18 December 2006

Going, going, not going

I was scheduled to go on a week long business trip today. Found out about it last Tuesday. Then found out at 8pm last night that the trip was canceled. Whew. Going away meant I'd be flying back on Friday evening, then heading out to Spokane, WA first thing on Saturday, the prospect of which didn't thrill me at all. So, I'm glad I am staying in town. And I get to attend Elijah's 1-month celebration tonight. Yay.

13 December 2006

89 years old

Ed's paternal grandmother recently celebrated birthday number 89! Grandma was originally from Trinidad and then moved to China with Ed's grandfather and their three kids. When the communists took over China, the family moved to Hongkong. I believe, from Hongkong. Grandma moved to Vancouver to live with her daughter, Aunt Jennifer.

She's in pretty good health still and always in good spirits. 89 years! All the grandchildren had to serve her tea before dinner started. I think she enjoyed that.

I wonder if I'll get to live as long. And if so, will I be in good spirits at all. Or will I be the grumpy old woman with the surly disposition. hahaha

12 December 2006

Getting ready

December has always been a busy month. My birthday and then Christmas. This year, I asked Ed if we can celebrate my birthday by going skating. I am not playing hockey anymore and I really miss being on the ice. Skating is one of those things I truly enjoy. Luckily, there is public skating at a nearby community centre on Friday evening. And then after skating, Ed is taking me out for some Cambodian food. Should be interesting...

For Christmas, we will be spending a few days with our friends Lizza and Pat who live near Spokane, WA. The plan for Christmas day is to go enjoy the slopes at Schweitzer resort in Idaho. This will be a little get-away for me and Ed; I am very excited.

Our super generous friend, Kim, has agreed to keep our kitties company while we’re gone. (Thanks, Kim!) I wish we could take the cats with us but they would probably respond with stress attacks. Plus Pat is allergic so their house is a no-cat zone. On the bright side, they get to snuggle with auntie Kim for a few days!

Now, I am getting Christmas cards and gifts organized. We’ve put up the Christmas tree and some other decorations. We’ve been pigging out since the start of the month. Yes, we’re really into the yuletide spirit now!

30 November 2006

Neo's turn

First Bob, then Neo. He's better now but last week, Neo stopped eating and a couple of days later started throwing up. So we brought him to the hospital where he stayed for a couple of nights. Not really sure why he got sick and the doctor was never able to tell me what went wrong. But they put him on an IV drip to get him hydrated again and he recovered after that. The blood test showed a low white cell count which the doctor said is usually caused by stress. The only thing I can think of that was out of the ordinary was taking Neo to the vet to get his vaccination shots about three days before he started acting funny. Maybe that stressed him out. Whatever triggered it, I hope it doesn't happen again.

He is now eating again but only if we mix a bit of wet food into the dry food. Spoiled little brat!

As proof of all the needle pokes he got at the hospital, Neo has two shaved patches - one from the blood test and one from the IV. Poor guy looks pretty funny.

15 November 2006

Poor Bob

I noticed a few nights ago that Bob was not pee-ing normally. He was visiting the litter box often and was peeing just small amounts everytime, sometimes nothing would even come out. So I took him to the vet. The vet said he needed a urine sample, gave me a vial to use, handed me some antibiotics, and sent us home.

How to get a cat to give his urine sample... I emptied a cleaned Bob’s litter box and brought it to our bedroom. Next, I kept Bob in our room the whole night. When I woke up at 8am the next morning, Bob was pacing around the room, making noises to get my attention. He’d go to the door and paw at it while looking at me with this look on his face like “please, please, let me out”. I kept tapping on the empty litter box, coaxing him to go pee in there. He jumped in a couple of times, scratched it with his paw but he couldn’t bring himself to pee without the litter.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes, I decided to take him to the washroom with me so I can shower. And the litter box came along too. He really wanted some privacy because within one minute of me closing the shower curtain, he relieved himself. I then had to stop showering, dry up, so that I can collect his urine into the vial. Poor thing. He looked so disgusted at having to pee in an empty box. I understood completely. It was exactly how I felt when Ed took me camping and there were no washroom facilities around.

So, urine sample taken care of. Next up, antibiotic pills. The first one wasn’t bad since he had no clue what I was doing to him. The next day, he struggled a bit more but I was able to force the pill into this throat. The third day, crazy Bob appeared. I now have a small gash on my middle finger where his tooth nipped me. I also have scratch marks from his nails clawing away at my hand while I’m holding his jaw open. Yes, it was a rough morning for both of us. I was so frustrated with him and he was so distressed he actually threw up when I stopped trying to feed him the pill. I felt so awful.

I gave him some breakfast but he refused to eat. I would pet him to try and soothe him but he’d just walk away and sit a few feet away from me. He’s not liking me very much right now.

With Ed’s help, we were able to get him to swallow a pill. But I think I have to find other ways for him to take his medicine. We have 11 more days to go! Given the struggles this morning, I might lose some fingers if we keep this up.

18 October 2006

Back to reality

After our relaxing time in Boracay, it was back to the chaos of Manila. The traffic and pollution were atrocious but you can’t really take it too seriously. It’s just part of life there and that’s the way it is.

Once we got back from Boracay, we went to my Tita Mila’s house for dinner. I haven’t seen her and her family in ages! It was great to catch up with them. Saturday, Ed and I had lunch with the Lintags (my sister’s in-laws) at the Alabang country club - how posh. After lunch, my sister took me to Greenhills for some shopping and my brother-in-law took Ed skeet shooting. Interesting experience for Ed, I’m sure. Greenhills was crazy amazing. Row upon row of vendor stalls selling everything from Persian area rugs, to imitation designer bags, to fresh water pearls, to imitation brand-name runners, to fake Lacoste shirts. It just went on and on. I bought a triple A quality fake Coach purse. Apparently, it’s really hard to tell that it’s not real. But since I’m not really a purse person, I just have to take their word for it.

Sunday, we had lunch with aunts, uncles, cousins, and childhood friends whom I haven’t seen in years. My dad was there, too. My dad’s sister, tita Zenny, looks awesome at 78 years old. She looks like she’s just in her early 60’s. Lad, who used to pick on me when we were kids, now have three kids of his own. I was so glad to see them and spend a few hours together. After the lunch, my sister took us to the massive SM Mall of Asia. This mall is gigantic. Apparently, if you run around the perimeter of the mall, it would be a 5K run. Funny thing is, even with the mall so big, it was still packed inside! Lots of people spending Sunday afternoon in the mall. That seems to be the thing to do around here.

I discovered that books are cheaper here too, so Ed and I bought a few. On our way back to my sister’s house, we also bought a whole bunch of goodies to take home to Vancouver. It was later that night, when I piled up all the stuff I’ve accummulated over the last four weeks beside our suitcases and backpacks, that I began to worry that we won’t have enough room in our luggage. It will be fun packing tomorrow.

Monday. Our last day, hard to believe. We spent the morning packing all our stuff into the limited luggage space we had and thankfully, they all fit. Yay. Then it was off to Makati for lunch with three of my highschool mates and dinner with Ed’s friend from university who is currently residing in Manila. In between lunch and dinner, Ed and I treated ourselves to a massage at the spa in Greenbelt. It was a great way to spend our last afternoon in Manila.

We had two Tuesdays. One where we spent most of the day in airports and airplanes. It was 6pm when we left Japan but only 11am when we landed in Vancouver. So our second Tuesday was spent saying hello to our cats, dusting our townhouse, cleaning litter boxes, and doing laundry. Yes, we’re definitely back to reality.

12 October 2006


Sun! Finally! The clouds have parted and blessed me and Ed with days of sunshine. Well, the clouds were still there but not like last week. In any case, I got my tan. I'm happy.

Boracay's White Beach is fantastic. Miles and miles of fine white sand and clear blue water. I've been to many beaches and this one ranks as one of the best. Ed and I have been beach bums the last three days. We found a bookstore and bought a couple of novels to keep us occupied. Read, eat, sleep, work on the tan. That about sums up the last few days. Beautiful!

It's a great way to relax after our whirlwind tour of Palawan and Bohol. This is relaxation to the max. Too bad we have to go back to Manila tomorrow.

- Finding a bookstore was hard! Had to ask about ten different people before we got directions to a store that sold books, as opposed to magazines. I actually contemplated for 5 seconds about opening up a bookstore here on d'Mall (main mall on the beach strip). How would I like living on a small island? Hmmm....
- Fish here are aggressive. They brushed up against my legs and feet while I was lounging around in the water. I think they bit me too. Aahhhh... I actually went running out of the water, totally freaked out.
- My tagalog has taken two steps back. Since I speak english all the time to Ed, my brain gets all mushed up when I switch back to tagalog. So much for being bilingual.
- Massage is all the rage here. There's an army of women walking up and down the beach asking if you'd like a massage. 300 pesos for an hour massage. That's not even $10.
- The vendors ask you once if you'd like to buy whatever they are selling. You say "no thanks" and they leave you alone. It's great. Nothing worse than being hounded while you're on vacation.
- I bought a bikini top that has a halter neck. Now I have a funny looking tan line. Ugh. At least I have a tan line. This time last week, I thought my tan was in jeopardy.
- Here, they say "eat all you can" instead of "all you can eat".
- You can judge if a restaurant is expensive or not by the price of their San Miguel beer. 30 pesos is cheap, 40 pesos is average, 50 pesos is expensive.

