Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mad Skillz

For everyone who missed the show, y'all should've come to the Norman 'Pinky' Lewis recreation center to see the Chenster put on one of the sickest, most illest, ankle breaking, jaw dropping, head spinning and mesmerizing displays of ball playin' that has ever graced this side of Hamilton.

Yea right. I haven't balled in many, many months, let alone do much strenuous activity in a long while. I was mentioning to Erin that I walked up a flight of stairs to get to the school library and I was already out of breath. Allow me to paint you a decent picture: Imagine a sloth. Now shave it's body and give it a basketball. Can you picture it? Good, because that's what I looked like this evening. I missed EVERY shot, dropped nearly EVERY pass, lost most ALL my dribbles, and sweat like Niagra Falls was in my pores. Oh, and did I mention that I ate dinner RIGHT before I started playing? What did I eat, you ask? Nothing but the best, my friend. I stopped by the local Golden Arches and ordered me up a quarter pounder with cheese meal, complete with oily fries and thirst quenching iced tea. It all went down so smoothly, I think the grease coated my hands, which limited my production on the court. Oh well. You live and learn, right?

Even though my skills have greatly diminished over time, it was fun ballin' with a bunch of familiar people as well as meeting lots of new people whose skill sets were far superior to mine. Needless to say, I can't wait for next week.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Canto Prowess

A friend of mine in Texas is getting married in March and has asked me to read scripture during the ceremony. I was totally honored to have been invited to his wedding ceremony, but to be asked to take part in the ceremony? I was all over it!! There only one catch. He's already got somebody lined up to read scripture in English. He's also got someone lined up to read scripture in Hindi. The only language he needed someone to read the scripture in is Cantonese. I can SPEAK Cantonese, but I'm used to reading the Chinese characters in Mandarin. When he asked me and laid everything out, I was a bit hesitant. But how is it possible that I turn down an invitation as awesome as this?!?!

After learning what passage they would like read, I asked a friend of mine here at school to read it to me while I recorded it. The plan is to listen to it over and over and over again until I've got it down pat.

For your viewing pleasure, here's the Chinese text of Psalms 139:1-18. Have a gander. Enjoy the word of the Lord while I sweat bullets trying to memorize this bad boy.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I'm sick...again. This is really irritating. It seems that every time I travel by plane, I come down with a cold. With this observation, I'm not looking forward to my trip down to Texas in a couple weeks. Am I going to get sick again? My hopes is 'no', but we'll see. Right now, I'm kinda getting better, but hopefully things will clear up quickly.

I searched online to find some info on how to avoid getting sick while traveling and came across this article. It's pretty amazing how many germs are floating around out there. A couple suggestions this article gives is to get at least 5oo mg. of vitamin C, and stay hydrated with beverages that do no have caffeine. With my current coffee addiction and probably unhealthy cycle of the lack of sleep combined with being over caffeinated, I think this is my achilles heel.

Anyways, I'm hoping to start getting into the habit of drinking more water and less coffee. We'll see if that works or not.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Canceled...Part 4

Where did we leave off on the 'Where is Chen?'saga? Oh, I remember. I was in the process of being delayed by JetBlue...again. It's been a long day, so I'm gonna cut to the chase and summarize the last 18 hours as succinctly and briefly as possible. Here goes:

My body never touched a plane yesterday. The final flight that I was supposed to fly out on was canceled. In fact, pretty much every JetBlue flight that tried to fly into or out of JFK was canceled. Check out this article. Apparently there were passengers who were sitting on the runway for 9 to 11 hours and didn't go anywhere. It makes my debacle seem like a vacation.

After the announcement was made from the podium that our flights were canceled, I made my way to the desk to get a refund. As they were processing my request, I asked what my options were. They didn't use these words, but they pretty much said 'you're screwed.' They said the next flight from Buffalo to Charlotte was on Monday, which really doesn't help me. After getting my refund for the full amount, I call my bro and tell him the news. Like I said, I'm gonna keep it short, so after all was said and done, we booked a flight for the next morning, as well as a nearby hotel to lay my dirty head. My brother was able to book me a flight using my frequent flyer miles as well as reserve me a hotel room through the fancy schmancy internet. What a resourceful guy. After all that was said and done, I head over to the hotel, where by this time, was already midnight. I check in, change into my sleepwear, and go to sleep, because in about 4 hours, I would have to wake up.

