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.