Tonight before Derek fly back to San Jose, he came over to have another chat. It’s always a pleasure to talk with your old friend. Every time when we see each other, the conversation will somehow lead back to the old school days. We were talking about how are our classmates doing these days and a name pop up. This name is associated with a famous incident, the well known story of someone shitting his own pants. The version Derek had remember is totally different from mine, and yet according to him, I was one of the key person in that incident. He can even recall what had I said back then. That poor guy should have listened to my words and go to toilet at once. Instead he wait until matter goes from bad to worse and get totally out of control. Since that event, he is virtually isolated by every classmate and end up leaving the school without graduated. The problem is that I really have no memory of what had happened, not even a single trace of it. Since Derek had just mention this incident to some other old friends and they validated this version, I assume it must be the truth. I found I don’t have much of my own memory in high school, most events are reconstructed from conversation with other old friends. Sometimes I wonder, if a person is depicted of his memory, how can he confirm his own continuity?
Today I bought two Canadian flags from Superstore at a discount after the Canada day. The flags are for Me and Pat to use in the World Youth Day. When groups of people from different country gather together, a way to identify yourself is by showing your nationality. I would display Canadian marks on my backpack when I try overseas. I feel proud of being a Canadian and the maple leaf flag is something I can associate with. Even though I’m Chinese and have a HK passport, I’ll feel ashamed displaying the Chinese flag. The five stars flag is one of the ugliest flag design and government behind it is even worse. If I have a choice, I would rather display the dragon flag of the Ching Dynasty. Then I tried to imagine what if I am living live in the States. Would I feel the same towards the American flag? People who associated with the US flag are usually stereotyped patriots. The word patriot has a negative meaning in my dictionary, which means people who are blindly follow the country without a critical mind. One does not have to be a patriot to love his country. Patriot is merely a label used by the authority to divided up its citizens. Every time I hear patriot in the news, either in English or in Chinese media, I feel really distaste towards those who mention this word.
My old friend Derek visit Vancouver over this long weekend. It’s the first time I meet his new born baby, Kathyn. She is really cute, the body is chubby, and the skin is like Tofu. She is indeed a perfect target for face pinching. In the afternoon, after having dim sum with Peter Choy, Derek gave me an air tour of Vancouver. We took off at the Pit Meadows airport, flew to downtown Vancouver, then turn around at Horse Shoe Bay. The tour lasted a little bit more than an hour, and it’s quite an experience for me. It’s my first time riding on a small airplane. When I first saw the plane, I was a bit disappointed. The plane is very old, it even have rusty spots on the hulk. The interior is about the same size as a mini-copper. Since Derek cannot get the Canadian temporary pilot license on time, we had a flight instructor came along, so I didn’t get my chance to steer a little bit. I was sitting at the back seat and it’s not as tight as it seems. The airplane is much nosier than I had expected. I have to wear a headset in order to talk with Derek, otherwise he has no way to hear my voice. The ride is very smooth, I didn’t experience any turbulence. The landing part is a bit scary, since Derek had to set the engine to idle. It’s uneasy for an untrained passenger when the comfort humming of the engine is suddenly lost. I took lots of picture of the scenery I saw, a total different view from what I usually see on commercial airline. Please check it out at my photo ablum.
I have a dental appointment today. After visiting the dentist, my mouth feel funny for the whole afternoon. I used to be quite positive seeing dentist, but it changes when I had my first bad teeth last year. I used to be very proud of my good tooth. Since my teeth no longer 100% organic, everything I visit the dentist, I worry when I’ll have to have another filling. In addition, because of I still haven’t take out my wisdom teeth, I also have to worry when it will come up. The cleaning of the plague is a bit painful, but I don’t really mind that. The worst part is teeth polishing, which is done by the dental technician instead of the dentist. I always suspect they are not doing a very good job. I’m still waiting for the technology advancement to the cleaning of the teeth mechanically obsolete. I can foresee in the future, laser or ultrasound will replace the metal scrapper as the dentist’s tool. The teeth will clean just like how the archaeologist clean those ancient scriptures.
I finished my 8 lessons of German 3. This is a semi-private course at the teacher’s place. I think it is much better than the classroom course offered at the Vancouver school. The class is smaller, each of us get more time. The environment is less formal, that encourage us to speak freely. The level 3 of German stop at after introducing the pass tense. My pronunciation is still not very good, but I am getting better not to pronounce the words in the English way. I understand all the grammar rules taught so far, but sometimes forgot when to use them. The vocabulary is my weakest area, unlike other students who has a German speaking other half to practice with, I know no Deutche speaker around me. There will be two more extra classes before I go to German. I’ll decide whether I want to continue the lessons after I come back. I couldn’t find too much of use of learning German, but it’s kinda waste giving it up after a year of learning. Language is something you quickly forget if you don’t use it every once a while. I had set up another rule for myself that if I decide to travel somewhere, I will at least start learning the basic of that language a year ahead of time.
I haven’t done a table topic in the toastmaster meeting for quite a while, so I volunteer myself today. Today’s toastmaster meeting is more special than usual, because it is the club got chartered. We invited the district governor to present us the certificates, and PMC provided free lunch. The topic I got is a quote from Pablo Picasso, “Computers are useless. They can only give answers”. I think I did ok in the table topic, except that I totally forgot to mention 42 until I went back to my seat. For those who had read the Hitchhacker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you should know 42 is the answer to all the questions of life and universe, except that the question is not known. Later on when I mention that to my colleagues, almost everyone agree that I had totally missed the point of that quote. One of them haven’t read the book and seems puzzled about the importance of 42. The rest of us question his identity of being an engineer, we even threaten to take away his iron ring. I think I should download and watch the movie version of that book to reinforce my engineer nature.
