Monday, April 30, 2007


(Some would say that blogging about the playoffs and giving predictions after they've begun is cheating. But to those some who say this, I rebut with two words: Eat Me)

Although I don't have a TV, I've been doing my best to follow the 2007 playoffs as best I can. With what I've seen and the results that have unfolded, I must say that so far the East has been kinda boring, and the West has been pretty stunning.

In the East, there have been 3 series sweeps (Detroit over Orlando, Chicago over Miami and Cleveland over Washington) and 1 near sweep (New Jersey pwning Toronto 3 games to 1). At first glance, one would think that the east is unbelievably lopsided in terms of its skill and talent, but upon further observation, I believe that's not painting a clear enough picture. I honestly think that the Cleveland-Washington series would've gone to 7 games if Washington's top 2 scorers, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, were not injured. Also, I think Miami would've fared much, much better if Dwyane Wade were 100% and Shaq not as old, like they were last season. With the current Eastern conference landscape, here's my preditions:

Detroit/Chicago - I think this is gonna be a tough and hyper physical matchup between a Detroit ball club that has skill, experience, and the 'Bad Boys' way about 'em going up against a young but quick and also highly skilled team. With all that said, I think the Detroit starting 5 is better than the Chicago starting 5, and the Detroit bench is much deeper than the Chicago bench. But after the dust settles, I think this is what we'll see:

Detroit in 6.

Cleveland/New Jersey - Let's face it, Toronto's got a lot of work cut out for 'em if they're gonna claw back from a 3-1 deficit against a seasoned New Jersey team. I say that series ends after tomorrow's game, but you can't rule out home court playing a significant role for the Raptors. But still, I say the series wraps up at the very latest in 6 games. Anyways, I think the Cleveland/NJ series is pretty evenly matched. Although Lebron is a beast and nobody on NJ has a chance of stopping him, I don't think Cleveland has enough strong and consistent scorers to be the second option to follow LBJ. As for New Jersey, if all their players can stay healthy, especially Jason Kidd, I think they'll prove to be too much for Cleveland. With that said, my prediction will be a pretty drawn out series, but in the end:

New Jersey in 7.

As for the Western conference series, aside from the Denver Nuggets winning game one of their series against San Antonio, there's only one story line that's really making the waves and turning the heads, and that's the series between Golden State and Dallas. In my opinion, Golden State is absolutely tearing Dallas a new one. For a team that had the best regular season record as well as went all the way to the NBA finals a year prior, they're really choking during this year's playoff run. I think Golden State's regular season record does not even come close to reflecting them as a team, namely the resurgence of Jason Richardson. After an injury filled season, he made a full 180 3/4 the way through the season and has become the marquee player everyone knows that he is. Combining that with the mid-season trade and the coaching genius of Don Nelson to realize that Andris Biedrins is a mad baller, you've got a team that can hang with the best of the west. I think Dallas will give one last push to win game 5, but in the end:

Golden State in 6.

For the rest of the Western Conference:

San Antonio (over Denver) in 6

Phoenix (over LA) in 5

Houston (over Utah) in 7

As for my final predictions as to who will win it all: I say Phoenix will emerge from the West and Detroit will emerge from the East. It'll be a high scoring battle between two great teams, but in the end:

Detroit over Phoenix in 7.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Until We Meet Again

Well, my time here in Charlotte is done. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here this past week, hanging out with my brother Dennis, sister in law Liz, and nephew Ethan. The only drawback was the fact that there's only 1 Ethan, and lots of family who wanted to hold the little bundle of joy. I saw him nearly every day, and have yet to hold him in my arms. He was either sleeping, or already being held by someone who refused to let him go, namely my mom. I guess I'm gonna have to come back at a time where it's just me, Ethan and his parents. Until then, I shall savor the memories, experiences, smells and pics. See you soon, 'lil buddy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Flesh

Went back to the hospital today to see Ethan. He was all tucked in and had this eye thingey on his face, so didn't get to hold him...again. But soon, one day he will be in my arms. Till then, more pictures will have to suffice.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In The Flesh

I saw him!!!! I thought the pictures my sister in law sent were majestic, but they honestly pale in comparison to meeting Ethan in person. Here's a few pictures of 'lil buddy. If you want more, I've posted 'em on my flickr. All I can say is Unclehood friggin' roxers my boxers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Amidst a really trying and painful week, these picture my sister in law sent brought great joy to my heart.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Oh God, please be the voice of hope amidst this tragedy.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Treasures Behind Glass

With the help of Margie, I discovered these three gems. Enjoy!! I am still laughing.

