Renos – Scrape, Scrape, Sand, Sand

Clean up at the church education building (e-bldg) is under way!

Before the end of the year 2012, James and I did quite a bit of work on the interior; scraping excess/old paint, sanding and general cleaning of the usable space.

It feels good to now have a clean fridge, ready and awaiting food and drinks.

There are a set of really old and ugly cabinets that we were able to fill up any cracks and prep for painting.

Ever since the end of December 2012, we’ve recently starting to do a bit more work into the building again. Most of the work was done to the outside front and back yards. Yesterday I was able to trim the front hedges and did an overall cleaning of excess branches and fallen leaves from the front and with Adam’s help was able to cut down a really large patch of thorny bushes in the backyard. We were able to fill about 5-7 bags with the lawn clippings so far and there is still a large pile that still needs to be bagged.

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‘Before’ Picture of the Backyard – Thorny bushes on the Left

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Adam raking up the cuttings.

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Me doing my part in raking.

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Backyard now looks a little less Malicious

While I took to the plants, James was hitting the concrete with his power washer. You don’t quite realize how dirty an abandoned walkway can become until you can clearly spell your name on the pavement. I didn’t even realize what the actual colour of the pavement was until yesterday.

So far I can say that to me the work that has been done so far has made a world of difference in sprucing up the place and hopefully come Spring time, we’ll have a few more helping hands to join the cause to have another nice once over the place in terms of cleaning.

James and Isaac were able to mostly finish up the painting of the inside of the cabinets yesterday and the has been a vast improvement. Now all that has to be done is to scrape, and sand the outside of the cabinets, change the hinges and maybe the knobs as well and we’ll have a brand new looking set of cabinets ready for action. I can’t wait till that is complete!

I also just heard today that we may have access to a deep cleaning carpet machine, so praying that the machine works (and thankful to receive another offer to help from Jon)!

All in all, it’s been a great experience so far to have birthed a simple idea that is slowly but surely gaining momentum and support both from encouraging comments as well as helping hands that have joined to do the work!

Body Building Status

Good News Everyone!

After plateauing at the 205 lbs. weight range for about a month and a half, I am now in the sub-200 lbs. range! Woohoo!

I was glad I did my ‘cheat’ weeks during December, it seemed to be what I needed in terms of switching up the routine to kick-start further weight loss.

 

Recently had some time to work out with my buddy Sam and James on separate days and in different gyms and found both days to be pretty good. It’s always cool to learn some new exercises for muscle groups you’ve been working on for a while, I have the soreness to prove that the workout was different enough to do something to my body.

Did biceps and back with Sam and learned some new moves and machines to get those tiny arm muscles of mine pumping. It’s great to learn new moves to keep things interesting.

Went to Steve Nash with James to work on shoulders and legs to try to get those ‘Boulders for Shoulders.” Steve Nash is nice, but I still like getting spoiled at the Oval. The facility is just overall more well spaced and more open so that stink doesn’t sit around like it does in other smaller gyms.

Overall I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve been seeing, hopefully I’ll be able to continue dropping the fat and toning the muscles before the wedding day and photo shoots arrive.

Thanks to all who have been encouraging me and for the gym brothers egging me on to push past my personal bests and continually improve.

Happy New Years!

It’s the first day of 2013 and I had a great time spending it with my fiancée and friends.

Went to Kevin’s house and had some good food and good times playing ‘Just Dance’ on the Wii, Taboo and Arkham Horror.

So it’s the new year and times for reflection and preparation for the things to come.

Have you counted your blessings? Planned out your next adventures?

A lot of changes have occurred over 2012, I got engaged to Elena, did some photo shoots and also started thinking about my future careers and hobby projects I’ve started on and would like to accomplish in the new year.

It’s also good to be reminded and give thanks for the things we take for granted on a daily basis. The health of our bodies as well as our loved ones. The simple act of being able to breathe unassisted is an ability that I’m sure most of everyone has taken for granted on more than one occasion. I know I have.

Another thing I also take for granted are my parents, I hope that we can continually work to strengthen our relationship regardless of how busy we get or the distances that separate us. May 2013 be a year of new and re-newed relationships.

I want to be thankful for the friendships I’ve made and the friendships I’ve been able to strengthen. I think it’s a bit of a testament to my intentional act to build better relationships. I hope that 2013 will hold more opportunities that I do not miss.

2013 is also the year when I’ll get married, so it will definitely be a big change to my life and to my ‘family’ as I go from being an only child to having brothers and sisters. I pray that such a large transition will go smoothly.

