Monday, March 31, 2008

Engagement in Korea

A very interesting discussion in NKZone, a blog on North Korea (DPRK), on the recent visit of New York Philharmonic.

It quoted Andrei Lankov's view
  • Hardline critics may be right that North Korean officials will portray these visits as a foreigners' tribute to their "Dear Leader". However, one should not overestimate the efficiency of this propaganda. I grew up in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and officially approved cultural and academic exchanges were a critical source of information about life overseas and helped arouse serious doubts about the communist system.
Professor Lankov's comment is consistent and supported by everything I heard from the Chinese in the 1970s. e.g., the visit of Nixon, Ping-pong diplomacy, opened their eyes to the west, and paved way for Deng's reform which followed. Even though, as Lankov correctly pointed out, Mao was still in power and Deng in the village at the time.

Because He lives, we can face tomorrow

The last few days have been very difficult for me due to physical tiredness, mental stress, etc etc. Thank God for His love and comfort through His Words. Thank God too for sending many encouragements through my blogging friends, my Pastor and church friends.

As I visit my blogging friends' blogs, my heart goes out to many of them who are struggling with physical infirmities, mental stress and discouragements. Some experience rapid cycling in their bipolar and cycle in and out of depression. It is difficult to go through severe or prolonged depression, and when it is clinical or biological in nature it is even more difficult to get out of it. Thank God that we can pray and encourage one another as we wait upon God for deliverance and restoration, while we seek to use whatever means that are available and helpful to us in our particular situations.

This morning, I listen to "Because He Lives" again. This song brings great encouragement to me whenever I listen to it. I am reminded afresh that "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow". We serve a risen Saviour! And He can still any storm in my life, for His lovingkindness and mercies is from everlasting to everlasting. We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Romans 8:37).

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!"

Christianity Today has a touching account of how this Song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither during a very difficult time in their life.

Inspired by the miracle of their son's birth, "Because He Lives" poured out of the Gaithers' grateful hearts. The song clearly affirms the hope believers have in Christ. We can face tomorrow, with all its uncertainty, as we realize that God holds the future and makes life worth living.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days before He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

I love to watch this video "Because He Lives" By The Gaither Trio 1972 posted by hoover4000 in which Gloria explained the circumstances surrounding the time they wrote the words to "because He lives" and then the gaither trio sings it in 1972.

This video "Because He Lives" By The Gaither Vocal Band/Mark Lowry is posted by hoover4000.

Pens v Rangers (L 1-2 OT)

I want to give my sincerest thanks to everyone who left comments or wrote me an email with condolences for my Bentley's passing. You will never know how much it meant to me. Thank you all so much.

The first period of this game can pretty much be summed up in a few sentences. The first real action came when Uber-jerk Sean Avery and Ryan Malone came to blows. They both dropped their gloves and whipped off their helmets. I don't know if it was planned, but they both drifted to center ice before starting the man-dance. Avery struck first with a few weak hits. Malone landed a good punch on Avery, but Avery came back with a wicked shot to Bugsy's jaw that was so forceful, they both went down. Later, Jaromir Jagr sent a lead pass to Martin Straka, who split the Pens' defensemen, but he shot the puck waaaay to wide. The Pens' only shot for the whole period came from a sweet backhander from Sidney, though Henrik Lundqvist made the save with his pads. Evgeni Malkin was tripped up by Scott Gomez. The Pens didn't do anything on their power play. Just after Gomez came out of the box, Big Georges Laraque drilled Paul Mara with a late hit, which earned him a boarding penalty. The Rangers didn't capitalize on their advantage, either. Just like that, the period was over.

MAF and Max discuss strategies (or maybe another prank?) just before the warmup.

The second period was really not much better than the 1st. Sid split the Rangers defense but went down on the play. He thought he was tripped and wanted a penalty, but none was assessed. Marc-Andre Fleury made the save of a lifetime when Nigel Dawes streaked down the ice on a breakaway. Then Sid made an unreal play dragging the puck around Brendan Shanahan's legs. Absolute insanity broke out in front of the Flower. In the midst of it all, poor Daryl Sydor was pulled down to the ice by his head by a Ranger. He landed on top of the puck and lost his helmet. To make matters worse, Fredrik Sjostrom fell on him as he lay on the ice. Then, professional asshat Ryan Hollweg started hitting Sydor in the back while he was still down on his stomach. I'm not sure how that wasn't a penalty, but whatever.

The Rangers got a little Karmic payback on the next play as Ryan Callahan fired a shot that rang off the crossbar. The rebound went right to Dawes, who promptly blasted the puck and rang it off the post. (WOW.) More chaos breaks out in front of MAF. He tries to freeze the puck, but somehow it manages to go into the net. The goal light came on but the horn didn't blow as the refs vehemently waived the goal off. I'm not sure what happened because there wasn't a replay, but when Versus came back from commercial, both Ryan Whitney (playing his usual defensive position tonight) and Jeff Taffe were in the box for roughing and hooking, respectively. This gave the Rangers a full 2 minutes with a 2-man advantage. (You know what's coming, right?)

Bugsy was a total beast on the 5-on-3 penalty kill. He gave himself a pair of shorthanded chances, but the Rangers got the puck and took it back down towards Flower. After Jagr fired a shot, the puck popped up into the air in front of MAF. Rob Scuderi was attempting to glove the puck down and clear it as Gomez was attempting to swat the puck in with his stick. The puck went into the net. Gomez's stick, however, was a high stick, so the call was made to the War Room in Toronto... After a good 3 or 4 minutes, the goal was rightfully deemed to be a keeper since the puck never touched Gomez's stick. [Pens 0, Rangers 1]

The Rangers still had some time with one Pen in the box, but they didn't score on their power play. Sydor then almost pulled a Nicklas Backstrom and bounced the puck off the bottom of the goal just inches from the post. Later, Sid and Dan Girardi fought for the puck behind Lundqvist. Sid won the battle and set Hossa up for a shot. Then the Saint poked at the loose puck, earning Girardi's ire. They exchanged shoves and were promptly separated by the refs. Geno then set Sidney up, but Sid couldn't do anything with it because Paul Mara was holding his stick. Mara went to the box for his offense, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage.

With a minute left in the second period, the Pens suddenly woke up. Laraque had an amazing shift. He protected the puck, took shots, and set up his teammates, but it was all for naught. The Rangers had a one-goal lead to end the period.

Bugsy went to work early in the third period. Right off the first faceoff, he took a shot and then poked away at it. The pace of the game clearly intensified at this point. Sid was in the crease as Geno took a shot, but Lundqvist blocked the attempt at a redirect. Jarrko Ruutu took a penalty for high sticking. He acted as if he didn't know why he took that penalty, but on the replay, it was clearly seen that he whacked a Ranger in the throat with his stick. On the ensuing Rangers' power play, Jagr burst through everyone, but he fanned on the shot because of some nice backchecking by the Pens. With 13 seconds left in the penalty to Ruutu, Michal Rozsival took a penalty for interference. Neither team scored on their respective power plays.

