Locked Out

Remember when Razor Scooters were cool?

I owned one.  Rather, I should say I still own one.  It has been sitting in the garage for a long time now.  More importantly, I actually bought this scooter myself in 7th grade.  I scrounged up whatever lunch money, birthday money and whatever I had together to purchase one, back when it was still expensive from all the hype.  My parents didn’t have any intentions of buying me one anytime soon anyway.

I took pride in it; it was mine.

So, one day after school, my sister and I decided to ride our scooters around the backyard, because why not?  It was a pretty nice day outside and I wanted to ride my new scooter as much as possible.

I forget how or when, but our family was gifted a scooter about a year earlier for some reason, and my sister decided to claim it as her own for the longest time.  Though, probably due to poor storage, it was noticeably rusty and rickety.  The wear and tear on it made it slow and the wheels didn’t do a whole lot of spinning.

Seeing the pristine condition of my scooter and the soft glide it had with every stride, my sister wanted to use my new scooter.  I quickly said “no”, because 1. She has a scooter, 2. I was so happy to be riding my new scooter, and 3. She spent lots of time NOT letting me ride “her” scooter when we only had that one, so I was just returning the favor.

She pleaded a few times more before she stormed back into the house.  She was so mad she locked the door behind her.  Yes, because I let her taste her own medicine, she locked me out of the house.

12 years old, no cell phone or keys in pocket, no backpack, no water bottle, no snacks or food.  And I already conceded to the fact that my sister probably went straight to her room to take her typical 3 hour after school nap.  So I didn’t even waste my energy and time trying to knock on the doors or windows.

So I just scootered around and day dreamed.  What else could I do?  I couldn’t even work on my homework even if I wanted to.

It was nightfall by the time my dad got home.  He saw me scootering in the backyard like an idiot.  It was cold outside and I was only wearing only shorts and a t-shirt.  I told my dad what had happened, and I thought for sure my sister would be in big trouble.

My parents barely gave her a stern talking.  For locking me out, potentially getting me sick and what not, she was talked to as if she had accidentally left the milk out.

You know what the worst part is?  Two weeks later my dad bought my sister a new scooter because she really wanted one..

Feels Bad Man.

Sleepover Shenanigans

We were but 8th graders when this story took place.

Our grade’s guys were having a Sunday School social in the form of a sleepover.  Although, it might be better to call us boys at this time period.  Of course, the sleepover location of choice was the Leung mansion, complete with huge backyard, pool and indoor basketball court.

The afternoon and night was filled with countless multiplayer games of Halo, Risk, and other games you can play with a deck of cards.  As the night wore on, many succumbed to fatigue and went to go sleep.  It was down to Matt, Stu, Caleb, Marty, me and a couple others.  While the others did their own thing, we sat around discussing what we should do, for it wasn’t quite late enough to sleep yet.

With a single deck of cards and 5 of us, we couldn’t play Big 2, so we sought out to play poker instead.  We failed to find any sort of poker chips, or anything that resembled some, so someone had the grand idea of playing strip poker.  It’s totally fine; we were just a bunch of boys hoping to find some cheap laughs in our sleep deprived state.  And it’s not like we were going to play the whole thing out, the first few rounds were pretty lame in that most of us just lost our socks.  Except for Matt, he wasn’t wearing socks, so he lost his shirt right away, to which we ogled at his six pack (of course).

It got to a point where we were just about ready to go to bed, so we agreed to play one final round and loser had to strip down to their underwear.  But before that, Marty needed to use the bathroom.  As soon as he left the area, someone whispered:

“Hey, let’s rig the deck so Marty loses!”

Working fast, we also knew we had to make it look believable.  So we rigged it in such a way that the cards still needed to be dealt out and Marty would have a decent hand.  We made it so we would beat his hand with only slightly better cards.  So, being a good sport, Marty accepted his defeat and proceeded to carry out the deed.  Sporting a fancy camera flip phone, Matt took a multi-shot of the moment.  It was a super low quality four frames, but it would be a gem we would always reference.  While Marty was undressing, Matt and Stu would hum a song they were learning in band, which they coined as “the stripper song”.  According to Dr. McDaniel, their band teacher, it was a song for strippers.  So, I guess it was appropriate.

