Twenty-Twelve

So I guess I owe everyone a long report and explanation about what I’ve been doing for the last six months and why I haven’t posted a single article online for a while. Let’s get straight into it.

 

University

So the main thing that kept me from being able to blog was my uni routine. I’ll have to admit that third year provided the most amount of struggle for me: the amount of workload, the difficulty of the workload, and the sheer number of things I had to try and do outside of uni. After much stress and studying, I managed to get through this second semester, a little more bruised than in my previous years; but I suppose things are still going well for me academically.

 

My partake in CBS this semester was severely hindered by the unfortunate times of my lectures, namely having class during ALL the CBS talks and the like. I had a similar timetable in second year, can’t really remember what it was like back then, but I was still able to serve as a Bible Study leader (also despite not being to attend any leaders’ meetings). Yeah I suppose that was a struggle too, but it went reasonably well I think.

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Okay so moving on, I’ve been on holidays since mid-November. Here are some of my highlights in the holidays.

 

K-Pop Concert

Truly a night to remember, being my first Korean music concert and all. My last university exam was on that day (in the afternoon to be precise), so I was frantically rushing to the venue after my exam. My seats weren’t great (as you will soon see in the video below, but I had a blast watching all the different Korean artists perform and seeing all the wonderful stage production that other artists would normally never bother with. Koreans really do ante it up when it comes to stage production. Here is my fancam of my favourite performance of the night:

 

 

Terrigal Roadtrip

A week or two later I went on a roadtrip with some other people in my grade up to a nice beach house in Terrigal. We spent the three days there at the beach, playing games, jamming, and serving one another in preparing food and helping with washing up. It was a pretty cool experience getting to know the people our grade better. Props to the guys for doing most to all of the cooking; and to the girls for helping us clean up afterwards. This reminds me that I have some videos I need to upload from roadtrip…

 

My 21st

At the end of last year, I turned 21, had a nice Asian-themed party (to which very few people tried to honour the theme); but it was fun seeing all the people who managed to free up some time to drop by. Received some nice presents and some encouraging messages from a lot of people. I suppose I was a bit disappointed at the number of people who dropped out, even though they said they would come, I guess I’m not that important haha. But I was still glad at the number of people who did come. Still waiting on my photographer to upload photos haha, but in the meantime here’s my response video that I shot on my actual birthday:

 

 

One of the things I was really excited about for my birthday was getting an SLR. I’ve been testing it out heaps and trying to get the hang of taking good photos and editing them, not as a hardcore professional hobby, but more as a “I don’t just want a simple 1-second photo”; yeah. So my photo quality should be vastly better now.

New Years Eve

We had our (now) traditional CBS New Years party. But due to the sheer number of Christians in Commerce, we could only invite a select number of them to spend New Years with; the point of the party was to get to know one another better (something that is hard to do with a large group of people) and to also help pass on responsibility from our grade to the younger grades seeing as we are getting old and will be graduating soon. I gave a short talk on Acts 1, hoping to encourage not only the younger students, but all of us to step up and think hard about opportunities to evangelise since our freedom in university will soon be coming to an end. I believe I was the only one who stayed up all night, it was hard as usual but wasn’t impossible. Went to church the next morning and then had a few people chill over at my place in the afternoon. Here’s a photo of my grade (or the ones who could make it that night). This was taken with my new camera.

 

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Actually I realised that this photo is kind of pointless seeing as I already have one above of our grade on our roadtrip. I also snuck away to my church’s NYE party too that night, perhaps that photo should be more appropriate:

 

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Coastal Walk in the South

Early this year, I went down south for the first time and hiked (sort of) near some southern beaches. It was a good change of pace because most of our socials would always take place around where we live (in the north) because that’s where most of us reside. But for the sake of those who lived in the south, we thought it fair to venture down to where they lived and hang out with them there. Half the awesomeness of the day was in the walk and chatting with each other; the other half was in our luxurious crab dinner in Beverly Hills:

 

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^ I thought this was a pretty awesome photo xD

 

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Yeah I think that’s enough highlights for now.

 

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Looking to 2012

I suppose that as I come to this year, there is quite a lot to reflect and learn from last year. One of the things I want to change from last year is the way I do ministry. Last year, whilst dealing with a lot of administrative matters for church and CBS, I found that I had little time to build relationships with the people I was ministering to; I found that I didn’t know them as well as I have should and as a result it hindered my influence in encouraging them to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ. As a result, this year I’m going to try and focus less on admin matters, but put my time and energy into building relationships with the people under my care, and the people who do need to be cared for. I do hope that being freed to work on my relationships will help me to be a better witness for Christ to all my friends, particularly my non-Christian ones; that hopefully I’ll get opportunities to help explain to them what a relationship with Jesus is all about. That is my primary goal for this year.

 

Another thing I do want to work hard towards is defending the truth of the gospel, for fear that a lot of Christians lack the core truths and hence fail to understand what Christianity is all about. I’ve noted some ministries and churches in Sydney that may be preaching unsound doctrine; not things that are “completely” but where the truth is not evident for one reason or another. I know that it’s hard to correct a lie once it’s been implanted in someone’s mind, so I hope to be able to target these “untruths” before people root their beliefs firmly into them. And yes that will raise questions for me as to whether I know the truth or not; I hope to be able to address that concern soon in the coming weeks.

 

And of course lastly there’s university still to consider. My fourth year seems to be a bit more relaxed than last year. In a sense, you could say that this is my “second” 3rd year, because most of the courses I’m doing are just third year courses that I couldn’t fit into last year. As such, the courses I’m doing shouldn’t be difficult and so hopefully I will get that time and energy to focus on the goals I’ve listed above, as well as aim to get a graduate position in something. With my free time at uni, I hope to be able to meet up with some of you guys and to spend time getting to know you better, for the purpose of encouragement and edification (in case the objective wasn’t clear). We all need to ration our time carefully, so let’s use it as efficiently as we can.

 

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In the meantime I will be heading up to Hong Kong next week, for about 4 weeks. If you have something you want me to buy for you, please message me as soon as you can. Stay tuned for more posts and updates from Hong Kong. My next serious article will be on the theme of “Regret”, it shall be up soon.