FINALLY, after Brooks Orpik put a big hit on Brandon Dubinsky, Laraque made a nice backhand pass to Malone. Dubinsky stayed behind to have words with Orpik because the hit was almost knee-on-knee, but in doing so, he took himself out of the play. This left Malone and Mad Max Talbot the ability to go 2-on-1. Bugsy sent a backhand pass to Max. Max then easily put the puck into the net. [Pens 1, Rangers 1]

A word about the Versus broadcast: I don't understand why they used graphics that covered more than a third of the ice at the bottom of the screen. I don't care if Professional Bull Riding is on tomorrow night, and I don't care that Bud Light sponsored tonight's game. THAT IS WHAT COMMERCIAL BREAKS ARE FOR.

Geno and Hossa went nuts, but Lundqvist made and amazing if lucky save. Avery went to the box for high-sticking Sidney, but the Pens couldn't score on their advantage. With less than a minute left in the game, Sid tried to split the Rangers defense, but Rozsival wouldn't let him. Then Bugsy got the puck off the faceoff and beat TYUTIN to the net, but Lundqvist wouldn't budge. The game ended at a 1-1 draw.

Just before the overtime period began, VS. showed Max getting funky on the bench. (He must have really liked the song!) Less than 30 seconds into OT, Jagr had a near breakaway. He was stopped only because Sergei Gonchar was holding him. BAD, BAD penalty, Gonch!!! It ended up costing the Pens the game as Chris Drury was able to use one Ranger and 2 Penguins as a screen to get past a very UNHAPPY Flower. [Pens 1, Rangers 2] (I'd be mad, too, if I had to listen to "Sweet Caroline" being blasted over the loudspeakers.)

All I can say is that at the very least the Pens got a point out of tonight's game. I scored a free ticket to tomorrow night's Three Days Grace / Breaking Benjamin concert at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, and then Wednesday I will be taking TSCS on the road to watch the Pens face the Flyers at the Mellon. I will take as many pictures as I can at the game. I may even be able to get a video clip or two, since I just got a new camera that records video - with sound and everything! (My old camera only recorded a silent 60 second clip at a time, so the new camera is a pretty big deal for me!) GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!

In Celebration of Being Alive

My church will be partaking of the Lord's Supper this coming Lord's day. As I prepare my heart to come before the Lord's Table, I am reminded afresh of our Lord Jesus Christ's love for us in coming into this world, suffered and died for us to redeem us from sins and eternal damnation. Thank God that our Lord is risen and by trusting in Him and turning away from our sins, we are reconciled to God through Him.

In this life, we shall have our portion of ups and downs, joy and sorrow, wellness and sickness, success and failures, etc etc these being part of our fallen nature and living in a less than perfect world. The tricky thing for those of us with a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar, is how to handle these challenges so that they do not either escalate into manic episodes or dragged us down into depression. Both are detrimental to our spiritual, mental and physical well being. But sometimes no matter how hard we try and with whatever help we have, we may still find ourselves deep in the pit of depression or wildly manic. These are the nature of our illness and we need patience to wait for them to pass, as we wait upon God while using whatever means available for recovery. Waiting is difficult as we wrestle with our pains and confusions. It is a struggle to me but thank God for sustaining and delivering me time and again.

Sometimes we may wonder why God allows us to go these sufferings. Or if our loved ones are the ones suffering thus, we may question why. All sufferings are ultimately due to living in a fallen world and our struggles with remaining corruption. But beyond these sufferings, are the higher purposes God may have for us in drawing us nearer to Himself so that we may know more of His love and faithfulness and be made more dependant upon Him, in purging us and sanctifying us so that we may be made more like our Lord Jesus Christ and ultimately in glorifying Himself through His sustaining and delivering us. God also enables us to sympathize with others who are going through suffering and share His love and mercies with others as we seek to comfort them with the same comfort that God has comforted us.

I thank God that we are able to encourage one another and support one another through our blogs. And I believe one of the reasons is because God has allowed us to experience much pains and sufferings in our life and giving us the joy of trusting in Him. We are weak but He is strong and His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. Though we may never meet on this earth, we can continue to share and support one another just as the Lord encourages us and strengthens us through all the changing scenes in life.

Recently, I shared the story of "Love Token" from my collections of short stories. This morning, I re-read another short story in my collections. And this story reminds me once again of how I should view my suffering and losses due to bipolar. I hope it will encourage you too and enable you to look at your sufferings or losses in a different angle:

In Celebration of Being Alive

A world-renowned heart surgeon ponders suffering and takes a lesson from two brave youngsters.

More and more, as I near the end of my career as a heart surgeon, my thoughts have turned to the consideration of why people should suffer. Suffering seems so cruelly prevalent in the world today. Do you know that of the 125 million children born this year, 12 million are unlikely to reach the age of one and another six million will die before the age of five? And, of the rest, many will end up as mental or physical cripples.

My gloomy thoughts probably stem from an accident I have a few years ago. One minute I was crossing the street with my wife after a lovely meal together, and the next minute a car had hit me and knocked me into my wife. She was thrown into the other lane and struck by a car coming from the opposite direction.

During the next few days in the hospital I experienced not only agony and fear but also anger. I could not understand why my wife and I had to suffer. I had 11 broken ribs and a perforated lung. My wife had a badly fractured shoulder. Over and over, I asked myself, why should this happen to us? I had work to do, after all; there are patients waiting for me to operate on them. My wife had a young baby who needed to care.

My father, had he still been alive, would, I know, have given short shift to my petulant questioning. He would have said: "My son, it's God's will. That's the way God test you. Suffering ennobles you - makes you a better person."

But, as a doctor, I see nothing noble in a patient's thrashing around in a sweat-soaked bed, mind clouded in agony. Nor can I see any nobility in the crying of a lonely child in a ward at night.

I had my first introduction to the suffering of children when I was a little boy. One day my father showed me a half-eaten, moldy biscuit with two tiny tooth marks in it. And he told me about my brother, who had died several years earlier. He told me about the suffering of this child, who had been born with an abnormal heart problem, but in those days they didn't have sophisticated heart surgery. And this moldy biscuit was the last biscuit my brother had eaten before his death.

As a doctor, I always found the suffering of children particularly heartbreaking - especially because of their total trust in doctors and nurses. They believe you are going to help them. If you can't, they accept their fate. They go through mutilating surgery, and afterward they don't complain.

