Saturday, December 25, 2004

Much has happened in the past week and sorry for not blogging… but here goes part of it!

Rather than blog for the sake of chronological order, I’m just going to blog about the past two days because it’s relatively fresh in my memory; I’ll get to the rest eventually, I hope. =p

My siblings arrived in HK on the night of the 17th. The 18th was taken up by our cousin’s wedding. On the 19th, I went to service at the Evangelical Community Church (ECC), which included seeing Bonnie, Freddie, and Vonne:

Afterwards, I went immediately home to meet up with my family to go to the airport for our 5-day Fuk-kien province tour. So I’ll talk about the tour later… but we arrived back in Hong Kong late on the 23rd. The next morning, of course, was Christmas Eve.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

The weather in Hong Kong has been about 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. =) So warm weather coupled with the fact that we all got off a flight late on the 23rd, Christmas Eve felt kind of weird and premature; it didn’t feel like Christmas Eve at all.

This is the first time my siblings have been in Hong Kong, and because of the tour, the only time that they actually had to walk around the city was before our cousin’s wedding banquet in Causeway Bay for a couple of hours. So we did a lot of shopping on Christmas Eve in the daytime, in time for a Choi-side family dinner that was planned in advance. My aunt arranged for us to attend a “snake” night [seah-yeen] that is organized every year by a union. So we had dinner in the union headquarters (there were about 13-14 tables there), and we occupied a full table.

It was great fun – the organizers had a lucky draw of which 4 members of our table won. The prizes were very normal everyday products (we won socks, tupperware, hand-cloth with other fish soup cooking bags, and a vacuum-seal bag) but I thought it was a great idea to create a fun atmosphere.

The “snake” night means that we ate snake… we started off with THREE bowls of snake soup. As usual with multi-course Chinese dinners, due to my relatively slower eating pace, it gets to be stressful, and this was no exception. The snake soup was great, nonetheless. =) And then a number of other dishes that had snake in it. One of the dishes, the snake was chopped up and fried (not the best pieces because the meat would have already gone into the soup). But in this dish, my cousin found a surprise… can you guess what it is?

She initially thought it was the tail of the snake. However, the conclusion was that the snake carried a fetus and it was an unborn snake – even worse. =p

Of course, the evening couldn’t end without a live snake for pictures, and also tasting of snake wine, plus a few individuals got to taste the gall bladder, arguably the most expensive part of any snake. Here’s my sister, who was quite squirmy even just to be the photographer, so it’s quite incredible that she held it. I chickened out in the end. =p

Christmas Eve in Chinese is called [ping on yeah / ping an yea] (Night of Peace). Ironically, it’s one of the rowdiest nights of the year – the MTR (subway) ran through the entire night.

My family was no exception – near the end of the evening, the idea of going to Shenzhen, China sprang up. The idea was fuelled by my aunt (from Toronto), who was due to fly home on the 28th so she wanted to make one last trip there before leaving. However, I (with my siblings) was also to meet up with the UW HK people at Tsim Sha Tsui that night (one of the most happening places in Hong Kong), so I planned to head to Shenzhen after meeting up with them. Mind you, it was around 10:45pm when I stepped out of the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station.

It turns out that an estimated 500,000 were in Tsim Sha Tsui that night. Of course, my siblings and I joined the crowd for a bit, as I was to meet the bunch of UW HK people there. The Hong Kong young crowd just likes the crowds. People were just in Tsim Sha Tsui to be with the crowds… it wasn’t moving. So I didn’t end up meeting up with UW HK people, because I couldn’t find where they were, and we were just trying to *move*. Eventually, we found our way to transportation and got home at 12am. [Thank God – we caught the last train going north.] The last bus to my uncle’s in Tuen Mun (where the rest of my Choi extended family were gathering to go to Shenzhen) was 12:28. Still had enough time to pack and catch the bus.

My mom didn’t like the idea of rushing from the very start, and we had a Yam family dinner to catch the next day (Christmas), so we would only have a few hours to shop in Shenzhen. So despite the major rushing and still even being able to make it, I was a good girl and decided to stay home that night. Although, if we went, the story potential was great, illustrating extreme maximization of time, not to mention crazy spontaneous plans on Christmas Eve not just by me, but by my extended family!.

Staying home, however, I did end up getting some quiet time, which caught up with me when we were rushing home – there were carollers outside of the subway station on the way home, which was a very timely reminder. Christmas is HUGE in Hong Kong – Christmas music everywhere… Santa hats everywhere… life-size Santa mannequins that dance rock-and-roll everywhere [I actually find them quite freaky]… the true meaning of Christmas in the birth of Jesus Christ is lost. Increasingly in all places now, I guess.

So I am very thankful that I got to have that bit of quiet time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas Eve on this [ping on yeah]… definitely difficult to experience in this City of Life.

Now for Christmas Day… =) But later; you’ve read enough if you’ve read all of this!!

Merry Christmas!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam. =)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hey hey!

Quick message from the province of Fuk-kien in China -- we're on a "cultural" tour for a few days and will return to Hong Kong tomorrow. No, there's no fried rice here.. just... simple foods. =p

My cousin's wedding was great... great to see a lot of my family together. Holding a wedding in Hong Kong is somewhat more complicated because practically no one has a car -- so getting around in formal wear is arranged by the organizers and/or people aren't *that* dressed up.

Also, the fashions in this year are dresses that resemble drapery, with a lot of furs... fur collars, fur shawls... you name it. =p

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hong Kong - City of Life - Day 2

*Yes*! No jet lag!

No caffeine either -- so was tired here and there, but guess it's for the better that I get used to it...

However, there *are* 34 Starbucks locations in Hong Kong now! 4 years ago, there were only 5!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Hong Kong, City of Life – Day 1

Just got in not long ago! It's great to be back, although still kind of feels surreal that I'm here... The last time was about 4 years ago!

I left yesterday in a rush at 5:00am (didn't expect to leave that early =p) with no sleep... which I think is generally a good tactic to beat jetlag. However, the travel time was LONG. We stopped over in Chicago and in Tokyo, and although the layovers weren't too long (1.5 hours in Chicago and 2 hours in Tokyo – we were delayed), the wait times weren't too bad overall, considering the number of delays experienced lately...), the total travel time came to about 24 hours! Guess that's the price to pay in return for a cheaper ticket. So basically, for the past 24 hours, I have been sleeping, waking up to eat, and sleeping again! I feel fat!!! [Although I *did* end up studying for a little bit, while watching Catwoman...] I guess my point was, hopefully I get to sleep tonight after sleeping for the past day, in order for my efforts to beat jetlag to work. If travel time was 15 hours, I would be fine!

In Chicago, I enjoyed my last North American peppermint mocha from Starbucks for the year. [Apparently, they *are* available year-end, just promoted around Christmas time... but that's dangerous to know.] I need to see where the Starbucks are around HK... because I'll be dying! I can't stand the HK style coffees, and don't know if I can wean off of coffee in 3 weeks. At least, this will be good practice for lent, which I intend to do again for coffee. When I did work term here, I actually stopped drinking coffee except for social reasons!

Anyway, I'm off to bed -- and if I can't sleep, I'll work on the Pharma SRM! =P [I really did intend to work on it on the plane.]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Rush... rush... rushing to the airport...

Will be blogging from Hong Kong -- assuming I can find a connection!


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Ok... I won't be able to practically hide this any longer:

I bought a new car.

Yes, it's exciting and all, but I'm still coming to terms with it... mainly because I still feel kind of guilty about such a frivolous purchase; perhaps I feel like I need to explain, for some reason...

Anyway, I'm not trying to rationalize or anything, but these are just my sentiments:

This car is definitely a gift from God; only by his grace and mercy. As with any gift, there is a corresponding responsibility, so I am reminded of the importance of stewardship, not only regarding financial matters but of all aspects of my life, including fellowship and my missions initiative. This made me think about second year when I was one of the few people fortunately to have a car at university, and how much I cared to use it for His service. In addition, I am reminded of being a witness -- like the words of Nichole Nordemann's "Legacy".

Haha, when I picked it up last week, I thought about the phrase of picking up "my new baby". Similarly though, I wanted to lay hands on it and dedicate it as any baby dedication we do at church. Even though I didn't do the "lay hands" part, it was my prayer that the car remain in God's protection (especially with my novice manual transmission driving skills!) and that it be dedicated for His service.

So all that being said, please do not dote on my car... as tempting it is to decorate the cute car... haha... but even though I bought it because I thought it looked nice, it's a conscious decision not to emphasize it more than my usual "everything's not a big deal". After all, it is only matter:

"It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon
enough destroy."
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Can't wait to get back in Toronto...

