Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sky Zone 3-D Dodgeball

On Saturday my friend, Benson, organized a group of about 20 of his friends to go to Sky Zone to play 3-D Dodgeball. The facility in Mississauga offers many different trampoline based activities. It looks pretty cool. Most of us had never done anything trampoline related before.

Benson had first become interested after seeing some photos posted on Facebook by his friends. That's how I found out about it too.

In my mind I had thought about all the different things I wanted to try. Like doing flips and things like that. When we first arrived there was a instructional video playing saying what you could and could not do. Some of the people were doing flips and twists and things. All I can say it's way harder than it looks.

We booked an hour on one of their courts. Once there a girl with Sky Zone gave us some instructions then we divided our group in two and proceeded to play. Surprisingly enough 15 minutes in we were all pooped. I for one certainly didn't expect that. But, all that jumping was more tiring than we thought it would be. Still we pressed on taking short breaks between games. It was fun for sure.

At the end I don't think there was a dry brow to be seen. Time for everyone to go home and shower before heading over to Benson's for his birthday, potluck dinner later in the evening.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunday - Wedding Day

I attended two weddings this past Sunday. One was planned over many months... the other... over a course of less than a week.

One friend called me on Saturday night and asked me if I was still attending my church downtown. I told him, yes. He told me he was getting married there the next day and asked if I could take pictures for him. I told him, of course I could. The next day at 1:00 I met him there along with his fiancĂ©e, mother and sister. She told me he decided to get married the previous Tuesday. He had been seeing his girlfriend for many years and they discussed marriage in the past though.

Our pastor Tom conducted the ceremony. It was simple and fast, but not without it's humorous moments. Part way through the Star Wars theme chimed loudly throughout the sanctuary. It was my friend's phone. He ignored if for awhile, but it wouldn't stop so he turned it off (which he probably should have done before). I tried to keep my composure, but broke out laughing. I have to say it was quite hilarious.

Right after that I went to my former Trader co-worker Carol Chan's wedding at 3:00. She married her long time boyfriend/fiancé Kelvin Siu. The ceremony and reception were held at a banquet facility not far from Vaughan Mills mall.

It was quite nice. I was happy to see a group of my former friends from work again. It's been awhile since I've seen some of them. I was last there three years ago (the summer of 2009). We all sat together at the same table at the reception. Unfortunately we were kind of left in the dark for a good part of the evening because the emcee (and most everyone else who gave speeches) spoke solely in Cantonese. Only Viola (who hails from Hong Kong) could understand what they were saying. Oh well.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Money = Happiness?

I recently watched a few episodes of show on TLC (The Learning Channel) about lottery winners (mostly based in the United States). It was pretty interesting.

One thing I learned is that if you win, say, $35 million, you don't actually get $35 million. They said something about if the winners wanted their money in a lump sum they received only about half of it (I'm not sure why).

As well, the government takes about a third of that amount in taxes so you end up with only about $11-$12 million. Not chump change, but far from what you would get had you won the lottery here in Canada (which is the entire amount).

The second thing I learned is that after you win you'll make a lot of new "friends"... who want your money. And if you're silly enough to give some to them that's the last you'll see of them (until they want more I suppose).

One winner had to move from the small town he grew up in because people were contantly harassing him. If he drove somewhere and parked his truck, upon his return he would find notes stuck to it from strangers asking for money to help them pay their bills or some other sob story.

Another self-described "redneck" woman took her children out of school because the other kids were picking on them after she won the lottery. Greaaaat... home schooled by someone who probably didn't complete high school. At least the kids had fun at "recess" riding around on their ATVs in the yard behind their newly expanded trailer.

For these so called "winners" winning meant isolation. Sure they had big homes and a lot of nice toys. But, they had to either move or close themselves off from many of the people they once knew because of it.

Other people were just plain dumb. One young, 19-year-old winner gave some of his winnings to his mother (which was nice) then moved out and bought a mansion in Florida. While there he "invested" in an all women's pro-wrestling league among other things.