One morning, several years ago, I witnessed what I call the Grand Prix of Cape Town's Red Cross Children's Hospital. It opened my eyes to the fact that I was missing something in all my thinking of suffering - something basic that was full of solace for me.

What happened there that morning was that a nurse had left a breakfast trolly unattended. And very soon this trolly was commandeered by an intrepid crew of two - a driver and a mechanic. The mechanic provided motor power by galloping along behind the trolley with his head down, while the driver, seated on the lower deck, held on with one hand and steered by scraping his foot on the floor. The choice of roles was easy, because the mechanic was totally blind and the driver had only one arm.

They put on quite a show that day. Judging by the laughter and the shouts of encouragement from the rest of the patients, it was much better entertainment than anything anyone puts on at Indianapolis. There was a grand finale of scattered plates and silverware before the nurse and ward sister caught up with them, scolded them and put them back to bed.

Let me tell you about these two. The mechanic was all of seven years old. One night, when his mother and father were drunk, his mother threw a lantern at his father, missed and the lantern broke over the child's head and shoulders. He suffered severe third-degree burns on the upper part of his body, and lost both of his eyes. At the time of the Grand Prix, he was a walking horror, with a disfigured face and a long flap of skin hanging from the side of his neck to his body. As the wound healed around his neck, his lower jaw became gripped in a mass of fibrous tissue. The only way this little boy could open his mouth was to raise his head. When I stopped by to see him after the race, he said, "You know, we won." He was laughing.

The trolley's driver I knew better. A few years earlier I had successfully closed a hole in his heart. He had returned to the hospital because he had a malignant tumor of the bone. A few days before the race, his shoulder and arm were amputated. There was little hope of recovering. After the Grand Prix, he proudly informed me that the race was a success. The only problem was that the trolley's wheels were not properly oiled, but he was a good driver, and he had full confidence in the mechanic.

Suddenly, I realized that these two children had given me a profound lesson in getting on with the business of living. Because the business of living is joy in the real sense of the word, not just something for pleasure, amusement, recreation. The business of living is the celebration of being alive.

I had been looking at suffering from the wrong end. You don't become a better person because you are suffering; but you become a better person because you have experienced suffering. We can't appreciate light if we haven't known darkness. Nor can we appreciate warmth if we have never suffered cold. These children showed me that it's not what you've lost that's important. What is important is what you have left.

This story reminded me afresh that it is more helpful for me to focus on what I still have and to use them for God's glory and benefit of others, instead of dwelling on what I may have lost or are loosing due to bipolar. I am learning, by God's grace, to look beyond my bipolar. I am learning to manage bipolar as best I can by looking to God and using all the helps available prayerfully, so that I can be more functional and useful. I pray that God will enable me to use whatever strength, time and ability I have to serve Him, His people and the society at large.

Recently, Michelle too shared that although she may have health issues but she can still do a lot. She prefers to think of us as "differently-abled" rather than disabled. I like the word "differently-abled". Yes, we may have health issues or other physical infirmities, we have our limitations and our downtime may be more than others, but we are not disabled. We are "differently-abled". We do still have our gifts and talents just like everyone else. We can use them to the best of our ability and live a useful and meaningful life, to God's glory.

I am reminded also of what I learned in my Catechism Class :

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Question 1: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God,a and to enjoy Him for ever.b

a 1 Cor 10:31; Rom 11:36; b Ps 73:25-28; Rev 7:15

  • EQ 1(a) What is meant by the chief end of man?

A. The chief end of man refers firstly to the divine purpose for man’s existence and secondly to what man ought to aim at in his life and therefore that which he should seek after as his chief good and happiness.

  • EQ 1(b) What does it mean to glorify God?

A. To glorify Him does not mean to give God any additional glory since he is eternally and infinitely perfect and glorious.a What it means is to manifest God’s glory in our lives.b When we worship and acknowledge God in sincere praise and thanksgiving, we glorify him.c Similarly, when we sincerely endeavour, in our actions, at all times and in all situations, to exalt God’s name and to promote the interest of His kingdom in the world, we glorify Him.d

P. a"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). b"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet 2:9). c"Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me" (Ps. 50:23a; cf. Heb 13:5). d"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31).

Read more .....

  • EQ 1(g) What does it mean to enjoy God?

A. To enjoy God, is to rest in God and to delight in Him.

P. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever" (Ps 73:25-26).

EQ 1(h) How do we enjoy God in this life?

A. In this life, we enjoy God when we taste of His goodness and experience His special love for us which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This happens especially as we commune with Him in prayer, in the reading of His Word, in beholding His creation, and in contemplating His providence.

P. "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." (Ps 34:8). "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom 5:5).

  • EQ 1(i) How do we enjoy God hereafter?

A. Our present enjoyment of God will be perfected seeing that we will be glorified, hindered by sin no more, and admitted into heaven where we shall see Christ face to face, to rest in Him and experience a full sense of His love. Our enjoyment and delight in God will be perfect and inconceivable then.

P. "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps 16:11b); "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Heb 4:9).

  • EQ 1(j) Why is the glorifying of God and the enjoyment of God joined together as one chief end of man?

A. Because God has so designed man that the very means of enjoying God is to glorify Him.

P. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God" (Ps 50:23). "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom 11:36).

(Read more ..... from my Pastor's short commentaries on the Westminter Shorter Catechism)

May we, by the grace of God, look beyond our weaknesses and limitations, and look to God alone whose grace is sufficient for us, whose love is unchanging and to whom we belong. May His love and faithfulness be our joy and strength daily. May He enable us to live for His glory and enjoy Him here and for all eternity!

I took picture of this beautiful Rose at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying,
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee
Jeremiah 31:3