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Holidays Are Over (Part 2)

Holidays are definitely still over and there definitely isn’t a chance to bring them back this time round haha! Apologies for the bad layout of these last few posts.

 

Monday

I had originally planned to watch a movie on Monday of the second week of the holidays but I had forgotten that we had a youth group social that afternoon. Nonetheless, having watched Toy Story 3 on Sunday, it was satisfactory enough. I didn’t really get time to organise anything for this social so I pretty much rocked up and let William and Ken do all the organising.

 

This was our first super long holiday program which went from 3pm till 10pm at night. A 7 hour program is extremely tiring. We had the church set up with a projector and some sound equipment. William had the leaders help set up games, all of which were interesting in a sense. We had a game where we had to balance coat hangers on one another, there was another game where we had to transfer cotton balls using whipped cream on our noses as an adhesive. Then there were other strange games like trying to flip metal spoons into cups. I forget the games that we played but the youth were all very into it. A handful of photos:

 

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The last photo was for a game where pretty much you slide coins over the table and try and get it as close to the King as possible. My note here was that all the coins were Galaxy World tokens. William had a whole bag full of them…strange.

 

And to sum the rest of the program, we mucked around afterwards and the youth just played whatever games they wanted to with each other. Some of us looked at past church photos and all. For dinner we made pizzas using Coles ingredients and some flat bread or something like that. It took quite a while because the kitchen wasn’t big and we had quite a large group, more than 30 or so youth in total. After dinner we made the youth watch “Up!” and after that we called it a night. So I suppose the last couple of hours weren’t too bad but we still had to keep watch over everyone; it was sort of like a daycare thing once the youth started getting a bit more wild.

 

 

Friday

Despite the fact that it’s a four day gap, Tuesday I went out grocery shopping with parents and then had a youth group leaders’ meeting at night. So that was a full day too. Wednesday and Thursday were my days off to relax and do some stuff that I otherwise couldn’t have done because of going out everyday. Friday I finally took care of some university stuff. Went down to university with Jacky and Brandon to get textbooks and so transfer my swimming pass to Brandon since I honestly don’t have any time to use it, last semester and this coming semester. It was more my mistake of buying it prematurely without having planed things properly.

 

Haven’t figured out all my textbooks either, but for now I’ve managed to ascertain that I need at least 1 book and 1 course pack. There were a couple of other textbooks, some prescribed, some recommended but I honestly am trying not to buy too many of them, particularly for maths. I bought a Calculus textbook last semester that nearly doubled up on the one I used last year AND I didn’t even use it last semester. Goes to show just how “unnecessary” prescribed textbooks are.

 

There was also a $20 transfer fee for my swimming pass which was quite annoying, the university gym is such a rip off I probably will never use any of their resources ever considering the fact that they don’t give refunds on anything even if you try to return it straight away.

 

Walked around in the city with Jacky afterwards. Had Pepper Lunch and then walked around a couple of Morning Glorys. Saw David Loon in one of them and we both we’re awkwardly like: “So…what are you doing here?” Kind of funny really to see him there of all places.

 

 

Sunday

The last day of my “holidays”was by far the most extreme day of them all, since it sort of extended over 3 days in a sense. Woke up early on Sunday morning to catch the 3rd place play off match; wasn’t a complete waste of time like the finals. But anyway, after getting about another 3 or so hours of sleep, had to wake up and deliver my camp luggage to Rebecca’s house who was going to camp early today and we needed to offload some luggage early for the other cars that were going to pick us up the next day. This meant I had to speed my packing up to last night; frantically figuring out what I needed to bring to camp. At the least I would bring my mahjong set, regardless of the circumstances haha!

 

After church, went off to lunch with church people. Most of that time was spent chatting with some of the youth. We reached some point in the conversation which led to playing those weird puzzle logic games (eg: Black Magic) that have those weird stupid tricks that some people just can’t figure out because they over think about the trick involved with those games. I showed them Aaron’s game from last year’s MYC with the counting fingers; won’t get into the details of that one. But the thing is that the youth had such difficulty in figuring it out. In fact they were torn between not playing the game and desperately wanting to figure out the answer. I was going to leave early to pick up some stuff from home so that I could head down to the city early to get a present for Chris’ party later that night. The youth continually bugged me to stay so they could continue figuring out Aaron’s puzzle and consequently I missed the train.

 

The strange thing about it all was that I caught the next train to find that Jono Wang was also on it, quite a coincidence. We chatted during our train ride; he was heading out a bit early to the city too to get some poster paint for his brother, from some hobby shop in QVB. I was meant to meet up with Tim, Sophia and Eric on the previous train that I had missed. The extraordinary thing that happened was that me and Jono came across those three in that hobby store Jono was going to. So we just merged groups and continued looking for a present for Chris together. We couldn’t really decide on that to get but we ended up deciding on getting a cheap PS3 game and a Gundam model thingy, for a total price of $110. Jono had to call up Chris multiple times so we could work out which Gundam model Chris didn’t have haha! So much for the surprise. We also went to Woolworths to get a $2 card for Chris. I never knew the Town Hall Woolworths had like 3 levels, such a strange layout for a supermarket.

 

Chris took us to Choga in Haymarket for $10 Korean buffet. Sadly there wasn’t much variety of food there, but that’s okay. Chris’ party reached about the mid 20s in numbers. We “got to” (or forced to?) sit in this elevated section of the small restaurant by the window that had some really low barriers; it almost made that section of the restaurant look like a zoo area or something, and we were going to be the main attractions haha.

 

Chris made us play a few interesting games which I do intend to steal for our youth group haha! He gave everyone a label with a commonly used word on it, such as “this”, “that”, “I”, “a”, etc. And the objective was to not say that particular; doing so would result in forfeiting the label to the other person who catches you. Player at the end of the night with the most labels wins. Chris had several cash prizes for his games, so it potentially was possible to win back the $10 for the buffet haha! Other games include some trivia challenge and a final challenge where the contestants had to eat a hot chilli, read through a list of colours writing in a different colour to the word being depicted; eg writing “Red” in blue; then finally strapping on a pedometer and shaking their hips to rack “steps” on it. Julian won it since he was able to continuously shake his “hips” without stopping for the minute or so.

