Thursday, December 20, 2007

Flickr-ing through to Christmas...

So the recent shutting down of Sony Imagestation as well as the now-charging services of myDataBus has almost convinced me of the following formula:

Free service + Unlimited options = Too good to be true

Sooner or later, most storage sites out there will come with a price tag "to make ends meet". [Sigh]

On a more positive note, I found Flickr to be a great replacement for me to store and share my memories with family and friends. The wide variety of ways to present my photos (i.e. organizing sets, sorting options, online editing, etc) as well as the ability to download full-size originals (something Facebook has yet to do) makes it easy and flexible to use to my liking and for others to view (& save) for their likings. Check out the first couple collections I made of all my InterVarsity moments and this fall season's events thus far:


                           InterVarsity @ Cal                                Fall 2007

As for other things, I finally finished my Christmas shopping a couple days ago without much hassle and before the upcoming weekend rush. The last of my cards are being sent out tomorrow morning and there are just a few more presents to wrap. It will be my first Christmas Eve where I will be working (the 24th conveniently fell on weekends for the past couple years), but I actually don't mind it too much. I think part of it has to do with listening to a multitude of trendy Christmas music at work - from Jars of Clay to Mariah Carey's holiday classic, and others. It's put me in a joyful spirit and it's quite contagious. In addition to hanging with Berkeley floormates Luis, his wife, and Allen on a Monday evening dinner, I brought a Christmas tree over to Grace and Joyce's apartment last night. It was so much fun decorating it with them and watching their smiles shine as bright as the lights when they opened the gifts I gave them.

Only 5 more days left, and I am so excited for this holiday season. Somehow, I have a feeling this one will be different than other ones..=)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rose Bowl Half Marathon 2007

I ran my first 13.1-mile race yesterday at the Rose Bowl Half-Marathon.

The race started and ended in front of the stadium, going through the neighborhoods and some famous Pasadena landmarks like the Colorado Bridge, the Arroyo Seco, Devil’s Gate Dam, JPL, and the new Flintwash Bridge. We were a bit nervous when the forecast called for some rain, but it turned out to be a very pleasant sunny morning!

I ran the race, once more with Marvin and 10 or so of his friends from the Pasadena Triathlon Club. Unlike my previous races, I actually felt pretty good the whole time. By mile 10, I was starting to tire a bit, especially since most of the miles 7-10 were all steady uphill trails (through some mud and dirt too). But I remembered that AOW would be manning the aide station at the mile 12 marker and that gave me more hope to continue strong.

A few miles later, I turned the corner going downhill and heard my name being cheered on by voices I can recognize. =) They all offered me a cup of water, and when I could only take one, they proceeded to send a water shower after me. Oh I can feel the love now!! =P I pressed on even harder with some newfound (and cold!) encouragement and crossed the finish line with the time of 1:48:26.5. I couldn't believe it, since I originally thought I would go past the 2-hour marker. Woohoo! Praise GOD!!

All in all, it's been a great adventure, and I have to give the props to Marvin for helping me to take up running during our discipleship and training me during this past year. Of course, also a big thanks to AOW for participating and supporting us in the race. You guys made me go faster.

Guess the next question is this: will I do another half-marathon in the future? Maybe even a full one?? Hehe...maybe. =) We'll have to see...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Every time December rolls around, I am so amazed how fast Christmas approaches us. Almost overnight, you see homes twinkling with colorful decorations as well as the streets coming alive with all sorts of lights. But this year for me, it actually started back in November, literally a couple days after the Thanksgiving holiday.

After our AOW performances in all three congregations, a group of us checked out the annual DWP Light Festival near the LA Zoo. It was a beautiful display of familiar holiday scenery as well as some famous landmarks through Christmas lights (descriptions won't do it justice, so check it out below).

Walking down that elegantly lit road with friends and just talking about what's been going on in and out of our ministries and what's to come for the last month of year, really hit it for me in starting the Christmas cheer. I guess it's the idea of living life together, especially in the light of Advent where we as Christians, go beyond all the wrappings and decorations to see Jesus Christ - the true heart of Christmas and all that we do.

Only 18 days left...go celebrate with family and friends. =)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Smelling the roses

I woke up around 6am this morning to run the 10K race at the annual South Pasadena Tiger Run. It was a smaller race with only 500+ people than the one in March, but you can still feel energy in the cold morning air. Marvin and some of his friends from the Pasadena Triathlon Club joined in the fun and we took off once the horn blew. Like any race, it took the first mile to get all the aches and creaks out before it was time to cut loose. It was a good, tough run around the suburb community of South Pasadena, with two large hills on the second half of the race. I didn't hear a lot of cursing this time around - only silence on the hills and a lot of heavy breathing. =)

Other than a small misstep around the 4 mile mark, I was feeling really good throughout the race and a lot stronger than before. A good amount of it I have to credit to the 26/30 challenge I undertook by Marvin, where I would run at least 2.5 miles for 26 of the 30 days in November. It was a demanding month of running to say the least, but the training paid off when I crossed the finish line at a time of 51:58 - almost 5 minutes faster than my March race time! =) Hope to keep up the pace for next week's Rose Bowl half-marathon.