When I bought my palm pilot a few years ago, I knew it is going to break down when the manufacturer warranty expired. So I spent $50 to buy the buyer protection program of future shop, hoping to get a new unit when my palm is beyond repair. The no lemon garuntee of the program suppose to give me a new one or goods with equivalent value if it has been repaired more than three times. My idea was to break the palm before the extended warrenty expire so I can get my money back. My palm has broken as I expected, probably due to statics on the interface IC. It turn out the warranty program of Futureshop is really user unfriendly. The repair time is unreasonably long, it takes them almost 2 months to get it to repair. The worst is the fine print of the non-lemon guarantee, it will only get replaced if it breaks down on the same problem three times, not just any three problems. So I have been end up visiting Futureshop almost once every few months to send my palm to repair and picking it up. Today I pick up my palm again, and I’m still one repair short from getting a new unit. In order to get my money spent on the extended warranty worth, I have to break the palm again. The best way to break any electronic device is apply the wrong voltage and current to burn out the IC, and you can always blame it on power surge. Since I don’t have a palm for such a long period of time, I get used to live without a palm already. I remember at some point back then, I thought I couldn’t function without a handheld device. So I’ll probably get something else with the reimbursement from the extended warranty. Does it really worth going thru all these trouble to get the worth of the extended program? Probably not, so I had decided I will never buy the extended coverage from future shop again.
I am very exhausted today. After the auction dinner last night, I have to get up early at seven thirty this morning for another fund raising event, car washing at St. Paul. I think the word volunteer work or WYD promotion as a more appropriate description. The money we made today is nothing comparing to last night. We worked for the whole morning, and only washed 30 cars while people were attending the mass. Divided up the donation we got and the man hour we had spent, it is about the same as the minimum wage at McDonald’s. It could a team bonding event, but we are already seeing each others too often. St. Andrew is a pretty small church, the mass is not even half full, and most attendants are seniors. I worry that the church may get close when those old folks pass away. I didn’t fall asleep during the mass, probably it is because my body was still in working mode in between the car wash. Instead of listening to the homily, I was think about the idea of car wash as fund raising in general. Car washing is the most inefficient fund raising event I had participle so far, the return simply doesn’t justify the hard work. However I can see the other side of this event. It give the kids some outdoor exercise, working really as a team instead of having separated roles, and it seems always fun to play the water hose. I guess I’m too old for all of that and the manual work is too demanding. The worse part is I can’t stand the dirts on the car once I start cleaning it. The people should only get what they pay for, not the as my own car type service. Thus we end up spending a lot more time making the car really clean than doing a supposedly half hearted job. Yet, I think car washing could be a good idea for teenagers trying to do something together. If I have kids, I’ll encourage them to suffer in at least one of those events. Out of all these fund raising events I had went through, I start to appreciated the value of higher education. It is a good lesson to learn how the less fortunate people make their living in the hard way. I think it is just immoral in the society let people do all these lowly works. In my ideal world, all these unrepresented tasks should be taking care of by robots and computers. Humans are left to work on the most important and most value-added jobs, the advancement of science and technology.
I was being a sales last week and I became a waiter this week. Tonight is another fund raising event for the World Youth Day. It was an auction dinner. I don’t really like this idea when it first proposed because it takes too much work. Indeed there are lots of preparation work to get the sponsors and tonight is really tough. I had never been a waiter before in my life, and I’m sure I don’t want to be one ever. I am originally assigned to take care of the drinks counter, which is probably the most easy job, all I have to do is sit there and hand out pops. Some girls are assigned to serve coffee and tea, they have to walk around and refill the guests. It turn out that is much more demanding than expected as the pot are quite heavy and people drinks alot. In order to give a good service, I end up helping out the girls to bring water, coffee and tea to the tables. The guest even thought I am actually the one who is responsible for their cups. Walking back and forth on the floor, remembering who wants what kind of drink is not fun, and worse I have to wear a smile all the time even though I hate pouring drinks. Comparing to the clean up after the dinner to restock the dishes, stack the table, this brainless manual labor seems much easier, at least I can keep my brain activity to the minimum. The Bible said thou shalt serve others, I seriously doubt the practicality of that teaching. Serving others and pretend to be graceful is one thing, but serving others with a true heart is quite different. I can understand the professionalism in the exchange of service and rewards. But who would truly serve others and why would they want to do that? Other than having intangible rewards return spiritually, there really make no sense to serve others. Helping your friends or be kind to a stranger once a while with no commitment are honorable charities that give you a good feeling. However serving others full time are beyond all reasons. Even thought those are mostly harmless nice people, their actions don’t follow logic and are unpredictable. Thus they have the potential to become very dangerous lunatics.
I found taking care of Charlie, the golden retriever of Pat, is quite time consuming. I have to remember feed him every morning before I go to work and go home early to feed him dinner. Since he is very bored staying home all day, I try to walk him every night. Walk the dog is more time consuming that I had expected. Just want to the park close to Pat’s place and back takes over 15 minutes, and it would take more time if I let him run around in the park. For time when I’m around, Charlie is very lazy. He usually lays in front of the window or TV doing nothing, and very slow in responding to my commands. It is very easy to recognize dog’s facial expression to tell whether he is happy or sad. After this experience of living with a dog, I’ll definitely think twice before getting my own dog in the future.