Vincent Cheung

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Christina Aguilera in Concert

Opening act: The Pussycat Dolls

The Air Canada Centre was packed

Christina Aguilera

Many set and costume changes

A circus theme, which reminded me of Michelle Branch's Hotel Paper album, Jenny Schecter's childhood issues on The L Word, and the creepy carnies on The Taken.

Some audience participation during "Nasty Naughty Boy"

Another interesting set. Stripper poles and a carousel horse.

More pictures and videos

I went to go see Christina Aguilera in concert at the Air Canada Centre last Saturday with Jamie. The Pussycat Dolls opened and surprisingly actually sang live and didn't just lip sync. Christina Aguilera was amazing live. She just has an incredible voice and is a great entertainer.

She went through 13 costume changes by our count, which includes some easy ones like taking off her coat, but some more dramatic ones like her large white gown and having her pants put on her while on stage. When she was in the white gown, people were taking pictures like crazy. Cameras were constantly flashing and I took a video of it. In general there was a "cleaner" feel to it than her last concert according to Jamie, where she was touring with Justin Timberlake for her Stripped album. There was a lot of leg though.

The set changes were for the most part pretty smooth and subtle. They didn't have these big mover guys coming out and having long set changes while we sat in silence. Rather, it seemed like one giant performance with no breaks. A lot of times, the dancers would bring out part of the set and incorporate it into their act. The sets were pretty simple for the most part, but were effective. I don't really get the circus theme in what is seemingly more and more popular in pop culture. Michelle Branch's Hotel Paper alum had this circus theme, Jenny Schecter from The L Word had all these circus delusions, and on The Taken there were these creepy carnies that were persistent through the mini-series.

I took some videos of the concert, but had to cut some of them short because security was periodically roaming around and I didn't want to get caught like at Chantal Kreviazuk's concert. Our seats were pretty far up, so there was no security behind us to see me tape it, but they did go up and down the aisle a few times. Here are the videos I took.

The Pussycat Dolls - Stickwitu

Christina Aguilera - Understand (camera flashes constantly going off)

Christina Aguilera - Oh Mother

Christina Aguilera - Candyman

Christina Aguilera - Hurt

Christina Aguilera - Beautiful

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Totally jinxed myself

I say that I managed to avoid injury and now my back is tweaked, my left knee is hurting again, my left big toe is hurting, and my right hand is bruised. At least the blister on the back of my left heel is mostly healed. I don't think exercises during my newly acquired free time has been helping.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I think I'm gonna to be sick

Chunky Soybean Drink

I don't advise getting this brand

I was drinking soybean drink that I had gotten from Chinatown last weekend. It tasted a bit bland. Not sour, but more like just not sweet enough. The expiry date was not for another 3 weeks, so I just thought that it was that brand, though I think I've boughten it before and it was fine. I had drank a few glasses since the weekend.

Today, I'm near the bottom of my glass and I see CHUNKS. I'm like "OMG!!! I'm going to be on the toilet for the next few days!!!" I almost puked. What's worse is that I drank most of the 2L these past few days, so I expect some upcoming unpleasantries. I seem ok right now, aside from the gas....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Can't seem to make it past the semi's

Winter 2007 Div 1 Skule A & B Coed Intramurals Volleyball Teams. Back: Sarah, Cyrene, Siobhan, Julie, Ron, Tom, Rob. Middle: Kevin, Afjal, Vince, Steph, Bu, Kristen, Tom. Front: Nastassja

Winter 2007 Div 1 SGS Men's Volleyball Intramurals Team. Julius, Utku, Greg, Gadi, Bu, Vince. Missing: Marek

Can't seem to make it past the semi-finals in the playoffs this year. I keep making it there and putting up a good fight, but the balls just never roll the right way. Oh well, at least my evenings are freeing up. This semester was way too busy with all the teams I was on:

I was also "Hangaring" some Friday's and Saturday's. Perhaps the most surprising thing was that I managed to avoid any sort of injury.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Huge burn

We were practicing our defense during my 9-man volleyball team practice today, so there's 6 people blocking and 3 people in the back to dig. We had our big guys blocking so they could practice their positioning, etc. This left 4 of us 5 foot nothing small guys to hit against them.

