Thursday, December 29, 2005

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet...

-- Psalm 8:4-6

Went to the Bodyworks exhibit today with my family. It's a cool exhibit -- really amazing how all the bodies were preserved and plastinated to show every single detail, or other specimens showing just the network of arteries or nerves... the complexities and intricacies of human body are just so amazing.

The above quotation was actually the first quotation of a series throughout the exhibit, which was also cool. To me, it is no question that anyone who studies the sciences, including the creator, Gunther Von Hagens, can deny the any intelligent design.

Just amazing... go see the exhibit (even though it's $25 =p).

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called,
Wonderful Counseller, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
-- Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

For unto us a child is bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-orn!

We went to watch the Messiah on yesterday -- it was the first time I've watched a full performance of it! I thought the performance was great and it actually went by swifter than I expected [I'm not generally a huge fan of vocal classical music]. I thought the conductor, Jane Glover, was absolutely fabulous and the Toronto Mendelssohn choir did not disappoint (they didn't disappoint for Beethoven's ninth either), although perhaps I had somewhat depressed expectations after hearing a plethora of criticisms last year. ;)

As always, Kevin Bazzana's programme notes pack a lot of classical music trivia/facts and it was interesting to read about the controversies that Handel stirred by promoting the musical form of the oratorio [a musical setting of a religious subject intended for public entertainment outside the church]. I guess I just haven't thought much on church history to realize that the questions of "form" will never change... that the debate of what is "appropriate worship" will continue, as it has since 1743 and probably long before that too.

Janey also pointed out that the Messiah was performed back then around Easter as the Messiah concludes with the confidence in the resurrection of Christ.

As I mentioned, I'm not generally a huge fan of classical music, and it would be interesting to travel back in time to see if people really enjoyed melisma. Sometimes, I wonder if Handel thought it would just be amusing to succomb a bass or any of the other voices to see if they would still make sense in expressing the lines of Scripture while packing into that line a couple dozen of notes. =p

The Hallelujah chorus was actually felt anti-climactic to me, although it could have been because I was figuring out where we were at that point. =p Of course, it is only the conclusion of Part II, whereas the real conclusion -- at Part III packs the climax of the oratorio. I enjoyed that final chorus (as well as the "For unto us a Child is born" chorus -- my favourite Christmas verse!) very much:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and pow'r be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. [Revelation V9 and 12-13]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Last stretch...

Thank God for getting me through these few weeks; I've just clocked more hours than usual (seriously -- I'm a slacker!) Last week of the year-end fieldwork on the larger client, but then I'm juggling a few others over the next couple of weeks. Sadly, our group is very busy with work this December; it seems to have gotten much busier compared to last year. And unfortunately, we cannot be busy with all of the *other* busy December / Christmas stuff.

But, I have enjoyed spending the long hours with the rest of the team... we will survive! Haha...

I'm happy that we had a pretty good time of sharing last night at fellowship; hopefully we were able to provoke some self-evaluation / reflection / or in general, thought in everyone in order to better understand our inner passions and hopes for the fellowship.

Anyway, just a quick update and to say that I'm alive; I didn't really move to Mississauga permanently. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ahh.. swamped... swamped...

I guess it was no suprrise that after my trips, I would spent a lot of time catching up on work that I neglected while I was away. In any case, this December seems a lot busier than last year, especially with many client complications. I guess I also have to deal with a lot more clients than I did last year.

Sadly, the entire (extended) team has been living to work, and sadly, most of my discussions surround the status of my "work". Still, I do find the camaraderie comforting as we support each other during this busy time.

Biblical Interpretation has already come and gone! I thoroughly enjoyed the course -- all of the classes that I attended, anyway. I find it amazing to continually learn about the Bible and how to better appreciate and understand it. Of course, the starting of understanding is simply *faith*.

Looking forward to the end of this busyness... until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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FINALLY I was able to successfully install the Windows Chinese input! Don't think my Chinese is that grammatically correct either... but anyway. It's been a LONG time... and slightly too late, but at least I can do it now.

It's actually quite interesting that the pinyin is different between the PRC and Taiwanese Chinese selections... and is dependent on either simplified or traditional.

Anyway, I am back in Toronto and I've been swamped. Busy season has officially started for our teams... and it seems as though every team is having a rough ride. Sigh.. we'll get through it though! Go team! Haha...

It's also refreshing to come back to Tyndale class... I catch the last two classes. I really missed them.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Ah! I'm on the road and my computer has broken down! Thank goodness for business centres where I can catch up with email (both work and personal) at night. This is quite ridiculous!

Although, it's been a good test... especially our last assignment that focused on Psalm 73.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to coming back home, after living out of a suitcase for about four weeks straight.. hope to catch up with everyone when I get back.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm back in Lincoln, Nebraska for a few days. Despite the travelling (including the fact that I need to connect in Chicago to get here,) I do look forward to coming here because it gives me some space and some quiet time. Not that I come here a lot (and much less now that I'm in a different role,) but some some reasons it feels like "home" here. Haha, perhaps it's the quiet midwestern hospitality, perhaps it's the quiet time which I really welcome, but it could also be the following letter, which is written on a card placed on our cards every day. It's a great greeting and definitely makes me feel at home. I posted this last year when I came here for the first time, but it has since been a whole year... so here it is again. I really like it. =)

To Our Guests

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.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thank God for getting through these past two weeks... it has been nonstop, but "full" in a great way. Despite once again experiencing the anxious last minute assignment crunch for school, I had a great time the weekend before teaching a Bible Study workshop for the UWCCF retreat.

