first kiss. These Kim Anderson pictures are pretty cute, but at the same time, they are sooo disturbing. Since when did four year olds go around kissing their friends on the lips while holding a rose in one hand? I'd bet that these kids are suffering from psychological issues right about now ...

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Biblical Fruits ...

It's Christmas day, perhaps you went to church and heard the pastor preach about the Shalom that Christ brings to our fallen world. You might've even read from Isaiah 11:6-8, describing the world of shalom to come:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.


If you are like me and constantly feel sad our ever degrading society, take joy in that the commercial world has already taken that concept and applied to fruits! Their latest invention ... GRAPPLE! Yes! Grape + Apple = Grapple! Just imagine, the age long hostility between grapes and apples finally redeemed by modern technology. Now you can enjoy grapes and apples together ... oh ... we should all grapple together!

Notable mentions (less redeeming hybrid fruits) include Nectaplum (Nectarine +plum), Passion Popper Kiwi-berry (miniacturized kiwifruit), and peacotum (peach + apricot + plum).

Speaking of hybrids ... don't forget about the Liger or the Tigon. They are real! Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Freeeeeeeeeeeedom!


I don't know if my imitation of William Wallace is quite up to par, but I assure you that I'm not wearing a kilt at the moment, so there's no need to be afraid.

The world is becoming more and more confusing to me lately. There seems to be a growing gap between how I want the world to be and how it actually is. I'm not merely talking about the general state of the world (though that's part of it) nor am I solely talking about the my relationships with people or the situations I go through - it is the grand composition of all those things. The chaotic nonsense has been unleashed into the world.

All this confirms my longing for a world not of man, but of something greater than our humanity. A world where all tears will be wiped away and where all wounds be healed. Even Sam in LOTR inquires of Gandalf, "I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?" The answer of course is Yes, but not here, alas, not now.

The only consolation left is my firm belief that the best is yet to come.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My favorite Artic critters ...

I saw March of the Penguins the other day with my sister and I must admit that penguins are definitely the cutest and most adorable Artic critters around. More than that, Emperor penguins live such inspiring lives considering how much mama and papa penguins go through each year just to breed one baby chick.

What I found interesting is that when the penguins do their long march to the breeding ground, most of the time they walk, but when they're tired, they naturally fall on their tummies and keep sliding forward. If you look closely, you can even point out the lazy penguins from the others by counting how frequently they slide on the ice. I kinda wish I could do the same too ... if I could gain a good 40 pounds in my gut, then I'll never have to walk around and be tired again!

Anyway, I fell so much in love with the baby penguins (especially how they all huddle up together an make a baby circle) that I just had to have one for Christmas. It's not something I am proud of, but when you're in love, just how can you resist it? Shhhh .... don't tell anyone ok?

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Monday, December 19, 2005

The Culture of Fear


It's common knowledge that Americans live in a culture of fear perpetuated by the our media. Studies have found that even though the over all crime rate across the country is decreasing, citizens of this free land are growing more and more fearful for their safety. News broardcasts spend more time covering robberies, kidnapping, murders, and other violent crime than ever before, conditioning us to think that we live in a more dangerous world than it actually is.

Since we humans are such versatile creatures, we have come up with ways to defend ourselves from danger. The most ingenious invention has got to be this bedside table. I mean ... who wouldn't want to have a shield and club to defend yourself against a robber? You know you want one too!

P.S. - I have a bat under my bed just in case I have to defend myself from those evil trolls, goblins, and various other monsters that come to attack me during the night.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not just another day ...

I can't believe there's only a week left before Christmas. For some strange reason, the holidays always have this uncanny ability to sneak up on me. They seem to catch me off guard, coming and going before I could get into the holiday spirit.

Sitting at church this morning, I was saddened by how unprepared my heart is for this season of worship. The busyness of life is dragging me down, and I am at fault not to take enough time off to get adequate refreshment and rest. With just seven days left, I really hope that I can quiet down my heart and reflect on the miracle of Christmas.

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Subscribe now, you know you want to!