Normally, you might expect me to write “and here are those pictures revealed!” but no, those picture were lost with Matt’s first phone.  Though the pictures remained safely stored on it, Matt’s phone would be stolen about a year later by what he suspected to be high school upperclassmen.  Gone forever are those photos.

But as a consolation, with the help of Matt and Stu, we were able to hunt down the name of that song we so lovingly hummed countless times.  Now, just imagine us humming this:

Mmm, yes…

Diamond Formation

It was Summer and we were in middle school.  With our free time after church service on Sundays, we almost always made our way to the Lollicup a block away.  It was the best way to quench our thirst and satisfy our sugary needs.

But before we freely roamed the streets of Chinatown, we found ourselves asking the question “is it safe?”

There were a couple announcements made during youth service saying that kids like us really shouldn’t be wandering around Chinatown without any sort of adult supervision.  The overarching theme of this was to make it sound unappealing or unsafe.  Innocent and naive, we just took it for fact.  I’m sure there was good reasoning for this.  Looking back at it now, there were certainly some kids that would ditch service or Sunday School to roam around Chinatown instead, so I’m sure they were trying to discourage that.  On that note, the church was probably somewhat liable, in that parents expect their kids to be at certain locations at certain times.  Or maybe there was an incident I don’t know about.

Before it became all gentrified, I remember Chinatown looked a lot slummier when I was 6 or 7.  I clung close to my mom on the short walks to the restaurant we frequented on Sundays.  I remember seeing lots of poop, trash and smokers.  Of course, I’m sure my young self exaggerated the things I saw.

So, the very first time we took the streets on our own, Matt, Stu, Caleb and I invented the diamond formation.  Rather than walk around like a defenseless herd of sheep, we chose to instead walk in such a way that we could possibly defend against any sort of danger (strangers, crazy people. etc.)  This was our logic:

“Well, Matt is super buff, so he should walk in front.  Caleb and Stu are like 4 feet tall and probably weak, so they’ll walk behind Matt along his sides.  Josh is pretty strong, so he’ll walk in back, so he can watch all of our backs.”

Thus, we walked in the shape of a diamond.  We kept our heads on a swivel and remained in a tight formation and walked to Lollicup, got our drinks, and back with no trouble.  After that day, we concluded “well, I guess there’s nothing to be that afraid of”.

Even though we’re 11 or 12 in this story, I’m sure we were ready to throw down!

Oh, where was Marty?  Probably being super mature and hanging out with all the girls of course.

From then on we just freely walked to and from Lollicup after service.

A Review of 2016

I was laid off and became unemployed.  And after ten weeks of diligently looking, I was offered a job at Kaiser Permanente.  You may read all about that here:

[ Part 1 ]  [ Part 2 ]  [ Part 3 ]  [ Part 4 ]  [ Part 5 ]  [ Part 6 ]

I said goodbye to a good friend.

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R.I.P. Titus

I reached legend in Hearthstone.

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I 4-0’d my first prerelease.

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Eldritch Moon, Midnight Prerelease

I saw Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl.

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I went to Disneyland

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I was gifted a Fitbit, which has made me all the more healthier and motivated to exercise.  Though I wish my results were as visible as my girlfriend’s.

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I travelled to San Diego twice.  First to celebrate Cheeseburger Eddie and Katrina’s engagement and then to celebrate a cousin’s high school graduation.

I travelled to Sacramento / San Francisco with family to visit my sister.  You may recollect that here:

[ Day 1 ]  [ Day 2 ]  [Day 3 ]

I travelled to Portland with friends.  You may recollect that here:

[ Day 1 ]  [ Day 2 ]  [Day 3 ]

I travelled to Las Vegas with my extended family for Labor Day Weekend.  It gave me a chance to try Shake Shack for myself.

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I travelled to Joshua Tree National Park for Cheeseburger Eddie’s Bachelor Party.

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I travelled to Pismo Beach, for much needed catch up time with friends.

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For the first time, I officially served as both a camp director and a camp counselor.

I served in women’s tea.

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I went to what felt like so many weddings.  Congratulations to the Sha’s, the Cheng’s, the Chan’s, and the Ho’s.