It was encouraging to receive positive feedback and to know that at least some students were empassioned and motivated to do more Bible studies in order to apply the theories, and in general, read God's living word. I was also asked to facilitate a strategic analysis of the fellowship, which turned into a visioning session --> action plan brainstorming session for them. Yu-ling was also there to lead a workshop on small groups, which was useful and insightful. He also shared some good material for visioning which immensely supplemented my very standard structure for the session... It also helps me think about what I want to do with fellowship at church.

As usual, CCF reminded me about the passion for serving Christ... It's unfortunate to know that I really enjoy doing Bible studies, yet don't spend that much time on them. So, I really need to *make* those opportunities to get me to do them. The next question is... "how?" I have envisioned a number of new things to start... the harder thing is to follow them through.

Just a quick update for now -- I'm finally experiencing a wireless hotspot that works (now that E&Y has changed our wireless software) at a Markham library. Back to writing for my Tyndale assignment!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

[A quick post while I have time before I go to bed... by 12!]

Project "Get Organized" has been quite successful so far!

The first week back to work was great. I was sleeping at around midnight and getting to work earlier than 8 in the morning!

Having been rejuvenated from my vacation, with a relatively clean plate [I was thankful that many things were put to bed before I left for Asia,] stepping into a new role as manager and now going into my main October-December client, I really felt the need to "get organized", in all aspects of my life. =p

So, from now, I am actually motivated to sleep early and get in early in order to be more on top of things before everything comes (crashing?) down.

Of course, the firm is preparing for our busy season as well and training has made everything more busy -- me being in training and also teaching -- but so far it's been manageable. Going back to school for Tyndale has been great too.. but really need to keep up with the readings.

Anyway, I'm thankful for rest and strength -- these two weeks have been really long, although they've all been really worthwhile, but I'm really looking forward to this long weekend. ;)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Same question that Anita has posed in the past...

Today was my first official day back from work, aside from our work retreat last Thursday and Friday, and since last thursday, I've been getting a lot of comments:

"You look really refreshed!"
"You're so relaxed! -- Good vacation??"

So how did I look before?? Haha...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Don't know why blogger was messing up the Chinese.

Hopefully this works now: the poem written by one of our students. Anyone care to do a translation for me? =p

Friday, September 09, 2005

I am home! I love the feeling of stepping back into YYZ... every single time! It feels great to come home.

I arrived on Tuesday night at midnight -- so really, in the end, I was only delayed for about 2 hours... which means I was getting worked up over nothing! Things always work out in the end!

Sorry I still haven't been around yet, I've been occupied with Tyndale and Ernst & Young activities so far, which has been nice to come back to many exciting things. Unfortunately, 3 weeks also seems like a long time to see so many things happen to the people around me and to the rest of the world...

Such great distress, of illness, pain, suffering, violence... there is so much more than this life!!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Delayed! Guess I was jumping the gun in thinking that my trip would be hassle-free -- my flight out of Beijing is delayed for 4 hours, which means that I will very likely miss my scheduled flight out of Vancouver to come home.

Anyway, I've come to accept that I will return home half a day or one day later. Oh well... there is probably a reason for this, if even, just to spend some quiet time (which I did pray for ... haha..) and catch up on some reading. For the first hour, though, I was frantically running around looking for a ticket counter while speaking my very broken Putonghua. Finally found and spoke to the right person at the right place though (very mah fan... entailed going back out of the China immigration departure checkpoint) but at least I'm thankful that I was able to ask the Air China rep to at least try *something*, even if to no avail... although I realize this is for my own satisfaction to say that I did exhaust my own avenues to try and change my flight.

Just another example of wanting to remain in control and do stuff on my own, rely on my own strength. On the plus side though, at least I'm on stranded in Beijing for one night, and I did get in reading time. I also finished "Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri Nouwen which directly speaks about human weaknesses and our inadequate self-sufficiencies.

And I suppose it's also a blessing that internet is so expensive (despite any bargaining I tried =p) that I did not feel right to pay 100RMB for one hour of internet (paid 20HKD for 15 minutes now...) in order to kill time. However, the guy let me sit on the couch in the business centre so it's been nice to read here instead of in the noisy waiting areas.

Now, an hour and a half left to kill... I'll see how much I can get through of "Out of the Saltshaker..." I always muse that I bring books with the unreasonable expectation of reading any of it -- but it is a blessing to be given the opportunity to do so now!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Has three weeks (less two days) flown by so quickly?

I'm in the process of trying to pack all my stuff... I should have really taken up all offers for a bigger suitcase (I really have one medium-sized and one carry on). Oh well, making do with what I've got (and what other things my aunt can give me), just got to think out of the... suitcase. Just another challenge, or "game", haha! ;)

But, I am finally, done! Not a bad job, kf I could say so myself! ;) I thought I would be packing through the night; I may actually get one more hour than the trip to Asia!

Not particularly looking forward to 24 hours of travelling time, including overlays, but it will be nice quiet time -- hope that I will not be sleeping all the say through.

Anyway, I'm very thankful for this opportunity to come on this trip... and hope to share with you personally about China!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A poem that one of our students wrote for us -- really meaningful!


































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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hello! Finally, Anita and I have arrived in Hong Kong after about 24 hours of travelling. I got to my aunt's at 12:30am or so... and as a late night snack, just *had* to have fish balls noodles!

It's so weird to travel; you just eat, sleep, eat, eat, sleep... continuously. We had delays in Toronto and in Beijing, but thank goodness there were no missed connections.

The weather here isn't too hot -- it's been raining nonstop for the past three days -- which makes the weather cool, but really really wet and humid.

