Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Italian Stallion

After much buzz, intrigue, and talk of "smokescreens" in the sports media about the NBA Draft, the Raptors did exactly as they said they would do: select Andrea Bargnani. The discussion boards were rife with conspiracy theories and desperate attempts to break a big story (for example, Seattle's Earl Watson was seen buying a tie in Toronto!).

The most entertaining aspect of the hullabaloo is that General Manager Bryan Colangelo pretty much all along has said what he'd do and let everyone else second-guess, elaborate and obfuscate the situation. Then, he does as he said he would.

As a species, we like to overcomplicate things. Especially, if you're posting on bulletin boards and arguing about the maturity of people snickering at Rudy Gay's last name.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Oppressor of Korea

Tonight, a friend who's serving as a Mission Partner in Korea as a chaplain with Hanshin University in Seoul, returned with some students as part of a "mission trip". The group led a worship service in Mandaumin, a village on the outskirts of Sarnia, where he had served as a minister.

The worship outlined some of the country's painful history and the ongoing struggle for justice among a separated people. We sang Korean hymns and marvelled at the bravery of the students to present a drama in English, a very foreign tongue.

During the reception that followed, no fewer than 3 different people approached me with comments like "You've come a long way" or "You must be tired" or "Thank you" suggesting that they assumed I was one of the students. *Sigh*, I guess I wasn't surprised that happened. Disappointed, certainly. Did they not realize the only Asian guy with a shaved head was sitting in the pews and not leading up front?

I began to wonder if I should have collared up for the occasion or at least, put on my Lambton Presbytery nametag. My attempts to speak clearly and loudly about coming from Arkona, were for naught, because someone else wondered if I joined their troupe for tonight only. (At least I didn't get the ol' "your English is so good!").

I did not, however, think it helpful to declare my Japanese heritage, given that empire had oppressed Korea for 35 years until World War II.

The Ears Have It

Kai was supposed to have his one-year check up and immunizations today. He did go to the doctor and weighed in at 20 lbs. 3 oz., stretching out to 29" ("two-foot, five, eyes of brown / has anybody seen my guy?").

The immunizations were postponed until after his ear infection clears up. Yes, he apparently has an ear infection. Although, we knew he was not well; throwing up the contents of his morning bottle from coughing too much at 5:15 a.m. was our first clue.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Best Laid Plans

Shelley and I were supposed to have a lunch date today. My itinerary after morning Bible Study was to stop at home, check phone messages (because the cellphone was recharging), grab my baseball glove for my last visit with my Student Buddy, through Big Brothers.

That was the plan. I somehow was running late from Bible Study, and remembering the construction slow-downs on the road to Forest, I skipped going home so that I'd get to lunch only a little late.

Turns out I should have gone home. I arrive at the restaurant only to be told to call home. Rei was sent home from daycare due to a high fever and Shelley was waiting for me to get there so she could go back to work.

It could be a long week.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What Lies Beneath

There was a time when Kai loved jumping up and down when seated in the Exer-Saucer.
under saucer
Not anymore.

Red Berries and Pink Eyes

This morning, Rei and I picked strawberries in nearby Sylvan. She enjoyed the experience and surprisingly, did not eat any in the field. Many have been consumed since.

This afternoon, daycare called Shelley with some concerns about Kai. Pink eye has been making its rounds and so to be safe, she took him to the doctor. We were assured that his goopy, crusty eyes were simply related to his cold. We can see Tooth #6 ready to break through, #7 is close behind.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Above the Crowd

It was a long night last night with Kai running a bit of a fever and experiencing some nausea. All of his ailments related to his teething (we think), combined with his cold (we know). Although the night was longer for Shelley who was on child duty so that I could be "fresh" for my Sunday morning obligations.

This afternoon was low-key; after lunch we were sprawled on the playroom floor, Rei peacably sucking on her fingers, Shelley and I grabbing some literal downtime. Kai was the tallest person in the room, sitting up attentively, playing with his toys and happily chirpping about this and that. It figures.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Return of "Machine Gun"

In my undergraduate days, there was a plant biology class that was co-taught by a grad student. She was from Eastern Europe and spoke with a heavy accent*. She also spoke very quickly and it was an ordeal trying to take notes and keep up. We called her "Machine Gun", her lectures were so rapid fire and haphazard.

One morning, while sitting front row-centre, I was fed up with the frenetic pace and my inability to keep pace. So I dramatically slammed my book shut and threw my pen across the room. I could (and still do) blame my hissy fit on my mood swings generated by elevated blood sugar levels in the lead-up to my diabetic diagnosis. Still, not my proudest moment as a scholar.

