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Archive for March, 2012

In the current relationship that I’m in, there’s a certain benefit to it that others aren’t so lucky – on Thursdays, we go to the wife’s place for dinner with her parents.

We don’t go every week, I’d say 2 out of 3 weeks, or 3 out of 4.  This is something that the wife had been doing even before she met me and now it has continued with me tagging along.

What differentiates me from many of my friends is that the wife is local to the area, whereas many of my friends who are married are both from out of state.  Thus, they do not have relatives in the area so as to take advantage of this.  But even then, of those that have one or both parents in the area, I’m not sure how many of them have this particular advantage.  Maybe it’s an Asian thing?

The flip side is this interferes with my weight-control goals.  Every Friday I see a spike in my weight and it’s because I eat so much the evening before (and lunch leftovers the next day).

But what am I supposed to do?  Not eat it?  Perish the thought!  It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.

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Above is a screenshot I took with my phone from yesterday.  There’s (starting at the top and going clockwise) salmon with mayonnaise-like sauce, noodles, baked cod, some green vegetable, beef stew, chicken and a chicken-and-vegetable mix.  Afterwards, there’s dessert (usually fruit) and tea.  Always tea, every time.  No exceptions.

I’m pretty lucky.

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One thing I have learned since being married (actually, since even a long time before) is that the words that the wife says don’t mean what I normally expect them to mean.  Indeed, sometimes they have the total opposite meaning of what I think they should.

The three words that are completely untrue are “I don’t care.”  What these words really mean is “Keep guessing until you get to the one that I want.”

For example, let’s say that we are going to a restaurant.  I’ll say “Where do you want to go?”

Wife: I don’t care.

Me: Want to go here?

Wife: No.

Me: (Pointing to another place) Here?

Wife: No.

Me: There?

Wife: No.

Me: Well, where do you want to go?

Wife: I don’t care.

This manifests itself most frequently when deciding on a place to eat.  For example, this past weekend, we didn’t have much lunch and after the hike we were driving around, thinking about getting food.

Wife: I’m sooooooooo h-uuuuuuuu-ngryyyyyy!

(We walk by a restaurant).

Me: Want to eat here?

Wife: Mmm, no. 

(One minute passes)

Wife: I’m sooooooooo h-uuuuuuuu-ngryyyyyy!

(We walk by another restaurant)

Me: How about here?

Wife: No.

(One minute passes)

Wife: I’m sooooooooo h-uuuuuuuu-ngryyyyyy! I will pass out if I don’t get food in me in the next 3 seconds!  I’ll eat anything!

Me: We could stop at this place and have something.

Wife: No, I don’t want to eat here.

This continued for a couple more minutes before we finally settled on just grabbing something from a grocery store.

I am becoming fluent in another dialect of English.

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This past weekend, the wife and I went to the San Juan islands in northwestern Washington, which are situated between Washington state and Vancouver island.  The San Juans are slightly north of Victoria, BC.

We were there for Friday and Saturday, and then on Sunday we went to Orcas island.

While driving around the Orcas, we went for a hike.  This was a 7 mile hike round trip with around a 1000 foot elevation gain.  Even though I’ve been going hiking for over a year, I still don’t feel like I’m in good shape.  I get tired from doing tons of uphill walking, have to catch my breath and can’t wait until I’m done… and this is only 7 miles!  Last year, the wife forced me to do 8-12 miles!  And in New Zealand, there was even a 15 miler!

Anyhow, we did this hike on Orcas and at the top of Mt. Constitution, there is a lookout tower where you can climb up and view all around Puget Sound:

That’s me up there.

While at the top, I took around.  I couldn’t tell what I was looking at but luckily there is a sign that says what is what.  I read the sign and looked out in the distance and what I did I see?

Vancouver!

I used my phone and took a picture.  Below you can little white buildings beneath the snow on the mountains.  It doesn’t show up that well in the picture but you can see it very well in person.

I thought it was cool.  I’m all like “Vancouver!  Vancouver!  I see it!”

 

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So that’s what I did last weekend.

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Way back in 2003 or 2004, I used to play sponge hockey with a group of friends.  These friends also played in a touch football league.  I didn’t play, although I have always enjoyed football.  With my bad hips, I wouldn’t be able to play today.

