Archive for April, 2009

Raising the Stakes: Canucks vs. Blackhawks

April 30, 2009

As I (and many others) eagerly awaited Oddwalk’s much-anticipated video rendition of O Canada after the Canucks trounced the Blues, I received this “tweet” from them on Wednesday morning: “double or nothing, Canucks-hawks?”

(As an aside, I almost named this blog “Raising the Steaks”, as in raise it out of my throat…but I guess I should stop living in the past, huh?)

Back to the present. I deliberated Oddwalk’s offer for a bit before deciding to grant them their wish in the spirit of good Christian brotherhood. After some quick negotiations, we decided to raise the stakes:

If Vancouver wins, Orin and Shannon will have to:
-sing O Canada (as per the terms of our original wager)
-perform a rap about the greatness of the Canucks (originally it was just to talk about the greatness of the Canucks)
-all while dressed like a woman (brand new stipulation…but only one of them has to do it)

If Chicago wins, Oddwalk nor I have to do anything.

After sharing this new agreement with a couple of my friends, the general sentiment was that I shouldn’t have accepted the double or nothing proposal.

I countered that I probably would have rejected the offer had the wager been for money (working in youth ministry, I’ll take any extra income I can get…haha). More importantly, Orin and Shannon are nice guys, and I’m all about giving second-chances to nice people. Especially is said nice people are youth ministers.

But the real reason I accepted the deal: I can’t wait to see these 2 Caucasian guys rap and break it down youth ministry-style! It could be the hottest thing since Vanilla Ice and Eminem!

Go Canucks Go!

PS: You can view Oddwalk’s blog about the new wager here.


Oh Oh Canada!

April 22, 2009

The Vancouver Canucks are the first team to advance to the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs after sweeping the St. Louis Blues in 4 straight games. Now, the Canucks and their fans will wait for anywhere between 7 to 10 days and look forward to their next opponent.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is Oddwalk Ministries’ video. You see, my friends Orin and Shannon lost our friendly wager, in which I would have had to post a video of me singing the blues about the Blues had the Canucks lost. Thankfully, for both me and the viewing and listening audience, the Blues proved no match for the Canucks. Thus, Oddwalk will post a video on their website singing O Canada for the entire online world to see.

You can read the original blog about the wager here.

So Orin and Shannon, in the spirit of friendship and good sportsmanship, I am happy to share some other renditions of our national anthem. I pray that these will inspire and encourage you.

This first one is Sean and Jake from July 2006 singing without regard for proper grammar nor pronunciation

Listen to Canadian hockey fans sing the anthem during the final seconds of Canada’s gold medal win over the USA at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Or this dude, rockin’ out O Canada on his electric guitar.

Not to be outdone, this Las Vegas lounge singer butchers the anthem before a CFL game in Sin City in 1994.

Finally, here is R & B singer Deborah Cox with a stirring rendition at an NBA All-Star game.

I have complete faith that whatever Oddwalk comes up with, it will be a worthy addition to this esteemed list.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!


April 19, 2009

What you are about to read is true…sadly. I haven’t bothered to change the name to protect the identity of the subject…because I wouldn’t be able to fool anyone. I’ll just get it out of the way now: I’m a dork.

And apparently, I don’t chew my food thoroughly enough.

Here is the actual timeline of the STEAK-OUT of Thursday, April 16, 2009:

7:30pm: Clay sits down at the dinner table to enjoy a yummy dinner prepared by his lovely wife Gail. Clay, Gail, and sons Sean and Jacob and daughter Kayla say grace before starting.

7:31pm: Clay hurriedly places a rather large piece of steak into his mouth.

7:31pm: Clay feels that the steak isn’t moving down his throat properly. So he takes a second bite of dinner, this time a spoonful of rice and corn.

7:32pm: Still not feeling well, Clay takes his first sip of Pepsi to try and wash down the food.

7:32pm: Clay starts gagging. As he makes his way to the kitchen sink, he says “I’m not feeling so good” in between gags.

7:33pm: Unbeknownst to Clay, Gail sneaks up behind him and performs the quickest and strongest Heimlich Maneuver in Imoo-Limtong history, sending projectiles from Clay’s mouth flying into the sink.

7:33pm: Clay thanks Gail but still feels something lodged in his throat.