At 6:40am this morning, I finally boarded a plane and made my way to Charlotte with a stop over at Detroit. But to expect a perfect flight after my track record would be pretty insane. During the layover in Detroit, we get news that the plane we were originally supposed to take to Charlotte had a mechanical problem with the light in the landing gear. Needless to say, I got delayed...AGAIN. But this time, it was only for 2 hours. So at around 2pm, I finally arrive at Charlotte, get my bags, meet up with my brother and sister in law, and can FINALLY relax, chill, get some good sleep.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Canceled...Part 3

Ok...How do I express my frustration without relegating to using profanities? I'm not sure, but it's taking every ounce of self control to not write down what I'm currently muttering under my breath. Here's the current development...

My reschedule flight was supposed to leave at 5:10pm, so I head back to the airport at around 3:00. This time, I bring my bag to check in. As I'm checking in, the agent behind the counter goes through the clickity clacking that an airline ticketing agent does. As she's doing that, I ask them if they happen to have an extra ziploc bag I could have to put my toothpaste in. They say no, but being the scammer I am, I prance over to the Continental ticketing counter and ask, while giving her my sexiest pose: 'Do you have an extra ziploc bag I could have?' She looks around, and gives me one, probably because my sexiness wasn't really sexy to her. It was probably more nauseating, like syrup of ipecac, except in human form.

With baggie in hand, I stroll back to the counter with this dirty smile on my face, as if I had just urinated in public and gotten away with it. As I prepare to get my boarding pass and government issued ID back, I get something completely different. The agent says 'Hi. Your flight just got canceled.'


After a good dose of unwarranted shock, I settle back down and ask 'So, um, what are my options?'

'I've rebooked you to the next flight, but that flight's been delayed from a 7:30pm departure to a 9:45pm departure.'

I think to myself 'Well, that's not THAT bad, I guess.' But oh does it get better.

'Well, it's a bit complicated,' the JetBlue representative says. 'By the time you arrive to JFK to catch your connecting flight to Charlotte, as things currently stand, you will be arriving after the last flight to Charlotte leaves. And unfortunately, there aren't any more flights from JFK to Charlotte until Saturday.'


Anyways, here's how things stand: I'm holding out hope that the flight from JFK to Charlotte gets delayed long enough for me to slide up on into her and hitch a ride outta the state of New York, which has so far been the bane of my existence today. If things don't change, then I'm going to ask for a refund and go to the closest bar and drink my sorrows away. The great thing about that option is I'm a cheap drunk, so I'll drop some bling for 1 drink, and have plenty extra to blow on other extracurricular activities such as...

...well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

Right now, I'm praying that the next time I blog it will be from my brother's condo in Charlotte.

Canceled...Part 2

It is no lie that my original flight out of Buffalo got canceled, but I didn't find out until I was 10 minutes away from the airport. That last post didn't really do much justice to the good times I had this morning, so let me start from the beginning.

I wake up this morning thinking to myself 'Hmmm...I wonder how bad the roads are out there.' I open the blinds and and immediately consumed by a barrage of white light from the literally knee-high snow. I look up and down the street and wonder to myself 'How the deuce am I gonna get outta here?!?!' As I think that, my heart sinks because the possibly of not going to Charlotte has taken one step closer to being a reality. But after a couple minutes of crying and dry heaving, I hunker down and thought to myself: WWMD? Or for you noobs out there, "What Would MacGyver Do?" For starters, he would probably go into the kitchen, grab a spatula, then go into the bathroom and take the toilet seat off, and with the right mixture of urine, snow and semen, he would make his own airplane and fly his outta there. Unfortunately, that wasn't gonna happen, so I did the next best thing: Grab a shovel and dig.

As I was applying as much elbow grease I could possibly muster, I was pleasantly surprised that the snow was soft, light and easily tossed. But, as I was close to being done, a snow plow comes rumbling down the street and pushing all the snow aside. At first I was like 'YES!!!!! HERE COMES FREEDOM!!!!' But as the truck came closer, I realized that it was pushing the snow in such a way that would have thwarted all the hard work I had just done. But I would much rather have to clear out a bit more snow than to try and maneuver out of a side street covered in snow. So after about 20 minutes, my baby was free and clear and ready to cart my sexy body to the Buffalo airport.

