Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Eve Service

We had our annual Christmas Eve dinner and service at church last week. We normally have roast beef with rice and vegetables and stuff. This year was no different. And, as usual, they had a draw for small door prizes. One lady at our table won a macrame, hanging pot holder (for potted plants). Her sister won a small travel chopstick, spoon and fork set.

After dinner we went upstairs from the gym to the sanctuary for service. Pastor Tom spoke again. But, instead of Bill Mak being the interpreter like he usually is, he was replaced by Kevin Leung. Bill was away I believe. Maybe on holiday... I can't remember. Kevin is a young fellow. I'm sure he did a fine job even though I couldn't understand what he was saying (because he was speaking in Cantonese).

After the service we went back down to the gym for snacks. Richard Wong dressed up as Santa and gave out "presents" to the kids. The were packages of cookies and chips and things like that. He was in town from Beijing with Alison and their two kids for the holidays. They're missionaries over there.

There weren't as many "regulars" as I normally see there this year. I guess some people must have been away. I did see a few old faces of members who used to come here. One notable exception was the Tsang family. Usually Jennifer, Rosalind and Victor show up with their parents. I believe Victor is in Vancouver and Rosalind is in New York. I think Jennifer and her parents still live in the city.

I took a few photos for our 100th anniversary book. We're way behind schedule. I figure we could use them if we need to fill any space. After that my parents gave me a lift back home.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tobogganing with my Nephews

I took my nephews tobogganing last week. It took us 30 seconds to walk there. They have a golf course behind their house that has a wee hill that you can sled down. The workers there didn't mind that we used their course for an hour.

As you can see we don't have much snow yet in Toronto. There are patches of grass sticking up through the snow everywhere. Still it was good enough to pick up a little speed.

My nephews were playing a game where they would take wipeouts part way down the hill and I was supposed to take pictures of them. That didn't work out so well. Anyway, here's a shot of them actually on the sled.

We had a contest at the end where we tried to see who could go farthest down the hill. Since I weigh more than twice as much as the older one I thought I'd have gravity on my side. While that may have helped going down the hill. On the gradual slope near the bottom it worked against me. Too much friction. I came last. Oh the shame. Beaten by a 7 and 10-year-old.

Next year I'll work on losing 100 lbs and kick their butts!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

$13 Shirt from Club Monaco

It's true... no joke. I bought this shirt for $13.30 plus tax at Club Monaco on Sunday. It regularly goes for $79. But, out of the goodness of their hearts (and the fact they want to get rid of old stock) they generously slashed the price so that even unemployed bums like myself could afford them.

Sorry I didn't post this earlier. I think they're going to be sold out fast. Perhaps if you go on Boxing Day you'll be able to find other good deals though. Good luck!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dinner with Auntie Mary

After the wedding ceremony everyone went down from the sanctuary to the gym for refreshments and to take group shots. Daphne stayed with Auntie Mary until I finished.

We went to Chinatown afterwards. Auntie Mary wanted to go shopping for food. I waited in the car while they walked around.

After they finished shopping we went to Rol Jui for dinner. We order Auntie Mary some fish congee and Daphne and I split a plate of beef and tomato on rice and chicken and tofu on rice. They also brought us some soup as a starter and some sweet, green bean soup for dessert. It's kind of like red bean soup, but not red. It was tasty.

It's always great going out with Auntie Mary. She always has a lot of interesting stories to tell.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tony and Iris get Married

My friends, Tony Lai, and, Iris-youngsun Eom, got married this past Saturday, December 18th, 2010. Pastor Tom Eng presided over the ceremony at our church (Toronto Chinese Presbyterian Church). Most of the guests were friends from our church and Tony's associates from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.

I picked up Auntie Mary for Tony and brought her to the wedding. My friend Daphne sat with her while I was taking photos. It was a lot of working running around trying to capture all the important moments.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Voices Carry

It was just downright weird... I was having lunch with a friend last week at the Pickle Barrel by my place when I heard a song over the restaurant sound system that I haven't heard in years. It was the popular 1985 release Voices Carry by 'Til Tuesday.

Sung by lead singer Aimee Mann the video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist when it came out. Of course I was fully enamored by the tune back then. When the group came to town to promote their album I went to Much Music (back on Queen East at the time if I remember correctly) to try and get an autograph from Aimee (which I managed to successfully pull off, thank you very much).

Now that might not seem so odd if that were the end of the story. But, it just so happened that later that day I met up with another friend around Sherbourne and Wellesley Streets for a bite at a local burger joint. We were happily enjoying our burgers when guess what song comes up on their sound system? You guessed it... Voices Carry. This time it was a slower version. One I had never heard before. I'm not sure who performed it, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.

It's strange though... I was quite surprised to hear it once. But, twice in one day? What are the odds of that? Astronomically low as far as I'm concerned. Time to buy a lottery ticket perhaps.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Addicted to Scrabble

It's strange I know, but, lately, I've been hooked on playing Scrabble online. I believe part of the appeal is winning "points" from this site, POGO, I play on. What you can do with these so-called points that you can win is a mystery to me. Perhaps you can use them to enter a contest to win prizes on their site or something. Whatever the case, I just like accumulating them.