Well, just looking forward to meeting up with friends for the next couple of days, and spending quiet time working on our lectures, which we *did* talk about on our flights! Unfortunately, instead of having a "working" leg, all of our flight legs turned into sleeping legs. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I passed CFA!!! Thank God for that! I was quite worried about this one because I had no idea. I felt okay coming out of the exam; of course, I felt okay coming out of it the first time through too.

I get home at about midnight and my parents are going out... to go to the 24-hour Sobey's 15 minutes from our house (I think it's rather far)... just to go grocery shopping... at midnight. I love my family... haha...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Part of the reason of my split upbeat / solemn post on my birthday is because of an accident that happened to one of my UW Accounting classmates this week, Bonnie Ho.

No doubt, this incident has shaken many people, including many of my classmates, who may have never experienced any "young" deaths until now [she was 26]. Although most of my friends and I were not really close to Bonnie, it was inevitable to think about the past few years and about whichever encounters we had. It is very sad. Bonnie was a really nice person, very intelligent and diligent... I suppose like the rest of our class in general. =p

A bunch of my closer classmates and I went to the funeral this morning. The turnout from our class was tremendous; unfortunately it is sad that we are only brought together by this sad incident. Other than being a painful loss for her parents and sisters, she was going to be married to Jason, another classmate, in 6 weeks. I think that's the saddest part...

However, despite the grief, it is a solace to know that she is now with our Father in heaven. The funeral was a Catholic one, and even though I found the service overly solemn and monotonous, the message was clear:

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALLLLLLLLLLLL creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." -- Romans 8:38-39.

[Probably my favourite verse. Of course, I must write the verse as I would say it; too bad I can't *really* write in the hand movement. =p ]

It is my prayer that those, especially in my class, who do not know Jesus will consider... that there is much more to this life, to this world... what is a >$100K job, when you can't bring the money anywhere? [And if you have to work so much you can't spend it anyway. =p]

It *was* joyous to see that a large number of classmates do know the Lord as they lined up for communion... but there is still much work to be done. God is sovereign -- as he has created, so he can take away. Man can only control so much...

Bonnie, may you enjoy the riches in heaven; until we meet again.
Jason, all of our prayers go out to you; may you be comforted as your mourn, and may you also one day meet us in heaven.


On a more upbeat note though, after the funeral, Joyce and I went to Bally's for some exercise. It felt GREAT to swim again! Having missed *all* of my ultimate games this summer season, I have not exercised in a very long time! It was quite apparent last month in Yosemite walking on the trails... I couldn't believe how out of shape I already was at that time.

After our workout, I rushed home to shower in time for our "high tea" appointment! Thanks to Joyce, our social co-ordinator, we try to have a get-together every month. Windsor Arms was a great place... I highly recommend it! Better than the King Edward!

I was REALLY looking forward to this Saturday, to spend time with girls! Haha... it is so refreshing to laugh and joke, to catch up, to joke about guys ;) and (we do!) talk about other serious stuff. Especially, given the turn of events this week. Eva and Teresa also both work for PwC, Eva in the same office as Bonnie... I pray that one of the last ones of our circle will know Jesus. I'm happy that there have been some chances to share.

After eating a lot of desserts and an additional quarter of a cake (!!) [I *was* surprised...] we went to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was hilarious! Very well done! Go watch it! =)

Poor Teresa had a ridiculously early inventory count to do today, so she was beat... Joyce, Eva, and I went back uptown to [Hui Lau Saan], aka "the mango place" to the CBC world. ;) Bumped into some CCF-ers and some other classmates... I'm really thankful for these communities. =) Especially amazing how news among my classmates travelled really fast... I'm really happy to see this support among us, something that I never really felt before.

All in all, a packed day... very thankful for all of those around me, whether physically or through the cyberworld. ;)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thank you thank you thank you!

This day is always a reminder of God's abundant gifts every single year... and counting!

Something cool that my mom got from one of her clients, I'll see where we can hang it up in our house:

Unfortunately, while I'm celebrating my birthday, many others are not in such joyous occasions... this verse is quite fitting for the times, then [the Korean one]:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."
-- John 14:1

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The view from our hotel room, the Merced River [very good soundproofing, I must say! When we went into the room at night we had no idea the river was right behind us!]. The Merced River is basically the river that carved out the entire Yosemite valley over time.

Amazing morning by the river drinking (pretty good) 3-in-1 instant oatmeal (actually, very much like my barley embryo drink) courtesy of Joyce.

I think our first major stop along the Tioga Pass Road: Lake Tenaya. Simply amazing...

A rushing creek by Tuolumne [pronounced "twah-lum-ne"] Meadows. This creek was rushing pretty quickly -- so the water was REALLY COLD!!! This was the first place where Joyce made me take off my shoes to get into the water. =p

On the way back out to the Valley, we decided to stop by Lake Tenaya again and get into the water (since we had already gotten into sandals and such). The plan was to set the autotimer to take a picture. There were no flat places to put the camera; I basically used Joyce's "slipper" to keep it level, haha... as could have been foreseen, I rushed down, lost my balance, and as the Chinese would put it, "dragged her into the water" -- literally, and translated literally. =p Notice my pants were all wet!

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We hiked up for a little bit by Lembert Dome.

Joyce's pretty balanced yoga "tree pose" in such a peaceful place in front of Lembert Dome.

My attempt at the "airplane" pose...

Haha.. just a "thinker" pose...

Haha, the Chinese version of the "Thinker", although I need to refresh my memory as to its name. =p

The *main* reason why I wanted to come to Yosemite in the first place... ignorant me didn't realize the rest of the beautiful sights there!