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

*yawn*

I usually like to post something profound here at this time of night, but today I'm just totally braindead! Through my vast experiences as a sleep deprived zombie, I've noticed that there are a few tell-tale signs that you are about to collapse physically. For example, while I was soaping myself during a shower 15 minutes ago, I had this feeling that something strange is going on, only later to realize that I had already soaped and rinsed myself once already. The good news is that I am doubly clean tonight and won't have to worry about smelling terribly tomorrow morning. But then again, there's no one sleeping next to me, so no one really cares.

I also had this "zoning out" experience during my company's annual all-staff meeting the past two days where a presenter would be talking through a powerpoint presentation, and all I could hear was "blah BLah blAh BlaH blAH BLah." I can't say for certain whether it was my tiredness causing this or my disinterest in what they were sharing. It's probably a combination of the two ... nevertheless ... hearing "bLaH BlAH bLaH" for two whole days isn't very fun. Ok I take that back, sometimes I heard "bLah blAH lunchtime! blAH" or "BlaH breaktime bLah," but those didn't come as often as I hoped. Anyway ... sweet dreams and good night!

P.S. - if you wondered why i didn't sleep right after my shower but opted to spend time to blog this ... the answer is simple, I had to let my hair dry! haha, it's always my favorite excuse to stay up a little big longer.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Not a Tame Lion ...


There's good reason why I felt so tired this weekend. It all started with a late night showing of Narnia, 12:01am last Thursday night! Ever since then, I've been a wreck. I should've known that my old body can't handle sleep deprivation too well anymore. Plus, two days of wedding rehearsal and preparation didn't help too much either.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Narnia. Despite several chessy parts that could've been filmed better, the timeless masterpiece of C.S Lewis is pretty well captured on film. Much like a lot of Lewis' writings, the story line was simple, yet extremely profound. What Mr. Tumnus said about Aslan in the movie (also in the book in numerous places) is still giving me much to think over.

"He's not a tame lion, but he is good."

I would love to expound on the quote, I'm in dire need of some good rest. If you will, just dwell on it for awhile, perhaps it'll rock your world as much as it has mine.


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A Cultural Lesson

My friend Birdie from East Asia wrote me last week saying, “我觉得你应该在你的blog里用中文写点什么。别忘了,你是中国人,你有中国血的!”Which in and of itself is pretty ironic, since she’s also the one that always tells me “你从来都不是中国人!” But to appease her just a little, I will talk about the Chinese social concept of 關係 (关系 – guan xi).

The word 關係 can be roughly translated to English as “relationships.” In a very simple sense, 關係 is the social network you have with other people. In general, a person uses their 關係 with others as leverage to get help from them or solicit favors from them. It is so ingrained in the Chinese mind that success in every echelon of society is dependent on it. In its simplest form, it is social quid pro quo, a type of “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” mentality driven by the laws of reciprocity.

For example, it is partly because of 關係 that my parents offer my computer expertise to their friends when asked. Again it is because of 關係 that I can’t refuse to go to a dinner when their friends offer as gratitude for my services. In the end, I am forced to fix computers that I don’t want to fix in order to eat dinners that I don’t want to eat … it’s a very sick cycle.

The whole situation bothers me on several levels. I don’t mind at all helping friends with their computers, but in this case I am merely functioning as a useful tool. And on a deeper level, I don’t like the concept of reciprocity. In the ideal world, people should not keep tabs on their friend on the favors done and given. It defeats the very principle of love, which keeps no records of wrongs and does not prompt one to act under obligation.

It’s too bad that we don’t live in the ideal world. Even though I must agree that most of the time we are driven solely by self-interest, I do believe that it is possible to act altruistically without expecting a form of repayment. So from now on, if I help you with something (even if it’s fixing your computer), don’t feel that you’re obligated to pay me back in some way. If anything, do it out of genuine gratitude, not obligation.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

I AM COMPUTER ILLITERATE!


*** WARNING! THE FOLLOWING POST IS WRITTEN OUT OF FRUSTRATION, PLEASE EXTEND ME SOME GRACE IF YOU FEEL OFFENDED***

[breathe in] [breathe out] umm .... I feel so much better now, but there is still a bit of angst buried deep within.

It all started with a kind gesture, offering to help my parent's friend fix a small problem with his computer. Little did I know, that was the end of my peaceful life at home. Before long, every Asian parent in the fifty mile radius is inviting my family over to their house for dinner. Interestingly, they all want to know the times I am available, and stress that that it would be "an honor" if I would grace them with my presence.
Oh yea by the way, maybe I can help them with just a tiny computer issue right after dinner.