I hope everyone was able to have a safe and celebrated New Years with the people they love.

Cheers to 2013!

Work Work…

Today is my last day of work.

I’m looking at the prospect of being jobless with mixed emotions, both sad and excited.

It’s definitely not the usual two emotions I’d considered would occur for the same situation, I guess I should be glad I’m not ‘excitedly sad,’ because then I’d have to probably check myself in somewhere.

For obvious reasons I’m sad that I’ll be let go from a pretty good job, with good pay and some really great coworkers. Most of them have given some nice encouraging and heartfelt words during this time of transition, which I appreciate greatly.

It is at the same time exciting for me as now I’ve been pushed to look to things that are new and different and may play better to my wants and needs.

I’m the type of guy that for better or for worse tries to settle in and stick to the things I do or am apart of. I think that if I wasn’t let go this time, I’d probably try and stay with the company for as long as I could without much thought to the kind of future that would create.

The fact that my last day will be Dec 21, 2012 the week before Christmas is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it is very hard to find any work at the end of the year, and most of the companies that I applied to probably won’t reply to me or want to interview anyone until the New Year. It’s also a blessing because I had recently taken on a self project for my church that I’m very excited about, and this will give some time to work on it and put some real thought into it. At the same time it’s easier to play off the fact that my lost of job is like an extended Christmas break.

A bit of history on the project: When we got our new(er) church building, the church was able to also obtain a house property (that we called the “Education Building”) that many had aspirations to use in conjunction with the church building.

The only issue is that the building was quite run down and need some serious renovations to make it usable. This begs the question, “What will this building be used for?” Without knowing this, there was no real direction on the types of renovations needed to be done. And so the building sat.

Of course we tried to use it in the form it was in, the youths tried to use it for Fellowship, but why use a run down building, when a perfectly good and free church could be used and was 2 buildings away. So the building sat.

And it sat for many years with little to no use.

It was about 4 weeks ago that I lent some of my board games to Kevin for one of the Friday Youth Fellowship nights and it was the following Sunday where Kevin had brought the games to church where something occurred to me. I had gone in a bit earlier to prepare for my Faithbuilders (a.k.a. Sunday School) class when I saw a small crowd of kids around a table. On that table I realized that one of my games Zombies!!! was being played by Sam and a few other younger people. I could tell from the excitement that both players and the ‘audience’ were really into the game and there was conversation and interaction between the younger and older youths over this game.

It wasn’t until later that Sam came up to me and said “Yeah, we weren’t even planning to play, but after we opened the box, it just kind of started…and now I’m hooked!”

– he later went to go and get a copy of Zombies!!! 4 with zombie dogs and I can’t wait to try it out with the original Zombies!!! game.

This got me thinking about Tom Vasel from The Dice Tower who as I’ve read, works as a missionary in Korea and is an avid board gamer (and reviewer). I started thinking about how the game acted as a bridge to bring together people that may not normally interact with each other.

With the steady decline of the youths in the church and a lack of a place to just hang out with friends, I started thinking about how the unused “Education Building” could be used as a nice friendly place to bring new friends and in general hang out without the need for cash. The idea of having a board game hangout will require less renovations and I hope that we can be able to scrounge up some furniture from the church to warm up the place.

I’ll plan to get some pics of the process and hopefully create a nice reno diary. So it’s going to be an exciting endeavour. Stay tuned!

Board Games for the Bored

Games… the bringer of fun and banisher of boredom.

Being an only child, I’ve relied on the trusty TV and video games to fill up the time.

Most recently I’ve become more and more fond of the board game variety over video games.

I find board games encourage a lot more person to person interaction whether it is a competitive or cooperative game.

It is definitely different playing board games face-to-face with a room of people and chatting with them, when compared to the online gaming done with headset mics. There’s still a huge disconnect that video games need to bridge to truly connect people.

There’s definitely more effort involved in getting together and setting up the board games to play versus turning on the console and playing, I still think the overall pros outweigh the cons in terms of interaction and the ‘togetherness’ feeling.

Some board games that may be labeled as strongly thematic and very complex (I’m looking at you Arkham Horror), but most board games can be played well to a certain degree without too much ‘grinding’ and ‘farming’ as seen nowadays in most multiplayer video game varieties. Even some of the ‘simple’ and ‘easy to get into’ board games have huge depth and strategy even if the initiation into the game took only 5 minutes (such as the deck building game Dominion)

I’d like to share the story of how my love of board games was renewed and revived.

