rentalcars.com is a questionable company

during iceland trip, i decided to look for a last minute booking for rental car, hoping to get out for a last chance to catch the northern lights. i decided to rent through a third-party brokerage company, rentalcars.com.  however, the weather turned seriously threatening and i had to leave early.
*btw, real posts about the trip will be up in near future. the trip itself was absolutely amazing.

on way back to town, i had about 30 min to the pick-up time. the company does not have phone lines open on saturday or sunday. without smartphone, i could not even try to get on the web to cancel the reservation.  so i called the actual rental car company directly to cancel. they cancelled it and said they have not received any part of the payment and is unlikely to see any of it, and that i am probably not going to see it either.

and they were right. you can only cancel your booking online, only up to 48hrs to the pick-up time, it was all in the small prints. they are selling pre-paid service (which really was not obvious for me, i didnt even know such business forms existed), meaning they will just keep the money IF ONE CANNOT CANCEL a whole 2 days prior to the agreed rental time. that's pretty hard-nosed.

they sent me a 'evaluation' email of my experience. so i wrote back. im not greatly upset about the lost money. it is my fault for not checking every single line of fine-prints. sometimes, one makes a mistake. however, their business practice do bother me a bit:

i think this is on a questionable start- you want a customer survey but the forms are so rigid that i had to pick out random options that has nothing to do with my situation. so please disregard my choices for section 2 and 3.

i had to cancel my reservation because the weather condition- akureyri was shutting down with a big storm.  being a foreigner traveler, i did not have a ready-access to internet, and it being a saturday, there was no number i could call to rentalcars.com to discuss the matter of cancellation.  

i called budget (which was actually avis akureyri, seeing from the email) while getting back to akureyri, they agree to cancel the trip, as i was calling prior to the pick-up time and they explained that they have not received any payment and unlikely to receive anything.

once i got my internet access back, i contacted rentalcars.com, i was told:
...Unfortunately, as the cancellation wasn’t made before you were due to pick up your car, we cannot give you a refund...
then further request showed: cancellations policy that this company runs a pre-paid service and that reservations will not be refunded if it has not been cancelled to 48 hours before the start of the rental.

there was no disclaimer that clearly indicated that this site is a pre-paid reservation site, nor the policy was easy to find for a normal user.  i suppose yes, you do have your legal rights in small prints to not to refund anything, but to see that no one actually rented anything, the rental company did not get any money, it seems unjust and pushing to the end of the moral boundary for rentalcars.com to keep all the money, hiding behind the small prints.  

if i went through a direct website for rental companies such as budget or avis, they certainly would not have kept the money on rental that was cancelled before the actual scheduled pick up time.  it is a questionable practice to allow quick-booking as a prepaid service without a clear disclaimer to aid customers to understand what the consequence may be in case of necessary cancellation, as your current policy clearly puts you in a great advantage- any quick booking cancelled in less that 2 days, you keep the 'prepaid' money.

i will certainly be motivated to not to recommend your brokerage to anyone that i know, as this particular experience is one of the worst customer-oriented service i have seen in 15+ years of self-organized travelling.  

you are legally covered with all the small print policies, but i am not sure if even you would be satisfied about company's operational moral/ethics boundary, unless, it is purely profit-driven company. if it is so, congratulations on getting the most out of all situations possible. but do try to remember that a business which involves people should reflect human values rather than short-sighted myopic interest in quickest and easiest financial growth.

so peeps, if you ever run into this site, run away. they may be secure but man, they are secure about the fact they will be paid NO MATTER WHAT. i think it's a sketchy business ethics.


connecting the stars, to faraway land

(one of my fav shows ever, 'o' @ bellagio)

it seems that end of 2014 is star-studded, literally. and yes, i thank the universe for giving me the chance to look up and see the beautiful space we live in.

yes, space.

this morning, the orion project launched and returned in success. almost faultless.
here's nasa's brief explanation of the scope of the orion project.

that's right kids, we are returning to space!

20 july 1969, three men- brave, probably nuts and extremely capable, went up and landed on moon.  six hours later, they left bootmarks on the moon.  the mystical moon became a brief reality- and it was so different from what we have pictured for the entire humanity up to this point.  a place with its own love (gravity), bit smaller and starker than our own home, but nonetheless, a familiar face.

however, things then slowed down. nixon axed the space program and dealing with problems at earth, we kept sending people out, but not being able to reach a new place. the international space station maintained our dreams and reality- yes, it is real. the space technology, through satellites and related technology, we can now check GPS location, send emails, connect to the world without too much difficulties. no more pigeons, of course, unless you prefer.

it is easy to focus on practicality.  just like many people who lose their visions without being aware, many look down to their calendar, trying hard to get through the list of things that are demanded of them- family, job, bills to pay.

whenever i cross queen's park to get to/from work, i look up. it's a habit.

since the day i got my glasses (as mentioned in previous post), i cannot help but to look up. i can't help but to wonder what may be there that i have not been able to see.

it is gracefully rewarding, to look somewhere different.  looking up, i found many beautiful anomalies, including plastic bags that flew off, flying higher than any birds.  a runways balloon from a festivity, seeing the world it never could imagine in a ball room.  little planes, carrying people with eyes and hearts, seeking and soaking in the view from the other side.  snow that floats quietly, melting as they come- impossible to see at an eye level. rain drops that magically appear without any warning. the last leaves of the autumn and the first fuzz of the spring on sleepy buds.

yes, they are expected. they are cyclic. they happen.

but when i see them in the moment, they make me 'live' with them. often i make a little noise of wonder. as if i never grew up.  breath escaping the body, in great sense of wonder: how big and how beautiful this world is.

and the success of the morning is a gigantic step for the human kind.  the first one that is specifically designed to take us somewhere new- mars. i texted my friend who's got a wee kid. i asked him to watch it with the little baby. it's important!

there are rashes against such 'adventures.'  what of this earth? what about the people who could use the help now? why are we dreaming of living in a space that we cannot- arid, metallic, harsh and no real source of water or oxygen?  why can't we concentrate here?

if i did just that, i would've never seen the stars that fell into my eyes, forever leaving their marks, right through my heart.

as a small person in the big world, i am dying to get out next monday, to be close to the arctic cycle.  why? i cannot explain exactly. i have seen it on pictures and webcams. i have read about it. however, i do know that i want to get there. once i am there, my eyes will see what they wanted to see. the vision that spoke through the heart, long before i realized it, probably.

going to mars- it's the same thing. sense of wonderment. of awe. this is huge, this IS the apollo of my generation! we are going somewhere and that new direction took a very real step today.

if we are to be practical, we all should dig holes and lie in it. by simply living, we are wasteful.  after all, how many of us are actually 'important' to the rest? when my brother died, i learned that the world didnt change. it wont. it cannot.  last night, hit with heavy nostalgia, i went through list of 'friends' on my crackbook. lost a few friends already. and when tried to recall all the characters that i was so attached to at certain points, i could not.  a few has became apparitions of themselves already, in my mind.  i could see them and recall them. i cannot get back in touch with some of them (i have no idea how to even go about that), and a few, i cannot even real their last names.

may be this is what drives me outward.  gravity, which is very much like love, holds our feet down. it brings us back to where we are.  we were. we can be.  we can go to mars. we can come back.  it may have no practical value, but no life does.

there i was, 7am, on a morning-off, eyes barely open, and i watched orion go. and at 1130am, it came back.

we are going somewhere we don't really know yet.

the call of the north will take me on monday evening, to a place i do not know yet.

i have to keep my eyes open. eyes open, for the wonderment of the world. for it to burn a bright track on my brief mind.  the world is beautiful and we have a new ship. we go. i will sleep with fibrillating heart. with scintillating dreams.

there's time for many words, and there is also time for sleep.
(homer, the odyssey)



… what shall we ever do?

and just like that, the way to the north has been paved.