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I won a charity auction.

I successfully escaped 4 exit games.  First with my Hikoi small group, twice with my coworkers for team building and once more with my family.

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Villain’s Lair @ Exit Game [23% completion rate]

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School of Sorcery @ Exit Game [40% completion rate]

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The Lab @ Exit Game [45% completion rate]

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The CSI Room @ Logiquit [30% completion rate]

On to 2017…

Throwing Exceptions

In programming, we have what’s called an Exception.  As you might guess, it’s essentially an action your code takes if something out of the ordinary occurs.  It’s usually used for errors or to deal with extreme cases like too much data, or the wrong data input.

Anyway, keep that in mind as I circle back to this story.  As I said, I gave up those same 10 things all over again during my 4th year in college.  Part of the reason I did this was because things were going okay.  If you talked to me then, I would say “because life is too easy right now”.  I didn’t feel distant from God, nor was I too distracted in my studies.  To put it bluntly, I was probably trying to force for some sort of spiritual ascension or enlightenment.  I decided upon this just a few days into the quarter and I just started up cold turkey.

Great.  Now what?  Once more, I aimed to use my spare time productively.  I read more, biked more and even cooked more.  Being vegetarian was slightly harder now that I didn’t have the dormitory cafeteria to supply my meals.  Still, I carried on with confidence.

And then came the exceptions.

It all started when I watched a movie with some friends.  I told them I couldn’t because I was fasting watching movies (again), but as I finished saying that, I asked myself “why”?  Initially I did this because I wanted to focus on my studies more.  Which I did; because I finished my homework and was on top of things, I was able to set aside time to hangout with my friends and they just so happened to want to watch a movie together.  “For friendship and for fellowship” was what I told them and myself, as weird as it felt at first, it sat well with me.

Similarly, I seized an opportunity to play League.  With homework finished and all that, there was literally no harm in playing just one game.

And then I had some meat.

It was meant to be one of those joke wagers.  You know, one of those “if you guess what I’m thinking right now, I’ll give you $100”.  Except Lauren was watching One Piece, and he said “if you guess what episode I’m watching from just this paused screen, I’ll buy you a carne asada burrito from Alberto’s”.  And by 1 in ~500 chance, I managed to guess correctly.  More surprisingly, Lauren actually stayed true to his word, as much as I declined.  I told myself “why not?” and just ate it.  Part of me thinks Lauren wanted this to happen all along.  He has a tendency to troll people.

There’s probably some other instances that occurred that I can’t quite remember.  I don’t know if I became more lenient on myself, became more lazy, or became a better student, such that free time was actually free time.  This actually became a 20+ unit quarter for me due to the senior projects (yes, plural) that I was involved in.  One of those projects involved spending the weekend before finals week road tripping up to San Luis Obispo with the team to showcase our unmanned vehicles to Northrop Grumman executives.  So, I’d like to think my focus was pretty strong, with or without my fasting.

Fasting for no reason?  Probably not the best practice.  I recall bits and pieces of a lesson that Spencer taught a while back advising against that as well.  Thankfully, with little to no consequences, I was able to experience that lesson for myself.

Desert Bus for Hope

A while ago, I discovered the comedy troupe known as LoadingReadyRun.  I enjoy watching their videos from time to time as it it appeals to my nerdy side.  Their content usually consists of things about video games, board games and card games; among other nonsense.  Notably and once a year, they host an event called Desert Bus for Hope, which I’ll let you read about here.

I remember hearing about this event, but never thought much of it.  When November rolled around, I had remembered it by chance.  I read some articles about it, saw some snippets and found some gifs; I decided this was something I wanted to be participate in.

During the week that it aired, I tuned in with whatever little free time I had.  Admittedly, I would sometimes watch a little bit during my lunch breaks.  I made an account so that I could immerse myself in the chaos that is Twitch chat.  You would think that a lot of things go unnoticed in chat, but they do a pretty good job of keeping tabs on what’s being said.  I was the one that asked what ‘creepy doll’ was.  You can view that snippet here.