China vs USA

Here is an interesting comparison from a Lithuanian "Guy" in China, in the comment field of a blog I stumbled upon.
  • Hello Nick,
    I’m Lithuanian. I lived for a fairly long time in the US (Minnesota and Massachusetts) and now I live in China.
    The similarities between the two countries are downright scary. (Especially visible here in the American-inspired, newly-built, fast-living city of Shenzhen.)
    1) Large-scale economic migration (though Americans don’t call that half of their nation that changes house every two years “migrant workers”, that’s basically what they are).
    2) Over-reliance on trucks and cars (though the Chinese seem to be getting a little, just a little smarter with their railways). Governments of both countries arguably care little about the environment.
    3) Cultural insularity - near impossible to make a friend in China without speaking some dialect of Chinese (preferably putonghua). And you just try to live in the US without speaking English… Beyond language, both nations tend to view themselves as, ahem, simply superior. (Because by and large, both have ill-defined inferiority complexes. Americans are often defensive when they compare themselves with Europe, and the Chinese… with America - )
    4) Both the US and China have bafflingly large populations immune to reason. I won’t say anything about the US apart from reminding you to read Nick’s previous editorial. China: just think that most Chinese are not even aware there is censorship in their country. Just… wow.
    5) Lack of social safety nets. Culture of fear quite visible in both countries (though for vastly different reasons). Health care and pensions (I mean mostly lack thereof) give headaches to both Chinese and Americans.
    6) Geographic size. The surface of China is almost precisely that of America (though the landscape is hugely different).
    7) Gated communities for the rich. (And in China, increasingly, the middle class - which is of course vastly richer than the people living on under a dollar a day.) Oh, the joys of life behind armed guards!
    8) Patriotism, support for the army. The Chinese think their army is, ahem, “pure”. I am kidding you not, this is the word they most often use to describe the PLA. Pure.
    As to America, a more flag-waving country there will never be.
    9) Cut-throat capitalism. (Though to be honest the Chinese labor market is similar to the one America had in the 19th century… not now.)
    10) Astounding hypocrisy with regard to sex and mores in both countries. For instance, both the Americans and the Chinese are too virtuous to gamble, that’s why the first only do it in Indian reservations and on rivers, and the second in Macau I won’t even talk about sex ed (Though, again, the US is subject to strong regional variations and China’s cities are light-years away from the hinterlands).
    And lest you think I am a sour European:
    11) People from both nations tend to be hospitable and quite sweet. All you need to do is shout “China is the best”! or “USA no 1″! and you are treated to endless rounds of beer or bai jiu! Then business is going very, very well - it’s amazing!
    I find both nations endlessly and hopelessly and equally weird, but I’m quite fond of both… and their quaint little ways.
    kind regards,a Lithuanian
    — Posted by Guy in China

As for the owner of that blog, this is part of his resume, "...He's also one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the Axis of Evil. ..." Huh? Axis of Evil? :)

Anyway, here is my take

  1. Migration in US is perhaps because it is a 'big' country; for China, a bit articificial/temperal because of the economic special zone (the average distance of migration has significantly shortened in the last few years, when the Sichuan girl is not able to find work in Chengdu, instead of Shenzhen, resulting in (cheap) labour shortage in the sweatshops in Guangdong
  2. May I also add mega-stores (Wal-marts!) on top of car
  3. "insularity" is common to 'big' countries, I guess. But I am sure there is more Chinese who speak English than American who speak Chinese :)
  4. True. Though I would like to argue that it is unfair to use total number as a measure. Perhaps in terms of % population they are on par with the Lithuanians
  5. Hmm... social safety net. Nice observation. I know this but never really make the comparison. Perhaps this is related to #9 below
  6. China = dry + dry + wet; USA = wet + dry + wet. Geographically, USA is like China with an Ocean to its west, hence twice as much of arable land
  7. I saw walled community in Shanghai. But urban China is a much much safer place than the US (Inner city, I mean)
  8. Agree
  9. Couldn't agree more. They are both the most capitalistic countries in this world
  10. This one is even nicer observation. Chinese gamble in Las Vegas and American find sex in Shanghai!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pens v Rangers (W 3-1)

This is a hockey blog; specifically, it is a Sidney Crosby blog. Normally I like to keep all the things I write here related to Sid or his team, but I thought I should start today's recap out with an explanation of why I may seem out of sorts or slow to respond to my emails or just generally not quite myself for the last recaps of this season: This past Friday, after a normal night at my house with my husband and our four dogs, our nearly 13-year-old Chocolate Lab, Bentley, suddenly went into respiratory failure at around 9:00pm. We had him at the local vet literally less than 15 minutes after the episode started only to be told that he had a mass in his chest. It could only be one of 2 things - a tumor or a problem with his esophagus. If it was a tumor, there was nothing that could be done. If it was the esophagus thing, there was a slim chance that he could be "saved," but he would have lived the rest of his days in a kennel at the vet's office with a feeding tube and getting oxygen treatments. He was quite obviously in pain, and his prognosis in either scenario was grim. After careful consideration, we made the awful decision to bring him peace. I know he was an Old Man, but he was a good dog and will be sorely missed.

My beautiful Bentley
07/31/1995 - 03/28/2008

Today's game was the NBC Game of the Week. Pierre McGuire interviewed Sid to start the game. The Saint basically said that he's not worried about developing chemistry with Marian Hossa because Hossa is so easy to play with. Early on, Sean Avery and Scott Gomez had a little give and go play that resulted in Hal Gill taking a holding penalty. On the ensuing Rangers power play, Evgeni Malkin refused to let Jaromir Jagr have the puck. He and Hossa went sailing down the ice 2-on-3. Geno passed the puck to Hossa, who had a fantastic scoring chance, but Henrik Lundqvist made a great save to prevent it. Then, Brandon Dubinsky went hard to the net as Jagr fired a shot from the blue line. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Jagr's shot, but Dubinsky was there to capitalize on the rebound for the power play goal. [Pens 0, Rangers 1]

Then Hossa made an unreal move - the only way I could come close to describing it was that it was kind of like a drop pass to himself. What a player! Big Georges Laraque drilled a guy into the boards in a clear demonstration that the game was about to get more physical. Tyler Kennedy followed suit and drilled another Ranger shortly thereafter. Geno was all over Jagr like white on rice (← where does that expression even come from?!). Then Sid set up an amazing play. From the far corner, he centered a pass that was intended for Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis was unable to get a shot on it as he was surrounded by Rangers, but the puck hit his skate and went right to Hossa, who streaked in from behind. Hossa sniped the puck right past Lundqvist. [Pens 1, Rangers 1]

On the very next play, Petr Prucha took a penalty for roughing, but the Pens couldn't capitalize on their advantage. Later, we could actually hear Sid tweaking after an icing call because it was more than clear that Sid had touched the puck first. After a couple of Rangers near misses, they turned the puck over to Geno, who headmanned the puck to Ryan Malone. As he rushed the goal, Bugsy was hooked by Fedor Tyutin. On the ensuin Pens power play, Sid made a sweet pass to Hossa, but Lundqvist shut the door on Hossa's shot. Then Sid powered his way through all four Rangers only to be slashed by Fredrik Sjostrom in the process. This gave the Pens more than 30 seconds with a 2-man advantage. Geno fired shot after shot after shot. It seemed like he was setting up each of the Pens on the ice with him with awesome scoring chances that they couldn't get past Lundqvist, which included a redirect attempt from Sid on one knee. Finally, Geno took matters into his own hands and blasted a shot that popped Lundqvist's waterbottle up in the air. [Pens 2, Rangers 1] Sid earned a second assist from this goal because he sent the puck to Sergei Gonchar, who then passed the puck to Geno for the powerful shot.