fuelled by jazz gig i went to last thursday eve (in-your-face-beat-up metal jazz), the little blocks fell into place, no gaps- hyper-real tetris game.

chasing after a feeling over and over and over again, in obsessive manner, decisions simply take shape. it was made already, somewhere, long ago, now catalyzed.

i build a collage. i build a ship. i build a door for my cage. confluence.

each time i travel, there's something to find. sometimes, with people. sometimes, alone.
but always in flux of confluence.  tossing self out of the 32nd floor concrete nest, i always find something. something that was waiting for me- for how long, i may never know.

at the local gear shop, kind salesperson who was helping brought up the idea of solace in desert.  his was the mojave desert. mine, volcanic steam vent desert of kerlingarfjoll.  and now, to ice desert.

the desert is a place of solace, because it is not barren.
in absence, one may see what one has been seeking.

on top of ben nevis, i recognized the weight of the world.
on edge of the coral reef, i sunk, world disappearing into black.
on rocks of finisterre, i saw alone.
on climbs of cascades, i drank alive.
on boiling mud of kerlingarfjoll, i ate elation.
on bright hills of mont rouge, i devoured adoration.
on crosby beach, i swam love.
on okinagan valley, i paused death of brother.
everywhere i went, there it was. solace.

…winter kept us warm, covering
earth in forgetful snow, feeding…
(5-6, t.s.eliot, the waste land)

to the depth of the winter-
perhaps the trajectory was set long ago, even before my time.
like many before me, i follow the call,
in the night silence, my heart sings,
of the songs that i do not know yet.
of calling.

what shall i see
what shall i find
what shall i sing

… we think of the key, each in his prison,
thinking of the key, each confirms a prison,
only at nightfall, ethereal rumours…
(413-415, t.s.eliot, the waste land)

sinking. drifting.
to sleep. to silence. tomorrow.


winter is coming

picture: this summer, in august, i saw the glimpse of winter, 
as we trekked along langjokull in iceland. 
it held its silence under 20+ hours of sunlight.

winter is coming.

it has bared its fangs suddenly. the slight chill that lingered on the edge of the scent 'autumnal foliage,' turned itself into a maelstrom of flurries and ice. compacted snow that eats your bicycle tires. all the sudden, the feet experiences amnesia: how to- . the basic rules of the day were thrown up in the air. things taking much longer. things slowing down. things diving into slurry of mixed decay- to silence.

on this sudden descend to ice, i sink with it. the enormous wave will carry me into the depth of the winter, the solstice.  it will be dark. death. end. the longest night of the year.  the deeper we dig into the grey and blue, we will lose colour- space, ice, water, all mediums bringing you into the point of silence. a visual silence. absence of light.


there is a definitive point of crystallization, water turns into solid. all the sudden, water dreams as it loses all its kinetic energy, converting itself in slumber, pure potential.  and once the sun returns with that pale light of winter, we will see into the distance. distance to the stars. starlights that lacks colours. pure white. cold. eternal. a crave.

on postings from iditarod, from the pictures of the past winter that lives in my heart, from drinking greedily from the cold, cutting wind into the core of my lungs while running outside till as if i would throw up my innards out, from tonight's show of peggy baker-shauna rolston where ice and stillness ruled over the kinetic dance floor humming with humanly impossible drones, from the eyes of huskies looking into the endless horizon, from a man who carries the grey sky and depth of the sea in his eyes, from the sky, the pale grey draws me into the wild north. colour of the iceberg.

north is calling. it is calling with its gnarly grasp, digging into my heart, till it bleeds red hot. steaming.

i am planning an escape, into the wind. into the cold.  whether i succeed or not, it no longer matters.

i thirst for the winter to cut me through. to free me. to freeze my senses till the point of crystallization, of white light. of solstice. of the cusp. so that we may live again, to start that gradual march into tomorrow,  resonating with that ancient hum of silence. of ancient days, as if trapped in icebergs and glaciers.

i crave for the wind to burn my face.
i want to drink that endless, blades-full wind,
i run faster than i should,
i fly on my bike, on the edge of torquing into a fall,
i live, i bleed into the cold,
i am alive.

to north!

my heart sings.
till it bursts into pieces.
into winter wind.
i am that compass needle. i point one way. my heart tugs one way.

winter is coming.


lost in constellation

i always thought life is much like the constellation chart.

as a child with terrible vision, i never realized what stars actually meant.  finally, the summer i turned 11, i was given my first pair of glasses. with the new glasses, i was sent to a summer science camp, located in a mountain camp site.

one night, during the evening activity,
look up, the leader said.
look up to the stars.
city child, i thought: right. stars. okay.

there they were.

all the stars, falling into my eyes,
like the greatest waterfall,
with raging power, they fell,
endlessly, speaking timeless stories,
the stories that i never really heard,
till i could see them.

they spun and spun.
the more i looked, the more fell,
until my eyes were full of white dots,
bright eternal ancient beyond my comprehension.

people come into one's life.
we do not know what they are. or what they are to become.  some may stay a while, some may stay, if a bit far. some may collide. some has been there, perhaps waiting silently in eternity, resonating. gravity.

just like a constellation chart.

then all things collide- when time comes.  rosetta just landed on a comet. rosetta went up, ten years ago, in hope of opening up our ears and eyes to the messages that may have been waiting for us through inconceivably large time scale. just like when one runs into another's life, gravity pull, finding the right orbit- may be close, may be far.

i went to see interstella (2014) today. and nolan portrayed the exact issue: when all we have known, the constants such as time and earth, becomes variables, where do we go from there as human beings? human beings, that is to live with/through/for/by love?

how is it a child may be related to a parent when the constant of time flips in the greatest opposite?

how would we determine courage, as courage requires enormous amount of fear?

what do we mean?
do we mean love, when we say love? (beckett)

with whirling snow flakes that came throughout the day, i briefly wonder if each snow flake may carry the story of a unique universe, a life, that we may never know about. as one cannot conceive things that are out of one's own relative scale.

it is the time of the year where death and renewal becomes a reality. quiet march into the zero. the apocalypse. the salvation. the cusp.

with all the messages resonating one simple question, i am lost, contently, however, with a sense of being lost, yearning, to understand what it is: love, universe, life. i fall into the velvet anesthetic of the early winter night, bottomless, silent, full of unspoken feelings. gravity.



expanding man and shrinking seat are not ideal


the letter is clearly written by temporarily insane man.  im sure in a different context, he is not such a ranting maniac. though, i do understand what that feels like to slowly suffocate next to what i call the 'expanding person' experience.

they seem normal. they sit down. polite hello and a slight unknown sense of dread.

as soon as the seat belts are down, they start to expand, 3-D.  soon, their knees are touching yours, the arm rests are no longer arm rests, they are holding this expanding appendages that just keeps growing in space, real time.  after couple hours, you wonder HOW did they seem so normal at the beginning of the flight. incredibly, they still look normal, while occupying at least 50% more space. what is going on?

*insert airtravel delilium music.
*pop some pills and just pass out till arrival

the real issue is not about personal respect/disrespect about this particular case, i think. it's about unreasonable public demand for cheapest commodity services/goods, along with inflexibility of the airlines' infrastructure to accommodate/address passenger safety in pursuit of maximum profit (though yes, airlines are for-profit).

it is frustrating for ALL parties, i am sure (as obviously the writer of the letter is experiencing brief case of acute trauma episode of a sort) and even more frustrating for the airline workers (as they probably see this on daily basis). lets not forget the large man whose life may already be difficult.
what may be the solution?

im afraid it may involve:

1. pressuring legislature (for airtravel safety regulations),
2. demanding varied services from the airlines (ex. larger seats),
3. willingness to pay a bit more (air travel is very cheap if we consider the technology, infrastructure and human investment that makes it so easily available),
4. and being generally well-adjusted individuals (cant believe some of the replies, they are so angry themselves! what is really going on there, anonymous commentators?)