I even submitted a question for their trivia:

Part of the reason why I tuned in was because I had found out they had sold out of their exclusive pins within the first day.  Remember, tell Josh something is exclusive or limited edition, and he’ll want it so bad.  The only way to get one after that announcement was to win a raffle or auction.

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So then I made a donor account and brainstormed on what to bid on.  Part of the appeal of a charity auction is that some people use it as a money sink to get a better tax break.  These generous donors set the bar high with some items going for thousands of dollars.  I’m not swimming in money so I kind of had to look for reasonable things to bid on.  I eventually won a silent auction for two tickets to see a screening of “Director’s Cut”, a movie produced and written by Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller).  Of course, the tickets were for a theater in San Francisco, so they were of little use to me.  There was a bit of a mixup as I waited to receive said tickets, which lead me to be in direct contact with Penn’s wife (text messaging) for a bit.  I thought it was cool that I wasn’t just forwarded to some support personnel, but rather straight to the source.

In addition, the auction lot includes the following:

A signed copy of a Spider-Man / Deadpool comic that featured Penn and Teller:

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A signed magic kit:

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A signed copy of Penn’s book, “Presto!”:

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All pretty neat, though I was happiest to see my pin come in the mail:

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All cool stuff aside, donating to this cause felt especially good.  It hit home the more I learned about Child’s Play and what they do.  I remembered the time my sister was in the hospital and how boring and dull life must have been for her during that period.  I thought about how there are probably a lot of kids out there that don’t have parents by their side the whole time, Netflix or a stack of their brother’s DVD collection.  How tragic if there wasn’t even a TV in their hospital room!  Anyway, I can relate a little bit.  I’ll leave you all with these:

Defending John Chow

A while back, John preached a sermon.  Within the sermon, he told a story to help illustrate a point.  I won’t quote it verbatim, but here’s the quick version of the story:

It was a mission’s trip in Thailand and the team had just spent a week at an orphanage in the mountains.  While the team was housed there, they had found many opportunities to play and interact with the kids; so naturally great bonds and friendships were formed.  Of course, after a great week together, it’s hard to say goodbye.  John had ordered a couple of vans and drivers to take them to the second part of the trip.  With the drivers being paid by the hour, you can imagine how anxious John was to try to stay on schedule as much as possible.  Kids are crying, people are hugging, the team is snapping last minute photos with their favorite orphans, kids are savoring every last second they can with the team and the drivers are off to the side smoking a cigarette because they’re waiting on them.  And after telling the team to finish and get into the car multiple times only to have it fall on deaf ears, John yells “GET IN THE CAR NOW!”.  It kills the mood and everyone obediently files into the vans and they leave.

I remember that day.  Everyone on that team does; it’s so iconic.  Every team since then has joked about it.  I bring this up because there’s one minor detail that John left out.

I was in the van.

Yup.  Dedicated and obedient Josh was following orders and diligently sitting in the van while all of this was going on.  The whole time I watched my friends and teammates dilly dally as I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  I made my goodbyes quick and simple since I was never good with goodbyes to begin with.  The whole car ride to our next destination I couldn’t help but think “why didn’t these guys just follow directions?”.

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I know, I know, the point John was trying to illustrate was to not let your emotions lead you to sin and other bad things.  He went on to admit that he regretted his actions and that the rest of the team probably did the right thing after all.

But really team.. Why were you all so defiant?

And that’s probably one of my bigger pet peeves too, loitering.  I know it’s probably not the same as the way people loiter before going to lunch on a Sunday.  But what happened that day was probably a mixture of thinking “oh, no one else is in the van, I’ll just keep doing this” and abusing the mantra of “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission”.

Well anyway, I followed your orders John.  I understood your thought processes and logic.  And I don’t think you can fault yourself too hard.

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The Good Feels

Let’s talk about things that feel good.

When it’s Saturday morning, cold in your room, but extra warm and comfy in your bed.  It feels so good you don’t want to move or get out so you stay in bed for most of the morning.

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Having a satisfying poop after a large meal (KBBQ, AYCE Sushi, or Holidays).

A hot beverage on a rainy day.

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Ramen or Pho on a cold day.

Lazy Sunday afternoon naps.

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When you’re super congested, so you eat food with extra hot sauce or wasabi, so that when you blow your nose all the mucus comes out and you can breathe again.