7:34pm: Gail applies repeated Heimlichs in an attempt to dislodge the steak but to no avail.

7:35pm: “I’m scared,” Clay remarks in the under-statement of the year.

7:37pm: Clay tries to eat and drink a bit more to try and move the food down. Everytime he tries to eat or drink, he throws up instantaneously.

7:38pm: Scared by the sound of Dad’s gagging and throwing up, Sean and Jake run into the living room so they don’t have to hear nor see Dad. Sean starts to pound away on the piano to drum out the noise. He belts out a stirring rendition of Matt Maher’s “Your Grace is Enough.”

7:38pm: After seeing her brothers leave the room, Kayla comes up to Clay and hugs his leg.

7:45pm: Gail calls Dorothy for advice…but can’t get through.

7:46pm: Gail calls Richard and Zinha…they suggested leaning over some furniture and thrusting against it to dislodge the steak.

7:50pm: After the furniture-ramming technique proves fruitless, Gail resorts to karate chopping Clay between his shoulder blades as hard as she can. Clay quietly wonders if she’s taking advantage of the situation to get some free shots in.

7:55pm: Clay starts to drool profusely as he’s unable to swallow any of his saliva.

7:55pm – 8:40pm: Clay stays at sink, alternating between gagging, throwing up, drinking and spitting.

8:40pm: Gail calls a Community Nurse: she tells Gail to take Clay to the hospital. Gail tells the boys to get changed into their pajamas.

8:45pm: Gail calls Clay’s mom Joyce and asks her to come over to watch the kids. Like any good Mom, Joyce is extremely worried.

8:47pm: Sean comes back into the kitchen for the first time in an hour and tells Clay that he was praying for him up in his room.

8:52pm: Clay has Gail call Barb from the Archdiocese to advise her that he won’t be able to attend the scheduled 7:30am breakfast meeting the next day.

8:55pm: Clay’s mom arrives; Gail and Clay leave for Richmond General Hospital.

9:30pm: Admitting Nurse checks Clay in and offers her two bits: “Didn’t your mom tell you to chew your food 20 times before swallowing?” Clay would go on to hear similar advice throughout the evening. Clay manages a sheepish smile.

10:03pm: Clay and Gail are escorted to an examination room.

10:50pm: A doctor examines Clay and determines that his esophagus is completely blocked. He says he will call a GI (Gastro-Intestinal) Specialist for a recommendation. The 2 choices are: do nothing (and hope the food will pass on its own) or to remove the food via a stomach scope. Clay’s not thrilled with either of the 2 options.

10:59pm: The doctor returns with the verdict: we’re doing the scope. He leads Clay and Gail to yet another room where they will do the procedure.

11:05pm: Nurse Mary preps an IV and ends up putting holes in both of Clay’s hands. “You have tough skin” she replies.

11:22pm: Clay posts a message on Twitter and Facebook saying “At Richmond General Hospital on an IV waiting for a scope to remove a piece of steak from my esophagus. Crazy…I wish I was joking.”

11:25pm: Clay hears the nurses prepping the supplies for the scope. One asks, “What do we have tonight.” Another answers, “We’re getting a steak out of some guy’s throat.” Clay knows he’s found the title for his inevitable blog.

11:30pm: The GI Specialist explains the procedure to Gail and Clay and has Clay sign a release. That wasn’t that comforting. Gail leaves soon afterwards, promising to come back after the procedure.

11:42pm: Dorothy texts Clay’s cell phone saying “Must’ve been a big piece of steak!” Clay goes on to receive quite a few messages like this throughout the night, along with prayers and suggestions to switch to beef sashimi (thanks Warren).

11:49pm: The nurses wheel in the scope: it looks long and thick. Comes on a cart with a really nice flat-screen LCD.

11:55pm: A nurse hooks up an oxygen apparatus to Clay’s nose and then something in his mouth to keep it open for the scope. He sprays Lydacane into Clay’s mouth to supposedly “numb his throat.” He then turns Clay to lean on his left side so his back is towards the screen. Probably a good thing.

11:56pm: The nurse gives Clay drugs to sedate him as the GI Specialist prepares the scope. Clay says a quick prayer.

11:57pm: Clay endures the most excruciating 20 seconds of his life as the doctor steered the scope into Clay’s mouth and down his throat in an attempt to push the food down into his stomach. Clay has enough time to flail his arms and scream, all the while wishing he was numbed and more sedated.