The goal came with just a few seconds left on the 5-on-3, so the Pens had almost 90 seconds left on their power play, but they didn't score another goal. With only :04.3 seconds left, Flower made a key save to keep the Pens in the lead as they went to the second period.

Forty seconds into the second period, Hossa was given a penalty for hooking. Bugsy and Jordan Staal were beasts on the penalty kill, and the Rangers were unable to score. The Pens' 4th line (Laraque, Jarrko Ruutu, and Mad Max Talbot) along with defenders Kris Letang and Daryl Sydor had an amazing shift. They were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for several minutes. The crowd was so impressed that they gave the men a standing ovation. As he went to the bench, Ruutu was involved in a little physicality with Dan Girardi that resulted in a broken nose, but he's so tough that he didn't miss any ice time because of it.

Just a note - those Verizon "Hockey Fans Aren't Like Other Fans" commercials are pretty funny. The last one showed a new dad beating on the nursery glass and yelling that his baby was the best baby in the hospital. The new one had a woman in a French maid costume sprinkling white rose petals on a bed. She calls her husband and tells him to come into the room. He bursts in dressed as a Flyers goalie, and she looks at him like he's nuts. He says, "What? You said fantasy! Let's do this!"

The Pens got a ton of chances, but the Rangers made a ton of blocks. Jordan got away with a hit from behind on Gomez. Then something frightening happened to Geno. He and Dubinsky got tied up in the corner. Geno went down, and Dubinsky kept playing and in the process, kicked Geno in the back of the head then dragged his skate over Geno's neck and face. Unbelievably, play was not stopped as Geno writhed around. He got up and ripped off his helmet and made his way over to the bench. The trainers took him to the locker room for medical assistance. Meanwhile, seeing their superstar super-scorer getting injured did not sit well with the rest of the Pens. The Pens' physicality amped up. After being hit hard by Christian Backman, Sidney gave Backman three hard cross checks. The Pens ended up drawing a penalty not on Backman but on Jagr for hooking. Predictably, as the play was whistled down, a fight broke out between the teams. Backman said something to Sid, and Sid crosschecked him again. Backman went after Sid. Letang rushed in to defend his captain from the onslaught of other Rangers. It ended up that Letang and Marc Staal were involved in the worst fight, with Letang taking his former Team Canada World Juniors teammate Staal down pretty easily.

After the dust settled, the Pens ended up with a power play, but they were unable to even get a shot during their advantage. More nastiness from both sides came. Our man Sid gave Martin Straka a crosscheck, and the Rangers' bench went wild. With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Jordan drew an interference penalty on Michal Rozsival. During the Pens' advantage, Ryan Whitney (playing left wing again) had a little issue with Brendan Shanahan. Whit hit Shanahan, who went down. As he was down in the corner, Shanahan held onto Whit's arm - out of view of the refs. Whit found a way to get out of it, though, when he pushed on Shanahan's head and knocked his helmet off. The period ended with the same score as the end of the first period.

The third period began with Geno coming back to the ice after receiving 10 stitches. (WHEW!!!) Dubinsky was seen chatting with Geno and tapping Geno with his stick. Hopefully it was an apology. Rozival was still in the box for about 10 seconds. The Pens were again held shotless on their power play. A little after he got back on the ice, Rozival just missed a wide open net as the puck slid through the blue paint while MAF was down. Jagr was prevented from getting to the puck to push it over the goal line by the Pens' defensemen. We were told that Sid was mic'd up again today. They played a few clips of him repeatedly yelling, "Hey, hey, hey!" to his teammates. The best clip was of Sid telling the linesman, "I like my job better, for sure!" after the erroneous icing call.

Hossa passed the puck to Sid, who was highsticked by Gomez on the rush. McGuire (who was broadcasting from between the benches), Mike "Doc" Emrick, and Eddie Olczyk all quickly came to the conclusion that Sid had faked it and sold the refs on it. Dubinsky yelled from the bench to Sid, "Faker!" to which Sidney just laughed in response. The Pens didn't score (or get even a single shot) on their allegedly ill-gotten advantage.

As NBC returned from the next commercial break, McGuire had to eat a big plate of crow as he told us that Sid made his way down the bench and asked him point blank, "Did you say I embellished that?" McGuire said it on live national television, so it wasn't as if he could deny it. He owned up and said yes only to be shown the black marks on Sid's mouthguard that came from the tape on the blade of Gomez's stick as it clipped him in the teeth. SUCK ON THAT!!! It's too bad for Sidney. It seems like everyone - even the "unbiased" journalists - buys into that "diver" crap.

The Pens 4th line had another amazing shift, but Lundqvist just wouldn't let them score. Jordan drew yet another penalty, this time it was on Straka for tripping. The Pens finally started getting pucks on net for this power play, but Lundqvist made a series of great saves to keep his team in the game. At right about the 6:00 mark, insanity ensued. A break in the action came only when Letang took a crosschecking penalty. This time, the Pens kept the Rangers shotless on this Rangers power play.

With :46 seconds left in the game, Lundqvist was focussed solely on getting back to the bench so the Rangers could add an extra attacker. He was apparently too focussed on that because he missed catching the puck but moved his feet to play the puck and escape as though he had. I don't know if he realized that he didn't have the puck because he suddenly froze. Max swooped in and poked the loose puck into the back of the net for the insurance goal. [Pens 3, Rangers 1]

Paul Mara took a holding penalty in the last 20 seconds of the game, but the Rangers had already lost the game. With this win, the Pens are perched atop the entire Eastern Conference! These teams go at it again tomorrow night in Madison Square Garden at 7:00pm. GO PENS!!!