7 October 2006

Mt. Pinatubo, Palawan, and Panglao Island

Whew. Finally, internet access again. Seems like ages ago since Angeles but that was just a week ago.

The trek up Mt. Pinatubo was a little different from treks I've done before, mainly because we followed a river all the way up the crater. So my feet were soaked within one minute of starting the trek. I have never hiked with wet feet before. If my feet were just wet, it would have been okay. But the river carries a lot of sand down the mountain so my main concern was my feet and ankles getting abrasions from the sand trapped inside my socks rubbing against my skin. I had to stop and "rinse" out my socks and boots a few times.

When we got to the top, the thing that struck me the most was the silence. Once we left the river behind and the sound of water rushing was gone, we were surrounded by complete silence except for the birds chirping. It was almost deafening. The crater is now a lake. The colour was fascinating, like a pale aqua green. Not really sure how to describe it. Anyway, it was beautiful. Well worth the wet feet and sand-filled hiking boots. And, it didn't rain. So lucky.

We flew to Puerto Princesa, Palawan the next day. It was hot and sunny when we got off the plane but started raining less than an hour later. And it didn't stop raining for a few days! But we forged ahead with our plans. We stayed in Puerto Princesa that day, walking around the city, checking out the market. The following day, we joined a tour to the Underground River in Sabang which is a two hour drive from Puerto. The first hour was fine. The second hour was what they refer to as the Palawan massage. The road was so bumpy that when Ed and I conversed, our voices shook. The cave itself was pretty spectacular. The guide took us along 1.5km of the underground river. The total length of the cave is 8.2km but it's not safe to go any further unless you're an expert, apparently.

The next day was travel day. We had planned to go to Port Barton which was a 4 hour drive from Puerto, again via a bumpy gravel road. When Ed and I got to the bus station at 9am, we found out that the Port Barton bus (there's only one per day) was not going that day because the road was in bad shape due to the rain. So we stood there trying to decide what to do next. We didn't really want to go to El Nido because the trip is 7 hours, according to the Lonely Planet. But the only bus there was the one to El Nido and it was just about to leave. So we hopped on. Next destination is El Nido. It poured all day. This is the ordinary bus, not the tourist bus. We were packed in like sardines, with bags and stuff in every available space. And there were bamboo furniture tied to the roof of the bus! Anyway, it was quite the ride and... it took 10 hours, yes, 10 hours to get to El Nido. The first few hours was fine because I was asleep. But when I woke up and realized that we were going much slower than usual due to the rain, I started getting nervous. So much can go wrong on a muddy dirt road in the middle of the jungle. It was nerve-wracking! It was such a relief when we finally pulled into El Nido at 7pm. Ed and I decided that we were taking the plane back to Puerto Princesa. To hell with our budget! There was no way that we were going to do that again. Plus we absolutely had to make our flight on Friday and there was just too much risk taking the bus with the road in that condition.

We spent two full days in El Nido. The first one was rainy so we decided to just hang out in town and take care of booking our flight back. It was a very lazy, relaxing day. The weather was better than the previous day and we were playing the odds that the trend will continue. We were right! The rain stopped, finally, by the next day so we signed up for the island hopping tour. El Nido is spectacular. We took a boat to Miniloc Island to swim in a lagoon and go snorkelling, Tinalula Island where we had lunch on a deserted beach, and Simizu Island for more snorkelling. The highlight - I spotted a turtle close by while I was snorkelling at Simizu island! It was an amazing sight.

Now, we are in Panglao Island in Bohol. We finally had a full day of sun and laying around on the beach. I'm gladly working on this tan that I am determined to have.

Tomorrow we're renting a motorcycle and going sightseeing. Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier monkey.

So far, this trip has been quite an adventure. Getting around the Philippines is not easy. It takes a long time to get anywhere and it seems that flying is the only reliable option, which makes for quite an expensive trip. It's no wonder that this is not really very popular with backpackers. What I've learned is to just go with the flow and go slow. But it is a beautiful country and I'm glad I have this chance to go around and visit these places.

Next stop, Boracay...

29 September 2006

Typhoon Milenyo and Angeles

I suppose it's only appropriate that after being away for so long, I should witness firsthand a typhoon of this magnitude. Typhoon Milenyo hit Manila directly yesterday and the damage is substantial. In my sister's area, the streets are littered with fallen branches and uprooted trees. The same is true for the entire city. Several billboard structures crumpled. My friend Tish said the wind flipped a car onto its side near her apartment building. It was crazy! Then in the eye of the storm, there was an eerie stillness but you knew that the craziness was going to come back after about an hour.

Ed arrived here on Tuesday night, just in time to catch the storm. Good timing. :)

The storm has passed and now the clean up effort begins. 90% of Metro Manila is without power and it's going to take a couple more days before it is fully restored. But people just go about the business of cleaning up the streets and repairing their homes. Just the normal course of business during typhoon season. My sister's house has a generator so we haven't really felt the impact of the power outage. Thank goodness.

Because of the storm, we moved back our trek up Mt. Pinatubo by a day. We took the bus to Clark/Angeles today. Clark used to be known as Clark Air Base when the Americans were still here. The town right outside the air base is Angeles and is best known as the R&R centre for the American servicemen. Prostitution is still alive and well here. It is unsettling to see the white man (usually older) walking hand in hand with the local girl (usually quite young) down the street. The main street is lined with girlie bars.

Ed and I decided to pay a bit more and stay at a hotel a little removed from the strip. It is called Orchard Hotel and it's not seedy at all, which is good. And they have a business centre with computers and internet access. Yay.

The highlight of the day so far is the tricycle ride we took from the bus depot to the hotel. I don't think I've ever ridden a tricycle before. I thought the driver was going to get us killed! Crazy driver!

There's an SM (a huge mall) in the Clark airbase. Since the Americans left, the airbase has been converted into an "economic development zone". Not really sure what that means. In any case, SM is a good place to grab lunch away from the seedy bars. Lunch from the mall food court costs about $6 for the both of us. We're splurging on the buffet dinner we'll be having tonight at the hotel - it costs $12.25 per person!

At 5am tomorrow, Edwin Manalang, our guide, is going to pick us up at our hotel. It will be a 2-hour drive then a 2-hour hike up Mt. Pinatubo. Apparently, there is a lake at the very top and it's fine to swim there. Too bad I didn't bring my swim suit. Lonely Planet didn't say anything about swimming in the volcano! Oh well. Then right after our hike at about 3pm, we head straight to the bus depot for the trip back to Manila. It's not too far, just a 2-hour drive. Well, it could be 2.5 to 3 hours depending on the traffic once you hit Manila.

Ed's been a bit spaced out due to the jetlag. But he's doing better today and hopefully, he'll be fully adjusted within the next few days. He was really grumpy the first two days.

On Sunday, we fly to Palawan. I'm praying the weather will cooperate and that the rain will go away. Will try to post again from there. If not, we'll definitely find a internet cafe in Cebu where we head to after Palawan.

ps. The internet cafe here at the hotel costs $3.33 for a 24-hour period. At the mall near my sister's house, it was $1.22 per hour. Crazy cheap internet access.

26 September 2006

Old friends

I remember a poem from elementary:
Make new friends but keep the old
Those are silver, these are gold.

I know, it's hokey but it's what I remember. Anyway, this past week has been about reconnecting with old friends. Some of them I haven't seen at all the last 14 years. Good thing there's e-mail because that's how I've managed to keep in touch somehow.

Most of my friends are married with kids. They talked about which schools their kids are attending, having parent-teacher meetings, dealing with issues (like one daughter eating paper as initiation into the cool group of kids in the class - and this is in grade 3!). The kids' ages range from 6 months in the womb to 14 years old. I think the average number of kids is two.

Everyone has done well professionally. Most are in management positions or own their own business. It's nice to see!

It's kind of weird, though. To me, they are still the same people. They look the same, they sound the same, still laughing at the same stories. But now they have kids! Weird.

And I wish I had a tape recorder to capture the conversations! I'm surprised at how much I don't remember. Remember when... Half the time, I wouldn't. But there has also been lots of "that's right! I remember" moments. It's great to recount the stories, like I'm hearing them for the first time. I swear, my first few days here, all I did was laugh. It was great!

I also realize I missed out on a lot of things - their weddings, births of their children, supporting my friends as they dealt with illnesses. Just life experiences in general. That's the downside of leaving.

I loved seeing my friends again. It's like not a day has passed since we last saw each other. Conversation just flowed so easily, laughter constantly spilling out of us. So comforting and wonderful. I wish I could spend more time with them. Definitely won't let another 14 years go by before coming back.

25 September 2006

Back in the hood

Been in Manila for six days now. I've had one get-together after another. My high school classmates from Assumption, my friends from university, and then my friends from Andersen. I've also been spending time with my sister, Leslie, and her husband Arnold and daughter Bea.

How does it feel to be back after 14 years of absence? Surreal! The city doesn't even look the same. So many high rises now, and a train transit system. Lots of development since I left. But lots of poverty, too. That part seems even worse than when I left. My sister lives in a gated community. Very posh and private. But outside those privileged walls, it's quite evident that life is hard. But I credit the Filipino spirit - people are smiling and laughing all the time. Just enjoying life, even if they have very little in way of possessions. But for a poor country, they sure like their shopping malls. It's all about the malls here. Malls in Vancouver pale in comparison!