 

After the party I quickly rushed home to get some rest to wake up for the FIFA finals. I was going to have had 8 hours of sleep over two days, not a good start to a 5-day camp especially.

 

And that’s my holidays over. After this comes 5 days of MYC which I know is going to be awesome, but somehow being tired from having so much on in the holidays really lowers the hype from what potentially could be the best five days of this year.

Holidays Are Over

In a sense, my holidays are over, before they even began. But I suppose I speak too rashly since only one week of three is down. However, my holidays are definitely “booked out” now; it was booked out since before they started haha. Let’s re-cap over the last 7 days.

 

Friday

After trying to relax from all that immense studying for that one final statistics exam that kept me from my holidays, I spent the whole of the following day preparing for my youth group seminar on Apologetics. It was quite a stressful day; it’s on the same level as doing an assignment from scratch that’s due on Sunday. It was pretty bad timing, because I was mentally exhausted from uni at all; a lot of my thoughts weren’t flowing well so it was additionally harder for me to get that seminar done. To make things worse, I really only had one day to get it done since I was going to be out all day on Saturday.

 

Saturday

Had a RICE meeting today out in Croydon. Sam Mak gave his thoughts on how as serving Christians, we might lose the focus on our ministries and simply call them “ministry” rather than it actually being “service”. Christian ministry is about service after all but amidst people’s busy schedules (such as mine), we might start having a different attitude towards wherever we serve; be it church, youth group, ISCF groups, or one-to-one ministries. There’s always that tendency to become overloaded and suddenly start getting tired from it all, and letting it become routine, without putting the heart into it. It was a good reminder for me to rethink my motives in wanting to serve at church, at uni, and for RICE.

The rest of the day was spent in the actual planning of a number of things, as well as to run through team procedures with all the extra leaders that signed up over the last few weeks. We have a large team of leaders again this year, maybe not as many as last year. But it never ceases to amaze me how a bunch of uni students and workers can get together and put together such a huge event that causes change in so many high schoolers. I look forward to the actual days of the events.

Had to give up work today, and for two weeks later at the next meeting; but money wasn’t the issue. In terms of what I really needed at the time, I really needed this day to work on my seminar for tomorrow. Managed to get enough of it done once I got back home. Though I was exhausted from the day, I pressed on till 11pm and called it quits, hoping that what I had done was enough.

Sunday

This was my 10th talk or so, and of sorts, in front of a Christian audience but this one just seemed really unprepared. But like every other time, it seemed as if I knew what I was actually talking about and I was able to pick out the right wording more often than I had expected. Apologetics is my area of “expertise” so to say; I’ve spent a lot of time reading about it, and pretty much the other Christian articles on my blog are the fruits of my knowledge in Apologetics. Having said that, it’s clear I’ve had a mental block in that field for a while now, but that’s probably bound to happen at some point anyway.

I’m glad the seminar went well, but of course I can only guess at how the youth felt about it, whether it’ll actually help them or not. The main goal is to stimulate thought, that in itself should be more than enough of a push for them to think harder about what they believe in.

After church I had the option of going back to high school to attend a reunion of sorts. But pretty much none of my friends were going so I didn’t end up going back. Guess I’ll have to pay my teachers a visit another time. Instead went up to Hornsby to have ramen. Spent $135 on a 1 TB external hard drive and went home to tutor.

Monday

Started working on a church camp video, I’m slowly making progress when I can, or when I’m in the mood. The rest of today was spent either gaming or catching up on anime. In less than a week I finally managed to watch all of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Yeah, that meant going through more than 10 episodes a day, amongst doing other things but it was definitely worth it. The 64 episode series had much more depth than its original counterpart and was animated much better; much more gory as well. I’m slightly shocked at how they’re planning on showing this to American kids after translating it and all. Given the level of animated violence in the anime, it should easily be given an M rating, possible M15+. *Sigh* at the Americans who keep (poorly) translating anime.

Tuesday

Went out to go shopping with parents and pretty much did what I did on Monday again. Hmm…I could’ve sworn the week was much more busier than how it appears for Monday and Tuesday. Oh right, it makes sense because of all the business with having to oraganise upcoming events in the following days. It becomes more stressful when a lot of things don’t get sorted out properly until the last minute.

Wednesday

Met up with my pastor in the morning to have a chat and stuff before heading over to Jie’s place for Mahjong. Five of us were there: Jie, Jacky, Nathaniel and Sharon. I had actually wanted Nat to come, so she could bring her small dog to play with Jie’s 4 big monstrous canines. His dogs were huge, two black, two white, the black ones were very aggressive. If Jie had a third black dog, I swear you could put those three together and you’d get something that resembles Cerberus. Wonder what Nat’s dog + Cerberus equals?

Haven’t mahjonged in a while and haven’t mahjonged with those people for a while too, since maybe some time last year. It was good to repeat old times, with the table trash talk and all. Me and Sharon came up with the biggest hands in the game, at 10 fan. Jacky also sought out this opportunity to try out Jie’s new flat screen TV, clocking at 52 inches. He made me bring my Wii and we mucked around with a couple of games. Didn’t feel that special, but that’s maybe because both Kelvin and Yit have equally as large TVs, the experience is already common.

Later that night we went back to church for a young adults social type thing. As I parked my car, some of the youth were also there for some meeting for a holiday crafts program or something for primary school kids. Sadly, they were “lost” because nobody else was there for the meeting. So I dragged them over to our young adults thing where they could sort of find shelter from the cold night to call their parents to pick them up. So after all that, spent a half hour on the phone with Kelvin (and then gamed for another hour or so) before finally calling it a day…the longest day this week.

Thursday

Our group’s meet up today turned into Eric’s birthday dinner. I suspected this was the case when Eric first offered to have a social thing on today but it wasn’t until maybe the week before that I recalled it was Eric’s birthday just on Tuesday. Which also means that we didn’t have much time to get presents and sort other things out.