1:59am (Friday): Clay awakes to see Gail and a nurse at his bedside. “Everything is fine” says the nurse.

2:15am: Gail and Clay make their way to the van to go home.

2:19am: Clay posts a message on Twitter and Facebook saying “Heading home from hospital. Procedure was a success, praise God. This was certainly a wake-up call for me though: time to slow down a bit.”

2:28am: Gail and Clay arrive home to find Mom up waiting for us and all 3 kids laid out in a triangular formation on our bed.

2:35am: Mom kisses Clay good night and heads home. Clay promises Mom that he’ll be more careful during meals and that he’ll slow down and chew his food more thoroughly.

3:00am: Clay says a prayer of thanksgiving and falls asleep, ending the STEAK-OUT.

Canucks vs. Blues: Youth Ministry Style!

April 18, 2009

Meet Orin and Shannon. Together, they form Oddwalk Ministries and they provide keynotes, concerts, workshops and retreats for youth ministries across the United States. I’ve seen them do their thing a few times in the States and they are very good. And they are from in and around St. Louis.

Meet Clay. Husband, Father, Friend, Youth Minister, and Speaker (at least that’s what his website says). Ultimate Canuck Fan and overall good guy. Not to mention exceedingly handsome.

This past Wednesday, I got a tweet from Orin to the effect of: “Care to place a friendly (or not so) wager on the Blues-Canucks series? Holla.”

I couldn’t believe my good fortune: someone was actually asking me if I was willing to pick my beloved Canucks to win in the first round of the NHL playoffs. After some careful negotiating, we came up with terms:

If St. Louis wins:
-Clay will post a video on his website singing a blues song about the St. Louis Blues and how great they are and how they will win the Cup.

If Vancouver wins:
-Oddwalk will post a video on their website singing “O Canada” followed by a brief commentary on how the Canucks will win the cup, all while saying “eh” in every sentence.

As I write this, game 2 has ended and the Canucks have a quick two games to none lead in the series.

(I meant to write this blog last night but I was busy getting a piece of steak dislodged from my esophagus…more on that tomorrow).

So, my dear friends Orin and Shannon, start learning this country’s beautiful national anthem.

I just hope that you stay true to the song, and that your rendition doesn’t turn out…well…odd.

To view Oddwalk Ministries’ version of our friendly wager, view their blog here.

My Brave Son

April 9, 2009

I admit it: I’m a wimp.

Today was a very difficult day for me, as Sean was scheduled to have 4 teeth removed to make more room for his adult teeth to grow in. In fact, his mouth was more crowded than Aberdeen parking lot (Aberdeen is a busy Chinese shopping mall in Richmond for those who are unaware).

I had been understandably nervous for the poor guy for the past week or so, but many blessings had come from it, including really good prayer time and thoughtful discussions.

After taking Jake to school and partcipating in a quick conference call for work (thanks Richard and Zinha for letting me use your office and saving me some valuable travel time!!!) I rushed home to pick-up Gail, Kayla and Sean to take them to Cambie Surgery Centre. Sean was remarkably calm in the van and only when we got there did he show signs of nervousness. In fact, he was more agitated by the fact that he hadn’t eaten all morning, and all of the shows he had watched earlier featured people chomping down food!

After a nurse came into to apply numbing cream to Sean’s hand, Dr. Chan came in to explain the procedure to us: that’s when we found out that she wanted to remove 6 teeth and not the original 4 we anticipated. Despite the 50% increase in tooth loss, we trusted the good doctor’s advice.

Sean chose me to go into the operating room with him (lucky me) and as we walked into the room, I could feel my heart racing. I lifted him up onto the operating bed and they asked me to put my right arm around Sean so he couldn’t look back over his left shoulder.

As we started to blow bubbles as distraction, the doctors began to administer the general anaesthetic. I guess his hand hadn’t completely numbed yet as Sean screamed “Ouch…what are you trying to do to me? Put a hole through my hand?”

I was half-laughing and half-cringing as I frantically thought of new games to play with the bubbles. I then heard the doctor say “Ok, he’s going to have a little cough.”