A giant sequoia pinecone! Isn't it kind of freaky??

Friday, July 29, 2005

Second road trip!

On Sunday, we attended Teresa's church service at the River of Life Church. It is the biggest Chinese church I have seen outside of Asia! Their history is quite interesting though, just an amazing church that is rooted in prayer and missions.

Then on Monday, Joyce and I headed out for our second road trip to Yosemite National Park.

Amazing -- could it really be by chance?

Distance-wise, it is not too far from San Jose, but a lot of the roads are mountainous; the total drive time is exactly 4 hours. Having slept in, we left at around noon, so we arrived to check in at our hotel right at 4pm. Every day, there is a sunset tour that leaves from our hotel at 4pm; everyone has to reserve early because a dinner is arranged. But we asked if we could join if we had our own food; there was room, so the tourguide was happy to have us join them! Timing couldn't be more perfect. [We also saved $10 because we weren't going to eat their food, haha.]

The tourguide was an amazing person, just exuding with joy and awe at nature. On the tour, we took a couple of trail hikes that most tourists don't find [but there are SO many hikes you can take at Yosemite, it's a huge park.] so it was really nice.

Here's a map of Yosemite (pdf) for reference.

The sunset walking tour took us close up to the Yosemite Falls, short hike to Bridalveil Falls, the quiet frog-singing Summit Meadow, up on the Glacier Point Road and a moderate hike atop Sentinel Dome for the sunset. After the sun went down, we hiked back to the parking area and just admired the starry, starry night sky. Our tourguide, Sarah, was incredibly knowledgeable about all aspects of nature, including the constellation-laden sky... pointing out and describing the size of the Scorpio constellation (too bad we couldn't rotate the earth... it's cut off in half by the horizon) and others.

The size of the park and the sights are just incredible.

The next day, Joyce and I explored on our own, and following Sarah's advice, took the less-taken Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadow. The drive didn't take a long as we expected [it's *so* fun to drive... mastering the mountain curves, haha, despite my fear of heights. =p] Along the way or on the way back, we stopped at Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake (beautiful!), Tuolumne Meadow area, and around Lembert Dome. Finally, took a tour of the Yosemite Valley (it's the most popular place but we didn't spend too much time there), before heading down to the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoias. All in all, we covered a *lot* of ground!

Of course, being as silly as we were, the breathtaking scenery was accompanied by silly photo-taking. =p [click on photos to enlarge]

Generic shot of "Cathedral rocks", one of Yosemite's many signatures.

Bridalveil falls from a slight distance. At its peak, it's the fifth-longest "single-stream" waterfall. We came at an amazing time! The strength of the waterfall is determined by melting snow; usually by July, the waterfalls are drying up, if not dry, but due to the heavy snowfall this past winter, the waterfalls were still going strong!

The two of us getting wet underneath Bridalveil

Summit Meadows, where we were listening for singing frogs, but some people were making a lot of noise around to distract...

Incredible sight on top of Sentinel Dome

Backdrop looks fake =p but it was amazing!

So romantic! Haha...

One day's worth of pictures first... =)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Don't know why I've been feeling so sluggish lately. My guess is the post-vacation apathy coupled with a couple of really lax weeks at work. But still, my motivation level is usually not this low!! I've really got to get my act together though, in order to get through the upcoming four weeks. Not just in terms of physically getting through, but really striving for the excellence that I used to know in all that I do.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Road trip!

Fortunately, Teresa was able to take Friday off so the three of us head out for our road trip to Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe. It was great to be pretty leisurely and spontaneous; on Thursday night, Teresa researched the directions while I researched some vineyards... but we were to leave only after we had breakfast at Cheesecake Factory (which unfortunately, was at 11am -- should have researched that one more.)

We drove pretty much over the three days, taking the scenic routes (including going around for the Golden Gate Bridge). Finally, we arrived at our chosen winery at around 4pm, Sterling Vineyards. We chose this one mainly because it was well advertised and boasted a gondola ride up to the main building for the winery tour and tasting room.

[Finally, a picture with the three of us.]

The "impressive" presentation at the bottom of the gondola ride to attract tourists.

The winery tour was... okay. It was mainly self-narrated, but the view of Napa Valley was so nice. As an aside, for winery tours, I do highly recommend the Jackson-Triggs tour (one of the bigger producers in the Niagara region). When I went we had a great tour guide -- and all of the tours are led by a tour guide! The admission is also less expensive. =p

Of course, Niagara doesn't have *quite* the backdrop as Napa Valley:

We tasted five different wines... all of which I didn't like except for one, the lightest sauvignon blanc, which I did end up bringing home! My pallet is weird -- if I don't like the taste of something, I physically can't swallow it. So that's the main reason I don't drink alcohol... and that also goes for a lot of wines. Oddly, that also goes for milk.

After the tasting, we head out for Lake Tahoe, which was a great mountain road drive. We were working the poor Pontiac Vibe pretty hard! TOO BAD I didn't have my own car, it would have been *so* great to take those turns with it. ;) I'm not sure about the elevation of Napa Valley, but Tahoe's at about 8000 ft. It was quite a drive. =) [Haha.. I love driving...] We drove into Lake Tahoe just as it got dark. Fortunately we found an open hotel room at the Best Western for a good price! Great timing!

Lake Tahoe is popular for its ski hills in the winter and watersports in the summer. The three of us, being difficult Chinese females, didn't want to get wet. =p So we mainly enjoyed the sights (including walking through some of the casinos that were right on the California / Nevada border line), [the Lake is split up the middle between the two states,] and waited to take a short boat cruise into the lake.