Chris (the coach/player - he's playing on the team, but also coaches) tells us to do middle hits against them:

Hit fast balls.

*Looks at us*

On second thought, hit 2 balls.


He was calling us short if you didn't catch that :p.

It was actually a really fun drill, at least for us hitters. There would be like 4 tall guys blocking 1 short hitter and we would be cheering when we hit past them b/c none of us are nearly tall enough to be middle hitters :)

My favourite drill was hitting power against 4 blockers. Again, us short guys were cheering when we got the ball through. So much fun! It's not as bad as you think b/c the blockers aren't allowed to penetrate like in court (their hands cannot break the plane of the net), so you don't get roofed. Who would've thought that not penetrating would be fun??!?!!

Inappropriate communication etiquette

Exhibit #1: Martha Fucker

My long time readers know her as my face of evil in this world. I forgot my iPod at home and the bus organizer forget to bring DVDs, so I had no ambient noise to drown out the excessively loud, non-stop talking, annoying voice of Martha. She was sitting at least 5 rows behind me, yet it was if she was screaming right into my ear. Of course, she and her other annoying friends were the only ones talking in the entire bus. Everyone else was trying to sleep.

She was lucky that my board was stored under the bus, otherwise I would've taken it out and slit her throat with it.

I'm grumpy b/c I have low tolerance for annoying, inconsiderate, and incompetent people, especially those that rob me of my sleep.

On an unrelated note, why do bus drivers feel the need to crank up the heat in the bus to literally make it a sauna? The problem is compounded by the fact that we were going to a ski hill, and as such, we were all decked out in WINTER GEAR. Save some energy, save the environment, and turn down the heat!!! This is a problem across seemingly all bus drivers and I always have to ask them to turn down the heat.

Anyways, this was the last trip for the U of T Ski and Snowboard Club, so I won't have to deal with these problems anymore. It was an ok season. I conquered the mountain, gained confidence on the snowboard, learnt how to somewhat ride switch, did some small jumps, and tried out the glades. The snow conditions were pretty good except for today, which was all icy and grainy b/c it was 15 earlier this week. I'm pretty bored with Blue Mountain now and am pretty sure that I won't be joining the club next year.

Exhibit #2: The Eager Biology Post-Doc

I don't remember under what circumstances that I gave him my home and cell number, but it was the worst idea ever. I'm pretty sure that I only supplied it to him so he could contact me for that one time or in an emergency (eg. presentation in a few hours and a figure needs to be changed).

Here are situations when it is inappropriate to call me regarding work. Note that in all of these situations, it was a non-emergency and we did not arrange to have a phone meeting.
  • At 10am. Seriously, I'm not awake. Don't call me.

  • When I'm on the ski slopes and repeatedly send your call to voice mail.

  • At 8pm on a Friday night. Shouldn't you be home taking care of your newborn?

If it's work related, there is no reason you should be calling my cell or home phone every day without first trying to contact me through e-mail. If I'm not responsive via e-mail, then it means I'm not available. Calling me should be reserved for emergencies or set-up ahead of time through e-mail.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ball smacking competition

Hitting practice video

The GSU (Graduate Students' Union) gym at the University of Toronto is this tiny little gym, which from the outside totally does not look like a gym. The bar and patio in the front doesn't help its case either. The gym is at best, about 1 foot larger than the volleyball court, which is suspected to be smaller than the regulation 9m x 9m. The roof is also rather low and the low hanging lights are annoying. In the winter, the gym is freezing and in the summer it's boiling. In the summer, right when you step into the gym/sauna, you immediately start sweating. It's a bad sign when it's over 30 degrees and you go outside to cool off! There's no air conditioning and the windows don't open, but at least the doors do. People sweat up a serious storm in the summer. I'm very surprised that no one has collapsed b/c of heat stroke. Despite all this, there is some very good volleyball that happens in that gym. Plus, you can book the gym and it's free even to non-students.