 

I went down to the city a bit early in hope of looking for a present but I didn’t have much luck. Instead I spent the rest of the time with Charlie looking for a suitable birthday cake. I couldn’t find the Michelle’s under Myer in that food court for some strange reason and so after a long search I managed to get a Vanilla-Strawberry sponge cake from a place called “Dough!” I think

 

Eric took us to a Korean restaurant named “大長今” funny name haha! We managed to take the top level of the restaurant and had dinner there. There was a fair variety of cheap and expensive food there, but there was no BBQ buffet which was a shame. Me, Kelvin and Erica had BBQ while some of the other people who weren’t willing to spend much chose from the cheaper end of the menu. The food wasn’t too bad, neither was the price. Eventually we got down to the cake. Me and Charlie had also decided to get candles at the time; we bought a “1” and a “9” candle, two dollars each, what a rip!

 

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After dinner we went karaoke for an hour at Big Echo. Some new songs as usual, need to learn them again.

 

Sunday

Friday and Saturday were spent recuperating from everything that happened throughout the week. But Sunday again proved to be a long day. After church Nat had decided to go watch Toy Story 3 with a bunch of people from our youth group. At the same time, I was trying to arrange to watch a movie the following day in the morning, since it’s $8 movie tickets on Monday, But no-one was free on the Monday so I opted to just tag along and watch a movie with them. This day would be the first occasion ever that Nat beats me to any location by driving. I had major bad luck finding a parking spot in one of the Castle Towers car parks that I have never parked at haha. Anyway to my disappointment (in some sense), the movie was very popular and normal screening sessions were booked out, leaving us the only option of watching it in 3D (at the $17 price). My resolve to watch a movie there and then was stronger than my urge to save money so I went through with it. Won’t comment on the movie, other than that Toy Story 3 was a pretty awesome movie.

 

Watching a movie was not part of my plan at all for the day, and was about to severely impact the rest of the afternoon/night. After the movie I immediately rushed home to get changed for Josef’s 21st. The major issue at hand was that I had to work out the route to get there. This was the first time I’ve ever driven as far as Seven Hills on my own since getting my P’s last year. I took about 10 minutes to memorise the route on Google Earth, got changed and immediately sped off to the party. I was so glad I got there successfully and on time a s well. I was really pushed for time, seeing as I didn’t know how long it would take to get there.

 

Josef invited like more than 150 people that night and managed to book out a whole seminar room in the RSL club. His parents were also willing to shout all the guests dinner, seeing as it is his 21st. There was a structured program to the party and so we weren’t able to eat the entire night. But I think I had more than my fair share for the night. There were a number of speeches and some trivia games, a slideshow and a speech from the birthday man himself. After the party everyone moved off to the bar to chill; designated drivers obviously weren’t allowed any alcohol.

 

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I went off by about 10:30pm to get back home. But on the way I decided to swing by Ken’s place where our church was having hotpot; I obviously opted a free buffet over hotpot haha. I watched them play “the hat game” and then we left.

 

So that was a full week of action, nearly. But clearly it was enough all-day action to keep me exhausted at the end of the week. Apologies for the lateness of the post. But the second week of the holidays was also just as tiring. And it all starts with Monday, the day right after all that happened on the above Sunday.

Ellen’s B’day Bash

Having only known Ellen for less than a year, I was indifferent to her idea of having a triple party, with two of her friends who shared the same birthday as her. In total there would be about 40 guests packed into the Belgian Beer Cafe. But anyway let’s backtrack to events prior to the party.

 

Caught the train down to Town Hall; City Rail is once again slow as always; so many delays which tempts you to rage at them; and it would work if only they weren’t a monopoly for rail transport. Either that or I’m just bad with buses. Anyway met up with Nat after work. She spent the day buying the present and card for Ellen. Don’t you just love leaving gift-buying to the very last moment? Anyway she got Ellen some girly things so I won’t make much of a comment – I’ve never heard of a make up bag which is called the “Pencil Case”, in fact I had mistaken it for a pencil case at first haha. Anyway I brought my collection of Papermate pens in case we needed them to sign the card. I actually had a revelation this morning which persuaded me to bring the pens. I thought that Nat wouldn’t have pens on her seeing as she had work. And so she would rely on me to bring pens. But then I thought she wouldn’t call me to tell me to bring pens in hope that I would just bring them without her telling me to. And funnily enough she told me exactly that. Talk about synergy! The card was a bit weird because apart from a traditional “Happy Birthday” at the front, it was a card for pregnancy. I can’t believe she and Adrian jointly decided to get that card.

 

Okay back to the restaurant. We all loafed around for a long time at the back, just chatting and stuff. 6pm is a bit early to eat anyway. So we talked until about 7pm and then all sat down to order. In case you’re wondering,the menu is on the website, go take a look and come back. I found it a bit heart-aching that the entrees started at about $18 while the mains were priced from $25. I didn’t even look at dessert as a result. We all decided to get one main each and then share in 1 Kg of mussels, for $26 (that wasn’t too bad). Despite the price, the quality of the food almost matched the price:

 

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The top left one is mine. We all shared our food, just to get a taste of what each one was like. They were all pretty good. The mussels were good too; one whole pot between perhaps 5-6 people, easily filling. A  lot of people got drinks, particularly Belgian beer (duh!). Of course not all of us were keen to drink (or buy drinks for that fact) so we shared the drinks as well, just a couple of sips for tasting. Phil was full on about how the Belgian beer was really good for the entire night, even after the bottle was empty. Kevin was simply a guy who didn’t like the taste of alcohol.

 

Andy raised a good point tonight in regards to photos. The aim of taking photos for the night was not to catch people in poses, but rather to capture them for what they’re actually doing if they weren’t disturbed. Which makes sense because posing and turning to the camera doesn’t really reflect what actually happened at the event. Therefore it is better to take “natural” photos. I don’t know, you compare:

 

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Of course the third photo truly reflects some of the things that happened at the party; Steph engaged in texting people.

 

We ate for a long time, a couple of people showed signs that they were drunk, just from their cheeks; there wasn’t any bizarre behaviour thank God. And the moment of truth came; that is, the time to pay the bill. I hadn’t thought about how it would happen, but if everything was this expensive, then this photo should be no surprise:

 

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Yes, between the 40 or so people there, the bill came to a figure I have never seen before at a restaurant. Ronnie begged indifference at the bill, saying that he once reached over $2K at a Chinese Restaurant (because of lobster, etc). Anyway it was a real pain collecting the money. And once again, this is what your future actuary and mathematician is here for. Phil helped me mark off the dishes as people paid for it. It was my job to keep track of the money and all. Of course Adrian was also a banker so he helped me double check the money. It’s certainly hard to keep track of a wad of bills that is meant to come to a total over over $1000.