Like many of my friends, the only board games I was introduced to when I was younger were the canonic Monopoly, Battleship and Risk. Like most, the games were the only board games I knew and were ‘fun’ to a certain extent (like when you’re setting up and have gone one round through Monopoly), but it quickly drew out in time and boredom settled in.

This was one of the reasons I become quite the video gamer, it was so much easier to get into with no set up time, but the thing I missed and it lacked was the interaction with people. I know, I know there will be people saying “but Jay look at all the crazy good multiplayer games like Call of Duty (COD) 1, 2,3, 4, modern warfare….black ops, black ops 2…”.

See the trend?

Most of the “good” multiplayer console games are First Person Shooters (FPS) and I have to admit I’m not too good at them, and it really seems to be the type of game that if you don’t wait in line to pick it up on the day of release and play immediately then you’d be far behind in all the Perks and new weapons and just get owned like no tomorrow. So if you ain’t in the club, you’re going to have to pay hard (in the form of grinding experience) to join it. For me, this is a slow and painful process.

Not to say my love of video games has diminished, but I find I am more of a single player game type. **

Back to the board games…so it started when I was in Victoria and was hanging out with my good bud Jon. He had gotten the Arkham Horror board game for his girlfriend and I was intrigued with the board game that wasn’t Monopoly. So we set up the huge board and played for many hours (not quite sure how long, but an average Arkham game is about 1 to 2 hours, but would run longer since I was learning the rules). After that night I was hooked.

The Horror!

The game is steeped in the Cthulhu mythos theme taken from the H.P. Lovecraft stories, where players act as investigators trying to figure out all the strange and horrible happenings in the town of Arkham (not to be confused with Arkham City or Asylum in Batman, though there is an Arkham Asylum in the board game as well). In the game, the investigators need to fight back the waves of monster pouring out of the portals and find enough clues to permanently seal 6 portals before the Great Old One (GOO), like Cthulhu awakens to destroy the world.

It’s a cooperative game that really punishes the investigators and more likely than not the group will lose. Not to sound like a masochist, but it is fun whether you win or lose the game. I think that the game is made in such a way that it really engrosses you into the theme and the battles are tense and there is a feeling that you as a human player are fragile and can easily die.

Suffice it to say that after that initial dip into the realm of other games, I looked into getting a copy of Arkham Horror for myself and have introduced it to a lot of my friends and many times we have played and many times we have died and lost the game, but still the stories of the battles and the close calls are still echoed from time to time.

I have now started to try many other games such as Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Dominion and the list can go on and I can say I am now a great fan of the ‘age, old board game.’ I definitely plan to introduce and review the games I have in future blogs. Until then there are many online video reviews I’ve referred to such as The Dice Tower and sites like boardgamegeeks.com.

Picture taken sneakily by Tessa Tham

Playing Forbidden Island, a current favourite of my church group. A simple, yet intense game that has gotten many replays (and I got it for about $12 USD)

I Work Out.

Epic Handshake

Ahhh Arnold. After all theses years he’s still the man of one-liners and iconic actions. One of them being the above ‘Handshake’ with Dillon (Carl Weathers) in Predator. I know a few of my friends who have wanted to be able to do that Epic Handshake, and I gotta say, I’m one of them as well.

As mentioned in some of my previous posts, I’ve started a new diet and have been working out more frequently to get into better shape for my upcoming wedding and for overall good health.

Adam, one of my buddies from church and a professional personal trainer introduced me to Carb Nite Solution and I’ve been doing it ever since September when my parents left for Malaysia. Ever since the start of the diet I’ve also been increasing my gym times from 3-4 times a week. I’ve lost an overall 30+ pounds and have made some gains in muscle mass and strength.

So far, I’ve split my workouts over a 4 day period.

1st Day: Back and Biceps

2nd Day: Shoulder and Legs

3rd Day: Chest and Triceps

4th Day: Abdominals

I’ve upload most of my exercises on my Body Space at BodyBuilding.com and used to do a lot (like 20+) of exercises per session.

I’ve been recently tweaking and cutting out exercises now so I don’t spend the 2-3 hours per session and I’ve cut it down to about 6-10 exercises after my warm up.

Every session starts up with a warm up of: jump rope, jumping jacks, glute bridges, hip flexors, pushups, spidermans, shoulder rotations, quadruped thoracic rotations, body squats and some time on the foam roller.