Friday, April 13, 2007


That's when it all happened this morning in Charlotte, North Carolina. My brother and sister in law went into the hospital for the c-section. From the first incision to the final snip, everything went according to plan.

At 8:06am, Ethan was born. Weighing in at a whopping 4lbs 8oz, he was in my brother's arms for a good 30 minutes before being taken to the neonatal intensive care unit to receive some help with his weak breathing. Although that sounds scary, my brother has informed me that this is normal for children who are born premature. My sister in law Liz is recovering, but hopefully she'll be able to go see Ethan as soon as she is able.

As for me, I'm still glowing from the news that I'm an uncle!!!!! I'll be going town to Charlotte next Wednesday, so hopefully I'll be able to take some pictures and share 'em with y'all.

I wanted to thank all of you who were praying for Dennis, Liz and Ethan. Judging by the comments and emails I've gotten, I'm surrounded by some of the most caring and loving people in the world, and it's really meant a lot to me.

8:06am...man, that's got a nice ring to it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Prayer, Please?

I just got off the phone with my brother in Charlotte, and he told me some news about their new baby whose due date is to be next month. During my sister in law's checkup today, the doctor said that baby Ethan was not growing correctly. His head is normal, but his abdomen/torso is not at the size it should be. Because of this discovery, the doctor has said that the best course of action is to go for a c-section tomorrow and allow the baby to grow outside of the womb. Right now, my brother and sister in law are dealing with the shock from the news (as am I), as well as juggling an insane amount of stress (moving into a new house, work, recovering from shingles). On top of all that, although not specifically related, my mom is going in for cataract surgery this Tuesday. Needless to say, it's not been the best week for the Chen family. If I could solicit some prayers from y'all for my brother Dennis, sister in law Liz, and their baby Ethan, that would be really, really appreciated. Thanks, friends.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Death For Life

I recently saw the film 'Stranger Than Fiction', and in lieu of the crux behind this faith we call Christianity, these two clips spoke volumes to me and what it means to love deeply, sacrifice greatly, and live boldly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I thought that of all places I would find this sign, it would be in the US. Who would've known that Canada has one as well.

The Return

This morning, I awaken to find my brother already gone for work. Although I was a bit sad I wasn't conscious to say goodbye, he left a little note on the table. So I fire out a reply email to him and begin preparations for my morning glory known to the world simply as 'The Barrel'.

After I shower, pack my stuff and check my email one last time, I make my trek to the nearest Cracker Barrel. If you haven't been, then friends, you have not yet lived. My usual order is the country fried steak, which is a beef tenderloin (i think) that has been battered and fried to a golden, delicious grey/brown. It is then put onto a beautiful white plate and adorned with scrumptious gravy, although I usually ask to have the gravy on the side. But this time, I discovered that they have a different version of the country fried steak called 'Grandpa's country fried breakfast'. The difference between these two meals is price and sides. For the country fried steak meal, you get your choice of 2 or 3 (depending on which restaurant you go to) vegetables. I love the baby carrots, hash brown casserole, and if they have it, sweet potato casserole. If not, I get either corn or the fried apples. But with the Grandpa's country fried breakfast, the sides are grits, 2 eggs and either hash brown casserole or fried apples. I went with the casserole, and squealed like a pig in slop when I took the first bite of hash browns coated in cheese and seasoning.

Anyways, it was a fantastic way to wrap up a fantastic trip to visit my fantastic brother in a not really all that fantastic city, even if they have a Cracker Barrel.