 

We fell a bit short which caused us to shout aloud and round up the rest of the money. Eventually we had it all, but in exchange we missed out on the birthday cake. In the end I only managed to grab this photo:

 

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Yeah I couldn’t get the cake in it as well, Michelle’s mud cake, nice! Nobody had room for cake anymore, and chocolate mud cake for that fact. I tried to finish it as best as I could but the final verdict was to just leave it behind. My Asian side perked up and I ended up taking the cake home. I will not let food go to waste like that, just leaving it behind, what foolishness. Kudos to Adrian for his generosity in giving money for the cake and slipping $50 to cover his main dish and the mussels.

Nat’s Early 18th

Hurray for Nat, who held her 18th about a week or so early because she’s heading overseas really soon. Unlike Yitian’s party, this was a formal, well-structured party. It felt really formal, which got me a bit nervous, up until I remembered that I’m older then most of the guests here haha! Anyway, Nat’s house is very ideal for a party, the backyard was easily large enough to cater for all her guests. There was that small amphitheatre area for food and music. I guess my heart ached for the night because there was no Jap or Korean music but that’s something I need to learn to live with haha!

 

Uncle Francis was out at the front of the house checking the guest list. Yep, that makes the party pretty formal; although I would suspect more than not that it was just part of presentation. Food was prepared by Aunty Alice and Aunty Betty; there was quite a lot of food I noticed. But that should be expected of an important 18th birthday party.

 

But before I go on, let’s flash back to some drama relating to the obtaining of Nat’s present; and you’ll see how busy my week was, such that everything had to tie in together. Nat, I’m sure by now you’ve opened all your presents, so there’s no harm in mentioning them here.

 

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Anyway, the hard thing about all of this was that Donna and Erica only came and talked to me about the present thing just last Sunday. Whereas I had been wondering for the past month, about who was going; because it was getting confusing with Sharon and Quentin. I never got round to asking anyone and with only a week to go, it was only down to me, Donna and Erica. Sharon opted to chip in as well but she wasn’t going to come. So anti-social.

 

I had spent a couple of months thinking of what we could get Nat, the present kept changing in my mind several times. And as a spoiler, previously part of the present was going to be this large hippo plushie, which I originally got for Grace, but didn’t seem to fit with the rest of our gifts, budget range, etc. But my dad refunded it before I could get a confirmation about whether I was going or not.

 

Eventually I had part of the present in mind, but the rest of it was going to be up to the girls. We planned to meet up on Friday at Hornsby Westfield after school (for them) to search for a present. Meanwhile on Thursday, right after Yitian’s party (oh I forgot to mention the day it was held, Yit’s party), Andy drove us back to his house and I walked my way to Epping station. It was too long a walk for me, especially when it was nearing 6pm. But I had vowed to go out to Koorong that day, and didn’t want to go back the next day. So I pushed on and got to Koorong, allowing myself only 10 minutes to buy stuff.

 

But I had already done my research, so I knew what I was getting. In and out, grabbed Casting Crown’s new album (Brandon kept telling me about it and it was only after CommQuip that I thought “Hey this could be a good present”) so I nabbed that. Had time to spare so I looked at the cards they had. Most of them were plain, but then there was this really pretty one with a piano on the front. Didn’t hesitate, nabbed that as well, paid for them and rushed back to the station. Phase 1 was complete.

 

Jump to Friday the next day and I met up with Donna first in Borders. She obviously has watched too much Shoujo because she greeted me in a quiet place like Borders with a huge wave o.0” We tried looking for something else to buy; obviously something girly, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked them to come out. Erica would be a while, coming from CTHS so me and Donna went searching on our own. It was fairly unproductive, we didn’t really have much of an idea what to get. Went to David Jones, my intention was to see if Jess was working that day. Turns out she was, coincidentally. I didn’t see her because I didn’t expect her to get transferred into women’s fashion. So she called us over and we had a short chat.

 

Erica came some time after 4pm, we took her to see Jess and then we started our search again. Long story short we ended up getting her a bunch of bracelets that we thought would be adequate for her style. Nothing too bulgy, and nothing that was overly flashy. I won’t say any more. But yeah that’s what we ended up getting her. That’ll be enough for the flashback.

 

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Anyway throughout the night the 3 of us sort of just mingled on our own. It’s not that we didn’t want to meet Nat’s school friends and such; just that we weren’t too keen in just barging into circles and going “Hey, my name is…how are you?” I think I’ve done way too much of that within CBS, I personally wasn’t fired up to meet anymore new people; I already have enough trouble remembering the names of the people I already have met >.<”

 

And to be honest, Donna and Erica were quite keen on mingling “around the food”, for obvious Asian reasons. Everyone else was taking their places in the garden and just chatting in small clumps of 5-6 people. We chatted with Vic and Ed when they did come over. Other than that, I met this Wenny guy at the door and had a short chat with him; but found out a fair bit. The kid’s going to do Actuarial Studies next year at UNSW; excellent choice. I kind of wished I had signed up for peer mentoring, maybe applications are still open? But oh well, I’ll probably see him next year then.

 

Uncle Daniel and his family came, and so I had a chat with all of them, with Rachel and Grace, whom I haven’t seen for perhaps 6-7 years. I can barely remember them. I’m pretty sure Rachel is…3 ears older than me? That’s makes her a fourth year. Grace, well, I never really had a clue as to her age haha!

 

Nat’s sister, Danielle, kept coming around and taking pictures of us. Or Nat if you had checked there should be an ample stock of Erica-only photos haha. Eventually she just blocked the camera; we kept trying to tell her to take pictures of the other guests but she stuck around us the most.