*picture credit to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/07/travel/feeling-cramped-battle-airline-seat/


... it seeped through crack on basement

*pic from cbc

i am not a pessimist, nor an optimist. i try hard to be neither.
the power of bias, suggestions and expectations are often too powerful to even detect, nevermind neutralize.

however, with all the international violence, especially pointed at the united states, we have grown quite dull about it. the gulf war. rwandan civil war. croatian war of independence.  afghanistan. iraq-kurdish.  republic of the congo civil war. the chechens. north-west pakistan.  niger delta. thailand insurgency. somalia.  boko haram in nigeria.  kyrgyzstan. lybian. israel-gaza.

these are the first ones that popped into my mind. without looking. eyes closed. and im not a political junkie.

it made me wonder why-

unequal lives of humans.

and that makes yesterday's shooting in ottawa quite shocking in a weird sense, i thought it is stranger that it have not happened any earlier.  we live in one of the wealthiest, healthiest, educated nation.  everyone looks up to canada as an ideal model.  we think we work very hard and achieve a great deal in civil rights and advancement of technology and humanity. look, we are even sending trial samples of ebola vaccines. people literally climb the closing doors to get into this place.

as powerful nation, we have also trolled many lives under our foot.  most likely, we wont hear the things that went wrong.

i remember my own granny telling me about hiding in the haystorage room in a random house during the korean war, with an infant, praying and praying that the child would not wake nor cry during the whole night. they were at the war line in korea, americans/UN soldiers were pushing the line and the north communists were fighting back in desperation. she hid from the soldiers.

she hid from the UN soldiers.

they would rape. they would kill. just like any other soldier. forget the flag on the bag. doesnt matter.
the korean soldiers, my uncle and his peers, as part of koreans who participated alongside the americans (as they earned in dollars), his special forces brigade friends would tell me about vietnam, about hot weather and agent orange, eating snakes and dying of tetanus, from stepping on bamboo cuts smeared with feces.

they did not tell me about the horror they 'shared' with vietnamese people. of rape. burning, carnage, killing. abandoned war children.

i am not here to say canadian soldiers (or any other modern soldiers) are doing exactly the same. times have changed for better, i hope, and there are more systematic solutions that is intended to cause lesser damage. but it is true that a soldier is trained to protect and obey ordered, involving killing and bombing.  but ironically, without soldiers, then it's even less order i think.  bit like parking cops. even with parking cops, people park illegally all the time (slightly silly example).

and soldiers come back, damaged. often on way to their graves, slowly.  only because we cannot see it so easily, as death toll, a lost limb, we often think it's all fine.  or that it's not worth it, there are better causes to think about.

what of the repressed anger that causes terrorist acts and war?

hard to say, as it is so complicated. but i do believe it is largely due to the completely uneven distribution of wealth.

i would like to make more money. i would like to be richer. but after all, i am happy working at my jobs as is, as it varies anywhere from 12/hr (yes, that is close to minimum wage in toronto. i am not bitter, i am happy to do it! no misunderstandings allowed, ahahaha) and up, sometimes in honorarium.

but the fact that i do not have to work for free (extortion), or work on jobs i protest (no job i take is against my consciousness or ethic/belief/moral, thought i may not like it, that's entirely different!), and i am educated, which qualifies me to at least apply self to many different jobs.

so many people do not get this chance. so they toil through. they are angry.


i am privileged.
these rough calculations puts me at either top 7 or 10%.
and i am supposedly struggling classical musician (though at least 3rd of my income comes from manual labours and other un-related to music things). this money is not much in toronto but in the world, it's quite a big chunk.

with my last income tax return,  im still on the first bracket, making less than 43,561 before taxes.  that makes me a small earner.  not so small in the global sense. i have riches in my household- utilities, warm house, safety, running water, accessible municipal services and justice system should i need it.

no wonder the people who have been denied of what we consider the 'basic' rights are angry and shoot at us.

there have not been enough information to figure out why or how cpl cirillo's been shot. and who dunnit.  but this is shocking to us, because well, shooting military man and government services is something that happens SOMEWHERE ELSE (like the states).

weve been rich enough to close our minds to diversities that we do not like (which does not do justice to the world 'diversity' anyhow).  we want to pay less for everything. we want to 'give poor countries developmental potential' by doing our businesses at the fraction of its real cost. we want to 'dispense' justice to the world if they 'cooperate.'

it's not a fault. it's a symptom. symptom of wealth and happiness. contentness.

i love this country. this is home.
with all this education, resource, free-media and TIME, we do have the responsibility to look into this 'irrational' anger that is coming in through the small cracks of the house. (i watch too many  home reno shows i guess).  i am against violence. i am against black-and-white stance. violence is also a symptom. of unhappiness, incomprehension, envy and therefore blind action.

let us not waste cpl cirillo's death.  yes, it may only be one of many soldiers who die on the job. yes, canadian soldiers do sign up to be in the army (unlike countries with conscription services).  that does not matter when we want to look into the disorganized anger that pervades history. including our history.

we are individuals. we can all care for the human liberty and freedom. we can make it real.


there's no easy answer. but if you desire, one will find ways.
love to you all, stay safe.


sigh, we do all want to be cooler, always! but sometimes...

*what a lovely picture!


so johnny greenwood of very successful venture, radiohead, resident composer for the bbc concert orchestra recently pointed out 10 things he would change in a classical concert format.  and i thought in most of cases, his proposed changes are not met because well, most of classical music does not have the support hat johnny or the bbc concert orchestra (one of my fav ensembles) have access to.  and certain things, though the public may demand it, is not very helpful- such as access to technology during the show.


anyway, we all live in a different world and i do think it's quite nice that someone who could be influential takes a stand. this is how things evolve. however, on certain points, i cannot help but to think... BUT...  so here they are.  happy friday!

1. free applaud for between-movements:
i agree. IF THAT WOULD REALLY KILL THE PROGRAM (tchaikovsky 6th, the transition between 3rd to 4th movement, for instance), it would not be so hard to have a small announcement along with cellphone warning at the beginning of the concert, or print it on the program.

2.  tuning backstage:
i think it's not possible, unless the backstage is HUGE and quiet... just a practical issue for ensemble that big. where are you going to put everyone so that everyone can actually hear that tiny A made by the oboe?

3. allowance for mobile phones in silent mode:
silent and LOW LIGHT. that blinking screens are such a bother. you should only do it if it does not distract anyone else.  for recording, i donno- all im saying is everyone has off-days and it's slightly unkind to have those footages on the web for free broadcast.  and there's TOO MUCH records of everyone doing everything anyway. bit like collecting children's artworks (i think).

4. program should be less predictable:
programs- well, it's nice to pace things out with bit of variations. spelling the 'surprise' would be nice for all concert goers for various reasons (bladder, babysitter, traffic, wheelchairs etc)... yeah, small surprise (within 5 min) but not all shows have the tech support/audience support that radiohead/bbc concert orch have access to.  when we hit that old age, making it to the bathroom IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT for various reasons, including public dignity.

5. take your drinkies:
ONLY IF THE HALL allows it.  would you like to sit on comfortable (reasonably so) padded chairs with arm rest if it had beer spill on it from last night?  how are we going to keep the carpets clean? (some venues, you are expected to stand and socialize and spill things, ex. any venues that has 'standing floor.' some venues not).  i work at a reasonably small hall and i tell you, cleaning up after the audience is kinda gross already anyhow (wrappers, half-drunk coffees, food items stuck on chairs).  would i ever sit on the floor or the lee's palace? PROBABLY NOT.

6. artist should engage, including meet-after-concert as mandatory stuff:
I CANNOT IMAGINE JOHNNY MEETING EVERYONE AFTER EVERY CONCERT. and the talk- well, let's say not everyone will be so eloquent and helpful. im a big fan of printed short notes.  may be we as the group can organize more events where the audience can meet the group, but to have it as their 'right' is bit sketchy.  the three radiohead shows i went, they had heavier security than any classical concerts. backstage access much?

