Monthly Archives: May 2007

A Weekend with Darren

I had Darren over from Toronto for the week­end. We were going to do a movie marathon at the the­atre — three in a day — but the movies all sucked. Disturbia? Georgia Rule? Please. Instead, I bought the first sea­son of Six Feet Under, and we fin­ished the roughly 11 hour sea­son over two days. Now I can re-watch it with Bronwen and lend it to Pat. To be hon­est, I’d seen up to the sec­ond sea­son before, but I was too stoned to remem­ber most of it.

Thumbnail: Air-tight tea container

Thumbnail: Chai tea

Darren also gave me a nice tea con­tainer. It’s rather large, since I buy my tea 50mg at a time, but bet­ter too big than too small. He also got me some chai tea, con­sid­ered a well­ness blend. When I asked him what for, he couldn’t give me a rea­son. I love gifts for no reason.

We shared our tat­too ideas, and his was the Chinese char­ac­ter for love on his back. Darren and Bronwen are the some of the few peo­ple I can talk openly with about love. We’re such hope­less roman­tics. We tell each other that we’ll never be mar­ried, not to be self-depracating, but to be hon­est with our­selves. We have our ideals, and we’ll never set­tle for any­thing less. It’s com­fort­ing to know that we’re not alone in our quixotic beliefs.

To Grow from Yielding

The most yield­ing thing in the world
  will over­come the most rigid
The most empty thing in the world
  will over­come the most full
From this comes a les­son —
  Stillness ben­e­fits more than action
  Silence ben­e­fits more than words

—Verse 43, Tao Te Ching

Sometimes, tem­per­ance is the great­est weapon.

When some­one attacks you with words or tries to make you feel any less than your­self, you merely need acquiesce.

In doing so, you dis­arm them. You rob them of their only weapon — anger — and their words lose all mean­ing and significance.

Tai Chi, as the phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of Taoist philoso­phies, fol­lows the same idea.

Then you will under­stand the flow of inter­nal power, and, hav­ing repeat­edly prac­ticed and refined your tech­nique and explored your own aware­ness, you can use and con­trol your inter­nal power at will.

The T’ai Chi prin­ci­ple is as sim­ple as this: yield your­self and fol­low the exter­nal forces.

—Waysun Liao, The Essence of T’ai Chi

When your oppo­nent expands, con­tract. Create a void in your stance, and let them fill that void. By absorb­ing your opponent’s energy, you reduce it to nothing.

No one proves them­selves more inane than one who matches energy with energy, force with force.

I’ve finally come to fully under­stand such an idea. The the­ory made sense, but I never put it in prac­tice, and prac­tice is what makes the under­stand­ing com­plete. It was only recently that I had the chance to apply it. The old me was hot-headed with too much to prove. When faced with insult­ing, patron­iz­ing words, I would have reacted, instead of fol­low­ing the prin­ci­ple of wu wei. The sit­u­a­tion was a test of myself, and I passed.

From this I’ve learned how much I’ve grown.

May Long Weekend '07

Thumbnail: Oktoberfest sausages
Thumbnail: Barbecue ribs
Thumbnail: Silicon brush
Thumbnail: Chicken drumsticks
Thumbnail: Shish kebabs
Thumbnail: Barbecue thermometer
Thumbnail: Fruit flan, blueberry bonanza, key lime pie

While writ­ing this, I real­ized that my RSS sub­scribers will lose most of the entry; more than half of it is in the cap­tions of the pho­tos, which are embed­ded in the link tag. Almost all my pic­tures have cap­tions actu­ally. I may try writ­ing a WordPress plu­gin or mod­ify Lightbox JS 2 to dis­play the cap­tions in sub­scrip­tion feeds.

Pat and Jen had ten of us over for the Victoria day week­end. They put the extra leafs in the table and it was twelve in all. Potato casse­role, ribs, drum­sticks, sausages, salad, corn-on-the-cob, and I don’t even remem­ber what was on the other end. It was funny to see how proud Pat was that there was too much food to fit on the 12 per­son table. I can under­stand though; there’s noth­ing more sat­is­fy­ing than being a good host. I pre­fer the host role to the guest role actu­ally. It’s when I can be in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion, and I’m much bet­ter at mak­ing sure peo­ple are tak­ing care of than being taken care of myself (I think a sense of impos­ing is what con­tributes to this).