So for the past few weeks, I have been going from house to house, trying to play the part of the "good son" so my parents can save face with their friends. Even though my parents never force me to go to these engagements, there is always the lingering unspoken pressure. There never seems to be anyone competent enough to fix someone's computer, and I am the only one smart enough to know what is wrong.

For your amusement, I have used my Einstein-like intelligence to fix problems such as:
1) "I can't send email overseas, something is wrong" you never had an account with yahoo
2) "My son says he sends me emails from Hong Kong, but I cannot receive them" you have to type the correct password into that box to get emails
3) "Can you come help me setup my dsl?"
(try #1) it says that your service-ready date is in 3 weeks, no wonder I can't finish installing today
(try #2 - a week later) you got an email saying that it's ready today? great ... but why is it that after I spent thirty minutes fiddling around, I call verizon and find out that the service ready date is in 2 weeks?

This is the one that pushed me over the edge:
mr. X: I keep getting these popups when I start my computer
me: Ok, how did this start happening?
mr. X: Oh ... I was surfing this porn site and signed up for this 3 day trial, and then after 3 days these popups keep on telling me that I have pay money
me: ... ... ...
mr. X: Here's my id, can you go into this website and try to unsubscribe me?
me: (WHAT?!?! YOU WANT ME TO GO TO A PORN SITE TO FIND OUT WHAT STUPID SOFTWARE YOU DOWNLOADED YOUR COMPUTER SO I CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO UNINSTALL THIS PORNO PROGRAM FROM POPPING UP WHEN YOUR COMPUTER BOOTS?) ... ... ...
mr . X: your parents are so lucky to have such a good son

From now on if anyone asks, please kindly tell them I am computer illiterate. And thus
cannot and will not fix your computer. And by the way, I already submitted my application to not be a good son anymore.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Man's Best Friend Upgraded!


If you find it weird that even kindergarten kids carry cell phones around these days, you might just want to stop reading now. In the very near future, even our canine friends are going to be equipped with cell phones! For a mere $350, dog lovers all over the world can make calls to their pets at the push of a button. In addition, each of these phones will be equipped with a GPS so you can track all your dog's wandering patterns.

What I'm thinking is how parents can use these things to track their kids. Imagine letting your one year old play by himself out in the lawn, only to use the baby cell phone to call them back to the house. I wonder how many people will actually buy something so ridiculous.

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Table for Two

If you haven't noticed, the official theme of the week is marriage and family. To continue with this topic, let me tell you an interesting conversation I had with my dad the other night.

dad: son, go date somebody
me: (what the heck? that was random) ... umm ... ok
dad: i think you're at that age now
me: (it's not like i ever needed permission) ... right ...
dad: when you grow older, you will less likely to want to get married
me: (wait ... aren't I still pretty young?) ... uh huh ...
dad: sometimes love comes unexpectedly, once you miss it, you might never find it again
me: (destiny, huh?)

So this went on for a little bit, from talking about love at first sight to how lucky he is to have found my mom. This is definitely one of the most random talk my dad has ever given me, if for nothing else, it did make me think of this Caedmon's Call song and how much I can resonate with it:


Table for Two

Danny and I spent another late night over pancakes
We talked about soccer and how every man's just the same
We made speculation the who's and the when's of our futures
And how everyone's lonely but still we just couldn't complain

And how we just hate being alone
Could I have missed my only chance
And now I'm just wasting my time
By lookin' around

But you know I know better, I'm not gonna worry about nothing
Cause if the birds and the flowers survive then I'll make it okay.
And given a chance and a rock see which one breaks a window
And see which one keeps me up all night and into the day.

Because I'm so scared of being alone
That I forget what house I live in
and that it's not my job to wait by the phone
For her to call

This day's been crazy but everything's happened on schedule
From the rain and the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt
'Cause You knew how You'd save me before I fell dead in the garden
And You knew this day long before You made me outta dirt.

And You know the plans that You have for me
And You can't plan the ends and not plan the means
And so I suppose I just need some peace,
Just to get me to sleep.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wedding Crashing

I have been invited to do the scripture reading at my friends Alan and Windy's wedding this coming Saturday. That by itself isn't anything out of the ordinary, but I have also been asked to choose the passage to read. When I at first told them I didn't feel comfortable picking the passage for their wedding, they responded with, "We asked you because you are a dear friend to the both of us and your choice of scripture of reading would be a blessing to us from you."