7. no tail suits:
tail suits and all blacks are actually a very practical option. unless the large ensembles will invest in huge selection of rentals for freelancers.  better looking suits dont grow on trees and most ensembles are already under financial duress.  and whats wrong about having a different set of aesthetics? some people enjoy the concerts because it is different from their daily lives. and yes, something does change when one dresses in certain style. i dont think tail suits are such a bad idea. i personally think wearing damned sweatpants and workout suits to any public place should be banned unless you are sweating. if it looks like it can be a pajama, wear it in private space. a simple test: would you present your best impression of the day in that? if answer is yes, proceed.

8. more family friendly:
families: this, i agree. and some ensembles are venturing out of their zone and IF IT WORKS, im sure it will spread, because, well, all musicians always want more audience.

9. more technology in concerts:
once again, it's a budget issue mostly.  for download during performance,  only if your tech device does not provide a distraction to another. ever sit beside someone who's texting away in a movie? annoying.  AND WHAT WE CANT LIVE WITHOUT TIED TO THE PHONES FOR 1.5 HRS? IN MIDDLE OF LIVE EVENT?  i think the hall should have a signal disrupter so that people actually do something else beside being tied to a phone.  but then i think of this very often in all kinds of places... about close-up televising, well, once again, i know we live in a visual culture but i dont think it is necessary that one can see anything at any given time.  this is the choice that performers should make, in consideration to budgets etc.  one CAN go to a classical concert in major towns paying under 30 dollars a head. most big gigs, you are paying starting about 70-90 bucks. that's hella difference in budget.

10. all prog to have one contemp piece:
i agree. but i say it must work with the rest of the program. some all-contemp progs rock. some no-contemp progs rocks. most of oldies-and-newbies would work very well.

now, to get off one's bum and go practice on friday morning. yawn...
love to all!


no flyers! please! i trust you even less now!

yep thats the sign on my door. been there for two years now...

with local election coming up, there are lots of noise for campaigning and plea for supports. i put on this sign on my door because i rather not receive junk mail regarding political campaign.  of course, you are a great candidate on paper! what i need to know is what you do not say on the page...

anyhow, last night, i come back home and guess what i find- a campaign pamphlet.
so it being a late-start day, i cannot help self but to write back to the candidate.
politicians, and everyone (as we are all political animals to certain degree), do make sure you are fairly represented through you and your team. all it takes is one lazy person to drop the group...
and so i wrote to him. good luck to him and i hope all candidates do pay attention to all the details they present to the public, especially the careless ones...

hello mr ahmed,
(insert the pic above)

i am disappointed to see that your campaign does not respect citizen's wishes; i have an old sign on my door, i live in a high-rise building.what i found is your campaign pamphlet, dropped by my door.

i certainly would not be trusting your words, as your team does not wishes to respect my wishes.

as a politician, you may not be personally responsible for particular events, however, you may need to take responsibility for it, if it is part of your ward community or involves your team members directly.

this may be an insignificant matter; i am not wanting an apology, however i think it is important for you to consider how you may be represented in multiple levels, should you actually become the ward 27 city councillor.

dr (monkey)


pc bank provides pro service on phone today


on phone with pc banking:

monkey: i was wondering if you can help with TFSA acct transfers-
man: (cuts in) NO, you cant do that. no e-transfer for that. okay?
monkey: (huh?) but i have done it in branch? as authorized transfer for registered investments?
man: (takes time)... hmmm, yeah, you can do that.

5 min later

monkey: ...but it's been a month since transfer was initiated? branch person said it would be sufficient time?
man: AHAHAHAH. whoa. ha.
monkey: can you explain?
man: that's when things go smooth.
monkey: okay, so what may go wrong?
man: well, it's a wrong estimate. (with sense of condemnation)
monkey: such as?
man: (big sigh)
monkey: (wtf?)

after rolling more eyes

monkey: ... okay, so i should re-check by friday then?
man: yeah. good day. (ready to hang up)
monkey: (baffled) umm, excuse me? (whats this? you working now or what? your break is up?)
man: yes? what?
monkey: nevermind. good day i guess.

sometimes i wonder why people work in customer service when they clearly are not suited for it. as a phone agent, your job is to listen first, decipher the problem, then find appropriate course of action. is this not entertaining enough? im practically begging for you to answer my questions to begin with!

i mean who the hell says 'what?' when working as a phone agent?
complete sentences will carry you a bit further, mr. chris...


bank emails. yay.

so following up on the last post, all three parties got back to me through email, conveniently suggesting that i call everyone else.  td wants me to call certapay.  certapay says they dont have access to my banking, so i must call back td. pc bank says they cannot handle this so i have to call them back as well.

so far, i am truly amazed that it is taking this long- the fradulent activity of the third party whose email was hacked was on 19 june 2014.  that is 82 days since the beautiful event took place.  now, after about seven phone calls, adding up to well-over seven hours, and a branch visit which took an hour, including more time on the phone through their internal secured line to the loss-prevention dept of td canadatrust AND a new debit card (teller person was sure this would solve the problem, i wish that was true. alas.)  the amount of variations-on-the-theme, 'no, no one is responsible for you, it's the other guys,' has been truly baffling in their presentations and attitudes.  td supervisor on the phone have told me that they cannot possibly tell me where the block is happening from- that i cannot ever find out whether it's through the bank or through certapay.

well, at l east i was told a different answer today. as they both seem invalid, i may as well walk into the branch. after all, people are still searching for higgs-boson and yes, god as well.

here's the body of the email sent to td  and certapy. i did not have enough gas left to call pc. may be tomorrow.

i wonder how far i must pursue this case.  i hope it wont involve an anniversary celebration.  may be i should write directly to the presidents of td canadatrust and certapay. may be they would know. thoughts? wish me luck tomorrow. sigh.

hello customer service@td,

after receiving mr's reply, i have called the 24hr help line and had another 50 minutes conversation with loss prevention department person on the phone.
he tells me the only option i have is now to walk into the branch and ask the branch manager to contact the loss prevention centre directly, in order to get in touch with certapay to get my 'block' removed.

now, the initial problem happened on 19 june 2014 (please refer to the forwarded content for details of the case).  this is now 08 september 2014. i called in at least seven times, from europe, spending hours on the phone, i walked into the local branch. they even suggest i get a new bank card and see if that fixes the problem.  you, as the bank, should have access to the record that my debit card number has been switched to a new number in late august.

i have also contacted certapay, and from their reply, the only thing i can understand is they would not take further action unless a fraud investigation has taken place. i have no idea whether this has happened, or if so, what the conclusion was.  here's the body of email from certapay:

Dear (monkey),

Thank you for contacting our Support Centre for the INTERAC e-Transfer* service.  We apologize for the difficulties you are experiencing trying to access the service.

Due to privacy reasons, INTERAC does not have access to your personal banking information.

We will escalate your issue to the TD Loss Prevention.  We suggest you call into TD EasyWeb at 1 866 222-3456 and request to be transferred to the TD Loss Prevention team.  Did you report to TD you were a victim of fraud?  When a client reports they are a victim of fraud, an investigation should be completed.  You should confirm with TD whether they investigated your case and what was the outcome of their investigation.