Sitting down after a long day of walking or standing around.

When you get something out of your teeth that was stuck there.

That one burp that makes it so you don’t feel bloated anymore.

What are some other good feelings?

Ignorant Savage

I learned a valuable lesson in college the year Man Lauren was my roommate.  I had just finished making dinner and we were getting seated to eat.  This was early in the year, where our schedules still aligned and we could have and cook dinner together.  He did something which I perceived as different.  Now, there are a lot of things that Lauren and I do that would be considered “different”, and to be honest, I don’t quite remember what it is that he did.  For the sake of example and story, let’s say he scooped curry into his bowl first and then scooped rice on top of it, to which I blurted out

“That’s weird.”

Without skipping a beat, he turned to me and stared straight into my eyes.  He began to sing:

“You think I’m an ignorant savage And you’ve been so many places I guess it must be so..”

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That’s right.  He started singing Colors of the Wind.

We proceeded to eat dinner with light hearted conversation about how things are “weird” when it’s not what we’re used to seeing or doing.  It extended to cultural differences or being raised in a different environment.  This all stuck out to me, as from then on, I tried not to think of people as “weird” anymore, rather as unique or different.  You’d think this concept would be more accepted and understood as you grow up, but ignorance is everywhere.

I mean, I’m guilty of it too.  That’s just how normalized it is; people call me weird all the time, so naturally I’ll point fingers too.  Not that I’m proud of myself, I’ll often have regretful thoughts as soon as I utter those two words: “you’re weird” or “that’s weird”.  Sure, it’s probably fine in good company and joking is acceptable, but it can easily slip out in passing.

What am I saying?  Let’s change how we look at things.  After all, aren’t we all a little weird?

Just a thought.

Discipleship

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It was a couple weeks before we started our freshmen year of college.  We had just eaten dinner together and we decided the night was still young, so we all gathered in Caleb’s van.  “We”, of course, refers to Matt, Stu, Caleb, Marty and me.

We had graduated.  We attended our last mission’s trip with HSMT and Summer Camp as high schoolers.  Our High School glory days were over.  Summer was ending.  It would be the start of a new era.

Relevant Video?:

We talked about our anxieties and expectations of college and how our orientation weekends went.  Frankly, I don’t really remember what we talked about, and it’s not like anyone of us wrote it down.  Most of it was probably common topics; a fresh start, choosing a major, dorm expectations, making friends, and what not.  Other than which Christian fellowship we each planned to attend, I don’t think we talked about anything remotely spiritual.  Plus, we all assumed we’d pretty much be coming back every weekend, so we could check up on each other then.  And well, we did come home for every Sunday, and saw each other in Sunday School.

Moments like those where we huddled together to have serious or semi-serious talks would be commonplace, especially during extended quarter/semester breaks.  

Fast forward a year and some change.  Once more, we gathered together.  This time, it would be in the “butt cave”.  That is, the side of the staircase that leads to the choir room at church.  We called it the “butt cave” because calling it the “bat cave” would be too plain, duh.  We spent many a Sunday afternoon there in high school, so we decided to meet there for some privacy and for old times’ sake.

After a freshman year of battles, victories, new friends, broken hearts and more, we reconvened to discuss things.  You see, we were convicted by the sermon to be more intentional with our accountability.  Webcam Bible studies, prayer chains over phone calls and message threads were only as effective as our respective schedules would permit.  We needed something that wouldn’t fall apart to schedule conflicts and/or laziness.  With experience, Matt knew that we had to do something other than renew our accountability vows.  He proposed something that would be better at catering to our location and needs.

Discipleship.

Matt suggested we find a discipler.  An older figure, to help guide each individual during this period of time.  Someone that knew what they were doing.  Someone that could help keep us on track.  I think at that point we all kind of had someone in mind.  We gave ourselves a homework assignment to ask someone to disciple us.

I’m not sure why I bring this up, I just thought it was a cool keystone memory.  A moment where we all wanted something, and we all obtained it.

Matt was discipled by Brian
Stu was discipled by Lawrence
Caleb was discipled by Wilhelm
Marty was discipled by Joseph
I was discipled by Matt