Travelling is fun and all, but it can't beat spending time with family and friends... not that my coworkers aren't fun. =p

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Going to sunny Irvine... haha...

after rainy Seattle!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I cleaned my room again! It feels great! I figured out the trick is to get as much stuff out of my room. =p I bought a CD rack from IKEA and was going to house my CD's, but it turned out that it didn't really fit (it was really tall) so I put it downstairs in the living room. Oh well, that's great! The less in my room the better!

I found my colour file folders that I bought last year to do our taxes!! I was really excited because I really needed them to do our taxes this year (which I ended up dragging out because I didn't have the right colours). But now, I am ready to do our taxes for 2004!

The file folders are hidden in my stack of CA (Chartered Accountant) magazines... which I have not sorted since 2000. So now, I have a full set of UFE (Uniform Final Exam -- the exam for the CA designation) syllabi since 2000, including the Guide to the new CA Accredidation process, so that you can compare the changes in the UFE over the past 4 years! Anyone? Anyone? This can be a collector's set! =p

Now that my stationery, files, and media are somewhat more organized... onto my clothes... which theoretically would entail the many hours required to iron my shirts... well, I'll do it *sometime*...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I'm back home! But need to go to bed to make our Financial Reporting Developments session early tomorrow morning in Mississauga...

But here is the count of my experience today in Chicago!

I am now in Chicago airport waiting to board my plane home. I was going to complain about my terrible service at dinner, but by God's grace, another story came up that completely trumps the horrible service:

Tonight, at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, they were playing Chinese opera over the public announcement system.

I, of course, thought this phenomenon was thoroughly entertaining not to mention ridiculously hilarious, and despite futile efforts, tried *very* hard not to burst out laughing out while walking around the terminal. At all other times I couldn't stop smiling hilariously. At least I (and all other Chinese people, somewhat embarrassedly =p) knew the truth behind the high, screeching, melismatic voice, complete with instrumental and cymbal clanging. While I was eating dinner, I'm sure people were wondering why I was smiling so much -- and no, The Epic of Gilgamesh is not a comedy.

Seeing a number of people imitate the high, melismatic screeching, including the security check people, made it even harder to smother my laugh.

I wondered if there was a live performance somewhere or another reason for the music, and walked around Gate B looking for the musicians, but without any luck. I guess the performance might have been at the international gate and not at the United domestic/Canada gate, or for whatever reason, the responsible person just thought that he/she would play such exotic culture, or perhaps got away with playing his or her favourite music.

Finally, I went and laughed out loud in the washroom.

Until next time, (in Toronto!) my name is Gladys Yam. Haha...

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Okay! I'm back tonight...

Flight UA 1112 leaving ORD at 21.00 arriving YYZ at 23.37!

Looking forward to be back home!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

As a "good Chinese tourist", of *course* I have to visit all universities. Jase is pursuing her doctorate at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal (about 45 minutes away from Urbana-Champaign). The campus is about the size of UW, *except* that there is abundant student housing:

This is Waterson Towers, a student residence with a capacity of 2000 students!

Jase took me around Peoria, another nearby city. Here's a picture by the riverfront.

Yes, quite a windy day!

Friday, October 29, 2004

I've arrived at my friend's house in Bloomington-Normal, about two hours outside of Chicago!

I met Jase (short for Jaselyn.. I really like her name) at Urbana, when we were put into the same small group. It was really cool... I guess we were "older" than the rest of the undergrads in the group and I guess we have similar personalities that we got along.

I'll be home on Sunday night though... =)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Oh... mourning the loss of my UW email and hosting account. =p Guess it was bound to happen!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Yam goes midwest...

In deciding what to do during our only weekend here, we thought we'd go to the mall, seeing that there isn't a whole lot to do here otherwise. Originally, we were going to go out at 11, but my coworker had to get some other work done, so we pushed it back to 2-3pm.

..which was great because I had 3 hours to "see the city" on my own. So I headed out to see "O"...not the Cirque de Soleil show, but "O" Street.

Downtown Lincoln consists of a square of area bounded by about 9th Ave to 14th Ave from the west to the east, and "K" Street to "Q" Street from south to the north. Our hotel is on "P" Street.

I feel like I'm in kindergarten. On one hand, the lack of imagination of this city's planners is somewhat mind-boggling, on the other, at least literacy must be at a decent level because everyone *must* know the alphabet, and probably don't need to sing through the "ABC" song to figure out whether they need to advance to the north or to the south -- especially if going backwards in the alphabet. Okay, I'm mean. =p

But seriously, quick, how many blocks and in which direction should you walk if you want to get from P Street to L Street? No singing! Haha... It's not that easy!

It was a beautiful sunny day today, a stark contrast to yesterday's incredibly windy yet warm and humid weather -- midwest twister weather? Perhaps.

So I headed out towards the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery on campus. It was one of the few attractions that I cared to see in my thorough reading of the "Lincoln" tourist magazine, which we read in detail at the airport while waiting for our third team member's hour-delayed arrival on Monday.

The gallery has a number of outdoor installations and three indoor galleries. I liked the David Ireland special exhibit... otherwise, nothing else really caught my eye.

The installation on the steps to the entrance, however, will not be missed by *anyone's* eye:

It's called "Fallen Dreamer" by Tom Otterness.

During my visit, I talked to the reception guy, who looked bored out of his mind because who really goes to the art gallery on campus? I asked him about about other "attractions" in Lincoln; the other main thing I wanted to see was the Nebraska State Capitol. Apparently it was within walking distance so after completing the gallery, I took the 15 minute walk through the quiet Lincoln downtown.

Apparently, the Nebraska State Capitol is an "architectural masterpiece that embodies the union of art, architecture, and humanism." Too bad it wasn't open until 1pm -- I got there at 12.30pm. Instead of waiting around, I thought I'd head back to see more of the university. Besides, I'd took my pictures like a good Chinese tourist:

On the top of the tower is a "sower", illustrating the importance of the city/state's agricultural background. In fact, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's campus map, in the "East" campus, there is a "tractor testing track". You don't see those at all universities. =p

Speaking of architecture, from the little tidbits that I've learned from my friends' architecture classes from U of T, apparently, the "silo" is even an architectural marvel, combining the practical aspect of it (i.e., storage) into different designs. I thought of that because of this, integrating that design into a different (i.e., church) architectural design:

Another design at the university that I kind of enjoyed:

It reminded me of the Leaning Tower of Pisa mixed with Toronto City Hall mixed with the structure in Toronto-Dominion Centre.

On the walk back uptown, I saw "The Cornhusker Hotel":

Just one of the many "Cornhusker"-named entities in the city. =) Back at the art gallery, I took the elevator:

The elevator ride was very uncomfortable. I've seen these type of designs in spaces that attempt to reduce noise, but for people who have (really strong!) astigmatism like myself, it's really bad! Thank goodness it was only a one-floor ride -- I would have gone crazy.

After that, I went back to the hotel to meet up with my coworkers to go to the open-air mall -- kind of like how our outlet malls are, but with normal stores. There wasn't a whole lot there though, we all bought something from Banana Republic, but that's pretty much it.

For dinner we went to "Carlos O'Kelly's", a Mexican food place. We've had Mexican food *four* times this week -- I don't think I've had so much Mexican food in such a period of time. Not complaining though... it was pretty good.

In the evening, we watched "The Manchurian Candidate" at a nearby theatre -- $2!!! Even cheaper than Rainbow Theatres with the exchange! =) The movie was not bad... although I guess I wasn't ready to take in such intensive drama... it was kind of disturbing.

Tomorrow, I plan to go to service and then probably go do some more shopping. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I finally finished the deliverables due for a "night shift" client. So I figure that I can now get started on my real objective for these two weeks of reading through a good chunk of Isaiah.

So what better place to read and study than the local Starbucks. And so I headed out with my trusty Clie in hand (I have the Bible on it ; ) ). Not to mention the coffee shop atmosphere is great for (backlogged) blogging. I'm kind of proud of myself: I *never* go out alone [insecurity issues], but it's hard to otherwise when no one is here! Oh yes, Nebraska!

Can you believe there is only *one* studious student here? Actually, my team and I noticed -- this is a university town, but we don't see any students! We even drove through the campus... and it isn't as if we're in holidays now... unless everyone is studying at home?? Right... What a weird city/town. =p

Back to reading... Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Blog 10.17.2004

On the way to Lincoln, Nebraska, this time for 2 weeks. Fun, fun... My coworker and I were delayed in Chicago for 2 hours! So we are finally on our way at 10pm, Central Standard Time. Looking forward to getting some rest, although I have a feeling I will be quite sore tomorrow from carrying all my bags today.