Postmortem of Taiwan election

Just as I had thought, according to Ma's aide Su Junbin (English translated by ESWN)
  • The extremist/fundamentalist (i.e deep greeen and deep blue) had already made up their mind. It was the moderates who were swayed. Actually, not just be swayed into voting, but also into NOT voting
  • 苏俊宾:我们的支持率其实没有上升,因为讨厌庄国荣的人本来就支持我们,他讲了更令人讨厌的话,对我们来讲没有任何帮助。
  • Q. Six days before the election, Ministry of Education Secretary-General Chuang Kuo-jung used foul language at a Hsieh-Su rally. Even the normally intransigent Hsieh-Su campaign headquarters issued an apology. The media believed that this incident affected the Hsieh-Su campaign. After the election, certain pan-green voters thought that Chung Kuo-jung and Chen Shui-bian were the culprits for the election loss. According to the KMT internal polls, how many percentage points did Ma-Siew get as a result of Chung Kuo-jung?
  • A. Our support level did not rise, because all those who detest Chuang Kuo-jung are our supporters already. Even if he said something worse, it would not have helped us.
  • Q. That is to say, the Chuang Kuo-jung affair had no impact?
  • A. There was an impact. While our support level did not rise, the Hsieh-Su support level fell by 2% because even the greens found it intolerable. The Hsieh-Su support level was low to begin with, and this made it even lower. The Chuang Kuo-jung enabled us to defend our territory and ensure that they cannot attack us. Therefore, Chuang Kuo-jung made a contribution.
  • It was the economy, stupid. And it was the China market that matters the economy, stupid!
  • “民进党过去八年来的两岸政策是封锁的,它没有办法解决中层的问题,导致台湾没有办法跟韩国、日本、新加坡去竞争,它们跟大陆的经贸是正常的,我们则是有重重限制的。在这样的前提下,我们当然想改变。所以我们的一个议题抵得上他们20个议题,最后从选票也可以反映出来。”
  • DPP was caught with surprise and become inconsistent at Ma's reaction to Tibet. When you got inconsistent and put aside your values and your principles at an all out offense, you lose (take heed, pan-Dem in HK!)
  • 过去民进党政府抵制奥运圣火到台,民视、三立电视台等亲绿的媒体都拍手鼓励。TVBS跟其他的媒体则讲:政治归政治,体育归体育。但是这次马英九发表声明之后,三立电视台就错乱了,他们开始讲“政治归政治,体育归体育”了
  • 所以那天很有意思的,过去民进党政府抵制奥运圣火到台,民视、三立电视台等亲绿的媒体都拍手鼓励。TVBS跟其他的媒体则讲:政治归政治,体育归体育。但是这次马英九发表声明之后,三立电视台就错乱了,他们开始讲“政治归政治,体育归体育”了。当你听到民进党和亲绿的媒体也在讲“体育跟政治分离”的时候,你就知道他们无法操弄“统独”意识了。我们把它逼到理性那里,有什么不好?我们把它逼回正轨,它就无法操纵了。选举最怕什么?最怕情感。投票是个感情的动作,是个情绪的动作。而现在,它要挑战我们,它必须理性。在这种情况之下,很简单就达到了我们想要的效果。

Good lesson for HK. Particularly the last point.

We are more than conquerors through him that loved us

Thank God for the joy and privilege of worship and fellowship again today. Every such opportunity is always very refreshing and uplifting.

Today's worship particularly lifted up my spirit as I was very tired and stressed up yesterday. Thank God for the comfort of His Words and the assurance that He is able to still any storms in my life. My Pastor shared many encouraging portions from the Word of God. But one verse he referred to especially cheered my heart. It was from Romans 8 verse 37:

".... we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37

My Pastor encouraged us that though we have many difficulties in this life, we are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ who loved us. He has come to live, suffered and died for us. He has conquered and is conquering. His grace is sufficient for me. Thank God for strengthening my heart through this reminder!

My Pastor also printed in our church bulletin his very encouraging sharing from Psalm 42 on "The righteous one in his weariness, looking up". My Pastor shared:

One of the things which I learn from this psalm, for example, is to talk to my soul when I am depressed.

David does that in verse 5—

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Notice that I said: “Talk to my soul,” not “talk with my soul.” When you are depressed, you must not talk with your soul. If you do that you will spiral further into depression. You must rather talk to your soul. David, under inspiration, shows us how. Ask your soul why you are cast down. No, no; don’t wait for an answer. That would be to talk with your soul. When you ask your soul why he is cast down, you must ask in a way that suggests that he has no good reason to be cast down! Then exhort your soul to hope in God, to believe Him that help is nigh and He will soon lift up His countenance upon you.
I am learning to talk to my soul and exhort it to hope in God :)

A friend also reminded me that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).

Michelle's hugs gave me a lot of warmth from the Lord :)

Thank God that no matter what we may have to go through in this life, we can have the assurance of His love and presence with us. We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us and we are more than conquerors through Him. What a comfort and encouragement to me! Thank God.

I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Tibet mystery - updated

Read this WaPo story. The conspiracy theorists tried to extract information from this as well.

I had been pondering about this, pundita spelled out most the mysteries I had been trying to write (though I do not necessarily agree with his theory) (update: now pudita has more conspiracy theories out. IMHO he is pushing it too far. ESWN has a post that refuted some of the 'evidence'/'photo' he quoted. see below for more (in red fonts))
  • There's just one problem with those images: they don't document the protest marches in Lhasa that took place on March 10 and 11, and yet those were the key protests -- the biggest in almost 20 years in Tibet.

  • But when it came to reporting on the peaceful attempt to march on March 10 and a smaller attempt on the next day, news organizations and websites outside Tibet had to rely on anecdotes. The wording used by Reuters news and the Phayul Tibetan website to describe the attempts at peaceful protest marches is typical of the game of blind man's bluff that news organizations were forced to play: "Radio Free Asia cited a source as saying..." "According to sources within Tibet..."(8)(9)

  • But if activists inside and outside Tibet had years to prepare for a historic protest march in Lhasa, and if the monks had been waiting almost 20 years to stage a mass protest, where was the network to record the attempted march and the inevitable crackdown by the authorities?

-- via ESWN

Pundita, refuting many of the wild guess/speculation/conspiracy theories, reached his own conclusion, which seems quite plausible (and if that is true, Hu has really mastered the media war against the D.L./TYL 'clique')

  • So, following Ruan's attempt to explain how Hu done it is very frustrating, yet this doesn't mean the gist of his accusation is wrong. There is still not much to go on, but from the mosaics available so far, a highly suspicious pattern has emerged:

  • Draconian measures were used to halt all peaceful demonstrations by the Tibetan monks in Lhasa, while no measures were taken to halt Tibetan rioting against Lhasa's Han Chinese and Hui Muslims -- not until after the rioting was clearly fizzling out and widespread damage had been done to Han businesses.And unlike Ruan,

  • I think there is indication to suggest that the "spontaneous expressions of resentment" in Lhasa got big help. The same kind of help made famous by Soviet Communist Party bosses under orders from Moscow to turn East European democracy marches into deadly mob violence

My take is that there is some truth in this, but seems too seamless. I highly doubt if Hu (or his incompetent bureacrats in Tibet) can engineer such a complicated 'coup'. Much more likely, though, is that things happened, and went out of control, there was not sufficient police force, there are some militants/planned among the Tibetans, and when Hu/etc saw the riot going bad, they decided to let it on its own path for a while (knowing this presents a golden chance to win the media war), while waiting for reinforcement to ensure they won't have to fire in the crack down.

A variation to this may be some under-cover may have discovered certain faction with the "general clique" are planning something. Hu/etc then decided to give them a free hand (while confining the monks in Jokhang). The Ruan story is not credible. Ruan comes from the C-C.P himself, these people are not very rigorous when it comes to claims and rumours. You may remember there have been wide-spread rumours about army mutiny in Sixth month of 19-8-9. In fact, perhaps 99 out of 100 rumours from the ex-C-C.P informants turn out to be false.