If TD Loss Prevention requires any assistance from INTERAC, they can contact our Fraud team directly.

im getting different answers to same problem over the last three months.  i am a freelancer and i work at rate of (haha, no need for public to know!).  i had to make these phone calls from skype, as i was in europe for the summer (this, you can verify through my visa record, as my transcations should taken place in: united kingdom, spain, south of france, italy and iceland).  i have not had any banking problems prior to this and this particular case started with compromise of third party's account, not even mine.  i have wasted over seven hours of my life so far, chasing variations-on-theme answers, and i do not have any confidence whether tomorrow's visit to the bank will create any practical difference to my problem, i hope the reason would be understandable.

what is your view on this case? what explanation could you send me for this less-than-spectacular communication? how are you going to ever compensate back for my loss of productivity/professional availability as i spent all these hours talking to agents who did not take (well, could not take) any responsibility for the wrong answers that were given to me?

i hope to hear back from you and i really hope tomorrow's visit to the bank branch will somewhat resemble what the specialist recommended over the phone line, as if not, it would be another +1 hr of my life wasted, chasing wrong answers.  please feel free to contact me through email or phone.

sincerely and honestly frustrated, (monkey)

td canadatrust, pc bank, certapay mayhem issue 2.

well, here's body of email replies back from the financial institutions. analysis and reflection to follow...

1. reply back from td canadatrust, ask an expert:
I'm sorry to hear about your situation, (nutters monkey)

Considering the scope of the problem and that it involves more than one transaction, I recommend that you give us a call immediately so we can start to look into this. We definitely want to investigate further and will work towards a resolution as quickly as possible.

We can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-866-222-3456 (available 24/7)

All the best, Hye Won.
TD Helps Team

2. reply back from interac:
Dear (poor monkey)

Thank you for contacting our Support Centre for the INTERAC e-Transfer* service.  We apologize for the difficulties you are experiencing trying to access the service.

Due to privacy reasons, INTERAC does not have access to your personal banking information.

We will escalate your issue to the TD Loss Prevention.  We suggest you call into TD EasyWeb at 1 866 222-3456 and request to be transferred to the TD Loss Prevention team.  Did you report to TD you were a victim of fraud?  When a client reports they are a victim of fraud, an investigation should be completed.  You should confirm with TD whether they investigated your case and what was the outcome of their investigation.

If TD Loss Prevention requires any assistance from INTERAC, they can contact our Fraud team directly.

*Registered trademark of INTERAC Inc.  Used under license.
INTERAC e-Transfer Helpdesk
Toll-free number:  1 888 238-6433
(Mon-Fri 7am-10pm ET, Sat/Sun 9am-8pm ET)
Email:  etransfer.helpdesk@interac.ca
Website:  http://www.interac.ca
Interac Be in the Black™

3. reply back from pc banking:
Dear (silly monkey),
Thank you for taking the time to write to us.

The team that answers e-mails does not have access to accounts or personal information. As such, we are unable to fulfill account servicing or investigation requests through this channel.  I apologize for any inconvenience.

To investigate the problem you are experiencing, please call 1-888-723-8881. Assistance is available seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. to midnight local time across Canada. If you are calling from abroad, the number is 1-416-223-0263. Collect calls are not accepted.

 Thank you for using President's Choice Financial.


td, pc bank, certapay: modern day banking woe

i was hoping that may be my first post back from summer would be a nice one, however... sigh.

here's copy of my email to certapay, tdcanadatrust and pc banking. im butting head on the wall. i really hope this can be resolved somehow...  all three are saying the others' responsible. well, it makes no sense to me. may be this is beyond phd level education...
if anyone has any idea of how to tackle this problem, do let me know!

im having a serious problem with access to e-transfer.
i have two email addresses (hotmail, gmail) and two bank accounts (tdcanadtrust and pc banking).

i have been taking e-transfer payment through tdcanadatrust account without problems.

then early june, one of my clients had his bank account hacked, unfortunately; and even more unfortunately, i was the unlucky recipient of the hack (gmail address). i called td and they told me that i should not have any problems.


since then, i cannot receive e-transfer from anyone, and cannot send from my accounts.

one of my other clients (royal bank) sent a payment to my hotmail address and i was able to receive it through pc banking. so i thought that may be the working solution.

today, i was trying to receive another payment (sent to gmail), which was declined through pc banking + tdcanadatrust. so one of my friends sent me 20 dollars transfer through hotmail, just to see, which i cannot receive through pc banking + tdcanadatrust.

so to sum it all, i cannot receive through:
1. hotmail account - tdbank
2. hotmail account - pc bank
3. gmail account - td bank
4. gmail account- pc bank

at this point, the only logical solution i can imagine is to be able to create a false identity (email address), open up third bank account and may be hope for the best.

i called certapay helpline and person said EMT411 is bank-generated error.
i called tdbank and they say i cannot have email transfer service for indefinite period (and that they wont discuss the matter any further and there's no one who will answer any further)
i called pcbank and they say it is not their fault (error code 4411)
my client called their banks and they say it's my banks who is blocking the transfer.

what are my options now?
do i really need to go and create a false identity?
who is issuing the transfer-stop and how can i get this situation rectified?

i am a freelancer and the e-transfer is quickly becoming a very popular method of payment. without e-transfer access, my life will become much more complicated. please, do help and let me know. if you rather, you can send me a number i can call with the case reference, or you can write back and i will send you my personal number to talk further. i will do pretty much anything at this point, as it's complicated, crazy and there seems to be no one who is actually accountable for this problem, which just cannot be true.



money,we barely know ye!

peasant wedding, bruegel the elder, c. 1569


the subject of money fascinates me.

ive been on a payroll since ripe age of 14 as a church organist; combined with the experience of growing up in an immigrant entrepreneurial household, i was quite aware that there are so many different ways to earn and spend it, that it can make or break a person, even change them somewhat permanently.

when i started to work after finishing school, that year, first time in my life, i gained real concept of what a 'thousand' dollars feel like.  dad coolly replied that it's because i am billing in units of tens and hundreds, that as a business owner (albeit mompop scale), that he, who deals with thousands on monthly scale on both in and outgoings, would have different feel for units of thousands.

this all made sense.  i remember being in high school, getting paid in hundreds, spending anything on four-digits seemed such a big occasion.  in fact, my first 'big' purchase was well in university, the very fist trans-atlantic flight ticket that costed me 1200 CAD.  at this point, i hardly pay that much for europe-bound fares now (learning about budget airlines, alternative routes, etc) but i remember it being 'over' my then-credit limit of 1,000 dollars.

and now, i have a self-imposed policy that whatever i earn, a half of it must go to savings during working months, as for summer, i am not able to work legally in europe; this puts me in a weird position where there are definite fat and lean periods during the year- however, spending time as funded graduate students did get me ready for this particular rhythm.

i often wonder what it would be like to have regular salary, like minnow does.  among my colleagues, many of us being freelancers, we envy that situation greatly (along with retirement saving scheme, health insurance and job security).  though, it does make me wonder what other people in post-boom generations think- there are many forced early retirement and fire-notices.  lack of jobs with security.  to save in name of 'human resource,' employees being a simple equation part of the generated economic outputs, i feel that the traditional model of full-time work with 'specialization' (including office tasks) are now gone.

thinking in thusand dollars units and in 'month' units, i wonder how others feel about their economical situations- optimistic? pessimistic? nihilistic?

i also learned that there are prices of things- even if one does not pay for it directly, ex. the human cost of consumer electronics in china, which allows wealthier global citizens to procure their goods at heavily discounted price, as young workers slowly die of industrial poisoning with no recoverable future.  And how desire for money can change a person.  how we say 'money is not important in happiness,' while most of would suffer (or already suffer) from terrible anxiety due to shortage of money.

and currently i personally think there is too much of back-lash against money. that money does not buy happiness. that one should not care about money if one is a true artist/philosopher/whatever.  well, karl marx wrote the communist manifesto because he didnt really feel like getting  a regular job- just saying.  i think this misplaced 'hatred' for money is detrimental to individuals, especially the young peeps like me (well, comparatively young ahaha), who may dismiss the importance of saving and having long term goals, how to deal with loans (especially people now tend to take student loans without real consideration for post-secondary education, i feel...)-

so many of this age group groan about the weight of the debt and that the world isnt fair. i agree that the world is not fair, however, i do think the lack of understanding and financial responsibilities is a serious issue- many young kids i know do not actually have weekly, monthly and yearly budget/financial goals and that does scare me. we may become the generation of debt.