My tagalog is getting better. My first couple of days here, my tongue was getting all twisted up so I just spoke English all the time. But speaking Tagalog got easier and I'm way more comfortable now. I even have the sing-song intonation that people here have when they speak. Give me a few more days and I'm sure I will sound just like my old self. hehehehe

It's all about food! Constantly eating - that's what I've been doing. But not sure why, I am always hungry still. Must be the heat. Maybe pigging out begets more pigging out. hmmmm...

And it's all about texting. I have been asked "do you have a cell phone?" so many times since I arrived. Sending text messages is the main method of communication here. "Just text me" and "I'll text you" are common phrases. When did the word "text" become a verb? And text they do - while walking down the street, waiting at the bus stop, sipping coffee at Starbucks. The thumb flies over the keypad at impressive speeds, composing cryptic messages, having conversations with unseen companions. A cell phone is a permanent fixture in one hand. Then there's me - with two thumbs at work, pausing after every letter to find the next one, spelling out entire words instead of using the shortcut versions. "s n d" means "is in the", "c u" means "see you", "ur" means "you are", and so on. It's crazy and everyone's really into it. I'm sure I'll also be a pro by the time I leave.

Other noteworthy observations:
- McRice burger. Instead of bread, rice has been formed into patties and the burger inserted between two rice patties. I haven't tried it yet but I will before we leave.
- Every place I've been to, the food has been superb. I'm going to take home a few more pounds than what I arrived with.
- This must be the billboard capital of the world. The highways are lined with massive billboards, many storeys high. Definitely was not like that when I left.
- Traffic is absolutely crazy. Took us 2 hours to travel approximately 50km. At least I had the billboards to entertain me.
- Skin whitening is big business here. Hmmm... What's wrong with being dark?
- The malls are the centre of social gatherings. Everybody goes to the mall, mainly to cool themselves, not really to buy anything.
- Some things are cheap, but some things are not. Lots of foreign stores are here - Guess, Kate Spade, Fendi, etc. And the prices are just like in Canada, converted to pesos. Who can afford to buy that stuff here? Weird.

18 August 2006

6 years! Already?

Just realized that six years ago this week, I started working for a start-up company called Navarik. The company was comprised of the four active partners - Bill, Don, Marty, and Orvin - and me. I was the lone employee, the developer who was given the task of turning their ideas into code. There was a business plan; I remember reading it. But where we are today and the systems we are building are so different from the vision outlined in that business plan. I think that’s the key to Navarik’s success - go with the flow but wherever it’s taking us, make sure we do it very well.

We had a small room in Yaletown, with five Ikea desks (which I helped put together on my first day), five Ikea chairs, and two bookshelves. The server was in a corner and Orvin’s old couch was against the back wall. We did not have a kitchen so we had to wash our mugs in the wash room. In the summer, the room would get stifling hot; it was like an oven sometimes. Nutmeg, Don’s cute Shar-Pei, came to work everyday and kept us company. I became proficient at typing with one hand and petting Nutmeg with the other. Our meeting room was the Seattle’s Best Coffee shop across the street.

Six years later, there are over 40 people in Navarik and we have a really nice office with three meeting rooms. I have to say there have not been many dull days working here. In fact, each month brings on a different challenge that keeps me on my toes. New people, new projects, new customers. Always something else to learn and many other things to do.

It certainly doesn’t feel like six years. My role has changed so many times, I suppose, so it doesn’t feel like I’ve been in the same job for too long. This is the longest I’ve stayed with one company, and certainly this company has been the most dynamic one I’ve been with. It’s been fun and I look forward to coming to work everyday. I guess I’m lucky that way.

16 August 2006

Catch up

Checked my blog this morning and realized I haven’t posted anything in over three weeks! Where has the time gone??? It’s crazy how we get so busy and we’re just chugging along taking care of whatever needs to be done that day, then just like that three weeks have passed.

What have I been up to since I got sick...

• I spent a day with my niece Sabrina and her friend Stephanie. They were visiting from Edmonton so I took them to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see the Haida art collection, then we had crepes in a cafe on Granville, then we went to the Vancouver Aquarium where we watched both the dolphin and beluga whale shows. Then we visited the totem poles in Stanley park and walked along the seawall for a bit. Hanging out with these 12-year olds was very entertaining. In some ways they sound so grown up (way more grown up than when I was 12!) but then they run to the guy making balloon shapes and squeal like young kids. It was an awesome day!

• I took an introductory flight lesson at Boundary Bay; this was a Christmas gift from Ed. The weather was perfect, a little windy perhaps. My instructor, Ben, said that he usually lets the student do the take off but because it was quite windy, he didn’t let me do it. Oh well. I still got to take the controls when we were up in the air, flying over White Rock. It was really neat! I banked left, banked right, did a big circle, went up then down. Then Ben took the controls and showed me what the plane can do. Really sharp turns to the left then the right. Then he asked if I want to feel like floating. Of course I do! So up we went then he did a nose dive. I screamed like I was on a roller coaster ride! So much for my mental image of me being a fighter pilot!
That's my plane

• I went to Vernon to race in the OC6 27km race in Okanagan Lake. We had a crew of eight and we did water changes. A hell of a lot of fun. And some bruises to show for it. Plus we won the novice category! We camped at the park and had a great time. Except for the park spinkler system turning on at 4am.
FCRCC Novice crew wins!

• Then there’s camping last weekend in Manning Park Lightning Lake. About 20 of us went for the weekend. Ed and I came in last and drove around the campsite for half an hour looking for our friends. Turns out there’s another loop of campsites that we didn’t know about. Sigh... But aside from that, the weekend was awesome. Tons of food, great company, and a clean washroom! And on Sunday, we hung out by Lightning Lake where we enjoyed Jeannie’s catch of the day for lunch.

I have been busy! Lots of good times!

24 July 2006

Luck of the draw and lucky to be in Canada

Last Friday, I went to Burnaby General Hospital’s emergency room. My physician sent me there after postulating that my kidney may have an infection. I got there at 1pm and I was tucked into one of the beds by 1:35pm. I thought it was really speedy service and considered myself lucky. I’ve heard of the complaints about waiting time in our hospitals. On the other hand, I thought that this illness may be more serious than I expected; that’s why they got me is so quickly. I chose to believe that the ER was just having a slow day and I am enjoying the benefits of that.

I was put on IV therapy which meant I had to go to the ER everyday to get my dose of antibiotics. My visit on Saturday morning resulted in very speedy service too. I had to get an ultrasound and I didn’t wait long at all. Then off I went to get my IV dose of antibiotics. Then they decided to get a chest xray done to make sure it was not my left lung that was the problem. Again, just a short wait. Then I was done. All in all, I was there for 2 hours. I was impressed and began to think that the waiting time problem didn’t exist at Burnaby General.

My Sunday visit was the same. Hi, I’m here for my IV therapy. Less than ten minutes later, I was settling into my chair for more antibiotics. Throughout my visits to date, the nurses and doctors have been excellent. They were friendly and professional. I was very pleased and thought the taxes I am paying this month was money well spent.

For Monday’s visit, I got to the hospital at 3:50pm. And for the first time, I experienced the waiting time problem. I waited over three hours before they called me in. As it turned out, IV therapy can only be administered by a nurse. And on this day, there is only one nurse in the ER and she happened to be preparing a patient for surgery. I was SOL. Finally, at 7pm, I got called in. By 7:50, I was done. It really is just the luck of the draw. On some days, it’s good and on some days it’s not so good. Maybe more people got hurt because it’s a Monday. Who knows....

The good thing is, they switched me to oral medication. No more hospital visits!

Reflecting on my first real encounter with the hospital system, I consider myself so lucky to live in Canada. I have to say that to be able to walk into a hospital, present my Care Card, receive excellent treatment (inspite of the waiting time), and walk out the door without once handing over a credit card is amazing. I appreciate that I am able to lay there in the hospital and not worry about how I’m going to pay for all this. I realize that I do pay for it - I cringe at the portion of my salary that goes to the taxman every month - but not having to worry about paying for the tests and the treatment when I am shivering with a high fever is comforting. Inspite of all its problems, our health care system is pretty awesome.

19 July 2006

July wedding #3

For the third weekend in a row, Ed and I attended a wedding. Shelley and Mark got married last Saturday in North Van. It was a lovely wedding and I'm glad for Shelley.

Random thoughts about that day...

- This is the second mass I’ve attended this year; the first one being Mark Aleong’s wedding last May.
- Even though I haven’t gone to mass in a while, all the responses and prayers automatically come up from some recesses of my brain. I can even recite along with the priest most of his lines. Weird.
- Shelley and Mark didn’t sit together during the mass. Her chair was on one side of the aisle and his chair on the other side. That was weird too.
- I love Trini weddings because people actually dance and dance and dance after dinner. It’s fun.
- The Trinidadian rum cake is so delicious. I think they use an entire bottle of rum to make that cake.

Philippines, here we come

Ed and I are finally starting to organize our trip to the Philippines. It’s been almost 14 years since I was last there and I’m sure so much has changed. And I’m sure so much has also remained the same.