My Day in Buffalo

**Read the previous post first**

After lunch yesterday, I hopped into the car and made my way to the land of Chicken and Sauce, otherwise known as Buffalo. In preparation for this excursion, I solicited the help of my dear friend google maps. For those of you who have not experienced the extent of its power, did you know you could input multiple destinations and create your own little road trip? Seriously, I spend a good 45 minutes punching in random destinations, one after the other to get myself what amounted to about 12 days worth of driving. I'll never do it, but it helped me put the life of a truck driver into perspective. With my map, package, computer, day bag and coffee in hand, I embarked on what has been a pretty fun day. First stop: DHL drop box.

Although I accidentally passed the box on the first time round, I eventually made one of the world's ugliest U-turns and arrived. I filled out all the information, sealed the package, applied what seemed to half a roll of clear packing tape to affix the shipping label to the pouch, and put it in the box. Wouldn't it be funny if I sealed the envelope but forgot to put the keys inside?!?!?!?!?! (Insert nervous laugh here...)

When the package was safely sitting inside the big yellow box, I thought to myself 'What next?' Then it dawned on me. I haven't checked my email in 2 hours. I must find myself some internet. So off I went. Originally, I was thinking of going back to Schwanny's, the place I spent many, many hours in when my flight to Charlotte kept getting delayed and canceled. But I thought that if I did, I would need to buy something, and if I didn't, I would feel bad. So I kept driving and thinking. Then it came to me: Maybe there's a Panera Bread around here. For my Canadian friends, Panera Bread is a cafe/deli/sandwich joint that has franchises all over the US, all of which offer free wireless. So off I went in search of my internet savior.

As I was looking around, hoping beyond hope that I would spot a Panera, I saw a movie theater, which caused me to get all excited and giddy. I haven't seen a movie in the theater for a while, so I though that since I've got about 7 hours to blow before my brother arrives, I thought what better place to do it than in the theater. As I drive up, my eyes scan the movie menu. It wasn't long until I found the movie that I was gonna see. I had wanted to see it ever since it came out a few weeks ago but haven't gotten the chance. I park, walk up to the counter, and say to the gentleman behind the glass:

"One ticket for '300' please."

I get my ticket, but realize that I've got about 20 minutes before it begins. So I hop back into my car and resume my quest for Panera.

I drive for what feels like forever, looking left and right, all the while losing hope as I pass intersection after intersection. But just as I was about to give up hope and make another ugly U-turn, I see something in the distance that piques my interest. My wireless internet senses start to tingle as my Mazda Protege 5 putters down the street and brings me closer and closer to my destiny.

...is it?...

...is it?...

IT IS!!!!!!!

Huzzah!!! I have found Panera!! As I round the corner to enter the parking lot, I start giggling like a little school girl for the successful expedition. I had planned to use my computer from inside my car, but since the sun was out and there were chairs and tables outside, I decided to step out and "borrow" internet in broad daylight. I did what I needed to do in record time and made it back to the theater just in time to catch the previews.

I'm not going to give a review of the movie in this blog post, but let me just say that it was everything that I was hoping it would be. It was what movie reviewers called a cinematic masterpiece, a feast for the senses. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would not mind seeing it again.

After the movie, I still had a few hours before Dennis' flight arrived. While I was out searching for Panera, I saw that there was a Barnes and Noble near by. For my Canadian friends, Barnes and Noble is the US equivalent to Indigo/Chapters. So I decide to go there, but not before a quick stop back to Panera to see if I got any emails or blog comments in the last couple hours.

Finally, at around 10:00, my brother rolls up with his black suitcase and black trench coat while carrying a black computer bag on one shoulder and a black bluetooth headset adorning his ear. Man, I'm so proud of him.

While he's checking in, I'm closing up my computer and wrapping up a chat with jojo. (Yes, they have free wireless in the lobby...and in the rooms too) After dropping off our stuff, we head right back out to grab some eats. At 10pm, Buffalo doesn't leave you with many dining options, so we end up going to T.G.I.Fridays. We eat, we chat, and have a really great time. Although I only got to spend about a few hours with Dennis, I really enjoyed it, because it's not necessarily all about the quantity, because quality goes a long way.