i am hoping that i can get back to writing series of blogs on this subject, just to see where things are- my favorite economics writers' works (michale sandel, joseph stiglitz, ha-joon chang, thomas piketty and the likes)  has given me plenty things to think about- and as life is expensive, i am reminded of how lucky i am , to have the time and mental space to consider such issues...


beautiful white men shall tell us what beauty is... sigh.

please, meet the beautiful, proud, diverse men who knows how to truly appreciates what we should all look up as beautiful and aesthetically sound examples from the western arts world: from left top, clockwise: richard morrison, michael church, rupert christiansen, andrew clements, all highly-qualified, uber-intelligent and so influential that they get paid to write personal judgement on women's appearance instead of musical reviews.

could not find an appropriate jpeg of andrew clark, writing for the financial times. may be there's a reason. unsightly?

so recently, five delusionall-powerful white male music critics (can we say stereotypical?) wrote their heartfelt review of the rosenkavalier at the glyndebourne festival, saturday night.

hey, it's opera, obviously, we NEED to look how the women looks? after all, fat men can still deliver beautiful music, but women... no, their physical beauty must comply with each individual man's dream list (whatever it may be), and it seems that every single one of them cannot stand the idea of woman of size- too thin, too tall, too short, too fat. 

in this case, too fat, apparently.

the choice that glyndebourne festival made was against all standard of beauty, apparently, so clearly stated in these men's words.  the physical presence of the irish mezzo, tara erraught brought emotional distress so great that the five critics could not write music reviews; instead, they turned into TMZ style reports.

for mr. clark, for the financial times: (ms. erraught's) octavian is a chubby bundle of puppy fat.

for mr. clements, in the guardian: it was hard to imagine this stocky octavian as... lover.

for mr. church, for the independent: (ms. erraught) has the demeanor of a scullery-maid.

for mr. christiansen in the telegraph: (ms. erraught) is a dumpy of stature... her costuming makes her resemble something between heidi and just william.

for mr. morrison, in the times of london: unbelievable, unsightly and unappealing.

whoa. cuz apparently, those men, as we see in their public photos, are the prime example of beauty themselves.  i wont ask what size their pants are, or how much they can benchpress. i should assume that they are truly aware of what can be beautiful, because obviously, as music critiques, the main focus was to discuss how a woman looked.
so intelligent: cue: roaring clap and excited audience noise.

it's almost like these old men are incredibly jealous of her youth, beauty and yes, musical gift. because, you know, the guys at the glyndebourne festival have no idea about how to pick people for roles, being such amateurs- but hey, these guys do! we should pay these white, self-important males of the G20 western european roots to set what is only right: acceptable standard of beauty.

in their footsteps, i am now practicing proper journalism. thanks, you five old men. i cant believe you guys found the time to share your knowledge and thoughts about how we should shape the world. (it paid, i guess)

oooh that's right. if you werent paid, perhaps you wouldnt even bother talking to rest of us, the world that is not beautiful, as we are clearly not worthy of you.  (what is that? a critic? what does he create? nothing? surely they are good for something? chauvinism? mysogeny? double standards? portrayal of malicious old people who are gone senile?)

for mr. clark: (your reviewer character) is an unattractive saggy bag of white male sprimacy.

for mr. clements: it's hard to imagine this shallow, chauvinist reviewer as this lovely singer's plausible reviewer.

for mr. church: (this reviwer) has the demeanor of demented, delusional while male from G20 countries, power-tripping.

for mr. christiansen: (he) is arrogant in impression and... his his publicity photo makes him resemble a cheap-shot favouring pretend-journalist, something between mindless chauvinist and mean-spirited white man.

for mr. morrison: unbelievable, unsightly and unappealing.

perhaps im lacking serious level of finesse. sorry, gentlemen, i must go work on my literary devices and general education of aesthetics and whoops, a minor in properly-focused article writing skills before i can properly comply to your standards.

such beautiful men can go stay in the little holes they live in with like-minded beautiful people, just like the good old greco-roman days where the slaves and sub-citizens were the key to maintain their beautiful lives... let the rest of the world, full of people with flaws, which makes them beautiful, prosper without prejudice and with loads of true intelligence.

after all, they were paid to write a music review, not a mean-spirited weight-focus group judgement.  oops. reading comprehension... once again. foiled.

any of them care to tell us what their pants size is? prob not.


'misogyny cleanup in premium whiskey aisle, please'

illustration: cathy wilcox,

today i was at the LCBO on king and spadina.  on a quest to find the magic whiskey to celebrate the end of the year, was my friends were coming over for dinner- had soda water, ice, just... whiskey! (we have a healthy stock at home, so yeah, this really was the magic unicorn chalice chase)

so i thought this would be a good branch to walk into.
hmm. may be.

as a  young-ish small asian girl, i waited for the floor helper to approach me. he (in his 50s i guessed) went and served a gentleman in his 50s.  okay, we walked in at the same time. i will wait.

then he went over to another man, in his early 40s, talking in great details about the 'premium' stock.

as he was making a pass to a third man, he asked the obligatory question:
did you find everything?
are you looking for a gift?

i was quite a bit shocked. REALLY?

monkey: nah, was looking for something classy but i see all you have in stock is leftovers from 20th century middle class.

man: (confused) aha, you were looking for something in particular?

monkey: well, something with grace, like glenfarclas 17 or laphroaig 18 but i dont think youve got refinement here today.

i left the confused man behind. i dont think he really got my point.

i live in 21st century, in safe and prosperous G20 country.  i live in a metropolis filled with all kinds of interesting people. majority of the population in this city would claim that they have educated themselves to be fair, square and to be without prejudice.

of course, i get it. i may not have been the most exemplary customer for the high-end whiskey.  however, if i was older, and more importantly (and problematically) if i was a man- it makes me wonder if i was asked the same question; after all, he did ask two other people if '(they) found what (they) were looking for?'

recent news, as always, are stained with different issues. however, this issue of embedded sexism is troublesome.  i was sincerely shocked when particular conservative american media worried about hilary clinton's presidential campaign because she was going to be a grandmother.  WHAT? HOW?

the north american gender earning gap continues to exist (and become even larger differences year after year, especially concerning the higher-tier business management positions).

even in europe and north america, in immigrant families and non-immigrant families, often the boys take priority over the girls.  in education funding. in all kinds of opportunities. in social freedom and customs.  honour killings are still a reality.

arranged marriages all over the world happens against the girls' wishes.

female genital mutilation.

countless female fetuses that never saw the light of the day, as parents chose abortion over birth, for hope of having a boy.

and lately, boko haram nigerian girls abduction, the poor girls, who became pawns of war, of extreme misogynists.  of course, boko haram as a special interest group may hold many different meanings but the matter of the fact is, from the point they involved innocent girls as power-bargain chips illustrates their lack of respect for women.  in my mind, not only they are violent sub-group, they are foremost misogynists.

whiskey situation was funny. sure.
but it does make me wonder how long these built-in sexism and gender inequity will continue on in the name of 'small (and/therefore large) matters.'