The boat cruise was... okay. =p The three of us also went to the Dominican with another friend, and our best boat cruise was there. Of course, *that* was labelled as a party boat and being in the Dominican, alcohol poured freely and some people were pretty crazy. =p The crowd here was more family-oriented and definitely, wouldn't be called crazy. It was a nice ride nonetheless -- just slightly windy though!

The drive back was much easier going downhill and we safely made it back to San Jose in good time. Oh yes, a picture of Teresa's one-bedroom apartment -- it was such a blessing to stay there for free, haha... very spacious with high ceilings. [I don't think either of us knew Joyce took this picture...]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

San Francisco!

Joyce and I arrived in California on Wednesday night. Teresa still had to work so just the two of us went into San Francisco as tourists. We took the CalTrain in (kind of like the Go train, but smaller) and explored the city on our own.

I like San Francisco -- it's such a laid-back west-coast city. Weather was amazing -- the Bay area gives a nice breeze. Of course, we took a tram ride, and as I mentioned before, the "conductor" Jamie gave us a short lesson how to drive it. It's pretty cool!

My "Darth Vader" friend *trying* to make it go, haha [Just put your body into it!]

No, I don't have any pictures of Darth Vader with her mask down. Of course, it doesn't matter, I could easily just post something like this and it would just as easily passed off as her. =p

Anyway, of course, we got to the Fisherman's Wharf, the piers, and expected to see the many sea lions that have taken over Pier 39. I didn't expect this!! I couldn't believe it! One lone sea lion!

We also checked out the SF Museum of Modern Art and walked around Union square for a bit before leaving for the day. All right, so I had to walk around with Darth Vader, but she had to walk around with me. Of course, a picture of me on the phone... with my big hat. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ok, thought I'd change the layout since there's no use trying to fit old wine into new wineskins...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm back in Toronto!

Took a week off to spend time with a couple of classmates -- sort of a UFE study group vacation! Teresa has free housing and a free car in San Jose so Joyce and I decided to visit and explore the west coast. It was a great trip -- incomparable weather, incredible sights. Due to Joyce's charm, we also got a San Francisco tram-driving lesson! ;)

More to come... but to leave off for now, I just have to complain that I had to walk around with a Darth Vader. How embarassing. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Way to go, Albert!

First place in his division at the Canadian National Kendo championships!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Argh... I don't know what happened to the font in my template because I didn't change anything! I just posted it and everything got screwed up... will fix it later, somehow... argh... =p Meanwhile, you'll just have to deal with the LARGE font (driving me nuts!)
A bunch of us went to watch the movie the other day -- probably the best turnout I've seen since "Along Came Polly". Anyway, I think it's safe to say that no one was disappointed with the movie; I don't think I've read any bad reviews about it yet. I did enjoy it thoroughly!

Aside from the action thriller part of the movie, the movie does deal with issues such as

- What is justice? --> Vengeance?
- How much can one person do?
- to a lesser extent "What is balance?" [A convoluted definition of balance as the antongonistic objective...]
- and finally, "It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you."

I know I am initiating a semi-pointless and resolutionless discussion [it's all about semantics, I know, and I'm not making any arguments, per se], but here goes... for some reason, that line really makes me uncomfortable! Perhaps it is because I have always preached about the importance of one's character; in fact, that is what God sees of every one of us. A simple tally of "good works" easily becomes hollow because man's motive is so often and easily clouded. I am reminded of my previous post about the New Pioneer Awards back in March -- I was too lazy to post my follow-up sentiments about the night. As impressive as each award winner was, I couldn't help feel that it was all about building personal empires which realistically can be "destroyed" in a night. What lasts?

On the other hand, I am reminded by the apostle James in his book, which to me, summarizes the moral of the movie:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

- James 2:14-17

Taking it one step further, I am reminded of the Catholic Council of Trent, which essentially declared justification by the merits of good works (as opposed to the protestant position of faith). Even though this comparison is not really accurate (topic of fighting for justice vs. salvation), I just want to present the discussion about semantics... "faith" according to the Catholic church, did they mean to exclude works anyway? Not that I agree with the institutional nature of the Roman Catholic church, but their doctrine...

And not that I disagree with the line from the movie, I just don't like how it's worded even though the underlying message (although not explicitly stated) is the same...

Anyway... just a discussion of what went through my mind after the movie... that's "type C" for you.. =p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."

There's nothing like listening to the Christmas Song at any time during the year!

Haha... anyway, an item of praise: I've finally qualifed for the CA designation after a long wait! Haha... so yes, I can officially do passports now! Haha...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Guess it's only been two weeks since the CFA. Still, I have not started my Mandarin "classes" in preparation for a brief visit to China this August [even though it was refreshing to go to Janey's Ryerson class.] Just need to see what I need to drop over the next couple of months...

Now recruiting for my next "initiative" -- Tyndale course BIBL 0501 - Biblical Interpretation -- Tuesday nights 6:30 to 9:30 [unless anyone would consider taking it in Oakville -- that's on Thursday nights instead]. [You can probably audit the course if you don't want the credit...]

Any takers?? [See the Fall term course calendar (pdf file).]

Think I'll take a break from the CBV for now... still debating if I want to dump more money into that one.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The exam is over! Now, I can *really* start to enjoy my summer! Looking forward to practising mandarin, getting back in shape, catching up on my expense reports, finishing my taxes (I know... it's bad...), and really, just *rest*.

Need to slow down and think more...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Yes, I've *way* exceeded my unspoken "at least one blog per month" rule.