We will be going in mid-September and I’m staying for 4 weeks while Ed is staying for 3 weeks. I’m doing my reunions and get togethers with classmates and old friends that first week. Then once Ed comes, we will be spending the next two or two and a half weeks travelling around the country. Not really sure yet how much we can fit in; it will all depend on the transportation methods we end up with. Since the country is made up of islands, travelling from one destination to another will always involve a plane or a ferry. Flying everywhere would be expensive and taking ferries would slow us down a lot. At the very least, we will visit Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay. I’m hoping to make it north to the rice terraces in Banaue. And maybe we’ll get our PADI certification. We’ll see.

It will be very interesting to see my friends from way back, to catch up, to see for myself how their lives have evolved. I’m sure I’m going to get questioned a million times why I don’t have kids yet. Everyone’s going to comment how payat (thin) I still am. There is nothing sacred over there, nothing too delicate to discuss. I better brace myself!

It’ll be fun, I know it. Two more months before I go. Can’t wait!

13 July 2006

Mon and Josh get married

July 7: They became Mr. and Mrs. Blommestein.
July 8: We got to celebrate with them. It’s so cool to see them married. We’ve seen their relationship grow through the years and it’s so evident that they bring out the best in each other. Congratulations, Josh and Mon!

It’s also the last wedding in our immediate circle of friends. Ed and I started the wedding trend in 2003, Yvette and Brian, and Louanne and Patrick got married in 2004, and in 2006, Josh and Mon tied the knot. Louanne mentioned during the reception that this may be the last time that we’d be all sitting in the same table during a wedding.

Except for Josh and Mon who are still looking for a place, we all bought houses in 2004 and 2005. Home renovations have been a common bond for us the last year or so. And come November, we will welcome the first baby in our circle with Yvette’s and Brian’s baby.

I love having these friends whom I share the evolution of my life with. They certainly make it more fun and interesting and I totally appreciate having them in my life.

12 July 2006

Hachi Bei

We had dinner at a really good Japanese restaurant tonight, a place called Hachi Bei. It’s on 16th Ave, about two blocks east of Oak St. Apparently, their specialty is the barbequed seafood so Ed and I had the bbq squid and bbq mackarel, respectively. Both dishes were delicious. It’s just refreshing to eat something different in a Japanese place.

11 July 2006

Beach volleyball

Yesterday, Kevin, my co-worker, asked me to play beach volleyball with them. They need a minimum of two girls and usually, Jo and Hina play but Hina was sick so they were short one girl. Kevin said that by showing up, I already give the team 5 points (I guess that’s the penalty for not having enough girls). I was better than having nobody, in other words. So, I reluctantly agreed. I haven’t played volleyball since high school and I was never good at it. All I remember is how much it hurt my arms. I was not really looking forward to it.

Before the game started, I got the quick tutorial of what to do and where to stand. Practicing the toss, I hurt my thumb. Great, that’s a good sign.

It turned out to be not so bad. My arms did hurt, a lot. But I also served quite well and scored a few points that way for the team. I squealed just once - when a serve was directed my way and it freaked me out. And I was able to pass the ball a few times. I missed a bunch too. Oh well.

The other thing that hurt were my feet and ankles. I was barefoot and running around on sand. There’s no support whatsoever for the lateral movements my feet have to endure. My right foot cramped up by the third game. How come nobody has invited beach volleyball shoes yet, I wonder?

In the end, we won some of the matches and I thought we played fairly well, considering they had me! Go Team Navarik!

7 July 2006


I did it - I joined the FCRCC OC1 orientation program last week. My first session was last Thurdays, June 29. This orientation program also entitled me to participate in the OC6 novice program every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning.

My OC1 session was very interesting. It was my first time in an OC1 and Norm, the coach, explained how to get the outrigger assembled, how to steer it, and how to get it into the water. I stayed in Alder Bay for a while, just going in circles, as I got accustomed to the OC1. We did go out to False Creek and that was exciting. I was very careful not to tip the boat over.

I attended the OC6 practice the following Tuesday, July 4. My first time in an OC6! We paddled from the Burrard marina to Siwash rock in Stanley Park. It was really fun and Norm said my technique is very sound, which was nice to hear. I found the paddling easier on the body because it’s not so frantic. It’s a little weird, though, because there is no foot brace to push off of and I haven’t figured out how to do a proper leg drive. Norm wanted me to focus on keeping my torso steady and to not lean out to the side. I want to work on my right side and making sure I lean forward and rotate properly.

It was really nice to paddle out by Stanley Park. With the dragon boat, we’re confined to False Creek but with the OC6, we can go out to the open water. And I get to feel the boat more, maybe because it’s lighter. I don’t know why that is but I just do.

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be paddling in the outriggers more than the dragon boat. Should be fun...

6 July 2006


Together with some friends, I went to Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai last night. The show was amazing. Everything about it was amazing. The costumes, music, choreography, acrobatics, and funny acts were all so superb. The entire time, my eyes were popping out in awe and my hands were tired from clapping. I must have said “wow” a gazillion times! Okay, I’m exaggerating but it was quite spectacular indeed.

The acts in the show, from what I remember:
- angel twirling in the net in the air
- acrobatics with guys being juggled and twirled using the feet
- three boys twirling rope thingies
- four women swinging up in the air (trapeze)
- russian (georgian) dance
- a woman doing maneuvers in an aerial hoop
- juggler
- acrobatics - a blend of bendy people and balancing them plus sliding around the stage
- two guys flying through the air suspended by their wrists
- bendy girl balancing in canes
- somersaults from swings
- clowns - disappearing act, guy singing a french song

The highlight acts for me were the two guys flying through the air, the foot juggling acrobatics, and the somersaults from the swings. The “musical” acts were really good too. I didn’t want the show to end. It was quite disappointing when they started taking their bow. I just wanted the show to go on and on.

What a show! Thanks to Kei for treating us! You rock!

26 June 2006

Now what?

I’m feeling kind of lost. A little over a week ago, my dragon boat team competed in the Alcan DB festival. We’ve been training and preparing since late January. I’ve been training since last fall! Then just like that, the weekend was over. Two races on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Then a few days later, I found out that my gym shut down without any notice. Just like that, I didn’t have a gym.

So now, I find myself with no gym and no dragon boat races until September. It’s a weird feeling after being so focused for so many months.

I need an end goal. Something to strive for. What could that be? I guess my options are:
• sign up for the FCRCC outrigger program and maybe get into the race development
• sign up and train for a 10K run
• get into something new like tennis

Or I could just veg out and not do much of anything.

16 June 2006

Back to YVR

Yesterday was another productive day with Glencore. Two of their operators - one who does crude and another who does gas blending - spent time explaining their work process to us. We also met people from Triple Point, the makers of PhysOps which is the application Glencore is deploying to manage their movements. Then we spent the rest of the time outlining the documents they want the Navarik system to produce through the life cycle of a voyage.

They fed us sushi again for lunch which was delicious. And Bill, Richard, Chris, Mary, and I went out for dinner to a tapas place in Greenwich. I had a good time; conversation flowed easily. The Glencore group is a pleasant bunch to spend time with. I mean, it’s not hard work to converse with them.

Greenwich was surreal. It just oozed money. Not just rich money but wealthy money. Like private jet money. The women in the restaurant looked like they were all wearing designer clothes and had hair stylists on-staff to coif them for a night out. Just gorgeous and stylish women. Yes, I felt frumpy, indeed, in my west coast flip-flops.

All in all, a good visit with Glencore. Hopefully, we get the business!

Today is travel day. White Plains, NY to Chicago to Vancouver.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, my luggage got left behind in Chicago. It wasn’t only me; there were around ten other people whose luggage didn’t make it to Vancouver. My bag was delivered to Bill’s place on Saturday since I was going to be racing all day. Bill brought it to the office and voila, I was reunited with my luggage by Saturday evening. Thanks, Bill!

14 June 2006

Stamford, Connecticut

My first trip with Bill in almost two years. We’re here to meet with Glencore, who is interested in our solutions.

We flew here last Tuesday. We caught the 8:18am flight from Vancouver to Chicago where we had a two hour stopover. Then it was a one hour 45 minute flight from Chicago to White Plains, NY. The nice thing about travelling with Bill, the super elite aeroplan guy, is the access to the Air Canada and Star Alliance lounges. It totally beats waiting in the regular gate area.

It made for a long day, though. I got up at 5am and we landed at White Plains at 4pm. As we were approaching the Westchester County Airport, I saw the many mansions that dot this obviously high income area. Martha Stewart, David Letterman - they live in Westchester County. I’ve never seen so many mansions in one area before.

Stamford is about 30 minutes from White Plains. We got to the Marriot Stamford after 6pm. Bill and I had a detour - we passed a sign that said Open House so we popped in to tour the gorgeous house that was for sale for $2.1 million US. The real estate agent was all over Bill! The house was grand, the workmanship was top-notch. The kitchen was amazing and the masters bathroom was like a spa. Sigh... How the other half lives...

Today, we met with Glencore. We discussed and got a demo of the system, PhysOps, they are planning to roll out in the near future. We showed them Shell Navarik and Cargo Watch. For me, my focus was to study how they define and model a “voyage”. I learned a lot today about the world of shipping and I’m glad I was able to come with Bill for these meetings.