Sure enough, Sean coughed twice and then his eyes rolled up towards the back of his head as he fell limp in my arms. So many thoughts raced through my head at that instant, most of them unpleasant. I helped placed Sean flat on the bed, gave him a kiss on the forehead, and left the room crossing myself and saying a quick prayer.

Outside, Gail and Kayla were waiting for me and Gail just had to look in my eyes to see that I was on the verge of breaking down. “It’s hard, isn’t it?” Gail asked, recalling that she went in with Sean 2 years ago when he had his 2 front teeth yanked.

“That was nuts” I said as she wiped the tears from my cheeks.

We went for a quick lunch before returning: Gail and Kayla waited in the van while I read the newspaper in the waiting room. What was supposed to be 30 minutes ended up being 90 minutes before a nurse came to retrieve me.

“Sean’s up now” she said. “Everything is fine. He asked me how long he was asleep for.”

“Thank God” I replied as I hurriedly followed her into the recovery room. There Sean was, drowsy yet cheerful.

“Hi Dad! Can we go home now?”


I put his jacket on while receiving final instructions and then scooped him up to carry him out. We made a quick stop at Lansdowne to buy some congee and bubble tea for Sean’s dinner. In a nice surprise, I ran into Dave in the mall so I dragged him with me to buy the bubble tea and then to the van to say hi to his pant-less Goddaughter, my lovely wife, and the drowsy boy. We then picked up Jake and went home. Once home, Sean took a big nap for the rest of the afternoon, despite Jake’s constant attempts to goad him into a game of Wii Soccer. Once Sean awoke, he became stronger and more alert throughout the night. By the end of the evening, I had to convince him to go to bed so the Tooth Fairy could pay him a visit, albeit an expensive one at that!

Honesty is the Best Policy…usually

April 4, 2009

This past Tuesday was the Student-Led Conferences at St. Paul’s…basically a chance for the students to show their parents samples of their work in the classroom setting.

Knowing I had to get downtown for work as soon as I could, we signed up for the first two slots. And Gail had to be there even earlier to prepare for all of her grade 2 students and their parents. So there we were, at the school by 8am. After dropping Jake off in the school library, Sean and I sat down at his desk. I looked around to see 3 other students, each one with both of their parents.

“Hey, why am I the only one here without my spouse?” I asked quite loudly, just loud enough so the other parents could hear…most of them started chuckling. My lovely wife, on the other hand, just rolled her eyes (as is custom with me) and continued to prepare for the rest of her students.

Then, I saw Sean’s self-assessment, where he ranked himself using a 3-point scale in a multitude of different categories. He had to answer statements like “I listen to instructions” and “I work hard” with the choices of “Almost Always” or “AA”, “Usually” or “U”, and “I Can Do Better” or “IC.”

Most of his responses weren’t surprises to me. He gave himself “Almost Always” for the majority of the categories, and he sprinkled in a few “Usually.” Then I noticed that a few “AA”s were erased and replaced with “IC”s. Sean answered “IC” for “I listen to others” and “I am neat with my work.”

I was surprised, but certainly not shocked. Noticing the erase-marks, I asked Sean, “Why did you change these from AA to IC?”

“Mommy said I needed a couple of ICs” was Sean’s answer. I almost fell off my chair laughing. He sounds about as humble as his dad!

Gail was able to find someone to cover her classroom for half an hour so the 2 of us could go to Jake’s kindergarten class. Jake was really cute and super-excited, literally jumping for joy as we went through his work with him. We noted marked improvement in his printing, drawing and creativity. Except for his journaling: he had “I played hockey with Sean and Dad” listed for the last 3 weeks.

Then, it came time for Jake’s self-assessment. It too was a 3-point scale, but instead with the simpler happy face, neutral face, or sad face to best indicate how he feels about certain things.

We saw mostly happy faces, especially around the areas of PE and Math and a few neutral faces for things like French and journaling (haha). It was the one sad face that caught our attention though. There it was for all the world to see: a big fat sad face beside “Prayer and Bible Stories.”

“Uh, Jake” I sheepishly asked, “Why did you put a sad face for this one?”

“Because it takes too long. And it’s boring.”

Gail and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We later found out that he was the ONLY kid in both kindergarten classes to put a sad face down for “Prayer and Bible Reading.”

Just what you want to see from the son of a teacher and youth minister! At least he was honest!