I guess for the past while, I've been trying to enjoy the great weather by jogging or playing Ultimate (Go team Vertigo!) I haven't been working *too* much, which has been nice. But I *am* studying for the CFA... so really, I'll continue blogging after that. =p

But Daniel, there are more letters coming... haha

Friday, April 08, 2005

I've been good this week, getting home at decent hours (before 11!)

Tonight, for some reason, I picked up the April 2005 issue of CA magazine (I don't remember the last time I did that... but I think I did it because this one wasn't shrink-wrapped -- I'm usually too lazy to open it.) Every so often the magazine features some super-accountant who pursues his or her life dream while building up a solid accounting career.

Well, this issue featured Darren Lee, whose resume features the following timeline:

2001 - obtains CA designation
2002 - becomes tax manager at KPMG
2003 - obtains CFA and CPA designations
2004 - competes at Les grands amateurs de piano, Paris, and then leaves KPMG to pursue his music career!

Sigh... what am I doing with my life?? But wow, just imagine the possibilities! The article is funny -- and I do agree with him how music is analytical and technical details are worked out int he same thorough manner as in accounting. Hahahaha...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, April 01, 2005

All done -- At least for the time being! The next one is June 4th... But I'll worry about that after a short break. =) Good thing th CFA is all multiple choice because I'm afraid any more case type exams just will not be legible! Usually, at least the first question is neatly written. Today, it was chicken scratch all the way through... So much for any attempts to try and improve my penmanship.

I wrote the Law and Tax exam today--it's towards the CBV designation (Chartered Business Valuator), something that I kind highly doubt I will get. I don't know, I don't really know *what* I want to do with my career... I should probably settle down soon though.

Anyway, I got home tonight and had nothing urgent to do! It was nice to just tidy my room, change my sheets, etc. And of course, the Yam family's newest pasttime, Taiko Drum Master!


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Exciting times at First Canadian Place...

Bad picture, I know... my friend and I were geeks and took pictures from our phones. His is much better though!

It's George from the Apprentice, signing his new book! Haha..

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I am slowly going crazy, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, switch!

Crazy going slow am I, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, switch!

All right, I'm procrastinating. At least I'm getting *some* studying done... I'm done my second pass of Advanced. Now onto Law & Tax, for which I am still finishing up my first pass.

I'm going crazy because my desk is all cluttered up and I don't want to spend the time to clean it up! And on my desk are the following two *cute* cars... I couldn't resist doing this... haha.

I love my Mini Cleaner.. it's so cute! As much as my mini Mini Cooper, although I realize the mini Mini Cooper isn't as functional as the Mini Cleaner, haha.

All right, back to studying, kind of... Hm, can anyone guess the functionality of the Mini Cleaner, actually? =) I suppose it's not that obvious at first glance.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

[thoughts from last night]

An opportunity came up tonight to attend the New Pioneer Awards. This event is hosted by "Skills For Change", an organization that offers programs to new immigrants to integrate into the Canadian workforce. The event recognizes immigrants or refugees who have made successfully overcome the many barriers faced by them. There were six awards in various categories: Graduate of Skills for Change, Youth, Entrepreneurship, Science & Technology, Social Services, and Art. Each award winner was remarkable, most notably the winner of the Youth award; at the young age of 19, after being in Canada for only four years, she not only became fluent in English from scratch, but has accumulated a huge number of accomplishments, including many initiatives to better communities of Toronto. Just like any other eligible candidate for Medical school, I suppose!

The night was inspirational and reminded me of what it meant to pursue excellence... not that I have lost that goal completely [and I shudder at the possibility of losing that drive for excellence, which carried me for so many years], but upon honest reflection, I have in many ways gone the corporate way, if you will -- just aiming to meet deadlines as they come due. Hopefully, this is merely a rut in which I am not being challenged to the most of my capacity at work [and concluding that I am not really an auditor -- whether this is a fair assessment, I don't know], which will hopefully end soon as I transition out of a senior role, coupled with the meaningless of studying towards designations that I don't really care for.. (yes, yes, I know...)

I thank God for this reminder; the night was truly inspirational. It was also nice to have the opportunity to chat with a senior manager in the professional practice group, a group that I have considered pursuing as to future options and what I'd like to do.

On a less serious note, the dinner was held at the Westin Harbor -- the meal was the same as the CA ball. I have to find out the price for hosting a table, to see whether it would surpass the $125 x 10 price tag of the CA ball! Not that the food was *good*, at any rate.

Like many business functions, (including CA convocation, haha) media personalities are brought in to emcee the night. tonight we had Merella Fernandez, one of the anchors for CityPulse. I couldn't stop laughing every time she went up because she has *such* a journalist and TV voice. I do wonder whether journalism students have to practise a distinctive character of speech; I guess I'll have to find mine in preparation for my emcee stint -- in Chinese nonetheless, haha.

The night also showcased the many services that Skills for Change provides for new immigrants to Canada. Actually, the night was very much "rah rah Canada!" "Canada is the best place to live on earth!" I realize that I cynically smirked multiple times at such exclamations. I guess it's just cheesy to say those things, although I do love this country, and it is refreshing to know that there are many good people out there who are putting much back into the community. Also, it's nice to know that Canada has given these people those opportunities in the first place, although not without much, much hard work. I do wonder how I got onto the diversity committee at work; my experience and background is 100% Canadian. Compared to many, I've had everything so easy.

Finally, the last award winner of the night was Chan Hon Goh, a principal dancer of the National Ballet of Canada, and the first Chinese to hold that position in the history of the troupe. Unbeknowst of this award at the time, I had the opportunity to see her perform Desir and Madama Butterfly at the Hummingbird two weeks ago and see her in her forte. It was a nice closing of the night, as she gently and soothingly gave for thanks and inspirations, in a tone expected of any ballerina. She held the audience in her gentle voice; everyone was in a dreamlike state listening to her, (certainly contrary to the teachings of most speech courses.) [That is, until Merella officially closed off the night.] Now if I only had a more feminine voice... haha.