And finally, when I wake up tomorrow, Dennis will already be off to his meeting and he won't have time to have lunch. Although that's a bummer, I'm kinda excited because there's a Cracker Barrel around the corner, so before I head back to Hamilton, I'm gonna stop in for a good dose of Country Fried Steak and all the fixin's to put a gravy drenched exclamation mark onto the end of this wonderful trip.

Again, thanks Natasha for swapping shifts and making all this possible!! You're fantastic, girl!!

Monday, April 02, 2007


In 2007, I've been to Buffalo 3 times. The first encounter came in February with what turned out to be one of my worst travel experiences ever. The second came in March and was the beginning of a new revelation for what lies ahead. The third time is today, but it would not have been possible if the fabulous Natasha hadn't so graciously swapped barista shifts. What am I doing in Buffalo this time, you ask. Am I flying somewhere again? Am I feeding my craving for buffalo wings? Has my desire for all things USA taken over? The answer to these three questions are as follows:
1) No
2) No
3) No

It turns out that I'm here for two seemingly unconnected reasons: Shipping and Sibling. Let me elaborate.

When I was in Texas last month, I stayed with my friend Brian, whose housemates Matt and Enoch are people I would also consider friends. Anyways, on the day I was to leave, Brian and I, along with an assorted group of other friends were supposed to grab lunch. Unfortunately, something came up at Bri's work that did not allow for the above said rendezvous to happen as planned. In fact, Bri had to leave for work before I was supposed to leave the house for lunch, so being the great guy he is, he left his house keys with me so I could lock up. The only request he had was for me to leave the keys behind with someone so he could get them back.

Fast forward several hours. I'm at the airport and have checked in my luggage and began the process of emptying out my pockets for loose change and all things metal. As I'm fumbling around, my fingers begin dancing around this object that feels foreign to me. As my Sherlock Holmes skills kick in to high gear, it takes but a moment for me to deduce that I am a total and utter poo poo head. As I pull out this foreign object, it dawns on me that I had failed to comply with Bri's one and only request to leave his house keys behind. Immediately, the floodgates of self-deprecation in the form of choice 4 letter explicatives begin to flow inside my mind. Unfortunately, I had no access to the internet so as to send an email, nor did I have access to a phone to call Bri and apologize profusely. So I had to carry all my shame on board with me that began to fester and grow with each passing moment. It wasn't until the next day that I was able to send out the email informing Brian of my stupid rookie move. I told him that I was really sorry for not leaving the keys behind and I would put the keys in the mail as soon as possible. His reply?

"It's all good."

What a gracious guy this Bri.

Now, fast forward again 10 days. I wake up, check my email, and find a message from Brian with the word 'Keys' in the subject line. Immediately, my heart skips a beat as I pull open my desk drawer and see Bri's keys staring right back at me, as if to say 'I don't belong to you!! Send me home, Sucka!!' In the email, Brian asks when I sent the keys back because he was hoping to get them back by Wednesday.


What should I do? Should I make up a story? Should I fess up? After a couple minutes of crying in the fetal position, I decided that option 2 should be the course of action I should take, along with whatever consequences that are to follow. After I send an email back telling Bri that I still had the keys, I start looking around online to see what my options are for sending the keys back via next day shipping. Do you know how much it costs to ship something next day from Hamilton to Austin?

UPS - $35
FedEx - $53
Canada Post - $50

Upon this discovery, I begin to cry again in the fetal position. But this time around, I started rocking back and forth while repeating the sentence 'Baby going to sing night night soon mommy'.

Later that night, I get a call from my younger brother Dennis with the news that he's going to be in Buffalo on Monday night for a business meeting Tuesday. I tell him that I'd like to see him, as well as tell him about my boneheaded move. Part way though the conversation he says 'I can ship it for you next day via DHL for $7.'

'7 DOLLARS?!?!?!?!?!' I exclaim ecstatically.

'Yea. You want me to do it?'

(In my most professional voice) 'HELL YEA,BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!'

Unfortunately, my brother couldn't create a shipping label that had the origin from within Canada. So he created one where the origin was Buffalo, which leads me back to one of the reasons why I'm here in New York.

Up next: My day in Buffalo.