 

And that was sort of how the night went for us. You’d kind of wished that there had been set activities for everyone, I don’t know, like games or something; but then again let it be a mature “do-whatever-you-want” party I suppose. Nat came around occasionally throughout the night, and we chatted with her and took photos with her, that was nice =)

 

Later during the night, we had a formal…presentation of Nat’s life through a slideshow (no background music?) followed by a speech from her mum and then her good friend Satomi (so that’s who she is). And then finally a speech from Nat herself. I, for one, was not satisfied with the length of the speech; was expecting more than a Logie speech, would’ve liked something more dramatic for such an important moment in life haha!

 

And the rest of the night went on from there, more music, dessert, more insects crawling and flying around everywhere. The night was sort of plagued by those pests; it was quite annoying and sort of disgusting. I would never have imagined that there would be this many of them in one place. And after checking today, I found that I have not been bitten by anything, yes! A great party all in all; makes me want to start thinking about mine…

Kelvin’s B’day Party ‘09

Without hesitation, Kevin set his party this year to be karaoke; nearly no surprises there. And he added a big guest list to top things off. Venue of choice: Big Echo. The only small twist he initiated was to K for an over-the-top duration of 6 hours, cut down initially from…8 hours was it? It wasn’t an idea that most of us supported but I guess it’s hard for us to say “no” at the same time.

 

Some of us met earlier on Thursday to have lunch at a “seedy” place that “only Eric and Diana” knew. Turns out this place was simply Ramen-Kan, lolx? It’s far from seedy, it’s a good place; obviously because I’ve eaten there on several occasions already. We had 45 minutes to eat, that’s probably enough time to properly savour the ramen and such. It must be savoured haha, otherwise you aren’t going to appreciate the wonders of ramen haha!

 

Kelvin power-walked us to Big Echo in time to meet up with more people. And the initial 20 or so of us went in. Kelvin was trying to secure for us a $12 for 6 hours deal; though he did explicitly say in the beginning that this might not be possible. I’m not sure how confident he was at the beginning of securing this deal but eventually as the date neared, he was less and less confident. And ultimately we came to the worst case scenario (there were only two really) and were left to pay $12 for the normal 3 hours.

 

41 guests were invited in total; I didn’t count to see how many came. Most of them were from high school, others from uni. And since we were all Asians (nearly), we all pretty much knew each other. Not much to describe in K; it’s probably just the regulars like all other times. Brandon picked all our songs; no-one really had any preference for certain songs but funnily enough everyone was against certain songs. We had to skip a huge bunch of songs which Brandon queued up; some of them were okay but a majority of people weren’t so fond of them.

 

As for me, I was just looking for new songs; they finally have “again” by YUI, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood opening. It’s not that great a song but since it is relatively new, and popular, it is worth singing; not that I got a chance to; stupid non-fobs T.T” And then of course there was “Gee’”; keep my mouth shut on that for now. No Big Bang songs, rather disappointed; don’t really know the lyrics anyway so there wasn’t really any point. A few people were reluctant to sing…why would you when you paid money to come in? Jess, Viv, Sophia and Joseph. Well Joseph I guess we know by now; but at least it is possible to force him to sing. Had to be more gentle with the other gusts (obviously) but we weren’t able to pressure them enough to sing.

 

Kelvin had a competition later on in the afternoon, after the first 3 hours, just to spice the occasion up; but I didn’t stay long enough for that, sorry man. I opted to catch the train to our CBS social at the same time that Charlie, Mandy, Jess and Jono were leaving. Only Brandon would then be left. Other reason was that I would be forced to pay another $12 which I was reluctant from doing, since I would’ve already spent $11.80 for lunch (which I still owe Kelvin at the moment), $15 for his present, $12 for the first 3 hours of karaoke, and then later $15 for BBQ at Steph Chung’s place. That’s already a lot of money gone, without having spent another $12 for another 3 hours of karaoke. Wasn’t even sure that I’d stay the full duration anyway.

 

We took time out to give Kelvin his presents. There were rather amazing gifts, but to no great surprise from the amount of funds we actually had for it haha! But yep, I’m he’ll be heaps happier with those gifts. May he continue good memories of all his friends in the years to come. Happy belated birthday Kelvin!

Semester Break Weekend 2

Well okay nothing happened this weekend, but stuff certainly did happen a few days after it:

 

Monday – Crossfire Leaders’ Meeting

Kenny asked us to go to his house on the Monday to plan for our youth group. He figured that it would be better to use like half a day to plan something like in Soul Purpose rather than try and meet up some time during the week or prior to youth group, in order to plan for that week. We spent quite a while there, part of the time watching him and his sister’s kids play; so many children =.=”

 

Apart from planning for our series on Jonah, we also started on making a big paper mache fish. I have done this level of craftwork for a really long time, and it’s been a while since I last soaked my fingers in icky glue. We used a cardboard box and some wire mesh to make the outline of the fish and then we just slobbed on newspaper to make the surface; we only spent a bit of time on it but already the fish was taken form really nicely. Kenny made glue by mixing water with…starch? Cheap method but he said that’s how they did it back in Malaysia.

 

Also there was this stray cat the entire afternoon, who hung around us. At first when I arrived I noticed some blob on top of Kenny’s car; I thought it was like two birds because the mass was too large for a single bird. But then when we all arrived and went down to the garage; someone noticed that a cat was inside Kenny’s car, someone even asked the typical question: “Oh, Kenny, when did you get a cat?” I never realised the thing on top of Kenny’s car back then was in fact the cat. Kenny opened the door and the cat solemnly came back out. But after that it hung around us as we made a paper mache fish; Jess L lured the cat over by meowing at it, and the cat meowed back haha! It then sort of walked around us as we made paper mache. At one point it wanted to see what was inside the pot which held the glue, and we had to stop it from drinking it. Not sure what the cat wanted but it kept following us until we decided to let the fish dry and went back inside the house. The cat wanted to come in too; but we didn’t let it so it ran off elsewhere I think. Jess said something about the cat not having a microchip; and so then it won’t have an owner? o.0” I don’t know, but it was like Kenny had a chance at that point to own that cat haha!