Anyway, I guess I haven't been touched by much in the past while... it is a blessing to encounter and be reminded of humanity once in a while.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Yes!! I passed my Advanced Business Valuations case study! *Phew*! I was pretty worried about that one; praise God for that! Hopefully I passed my Law & Tax assignment too..

Now, the cramming cycle returns for the final examinations at the end of the month, here we go again..

Until next time (probably after March 31!), this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Neutral faces...

I've got a ton of stuff to do, but of course, the most useless things come first... =p

Finally, we went to the much anticipated Aviv String Quartet, which graced the audience with some lovely pieces:

Beethoven - String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6 [early Beethoven: opened lightly, then contrasting pathos against a scherzo dance]

Prokofiev - String Quartet No. 2 in F Major [*very* Prokofiev; very contemporary Russian -- and always pleasing]

Sir Ernest MacMillan - Two sketches for string quartet [based on two Canadian folksongs, the style kind of reminded me of a contemporary Stravinsky-type.. despite being Canadian, I really enjoyed this one. =p]

Tchaikovsky - String Quartet No. 3 in E-flat minor, Op. 30 [rich Romantic flavour -- a great finale]

I was extremely tonight this because this was my first Music Toronto concert; I have missed three of them because of (blasted) business trips! Oh well, it was great tonight...

...*except* that I find it slightly upsetting to enjoy live music when the performers look SOO BORED! If I had a comment card, I would have definitely told the cellist to "Smile more!!" [I don't think that would have caused trouble... ;)] Yes, I understand that people may naturally have the "neutral face", but you're still a performer, for goodness sake! The MacMillan and the Tchaikovsky weren't too bad, but as for the Beethoven, I could not feel the pathos!

Haha, all in all though, not a bad performance... definitely great value!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Finally, a continuation from my Christmas Eve post...

Let me clarify, the rest of my extended family did go to Shenzhen; only my siblings, my mom and I did not. Those crazy "chois", crossing the border at 1am... and then going directly to the foot massage parlour until 3am. Hahahaha... my aunt and uncle own a flat in Shenzhen, away from the border so the area is not as bad as one usually thinks...

Anyway, it was a good call to stay in Hong Kong because we had a real treat in store for us on Christmas Day. This day was a "Yam" day.

In the morning, we all attended Christmas service with my aunt (with whom we're staying). Unfortunately, the service was in Chinese, which was definitely not helpful for my siblings... a couple of my cousins and their kids [my aunt is about 20 years older than my parents..., and my cousins are actually "Yans"] also went too. The service was pretty good. I find Chinese speakers quite engaging; I think it's from their seminary background because many Chinese pastors have a similar way of preaching. It's slightly more forceful, but I find it effective -- like our senior Chinese pastor in Toronto. ;) The church actually has a huge sanctuary, even more so for Hong Kong. The kids sang a song, which was really cute [recommend download the video first, if you really want to see it..]:


After a nice buffet lunch, we had a real treat.

First, some brief background about my family... my grandfather opened a printing company in Hong Kong. This company was passed down to the eldest son (i.e., my uncle). *His* songs (i.e., my cousins) run the company now. Since my dad is the youngest son out of all of his siblings, the age gap is quite significant (i.e., 20 years!), and he is more around the age of my cousins, whereas my siblings and I are around the age of my cousins' kids; there is this juxtaposition in generations, if you will.

Anyway, running a pretty successful company is quite lucrative, so my cousins (4 guys), like any guys who have money will buy toys. And bigger toys. So beyond the nice cars, they've taken up flying, and the eldest of the brothers is now the president of the Hong Kong Aviation Club. [At least 3 of the brothers fly, and teach or spend time with the Hong Kong Air Cadets. The president is the only one who teaches helicopter piloting.]

So it turned out that it was a good choice not to go to Shenzhen, because we got helicopter tours around Hong Kong, piloted by my cousin [not the president, but that's just details...]. Since this was my siblings' first time to Hong Kong, a necessary tourist spot is the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. Well we didn't have enough time to go to Lantau Island... but they did get to see the aerial view. It was great.

Helicopter takeoff [also recommend downloading it!]

In the evening, we had a nice sit-down dinner at the Aviation Club... it's nice to have a nice steak once in a while, even though the Chinese food that we have everyday was so good. =)

To finish off a not-that-brief explanation of my family... my aunt (my cousin the pilot's mother) is an amazing woman. She is obviously not an original Yam (or Yan..), but she is the whole reason the entire Yam clan sticks together. No one really knows what happened to my uncle (he is the eldest son of my grandfather -- in fact, I think their marriage broke down.) But my aunt has stuck by the family and has gained respect by everyone. At the same time, at the age of 74, she still goes to many Publishing Association functions and is active at church, knowing that all the blessings that she has experienced in her lifetime are from God.

Since all her sons have their own families, they bought their dear mother a flat, which is where we stayed in Hong Kong. Of course, it is a nice flat... I was so fortunate as to sleep in my own bedroom (in Hong Kong!) for a few days before my siblings arrived. [We were also fortunate to have been chauffeured directly from the airport... heehee.] It has been my blessing to have her impart bits of wisdom to me throughout various encounters.

And I know that this is not really a typical experience for Hong Kong... it just came with the name. ;) Until next time,.... Yam.
OK, *in case* anyone thought I was an anti-relationships, bitter girl -- I'm not! Far from it, actually! I just think that song is *hilarious* -- you really have to listen to it! Haha...