I can't sleep for some reason, (might be the Starbucks,) so thought I'd blog on my resurrected first generation Sony Clie. At least the cover on this handheld is cooler than any others on the market, despite the handheld itself. =p Wow, I just realized I have on me all 3 Carey Wan items... This was the predominant method of creating my old Hong Kong blog (now offline!) during my work term there, *way* before Blogger even started. ; ) Hey, I've got to make normally non-value-added travelling time value-added somehow. Too bad no phone calls on the plane. =p

The snacks that we got on this flight are called "Plane Cheesy"... Cheese snacks shaped like... you got it, airplanes. Har har har... plane cheesy? Plane cheesy. =p

I don't have anything to study for this time in Lincoln... Hoping to try to cover a chunk of Isaiah since I've been trying to read it for a while. Hopefully I won't spend to many late nights working in my hotel room, typical of most local site audits. My client seems very capable though: He's young for a controller at 31. (We were all deducing the last time we were here, in case you were wondering!) It's hard to imagine he's been through a divorce. The other contact for the consolidated division has been through a divorce as well. What a culture...

Hopefully after 2 weeks I won't gain that much weight. Oh yeah, I think my weight increase after the cruise was 1 pound -- I've been within the same 5 pound range for the past 10 years. However, how it *feels* on me is a different issue, and I won't gross you out with that here. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Thanksgiving dinner was great! No turkey.. just crab... and duck... and chicken... and fish... typical Chinese dinner!

And we did the typical extended family dinner: kids play mah-jongg, parents sing karaoke and/or practice ballroom dancing in the basement -- sometimes both at the same time. In order to do both at the same time, there are karaoke videos which even specify the type of dance of the song!

After some mah-jongg, we were too distracted by Bishi Bashi 2 -- an ultimate party videogame... oh, those crazy Japanese people... =)

Oh yeah, in case you didn't know, Janey's thorough discussion of the cruise can be found here. But beware, her views are biased!!!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Back home...

It's always nice to land in YYZ. Toronto is great. Even though the character of this city pales in comparison to cities like New York or Shanghai, and even though the trip might have been great, it's an unbeatable feeling to come home.

Originally, I would still be in Miami now with the others, but decided to come back early because of some circumstances, and mainly because I wanted to have some family time this Thanksgiving weekend when my sister is back.

And I praise God for always "working things out"... last night, when I was boarding the plane in Miami, I realized that I'd have time to catch the tail-end of Wayne and Jess's banquet, so frantically called around to find out the location just as the plane was leaving. I ended up getting to their wedding by midnight (I landed at 10:30 or so). I've been kicking myself for missing the two of their jack and jill's this year because of circumstances, not to mention miss the wedding proper, but thank God for giving me the chance to meet up with them even as their night was ending. Congratulations!! =)

Family dim sum is quite the event. It's one of the main reasons why I came back early... my sister (she's at McGill) often comes back to make the Sunday morning dim sum. It's pretty hilarious:

1. Technically, it's a dim sum relay. My parents and my aunt and uncle go early at 9:30am because the prices are discounted (in order to retain the "elderly" dim sum going crowd). By 11am, the prices are back to normal for the "normal" Sunday dim sum crowd. But by then, our table is full with food for the entire morning.

My mom is a health care worker and organises her client time around dim sum, so usually she comes at 11am and leaves at 12 to 1 pm between clients.

I usually make it after church at 11am.

My brother Albert makes it after Kendo at 12pm.

My brother Edward makes it when I wake him up after church, if at all.

In between, my uncle sometimes picks up my cousin from home when she wakes up in the late morning.

So from 9:30 to 1pm, we occupy the table with people going in and out.

2. There's a normal dim sum routine:

First, we play the "who can spot the parents first" game in the restaurant. We win when we spot them before the entire table is waving their arms wildly in the restaurant.

Second, we eat the same thing every time including pigs' feet and egg in a ginger sauce, soya milk and fried dough fritter, [mah lai goh], literally translated as "horse-pulled cake", and [baak fan yu], literally translated as "white rice fish".

The trick for [mah lai goh] is that the best piece are the "high" "outer" pieces. And the cake has to be yellow/brown enough. We need to take a look at the quality of the cake first.

The [baak fan yu] is individually slightly fried in batter. The game that goes with this "don't move the fish". Basically, remember the game pick-up sticks? Well, especially if we don't use communal chopsticks, it would be discourteous to touch the rest of the fish with your chopsticks. But the fish are all fried and sometimes stuck together that it's difficult to pick up only one fish -- hence the game.

Third, the family time sometimes continues into the evening when everyone comes over for dinner, and then we have our dinner routine... =) Which I will explain later, haha.


My sister brought her Quebecois boyfriend from Montreal, and I still laugh about her explanation of [tza leung]: "It's a... fried dough that's wrapped in... a different steamed dough. Really, it's just two types of dough."

Haha, still makes me laugh thinking about that. Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Vacation time on the big boat!

Gone cruising with Janey, Ina and some of Ina's friends (not to mention Janey's parents. =p)

And yes... I've got internet.. =p

Friday, October 01, 2004

Your kingdom come, your will be done...
Fifth of a series from Urbana 2003.

I had to go back to search for my last number; wow, that was in February.

That was a beneficial exercise though -- the last thing I wrote about was self-comfort. Sadly, sloth has taken over my initiatives half a year ago. And it is a sobering challenge especially considering my desired future purchases... =p

I was reminded of Urbana because of the theme: Your kingdom come, your will be done.

It seems like every time you turn around, you hear about a disease, or violence... and then more disease... more violence... what a world, eh. =p Sigh... it can be such a wretched place... But it is comforting to hope in heaven.and to hope in the Lord.

Your kingdom come, your will be done...

With such deterioration in the world, I just feel like rapture is going to come soon... very soon... sigh.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord Blessed be your name

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

My family was never *really* traditional, and I never realized what a big deal this celebration was... but I guess it's the Chinese equivalent of Thanksgiving in that it emphasizes a time to spend with family. Except that there are no parades or fireworks for Thanksgiving, even though it *is* a holiday.

My family decided to postpone our Mid-Autumn Festival dinner because (a) it was impossible to get everyone together tonight anyway, and (b) my parent's anniversary is two days after Mid-Autumn Festival in the lunar calendar, so we decided to have it on Thursday. That's fine... I booked up the night for family. Except that the "limiting factor" is actually my mom! So it is dinner at 9pm then... normal enough for us Yams. =p

Until next time this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Oh no! Vancouver's value for sushi just went up...

New sushi regulations in Ontario...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam. =p

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Finally back at home...

I guess my lack of vacation from January to August has finally paid off, and I've been blessed to take off on a number of different trips with different people...

Seattle and Vancouver

Got to go with Patty to visit a number of old CCF'ers in the west coast. Seattle is a quiet city that sleeps early, so not many things are open past say, 9pm. So instead, we got to hang out at our friend's houses. It really reminded me of the community that was there in Waterloo, largely enhanced by the fact that everything is a five-minute walk away -- and since we all lived in student housing, we could invite whomever over and just practice hospitality and enjoy one another's company.

It was great to see some people in Vancouver again, to catch up. Unfortunately the city and its suburbs span a large area and it was somewhat difficult to find consensus on a meeting place, but in the end, it all worked out (hopefully people were awake the next day at work =p).

New York City and ECBC

In case you didn't see the site, Janey and I visited Ina in Connecticut and went around New York City in addition to attending the Eastern Chinese Bible Conference (ECBC).

New York City is fun -- I haven't been there since I went a long time ago with my parents on a family trip... so that doesn't really count. It was cool to experience the character of the city, including watch Chicago on Broadway! [Oh... Bob Fosse... haha] We covered pretty good area in two days!

The ECBC was a nice retreat in upstate New York [we drove by Poughkeepsie! John Cage on Ally McBeal always uses that name to control his stutter... everything goes back to Ally McBeal. =p But apparently it was the subject of a Friends episode too...]. The retreat facilities were amazing compared to many other retreats. The main reason being that they attract corporate sponsors for every room. The retreat itself was... *okay*... I didn't get a lot out of the speaker because he wasn't clear on his point and seemed to circle around a lot. The workshops were pretty short to present the suggested material, although I admit I'm pretty critical for course delivery... it's difficult to conduct a workshop that is entirely lecture style, so the workshop leaders struggled through it. But worship and quiet reflection time on my own was very refreshing and always needed...

Lincoln, Nebraska

Just a three day business trip... really hope to watch a football game!