With the small dimensions of the gym, some interesting things happen. Really good hitters will hit the ball so hard that the ball will bounce off the ground, hit the back wall, and bounce back over the net! It's an impressive sight to see. Mike and I have a competition to see who can do it first :)

2 weeks ago, my league game was cancelled due to the "winter storm", so Mike and I went to practice some hitting. Mike brought his camera to tape us to see how we can improve. I've actually wanted to do that for a while so I can analyze my technique. I got close to winning the competition by getting the ball to hit off the wall and hitting the top of the net. I was quite pleased with my hitting as I was much more consistent. I really only started hitting about 1.5 - 2 years ago playing pick-up. I don't think I was getting the ball to really bounce off the floor until pick-up at the Pro Club in Seattle in Fall 2005.

The competition ended yesterday. We had the gym booked to just play around and we and a bunch of people were hitting for basically the full hour. Unfortunately, we don't have any video proof. Mike and I both managed to get the ball to come back over the net. Mike technically won by like 15 min., though I question if the ball was actually in or not (it bounced rather close to the wall). I managed to do it twice I think, so I know it wasn't a complete fluke. We both used the slightly overly pumped ball to accomplish the feat, which definitely helped us. My new goal is to be able to do it more consistently (as opposed to 1 out of 50) and with a regular ball. I also want to hit down more, like the attack line :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Michelle!

Me and the birthday girl

Not the greatest restaurant seating with 3 separated tables. Of course, there was segregation: high school friends, work friends, and volleyballers.

My best pick-up line: Can I redeem this here?

Partial group photo outside of Big Daddy's Crab Shack and Oyster Bar

Waiting in line for the club, Mink, for over an hour. Most people in the pic are in our party.

My photos
Michelle's photos
Mike's photos

Random bullet list!
  • Didn't get home from volleyball practice and "meating" until after 5 pm and basically had to shower, change, and head out the door.

  • The restaurant, Big Daddy's Crab Shack and Oyster Bar, won't seat us until 80% of party is there. The reservation was for 35 and waiting for 28 mostly Asians to get to the restaurant reasonably on time is way too much to ask for.

  • The waiting room quickly becomes segregated into high school friends, volleyballers, and work/lab friends. 28 people will definitely not fit.

  • Michelle is lost and calls for directions.

  • At ~15 people, they let us in, which is dumb b/c they had the table ready and waiting for us the whole time.

  • We were given 3 separated tables and they couldn't do anything about it.

  • I figured that we should do some sort of random seating, otherwise the tables would be segregated like the waiting room. But I guess mixing friends is kinda dangerous.

  • I ended up sitting at the best/most important table as Michelle was at the head of my table.

  • Quick realization that there would be a billion photos based on the number of cameras on the table, which were predominantly Canons (I've been very happy with mine).

  • People made fun of my very blue drink. It was tasty though!

  • Mike: "The menu's green?"

  • Michelle ordered steak at a seafood restaurant. Sad.

  • My best pick-up line: Can I redeem this here?

  • One of Michelle's presents was a volleyball and an impromptu volleyball game almost broke out in the restaurant.

  • Michelle gets a very tasty pie/brownie/cake slice, but the place was too fancy and stuck-up to sing and make a big deal out of it.

  • 2/3 of us (~20) went to the club, Mink, afterwards.

  • Guest list ended at 10, we didn't leave the restaurant until 11.

  • It was pretty warm outside, so the over hour wait wasn't that bad.

  • The bouncers were asses. We were right in the front and they ask us if we would pay an extra $10 / head over the cover to get us all in. We refuse and wait it out. The girls are let in before the guys, but all 20 of us eventually get in.

  • Coat check was full. The place is pretty packed.

  • I get red. Fun-ness ensues.

  • Hannah lasts past 12:42 am with the help of daylight savings.

  • No DCD (dinner, clubbing, and then dinner again)

  • I manage to sneak a ride home from Josh

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I wish I was a girl

Then I could pound volleyballs on the little girls' net all the time :)

I was asked to "help out" at the practice for one of the girl's tri-campus volleyball teams as it was their last practice before the finals and their coaches couldn't make it.