Anyhow, one time the captain of their team – who was an incredible athlete and could run circles around anyone in sponge hockey – asked me if we wanted to get together and play a game of football against them.  I said “Sure!  It sounds like fun!”

I asked a bunch of guys my age from the church I was attending at the time to see if they wanted to play.  A bunch of people said yes, and so that’s what we did.  We played a pickup game one Sunday afternoon, and we figured this one scrimmage game qualified as as ready to play.

How wrong that was.

We got to the field about 6:30 pm and my brother and I were the only ones from our side there.  We waited for a bit, wondering where the other goonies from our team were.  Eventually they all showed up (late).  We prepared to play.

Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared for the level of preparation this other team had.  Unlike us, they had actual predefined plays, and they had a good quarterback.  You see, their QB could run faster than anyone else on our team, and we sent our slowest guy to rush after him.  Not a good strategy.

The way the game worked was that the QB had the ball snapped to him 5 yards back from the line of scrimmage, and they could do a full rush (i.e., no steamboats) but they had to start 5 yards back.  This meant that as the QB, you had perhaps three seconds to get rid of the ball before the defender arrived at you and tagged you.  No one on our team was prepared for that.

I still remember bits and pieces from that game:

  • On the opening kickoff, they tried something funny.  They tried to lateral the ball across the field from one kick returner to another.  I knew this was coming and figured I could recover the fumble but never got there in time.

  • Our team was so out of shape!  These were a bunch of guys in their twenties running around, puffing and pulling muscles like they were in their 60’s.  “Ow!  My leg! A charley horse!”  “Oh, I’m so tired!”  “Can’t we call a timeout?”  My brother and I were the only ones on our team that felt fine while the other fatties struggled after the first 15 minutes.

  • Their offense killed us.  Their QB was so good that he would frequently run for the first down (10 yards) and then stop so that we could catch up to him and tag him.  He did this because it was a friendly game, knew that they overpowered us, and wanted to get in some good fun.  That was a bit humiliating.

  • Their defense killed us.  Our QB’s couldn’t get rid of the ball quick enough, and eventually they sent a slower rusher in so that we would have time to think.

  • I was our team’s starting QB and I couldn’t do anything at first.  Indeed, I even threw an interception to one of the guys on the hockey team.  I sucked. 

    But I didn’t suck as much as our other QB. I will create an anagram of the letters in his name and call him “Yentil.”  Yentil was an even crappier QB than me.  He threw two interceptions, back-to-back, and both of them were returned for touchdowns.  To the same guy as me!  Yentil!  You can’t be QB anymore!

  • But it wasn’t all bad news.  We calmed down and sorted out a plan.  Down by three touchdowns, eventually we got our act together, no thanks to me.  We led a drive down the field with me back in as QB (since Yentil sucked).  We got down near the goal line and I ran in a touchdown.  Score!

  • With the game still not over, eventually I led our team down the field on another drive.  I threw for another touchdown, and I think it was to my brother.  Score!  I also remember throwing another long ball to him (not sure for a touchdown or a conversion) that was tipped away at the last second.

In the end we lost the game 35-14 (touchdowns are worth 7 points).  But two of their TD’s came off of interception returns.  And of our 14 points, I ran one in and threw for the other.

I think that made me the Team MVP.

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Following up from my previous chapter on How I Met Your Mother, I thought I’d give you the next phase of the story.


Kids, the last story I told you didn’t have a happy ending.  But let me tell you the next part of the story!

The year was 2005 and I had been in my job for just under a year.  I was getting pretty good at it, and I was a spritely 26 years old.  This was all before my hips went bad.

I was working in downtown Winnipeg, and every once in a while my coworkers and I would walk four blocks down to Winnipeg Square where we would get something to eat from the food vendors.  I would buy something once in a while (say, one out of four visits) but my co-workers would get something every time.  I went because I liked going for walks and it was good exercise (something I still do today).

On each of the four corners of Winnipeg Square, in underground tunnels, there are the four big banks – Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Scotiabank and TD.  Royal Bank is there, too, but not right on the corner (my memory is failing me here; which bank is not represented on that corner?).  At the time, I was into stock trading and so I thought of myself as a rather suave investor.  I wasn’t, but I tried hard.  Much harder than today.