Other highlights so far...
- Somehow I qualified for access to the concierge lounge where there’s free food and drinks
- I wore a blouse and skirt to work for the first time in a gazillion years
- I ran for about 45 minutes around Stamford after work today

9 June 2006

20/20 vision

This morning, i had my eyes examined. The last time I had this done, I was still employed by Placer Dome. That was around six years ago. Anyway, I’ve been noticing that my vision is blurred and I’m not seeing things are sharply as I used to. So I made the appointment and wished for the best.

Turns out I still have 20/20 vision! I’m very relieved. The eye doctor said the blurry vision is due mainly to eye fatigue and dryness. So I should blink lots and rest my eyes regularly. Staring at the computer screen tires out the eyes so I have to be more diligent about taking breaks.

So glasses are still a few years away, thank goodness. I’m quite happy to be the anomaly - a computer professional with 20/20 vision.

25 May 2006

Excellent customer service

I experienced excellent customer service today. I’d like to think that we all strive to provide the best service we can at all times but reality is, we don’t always do it. So, this day stood out because I had three instances in a row where I was made to feel like a greatly valued customer.

I’ve been shopping for a new bag for the new MacBook Pro. Based on the reviews in apple.com, I decided on the Brenthaven Metro but was dismayed to see that it would take 6-8 weeks to ship. Not to be deterred, I checked out brenthaven.com and found that they, too, have a store. So I picked up the phone to ask if it will take 6 weeks to ship. The lady who helped me assured me that no, it will not take 6 weeks. In fact, she’ll make sure that my bag gets shipped out today! When she found out that I live in Canada, she told me how much the shipping fee was - $21! That’s 30% of the cost of the bag! So she said she’d give me a 10% discount on the bag to offset some of the shipping cost. I didn’t actually complain about the shipping fee. I did say “oh” in a bit of a surprised tone but I accepted it as part of buying something that is not available locally. But she threw in the discount without me asking for it. How wonderful is that? Anyway, we ended the call with me feeling like I’m their favourite customer ever. And confident that their bag will be of excellent quality as well.

When the PowerBook was stolen, I realized that I didn’t write down the serial number for the MacJournal software that I bought. So I emailed them, explained the situation, and asked them to send me the serial number. And they did the very next day.With the arrival of the new MacBook Pro, I went out setting it up for my use. One of the first things I did was install MacJournal from my backup and register it. But I got an error saying the serial number is invalid. So I email them again to ask what’s wrong. That’s when I found out that I got an upgrade for free! I had originally bought version 3. Version 4 came out a couple of months ago but it’s a paid upgrade and I decided to just stay where I was since version 3 was working out just fine. But I found out that the serial number they gave me is for version 4. It doesn’t work with version 3! So I happily download version from their site and install it. I registered it and viola, it worked. And I’m officially upgraded to version 4. For free! How fun!

London Drugs photo
I need to get a passport. Mine was stolen and I may be going on a trip in three weeks. So off I went to London Drugs on Broadway to get my photo taken. I try my best to look pretty without smiling (apparently, the official reason for the non-smiling photos is for the government agencies to be able to do face mapping). The lady took my photo, looked at it, and said that my face it too oily. I was reflecting light like an aluminum foil. So she handed me a tissue, a cotton pad, and some face powder. We try again and this time, it seemed to be okay. So I go and dawdle for about 5 minutes then return to the photo counter. It turns out that my mouth was ever so slightly open so the photo was no good. We try again. She showed me the picture and I thought I looked angry. I wish they’d just let me smile! Another photo. I thought I looked even angrier. So I asked if she can just use the previous one. This whole time, she’s helping me with a smile, not once giving me a hard time for my vanity. She was so nice! I thanked her profusely for being so patient and left London Drugs happy. Not because of my photos where I looked somewhere between puzzled and “please don’t let this be a bad photo” hopeful, but because of how this lady was so nice to me. She rocked!

Photo Booth

One new feature in this MacBook Pro that the PowerBook didn’t have is a built-in iSight camera. I was clicking around earlier and discovered an app called Photo Booth. It allowed me to take a picture with the iSight camera. Here I am, playing around with the new laptop. Do I look thrilled or what???

Speaking of photos, I had my picture taken for my citizenship card (yes, that was stolen too). The thing that really bug me is my photo in my original citizenship card, which I got in 1996, is a really good picture of me. Fresh-faced and smiling happily. I’m a Canadian citizen! Yay!

Ten years later, smiles are no longer permitted when it comes to these government photos. WTF? What’s wrong with smiling in our passports? Why do we all have to look like sad, angry people? I don’t get it. I tried to look happy without actually breaking into a smile. It worked a little bit. At least, I don’t look like I’m just about to be put in a jail cell. But sadly, fresh-faced I am not. Ten years later and it showed. Ouch.

I get to do it all over again for my passport. Sigh... Not looking forward to it.

I'm so happy

Today, the replacement laptop arrived. I am so happy! It’s crazy how much a computer becomes such a part of your life and getting this new MacBook Pro is like making my life whole again. Ok, I’m exaggerating but it’s close. hehehe It’s like losing a limb and now I have it back.

This laptop is beautiful. Check out the details at apple.com. I’m really grateful to Navarik for getting me such an awesome machine. I know it’s not my fault that the PowerBook I had was stolen but I feel bad, nonetheless, for “losing” it. What can I say? Navarik rocks!

So now, I get to play with this latest toy. Set it up the way I want and am used to. How fun!

Next up, getting a new laptop bag. I think I will get the Brenthaven Metro. It’s received really good reviews and at $69.95US, it’s reasonably priced. And it’s not heavy and bulky which are my two main criteria. I want something light and sleek but will still protect the laptop. I want something the will fit into my backpack for when I travel. The Brenthaven Metro seems to fit the bill. The one that was stolen was similar but it was made by Incase and they don’t seem to make that model anymore. So it’s time to try something new.

Right now, I have my MacJournal back, I have a kickass laptop to write this in, and my two cats are curled up on my lap (Neo is) and beside me (Bob). Just perfect!

Oh ok, Ed... You make it perfect, too. :)

18 May 2006

I feel lost without my laptop

Only when the laptop was stolen did it become so evident how much I rely on it at work and at home. I didn't really have any downtime at work because there was a Mac mini in the office but although I had a computer, it was not set up the way I'm used to. It was the little things - the order of the icons on the desktop, the little utility that minimizes all open windows at once, the backup routine I had set up, etc. They are all gone and it's distracting as hell.

Then there's the interim aspect of it. The replacement laptop has been ordered so I don't really want to invest the time into setting up this Mac mini exactly how I want it. So I chose to do without my little gadgets and set up for now.

I am very excited about getting the replacement laptop. I'm nervous about taking it out of the office in the future. I don't want to lose another machine! But I will be getting a MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Intel Core Duo w/ 1GB RAM, 100GB HD, + 256MB VRAM). Sweet!

So for now, until the MacBook Pro arrives, my Mac experience is stripped down to the basics. I hope that laptop gets here soon!

15 May 2006

I feel lost without my journal

Since the PowerBook I use was stolen, I've had to use an interim machine (not a laptop) while a replacement PowerBook is being ordered. So I don't have my usual setup, my photos, music, and most importantly, my journal software. I use a product called MacJournal and I use it quite a bit. From time to time, I publish to this blog what I write in my MacJournal journal and that's what you get to read here. But since April 29, when those SOBs took my laptop, I've had to do without my journal. I did backup my files so I didn't lose any data but the whole setup - I can write just before I go to sleep, on the couch, as my cats snuggle with me - that was just made it so comfortable for me to write my thoughts down is not there. But I am starting to feel antzy - I now realize just how much a part of my life my journal is. And how much I rely on a laptop! Ugh. I can't wait to get the replacement laptop!

6 May 2006

Happy birthday, Edmund!

My hubby is a very social guy. He loves being with his friends so I organized a birthday dinner for him last weekend and invited close friends. Ed loved it and had a great time being the guest of honour.

Unfortunately, the events of the past week have been very distracting and I realized yesterday that I haven't gotten a gift for Ed. Oops. Sorry babe! It'll be a few days late but I have some cool things in mind.

But Ed's birthday this year is eventful. On his birthday, his good friend Mark is getting married and Ed's sister, Christine, who lives in NY is in town for a few days.

Ed, have a wonderful birthday! I volunteer to be the designated driver for Mark's wedding reception so you can enjoy the rum and the scotch. :)

Love you mucho!

Break and enter

A week ago, burglars broke into our home and invaded our privacy. They stole not only our possessions but also our sense of safety. I felt violated and trampled upon. And angry. How can people have no conscience? How can they just take our things and not feel so terrible that they would swear never to do it again? What kind of people would do this to others? How can people be so evil? I just don't understand how they can live with themselves. I'm an ethical person and I always treat others (and their property) with respect. So it makes me angry when others don't extend the same consideration to me. And to be frank, I don't really understand how they can be that way.

In any case, our peace at home was shattered. With the breaking of a patio sliding door, these thieves have turned our lives upside down, at least for the days and weeks to come. It took a couple of days for it to sink in; Monday was a very bad day for me. I was an emotional basket case, bursting into tears when a caring friend asked how I was doing or when phoning my coach to tell him I was in no state to attend our dragon boat practice or when speaking with the insurance claims guy about the things stolen from our house. I was lamenting our loss and I decided I was allowed one day of feeling sorry for myself.