This is why I advocate the government to pay full compensation to the victims, and what I meany by "毕竟国家在那两天与蔵= 独势力的公关战中选择了牺牲他们" (Update: China took the heed)


More comments about Pundita

  • Pundita also claimed the the notorious ET was among the "first" to report SARS in 2003, he wa TOTALLY wrong. I was in HK then, HK media reported that at least a few weeks prior to ET. ET just recycled it
  • Regarding the PAP around the temples prior to March 14. IT was quite clear that they tried to confine the monks there, perhaps believin they were the leaders and confining the leaders means the stopping the mob, largely. What they did not expect is that there are more monks, from elsewhere (or some of the major temple monks were outside). The stories of the Johkang monks told the western reporters last week are consistent with this explanation
  • The line of police blocked has been photoed and reported by Kadfly long ago
  • White scarfs were needed to identify the shops/houses. The mob includes some Tibetans from outside Tibet for sure. Even Tibetans in Lhasa are not able to remember every single shop especially when they pulled down the gates. Pundita himself became a conspiracy theorist when he made that scarf 'expalnation' (our views diverge from that post)

  • Finally, if C-C.P really want to 'stage' this. All it needs to do is to arrest a few monks, spread some rumours to incite discontent. It does not need to go into such 'conspiracy' length, assuming such degree of widespread discontent among the mob. On the other hand, if there is no such discontent, do you really believe a few agents can create such a scene?

Having said all these, if one believes in the (indirect) account from WaPo and the Phoenix TV reporter Chen Lin, then there were indeed someone who organized the riot (it was not "spontaneous). And these people are Tibetans from outside Lhasa. Though it is unclear whether they are exile Tibetan, or Tibetans from the countryside, or C-C.P spies in disguise.

Mysterious symbols on most of the burnt shops in Lhasa (source: Chen Lin's blog)

Youtube shooting its own feet

Not sure if this is related to the T-related media war, youtube has disabled search by rating or by view count. (some commentators say it is about artificial view counts of those scientology mockers, others said it is the big "do evil" google strategy of controlling the way we search with their critera, i.e."relevance" )

But here are the temporary fixes, as youtube will soon close these loopholes. Longer term fix should be to bring competition to youtube, tudou/etc are well positioned to take this role, unfortunately the PRC censorship means they have to forgo this golden opportunity.

  • 1) ***MOST VIEWED****
    To Search by MOST VIEWED, SAVE THIS BOOKMARK and REPLACE the word "KEYWORDS" with your search term (i have inserted a 'return' to make them appear on the blog:[KEYWORDS]


    3) ***BY VIEW COUNT****(diff than most viewed)
    To Search by VIEW COUNT, SAVE THIS BOOKMARK, and REPLACE the word "KEYWORDS" with your search term:[KEYWORDS]

The stiller of my soul

This afternoon, I felt very tired and rather stressed by certain things that have happened, and I felt rather down subsequently. I just couldn't seemed to think clearly and have to go to rest and just stopped whatever I was doing. I poured out my heart to God in prayers, telling Him how tired and afraid I felt. I know He cares for me and all things are under His control.

Sometimes the future seemed so uncertain. Others seemed to think that I am thinking too much of bipolar that maybe it will help if I just don't think about it and do something else. But how can they understand that bipolar is a part of me and to some extend my strong enemy. Unless I understand bipolar and how it is affecting me, I will be overcome and I will feel very helpless again.

I am still learning to manage my condition. I do still have much trouble learning to manage my body and mind. Whenever I am better, I am usually a little manic. Recently, I have been having more energy and doing more things. I am thankful to God that I can serve Him in small ways and these bring great joy to me to know that I can still serve our Lord and be useful despite my condition.

But I do still have much problem coping with stress and strain. As my body and mind doesn't quite synchronize, by the time I am conscious of it, my body and mind becomes too tired. I seemed to be experiencing the effect of it now. I have tried hard to slow down but still feel very very tired daily. I do get stressed up rather easily now. I fear these are symptoms that my condition is worsening. I pray that God may enable me to rest in Him daily and seek His grace to cope, and not in my own strength.

How I love to go to the beach and watch the seas and the waves. Somehow they have such a calming effect on me. I am reminded always that God Who creates the heaven and the earth, the sea and the waves, is caring for me daily. No matter what storms I may experience in this life, He is with me and His grace is sufficient for me. He Who still the storms for His disciples, can calm any storms in my life. How I look to Him Who loved me and gave His life for me!

Augustine said in his famous Confessions, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord." Truly, it is in God that I found rest for my soul.

I took this photo and video of the waves at t East Coast Beach, Singapore.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thank you Mr Tusk, we have one more ticket!

1) It was said that the Olympic principle is for the people, not politics. Yet many politicians were invited to attend the Olympics. This is against the Olympic principle

2) A few western politicians are talking about not attending the Olympic, for whatever reason (Tibet, human right, anti-China, anti-C.C-P, or anti-Chinese people, pick one). Polish Premier Donald Tusk is the first one of them, though it is unclear if there is follower. (Czech Havel is also not going, for "personal reason")

3) I am glad that Mr Tusk is not going. Because, after all, he should not have been there. Nor should any of these politicians, western or Chinese. Their coming have made the Olympic opening ceremony such a scarce commodity, expensive and impossible to buy

4) Their absence will leave the tickets available to the people, Chinese or foreigner, which are what the Olympic is truly for

5) The Chinese goverment should not have sent out teh invitation for these politicians from the outset. The Olypmpic committtees of various countries should have reserved the tickets for the people, not their own politicians

Finally, since the Ollympic is for the people of the world. And that this year China (as a country) is hosting it. The chinese people (at least the overwhelming majority) believe they are hosting it. The government is organising it. So if you have issue with the government (so do we the people), take it up with it, and do not send your politicians there. Fine with us.
But the people, the shop owners, taxi drviers, average citizens believe they are the hosts themselves, as far as we can hear from the street. So boycotting the Olympic is also boycotting the Chinese people, not just the governement (which are different concepts).

However, it is consistent with the Olympic that politicians should be left out of the Olympic. So thank you Mr. Tusk, for leaving your dirty politics out of the Olympic, and leaving one more tickets to us tourists.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

Yesterday, I shared about how God's presence and His Words have been a comfort to me in my struggles with severe depression in bipolar disorder. Even though at times due to severe depression in which my brain was not able to receive the appropriate messages and I could not think or feel aright, God is still with me, He sustains me through very difficult, painful and lonely experiences and I found comfort from Psalm 130 in which I am reminded that as I cried unto the Lord from the depths of the pit I was in, the Lord will deliver me. Thank God for His mercies and faithfulness that usually after 3 or 6 months of such sufferings, the Lord delivered me and the chemical in my brain were restored, I am once again able to enjoy prayers, reading the Bible, public worship, fellowship, my family, my friends, my work, my hobbies, etc etc.