CBV: Certified Business Valuators

It was yet another exam that I thought that I'd do for fun... This wasn't a professional exam or anything, it was just like a university course final, so it wasn't too big of a deal. The main reason why I wrote it was because I would get an exemption from another exam. Anyway, it's just something to do, although this particular one wasn't too strenuous: I only studied for maybe 2.5 weeks in the evening or on the weekends. It helped to study with Janey, anyway...

The exam was this Thursday and turned out okay, I think. Hopefully, I'll pass, unlike my CFA. Oh well...

Originally, I thought my exam was this coming Monday (27th). But after finally checking my exam ticket (which had been sitting at home for a few weeks), I realized my exam was actually on the 23rd... right in the middle of my trip to Lincoln! So after much prayer, I tried the different solutions that I could take to work around it. In the end, it turned out okay, as always -- we just cut the trip short so that I could come home on Thursday to write it. So after two hours of sleep, I woke up at 4am on Thursday to fly back... came home... sleep a bit... and then went downtown to write the exam. Crazy day...


Got to go camping this weekend with a bunch of friends from church. I haven't gone "real" camping before: "What? no electricity?" Haha... the last time I went camping was probably with my family during elementary school. This time, we went to Awenda Provincial Park. The weather was absolutely beautiful: not warm, so no mosquitoes! And although it was somewhat cool last night, we all survived okay. =p Well, I brought both my winter jackets up in case, so I slept well. Haha...

And we had SO much food! We had an amazing dinner last night with BBQ chicken legs and much other varieyt on the grill, including perfect 'smores! At ECBC we made smores on the campfire, but they never turned out "perfect" since the chocolate was never melted. That, actually, was my first time making smores... after wondering many years what they were from reading about them in stories like the Babysitters' club. Well, I appreciated finally experiencing that tidbit of North American culture...

The timing of the exam also worked well because I don't have to cram now in order to write the exam on Sunday... and I got to really relax this weekend in Penetanguishene.

So this week, I think I will like to relax at home and spend time with family... before I leave again on Saturday...

Friday, September 24, 2004

Haha, so, here are some pictures of my nice suite:

Unfortunately, this shot is kind of dark, but it's the interior of the hotel. At the bottom is the restaurant, and the entire middle column is hollow. Surprising that this hotel is that nice and that big... actually, the buildings in Lincoln were all very big, although didn't see much people around. Typical small town...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Monday, September 20, 2004

To Our Guests
[at the Embassy Suites... written on a card placed on our beds every day]

In ancient times there was a prayer for
"The Stranger within our gates"

Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people, and not solely a money-making organization, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.

May this suite and hotel be your "second" home. May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house.

May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.

We are all travellers. From "birth till death" we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.


Thought that was pretty cool... it makes it comforting to be here.
Go Cornhuskers Go!

So here I am in Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. OK, so this city isn't as small as one would imagine (it is the capital of Nebraska state, afterall), but it certainly looks like a sterotypical American mid-west "hick" town...

*Everything* is Cornhusker here... even the highway, but I guess that's expected. I actually can't wait to go to an American college football game though, to see the loyal fan base out in full force (even though they're not doing well this year -- they were the champions a few years back). That won't be this week -- I'm coming back on Thursday in time for the CBV. So.. actually, I really should get back to studying.

But just wanted to say that my hotel room is *sweet*! We're at the Embassy Suites [and it is a huge hotel here... actually, the buildings here are pretty big, although you don't see much people around] and I have a full suite to myself. Pretty much, I have a living room / office, not to mention a microwave and bar sink if I wanted to make some basic food.

Too bad I'm just enjoying the room on my own though [you could comfortably sleep 3 people here, at least!]... but that's okay, I need to study. =p

I'm here with the engagement partner and manager... and I got a free counselling session on the plane, haha... hm... *should* I do a MBA? =p

As usual with going to the States, I'm full after every meal because there is so much food... good thing I can better digest everything because as a good Chinese person, I brought Chinese tea bags from home... =)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Yes! I've told my dad... and he's receptive! There's a plan... get ready to roll, Yam... =)
I guess I haven't felt *stressed* in a long time... pretty much since before summer. Even though I generally like the stress, this times it seems like I don't know how to deal with it... it's been too long, haha.

Praise God for giving me a good summer -- I actually took advantage of most of the 35 hour weeks. Of course, the reason why I could is because I slacked and procrastinated, and now it's all tumbling down on me. The main thing is, I REALLY NEED TO STUDY!!!

I can't believe I worked most of the day today, and I had to go to Jonathan's mission sharing night. I really dragged my feet there, and was frustrated the entire drive. But God is always present and I know I needed to be there...

It was amazing to hear about God working in Turkey, about the change going on in the country, in the people whom he met. The time of worship was much needed because I really needed to let go of my worries, *my* stresses, *my* time... but refocus back onto God.

And I really needed (need) to be humbled... God is the one who works to change; *He* is the one who works through us. If we weren't here, I'm sure God would find a way through someone else... this is not an argument for shirking, just that the focus cannot be on ourselves.

Thank you, Jonathan... as I've said many times, you have always been an inspiration to me. I've learned from your struggles last year upon starting up Delta and still look to Delta as an example of something that started from a vision of one who only wants to live out your life for God... I've learned a lot since God put you in my life.

[And you called my bluff, eh ;p]

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Everything happens at the same time... ah! It's funny how murphy's law works -- and I already don't have it that bad...

But my weekend is already starting to roll and soon enough, I'll be in sunny Lincoln, Nebraska.

"Oh no, Nebraska! Is there a plainer state I ask 'ya!" [At least I'll get studying done then!]

Oh yes, Nebraska!

I'll be sure to take many pictures of... corn. Yum!

Can't wait until next Saturday when I'll be off camping with friends... really looking to the quietness after a week of whirlwind hecticness...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Back to trying to write more "meaningful" blogs...

A while ago, we had a TCCC English congregation praise and worship night. It was great -- I really enjoyed the worship, which included singing a number of songs from Urbana (since 80% of the worship team went in December), and the wonderful time of open sharing, which I wrote about before.

There have been a number of other things that have reminded me about Urbana, such as a picture on Andrew's blog and worshipping at the Michael W. Smith and MercyMe concert. And I am reminded of my experience there, and of the commitments that I made.

The main one was to go on a short-term mission trip this year -- ashamedly, I've foregone that plan for the remainder of the year. Due to my laziness, I basically missed all the deadlines in May for the summer / early fall trips. I *did* have a Plan "Z" opportunity to go to Australia with Pastor Tim. However, even though I know the experience would have been great regardless, it didn't feel right to me to go on the trip (I think he's off in a few weeks).

I felt that if I went, I would be going for the sake of going, so that I would fulfill my commitment. What I really want to do is to experience a cross-cultural trip... and as much as Australia would open my eyes, I didn't think I would be challenged in the way that I wanted to be. Granted, God works in many amazing ways, I don't think my heart was truly in it to go to Australia this time.

So now, I need to diligently look for opportunities and apply... I actually did have a potential opportunity in China last year, but had many apprehensions from my family given the political climate of the country. But for some reason, I never really looked into Taiwan... Hm...

And now that I *have* disclosed this -- please keep me accountable to my commitment... good intentions only go so far.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I finally watched Fahrenheit 9/11. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, and appreciated the structure that any effective persuasive communication would embody: logical appeal, ethical appeal and emotional appeal, in that order.

Although knowing that the movie is entirely propaganda and every point must be taken with a grain of salt [since really, who really knows the truth in this matter to make a reasonable evaluation?], I could not walk away without thinking:

"I wonder if we will identify the 'mark' when we see it..."

Or to continue the thought, albeit along a somewhat horrifying train of thought, "I wonder if we've all already taken the mark but don't know it yet."

I'm not a radical apocalyptic type of person, but I must say that the movie was quite unsettling for me, and it's difficult not to think about the end times... "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" -- Revelation 13:4

... Hm... are we ready?

Of course, this is probably just another part of the emotional appeal of the propaganda... who knows?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A gkyam dorkism...

Well, we all have these, don't we? Or do they only occur to a select few? =p Thought I'd share this story for your amusement...

The Michael W. Smith, MercyMe and David Crowder concert was held at Kingswood theatre at Wonderland. Since security has heighted over the past few years, there are bag checks going into the park, and they even check purses!

For those who know me, I am a big advocate of taking Vitamin C to prevent illness, and I swallow these huge Vitamin C pills [referred to as my horsepills] instead of buying the chewable kind. I have a few of these pills in a sandwich bag in my purse and often offer them to my siblings at the dim sum table... haha... my brother laughs and says he doesn't want to accept any drugs under the table -- literally. Even though I've been lazy lately and haven't taken them in a while, I've just left them in my purse, still in the ghetto sandwich bag.