I had psyched myself out for a really terrible drive, but it wasn't too bad. Obviously, people were driving much slower than usual, but it only took me 2 hours to get from Hamilton to the Buffalo airport, which seems just a tad bit more than what it would usually take on a clear day. The only little hiccup on the drive was being stuck behind a van that had broken down near the border. I would have driven around him, but there was only one lane that had been plowed. So I get out and ask him what's wrong. You should've seen his face: Sad, embarrassed and totally flustered. He said his van was dead and he was on his way to the Buffalo airport to pick up his wife who has been stranded there for 24 hours. I really felt for the guy, but really couldn't do anything for him except help push his van off to the side. On a little tangent, pushing his van reminded me of the movie 'Little Miss Sunshine' where the family has to push the van every time they needed to start driving.

Anyways, as I begin to see signs to the Buffalo airport, I get a call from my brother Dennis who says that my flight had been canceled. At first I was about to turn around and give up, but instead, I decide to keep going and hope that the ticketing agent at the airport could help me reschedule my flight.

As I get to the airport, I go park at the short term parking. If you haven't been to the Buffalo airport, I would highly recommend it because in their short term parking lot, the first 30 minutes are free. So I score on the free parking and head to the JetBlue station. The lady behind the counter was really friendly and spelled out all my options. I could either get a full refund, or get rescheduled onto the next flight out. Since I had already come this far, I decided to hop onto the next flight and hope that it doesn't get canceled as well.

So here I am, sitting in Buffalo, waiting for my flight to leave. The only silver lining so far is that I've been able to find a nice little spot that has good food and free internet. So instead of trying to pass time sitting in the car, I'm chillin' in a place called Schwanny's, eating a Chili bread bowl that came highly recommended by the staff, and surfing the net and chatting. Hopefully the day continues to unfold with good fortune and culminates with a reunion with my bro Dennis and sister-in-law Liz.


That right. Sucks to be me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Have I Been Grounded?

About a week ago, I talked to my brother Dennis about this that, and the other thing. I happened to mention to him that this week, I don't have class on Wednesday so was planning on going back home to Michigan to see my folks. I dunno if he was serious or not, but he said 'well, we're not doing anything next week, so if you wanna come down, that'd be sweet'. (Actually, those weren't his EXACT words because he doesn't talk like that, but you get the picture.) After the offer was put on the table, I mysteriously found myself seriously considering the possibility of going down to visit. Originally, I was thinking of driving down to North Carolina. I've done it before, it's not bad at all. 10 hours in a car is cake, especially with good tunes and some baller coffee flowin' through my veins. But for shits and giggles, I decided to check out some flights to see if there was even the remote possibility of saving the driving and flying down. To my surprise, I found a KILLER deal!! Let's just say that for what it currently costs to fly one way from Buffalo to Charlotte, my round trip ticket costs significantly less. To make a sweet deal even sweeter, I found a coupon code online for $20 off via a discount through 17 magazine. I know what you're thinking, but let me say that the answer is 'NO' to the question 'You read 17 magazine?!' Anyways, with these deals stacking up, I couldn't pass it up.

Fast forward to today. For anyone not living in Hamilton, or the GTA for that matter, let me paint you a picture of what I see out my window: WHITE, WHITE, and more WHITE. And no, it's not a church revival meeting. Snow like you wouldn't believe. According to some sources, they're saying that we should be expecting about 70 cm. of snow by tomorrow, which is roughly 2 feet.


And the kicker is I may not know if I'm staying or going until shortly before I do or do not board that plane. So this kicker implies that the only way I'll know is to drive through the snow and hope that things simmer down in time.

I guess time will tell, and so will my next post. Until then, for those who are surrounded by the snow and cold, stay warm and know that you're not alone. And for those who are in a warmer climate...

...I hate you.

Just kidding...

...I think.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


For the past 3 years, I've been living in Canada. From North York to Hamilton, I've seen it all. Actually, that's a massive lie. I haven't seen much at all. The furthest west I've ever gone is Sarnia, and the furthest east I've ever gone is Montreal. So really, I haven't really grown beyond the 'tourist' stage. Anyways, back to the original point of this post.

Since many of my friends and all of my family live in the US, it's been a hassle for them to call me. Not to mention pretty flippin' expensive. Typically, they need to use a calling card, or VOIP service like Vonage or something to keep the costs down. But now, I've found a cheap, and FREE way for them to call.

This evening, I found myself stumbling across this website that lets you sign up for a free US based number, and forward it to any number in North America. Now, I dunno if it's ANYWHERE, but I recently signed up for a Michigan based number and had it forward all calls to my Hamilton cell phone, and guess what? It works!! Not only does it work really well, but it even shows the call display from the number of the person who's calling. Typically, if someone is using a calling card, a jumbled mess shows up on my call display. But today, when my brother called me from his cell phone, his number showed up.