The actual act of playing the game is fun too though. I normally play against the computer. I find it tends to make really short words which is kind of annoying. It's hard to make words yourself when there aren't a lot of places to place your letters.

I've also learned a lot of really weird words. You can experiment with "words" by placing your letters on the board. If it's actually a real word that you've placed on the board the play button on your computer screen will turn yellow to signify you can use it.

As well, they have a button you can press to show 2-letter words. This is really helpful when you want to use up difficult letters like J, X, Q or Z. Did you know that JO, XI, XU, EX, QI and ZA are words in the Scrabble Dictionary? It's true. So if you're ever stuck with those letters you can find various vowels to place them next to.

On the picture at the top of this particular blog you can see I placed the word ZA, ZA and AT for 50 points. I got 33 points for the first ZA on the triple word score, 11 points for the second ZA and 6 points for the AT on the triple word score.

My highest point total for one play was 88 for a combination of ZEPS, ZA and EM. I got 63 points for ZEPS (the Z was on a double letter score, and the word was on a triple word score. The P and S were blanks), 21 points for ZA and 4 points for EM.

I also got a total score of 89 for SQUIRTS and ERAS. 45 points for SQUIRTS on a triple word score with I on a double letter score (T and S were blanks) plus 50 bonus points for using all seven tiles, and 4 points for ERAS.

To do well you have to take advantage of the letters that give you the big points and put them on squares that increase their value like double or triple letter score or double or triple word score.

Good luck and have fun!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dinner with Dickie, Lawrence and Big Jon

I had dinner with Dickie, Lawrence and Big Jon last Monday at Imperial Buffet in Scarborough. They keep sending 2-for-1 coupons over to my sister and parents' place, so I keep taking my friends there to eat. There was one stretch in the summer where it seemed like they were delivering coupons every month. Needless to say I went there an awful lot.

The grub there is fine. You're not going to expect anything extremely tantalizing at a Chinese buffet anyway now are you? They have King Crab legs which Dickie and Big Jon made a beeline for. I'm too lazy to eat them. I can't be bothered to crack the shells and dig the meat out. I know there's a seemingly easy technique that those guys used, but I'm just too impatient. I just want to go up and grab my food and eat. It's okay. For less than $10 per person before tax and tip, how can you complain?

So, Imperial Buffet, you just keep those coupons coming and me and my friends will go there to eat regularly!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Morality and God

I'm currently reading a book for our church's small group study by Lee Strobel called The Case for Faith. In the second chapter interviewee, William Craig, argues that God must exist because we have objective moral values - basically the ability to tell right from wrong.

"If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist." he says.

I tend to take on the view of an example he gives from philosopher, Michael Ruse, to refute this statement. "Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth." It is "just an aid to survival and reproduction... any deeper meaning is illusory."

I believe it's in our best interest as a species to live in relative harmony if we want to not only survive, but thrive. If we go around attacking, raping or killing one another this will never be achieved. And if someone tried to do this to us or someone we cared about we'd obviously be upset about it. It's basic biological behavior by humans and even less advanced species.

Like humans there are a lot of animals that have to live together in groups. To survive they must learn not only to get along well together, but work together as a unit. Take meerkats for instance. For those of you who don't know, meerkats are small mammals. They are burrowing members of the mongoose family who live in South Africa. They live in large family units in arid areas. To survive they work together to gather food for their young. They post sentries to look out for predators. If they see a hawk they will sound the alarm and everyone will dash for cover. If there is a poisonous snake that's threatening the group they attack it together. And if a member of the meerkat family doesn't follow the rules of the clan they will be banished from the group. Unfortunately that's pretty much a death sentence for the lone meerkat. For it can't survive on it's own trying to gather food safely while avoiding predators.

So, I'd argue it's basic animal instinct for survival that drives them to live in harmony. And I believe we achieved our objective moral values in much the same way. It's a basic survival instinct. Nothing more, nothing less.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Trader Friends at Badger and Firkin

I met up with my Trader friends for dinner at the Firkin pub across the street from my old office today. Viola sent out an e-mail asking people to come. It's been a bit over a year since I've seen the guys. So it was cool to see them again.

I came over a bit early so I could drop by the office to see some other friends too. Unfortunately I didn't go as early as I should have. By the time I got there (a bit after 5:00) quite a few people had already left. Still, I had the chance to talk with a fair number of friends. It was really good seeing them again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Kids are Alright

I took my cousin's daughter and nephews out to the Brick Works with my friend Daphne last weekend. We just went out for an hour or so before dinner. I thought it would be nice to take the kids there to run around a bit. Get some fresh air, you know. I think it's good for kids to get out and get a little exercise every now and then.

We got there around 4:30 p.m. At this time of the year it gets dark fairly early. So we didn't actually have a lot of time. But, knowing young people, I know they get bored fairly quickly. So even having one hour outside would be enough.

I tried to make it a bit fun by having them run around a little. There was a steep hill leading to an area that overlooked to Brick Works. We took that even though it may not have been a very safe route. I guess they looked at it as a challenge to overcome. There were also some ponds there that they enjoyed looking at and throwing stones into.

It's too bad we missed the fall colours. But, all-in-all, I think everyone had an enjoyable time out.