 

We had dinner there at a really small table, where Kenny made us share deep stuff about our lives. I know that something we should be able to do as Christians; but I for one wasn’t entirely comfortable with sharing personal stuff about myself with those people. I don’t know why; I mean I’ve known them for quite a while, I guess perhaps I never really got to get close to them so it is uncomfortable to tell them personal stuff. My fear was they’d laugh at me for being a weak pussy, and sure enough they did, sort of. I don’t trust them any less though, I just know that I can’t go to them with my problems because they just can’t be trusted with them. It’s just setting a personal boundary away from other people, it’s not like super bad but yeah, setting your basic limits I guess; had to happen at some point.

 

Tuesday – Chris’ 18th

Oh man I got home at like 9pm thank God any later and I’d be too tired. I slept as early as I could on Monday but had to wake up early for Tuesday to get down to the city. Ah I haven’t had to wake up this early since uni haha; and that’s still heaps far away sort of. Jono called me and managed to meet up in the right car in the train. Chris and Tim then found us like in the same carriage by chance haha and the four of us travelled to the city. Matthew was going to be late because 1) He misread the date and thought the party was on Thursday, and 2) He misread the times and thought to catch the train at 9:30am when in fact we were to meet up down at Town Hall at that time.

 

We all met up at Town Hall as planned; good on Chris since he had like 3 days to plan this up and get it running. Only Matthew was going to be late so we just moved off. Chris took us to Star City Casino; my first time at that place; it’s mediocre, nothing that posh or special. We spent a while getting our member cards; man they are kick ass! Discount food at the food bar and also 3 free drinks each day, from like those coffee vending machines; now that is cool haha!

 

There weren’t many people when we got there, obviously; who comes and gambles at such an early time in the morning? Jono showed us to the 1c slot machines where we just spent a couple of dollars gambling and just having fun. Kelvin was a pre-emptive on experimenting and bet his whole dollar on one turn and lost it in mere seconds haha! Jono showed us how to use our dollar to get a bunch of goes and he then made like $3 profit; what the?! My first dollar didn’t go too well and I lost it after a few minutes. Slot machines aren’t that fun, it’s more mechanical, just press the button and see if money comes out. The only thrill is when you actually win something, but most of the time you’re doomed to losing your earnings within a few minutes.

 

My second dollar lasted a but longer and I had fun for a good 10 minutes, winning a bit and losing a bit. Eventually my luck gave out and that was my dollar again. Tim was lucky enough to make $7 in one go and pulled out. But the addiction of gambling kicked in and he kept going until his total earnings had dropped to like $4, or was it less? Chris wanted to play real blackjack, where the buy in was $10; we stood around waiting but no-one at those tables actually left so that was no good. Eventually Chris blew it on some other game in one go. But I reckon that losing money isn’t all too bad as long as you had a thrill earning some and then losing it, my two dollars was worth the thrill I got out of it haha! I don’t regret losing it.

 

Afterwards we had lunch and then moved off for laser tag. Again my first time at laser tag. Well we played pool before that; maybe I should continue playing pool at uni, I made a couple of fluke shots but my partner Jono made a lot of bad shots which let Kelvin and Matthew win, by technicality. Man I managed to knock one of their balls and the black ball close together and near one of the corner holes; they were screwed from finishing and yet Jono managed to noob shot it and it nudged the black bal into the hole T.T”

 

Laser tag was really fun; shame it costs so much and only lasts such a short time. Chris shouted us laser tag which was really nice of him! He was trying for some 2 for 1 deal, but I overheard at the counter that the offer is only for school holidays, what a jip! And so Chris could only shout us one game. That’s still okay. The place wasn’t that great as Matthew said; I’m sure there must’ve been a better laser tag place. The play field was too small and wasn’t dark enough haha. Unfortunately we played an FFA game with a bunch of random white kids. They were kids; they should be in school geez! All of us did rather well, we were all grouped from third place onwards, with two people like at the bottom of the board, out of about 15 people? Some uber small kid came first in score; I remember him, stupid midget came and blasted me and then ran off. There was no way to get him before he got me; he’s so small it’s unpredictable. Why the hell would I be aiming at crouch level of our group to hit this midget kid? That’s why he won, none of us expected a short thing to come out of nowhere, so we didn’t have enough time to readjust our aim. My accuracy was fairly good; snapped a lot of people, those damn white kids who would noobishly camp in those holes; I outplayed a lot of them haha, they just walked away, bleh!

 

We were full sweating after the game and then proceeded to train back to Chris’ house. Back there we played Guitar Hero World. My first time at that too T.T” Now I can say I’ve played Guitar Hero. It’s not that hard obviously since I play DDR, just need more time to coordinate my hands, never had to use my pinky before that’s why. Other people played Poker. Oh we bought Buzz for Chris, I’ll go to that later. We swapped after an hour or so, when Andy and Brandon showed up. I moved off to Poker and cleaned up Kelvin and his bluffs; Matthew also is a pretty bad BS artist haha, it’s clear when his hand matches the flop well and you know not to play on. Kelvin is a bit more trickier with his psychological spurring. But it wasn’t a complete bluff for him, I just had the better hand funnily enough. Haha I love shutting people up; but I fairly don’t rub it in afterwards.

 

We bought pizza as usual. Thank God we had Brandon’s car to pick up pizzas. It was a really cold night since it had just rained and it’d be hell trying to walk through the streets the way we were dressed haha! I honestly didn’t see the logic in getting 9 pizzas for 9 people; well the nine who were able to eat, minus Andy. Honestly not everyone can stomach a pizza, I did 6-7 slices, can’t remember now. I know some can more than 8 slices but on average everyone does less than one. So now Chris has a lot of pizza left over for breakfast and lunch, etc. Oh well. I was a 2 for 1 deal on Tuesday so yeah!

 

We played a bit longer into the night and then left before it got too late. A nice long day, really tiring especially for me because…

 

 

Wednesday – Mahjong

Why did I organise Mahjong at 10am in the morning?! I guess Chris’ party thing only popped up after I set down the Mahjong date and time; and my mum preferred the day time. I groggily woke up at 9:30am, knowing that I had half an hour to set myself up with breakfast and regular hygiene processes before my guests came. Again I invited Sharon, Matthew and Jacky for Mahjong; I guess they warmed up to the last time we met at my house where my mum unexpectedly let them stay for dinner and we ended up playing Mahjong on that Sunday night till 10pm.

