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?