Why am I blogging about this? Is my purpose to gloat? Am I rubbing my coolness all over the world wide web for all to choke on? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! The reason I post this is mainly for my friends here in Canada who find themselves traveling to the US often.

For example, let's say someone from Hamilton is to travel to somewhere like, oh, let's say, Las Vegas. And just to make the scenario all that more obscure and "not based on a real person", let's say they were going with a group of friends for a convention. And to make the "random meter" shoot off the charts, let's say this person was unable to travel with their children and significant other, although I'm quite certain that if it were possible, the whole family would go together. Anyways, what would be a way for this person to call home relatively inexpensively, or better yet, for free?

I KNOW!!!!!

Sign up for a US number through this website, setup the call forwarding to the appropriate number, and you're done!! A cool thing about this website is that it allows you to leave voicemails on its system, and every time you get a voicemail, you are alerted via email of the new message.

All I can say is "HUZZAH!!! THIS ARE TASTY!!!!!"

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


This afternoon, I attended the funeral of Grandma Jewell, Kristyn's grandmother. I thought it was a really good service, but at the same time, I don't have very many funeral experiences to compare this to.

During the whole service, I found myself thinking that I may be attending one of these very soon for my grandfather. I received an email from my dad last night with news that he's not doing very well, and unless his condition improves, he may need to go into the hospital. Even as I ponder writing this post, I find myself wanting to delete it. To me, it seems a bit too morbid and perhaps wrong to be writing about someone whom I love dearly in a manner that makes them sound like they have passed away, but in reality, they have not. I desire to be as optimistic as I possibly can, which is why I want this post to be one that remembers and celebrates my grandfather. Let me tell you about the James Chen, aka, Grandpa, that I know, love and revere.

I remember during my childhood, I would always look forward to our summer vacations where we could go to San Francisco and live at Grandpa's house. He would always do stuff with us boys, whether it was kicking around a soccer ball in his backyard, play badminton in his front yard, go for drives out to the bakery and stuff us with eclairs, or sit and watch cartoons with us. I also remember that every chance he got, he would teach us something new.

I remember one summer where Grandpa was sitting at his desk opening mail, and I came up to him and asked 'Grandpa, whatcha doin'?' He looked at me and said 'I'm opening my mail.' Upon further inspection, I noticed that he was using a knife-shaped object to open his mail, to which I asked:

'Grandpa, what's that?'

'It's a letter opener. You wanna try?'

(with eyes the size of quarters and a smile that pushed my chubby cheeks up) 'YES!!!!!'

He put the letter opener in my hand, and with his hand on mine, he guided it down the side of the envelope with what seemed like surgical precision.

I also remember a time when we were sitting in the kitchen eating watermelon. As we were eating away and spitting out the seeds, my brother and I thought 'What if we took these seeds and planted them in Grandpa's garden so he can have his own watermelon tree? That way he doesn't need to buy watermelon from the garden.' If Kevin Chen from 2007 could travel back in time and have a chat with Kevin Chen at the kitchen table stuffing his face with watermelon, I would've said

'What, are you stupid or something? You can't plant watermelons with these seeds!!'

In my mind, this is what most people would be thinking to themselves, but my Grandpa responded to our juvenile sense of curiosity with

'That'd be great!! I love watermelon!!'

So off we went, into the backyard to dig a hole where we deposited what seemed like about 100 seeds. After we covered the seeds up with dirt, I went back to the kitchen with this insane grin on my face, as if I had managed to accomplish some life changing task. I come up next to Grandpa and say

'It's all done!!'

To which he replies 'Well, next summer when you come back, there'll be a great big watermelon tree in the garden!!'

It is little things like these that I remember, because I've learned that sometimes it's the small, and somewhat inconsequential events in our lives that become our fondest memories. Yea, I will always remember the hard times like when my Grandpa went through a crazy divorce, and when at the last time I saw him, he kept asking me 'Who are you?' As painful as these times were, I will always remember Grandpa as a man who loved us kids and probably gave in ways that I more often than not took for granted. I will always remember him as an amazing man who taught me a great deal. I will always remember Grandpa as the man who had a huge role in shaping me into the person I am today.

I love you Grandpa.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I Am The Church

My good friend Gid from Texas sent me a link to their church blog. In it is a link to this site where people submitted pictures depicting themselves, not a building, as the church. Some pictures are funny, others are creative. But all are reflections of what the church is: PEOPLE.