On another note, it's been really nice to be in Toronto. Finally, I showed my face to my Ultimate frisbee team; I need to get back in shape! Great to be at home again.. to drive my car again ;) and to be in the office again!

It's very sad, I know, but I enjoy the office very much! A sense of security, I suppose. In any case, I'm not *completely* career-oriented as many may think... I qualify for the CA soon, so the opportunity is now, that I can figure out what I *want* in the future, to figure out what is the *best* choice to make. Not that I want to leave EY just yet; I do enjoy it there very much. I don't know!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, February 14, 2005

This song is for my "Valentine's Day... woo...hoo..." friends. ;) The song is another fun Michael Buble song... especially funny because it's so upbeat despite the lyrics. Haha..

real | windows media

Down with love - Michael Buble (featuring Holly Palmer)

Down with love
The flowers and rice and shoe
Down with love
The root of all midnight blues
Down with things that give you that well known pain
Take that moon, wrap it in cellophane

Down with love
Let's liquidate all its friends
The moon, the June, the roses and rainbow's ends
Down with songs that moan about night and day
Down with love
Yes, take it away, away

Take it away
Take it away
Give it back to the birds and the bees and the Viennese

Down with eyes, romantic and stupid
Down with sighs and down with Cupid
Brother let's stuff that dove
Down with love

Ah, let's go!

Down with things that give you that well known pain
Take that moon and wrap it in cellophane

Down with songs that moan about night and day
Down with love
Take it away, away

Take it away
Take it away
Give it back to the birds and the bees and the Viennese

Down with eyes, romantic and stupid
Down with sighs and down with Cupid
Brother let's stuff that dove

Brother let's stuff that dove
Brother let's stuff that dove
Down with love
Down with love
Down with love

Down with love

Sunday, February 06, 2005

There's no place like home... There's no place like home...

I am SO sick of travelling. Of course, travelling for leisure is completely different, but I am really looking forward to no more business trips in the near future! At least, nothing longer than a week...

It doesn't help that there is absolutely nothing in Bridgewater, New Jersey...

I was kind of upset for having to work last weekend in the States, at the same time missing a whole bunch of plans that I had that weekend. So to make the stay worthwhile I was able to visit Ina and relax in New York. It was a nice and relaxing Sunday... service at Trinity Baptist Church, brunch by the Rockefeller Center, Museum of Modern Art, and high tea... Guess it was what I needed before a really long work week.

Sigh... need to find time to sleep!!

But anyway, just really glad to be home. If I'm like this now, could I ever go away?? I don't know...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way;
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you.

Ahh... I love that song. OK, Christmas is well over [can you believe it's already February!] but it's such a nice song -- so very smooth and relaxing -- no matter what time of year it is. And what do you know... Michael Buble has a wonderful version -- I love his style. =p

I'm still in New Jersey... this should be my last week here, thank goodness. Sigh, I can't wait to go home.

So until then, Merry Christmas to you. =)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

So while we were supposed to return to Toronto the evening of the 5th, we were among the over 500 American Airlines flight cancellations at Chicago O’Hare that night and ended up staying the night after an evening of frustrating lines and chaos.

But, at least we got a relatively good night’s sleep at a hotel (*not* paid by American Airlines, but at least at a reduced rate) since our morning flight was further delayed until the afternoon. So last night, we arrived safe and sound, and not too tired – no jetlag! =)

Unfortunately, after I returned last night, I felt really gross in my stomach, and my body basically rejected everything I had eaten in the past day – so I didn’t know what caused it since I pretty much ate with my family for the entire vacation. Except for the sushi bar at lunch when I lost everyone before meeting to go to the Tokyo airport… it could have been any of the raw oyster, octopus, sea urchin, or fish that lunch… yuck. =P

However, there is always a greater plan, and I was able to rest up (didn’t go to work as I intended to) and finish my two assignments due today (well, yesterday – the 7th)! I had two assignments due for the CBV designation… one of which, I pretty much completed on the plane from Hong Kong; I just had to type it out. The other, I couldn’t start until this afternoon when I had to buy the replacement textbook … I left my first one on the train in Tokyo on the way to the airport.

When I realized my stupid, stupid mistake, the exact point when I misplaced my book on the train, up to the airport check-in platform completely flashed in front of my eyes. Sigh. So stupid – and a waste of time… which felt much worse with much idle time in Chicago.

Sigh, but, they’re all done and sent (half an hour past the deadline – hopefully it’s okay), so that my entire family can go to yet another Yam family gathering. My aunt and her sons (my indirect nephews) are going to London, England, whereas my sister is also returning back to Montreal tomorrow. So somehow, everything works out.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Can you believe it, three weeks have flown by just like that.

We are now trying to fit everything into our suitcases in preparation for our departure for Tokyo tomorrow morning.

A brief rundown of my HK trip this year:

13 to 17 - arrival and shopping, some sights
18 - cousin's wedding
19 to 23 - Fuk-kien
24 - Choi day
25 - Yam day
26 - Choi day
27 - meet up with friends
28 - meet up with friends
29 - Macau
30 - Shenzhen
31 - Shenzhen and Choi night
1 - last minute shopping!
2 to 5 - Tokyo, return home!

So yes... I will blog about various things!!

As for our return home, we will be returning to Toronto on January 5 on the following flights:

Tokyo -> Chicago O'Hare on AA 154, departing 7:20pm and arriving 3:55pm

Chicago -> Toronto on AA 1952, departing 5:35pm and arriving 8:06pm

Be back soon!