After giving away at least a million dollars he smartened up and sold his place in Florida and moved back home with his mom and brothers. There he would have time to think about all the foolish things he had done.

Then there was this tragic story about an illiterate, Florida man who won about $30 million ($17 million after taxes).

A lot of people took advantage of him. Either he was just too kind or didn't know how to say, no. He gave a lot of people "loans" (which I'm sure they had no intention of paying back).

But his story really took a tragic turn when a stranger conned him into selling her his expensive, newly purchased home and took over all his finances under the pretense of being his advisor.

At one point he dropped out of sight not contacting anyone he knew for a few months. That is until, one day, his mother received a text from him saying, not to worry and that he was alright. Well, of course, that set off alarm bells as he was illiterate and couldn't read or write.

Long story short... authorities found his remains some time later buried in the woman's backyard. She was charged as an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

I'm not saying winning the lottery couldn't or wouldn't be great. But, it brings it's own set of problems along with it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Burning House

I just happened upon a blog called The Burning House. People are invited to submit a photo and a list of items they'd save from their home if it were burning down.

Among other things books, computers, cameras, shoes, bags, stuffed animals, real animals (pets) and photos/photo albums were listed.

The majority of items listed held some sort of sentimental value. Things like a ring or an old necklace or something given to them by a loved one (like grandparent, husband, girlfriend, best friend etc.) either living or passed on.

For me... I've collected a lot of "junk" over time. They're pieces of the past that I like to look back on. Old notebooks from public school, Christmas/birthday cards and things like that from friends over the years. They're part of the journey I call life. People who've impacted my life at one point or another.

I must say I have too much "junk" though. I stopped buying souvenirs when I traveled a long time ago. I learned they just end up in a pile of dust in a drawer or closet. Just taking up more and more valuable space. Memories aren't "things" you collect when you're away from home. It's the destination itself.

That's why I cherish my photos of these places. They are the second thing I would take - My photo albums. Before the advent of digital cameras I printed, dated and organized all my shots. If I ever lost them I'd never be able to replace them. That would be devastating.

The third thing I'd take would be my computer and back up drive. Because that's where all my current digital photos are stored. I've posted most of them online too on Flickr.com . But, they're only a fraction of the original file size. So I'd like to hang on to my computer too if I could.

Now, you've probably noticed I haven't yet mentioned the first item I'd take. It's another photo album. But, this one isn't one that I had any part in putting together. No, it's my baby album that my parents assembled. It has photos of me in it from the time I was born to the end of high school. I have to say there weren't a lot of shots in me in my teenage years, but still... it holds a significant place in my heart.

Now it's your turn... What would you take?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Advantages of Being Single

I'm on the mailing list for Meet Market Adventures.com. It's a website that hosts adventures/events for single people. Recently they sent an e-mail to their subscribers espousing the benefits of being single. I have to say, it's like they peered into my head and read my mind.

Here's what they said.

Why is it that your best friend could be in the relationship from hell, your cousin could be in a monotonous and uneventful marriage, but people still feel sorry for you for being single? Is there something wrong here?

It’s easy to say that there are no advantages to being single if all we see are the negatives. Being single can be the most exciting time of your life, so embrace it! Here are the top 5 benefits of being single.

1. You Can Enjoy Your Independence

Being independent means you can do anything you want, whenever you want. Freedom is a totally refreshing experience and you can revel in all its glory. Getting up in the morning and planning out your day on your own terms is a reality only enjoyed by those of the single persuasion.

2. Travel When Or Wherever You Want

You may have always wanted to visit the Arctic, but standing on a giant slab of ice bobbing about on the briny deep is not to everyone's taste, so travel to the places you've always wanted to go to before you have to give them up for a tamer compromise!

3. Control Over Money

As you all know having a relationship not only requires time but as well as money. But if you're single, you can do a lot of things with your finances. You may save your money for the future or you may splurge on certain things that you truly deserve.