So as you probably know where this anecdote is heading, the huge pills certainly raised an eyebrow at Wonderland security and when asked what they were, I could only sheepishly answer, "um... they're Vitamin C pills". Luckily, the security guard just kind of laughed at me, "fake" sniffed the bag, and let me into the park.

I guess it's a good thing this happened to me because otherwise, given my absentmindedness, I probably would have left them in my purse while trying to get into the U.S. on vacation, so I could have potentially saved much unnecessary hassle... =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Seattle and Vancouver has been fun, especially just "hanging out" and catching up with people... seeing how people are doing now and where people are headed in the future.

Just one incident that I'd like to share now is about Alaskan Ling Cod:

Patty, Tim and I went out for seafood in Seattle and on the menu was an item "Alaskan Ling Cod". Pardon our ignorance, but we did not know that this was a type of fish, and thought that there was a typo and that it should have read "Alaskan King Cod". So when Patty ordered, she ordered "Could I please have the Alaskan [softly]... ing [back to normal] Cod?"

The waitress, being of relatively perky character responded with, "Sure, the Alaskan LING Cod."

Anyway, it was a lasting moment for me because it reminded me of Ally McBeal [and of course, *everything* relates back to Ally Mcbeal... haha]. During the second season there is a character Ling Woo [played by Lucy Liu] who is extremely cold -- her theme song when she comes onto the scene is the Wizard of Oz's "Wicked Witch of the West".

Since Ally and the other members of the firm hate her, they refer to Ling as "*L*in*g*" with a "hard L, hard G". Of course, Ling corrected everyone: "My name is Ling, with a soft 'L', soft 'G': 'ling'."

Anyway, this totally does not make sense without a live example -- does anyone know how to rip a scene off of a DVD to a relatively small size and host it on the Internet?? Please let me know!! =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Arrived in Pittsburgh with no problem! My impression of this city is quite pleasant -- during the landing I saw a lot of green and many neatly lined houses. It reminded me of a "perfect neighbourhood" like in the "Truman Show". The aerial view shows lots of green, perfectly round trees, nice winding roads with driveways leading up to houses with wide lots... too bad I didn't take a picture.

So, of course, flight delays are inevitable. It seems like every single flight has been delayed lately. Although we appeared to be on schedule leaving Pittsburgh, it turned out that some repairs needed to be made... what better a time to catch up on lectures, blog a bit, and finish my Web-based Learnings for work! Haha...

Ok, turns out that the first plane was not flight-worthy and we had to switch planes... SO... 2.5 hour delay... gotta learn the importance of being flexible in a just-in-time environment...

So my vacation is on the *bestest* of starts... but it's a vacation... it's also been nice to travel alone too. Kind of refreshing. =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Vacations are actually kind of stressful -- so much has to be done before going away -- especially when I am in the middle of an audit at work. Sigh... why do I care so much? Oh well, pretty much everything is taken care of... it's just weird that I send work emails at extreme hours of the day.

My destination is Seattle. I'm meeting up with Patty and visiting the west-coast people. Really looking forward to talking to people again and just hanging out... not to mention see whatever sights are there in Seattle and Vancouver. I'm so unprepared... well, the past 24 hours has been a whirlwind of activity to finish everything that I needed to do for work in addition to scheduled gatherings.

Mahjongg is always fun -- too bad we didn't total up the score to see how much I can collect. =p Haha... dinner with some high school friends was really nice too. Very reminiscent of "old times" especially with Sherrie's scrapbook for me; very thoughtful of her! I chose to go to a restaurant in the Distillery district -- it's cool there! I would go back, perhaps try to see more of it in the daytime. I guess it won't be as "happening" when it turns cold though.

So my itinerary is as follows:


Sunday, August 22:
Depart Toronto at 3:29pm, arrive Pittsburgh 4:40pm on US Airways 2300
Depart Pittsburgh 5:55pm, arrive Seattle at 8:02pm on US Airways 781

Depart Seattle 11:20pm, arrive Pittsburgh 6:48am on US Airways 36
Depart Pittsburgh 7:50am, arrive Toronto at 9:08am on US Airways 2260 -- right in time to play softball playoffs!!

Well as at 2:42pm, my flight is delayed for at least half an hour... it's only at the airport that I have time to blog now, using dial-up courtesy of EY. =) I guess I could technically work on my Reporting package now.. haha. Hopefully the flights turn out okay! Anyway, it's nice to quiet down and blog... it's been a crazy week.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

No bookings tonight... please leave a message.

Finally, some quiet time to myself. I was really looking forward to a quiet house this week [despite having to take care of the house], and it is really nice. I don't think I've ever used my computer in the kitchen before, so that I could blog while cooking and eating my steak a la Edward Yam, not to mention blog for the past month and the next. =p And all in one shot -- no bother to ration the posts from my stores.

As alluded to earlier, I've had a whole bunch of thoughts that have been backlogged and I just haven't taken the time to document them. Not that I really like to use my blog as my weekly (or monthly) thought repository, but writing essays or pieces really took too long than I cared for. I also admit that I like to refrain from deeply personal thoughts on my blog for the sake of my facade. =p I really do need to journal and process my thoughts though, otherwise fleeting thoughts are simply valueless, and I suppose that strangely, the internet is likely the most transparent form of communication there is.

In terms of busyness, August is, for me, comparable to the December Christmas season. It didn't help that my birthday "week" also turned out to be one of the busiest weeks at work since busy season. So after a week of sleeping no earlier than 3 a.m. in any given day, I am reeling... It must be bad when all I feel is,

"God... I miss you...."

Spending time with people has always been important to me, and this month is no exception. But without God's strength to carry me on, socializing, as much as I enjoy it, is really draining. So I thank God for nudging me when I need it (otherwise, I could very well still be bubble tea-ing after a movie and a late dinner) and giving me a quiet house to re-energize and revitalize at the right time. Hm... perhaps the self-inflicted guilt of not going on vacation with my family was an unnecessary side effect to a blessing in disguise.

Thanks to everyone who dropped a note or "celebrated" my birthday on Thursday. As much as it is *my* day, I honestly don't enjoy the attention, but it *is* a great excuse to get-togehter with people. [Much better, of course, than spending the entire evening at work!! Which was a probable event for me last Thursday!] Not that the "celebrations" are over yet... but I am truly enjoying this year's birthday.

It was great to have dinner with my family and some close friends together. Family...

I've been to a couple of weddings this year, all very nice and meaningful... contrary to what people may perceive, I think I am pretty emotional -- in fact, I cry *really* easily. But weddings don't particularly touch me... until at the banquet, if it's a western-style banquet, the bride's dance with the father is what does me over.

Perhaps it's because I'm a girl (i.e., I'd hope to be a future bride), the love between two people pales in comparison to a father (or parents) who spend all of their adult life working and toiling so that the daughter can leave home and start a life anew... how selfless and beautiful is such a love. I know that I experience it every day, and am a product of it. I think that if I were to do the western style and dance with my father at my wedding, I would completely break down and bawl... mainly because of many years of pent up appreciation and gratitude that has yet to be directly released.

Yet, would I / do I cry for my heavenly father who has done amazingly more than I could ever imagine? Yes... I have in the past... recently? I think I've been a lot more jaded and caught up in the pace of the world than to reflect on it. But thankfully, Friday's TCCC English congregation praise and revival night attempted to get us to think back to the time when we first accepted Christ as our personal saviour. I really enjoyed the beautiful time of worship, the inspirational testimonies, and the open sharing.

I've never really seen a successful "open mic" style sharing at TCCC before. But on Friday, it was encouraging to see Harry share first without refrain, and great to hear people's honest struggles and stories of praise. I think the longest bout of silence was only one minute! [Mind you, this is not just a "pass the {item} around the circle"-type share -- it was a "go to the mic at the front of the crowd"-type of sharing.] That night brought me back to many times of sharing at CCF. A transparent kind of sharing that is characteristic of true community. It's exciting to finally see / feel it at church. It is also a challenge for myself to play a part in developing this community that has started...

Back to friends... I had a wonderful time of dinner and post-dinner [at the office, nonetheless] with some of my closest sisters-in-Christ [missed you Ina...] in "Joy Luck Club" fashion, to enjoy each other's company, laugh at each other's quirks and dorkisms [no, not just Anita!], chat about our careers, spirituality, communities, and of course, guys [in general! Well it was for me, at least...! since only the younger two members are in relationships =p]. I'm glad the latter was not the only topic of conversation. =) Despite being in all different years, I consider them all to be peers whom I admire and strive to embody their various characteristics. It is our peers who walk alongside and pick us up when we need it, yet, understand the trek while we are walking it, unlike mentors or other authoritative people who have walked ahead of us.