Frankly, it is downright dangerous to give someone that much power to ruin your wedding. Other than having someone scream out when the pastor asks for objections, a bad scripture reading is definitely the other thing that would throw the ceremony into chaos. Luckily for them, I have not the deviousness in me to pull a prank on them. So to fulfill my responsibility as a good friend, I'm trying my best to think of a passage that will best start their marriage off with.

This actually isn't as easy as it sounds. I don't want to read the usual passages read at most weddings like: 1 Corinthians 13, Colossians 3, and Ephesians 5, but I don't want to give out what I want to be read at my wedding. I am at times tempted to read an entirely obscure and random passage (which would be pretty fun, but then Windy will have my head when I'm done), so the search continues ...

If you have any good suggestions, feel free to send them over!

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Sunday School Update

A quick update on the Sunday School post from a few days ago: I'm actually taking the Christian Family and Parenting class! OK stop looking at me weird now, it really the most interesting course out of the options given.

It was actually a spur of the moment decision, as I was resigned to take another class to avoid awkwardness. Fortunately, word somehow got out that I wanted to take the class and others wanted to join ranks. We figured that if we went as a group, it would be less awkward and they would be less inclined to kick us out. It worked!

We did get some weird looks from the older folks in the class, asking whether or not we meant to go next door. They kept on saying, "This is the parenting class, what are you guys doing here?" Luckily, the teacher came to our defense and emphasized that this a Christian family class and that it's never too early to learn about the rest. I have to admit that it was pretty weird when we had to introduced ourselves with the names of our spouse and children. I was pretty tempted to name my non-existent kids Jabez (Hebrew for: I bore him with great pain) and Delilah (Hebrew for: languishing, lovelorn, and seductive). To go along with the theme, perhaps my imaginary wife can be named Eve ... how appropriate.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Are there Geishas in Narnia?

Even though I'm not a big movie buff, I am still very much looking forward to December 9th! Next Friday, both Memoirs of a Geisha and The Chronicle of Narnia are coming out on the silver screen. Two of the most anticipated movie this year coming out on the same day, what more can a man ask for? (very much a rhetorical question, please don't try to answer)

However, this does leave me the dilemma of choosing which movie to watch first. If my sister was around, I would definitely go watch memoirs with her since she is such a big fan. Typical I guess, she loves Pride and Prejudice with a vengeance as well. But fate would have it that she is still at Boston, so I suppose I'll walk into the wardrobe and watch the Lion kick some butt next Friday night.

Honestly I am a little afraid to see how these movies will turn out. Whenever books are made into the movies, there's always a chance of misinterpretation. Maybe your favorite scene will be cut out, or perhaps they will make a character to be freakishly scary (e.g. Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), it's not always fun to watch them ruin the classics.

Despite those reservations, I am still excited to see Narnia come to life again, this time in the movies. I'm sure it will be nothing like how I imagined it, but nevertheless it will be a good way to start deep conversations with your friends about good and evil, about God, and about how we're only seeing a shadow of what our world will be like.

All this to say, "GO TO THE MOVIES NEXT FRIDAY." Give me a call if you're interested and we'll go together!

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sunday school class selection

Other than what kind of car I should buy to replace my old camry, the important question of the week is which sunday school to pick for the coming winter term. The courses to choose from are:
  • Discipleship
  • Life of Jesus
  • Foundations in Worship
  • New Testament Survey
  • Intro to Missions
  • Christian Family and Parenting
After putting in some serious thought, the only class that really stood out from the pack was Christian Family and Parenting. However, after talking with my friend Henry about how weird it would be for two single guys to sit through this class probably filled with older married couples, we decided to take something else. However, the following conversation ensued:

me : we can start our own bible study
henry : hey that would be hot
henry : start it up for college students
henry : but that prob won't fly unless if you organize it now and talk to the education people at church
me : people might think we're just messing around
henry : hahah, nah, i'm sure people won't think we're just meesing around
me : i dunno ... 2 single guys
me : talking about christian family
me : sounds sketchy to me
henry : hahahahah

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