... and her voice turned to tears.


tis a grey spring day in yyz and things are finally slowing down- which often means letting one's own guard down; when things are busy, often i cannot afford time to be emotional (in name of efficiency).  so with extra time within the day, i dwell, rethink and formulate those feelings that may have been caged in for a bit.

on 16 april 2014, a korean ship sank into the brutal water.  there are many speculations how the situation couldve been handled, but at the end, 23 days later, there are still over thirty people missing. undercurrent speed reaching up to 4m/s, divers are trying to find the bodies through 'feeling things through,' as visibility is poor.

following the news update daily, i tried to not look into it as much as i can, as month of april was still rolling on full-steam.

i eyed 26th and tightened mentally, the day of my younger brother's death, now four years ago.

on 01 may, i completed a particularly difficult recital project and headed to hear mahler 9th with toronto symphony with sir andrew davis.

then it hit me full steam.

kindertotenlieder's text is written by friedrich ruckert in 1833-34, as the poet lost two his his children to scarlet fever. mahler worked on kindertotenlider, 1901-04; in 1907, little maria mahler died with scarlet fever; later in the year, the man himself was diagnosed with a heart defect.  as he work on the 9th symphony, 1909, the little daughter who he buried in his heart grew, grew so dearly and mahler's heart breaks.  in 1910, mahler starts to wind down, his heart beating weaker and weaker, till the day it stops, on 18 may 1911.

mahler 9th is his last completed work.  a man who may have known his end is near, perhaps from his gifted neuroticism.  starting with andante comodo, perhaps the man is leaving the world behind- after life-filled second and third movement, we get to the last movement- zuruckhaltened (very slow and held back)- with heart-wrenching quotation from the kindertotenlieder- man with bursting heart, returning to his daughter, good bye, world.

four years ago, 27 april, day after the crash, i met gabe for the last time in the coroner's office.  he was broken.  he looked like himself. but then, he didnt look anything like himself.  when i looked into his eyes and found nothing back, i realized he's left us.

all these school children in the boat, who sank deeply under the sea, some of them are still missing. perhaps missing forever.  their parents are waiting. friends. the world.


'...they have only just gone out
and now they will be coming back home.
the day is fine, don't be dismayed,
they have just gone for a long walk...'
(from 'oft denk'ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen')

'...in this weather, in this gale, in this windy storm,
they rest as if in their mother's house:
frightened by no storm,
sheltered by the hand of god.'
(from 'in diesem wetter', kindertotenlieder)

all these families, waiting for their child to return- but with the furious undercurrent and cold, freezing water, these kids may no longer retain any of their vitality, life, joy and hope.  may be few of them have gone out.  may be the lost ones are sheltered by the hand of god.

the mothers. children.
the brothers, sisters, friends.
the kids who would have been frighted to head out.
the waiting ones who are frightened, worried to tears that they never will get to hold their loved ones for the last time.  the children who may have wished peace and final good bye, said in deafening silence under the cold water and darkness: we love you- the weather is fair on the hills...  as is separated by a big sound-proof glass, the little ones desperately wanting to tell the living ones how much they love their family, the living wishing to see their loved ones one more time-

my mother did not get to see gabe for the last time, as i brought him in a little box, held tight by my heart.  but she's held him.  many mothers in this particular tragedy may never get to hold their loved ones.  meanwhile, the children quietly left the world, andante comodo.

i cried. oh i cried during that last movement.  the loses.  the pain.  soaring lines and glorious brass, low resonance of the strings. roaring storms.

today, i made a mistake on the phone.
my mother called me on the phone and i accidentally slipped my thoughts into the conversation.  mom. the lost children. i was thinking about them. i was thinking about how you never got to see gabe for the last time.  i can feel the pain of the mothers who are waiting by the shore, the ship crash.

her voice became tears.


oh life. life life life.
you are difficult and demanding.
you are painful and real.
how we learn to love- then to be torn apart.  only thing that's left is the hope of joining them later. in mother's house.

today, i listen to mahler 9th again, after turning my mother's voice into tears.  the pizzicatos, the harp. raining tears to the big ocean of human sorrow- only thing i can say is love.


endless love. the continuous passage of love.
and pining hearts.

*picture credit: http://media.daum.net/society/others/newsview?newsid=20140507180609061


drilling for success, well-done, uconn 2013-14!

ryan boatright of the connecticut huskies celebrates with a teammate after defeating the kentucky wildcats 60-54 in the ncaa men's final four championship monday night: jamie squire/getty images, from nytimes.com

so men's ncaa basketball is over and i better run to bed... argh.
here's a few thoughts on the game...
the final score wasnt far at all, 60:54 (uconn vs kentucky)

for me, the difference between then teams were foul shots:
uconn: 10 of 10 (100%)
kentuckey: 13 of 24 (54%)

thinking that if kentucky DID make front end of one-and-ones, they couldve have more than 24 shots. potentially missed 28 pts from foul shots.

kevin ollie's ride to the championship with that legendary 2011 uconn freshmen army really refocused my interest on 'taking care of the small things,' such as nailing those foul shots.

his half-time comment was brilliant- something along the lines of 'just staying ahead and keeping that distance.' not cocky, not crazy- cool, calm and focused...

steady steps = advancement.

 to win, you need to be one point up than your opponent. collected and controlled energy, buckling through the palpitating hearts of these young players, uconn pulled the win- in my eyes, with steady, limitless optimism and drive they had since they were pack of wild freshmen pups. and here they are, 3 years later and with ollie's coaching, they are no longer boys, but more of men.  beautiful.

moral of the game: practice your techniques. it will make the game. screw the dunks. screw the fancy 3-pointers. foul shots are called 'free-throws' for a reason. now inspired to practice. but first, bath and bed.
hope all is well, lovely peeps!

if anyone wonders why-how i got into ncaa basketball, you can go take a visit at university of kansas, where i had lovely two years studying with jack winerock (who i dearly love!) and robert koenig (who is my career idol!).  college sports tend to run a little hotter, less tempered and with greater emotional fluctuation than a pure amateur or pro games. i do love the support of the communities, the school spirit (which i never really experienced till i got down to the states) and the youthful energy-

aah no wonder i do my very best to stay in school!
love to everyone :)


small frags between madness called march

1. doing one's best does not equate to doing whatever one may do.

2. this polar vortex thing should be called polar PMS. so demanding. so unreasonable.

3. tell people that you love them. after coupla months, my granny often waits till i say 'i love you' before we wrap up the daily conversation. hehe. so nice.

4. before saying 'well, someone liked it,' see if you also liked it.  it is okay to like one's own doing.

5. being methodical and practiced will lead one to be free and expressive. spending one's money however one wants can only result from sane financial planning + execution.

6. playing beautifully written music does not guarantee one to play beautiful. sigh.

7. free things are never free. better to make careful observation then pay the agreeable price. responsible purchasing/contracting.  nothing more futile than making shitty purchase then having to taking it back...

8. what do i need to make people understand double-sided photocopy means front-and-back printing?!  and three-hole punched? 

9. human neck is such a shitty design.  it's  bit like building a rotating pole for a very heavy object with no ground foundation and count-weight, using only layers of hankies around the main pipeline. fail.  

10. falling indoors after walking through snow, ice and sleet for 20 min is even dumber. complacency is a dangerous thing.

11. the other day, buying a piece of gruyere cheese, i thought of one of my best friends. how mundane things become point of joy during the day, thanks to people. i like being a social humanoid.

12. st. paddy drove snakes out of ireland. i demand he come back and drive the puke spots out of toronto downtown streets. gross.

stay warm and lovely, everyone!


adagio assai in deafening silence

winter landscape near a village, c. 1610-15. hendrick avercamp, 
oil on panel, museum of fine arts, boston


the difficult month of feburary just left the driveway and we all breathed out a long sigh with relief. shortest month of the year, however, in north america, this year's february has been particularly brutal, full of snow, sludge and heavy ceiling sky with opaque, grey low clouds. no end of grey. unlike the spring rain, which leaves a hint of echo, fragmented silence with each drop, the snow kept coming, muting the deafening silence of stasis, death and melancholy- waking many pensive memories from the past: the things that no longer are, the people who no longer are, the person i wanted to be...

perhaps the rare bright sunshine over the lake ontario this afternoon is seeking forgiveness.  from ourselves. from failing ourselves. from grieving ourselves.

my parents are going through difficult times with their business. a friend left this world with six-heart-splitting letters: cancer.  ive came home at times to shed tears, peeling off the daily scarring- only to earn some more the day after. a very little prometheus monkey, trying to bring in some light to the grey days- then failing, taking little words of hurt and bringing them home, carefully picking them up, one by one, and pierce it through the heart, hoping that i could be better through it.