Of course, thanks again to everyone who dropped a note or took time to see me last week! I do appreciate it very much! Oh yes, going back to my "get-in-shape challenge", the target date *was* my birthday -- and I felt pretty good a week prior to my birthday. Last week I just ended up eating and eating... as expected, I suppose. At least, I *do* feel pretty good physically! I highly recommend working out before one's birthday because the age is felt to a much lesser extent!

Thanks to Andrew for David Crowder's "Illumination" -- now I am officially in the "club"! Thanks to Jonathan for "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" -- I really look forward to further developing and sharing ideas from the book. And thanks to Brian for a chance to see David Crowder on Sunday! The Michael W. Smith / MercyMe concert was great, and featured the David Crowder band as the opener. As eBrian has already raved... it was amazing to see the artists perform together! I also liked MercyMe's use of media to complement their songs -- much better than Michael W. Smith's creation of a big Windows Media player screen [i.e., just moving shapes and shades]. It was also neat to see how David Crowder would perform his music live since it includes so many electronic components. I wonder what programs are being run on those computers, which form an integral part of the band. =) All in all, it was a great time of crazy jump-in-the-air worship, reminding me of Urbana.

Anyway, even I think this is getting really, really long now... but thank you for reading this far. I think this would be a pretty good gauge to separate my real friends from those otherwise.. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Busy busy busy...

I'm finally suffering the consequences of 3 weeks of procrastination at work, in addition to convergence... why does everything happen at the same time??

Oh well, at least this can make me smile in the meantime:

*That's* why I changed my name from my normal "GY" to "Yam" something, to be consistent. Haha, I love my family... I love YAM. [Not to mention that we were the only ones online at 3 in the morning...]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.



Haha... the YAM-wit race is on... =p

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I was debating whether or not to release this publicly because I don't know if I was ready for this level of transparency, but perhaps this information will be beneficial to everyone and not just high school students. =P I present to you my blog for my Relationships 101 Sunday School class at TCCC:

Relationships 101!

If you do want to read it, please give me feedback and accountability for what I teach... it is important that it is God-honouring and upright because those who teach *are* held to a higher standard.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Seinfeld and Superman... haha... I think this is really funny, nicely written. =p

So... less than two weeks until my "get into shape" deadline! But it hasn't been that bad -- despite not shedding as much volume as I would have liked, it's been great to increase my strength and endurance in the pool. Hopefully any increase in swimming endurance will transfer to endurance in running for our double-header Ultimate frisbee game on Monday! Patty and I have also been trying to teach ourselves the butterfly stroke... too bad learning to swim isn't that easy from the internet, but I thought this site was pretty cool and helpful [so *that*'s how you breathe!]

The Prayer of Jabez - 1 Chronicles 4:10
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying,
"Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
and enlarge my territory,
that Your hand would be with me,
and that You would keep me from evil,
that I may not cause pain!"
And God granted him what he requested.

I finally bought and read this book. When it first came out a few years ago (and was free off the 'net =P), I must say I was pretty skeptical about it. I didn't see how anyone could take four simple verses and stretch it out to suggest a new attitude or a new faith. But that demonstrates how much faith I lacked at the time, as well as how much I looked to myself to accomplish what I wanted to do.

I highly recommend this book to anyone truly seeking to stretch your faith. It is inspirational and really gave me motivation to trust God to provide in *all aspects*, no matter how big. There really isn't anything that God cannot do, however, the idea that "anything is possible" has always been a difficult-to-grasp concept for me. But this book really demonstrated the power of asking God for amazing blessings, including making use of my most scarce resource: time. And really, the point is not to figure out or understand God, which is something I often try to do, but just to have faith -- even though I constantly say I strive to have faith -- it is evident from reading this book that I have a long way to go. But since God is always faithful, His hand is with me every step of the way. Faith....

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Lazy Saturday afternoon...

I haven't had a Saturday when I had no plans in the daytime for a while...

But it was good because I need to prepare for Sunday School class tomorrow [I should really sleep] and got a chance to pick up some golf lessons with my uncle at the driving range. This comes extremely timely because the EY golf day is on Tuesday! Haha... we'll see how *that* goes... =P

For dinner, I caught up with a high school friend with whom I haven't seen in 9 months! But she's a crazy "do whatever she wants" type of person, and is experiencing the start of a budding career in movie production design and co-ordination. Also got a chance to watch some other high school friends play roller hockey and really missing my gang of high school friends. So I'll try to make it out to their games every so often...

And somewhere in between all of these, I managed to sneak in 6 episodes of Ally McBeal season 2! Almost halfway through now...

Hopefully Sunday School will be okay tomorrow, that the students will warm up to me and that I connect with them, and that I can wisely facilitate anything that may come up from this easily difficult subject. =P

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Somewhat ashamedly, I played my first ultimate frisbee game on Monday! [Ashamedly because my high school friends and I have been making fun of our friend who is participating in three leagues this summer...] The game also informally kick-starts my mission (and PL's mission) to get back into shape over the next 6 weeks! ["In shape" for me is defined as my state in 4B when I took "TKO" class at Waterloo.] So, I am off to join Bally's to hopefully go swimming at least twice a week. Hopefully swimming will also increase my endurance because I was pretty winded after a couple of changes of ultimate. And I'm too slow at keeping track of the directions! Otherwise, it feels great to just run around. =p

It's nice to have a clean room again, especially a clean desk for me to call it my "office". At least devotions / reading have been going well for the first couple of days of this new initiative. Hopefully they will keep up... Following from my previous blog, I have been terrible at taking the time out to read the Bible and to spend in reflection or meditation. But now, I'm very motivated to get back into the Word and to study it deeply. So get ready, small group... =)

It's been great to feel like everything is starting anew, to be refreshed in all aspects: spiritually, work, church...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Well, I *finally* got around to cleaning up my room... although I am still far from finishing! It's been pretty gross in here, after so many months of treating my room as a "hotel" with no room service.

Some things that have surfaced:

- my MHQ karaoke membership card! =p
- a Bible study guide that I got from Urbana on "Relationships" for $1! I figured that for $1, it was virtually a no-risk investment! And it was because...

I'll be teaching the high school students on Relationships this summer at TCCC! Haha...we'll see how things go. =p I'm very excited and thankful for this opportunity, but it does mean that I will need to give my time up to God so much more. I know I haven't been very good at that for the past month... ever since I got a rest from any particular examination, I've been going out a *lot*. [Part of my "work hard, play hard" philosophy...] On one hand, it's been good to catch up with friends, or meeting new ones. But on the other, I admit I've been pretty reckless at disregarding the importance of personal quiet time to spend with God. I was reminded by one of the devotions from My Utmost for His Highest by Osward Chambers on June 18: You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. And in terms of surrendering, I think I have slipped a lot from where I was, once upon a time. So now, being able to recklessly surrender my *all* is again something that I am trying to work on, by His grace...

Back to cleaning my room, at least my desk surface is more clear now. The main motivation was to do my devotions at my desk rather than on my bed; with a clean study area I'll be more inclined to study or read. Target of five out of seven...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Back to the one post per month quota... although, going forward, I really do hope to post more. Despite my complaints about the time it takes to post, I do realize the value of journalling my thoughts through this medium, and I have a number of thought-threads that I've been meaning to get down... just a matter of time...

I've found myself to be very sluggish lately -- it feels like I haven't *thought* about anything of substance in the past while. But not only in terms of substance -- I've just felt *slow* in general. Anyway, to rectify that, I've taken to playing video games, haha! No RPG's... that would take too long [I *did* start FFIX upon returning to Toronto in September but obviously didn't go very far in that =P], but one of my two favourite puzzle games: Intelligent Qube ("I.Q."). The other is Devil Dice, but that takes too long [especially with two players... once, I played with my brother and I ended up being really late for a dinner because we didn't want to stop -- we got up to level 99 =P]. But I.Q. is great for strategy, memory, and agility! The music in this game is really funny, too. =P

Needless to say, this past week and on Canada Day, I've spent more time playing video games than I would have really liked to... that's the problem of "filling up" my time when I could really spend that time in prayer or reading.

But the game is just so fun! And I need to build up my I.Q. so that I can systematically achieve "true genious"! Haha.. =P

OK, still not a post of substance, but it's a post nonetheless. =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, June 06, 2004


CFA has come and gone... thanks for everyone's prayers! Hopefully, everyone I know passed!

Finally, I am enjoying some time to update my blog, clean my room, watch Ally McBeal (finished season one now.. no onto season two!), and play piano.

