Well.. this is it, my last week staying at this address: 977 Hotel-de-ville avenue. It's been a most comfortable home for me the past 4 months, but now I've gotta prepare to move on. Things awaiting me back home :)
Next monday I'll be moving over to Hansheng's place to stay a few nights, and on the 3rd of May i'll be flying over to London! Really exciting trip in store.. and i'll be staying until the 12th of May, before finally making the long trip back to Sing-rock island :P
Today I was pleasantly surprised by a birthday card! signed by 34 people!! whoa.. mega big card :) Thanks lots Huien for sending it and putting it together.. really touched .. and thanks Gary for saying you didn't want to write me a card! haha.. grrr.. :P
Today I also received a song from hannah (my ex-cgl)! Thanks for that.. it's been an encouragement.. I really hope u'll be serving in exco next year too, but let the Lord speak to you.
Today I received one of Yvonne's essays! It was on the idea of death in the OT.. something like that. Quite 'cheem', very technical, and it even contained Hebrew words! Good stuff.
So it's been quite a day I guess.. though i spent a lot of time at home, writing, playing spades on puzzle pirates, blogging, and resting.
Hey all of you who still have exams, guess what, I'm done!! woohoo!! Finished on the 16th (technically my last paper was in the early morning on the 17th, Singapore time). And the Lord also gave me a great birthday present in the amazing warm temperature of 20 degrees celsius! :)
So I woke early in the morning (meaning.. 8.30am..), and took a walk down Old Montreal! Haven't manged to take a stroll like that in a long time, and I didn't even need my jacket! Took it off after a while cos it was too warm. A nice walk overlooking the St Lawrence river.. some remnants of snow melting... reflecting on the semester that has gone by, and what lies ahead, a time to just pray and listen :)
Penniless Pirate After that I got back, and got hooked on playing puzzle pirates! hahaha! anyway the typical gambling show thing happened to me.. poor me. I was playing Spades, which is my favourite game now. It's like a combination of Hearts, German bridge and normal Bridge together. As usual, because of my sheer intelligence, I started out winning every single game, so I thought it was a great way to make a killing and earn enough pieces of eight to kickstart my Puzzle Pirate career!
However, at the critical game, at which I wagered 500 pieces of eight, I tried to zoom in my laptop screen, which hanged my com, and logged me out of the programme! And such I lost the 500, when we could have easily won 1000 each! I felt bad for my partner too.. cos we were doing so well until then.
Well eventually cos the internet got cut for a while again, I lost another 200. And then because of bad partners I lost another 2 games, and ended up PENNILESS!! Poor pirate... :( oh well.. guess I'll just have to do a little more bilging...
[If you didn't understand any of the above, either go play Puzzle Pirates, or just laugh and pretend you understand my plight.. if not you can ask me about it :O)]
Birthday Dinner Anyway after that the 4 of us (Lionel, Ethan, Terence and I) went out for dinner at this sports bar called Les3brasseurs! We were eating dinner and watching the 5th game of the play-off series between the Montreal Canadians (the best team in the world.. as they all say in these parts..) and the Boston Briuns!
So the best team scored in the first quarter, and everyone was happy! Before the Bruins ruined everything by scoring, and scoring, and scoring and scoring.. and.. scoring.. and the game eventually ended up 5-1.
Anyway.. Ethan went to the toilet, to buy me this really mini-cake from the cake-shop nearby! :) It was a really cute cake actually.. small and round and chocolate flavoured :P. Apparently he lit the candle at that cake shop, and brought the cake all the way with the candle lit! The humour of it wasn't lost on those around too, and this guy was following behind Ethan cheering him on as he walked from cake shop to dinner place. Thanks guys! appreciate all the effort :P you all have been great pals!
So after dinner I treated them to coffee, and we learnt that 'glace' was pronounced 'glar-say' instead of 'glass'. After dinner we went home to play a game of German bridge, then I sat to reply all the facebook birthday greetings before going to bed.
And there were so many greetings! It's amazing, appreciate all of them, especially those from people I have hardly talked to in the past year! :P
So that was my birthday, my first one spent overseas, away from all my loved ones at home :)
It's all going to be over tomorrow.. last paper Restitution. What a semester it has been. Thought I'd take some time to jot down some thoughts and experiences.
Running for Exco After spending much of this semester thinking and praying and considering, I told Jasmine yesterday that I'd accept any nomination for exco. Heard just now that I've been nominated for chair, so i guess it'll be exciting times ahead next year. But still, I'm disappointed at the state things are at this year in terms of exco nominations, looks like it's at an all time low. By this time (the final FT) nominations are meant to be closed, meaning that all nominations should be in, however so far, it's just Liz and I running for exco. That means there are still 8 places not filled, and nobody seems to want to do anything about it, or even care about it... which is rather tragic.
I know some people are praying, that God will bring the people that are needed, but these are only the precious few.