I was enlisted as a blocker and hitter so that they could practice against both. I was told not to hold back :). I have to admit that I took evil pleasure in roofing them and ripping balls on the little net (I think I can get my head fully over that net when I jump). Blocking was actually good practice for the playoffs in reverse 6's co-ed intramurals, which starts next week for me b/c my team got a by this week.

I keep asking them if I can play on their team. I even offered to shave my arm pits and legs, but they wouldn't go for it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Happy Birthday Jamie!


Happy Birthday!!! May your special day be filled with lobster!

Boarding is only half the fun

My slaves, I mean pupils. Here's a video of Christine falling off the chairlift.

Hand slapping drinking game

Punishments for losing included taking vodka shots outside

More pictures and videos

Frankly, after conquering Blue Mountain on snowboard, and still going up every week, I'm pretty bored with the mountain. I've been to Blue over 30 times in 3 years and I've long since memorized all the trails. I'm still working on my confidence on the board and going faster as well as doing some small jumps and riding switch, but when I go to Blue now, it's all about the socializing and relaxing aspect. I have no need to rush and try to do every run on the mountain every time b/c all the runs are the same and I go all the time. I'd rather ride greens and blues with good company, take nice leisurely breaks, and take it easy.

I went up on Friday with the club and if it wasn't for the fact that this was the weekend trip with the DVD crew (beach volleyball people), I probably wouldn't have gone. It had snowed/freezing rained the night before and it was a mess outside. It was warm and the snow was melting and there were huge puddles in intersections and it was just miserable walking to the bus. I had anticipated that the road conditions were going to be crap and it was going to take us 3 or 4 hours to get there, it was going to rain on the slopes, and it was going to be all slushy, but surprisingly, we got there pretty quick (~2 hours 15 min.), the sun came out, and the snow conditions were bearable. There weren't many people on the bus, I think only 15, and most people generally do their own thing. Erik and a friend of his came on the bus from the Friday bus, so I rode with them and Serena who I met during the whole "bus didn't come back" fiasco. Erik and I joked that we're the first graduating class of the club, as we learnt how to board through the club last year :)

At 4, I grabbed my stuff from the bus and took the shuttle to the North side of the mountain and then proceeded to walk with all my gear and bags ~1.25 km to the chalet that we rented. That was a fun walk, especially in my snowboarding boots as I was too lazy to change into my regular boots and carry them. I think I can attribute the popped blister on the back of my left Achilles tendon to that walk.

I was the first to arrive after Son and Dawn, who were organizing the trip. I showered and took a nap in one of the bunks. I didn't bring sheets, so I just wrapped myself in the provided comforter like a sleeping bag.

The rest of the people slowly arrived. Christine and Hannah left at 4:30 and got to the chalet at 8:30. In comparison, Vic left at about the same time, but got there at about 6:30. They claimed to have done some errands in town during that time, but they did call us to ask for directions. We ended up with 13 the first night and between 10 double beds in 8 rooms (there were 2 bunk beds, and both the top and bottom bunks were doubles, which was strange), we fit everyone comfortably. The couples (incl. some girl-on-girl action) coupled up and the singles got their own beds. A few people couldn't make it b/c their flights into Toronto were canceled b/c of the weather and Michelle's parents didn't want her going up on Friday b/c of the roads, which was an unnecessary worry since the roads were actually pretty good. The night consisted of Swiss Chalet, poker, uno, and xbox (who knew the original xbox could be modded to play emulated games!). A few of us didn't see the bedrooms until past 5 am.

Saturday was boarding day. My 5x7 season pass doesn't cover the day during the weekends, so I had to pay, which sucked, but whatever. Most hit the slopes around 9, but I slept in and b/c of the late night, started at noon instead. I spent pretty much the entire day on the bunny hills teaching "banana nut muffin" (Hannah, Christine, and Michelle) to board. This was an interesting experiment, as the first time I ever touched a snowboard was just over a year ago and even then, I just got 2 short informal lessons. I'm not sure if I'm doing things right or not, and I'm not sure how to really teach it, but things went decent. Others helped as well and everyone was getting tips from everyone :). All 3 of them made really good progress! By the end of the day, all 3 were able to do both heel and toe turns and could string some of the turns together! That's pretty amazing for pretty much their first time out. Michelle was even able to make it down the whole (second bunny) slope doing turns the whole way without falling!