And also... catch up on some sleep... =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Yes, I hope to share some stuff from summer conference... but in fact, I still wanted to share some more stuff from Urbana before... things are coming, just slowly.

So, I think I've found a solution to the crappy Blogger template. May I present, my Hong Kong blog!

Haha, jokes...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

My MercyMe Undone CD came today!

Something new to listen to on the drive to McMaster Campus for the TCCC Summer Conference. Really looking forward to getting away from everything in the city (especially work...) and finding rest in Him.

Have a good long weekend!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Wow, I guess this new interface is *simple*, at least, although I just started typing so I can't really form an opinion about it yet...

Just wanted to post a quick note to achieve a generally-accepted minimum quota of at least 12 posts a year [yeah, I guess that's pretty few] -- it's amazing you guys still check this site!!

Well, April 30 has come and gone, so tax pool has been over since. Now to file my own return... =p

I am now back downtown catching up with all the work that I left a month ago, and everything has definitely piled up! [sigh]... I'm especially not looking forward to the remainder of May. On top of that, CFA is only 3 weeks away! SO... many prayers be needed for strength and energy... don't think I can really afford to sleep many more Saturdays away. =p

Otherwise, it was great this week to catch up with my UW (accounting) classmates for a couple of birthdays, considering it is (somewhat) post-busy season for all of us. It's additionally better with a designated social co-ordinator so all I need to do is print the email for the time and directions to attend the events. =)

Prayers will be needed for me to remain patient with my manager (yet another new senior manager in our group.) Following from our small group meeting on Friday, it is such a struggle to maintain our integrity as Christians at work, and it basically stems from pride [like... it was natural for me *not* to respect this guy because he doesn't seem to know Canadian GAAP at all.] But there's no excuse -- we are to lead worshipful lives, and doing so means that we need to get rid of *everything* that displeases God, and most difficultly, that is our pride. And even when we *do* keep our cool and act the way we're supposed to, the next challenge is to avoid being proud of being humble. Tricky... tricky...

Praise God for giving me the opportunity to play for worship at church! It has been something that I wanted to do for a long time now. It'll take a lot more time for me to get comfortable at the front of the TCCC sanctuary though; the size of the congregation is *much* more daunting than the intimate setting of KWCAC in Waterloo.

Back to studying...Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Hong Kong - I've been in the E&Y Metro North office doing tax returns. [Luckily, I got out of doing an audit with a certain senior manager.] And this has been quite an experience... I feel like I'm working in Hong Kong again.

My four other co-workers are from HK... so all day they speak Cantonese and listen to Chinese songs... even when the manager is around. Listening to them speak Chinese all day (especially the very rapid-fire "dissing" type of conversations characteristic of Cantonese) makes me feel like I'm in Hong Kong all over again. And going out for lunch (and dinner) is like in Hong Kong too... going as a group to a Chinese restaurant, ordering the standard drinks [lemon tea, lemon iced tea, HK-style tea]. Furthermore, the girl-guy ratio was 7:1... also typical of the HK office. =p

Too bad the office isn't business dress. =p

And even the attitude of the staff is like HK... anyway, it's all too funny.

The best was on Monday night when we stayed late... the manager put the Hockey game on, but right after he left, my coworkers changed the channel to the Chinese drama, and we all worked and watched until the show was over.

And today we went to the Chinese grocery store to buy lots of Chinese/Japanese snacks and candies! Hey, did anyone notice that the Frutips blackcurrant candy changed...?

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Sunrises... - Admittedly, I pulled a number of all-nighters this busy season for work, albeit some more self-inflicted than others. =p Driving home from the office one night/morning (whichever you prefer) during the sunrise made me think about the last time I actually watched a sunrise... it would have been during Masters studying for finals.

... and can you believe how time has flown by over the year?? Even though it doesn't feel very long ago, it's incredible how much stuff has happened over the year... term 5A... vacationing in the Dominican Republic... moving in with Joyce [I only lived with her for one term although it feels pretty long]... term 5B... hardcore (and other more lax days) of UFE studying... UFE... cruise... and then all of a sudden work hit, and it's April again! Crazy!

Along with that, it's interesting to see where God has put me over the year, where he has placed my ministries and my communities... change... and learning how to embrace it is important, I think... because you never know what God is going to throw in your path (in amazing ways).

And I am quite pleased to say that despite going through crazy work schedules (and experiencing school sleeping schedules all over again), I still look forward to the challenges of work... I refer to my reflection in October. I still look forward to developing my soft skills like project management and communication, learning how to senior, and learning how to positively impact those at the workplace. And note the last line there: again, I praise God for answering my prayer regarding church... =)


On a side note, I watched "The Producers" today... the characters in the musical are funny (kind of like Will and Grace =p), although I wouldn't say the humour was my type of humour... Nonetheless, it's funny how a whole scene was devoted to a bunch of disgruntled accountants ["Unhappy... very unhappy... unhappy... very unhappy..."] (I think all of us accountants who went appreciated that scene the most =p) And I can say that ALL I could think about was you, Bullpen Larry!! haha.... =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

So I guess it's been a while since I've *thought* about anything... at least, nothing worth blogging about. =p

For the past while, whenever anyone asked me how I was, I would just respond with, "As usual... work is busy..." And of course, this *is* the accountant's busy season -- most companies have December 31 fiscal year-ends, so right afterwards (i.e., January and on) is when the AUDIT begins... I don't do have anything to do with tax or the tax season! [That's just something separate.]

But as I reflect on the past few months, I look back and see God's hand along the way, even if I didn't have much to say going through it... various reflections:

TCCC - Toronto Chinese Community Church - I have always considered this church to be my home church since high school, despite hardly coming back during my five years of university. Upon graduation, I was quite motivated to come back and "re-integrate", even though it is often something very difficult to do. Nonetheless, circumstances arose and I answered the call to become a small group leader, despite not knowing anyone (the church has grown tremendously over these five years!). However, God answered my prayers of coming back to TCCC, and it has been a huge blessing.

Without this small group, I don't think I would have been able to get out of this busy season pretty much scot-free... they definitely helped ground me after a number of busy weeks at work... ("Guys...for tonight's program can we just pray and sing... I can't handle doing anything more than that....!!") [The nice thing about leading... you can do whatever you want... =P but of course, I'm willing to do what *you* guys want too!!! =)] And these people (and the other small groups) are definitely the start of our community at TCCC -- not to mention the changing face of the English congregation choir. =)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I can't believe they don't sell the series in North America!! The only online retailers are from the UK or Australia.

The show is so funny! So witty! And... so relatable! Haha... Episodes are only 40 minutes so I watch them at night... Too bad I really need to study for the upcoming CFA... Ahh!!

[Ally McBeal party, anyone?? =) ]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

So at the advice of my slacker friend from work, I decided to change my link to something more interesting than "E... Y... E... Y... Ernst & Young..." -- has a promotion! No shipping charges!

[I hope this is a relatively *good* post, Dan boy!!]


Thursday, February 26, 2004

As usual, I cannot pass up a chance to blog about love and relationships. In particular, a response to Jonathan's initiating question,
"What does it mean to be in love?"
And a corollary question of how does love in a dating relationship differ from all of our other relationships, since we are called to love everyone?

As we generally know now, the Greeks had four different words for "Love":
1. storge (storge), which describes a natural affection especially of a parent to his/her child;
2. philia (philia), which describes the love of a strong friendship;
3. eros (eros), which describes loves between the sexes, and which does not necessarily include sexuality;
4. agape (agape), which describes the self-giving love that only comes from God.

Although by no means an authoritative resource, I thought I would look to C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves to better understand Eros, which seems more the topic at hand. [On an aside, I found some sound recordings of C.S. Lewis himself on the topic (just an introduction). I thought this was kind of neat especially after hearing about Tolkien forming his character, Tree Beard, after C.S. Lewis' slow and booming lecture style.]

Interestingly, the Greek New Testament neither finds any instances of Storge nor Eros. Nonetheless, Lewis has demonstrated much insight into the human condition to warrant some investigation into his work. Lewis' bases for his essay, then, are much from his background of the Classics, Aristotle in particular, (since obviously the Greeks first used these different Greek words for love.) Of course, Lewis tempers these principles with God's Agape, which was a rarely used word until Jesus' time. [I apologize for the one-sidedness of the following discussion as I paraphrase Lewis, and he writes from a male perspective:]

Eros is that state which we call "being in love", or the kind of love which lovers are "in". Often, Eros sets on simply by a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved - a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality. Eros makes a man want not only a woman, but one particular woman. Eros is fundamentally a "need-love", but changes intensively to the point that it sees the object most intensely as a thing admirable in herself, important far beyond her relation to the lover's need; Eros changes this need into a pure "appreciative-love". The distinction between giving and receiving is obliterated.