Already, it was an unprecedented phenomenon last year when the exco was made up of 9 Arts people. What's happening with the rest of the faculties and halls? Is this a reflection of the way things are with the believers in university these days? Usual responses are "i don't feel for it" "serving in church" "busy doing other things", or even "i don't agree with what the exco is doing" or 'i don't see how exco is relevant", how valid are these responses?
But I know one thing that the Lord has called me to do is to be available for His work, whatever it takes. I know I'm far from adequate for the job, especially considering the many great people who have graced the seat before me.. (chair.. seat.. haha). Let's see where this leads. Who else will respond to the Lord's call? Who will even be un-distracted enough to hear His still small voice? Could it be that the Lord is calling, but no one is hearing, because everyone is caught up doing their own things?
The Chosen People On quite another issue, it's been a humbling and eye-opening experience learning about the Jewish faith this semester from my Talmudic Law professor, who's a Rabbi in a local Beth-din here in Montreal. Isn't it a tragedy, the way the whole Jewish tradition has turned out?? A chosen people, proclaiming revelation by the Lord Almighty from Sinai, then claiming rabbinic authority to shape the law in whichever way they want. Also, how when the 'light' finally shone in the darkness, the darkness did not understand it. The Jewish faith is one that is so profoundly different from the Christian faith, that I'd highly recommend studying more about it to anyone who wants to seek and know God better. Their understanding of the Torah, of Biblical passages as we know it today, is so different from the popular Christian conception of such passages these days, which also highlights the need for Biblical literacy amongst the Christian believers today.
Whose understanding is right? 2 parallel narratives (actually, its 3 if you consider the Islamic interpretation of things). Where is God in the midst of all these?
The Eye... 'the eye is the lamp for the body', how i long for the day i can see well again... it's been almost a year since that day I woke with my right eye swollen, since the bad fever that killed my year 2 final exams. Things haven't been all 'bright and beautiful' since, and the Lord's hand has been heavy on me, though He still brought divine encouragement from time to time since (at People's church, then at the MCF retreat, and also at Times' Square church, and also through the worship leading of one of my dear PCG members :O)). But where is this all leading? Is this the thorn in my flesh?
I'm more used to it these days.. sometimes i forget the problem is there.. and sometimes it feels ok.. but then it comes back, and i remember it's still there..
I'm in my last class now! Last class of the semester, Talmudic law :) Exams are next monday, tuesday and wednesday, and then i'm done!!
Today I went around taking photos of all my classmates and lecturers, well just for Restitution and Game Theory classes (and probably right after this Talmudic class too), will post up the photos sometime later.
The assignment has been going well, I think. I'm at page 24 after bibliography.. just one more page needed.. hopefully i can sort the whole thing out later.
But i think later i'm going home to rest, celebrate (for half a day) the end of term :P then see what else i need to do for the 3 papers next week.
I'm going to decide soon, but the problem that has been heavily on my mind the last 3 days is 'what topic to do my research paper on Talmudic Law on'. After much agonizing it has gotten down to 2 possibilities.
(1) an analysis of the disagreement between Maimonides and Nahmanides over when Oral Law can be considered Biblical and when it has to be considered merely Rabbinic, tracing it's implications on the Jewish legal system.
(2) an analysis of the disagreements over who and in what way God's providence extends over mankind, with regards to Maimonides' 10th and 11th principles, and how disagreements over the views on rewards and punishments may affect the motivations influencing Jewish criminal law development.
On a happier note, in the course of research for the assignment I discovered a really nice library! the 'Birk's Reading Room', a book repository in support of the religious study programme in McGill. It's one of those places where you take off your shoes before entering because shoes will spoil the exquisite wooden 'parquet' flooring. And everyone is really quiet and 'reverent' there.
I think I'll go frequent that place after exams and before I leave Montreal :)
As one of the locals in the city remarked, "Chicago is just like New York, only the people are friendlier!". True, and I loved it. The home of the blues... and the Bulls!!
Let's start with a photo of their 'metro' system. It's above ground, and it's really nice, in an old, rustic kind of way. This entire platform is just one level above the street. Well, when the whole city is densely packed with insanely tall buildings, there's really no other way.
and if chicago had a lot of 'shady figures'.. that's one of them on the right! :)
Unfortunately the first day we were there it was SNOWING! almost like we brought the snow with us from Montreal. And the mist was so thick that we couldn't even see the top of some buildings! Quite a surreal experience really.
Another side-ways photo. We watched Wicked the musical! Which was another quite amazing experience, a retelling of the wizard of oz.
and another one! After the musical we headed over to the United Centre, once the home of His Air-ness :) We watched the Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers, and it was great fun! Action all round, with lots of hilarious games played during the time-outs as well. NBA is really one huge merchandise. Good entertainment.
Ok I really wanna talk more about Chicago, but work is piling up, and I think I'm falling a little sick. I've got a 25 page research paper due in 2 weeks which i haven't started on, and 3 exams coming up in 2 weeks too.. so it's gonna be busy. Will try to squeeze in some time to blog, but well.. haha let's just see if it happens.