I won my first game of Settlers of Catan. The quiet ones are the ones who win, they say, so I tried to keep my mouth shut amidst all the joc­u­lar smack-talk. The guys also played Capcom vs. SNK 2. Even though we all come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, every sin­gle one of us knew how to play. Very telling of how per­va­sive the Street Fighter series is to our generation.

The guests help clean up with­out ask­ing, they thank you for hav­ing them, and in return, the hosts thank you for com­ing. You can tell a lot about peo­ple, not just from their friends, but their com­pany as well.

The Unexpected Kiss

A while ago, Dan and I made plans to play some table ten­nis yesterday.

It’s been a year since we went to the old recre­ational club. The venue changes every year, and this sea­son it was too much of a has­sle for me to go as it was buried some­where in the city. For Dan, the new venue was too far to be prac­ti­cal to go on a reg­u­lar basis.

When we arrived, there were all famil­iar faces. We greeted them with hand­shakes and how-you-doings. Yerka, from the Czech Republic, arrived when we were catch­ing up. Along with her Polish hus­band Andrei, Yerka was one of the new mem­bers last year. Andrei was on my league team, and even though I was cap­tain, Andrei was def­i­nitely the best player, with Yerka always there to sup­port him from the bleachers.

I extended my hand to her, but in the European fash­ion she leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. I reacted and adjusted for a kiss as well, but appar­ently there’s a rule on which side to kiss first.

My friends and I never faire la bise, and in my igno­rance, I went for her right cheek, she went for my left, and we ended up kiss­ing full on the lips.

Then promptly laughed it off.


Some think I have a form of OCD. They notice that I have to do things in a cer­tain way. These things aren’t exactly debil­i­tat­ing to the point of being con­sid­ered dis­or­ders, but they’re big enough for peo­ple to give me a teas­ing now and then.

I have to sleep with the end of the blan­kets at my feet. My duvet and cover are sep­a­rate, so the open­ing is at one end. It bugs the craaaaaaaaap out of me if it’s not at the bottom.

I always carry a few things with me. Lip balm (Labello brand), cell phone, iPod, lens cloth (to clean glasses or cam­era), in addi­tion to the nor­mal wal­let and keys. If I have a bag, this list expands to include a note­book with pen, and a cam­era. I’m very uneasy with­out them. I look for pants with appro­pri­ately sec­tioned pock­ets for this reason.

I wash my hands about 10–12 times over the course of a day. As a result, my hands dry out (which I also can’t stand) so I use Glaxal Base a cou­ple times a day, which is a perfume-free, water-based lotion. It’s so hypoal­ler­genic and absorbent that they use it as a base for top­i­cal medication.

I hate hav­ing an odd num­ber of eggs in my fridge. This may be due to the fact that I never devi­ate from eat­ing two eggs in one sit­ting. If I ever cook an odd num­ber of eggs (maybe when a guest wants one or three), then I’m left with an odd num­ber of eggs that I’ll for­ever be try­ing to even out again.

I always walk to the beat of the song I’m lis­ten­ing to. Most songs are in com­mon time (4/4), which can be divided or mul­ti­plied by two, so adjust­ing the walk­ing pace (in essence, two beats) is easy. Something based in 3 (such as Lamb’s album Fear of Fours) is less flex­i­ble. The only time I walk at my own pace is dur­ing songs with irreg­u­lar or chang­ing time sig­na­tures, like any pro­gres­sive rock album where I can’t even fig­ure out where the down beat is.

I have to wear slip­pers on tile or ceramic floors. I don’t know why.

I can’t lis­ten to an album out of order. There may be songs I don’t like in the album, and I’ll have no prob­lem skip­ping them, but I lis­ten to the rest in order.

I can’t stand things that are unsym­met­ri­cal. I know, there’s rea­son for asym­me­try, it’s designed that way, it serves a pur­pose, but I can’t stand it. I’ll never buy EQ3 Off Centre din­ner­ware. There were a few sea­sons when the whole side-zipper was “in” and I couldn’t buy any­thing from Tristan and America or Banana Republic.

I have to eat por­tions of food in a cer­tain way. This is only true for big meals with side and main dishes. There’s an order: side dish (mashed pota­toes, or toast), side dish (corn, or egg), main dish (turkey, or bacon), rotat­ing between all three, but always sav­ing the main dish for the last bite. I find there’s a bet­ter con­trast with the food when you switch between dishes. Flavours get lost when too much of the same thing is eaten. This is as opposed to Aaron, who eats his side dishes first, and then saves almost the entirety of his main dish for last.