Shelley and I attended the wedding of a friend and colleague from university (who's also now on a tenure track in Windsor), and I was not sure that we'd know anyone there besides the groom. At the reception, I overheard some introductions and sure enough, Machine Gun was there. I was still too embarrassed to introduce myself, but was intrigued to learn that she married the professor of that course.

*I've recently been informed that linguistically, there is no such thing as "speaking with an accent"; however, lacking alternative means of conveying my intent, this inaccuracy will have to do.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hasselhoff Retraction

With the Dallas loss and the corresponding disappearance of Dirk's play (thanks in no small part to the referees), I have to conclude that my Hasselhoff victory theory is unfounded.

Perhaps he's oversaturating himself in the media right now, rendering his ironic appeal useless. To this end, I present David Hasselhoff live in Berlin (if the moving lights of the jacket don't transfix you, the piano key scarf will):

And he decides if America's Got Talent?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

In Mourning

It's been a couple days and the bad taste in my mouth still lingers from Miami's defeat of Dallas in the NBA Finals. Not that I begrudge Dwayne Wade his glory, or even Gary Payton his due. Heck, even Shaq has on me in his old age.

I appreciate and respect Alonzo Mourning's comeback from kidney disease and his ability to play at a high level with an admittedly great game 6. I cannot respect the fact that he weaseled and schemed his way out of playing for two teams, abusing Toronto for a $9 million buyout (that's right, Toronto paid him not to play for them...). Such behaviour sets a new standard for spoiled brat entitlement. Whatever happened to playing for the love of the game?

"Congratulations" Alonzo, you "deserve" it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Solstice Celebration

Unlike our wedding 9 years ago, the day began with a thunderstorm. To mark the occasion, I had called our babysitter to watch the kids while we went out for a late supper at Grog's Pub & Grill.

I don't want to complain about the service on such a love-filled day, but there are certain idiosyncracies particular to that institution that we didn't know. Apparently, "pint of Guinness" sounds like "Heineken" and writing "*Jal. poppers" on the ordering note pad doesn't mean jalapeño poppers but broccoli & cheese ones. Also, "I'd like a glass of water too" needs to be repeated if you actually wish to receive a glass of water.

It was nice to get out and we were glad to "support" a local business (mind you, the food itself was well-priced and not undelicious and the selection of beverages was impressive). Although our plans for next year's anniversary have a decidedly more European flavour.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Work and Play

I had a lunch meeting in London to evaluate and debrief Youth Forum 2006, my last duty before "quitting" my involvement with that ministry.

I went to the hospital to renew my identification badge/credentials with the Spiritual Care department. I did some pastoral visiting and met a couple for a marriage preparation session.

My appointments were spaced out through the afternoon and there wasn't time to run back and forth to home so the long day in the big city also afforded me some time to do some errands and play some golf at Thames Valley.

A consequence of my big day away was missing out on an invitation to beer & basketball-on-a-big-screen.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Longterm Planning

Reiko informs me today, "When Hallowe'en comes, I want to be a bee costume!" No, she doesn't want to be a bee, but a bee costume.

That should be easy enough to arrange (we still have Happy Bee from 2004), but I question her willingness to wear it in 4 months time.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Easing In

So the first week back to work is in the books and it was as busy as I anticipated it would be. I preached 6 times (5 different sermons, only one re-broadcast) for a couple Cemetery Decoration Days, a funeral, a Presbytery meeting, a wedding, and the Sunday morning double.

This week seems more manageable at first glance, my quest for a weekly work routine continues...

Saturday, June 17, 2006


According to The Wiggles, "nya" is a noise naturally associated with swimming and all things aquatic:
"We're swimming / swimming at the pool/ Let's go swimming / water's oh-so cool ...
pool party 2006
... Nya-nya! Nya-nya-nya-nya nya-nya!
Nya na-na-na-na-na-na na!
Nya-nya-nya-nya nya-nya! / Nya-nya-nya-nya!"

I don't get the connection either. Maybe it's an Aussie thing. (And yes, I watched the Wiggles' DVD with subtitles so I could be correct about the lyrics).

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two and Fro

The kids play so well together; especially when there's enough play equipment for both.
We're reaching new heights in recreation.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Well, I had a good run: 6 years before succumbing to the pressures of the Nomination Committee of Lambton Presbytery. Actually, it'll be 7 years before my installation as Presbytery Chair. Still, the powers that be caught up to me, and like most bodies of church governance, an actual election is rare. So I am now the acclaimed Chair-Elect; yes, I am that crazy.

For those who do not have the pleasure of Presbytery meetings, representatives of every church within a particular geographic region, oversees the work of those churches and can be a political hotbed of strife and complaining. All that being said, I do enjoy Presbytery and the "upper courts" of the church where I can see and shape the work and focus of the church beyond my own community.