The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. And contrary to common belief, Eros does not aim for happiness. It is the mark of Eros that when he is in us we had rather share unhappiness with the Beloved than be happy on any other terms. To be in love is both to intend and to promise lifelong fidelity. Total commitment, reckless disregard of happiness, transcendence of self-regard -- Eros almost speaks like God, like Love Himself.

And Eros, honoured without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon, where we can turn "being in love" into a sort of religion. The real danger appears to be that lovers will not idolise each other but that they will idolise Eros himself. A couple whose marriage will be endangered if they have idolised Eros -- they expected that mere feeling would do for them, and permanently, all that was necessary. When this expectations is disappointed they throw the blame on Eros, or, more usually, on their partners.

In reality, however, Eros, having made his gigantic promise and shown you in glimpses what its performance would be like, has "done his stuff". But it was we who must keep them. We must labour to bring our daily life into even closer accordance with what the glimpses have revealed. This is something all good lovers know, to "take the rough along with the smooth", etc. But of course this is not possible without humility, charity, and divine grace. Thus Eros, like the other loves, but more strikingly because of his strength, sweetness, terror and high port, reveals his true status. He cannot of himself be what, nevertheless, he must be if he is to remain Eros. He needs help; therefore needs to be ruled. The god dies or becomes a demon unless he obeys God.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Your kingdom come, your will be done...
Fourth of a series from Urbana 2003.

For me, breaking out of self-comfort is difficult. I guess with adequate financial resources, I've never had any *need* to stretch myself by lowering my comfort level. But since Urbana, I have been a lot more conscious of thriftiness... For example I really try to bring my lunch to work more...

But this leads me to struggle with materialism a lot more... what level of comfort is not acceptable then? Is anything more than bare minimum considered be frivolous? Is it bad to buy a leather jacket since it is just for aesthetics? Or a brand name jacket? Besides, isn't the ability to enjoy earthly comforts a gift and blessing from God?

On one hand, these could be thoughts to rationalize my frivolous lifestyle. On the other hand, these are practical questions to consider...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Your kingdom come, your will be done...
Third of a series from Urbana 2003.

On the evening of the first full day (Dec. 28), we were already confronted with a first decision point: Renounce your idols.

What defines your reality? Your family at home? Friends and classmates with whom you spend most of your time? The pursuit of success? The pursuit of happiness? The pursuit of peace?

If we let anything other than God define our reality, we practise idolatry. Wow. Quite a powerful challenge... I mean, "idolatry" is usually associated with tribal peoples or naive historic peoples... not me... but there isn't any more denying it...

Geri Rodman (a Torontonian!) described three broad arenas of idolatry, all relating to the strengh of the self:
1. Self-glory or self-fulfillment: to be noticed, praised, special, unique, accepted...
2. Self-comfort: complacency and lukewarmedness of following Christ's commands and challenges...
3. Self-empowerment or self-reliance: creating ourselves to be elitist and prideful...

If we are followers of Christ, then we *must* lay down our idols, and turn to the kingdom of God, which goes back to my previous point of single-minded obedience. God does not want anything less. But it is all worth it with his promises: "Strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well" [Luke 12:31]. He promises much more than we can ever imagine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Your kingdom come, your will be done...
Second of a series from Urbana 2003.

Single-minded obedience. I just *had* to borrow this chapter title from Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship because it exactly embodies what we were challenged with right off the bat.

At the first evening message (Dec. 27), Rev. John Stott prepared the challenging message of nonconformity. Specifically, there were three challenges:

1. Challenge of Pluralism - do we have different ideals for different situations/circumstances?
2. Challenge of Materilaism - how preoccupied are we with material things? Do we really look to things above?
3. Challenge of Relativism - do we recognize God for the sovereign Lord, the absolute truth?

The above concepts are increasingly prevalent in society today. However, as Christians, we are called to swim against the stream and to be different from the prevailing culture. But not only are God's commands negative (i.e., "do not ..."), he has a positive message as well: We are to be like Christ, and God helps us along with the Holy Spirit [2 Cor. 3:18].

I think at that point, I only took the message in to my head... not yet to heart. God wants to meet us alone. He will not take anything less than our everything, and at that point, I still had a number of barriers and struggles that hindered my meeting with God. Fortunately, the first seminar that I went to on the first full day was the prayer ministry, "Barriers to Intimacy with God", which allowed me to free myself from anger and bitterness that were likely attacks from Satan. I truly think that attending that prayer ministry opened the door to experience God like I never have before, and definitely, that remained with me at least for the remainder of the conference...

Sunday, February 08, 2004

I seem to just get these links from people, but this is another funny
video clip..., although not as funny as the DDR-like one, but still pretty impressive. =p It's also a nice practice of French. Note that it's slightly long... and does not end until his "Merci!" Haha, enjoy. =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Your kingdom come, your will be done...
First of a series from Urbana 2003

Urbana was a conference held in the city of Urbana-Champaign, outside of Chicago, from December 27 to January 1. It is a conference about global missions, challenging all Christians to follow God's will to "go and make disciples of all nations".

This was actually my second time. I went back in 2000 (they only hold it every 3/4 years) although at that time, I can't say I got very much out of it for a number of reasons... but this time, my heart became in the right place (well, better than before, and not right off the bat either), and I was able to take the messages and challenges to heart.

So for the past few weeks, apart from the long first two weeks of January, CNY celebrations, the chaos caused by the snowstorms... I'm still trying to process what happened in those four days in my head... although the long drives to/from work as a result of the snow were somewhat instrumental in allowing me to think. =)

Some initial impressions of Urbana: Worship is always up there on this list. It is a result of the sheer volume of people in one place at one time... but another part of the volume that makes it amazing is the diversity. To see so many people of different backgrounds come together and worship together is just awesome.

Speaking of diversity, it was really refreshing to have a small group with people from different backgrounds. [We are assigned small groups by the room arrangements in the dorms for evening sharing and morning Bible studies. ] My small group was generally from the American Midwest, a bunch of them were home-schooled, from very small towns, and they are studying a number of different subjects at university. At my first Urbana experience, my small group was generally, Asian (female) from Toronto.

It was cool to see people who did *not* look to complete their education as a first and foremost thing in life. "What? You took two years off to go on a missions before finishing your undergrad?" It was inspiring to hear people's stories and see their faith lived out in their lives.

It was also cool to see people who did *not* take a technical approach to reading Scripture (they were all Artsies =p), and to see how they immediately look to applying Scripture to their lives.

Another thing, it was very, very nice to share with people who opened up immediately... unafraid of being vulnerable upfront. That is rare in my experiences with sharing time, but I know that it is difficult for me to do. Somehow I think it has to do with Asian face... and definitely my facade...

The last initial impression that stood out to me was unity. The conference is huge, but it seemed like all the speakers and seminar leaders had some scripts to reinforce each other's messages. I remember this being significant to me the first time around too... and the effect to me is just incredible, to show that IVCF is in full force training and encouraging people to follow God's will as their sole objective... it's no wonder that they can put on such a conference. Amazing.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Kung hei fat choi / Gong xi fa cai!

Too bad Chinese New Year (CNY -- too lazy to type it out!) crept up on me this year... I would have loved to go to First Markham with people on the weekend and join in with the crowds, but I didn't realize last weekend was the only weekend before CNY... the joy of working a lot... [sigh]... oh well, I'll have my mahjongg fix tomorrow night, haha.

I totally miss CNY in Hong Kong... especially having experienced it while working. For the people who go to work on CNY, no one does any work! All the staff basically scope out the partners and managers who are handing out red pockets, and everyone lines up! No shame! And then onto the next one! It doesn't even matter that as auditors, we don't know the managers at the client's! Really funny, but really fun!

I also remember going with my aunts to the mountain cemetary by public transportation... so when we got onto the bus, here comes a person bringing an entire cooked roast pig onto the bus, complete with cherry eyes and everything! Incredible Chinese people! But the [yeet lau]-ness is the best! Haha...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Praise God for his rest... It's been crazy... and this is just the start of busy season...

Check out this link. Normally, I would consider this a bastardization of classical music, but the DDR-side of me must give this guy "props", haha... it's hilarious... =)

Urbana stuff coming...!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

I'm back! *Only* after about an estimated 4 hour delay... anyway, just wanted to praise God for taking care of my friends and me in the past week at the Urbana conference, in Chicago, and on the way back home... will have much to share later, but need to sleep first. =)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.