4. You Can Be Emotionally Calm

A relationship can never come in a stable boat; it will always have strife's and tribulations. Moreover, you always have that tension of a breakup. But being single, you can be emotionally calm and relaxed.

5. You Can Participate In Meet Market Adventures

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 Honda Indy Toronto

They had Free Friday again at this year's Honda Indy. I went last year and thought I'd go again to see if there was anything different.

Things were different for sure... but, not in a good way. There were less cars (I think it was the NASCAR cars that were absent from this year's race) and they didn't have the Indy drivers' autograph session. It's not that I was interested in getting anyone's autograph, but that was a great opportunity to get some decent shots of the drivers.

This year was also unbearably hot. Not even taking the humidity into account, the forecast high was a tarmac melting 36C. Try sitting in the bleachers with the sun beating down on your head for very long and you'd be risking sun stroke.

Like last year I took the TTC down. Unless you were willing to shell out $20 to park your vehicle this was definitely the best option.

The streetcar dropped us off at the Ricoh Centre where all visitors had their bags check by security. No food or water was allowed. How ridiculous is that? They told people they had to dump their water there and they could refill their bottles at a fountain inside. But, I'm sure they just wanted everyone to spend their hard earned money at the concession stands. I passed one place that was selling ice cream bars for nearly $8 a piece. Who are they kidding? Even if it was a premium brand it wasn't worth anything near that.

When I entered the Direct Energy Centre I couldn't help but notice how empty it looked (compared to last year). Like I said before, I believe it was the NASCAR vehicles that were missing this time. The only cars inside were the Ferrari Challenge ones and the Star Mazda cars (young drivers series).

I was a bit late catching the Indy cars practice. Perhaps I thought they'd be driving around the track a little longer. I spent a bit of time a the back straightaway (along Lakeshore Boulevard) seeing if I could get some good shots (which I couldn't because of the high fences). By the time I finally made it around to the main grandstand along pit lane there was only around 10 minutes of practice time left. That was disappointing.

The Indy Cars paddock gave me another opportunity to get some close up shots of the cars which was nice. I saw two or three drivers wandering around there and got some pictures. But last year I saw at least two or three times as many.

Maybe the novelty has worn off for me after attending only two years. We'll see if I go again next year.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Pride Parade

The 2012 Toronto Pride Parade was last Sunday. Coincidentally it was also Canada Day. So I had to choose what I wanted to see after church that day. They were having celebrations at Queen's Park for Canada Day at the same time.

Of course I chose the Pride Parade. It's way more colourful. And the cast of characters the parade attracts are really outgoing and have a great time (both participants and spectators).

I don't know if I noticed as many big names sponsors as in previous years. I thought there were less musical floats, but I could be wrong. A lot of parade goers had different statements to make - some social others political. Some just wanted to have fun.

Brian Burke, the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs was there. His son, Brendan, was gay. Tragically he lost his life back in 2010 in a car accident. Federal Liberal party interim leader, Bob Rae, was there as well. I even saw Tommy Smythe from Sarah Richardson's show on HGTV.

Notably absent (again) was Toronto mayor Rob Ford. We live in such a diverse city. Even though I'm generally a supporter of his, I think he has to put aside his personal feelings to support his constituents from time to time. Pride is a huge event that attracts many people to our great city and brings in tons of money to local merchants.

Happy Pride!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I saw Disney/Pixar's Brave this past Friday. CTV News' movie critic, Richard Crouse, loved it. That's the main reason I thought I'd see it. I have to say, it didn't disappoint.

It's beautifully animated. Really stunning. As well, the story was lovely. Not your typical Disney passive, princess needs rescuing fairy tale. No, Merida, (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a strong-willed, independent lass who has her own ideas of what she wants to do with her own life. This creates conflict between her and her mother the queen (voice by Emma Thompson) who wants to follow tradition and marry her off to one of the first-born sons of the ally clan leaders.

There are funny moments, touching moments... moments of reflection. The movie is about dealing with family conflict, sacrifice and finally resolution. A must see.