Is becoming Chair a big deal? Well, as big of one as you care to make. I struggled with the top-down dynamic that a Chair reinforces, and resist the tokenism of having a young-ish visible minority as a Chair (not that I believe that is why I was nominated – something else that is only as big a deal as I care to make ...). But when I grumble and grump about how inefficient and pointless some of the discussions of the court are, I guess it's on me to be part of the solution.

So it's one more year of snickering in the peanut gallery, doing crosswords and Sudokus before I have to pay attention to the proceedings on the floor.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Rei had a great day at daycare today, lately she's been chatting up a storm with her teachers. Today, she regaled her class with stories about our trip to St. John's, the ride on the plane. Tonight, she asked Shelley what her favourite part about the ferry was.

She asked if we could go to a hotel again some time. I asked what we'd do at a hotel and she replied, "We'd sleep in the BEDS!" The novelty of big, jump-able beds with a view of the TV won't easily wear off.

It makes me wonder what her earliest memory is. I can remember walking along the beach at the Pinery and having sand in my shoe; the pictures from that day are in the photo album, but I don't know how old I was. I remember going to Japan when I was 2 (standing out in the hallway at night while my futon/tatami was cleaned and rearranged because I wet the "bed"). Maybe it's a good thing that childhood is a blur sometimes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Car Trip

After the memorial service this afternoon, and the accompanying luncheon, I came home to put away some laundry, wash some dishes and popped the carseats into the Fusion. After much tugging and yanking, those seats were anchored – wiggling the seat jostled the entire car. I've been to a couple carseat clinics and installed them enough times, that I know what I'm doing. (At least when it comes to Evenflo products).

To mark the occasion, we made a family outing to Strathroy for a fast food supper. En route, I realized this was the first time Shelley and I had been in the new car together; even our test drives were on separate days. I think we pushed our luck with the kids, attempting such an endeavour after a full day of daycare for both of them. We were treated to some backseat wailing, in stereo, on the way home.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Crabby Birthday

Today marked my official return to work from parental leave. Kai spent his first birthday at daycare and didn't sleep as much as he needed to, making him a rather cranky celebrant. Although he did perk up for birthday cake.
birthday kai cake

I zipped into the city and picked up two carseats, taking advantage of Sears' Surprise Sale, getting 10% off my purchase. I got the batteries replaced in my watches and did some CD shopping while I waited. Feist's "Let It Die" and Sufjan Steven's "Come on Feel the Illinoise" are now official additions to our musical soundscape.

Rei was very excited about the presents that were to be opened and actively encouraged her brother to see what else he received. She also enjoyed the empty carseat boxes.
rei big box

Sunday, June 11, 2006


The transition back to work began today with my participation in worship, assisting with Communion, offering prayer and a closing guided meditation. Thankfully, Marjorie, the interim supply minister, had organized everything and made necessary arrangements. It's been a comfort to know the congregations were in good hands as I spent quality time with the kids.

The afternoon was the Decoration Day service at Arkona Cemetery and my first real preaching engagement in 4 months. I was a little distracted by the fact that my watch battery had died and I was bare-wristed (I'm sure Myers-Briggs or any other personality type quiz would make something of that). I don't think I blabbed too long, but it did seem I did an awful lot of talking ...

I spent the evening meeting with a couple about their upcoming wedding and writing liturgy for that, and a funeral this Tuesday. I didn't think I'd have to make up for the last few months all in one day!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Having Cake

We fully anticipated that Kai would dive headlong into the dessert phenomenon that is birthday cake. He didn't savour it as much as we thought he might; rather, he seemed quite unimpressed. Granted, he was quite out of sorts today: tired, cranky, teething... Or it could be that he knew it really wasn't his birthday yet?
kai cake
Although that didn't stop him from enjoying the presents.
kai presents


We picked up our new Ford Fusion this morning, Rei was duly impressed by the grey car. Chances are she'll like it even better when she gets to ride in it, once we get a couple more carseats installed.

I had the first honour of enjoying the "new car smell" off the lot and on the road home, after visiting a couple people in the hospital. I guess I'm fully immersed in church duties now as I prepare for a wedding, a funeral and a Presbytery meeting in the coming days. So the procurement of carseats is going to have to wait until I get a spare moment; and the kids will be Focus-bound for the time being.

Upon closer inspection of our vehicle, I've noted the letters FoMoCo imprinted in various areas. Presumably they stand for "Ford Motor Company", although I am already busy thinking up alternatives.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Timeless Art of Seduction

Seinfeld's George Constanza has undertaken some desperate measures to woo the woman of his fancy. "The Timeless Art of Seduction" is such a testament to his determination.

George isn't the only who can strike a pose.
timeless art

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Preparing the Way

Despite the fact I'm still on parental leave for a few more days (official return on Monday), the work is already piling up. I've been scheduling meetings and my first couple weeks are already filled.