Almost a week have passed and I am in a better state now. I am not looking forward to all the legwork we need to do to replace our stolen possessions. Of course, the insurance company doesn't make it super easy. But so far, our dealings with our claims adjuster have been positive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it remains that way.

I feel worst about the jewelry they stole. They were not super fancy but each earring, bracelet, necklace, and ring had a story that made them mine. My high school ring is gone. The bracelet my mom gave me for my graduation is gone. The earrings Ed's grandmother gave me for our wedding are gone. Pawned off somewhere, to people who don't care that these jewelry were part of someone's life story. My life story!

Second worst, the digital photos that are forever gone. Now, I'm going to be a backup fanatic especially when photo and music files are concerned. And now I realize, too, that I need to document our possessions - in case we ever need to replace them. Having photos catalogued and documented proof of ownership makes it easier to make the insurance claim. Unfortunately, we are basically starting from scratch in this area. The next few weeks are going to be painful.

But life goes on. I refuse to live in fear and anger. I have to let it go. So I dust myself off and trudge on with a few lessons learned.

26 April 2006

Natuzzi, seriously

After last Sunday's Sun Run and dimsum with friends, Ed and I headed out to Coquitlam to return the swatches we took home and possibly, to order the sofa and loveseat that we liked. (see this post)

During the drive to Coquitlam, Ed and I were working out our negotiation strategy and how much discount we wanted to get. Based on what Yvette and Brian told us about their shopping experience at this store, it’s possible to lower the price by as much as 15%. I’m not a very good haggler but I felt better because we had a plan.

I’m happy to report that we managed to lower the price by 15%! We got the Natuzzi set in micro-fibre (we chose a mushroom type of colour), instead of leather. Unfortunately, with cats in the house, leather was not really an option. We get our sofa and loveseat in 4 to 5 months. I guess they have to go grow the trees they need to build the thing in Italy.

We are officially Natuzzi owners. I feel so grown up. No more Ikea, just Natuzzi. Seriously!

23 April 2006

Sun Run

After 12 weeks of training, I’m finally doing it for real. My first 10K run, ever! How exciting. I am nervous because I didn’t get a full night’s sleep because we attended Rosanne’s wedding last night. But I’m sure adrenaline will get me through. Plus the sun is shining bright; the weather could not have been more perfect.

Ed and I meet up with the rest of the Navarik crew in our office, then we make our way downtown. We managed to scoot in (more like scale the wire fence) just east of Burrard St. Over 50,000 people are participating! There are people lined up along Georgia St until the eye can see. It is an amazing sight.

At 9am we start inching our way towards the start. I try to catch a glimpse of my co-worker, Derek, whose band, The Neurotics, is playing on a tall platform just before the start line. As we approach the start line, Ed gives me a kiss and says “see you at BC Place” then runs off. I turn on my iPod and I wish both him and me a good race.

The first part is really easy! It’s all downhill towards Denman St and it was a good warm-up. Having so many people around me, passing me, is a little unnerving. As we head into Stanley Park, the run becomes work - just what I expected it to be. I keep breathing steadily, swinging my arms comfortably, just pacing myself. I try to enjoy my surroundings especially through Stanley Park and English Bay but it’s difficult to do so. I am watching for slower runners and walkers ahead of me while trying not to be an obstacle for those behind me who are faster. Plus there’s the nagging “pace yourself, it’s a long run” thought in my head.

I am running along when I see the 3 km sign. I check my timer and see that I am on pace to finish under my target of 65 mins. That is a big boost. But I can’t help but think “3 km? That’s it? I’m not even halfway yet?!?” Arg!

The climb up Hornby St and Burrard Bridge is where I slow down quite a bit. I do my old lady run - little steady steps - to keep my heart rate steady during the uphill run. I just don’t want to burn out. We reach the end of the bridge and get onto 4th Ave and I realize I have to run all the way to Cambie Bridge. Ouch! That’s when the mental battle starts. “I can walk for 1 minute, I’m sure that is fine”. “No, just keep running. Don’t walk!”. Back and forth my thoughts go, like tennis players hitting the ball from one end and back. I fight the urge to stop and I keep swinging my arms, urging my legs to keep going, too. Keep breathing, I remind myself. And then a man in a fat ballerina sumo wrestler type costume passes me. Great, just the boost I need right now. I keep checking my watch. 20 mins left; 15 mins left. I keep wondering if I’m going going to hit my target time. I really have no clue if I’m on pace or not.

I make it to Cambie Bridge and surprisingly, running up the bridge is not as hard as I thought it is going to be. I paced myself well. Then I see the 9km sign. I check my watch and I have around 8 minutes left on my timer. Oh yeah! I’m going to make it! I push myself to pick up the pace. Down the bridge then across the finish line. Check timer. 62:29! Woohoo! I did it! 2 mins 31 seconds below my target time. Yay! I’m so proud of myself. I can’t help but have a big smile of my face.

Ed did the race in 51:24. That is a good time and I’m really happy for him.

I am so glad I did the Sun Run. Getting into running has its difficulties but all in all, the last 12 weeks have been very rewarding. I can run 10km without passing out and still feel pretty close to normal the next day. Very cool indeed!

Everyone in our Team Navarik did really well too. Kevin finished in 42 minutes! That’s insane! But he’s also 26 years old. hehehehe I’m very proud of everyone who participated.

Will I keep running? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I will. I think this warrants a reward, though. Like a new pair of running shoes, perhaps???

20 April 2006

Think about it

More changes in Navarik. Dono is taking a break from his duties as CFO and will be heading back to university to obtain a degree that he didn't get to finish 14 years ago. He did three years in UBC then went off to work in the accounting field. Dono is one of the founders of Navarik and I've been working with him since Aug 2000.

When he told me the other day of his plans, I was both surprised and not at the same time. Last October, when the decision was finalized to proceed with hiring a new CEO, everyone of us in the executive team was asked to think about what role we want to have in Navarik. And bigger than that, we were asked to think about what we actually want to be doing.

The previous five years have all been about survival. All of us have taken on roles that needed filling, not because we necessarily wanted the roles but because it needed to be done. My different roles in Navarik have certainly not been due to any grand career plan. I just always stepped in where there was a need to lead and take charge of things. Because taking charge is what I naturally and usually do, especially at work. I have always felt an ownership over Navarik and what we were building that I felt compelled to act and help in any way I can.

But now, with the new and more mature Navarik actually becoming a reality, I was being asked to stop and take stock of what I really want to be doing. I am in the enviable position of being able to articulate what I want.

“Think about it” sounds so easy but really, it’s not. There are always so many things to distract me - work, deadlines, staff issues, chores, errands, home life, my cats. Name it, it’s a distraction. And sometimes I think I do know what I want but a week later, I think I want something else.

I think the biggest distration is this - with change comes anxiety. And uncertainty. And sometimes, it’s just easier to not think about it. Just let things be.

So when Dono made a decision regarding what he wants to do at this stage in his life, I felt just a tad envious. I also felt very happy and excited for him. I felt sad, too. Dono and I have worked together for a number of years, we’ve become good friends, and I will miss having him around.

As for me, I know that I have to make a decision soon. Do I stay where I am? Or do I go for a change? What role do I want? Where does my passion lie?

I guess I have some more thinking to do.

15 April 2006

Hanging up the skates, for now

Last Wednesday, my hockey team got eliminated in the first round of our playoffs. We had an excellent regular season, even going on an 18-game winning streak. Then we started to not play well and lose our groove; we ended the season on a 4-game losing streak. Doesn’t bode well for the playoffs. Sure enough, we got eliminated in the first round. It was disappointing but all in all, it was still a good season and I’m quite happy with how I played throughout the season. Last night, especially, it was important that I play well. Mainly because I had decided when the playoffs started that I would be taking a break from hockey after this year. I don’t want to use the word retire - it just sounds so definite. All that is certain at this point in time is I can’t see myself returning for another season come this winter.

It’s been a good run, though. I started playing league hockey in 1998 when I joined a novice team called the Roxy Rockettes. Yes, very tacky name but we were sponsored by The Roxy. Then I joined a team called Hurricanes and we were together for a few years. I made good friends while on that team. The first few years, I was so into hockey. I remember telling Lizza that I can’t picture not playing hockey, ever. I was almost obsessed. I was getting better and better every season. I was climbing up the divisions. I played year round - winter and spring seasons. I regularly went to public skating to work on my skating. I went to hockey school, hockey camp, practices. Name it, I signed up for it. I watched NHL games to study how they played positionally. I even had a hockey net in my apartment so I can practice shooting while watching TV. Did I mention that I was really into hockey? Totally loved everything about it.

And I still do, just in a more subtle way. I can’t devote much time to it to get better. When I got to Div 2, playing with a team called Coyotes, I realized that to get better I had to spend a lot more time and energy to hockey. Due to a combination of many things, I decided that I was not going to pursue it. I was going to play hockey... just for fun. To be honest, it was frustrating. I have since realized that what makes a sport or any pursuit enjoyable for me is the process of improving my skills. Getting better made it fun. Not getting better was just frustrating.