More of less I mixed and matched a few items from these two sites:

http://www.roglawfitness.com/the-minimalist-guide-to-mobility/

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/01/09/warm-up/

I’m starting to really like using the jump rope, it’s always rewarding to be able to jump rope both faster and for longer periods of time without stopping or getting caught up in the ropes. Though I have whipped myself a number of times with the speed rope which hurts like crazy. I’m hoping soon enough I’ll be able to do more advance jump rope, like the double hops and arm crossovers.

I definitely need to work on my biceps as I can do pretty heavy weights on the chest and shoulder exercises, but my curls are still quite low weight. Today I read an article on Arnold and his workout and it really inspired me. I don’t think I’ll be doing 15+ sets per exercise like him, but I definitely want to try out the small additional techniques he mentioned for each move so maybe I can get some Himalayan Mount Kinabalu peaks on my arms too 😛

One day I will be able to do that ‘Epic Handshake.’ One can hope anyways 🙂

Wedding Stuff

So its December 2012 and there’s still a ways to go before my wedding in the summer of 2013.

It seems like a long time, but I thought that a few months back when we were planning to make the invitations by December and here December is!

To go along with the theme we’ve chosen and to be smart with our money, my Fiancee (Elena) and I are trying to do the DIY wedding thing wherever we can. Three days ago, we started the card making process. Brenda (Elena’s sister), a demonstator for ‘Stampin Up’ gave us a bunch of stuff to use to make the invitations. We went through  all the card stock so far and have embossed them with a wood grain pattern. Each of them done by yours truly. I’m thinking the cards will look pretty sweet and I hope they turn out as well as we both planned them out to look like in our minds.

Wood Grain Paper - The Fruits of my Labour

My main focus for the wedding day is to help out with preparations where ever I can (such as card making), work out, get fit and look good for the wedding day. Most of the ideas and planning sprout out of Elena’s mind.

She has already created a dress from scratch for one of our photo shoots and plans to make a few more before the wedding. She is a professional make-up artist and I’m happy for her that she is starting to get recognized more and more for the great work she has done.

Not only does she hold a steady teaching career and does make-up when booked, she is also very active on her blog site and has posted some of her make-up work as well as some of the DIY stuff she made for our wedding.

A truly talented and hard working person! Check out her site at: http://elenatsang.com/.

She was the one that inspired me to start this blog in the first place, so that I have a place to put my thoughts and (hopefully soon) have some thing to share that will interest others.

I think for now there will most likely be lots of posts about working out and wedding stuff as that is most of the major items that take up my time aside from work (and job hunting). I’m also thinking of sharing about my more recent interests in board gaming and why I’ve taken to its draw over video games. Stay tuned for new posts!

The Things I Do Now

So recently I’ve been on a massive change in my dieting and exercise habits and I have to say it’s been going well.

The initial motivation was two fold, one was so that I looked good for my upcoming wedding and two, for my overall health. Though I weighed in at 235 lbs, I can say I was relatively lucky to carry the weight around quite well without ‘too’ many rolls here and there. It was definitely distressing for me that after doing the simple Body Mass Index (BMI) that I landed in the range of “OBESE” (Background sound effect ‘DUN DUN DUNNNNN!’ of all old school horror flicks). It was then that I decided that I can’t just do what I’ve been doing and hope that something magically changes about my body. So I started working…

My buddy (whose a personal trainer) told me of a “new” diet that is actually really a summarization of thousands of diet research (so I guess it’s actually an “old” diet) called Carb Nite Solution (CNS). – which is basically a moderate fat/protein diet with super-low carbs ( <30 grams of carbs a day).

My initial weight was 235 lbs. at my max in August, 2012 after my decadent living in Las Vegas, but after adopting a healthier eating habit dropped to about 225-228 lbs.

I started CNS about 3 months ago during the start of September and cut out the carbs in my diet…and dang was it hard. For those that know me, they’d know I love rice…and I mean LOVE it. You know those Chinese 12 course meals where they serve at weddings (or fancy occasions) and don’t have rice until about the last dish? I usually ask for a bowl of white rice for myself so I can enjoy all the dishes as they should be enjoyed…with rice. Cutting out carbs also meant  cutting out sugars as well as starchy vegetables and fruit. When you stop to think about it, this makes eating out very difficult, almost every dish is served on top of the foundations of either rice, noodles or potatoes. It definitely wasn’t too fun to eat out anymore and I’ve had my fair share of raised eyebrows from people close to me, but the madness definitely had a method and the method worked.