Anyhow, one time me and a co-worker walked downtown and he had to stop at the Customer Service desk of CIBC.  Working there was a girl whom I shall refer to as Stacey.  He had some business to do and I realized that she was really friendly and cheerful, not to mention physically attractive.  On the way back, both me and my co-worker chatted about this reality and I realized that I was intrigued.  You may even say interested.

I didn’t have an excuse to go down to Winnipeg Square every day.  I just didn’t have that much business to attend to.  But when I did, I would make excuses to see if she was at the Customer Service desk and I would stop by and make conversation, at least to be visible.  One fortunate coincidence was that I banked at CIBC as my main bank, so I naturally had things to do there from time to time.  Well, by golly, I would go to the tellers for one reason or another and on the way out just happen to say hi to Stacey.

This was my strategy for the first few weeks.  I didn’t have the guts to ask her out directly (something that didn’t change from my experience years earlier).

Why not?  Well, I wasn’t sure whether or not she would say yes.  I wasn’t prepared to take the risk of rejection.

But it wasn’t like I made no moves.

One tactic I’m quite proud of is that one day we were chatting briefly on one of our “chance” encounters and I gave her my business card.  I forget why I did that.  I asked her if she had an email address and I asked to her write it on the back of my business card and give it back to me.  She did!  If I would have been really gutsy, I would have then asked her, as a follow up, to put her phone number on the back.  Alas, I didn’t have the courage to go for broke.

That summer, I was performing in a group magic performance with two other friends during the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.  The three of us wrote a mini-play called “The Wizard’s Classroom and Igor, too!”  I wrote most of the dialogue and structured the plot, and we had fun performing the 30-minute show.

The Forks

One day, while we were chatting during yet another chance encounter that I made sure occurred on my walk to the Square, I asked her if she was going to the Fringe Festival.  She said that she was planning to check out one of the shows that her friend was performing in.  I said “Oh, you should come and check out my show!”  She said she would.

To me, this was a victory.

Yet on the evening we did our show (it began at 8 pm or 8:30), I scanned the audience yet Stacey was no where to be seen.  I thought “Maybe later” and the show must go on.  Yet we did our 40 minute show and at no point did I ever see her.  She didn’t show up.

The victory morphed into a failure.

I never called her on this.  You can see that I was more bold than in my previous attempt, but I still wasn’t straight up “Do you want to go out?” because I wasn’t sure what the answer would be (years later, I would determine that I was right to be so cautious).

I think I emailed her once, possibly twice, but I never heard anything back.  And as time passed, I slowly started to lose interest.  It never went away, but it certainly wasn’t the same peak as before.

We still had “chance” encounters one or two days per week at my strolls past the Winnipeg Square, but she wasn’t working at the same desk nearly as often.

Finally, things came to a head.  I don’t remember the trigger for this, maybe I got a bit more bold and made a move, but that doesn’t sound like me.  Instead, I got an email from her saying something like she and her ex had gotten back together, and she felt that I deserved to know.

And that was that.

I went through my memory and scanned the conversations.  The reason she was non-committal was because she was tied up elsewhere in another relationship and I never had a chance.  If I had been straight up and went for it, I would have been told “no.”  That would have sucked.  Although getting this news also sucked.  But it was clear that she was trying to be nice and let me down easy.  She was trying to avoid hurting my feelings.

I told the story to a friend of mine and he commended me for having the guts (literally: cajones) for making a move like that – trying to pick up a stranger like that while she was at work.  It didn’t succeed, but I admit that it did take guts to do something like that and I’m glad I did it. 

It didn’t work out, and this story doesn’t have a happy ending either, but as it turns out, in the long run it didn’t matter.

And that’s the second chapter in the story of How I Met Your Mother.

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Yesterday, I returned to the dentist to get some fillings put in.  The week previous was a checkup, this was the real thing.  5 years ago, in my twenties, I had zero fillings.  Now I have 10.

Yowza.

I remember the first time I had fillings put in with this dentist, in December 2010, it sucked.  I remember gagging and feeling super uncomfortable.  Because I have tight jaw muscles and gag reflex, they had to put that stupid plastic sheet in my mouth which made the experience even worse.  I hated it.  I never wanted to go back again.

But I have to go back.  You have to go back to the dentist twice per year.  And if you slack (like I did for years) it comes back to haunt you and it will suck when you get there.