 

Sharon was the first to come; she brought her table and set with her (thank you!). Again I am surprised that she’s willing to come and play with people that she didn’t know all too well, guys at that fact. But oh well I’m Mahjong gave her a really strong motivation huh? The guys were running a bit late so we had time to set the table up and the set. Matthew drove his way here, which explains a lot haha! And Jacky walked over. We got started at about 10:30am.

 

Luckily Sharon’s family set up a system to count money with those weird chips that come with every set; it was a fairly balanced system and for once made point-scoring actually worth it. I think I learned heaps today; I think I’ve learned to play heaps better and there’s no point going out with small 3-farn hands anymore, they earn you jack squat! I felt like I benefited heaps today. Sharon on the other hand we could all see had the worst day out of all of us. She ended up last in terms of money; which is rather strange because she’s meant to be the most experienced out of all of us; bad luck I suppose. She kept feeding me and Matt and the only times she managed to compensate her losses were through like a 7-farn and 8-farn hand plus a desperate 3-farn all-pung hand.

 

Funniest moment of the day was Matthew trying to get something else other than 3-farn all-pung hand (which he did every single round and was getting rather lame because he kept sort of leeching small amounts of cash off us). Anyway he was trying for a flush; we knew what he needed and obviously we all refrained from giving it to him. But he was oh so confident in drawing the tile himself, which seemed very unlikely because the wall was nearly gone and the game was going to end in a stalemate. Jacky boldly made the statement: “If Matthew manages to self-draw then I’m Mickey Mouse.” And today Jacky is now known as Mickey Mouse, that’s just how “WTH?!” the moment was, and truly was funny; as funny as his reaction as well.

 

I thought having Sharon there would help keep Matt from bursting with energy and trashing my house, but her presence didn’t have a big impact. Not until his mum came over to pick him up, and my mum invited her to come in and have a chat, that Matthew started behaving: “Oh mum is here. Must be a good little boy now…” Well guys, I think we’ve found the solution to Matthew spazzing out and everyone’s party, thinking especially to the night before at Chris’ party.

 

Our mum’s chatted for a really long time so we played for like another hour past 5pm; her mum was spilling goss about Matthew, mine was spilling goss about me, and we all just sat there in the living room eavesdropping; so embarrassing :S. The day ended with Mathew coming first with the most money (how did that happen, honestly?), then me coming very close behind; then Jacky with a loss compared to the beginning, and poor Sharon dead last with a huge loss but not out for the count haha! Poor girl got passively frustrated every time she’d hit out and then suddenly owed money to someone else; for instance that one time where I was calling a flush, she kept discarding my suit and the first two times she was really lucky; yet on the third she luck broke and she owed me for 7-farn. Matthew had the biggest hand at the Mickey Mouse round, at 9-farn after counting the flower and the self-draw.

 

Man what another long day, but heaps of fun; I know me and Matt got heaps out of it. Don’t feel bad Sharon, we still respect you as our Sempai! haha! Maybe Mahjong again in the mid-sem break; I’ll see.

 

And that brings us to the end of three days worth of constant fun; and I was so dead tired afterwards. Stuff still happened on Thursday and Friday. I’ll go onto Friday next; Thursday was a miscellaneous fun day so yeah.

Christmas Eve House Party

What better way to start season 6 of Divine Iniquity than with a Christmas Eve house party over at Jia Qi’s? Jia Qi kindly opened his house on Wednesday to a number of people from our grade, mostly from our school(or formerly from our school but then transferred to that God-forsaken school Ruse) and also some people he knew back from primary school; your typical house party.

 

Our group isn’t exactly in touch with theirs but I guess we fit in well nonetheless. From our group, me, Chris, Joseph, Eric and Charlie went. And there were a number of people from other groups too numerous to name. There were more than 20 people who attended I think. Jia Qi offered a number of activities, nothing all too different from what our group would normally do. But Jia Qi does have the bigger house, and is also right opposite James Ruse, which means free access to their grounds for sports ^^.

 

There’s not much need to describe in detail the stuff we did there. It was a combination of Brawl, SingStar, EyeToy, Poker, Table Tennis, Piano, simple chatting, and various ball games. One thing that might’ve encouraged a few more people to come would have been Jacky with his SingStar emulator (Vanessa I’m more referring to you xD). And it does make sense since there’s already a DDR emulator called StepMania (I have more than 0.5 GB of anime dances :P) so naturally it should be right to assume that SingStar would have it’s own [illegal] counterpart. “UltraStar” if anyone wants to do research into it. I want to set it up but I’ve already come across a few problems so I might leave that till I get a new computer or something. Jacky had every SingStar and more songs all stuffed in that laptop of his; of course that sparks interest in us who are fans of SingStar. More so for me because I have the same opportunity as obtaining that “power”. It’s going to take a few months before I actually match up where Jacky is. He refused to give me everything he had but even if he did there’s no guarantee it would work on my computer T.T”

 

Food-wise Jia Qi disappointed me. No meat…enough said. But apart from that there was a lot of noodles and pasta and other related dishes. There was probably enough food for everyone and I suppose that is a lot of effort from his mum so still kudos to him for that. There were more than enough drinks to last everyone so that was a plus. I can’t remember doing much other than playing Brawl and SingStar. One memorable moment was when Jacky was already tired from singing and still pushed on with a hard song. His voice totally gave way. He still hit the high note at a cost of fully breaking his voice, it was hilarious. Oh by the way, “UltraStar” supports Japanese songs too if that interests you Vanessa; it’s all a matter of finding it.

 

The day lasted a long time and we all had the chance to catch up with one another. Ivan and Esther came; it’s been a while since we last saw them but they’ve both grown a fair bit. Esther’s heaps taller now, though still somewhat short. Even Eric is catching up to her haha! But she’s just as shy as ever, which kind of sets the party down a tone.

 

“Esther play SingStar with us!”
”…Umm, no? That’s okay.”

 

People eventually began to leave once it hit 3pm but the party was still going. Others preferred to sit and chat, the more mature thing to do after high school haha; especially when you haven’t seen someone for a long time. But overall the party was rather fun because there were so many people there and heaps of space to do whatever. A good start to the holidays!