I can proudly report that as of tonight, Dec 6, 2012 I weigh in at 202.8 lbs.

This of course was due to the diet change as well as exercising at the gym. For me I really started to amp my time at the gym from 2-3 days/week to about 4 days/week. I’ve been quite happy as I’ve started to really figure out the muscle groups I want to work as a whole so that my overall fitness level is strengthened. I’m also trying to ensure that my exercises are working opposing muscles (e.g. the biceps and triceps) so that I reach a physiological “balance.” I really realized the importance of the “balance,” after learning how to squat properly. I’ve been suffering from knee problems for a long time and I was told my Quads were too tight and putting strain my my knees. So I stretched and stretched, but my knees still hurt.  After starting to work on my legs with the proper, deeper squats and deadlifts, I believe the strengthening of my Hamstrings has reduce the uneven pull of the upper leg muscles and I can slowly feel the knees become less and less pained day after day.

I hope to provide periodic progress updates for my own accountability and hopefully people will be encouraged to go and make their own necessary lifestyle changes. I’m currently also signed into BodyBuilding.com under the user jtf604 for keeping track of my progress as well as being connected to a community that can provide exercise ideas. If you’re in the BB.com community drop by my page to say Hello.

The Christmas Season – The Gift of Generosity

Dalit Freedom Network

It’s December 5th and Christmas is only 20 days away!

How quickly days pass when we don’t pay attention to them. Another year has come and is almost gone.

Just recently I decided to sponsor a Dalit child from India so that he could have access to education at one of the schools that my church helped to fundraise for.

Some background information in regards to the peoples that are designated the ‘Dalits.’ In India society still runs in a caste system where people are born into a certain status of life. The Dalits or ‘The Untouchables’ are literally Out-Castes from the system and are regarded by some to be on a level lower than animals. They suffer poverty, discrimination and oppression simply because they were born from Dalit parents and the vicious cycle continues from ages past until the unforeseeable future.

I missed the opportunity to sponsor a child last year, and though I knew I would be jobless in 2 months, I made an intentional effort tighten my spending to sponsor one this year and I can say I’m a proud sponsor of little Sam* (*name has been modified) from Faridkot, Punjab, India.

Many times I find myself thinking of the things I can’t have or the things I can’t do because I don’t have the money for it. It’s an easy thing to do in comparing what we don’t have when living a place that is rich in freedoms and resources such as Canada. It was not more evident to me of my blessings then when I was writing my first letter to Sam.

I must say it was quite difficult to write the letter, I was not too sure on what to say and how to word it. I started with my ‘hellos’ and began to write about myself hoping that as Sam learned more about me, that i would get a return letter from him telling me more about himself and his family. I struggled to write out that letter as succinct as possible all the while trying to keep terms simple. I realized that my stumbling to explain something in ‘simpler words’ just meant that I had the opportunity to learn and understand more things than many people might have an opportunity to know in less fortunate countries. As I encouraged him to stay in school and how I was happy to be his sponsor; I mentioned my educational background and how I held two degrees and was once again reminded of the blessings of the educational opportunities (though expensive) in Canada.

There were many other reminders that flowed through my mind as I wrote that letter, but lets just say it was definitely a ‘re-eye-opener’ for me. I hope that through me and other people’s donations/contributions, Sam and other Dalit children can bring hope to the next generation.

I can’t say that I’m some type of hero or that I gave till it hurt as some people I know have done, but I’d like to encourage everyone to look into a charity that resonates with you and help in whatever way you can.

P.S. – If this post has inspired you and you’d like to sponsor a child like I have ($300/year per child or $25/month per child), please feel free to contact me and I can try to connect you with one of the children packages that my church has.

OR

Go to dalitfreedom.net and look under the projects page “Education for Dalit Children” under the “Freedom through Education” category (or click the picture above).

P.P.S. – Thanks always to my parents who sacrificed much in hopes that I may have a better life.

P.P.P.S. – A shout out to the people weathering the cold this Christmas season collecting donations for charities. Keep up the good work and thanks.

Getting Started!

 

Lumping Righteousness!

Lumping Righteousness!

There are many things I love to do and would love to do. For now this will be a blog of things that interest me, things I enjoy doing and things I may one day want to try.

Join me as I search for interesting and most likely nerdy/funny stuff in what I call life/the internet!

In the words of one of my recently fav cartoons. “What time is it? ADVENTURE TIME!”