i grieve in winter, as winter wakes many ghosts of the past.

but may be it'll be all okay. after all, after every feburary, we do get march.

and march always tries with its might, to remind us that we are on the upward swing. to the peak of the sun. apollonian triumph.

a slow, lugubrious greeting to the world from this monkey.
after all, it is okay to be sad. as there is much beauty in sadness.


good night, dear lady.

measuring the passage of time, it is so easy to become fixated on a particular point of view- of one's own. i often look into my calendar and think about what ' i ' need to do.  occasionally, i am reminded of the vastness of this world, never-stopping, gently undulating ocean, through the news that comes through the resilient spider-silk communication of people i love.

i always wish that i reach out to others as much as i reach inward for self. i dont, always.  i lose perspective and get myopic about self-centred events, forgetting the most important concept- that i exist only within the context of the world.

and often, the news are surprising, filling the day with many hues of thoughts.

today, i read that a friend from nebraska days finally concluded her journey with cancer.  regrets came like waves. like bitter, angry, north winter wind.  a maelstrom of  'wished, couldve, shouldve...'

as i get older, often, i can measure the passage of time through loses.  of things that will never be, again. of persons that will never see again. of transformation of future-plans and hopes into impossible reach into imaginations only.  the weight of it does not get lighter, like sinking another stone into gentle fine sand dune, the losses simply accumulate, for me to keep, to my heart, which will grow larger with these loves that is now fixed, no longer thriving.  so i go on to fill my life with stories and lives. overflowing.

like a leaf, she left, quietly, lightly,
riding up the upward cusp of bleak barren winter,
light gets a bit longer, bit warmer,
over the huddled shoulders against the wind,
when the warmth touches my back,
i will smile, for your presence and friendship,
as i carry you in my heart.
good night, sheri erickson.


february is month of anger?

following the vegan/veg post of yesterday, today i ran into whole bunch of angry posts on crackbook regarding an article where a mom 'blogged' how expensive and useless music education/teachers are (this article is now several years old). of course, many of my crackbook acquaintances are in the music 'business.' as you can imagine, the posts were full of frustration, anger and even condemnation.

'how dare you... you ignorant!'

as much as i can try to sympathize, it is true that
1. whatever the service may be, whatever the prices may be, there will be some complaints.  okay, so someone thinks music lessons are too expensive. what's so new about that?  oil-changes are expensive. so are dentists. what about hockey practices? things are expensive and that's always been the case. if you dont like it, it'll always be expensive.  jarlsberg is expensive, but i will be buying that cheese in future. cuz it's tasty.  so then it's not really all-that-expensive...

2. lady makes a touchy point about 'those who cannot, teaches': now, not all teachers are non-performers. however, there are many people who 'ends' up teaching to pay the bills. there's nothing wrong about that, trust me. the challenge is that people do feel bitter about not performing (more) and only teaching (this, i have seen; let's be honest here) and with that, along comes apathy... yes, it is incorrect statement, however, it is somewhat true that 'those who cannot play nor teach, becomes really bad teachers.'  if i got a dollar for every time someone moaned about 'having to go teach bratty kids,' i would be not so quite poor.

3. the angry opinions are of so-called liberal-educated, many of them in grad schools. the whole aim of liberal education, according to wellesley college mission statement, is:

... we bring to the liberal arts tradition two sets of skills that foster future success: effective communication and deft management of "human systems." clear speaking and writing comes with the organized thinking required to persuasively represent and defend a point of view...

so seeing many people making so many post full of inflexibility- well, ironically is an illustration of how ineffective people with liberal-education certifications may be.

yeah, okay, it's touchy issue. however, with so much anger, i think it only adds to illustrate that perhaps, liberal education and mastery of intellectual and cultural content is an endless journey, always so close yet so far. if anyone thinks im pulling a nasty punch on others, im sorry, i just found the whole thing... hilarious.

good night, world
*hides from dirty looks.


fill it up with your favourite things!

few of my friends love mod. i find it tad weird.
few of my friends love cheese. the other few wrinkle their nose.
i like salted and fermented fish bits. usually people run away.
few of my friends love classical music. the other few loves metal.
i cannot wear colour purple. few of my friends look killer in purple.
few of my friends always order beer. the others, wine. even cocktail.
few of my friends are vegans.
few of my friends are vegetarians.
few of my guy friends like guys.
few of my girl friends like girls.
one friends of mine was a he now a she.
and this is what my world is made out of, differences.
it is alright to be passionate about one's preferences.
it is alright to stand by one's conviction.

justice is a blind deity,
a personal choice is not a public matter of discussion
(unless highly illegal or infringing on another's rights),
it is bit silly to escalate these differences into violence,
name calling, finger-pointing and bigotry.

one of my friends stated she's turning vegan tomorrow, may be.
hey people, if you cant send support (as it is not easy thing to do, after all, so many things taste great, vegan or non-vegan), may be at least hold onto the antagonism... after all, what she eats is her preference.

okay, so they say we ate meat and cooked food, which helped us to speedtrack through evolution. i believe this. at this point though, most of us do not do hard-core labour, not all of us needs the calories (nevermind the fact that some child-bringing does create some interesting offsprings as citizens), and there are enough wealth in the G-20 countries to find enough pleasure in vegan context. in heterosexual context. in homosexual context. in vegetarian context. you name it. we are wealthy, which allows us to have choices.


let others make choices.
you make your own choice.
be ready to accept the choice,
unless, of course, if it infringes on another's rights to exist
(the very reason i wont be watching any of sochi olympics broadcast would be russian govt policy re: homosexuality; it wont change anything, but there's something about taking the stand, in my little own head)...

what a (silly) world we live in.


rich enough.

tis post-holiday. we all look into balance of life (generally shifted quite a bit after the christmas festivus)- yyz streets are lined thick with financial advertisement, urging people to get their hands into that pot of gold, 'get your RRSP here for the best-ever-super-duper rates!'

the voice is loud enough that even i, the minimalist living being, has been convinced to make three bank appointments in last ten days! yikes.

looking at the numbers on pages, in january, i often feel 'failed.'  how are my peers keep buying houses, pay for extravagant events and keep looking so happy and wealthy?  perhaps it's all of us who feels that way...

anyway, sunday is often lunch with momdad. we often go to silly all-you-can eat and stuff ourselves- very much a blue-collar thing: now we have some time, eat up (instant gratification), along with family and friends (long-term happiness) and hope for better next week.  so amongst talk of tennis, international manufacturing and mom/granny's health (my mom is quite physically dented at the mo), we ate plenty.

on way back downtown, i stopped at a hobby shop, looking for a felting needle (which they did not have).  on way in, i saw a homeless man, sitting on cardboard, as snow continued to come down.  i glanced at his cup- almost empty, felt slight guilt and moved on.

on way back to the subway from the shop, i saw him again. cup almost empty. but what hurt was the fact that he felt so alone- people with zipped hoodies up, trying to get home. he wasnt looking up at people, just curled up in his own headspace.

i didnt have cash (often happens!)

i asked him if he would allow me to get him some sunday lunch.  he quietly got up and hid his cardboard on the corner. i said your pick of place. we walked into wendy's.  i asked what he would like and he simply said: whatever you are willing-

we got him a double burger meal and an extra bottle of water that he may take.

he's from sudbury, been in toronto for twenty years. we talked about the big nickel.

i didnt want to make him feel as if he needed to talk to me in exchange.  but i didnt wanted to push him away if he wanted a sunday lunch social activity.  nickel was a good subject. when his food came out, i bid good bye and went on my way.  he thanked for sunday lunch and bit of break from the cold.

i realized, once again, whatever i may feel and think, the truth is that im rich enough.  im rich enough to extension my lovely sunday lunch with fam to this man.  im the one who is grateful.

life is a funny one. always.