Spent the rest of the day relaxing and going to Aaron's USC party with the guys. Although I am predominantly a Cal fan, it has been a pretty disappointing season for us, and it was just good times to spend a day with friends cheering for a team I was actually raised in before college (i.e. my Dad). I will probably get legally killed for saying this, but whatever...I had fun.

Rose Bowl (Half-Marathon & football), here I come...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday 2007

Right after my previous entry, the night just started because it was simply Black Friday. =)

The guys and I met up at our friend's place around 11pm to prepare. We put our BF lists together and played some PS3 and ping-pong while waiting for the rest of the group to rendezvous with us. Two hours later, our group of nine strong headed out in two cars to Woodland Hills for some shopping.

There was already over a hundred people outside Circuit City when we got there around 2am. We split our teams into two: Aldous, Jimmy, and I took Circuit City while Charles, Andre, and Edwin took Staples right next door. The rest alternated in providing support, bringing food for us and checking other stores' lines.

Needless to say, it was freezing in the mid-40s and we warmed up as best we could with our clothes (I even brought my bed blanket). As the clocked ticked closer, people started rushing forward to close up any line gaps, but unfortunately, several patiently waiting customers got cut big time. =( Andrew, Shawn, and Ted noticed the commotion and surged ahead for us to keep up with the crowd pace.

When the 5am opening came about, lines were almost completely useless as people started pushing others around to get in. Salesmen "bouncers" kept a steady stream of people in and out so things didn't get too crazy, and the six of us got most of what we needed when it was our turn.

We loaded up the trunk and headed over to Staples next. With the exception of an extremely LOUD and rude woman in line behind us, it wasn't as brutal (only 2-3 customers were let in at a time). After paying for the stuff, we looked up Pep Boys on one of our newly bought GPS navigators to get more stuff, and then hit Office Depot and RadioShack to call it a night (or in this case, an early sunny morning).

By-the-Numbers Summary

  • # of twenty-something guys participating: 9
  • # of transporting vehicles: 2
  • # of degrees Fahrenheit of outside temperature: 47
  • # of stores visited: 5
  • # of customers waiting in line: several 100s
  • Treasures
    • 10+ 2 or 4 GB USB memory sticks
    • 8 GPS navigators (TomTom and Mio)
    • 1 PlayStation 3 & controller
    • 5+ 2 GB SD memory cards
    • 2 Logitech webcams
    • Several $3 DVDs
    • 5 USB computer mice
    • 3-4 Bluetooth Earpieces
    • 1 Laptop
    • 1 Paper Shredder
  • # of Carl's Jr $1 chicken sandwiches consumed: 8
  • # of miles traveled: approx. 60
  • # of hours: approx. 7-8
  • # of $ spent: ??? (should be < $10,000)
  • # of bonding/conversation moments: too many to count
We were all sorta edgy going into the whole thing since getting what we need on the busiest shopping day of the year is a gamble. But after you walk out the stores' front doors with your stuff in hand, well, it feels pretty darn good. =) At Pep Boys, a customer even mistaken us for salesmen who worked there because "we looked so d*** happy!"

Now back to sleep.  Good (early) night.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Just finished Thanksgiving dinner with the family and I am stuffed like the turkey we just ate. It was also my grandmother's and aunt's birthday today (they are twins a half-hour apart), so there was a plethora of desserts afterwards. We were talking about a TWO cakes and THREE pies. So good. =)

In all seriousness though, for this year, I am really thankful for my community - all my friends, family and even those I see on a daily basis. I think part of it has to do with the time passing, and after being home for a couple years now, people around me are warming up to me fast. That they know I am not leaving or flaking out on them, but that I really care about them and here for the long haul to serve and honor them. For that, I am thankful for God working His plan and leading me onwards. =)


Sunday, November 18, 2007

23rd Birthday Celebrations

One of the most memorable weekends in my life, and I am so grateful for the community around me.

After worship and Bible Study on Friday evening, Eureka Fellowship celebrated the November birthdays w/ two cakes and much more.

On Saturday.....

On Sunday:

And finally something to toast to the night and weekend. =)

A big THANK YOU to all those who wished me a very happy birthday through phone calls, text messages, IMs, emails, voicemails, some 50+ Facebook wall messages (which ended up flooding my inbox!), and simply ol' fashion in-person. Also a BIG Happy Birthday to Leo Chick, who I have the honor of sharing a birthday with me. A first for me. =D

I honestly didn't think so many people would remember and like to celebrate with me. I am really thankful for these wonderful relationships with so many friends of all ages, and of course to God my creator for these beautiful people. =)