This time I had to get three more fillings put in my top teeth on the right hand side of my mouth.  I went in there super worried – the needle would hurt, I’d be gagging the whole time and my jaw would ache.  And they’d pinch my lips with their hands while working with their hands and rest it on my lip which would press against my teeth.  All of this has happened before.

And yes, my jaw muscles ached.  And the needles hurt a bit.  And I gagged some.  And my lips pinched.  But from start to finish, to put in three fillings, it only took less than 45 minutes.

That wasn’t that bad at all!  I was shocked!  At that rate, I wouldn’t mind going back to the dentist.

The thing is that while we all dislike going to the dentist and getting fillings done, the fillings are my own fault.  All of my new ones are between my teeth.  All of them, in the molars.

It’s because food bits get stuck in there and I am a slacker when it comes to flossing.  The reason is that my teeth are tight and it’s tough to get floss in there (and they messed up a filling last time and it’s virtually impossible to get floss in between those two molars).  Some teeth are so tight that every time I floss them, it hurts.  So I don’t do it.

But during the last week, I flossed every single day.  Twice per day.  If I don’t want fillings, I need to brush and floss.  Experience shows that brushing twice per day isn’t good enough because you still get cavities between your teeth.   I plan to continue flossing regularly… after I eat (not before; why would anyone brush and floss before they eat?). 

After all, I would rather floss then get a filling.

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Recently I’ve been learning a lot about science.  As a kid, even now, I frequently wonder “What’s outside the universe?  Does it have an edge?  If it does, what’s outside the edge of the universe?  And if it doesn’t have an edge, how can it go on forever?”  I’m sure that you, reading this now, have wondered the same thing.

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I draw the above as a 3-dimensional box because it’s easier to draw than a sphere, but the concept is the same.  What happens when you get to the edge of the universe?

This is a difficult question to answer, but science and cosmology are trying.  The current theory as to the origin of the universe is that all matter used to be condensed into a super small, super dense point and then one day it started expanding rapidly:

This is called the Big Bang Theory.  This contrasts from the Steady State Theory of the universe which says that it had always existed, without beginning or end.  The developer of the Steady State Theory, Fred Hoyle, is the one that came up with the name of the Big Bang, and he meant it as a derisive term (in order to make fun of it). 

Yet as science gathered more data, the Big Bang theory took hold because we have evidence that galaxies are moving away from each other, which implies that at one point in the past they must have been closer to each other.  Go back far enough in time and they are all mashed together in one super-dense point.

You look at that image and say “Okay, the universe is expanding in a conical shape and is getting bigger.  But what’s outside of that conical shape?  What’s down by the arrows?

To explain it, imagine that you live in a world where you can only move in two dimensions – left and right, or forward and back.  If you moved far enough to the left, eventually you’d bump up against the edges of your 2D universe and you would want to know what’s on the other side (kind of like that pivotal scene in The Truman Show).

Or would you?

The universe you live in is not flat, but instead is a sphere:

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Imagine that you are a point on that sphere and you start traveling along one of those dotted lines.  If you went along one of them far enough, you would not eventually hit a “wall at the edge” of the universe but instead you would end up back where you started!  You travel far enough and eventually you finish right where you began.

In our own universe, it is expanding in three dimensions.  This is hard to visualize, but it’s not just up-and-down, and left-and-right, but also into-and-out-of the page.  In mathematics, we depict a 3-d model with x,y,z coordinates where the z-axis comes out of the page towards you, or into the page away from you:

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In the universe, it is expanding in all directions like a sphere.  And just like a real sphere, if you travel far enough in any one direction along any of the axes, you end up where you began!

In the 2D sphere world, there is no 3rd dimension just like in our universe there is triangle with 4 sides, or a rope with one end.  It’s a logical contradiction.  Therefore, you don’t ask in the 2D world what is outside the sphere because there is no outside there sphere.  To attempt to get outside the sphere you end up where you began.

Similarly, in our own world, there is no “outside” the universe because if you go far enough in one direction, you get back to where you started.  I know it’s hard to think about it this way, but it’s what we know based upon observation.  It’s easy to think about with the sphere or the cone, but that 3rd dimension trips us up because it’s not how we interact with the world nor do we have shapes to draw on paper that approximate it.

If you left your friend and went looking for it, eventually you’d come around and see the back of his head no matter which way you went.

And that’s what’s “outside” of the universe.

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