But being on the ice was still one of my favourite things so I kept playing. But now, it’s time to stop. For now. Who knows? I may feel differently come September. I don’t think I will but we’ll see.

10 April 2006

More shopping

Ed and I went to Coquitlam yesterday to do more furniture shopping. We spotted this sofa in the Natuzzi showroom. Very comfortable, clean lines - we quite liked it! So hard to pick "the one" though because we end up liking something in every store we go into. Sigh... I need a decorator to just tell us which one to get.

8 April 2006

Double celebration

Group pic
Originally uploaded by Liezel.
To celebrate my sister Lory's birthday and our anniversary (we got married on my sister's birthday), my mom treated us to a delicious dinner at Mad Greek in Richmond. Thanks, Ma!

7 April 2006

Should we buy it?

Ed and I spent our Sunday afternoon running errands. The main to do was to order our fireplace mantle. The other to do was to check if an Ikea frame would fit a poster we bought at the National Gallery of Art last October.

We went to Ikea first but couldn’t find parking so we decided to head to The Finishing Touch instead. But as we left Ikea, I noticed a sofa store called Take a Seat across the street. Since we are looking for new furniture for our living room, we decided to go in and check it out. We ended up liking a leather sofa. We weren’t even shopping for leather sofas! Because we have cats, we have been advised not to get leather because the cats’ nails dig into it when they jump off. But somehow inspite of our earlier decision not to buy leather, there we were checking out this leather sofa from Italy.

Ed and I gave it the ultimate test - can we sleep on this comfortably? Lie down on your back, curl up on your side. Comfy? Unfortunately, it was very, very comfortable. Darn.

It’s on sale - 20% off. It’s priced very reasonably. It’s made in Italy (that means it’s well made, right???) and we can choose the colour we want. Should we buy it??? What if I get sick of the design after a few months? What if leather just sucks when it comes to cats? I wish I had a decorator who would just tell me what to buy.

Ed and I live in our living room. We watch TV, eat, work, read, sleep, play with our cats in our living room. I guess comfort should be the deciding factor. Besides, I just want the furniture to last from 8 to 10 years. I’m pretty sure I would outgrow this style by then and would want something new. That outlook does remove some pressure from the commitment of buying furniture.

Well, to satisfy my need to shop and compare, Ed and I will be hitting the stores this weekend. If in the end, this sofa is still the one we like, then we’ll go ahead and order it. Maybe I should just hire a decorator!

31 March 2006

Greetings from Tita Baby

Dear Ed and Liezel:
How time flies, three years have gone by, and I hope you are as happy as can be. My best wishes on your 3rd wedding anniversary:

A close relationship is based on friendship.
A caring relationship is based on sharing and understanding.
A romantic relationship is based on giving freely and on the ability to receive gratefully and graciously.
An intimate relationship is based on openness and honesty.
An affectionate relationship is based on patience and acceptance.
A secure relationship is based not on promises, but rather on trust, respect, faithfulness, and the ability to forgive.
A lasting marriage is based on all of these, bound together by love.

With love,
Tita Baby

29 March 2006

3rd year and counting

Cherry blossoms remind me of our wedding day. March 29, 2003, was a chilly, gray day but the pink and white cherry blossoms around Robson Manor, where we got married, livened up the atmosphere.

I was walking this morning by Burrard station and all the cherry blossoms there are in bloom right now. It was so pretty! And it brought back very fond memories of one of the best days of my life. Hard to believe that day was three years ago now.

I have to say that it has gotten easier - being married, I mean. I think Ed and I are doing a good job figuring out a rhythm for our relationship. It’s not perfect, by any means, but we do have a good foundation to work with. And I am getting more accustomed to being married. It is taking me a while but I am making progress. I was on my own for so long and shifting from “me, me, me” to “us”, well, has its challenges. For me, anyway.

An anniversary is about celebration. Celebrate the ups and the downs, the happiness and the worries. Celebrate what we’ve learned about each other since getting married. Celebrate the fact that we made it to this milestone. With the day to day grind and annoyances, it is easy to forget and lose sight of this.

Happy anniversary, Edmund! Thank you for being so good to me. I’m looking forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with you.

22 March 2006

My new boss

My new boss started yesterday. He’s our new President and CEO, Patrick Rooney. It’s kind of weird because Bill’s been my boss for over 5 years. Learning the nuances of someone new will be change. But I am looking forward to working with Patrick. I sense a different focus - more on numbers and revenue - and I’m not sure yet how that will affect me day-to-day.

18 March 2006


I went to Whistler today for a day of skiing. It was awesome!!! I am tired and sore but I had a great time. Who else went? Ed, Yvette, Andy, Jeremy, and Tomo. Others were supposed to come but the CW deadline meant that Kevin, Rico, and Shaun couldn’t come with us. Nevertheless, we all had a fun time on the slopes.

It was a little cloudy in the morning but it cleared up by noon and we had spectacular weather the rest of the day. We were at Blackcomb mountain the whole time. 7th Heaven, Horstman bowl, Jersey Cream, etc. It was all great.

I was initially stiff and pushing at my edges pretty hard to slow myself down. I’m sure if I see a video of myself, I will realize that I am not going fast at all. But it feels fast and I get freaked out so I dig in my edges and totally tire out my legs. I really should relax more when I ski. As the day wore on, though, and the more runs we did, I felt I was skiing better and more relaxed. My “S curves” were smoother and more consistent. After lunch, I was relaxed enough to just let my skis go a bit more. I probably was going faster but it felt okay and I was not freaking out.

One of the last runs we did, we rode the Glacier Express chair and when we got off, we veered left. I didn’t realize until it was too late that all the groomed runs were to the right. Going left meant lots of moguls and loose snow. I found myself in an area that was pretty steep and with some rocks jutting out. I’m sure there was a sign somewhere that marked this as a black run and if I had seen that sign, I definitely would not have come down this way. I looked around and saw Yvette, Andy, and Ed on the “road” below, watching me and cheering me on. They had gone down the part that was packed with moguls, the part I thought was too difficult for me. But now, I found myself in an area just as difficult. I picked the path I would take - the one I thought was the least steep and far from the rocks. I made my way down my chosen path. Then there was no going around it anymore, I had to go down the steep face in order to reach the road they were on. I took a deep breath, encouraged myself to relax, keep my weight forward (i.e. do the pumpkin), and take it one turn at a time. I will eventually get to the bottom. And I did. But, boy, my thighs were burning! And we were at the top of the mountain! The last runs as we made our way all the way down to the base were definitely painful.

But inspite of the pain, I really enjoy skiing - being out there on the mountain, pushing the speed I’m comfortable with, and getting better as I go along. It’s a fantastic way to spend the day!

10 March 2006

Lizard Bang

I had suggested to our dragon boat coach, Wayne, that the members of the team keep a fitness journal throughout the season. I think it’s a good way to see one’s progress and to monitor how much one is working out (or not). Another thing to include could be a diet journal as well. A couple of years ago, in an effort to improve my eating habits, I started a diet diary where I wrote down everything I ate. Everything - from the one bar of chocolate to the one bag of potato chips to the bagel for breakfast to the big meal for dinner. I am a junk food junkie and I figured if i have to write it down on paper that I was eating chips almost everyday (after my work out usually), it will make me think twice about putting it in my mouth.

It worked, to my surprise. I think what it did was make me take notice when I was eating junk and therefore, question its part in my routine.

I started the diet diary again this year (part of my 2006 challenges) but I was finding it difficult to maintain. So I decided to make it a blog since I seem to be having a bit of success keeping this blog up. Plus I am a faster typist than hand writer so I can fit in more info into the blog in the same amount of time. So a week ago, I created my Paddling and Fitness blog (http://lizardbang.blogspot.com/). Just to put pressure on myself to keep writing in it, I emailed the url to Wayne. He better read it!

More about the name Lizard Bang next time...

7 March 2006

One year in our townhouse

Wow, that was a year??? But our hallway closet still doesn’t have a door!

I guess we have accomplished a lot, mainly, installing the hard wood floor on the ground floor. But we still have so much fixing up to do. Sigh...

It has been a good first year in our home. It certainly does feel like our home more and more. And since I started running, I have discovered more of the neighbourhood. There are tons of parks and greenery. There is a trail system that meanders through townhouse complexes close to the community centre. There is a trail around the golf course across the street.

I have found myself becoming more and more of a homebody since moving here. It could be that I’m getting older and lazier. Or it could be that I just enjoying hanging out in our home.

28 February 2006

Heart rate monitors rock!

My hubby gave me a Timex Ironman heart rate monitor last weekend. It’s kind of funny because I gave him a heart rate monitor (Garmin Forerunner 301) for Christmas. What I gave him is the uber heart rate monitor - it has GPS and stores a history of workouts. It comes with software to install on your computer so you can download your workout history and see graphs and stuff.

I went for a run today and used the HR monitor. It was really helpful because I went at my normal pace and found out that my HR at that pace was right in the middle of my aerobic zone. That means that I can actually go a bit faster and still be in this zone. So I picked it up a bit and brought my HR up closer to the upper limit of my aerobic zone. Cool! Just after one run and I’m already loving this little device.