I will also help preside in worship this Sunday, a symbolic transition from leave to work, from our pulpit supply person to me.

Seeing as I'd been away for the last two Decoration Day services at the Arkona cemetery (away in Winnipeg for a course, away at hospital for Kai's birth), I agreed to preach this year which is always the major chunk of work. This understanding grew from merely preaching (and naturally selecting the accompanying scripture) to choosing hymns, coordinating with the musician, forwarding said hymns to the bulletin publisher, offering the Call to Worship, and liasing with another minister about her participation in the service.

I'm also preaching at Ravenswood's Cemetery Service the Sunday after that. And I've been working with a couple on their marriage counselling/wedding preparation for next Sunday.

With all this work while on leave, I won't feel bad about taking a day or two here and there in the next few weeks to make up for these intrusions into my government-sanctioned time away from work.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hot Wheels

We bought a new car today. The Fusion replaces the inexplicably popular Taurus in Ford's lineup and will find its way into our driveway.

With my imminent return to work and Shelley's job now requiring so much travel, we knew we'd be in the market for another vehicle. It was a rather simple process (facilitated by Shelley's dad's Ford employee price plan which made comparison shopping rather moot). Also, we have a surprisingly good relationship with our sales rep who we've now known for 6 years – how time flies.

I called yesterday to ask if they had a Fusion with standard transmission on the lot, test drove it (giving me an excuse to do donuts, forward and reverse, in the Wal-Mart parking lot), figured out what the numbers are, and took the paperwork home to fill out.

It's a fun drive; has more power than what we're used to driving; provides a smooth, quiet ride, and we actually get a tachometer! Plus, there's cruise control which is a novelty for us. We'll pick it up Saturday morning. Although, too late, I think I should have had them throw in a Gillette Fusion 5-blade razor to sweeten the deal in a cross promotional offer.

Happy Hammock-ah

Despite mistaking the long meshy bundle in my arms for a mop at first, Rei soon enough was enjoying the swinging lounge fixture.
Rei hammock

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday Drive

To celebrate the re-orientation of Kai's carseat (yes, we're technically a few days early to make the forward-facing switch: not until he's 20 lbs. and a year old; still, it's better than the baby riding in the driver's lap that we saw last night!), we went for a Sunday drive for some ice cream.
forward facing
There, he had his first taste of New York Cherry Cheesecake. Earlier this morning he pulled himself up to standing by himself for the first time. And he's finished with baby formula, drinking homogenized milk.

The milestones just keep on coming.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Praying for Batteries

We were at a wedding today. I wasn't presiding, just attending and enjoying the worship experience. Although the fact that a marriage ceremony is a service of worship is sometimes lost on the masses. In the middle of a prayer, there was some movement and conversation beside me; a woman was being handed something from her daughter in the pew behind us. I thought maybe it was some tissue, understanding that weddings can be emotional events, although why the Lord's Prayer was particularly poignant, I couldn't say.

Turns it out wasn't Kleenex but batteries. A fresh pack of 4 AAs in a sealed package that wasn't opening. So she turns to her husband to wrangle the package while she removed the old ones from the digital camera. I didn't have the nerve to announce that I was trying to pray, could she put that damn thing away?! And if she knew that her batteries were low, why didn't she change them before the wedding?

So all the ingredients of a wedding were there: 1 Corinthians 13, Pachelbel's Canon in D, J.S. Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, a candle-lighting glitch, and annoying camera lady.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Life is filled with those people who spin in different circles as you , but every so often the orbits overlap and the cosmic connection reminds you how small the world is and how important your relationships are.

Today I enjoyed a pleasant online reunion with a colleague from our time as university residence staff. We caught up on our lives and the people in them, bantering back and forth in sarcasm and sincerity (which can be a bit difficult when text messaging) and pledged to keep in touch.

And tonight, I met up with a dear friend, going back to our Sunday School days. She and her husband have been living in Stratford and so after getting the kids settled in bed, I drove to the Festival City for coffee and dessert (a yummy soft-topped crème brulée). We reminisced about our "glorious" (read: "tortuous"; being a hockey-hating brainiac wasn't my most brilliant social strategy) high school days, shuddered at Bushian politics and told stories about our lives. And it turns out they'll be moving to the States, where a tenure-track position in the music department of an American midwestern university awaits.

It's reassuring that no matter how much time has passed, there are those in life with whom you can readily fall back into comfortable conversations and good times. And tomorrow, the kids and I head home to reunite with Shelley.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Boys' Club

Kai joined the male class of 2006 at daycare today; his particular cohort is overly skewed to boys. The first visit went swimmingly, as we would expect for such a gregarious and happy bloke.
Boys' Club
He made a memorable first impression as he cheerily grunted and growled the whole time.