We did so many things in Niagara and Chicago! Glad I chose to go in the end. 6 Singaporean travellers conquering Niagara and Chicago :O)
Treat you guys to a first (ok second) hand view of the falls :O) Actually the Niagara Falls is actually made up of 2 different falls (maybe that's why it's plural huh :P). There's the American Falls, which I think is a pale shadow of it's neighbour, and there's the Horseshoe Falls, which is absolutely stunning. After that, we went over to the catacombs of Niagara.. fascinating stuff, like straight out of a computer game.
And if that was not enough, I'm sure this would look familiar to some of you RPG players :P
Anyway.. I was also lucky enough to catch a suicidal chameleon (actually a gecko), as it was about to attempt to jump off the rock and experience the 'falls'
Don't jump Gilbert!! It's not worth it!!
I'm sure this is the scene of David Copperfield's famous escape act many years back on tv. With all the mist around, it sure makes a good scene for a little magic :)
And time for another random fact to fascinate all ur friends: did you know that the water in Niagara in winter flows at only half the speed of that in summer? This is the winter Niagara, imagine what it'll look like going down at twice the rate!
Ok gotta go, more on Chicago soon! We watched a Blues act, Wicked, and the Chicago Bulls at the United Center!!
Finally done with a crazy 2-3 days of school, and in another 3 hours we'll be heading off to Niagara Falls and then to Chicago for the weekend!
Here's a photo (one of the very few that I have on Tremblant). Just after I decided to get off the fence and go skiing.
Yup, but anyway we're off to Niagara and Chicago! Lionel, Sherlyn, Zhixiang, Ethan, Terence and I, a merry band of 6... to jazz city :) Want anything from there? Drop me an email and I'll see if I can (1) read the email in time, and (2) find the thing that you want.
Happy Easter everyone! As my Talmudic Law professor said, resurrection has a central place in both Jewish faith and Christian faith, but for different reasons. go figure..
What a day today! We went up Mount Tremblant, which is supposed to be the best ski slope in East Canada! 2 carloads of Singaporeans. Cali, Sherlyn, Hansheng, Jacky and Mom, Sam and Yvonne, Lionel and his 3 stooges (Terence Ethan and I), and Andrew :O)
The day started with breakfast at this American breakfast place near Sam's place, which was about $5 per person, and really quite nice, although I cooked noodles for myself in the morning, so I just drank tea :P (save a bit of $$ lah..) And then we took sometime heading off because some (particular) people didn't really sleep much the night before so we had to wait for them :P
Actually I wasn't too keen on skiing, cos Tremblant prices are apparently very 'steep' (hurhur..) But then in the end we only reached there in time for the half day pass, so it amounted to about $90 bucks with taxes added, so it actually was quite ok.. and since I probably will never ski again for the next 100 years, and also had hansheng as a ski partner, I went for it!
And it was SO FUN!! Ok, except the part where you have to put your skis back on after you fall, on the slope. There were times I took 30 mins just trying to lock the skis back onto the ski boots! It's actually a very tricky manoeuvre, I don't know why Canadians seem to be born with the ability to do it. First you have to put one ski on (which will take about 5 mins), then you have to cut that foot with the ski into the side of the slope so that you can balance on it and one of the ski poles, while trying to lift your other foot up (with the heavy ski boots), then trying to find some way to knock the hardened snow off the sole of that boot, and then trying to fit that boot into the other ski (must be exactly the right position and angle) and transfer all your weight to that boot so that it will lock into the ski.
Sounds easy? try doing that on a 30 degree slope, and soft snow...
Anyway, apart from that I'm fortunate to have come away relatively unscathed. There was just one fall where I ended up face down on the slope, with both skis facing opposite directions and hooked to each other in a straight line. Any bit worse and my ligaments could have gone! But yah everything feels ok now :O)
There was another incident with the ski chair lift that was rather harrowing, but if you want to know about that one, ask me about it and I'll decide whether to tell you about it or not :P
But yes, now I'm safe and warm at home at last, 11pm, getting ready for bed after finding out that Man U won and Arsenal drew again, and that Hansheng still has enough energy to watch the first race of the new F1 season at 12 midnight later.
However, I'm not the man I used to be, and I have my eye to rest, and church to wake up for, and an entire day of presentation prep and project work to do tomorrow.
I had fun today though. The ski slopes were truly magnificent, a mark of God's creation and an experience of a lifetime :)
We're having curry at hansheng's place now! ethan, terence, hansheng, cali, sherlyn, jacky, andrew and i :O) AWESOME. Supermarket stuff. Hansheng, Ethan and Terence are doing the cooking now, and the rest of us are watching Andrew teach Jacky and Sherlyn how to play "Colours of the WInd" on the piano... from scratch :P
This week's been tiring though, assignments and other things to navigate through. Glad it's over.