21 February 2006

Torino 2006

I love watching the Olympics. I don’t know exactly what it is but I really enjoy watching it - every sport from curling to skiing to speed skating to ice skating to hockey and everything in between. It is just so exciting to see the top athletes compete against each other. I cheer for Canada, of course, even if the athletes are not the top ones in their sport. I cheer for the top ranked athletes, too. I don’t know who they are but I cheer anyway.

Can’t wait for Vancouver 2010. I hope we’ll have the chance to see some events. I have a feeling that getting tickets would be difficult and expensive. But it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have the Olympics come to your home town. I guess I should start saving up some money now!

13 February 2006

Happy birthday, Jay!

To my friend for life, I wish you true happiness and peace in your heart. I am very lucky to have had the chance to share a friendship with you through the years. You are truly one of the best people I know! Although distance has now become a permanent fixture in our friendship, I know you remain one of the few people in this world who really get me.

Have a fabulous 30-something-th year ahead! See you soon - promise!

Beautiful Vancouver

Last Monday, after a night of skiing at Cypress, Kevin, Randy, Darren, and I stopped at the lookout point and enjoyed this beautiful view of Vancouver. Darren shot this spectacular picture.

What more can I say? Vancouver is the best place to live in! After a day of work, we have the luxury of being able to drive 30 mins up to Cypress which has good snow and challenging runs for some skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc. I swear there is no better city!

31 January 2006

This and that

Haven’t been very good about writing entries into here. Some thoughts from the last three weeks...

- I voted but didn’t really study each party’s platform. Just went for the better candidate in my riding, plus I didn’t really have major disagreements with the Liberal’s policies. But I really should be more informed.

- I am so tired of all this rain here in Vancouver. Apparently, 29 of 31 days in January have been rainy. Can’t help feeling like a wet duck.

- Sun run! I am starting to train for the 10k Sun Run in April. I’m a treadmill type of runner but so far, running outside hasn’t been all that bad. My only worry is getting my runners all dirty... Hate that.

- Been working out pretty regularly this month. Quite proud of that. 1 month down, 11 more to go.

- Going to sleep by 11:30... Well, haven’t been too good about that. Will do better...

- Work has been busy and challenging. This leadership stuff is not easy.

- We have a PVR which records TV shows for later viewing. Ed’s ecstatic about it but I’m worried that this will entice us to watch more TV, not less. But I am glad we got it because of the upcoming Olympic Games. I can record all the events I’m interested in while I’m sleeping!

- My cats are acting weird. I think they are getting used to the new food that I abruptly switched them over to. Neo is acting more and more like his normal self but Bob didn’t want to eat tonight. He always eats. Uh-oh, I hope he’s not sick too.

- Giving antibiotic pills to Neo is touch and go. Some nights I get it in one attempt. Some nights, well, I’m surprised Neo still comes to snuggle with me.

- Haven’t seen my mom since Christmas. Wow, that month just flew by. It’s time to get out to Richmond for a visit.

- My friend Lizza and her hubby Pat will be moving in to their brand new house in a few days. I am so excited for them! I’m envious too. A brand new house... Sigh...

- Dragon boat season is under way. Paddling in waterproof everything and a toque. Fun.

- Ed’s been very dedicated to paddling, working very hard to get stronger and faster. I’m very proud of him.

- Having my cats sleep on me and snuggle with me is one of the joys in my life. They are just adorable.

8 January 2006

A surprise guest: Peter Lepnick, 97 years old

Last night, Ed and I went to a Ukrainian Christmas party in Maple Ridge. Ed’s friend, Scott, and Scott’s wife, Colleen, hosts this party every year. We got back home around 11pm and Ed went to bed because he has paddling practice early the next day. I decided to watch the news on TV since I haven’t watched TV all week. I watched the news, then CSI was on so I watched that too. By the time CSI ended, Neo was sleeping on my stomach and I didn’t have the heart to push him off so I decided to just go to sleep on the sofa with my cat.

Ed gave me a kiss and left for paddling practice before 7am. I dosed off again but woke up to a weird noise, like wood being scratched. So I said “Neo” out loud, in a reprimanding tone, because I thought it was my cat scratching on something. I did think the sound was too loud for my cat to be making. Then I heard the noise again. So I sat up and listened. It came again and this time, I recognized it as scratching or tapping on my front door which was down the hall from the living room. I got up and took a peek to see who’s outside and I saw an old man standing there. He had tapped on my front door and he had also grabbed the knob and was pulling/pushing on the door. So I opened the door and asked who he was looking for. He said, “Nelly”. I said there was nobody by the name of Nelly in this house. He said Nelly was the owner of this place and that they were friends. So looked at him for a second and quickly decided that something was not right. He didn’t have a jacket on and he looked like he was in his 80’s. And he was holding on to the railing - not because he wanted to but because he needed to. My options were racing through my head when he said he was really cold. And then there was only one option - invite him into the house, get him warmed up, and find out where he lives so I can get someone to take him home. I was going to take him into the living room but he had a hard time walking so I put a blanket around him and got a chair for him to sit on. I asked him where he lived and he started talking about a white house down the street and how they kicked him out and they still had his clothes and wouldn’t let him get it. I asked if I can call someone to come and get him. He said he has a niece but her phone number is at home. That’s when I decided to call the police so they can track down where this man came from. I asked for his name and he replied, “Peter Lepnick, L-E-P-N-I-C-K”.

So I went upstairs to call the police (time was 7:25am). I didn’t want to be in front of Peter while I told the police that there was an incoherent old man in my foyer wrapped in my blanket. After the conversation with police, I went downstairs to find Peter asleep on the chair, holding the blanket around him. I didn’t really know what to do so I stood there watching him sleep. When he slid sideways, I ran over to catch him and suggested he sit in the living room instead. He agreed. He held on to my arm as we made our way down the hallway and I led him to the loveseat. A few minutes later, I heard the doorbell. The police were here.

Two male officers came. I didn’t even ask for their names. They started talking to Peter and asking him all sorts of questions. What’s your name? Where do you live? What’s the address? What’s your birthday? Peter answered all their questions clearly. He kept on talking about his house and how they forced him out of his house. But sifting through his answers, I found out that Peter Lepnick was from Saskatchewan and was born on May 11, 1908. He “rode the rails” and moved west about 50 years ago. The white house he was talking about was on 44th Ave and that 7 years ago, he sold the house and moved to the nursing home down the street from our place. And Nelly, the woman he was looking for when I opened my front door, was someone who lived a few houses from his house on 44th Ave. I was impressed at how the officers questioned him and got the answers they needed to piece the story together. They made it feel like a normal conversation and not an interrogation. It made me really sad when Peter said he thought he was a goner as he was walking up and down the street because he was so cold and it started to rain. He must have been so scared. They were worried about how long Peter was out in the cold walking about. So they called the paramedics to get Peter checked out before driving him back to the nursing home. The paramedics came, took his blood pressure, and checked him over. They said he’s ok to go and they were going to drive him to the nursing home. Then they all left. That was around 8:20am.

I was glad that I let him inside and helped him out. I’m so glad I slept on the sofa! I’m certain that I wouldn’t have heard him if I were upstairs in the bedroom. I would like to think that if he didn’t come to my door, that anybody whose door he knocked on would have helped him out too. I just feel bad that in old age, we lose our coherence and our independence. I think of all the things I have that make me someone other people listen to, that make me a leader in one way or another - all that will be gone when I’m old and gray and my mind start to lose it. It was really sad to see this man,this 97 year old man, sitting in my living room and not remember how he got to my house. I know I don’t ever want to be that old.

6 January 2006

Looking forward to 2006

resolution : a firm decision to do or not to do something
challenge : a call to take part in a contest or competition; a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities

I am going to test my abilities. Instead of making resolutions, I am going to challenge myself to make adjustments in my routine and behaviour in order to accomplish more of the “I wish I had blah blah” things in my life.

First challenge:
Nurture my spirituality. Spend time meditating, contemplating, focusing on what’s inside me. Spend time with family and friends.
(deliverable: a journal that is up to date and that goes deeper than just reporting on what I did that day)

Second challenge:
Nurture my body. Eat healthy and exercise more than I did last year.
(deliverable: intense workout at least 3x a week to improve cardio and build up muscle
bonus: a six-pack by June! hehehe )

Third challenge:
Nurture my mind. Read more, learn more.
(deliverable: finish reading at least one book a month)

Adjustments to make:
- go to be earlier so that I get enough sleep and rest
- leave work by 6:30pm so that I will have time to go to the gym and have a proper dinner
- no TV during the week so that I can spend that time reading, keeping in touch with friends and family, and meditating
- eat less junk food and treats

That’s it. Sounds easy enough! :) But if it was so easy, why haven’t I been able to do it? Huh, huh?

That’s why I’m calling it a challenge. I am a competitive person and so I am challenging myself to do better. I am challenging myself to deliver.

3 January 2006

Happy new year!

To my family and friends, I wish that in this new year you will:
- find and follow your passion and mission in life
- enrich your life by being curious about the world around you
- take on new adventures and challenges so you’ll discover more of your strengths and pleasures
- grow more in love with your partner or find a partner to love
- nurture your relationships with family and friends
- welcome additions to your family (if you plan to have a bundle of joy)
- be blessed with the beautiful gifts of health, love, hope, and prosperity

I hope 2006 will be a fantastic year for you in every way possible!