Christine had bought a board (and coat) right before the trip b/c her Dad boards and she figured that she would pick it up so that she could go with him. In an extremely impulsive mood, probably highly influenced by peer pressure, both Hannah and Michelle bought boards the next day on the way home! That was pretty crazy! They're thinking of going again on Friday.

That night, our numbers inflated to something like 20, and consisted of dinner made from all the random food people brought, beer, wine, poker, xbox, phase 10, uno, drinking games, Zoolander, Casino Royale, and girl talk. More fun off the slopes than on :). Everyone was pretty buzzed and exhausted from the slopes. People *cough* Hannah *cough* started passing out just past midnight. Somehow I didn't get to bed until past 6. With the additional people, including some that didn't intend on staying over, there were people on the couches and most people doubled up on the beds. The guy on the bottom bunk in my room was a huge snorer, which was annoying. At one point, I had 3 girls on my bed and I was pretty sure that the bed was going to collapse and kill the guy underneath us. The guy was a really deep sleeper b/c he didn't wake up at all, or at least faked snored a lot...

I think I might have had my first hangover (not hangarover). I had a minor headache most of the day. I didn't drink that much (maybe like red level 8), but I had been really sleep deprived for the last couple days. I donno, I generally deal with headaches pretty well. They don't really bother me and for the most part, I just ignore them. I might have had a hangover before, but just attributed it to lack of sleep. We hit Pizza Hut for brunch, where I got my patented cheese-less pizza, which even Hannah said wasn't weird at all after trying a piece, and then we headed home.

The newbies were complaining of being sore, as to be expected. I wasn't though as my body's been conditioned to it already. I joked about playing volleyball when we got back into town, except that I actually did as CCF had their last game of the season. The popped blister is kinda annoying right now though as I can't really walk without pain since a scab has formed and walking stretches it.

Next year we're going to Quebec! Hopefully more people have learnt how to board by then!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Chantal Kreviazuk in concert

Raine Maida as the opening act with Chantal Kreviazuk on piano

Chantal Kreviazuk in Massey Hall

Chantal completely unplugged with no microphone, amplifier, or back-up

I went to go see Chantal Kreviazuk in concert on Saturday. Woo!! Go Winnipeg!!! I had seen her live before - at a free concert at Assiniboine Park (like a 10 min. rollerblade from my house). She's good live and I quite liked her most recent album, Ghost Stories, in addition to her older stuff. The concert was at Massey Hall.

The opening act was her husband, Raine Maida, the lead singer for Our Lady Peace. Chantal was on the piano, but in a hoodie to hide herself, but it was pretty obvious that it was her. After that, she came back to play her set for an hour and a half.

I taped part of one of the songs, but midway, one of the security guards told me to stop and threatened to kick me out, hence the abrupt end to the video. I was quite surprised at the audio quality of my digital camera. I expected the volume would've saturated the microphone and it would've just been crap, but it was actually quite good.

Ghosts of You

Her two kids (toddlers) made appearances. I couldn't tell if they were predetermined interruptions by the kids, but twice they came one and one time they sang. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the intended audience for the concert. She also was rather mocking about the encore, telling us that she was playing her last song, but if we wanted more that we should applaud and she'll come back. Encores nowadays are such a bastardization of what it originally made out to be. It used to be that encores were real and not scripted. Now you expect an encore and the artist typically saves one of their best songs for it. It's kinda dumb, but I guess it's tough to go against tradition.

Chantal came out and did a cool encore. For one song, she sat on the stage with just a guitar. No microphone, no amplifiers, no back-up. Just her voice. It was pretty amazing. She was able to project her voice throughout the entire place, even up to the second balcony. Everyone was completely silent and you will notice in the video that there's a long delay between the end of the song and the clapping to make sure that she was actually done b/c there would be no way that she could be heard over the applause. I wasn't sure if my camera would pick-up the sound, but again, it did a good job despite not being blaringly loud. There's only sound and no video b/c I had to hide that I was recording it :)

Far Away Unplugged (no video, just audio)

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