Jenalexa commented that she is glad to hear that I know in the deepest part of my heart, God loves me and I know he is there no matter what mood state I am in. She felt that this is a great testimony to others who suffer with depressive states and feel judged or condemned while in that condition.

Paula said she too finds it very difficult to enjoy things during depression. Then, she feels guilty for that and it just makes her feel worse. Thank God that He understand everything about us, even though we often don't understand ourself. She found that it's when she just let go and cry to God from the depths of her heart that she finds the most release.

It is sad that sometimes Christian are condemned for going through severe depression even when the nature of it is biological or due to a mood disorder. It is a mercy that God understands and allows this thorn in our flesh for His glory and our good. And He loves and cares for us, sustains and delivers us in His time.

Dr David P Murray did 6 very encouraging and information videos on "Depression and the Christian". In his first message on "Depression and the Christian : The Crisis", he spoke about the impact depression will have our spiritual life:

"We might say that there are three main elements in our make-up that affect our overall well-being: our body, our soul, and our mind (our thoughts). These are not three watertight and disconnected entities. There is considerable overlap and connectivity. When our body breaks down, it affects our spiritual life and our thinking processes. When our spiritual life is in poor condition, our thoughts are affected, and often our bodily health and functions also. It is therefore no surprise that when our mental health is poor, when our thinking processes go awry, that there are detrimental physical and spiritual consequences.

The depressed believer cannot concentrate to read or pray. He doesn’t want to meet people and so may avoid church and fellowships. He often feels God has abandoned him.

Moreover, it is often the case that faith, instead of being a help, can actually cause extra problems in dealing with depression. There is, for instance, the false guilt associated with the false conclusion, “Real Christians don’t get depressed.” There is also the usually mistaken tendency to locate the cause of mental illness in our spiritual life, our relationship with God, which also increases false guilt and feelings of worthlessness."

How true that we often mistakenly thought that our depression is due to something wrong in our relationship with God, which increases false guilt and feelings of worthlessness. The truth is for those of us with mood disorders such as bipolar or major depression, our depression is due to some chemical imbalance in our brain which cause our brain not able to send or receive appropriate messages. We can't think or feel aright generally, including spiritually.

And sometimes, sadly, our conditions can be made worst by others, even our loved ones and friends, who do not understand what we are going through and simply accused us of not trusting in God, etc etc. It is particularly difficult for Christians as we get blamed excessively for sin and lack of trust in God when we are in fact trusting in God despite our pains and sufferings, and looking to Him for mercies and deliverance.

Dr David P Murray also spoke about this widespread misunderstanding on depression:

“Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.”

As we all know there is a terrible stigma attached to mental illness. This is the result of widespread misunderstanding about its causes, its symptoms, and the “cures” available. Some of the misunderstanding is understandable. Unlike cancer or heart disease or arthritis, there is no scan or test which can visibly demonstrate the existence of depression/anxiety. It is a largely “invisible” disease. We want to be able to point to something and say, “There’s the problem!” When we can’t, we often wrongly conclude, “There is no problem!” Or, if we are Christians, we may, usually wrongly, conclude, “My spiritual life is the problem!”

This misunderstanding is addressed in the excellent book, I’m not supposed to feel like this (a book written by a Christian pastor, a Christian psychiatrist, and a Christian lecturer in psychiatry). Near the beginning of the book, they summarise what they believe and what they do not believe about depression:

“What we believe: We believe that all Christians can experience worry, fear, upset and depression. We also believe that being a Christian does not prevent us or our loved ones from experiencing upsetting and challenging problems such as illness, unemployment, or relationship and other practical difficulties.

What we do not believe; Although at times we all choose to act in ways that are wrong and this can lead to bad consequences for us and for others, we do not see anxiety and depression as always being the result of sin; neither do we

believe that mental health problems are the result of a lack of faith.”

It is absolutely vital for Christians to understand and accept that while mental illness usually has serious consequences for our spiritual life, mental illness is rarely caused by problems in our spiritual life.

Truly, there is still much misunderstandings about depression and bipolar depression even among Christians. It is often ascribed to a weakness in our character, our being too emotional, our lack of faith in God or our sins. There are times when these are true but they are not always so. Thank God that even when we don't understand what we are going through during a severe depression episode due to our mood disorders or other reasons, and others judged or condemn us or misunderstood us, God's love for us remains unchanging and He understands and cares for us. He gives us grace and strength, and delivered us in His time.

Thank God that now my family and friends are more understanding and supportive. I am thankful to God for their love and kindness as they seek to understand my condition and bear with me in my weaknesses and struggles with this chronic mood disorder. I know that at times it can be very difficult, confusing and frustrating for our family, loved ones and friends as they could not understand our behaviours or what we are going through. Thankfully there are many helps available to on how family members and friends can help to understand and care for their loved ones with mood disorder. Thank God for family and friends who cared enough to study depression and how best they can love their loved ones through this condition.

I am thankful to God that He is with me always and He has provided many people who love and accept me, including my many blogging friends! I found that though my flesh and my heart failed at times and others also misunderstood me, God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. What a mercy!

I took picture of these beautiful flowers at the Sentosa Flower exhibition at Sentosa Island, Singapore.

snoop is Going to Game 1!!!


My husband, his best friend, and I will be reuniting the Central PA Winter Classic tour for one more stop this year!!! :) I just got 3 tickets to Playoff Game 1. We'll be sitting in section E31, and here's what our view will be like:

Strictly on a personal note, anyone that knows my husband better tell him to nominate me for wife of the year!!! (Hahaha, just kidding!) If you got tickets, leave a comment and tell us what game and what section you'll be in!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pens v Islanders (W 3-1)Sidney Returns (again)

The Saint was back to his old self again. We finally got a chance to see Sid paired up with Marian Hossa, though the Islanders did everything in their power to break the two up (they eventually succeeded). Just after the opening faceoff, Ryan Malone crashed the net. Josef Vasicek interfered with Bugsy on his way in, which sent him crashing into Wade Dubielewicz. Brooks Orpik contributed early with a sweet diving block on Bill Guerin to keep the game scoreless. Our man Sid drew the first penalty of the night after Richard Park tripped him. On the ensuing power play, Marc-Andre Fleury took a piece of an Islander, but luckily for us, no call was made. The Pens did not capitalize on their advantage. A little later, Evgeni Malkin was blatantly tripped. Amazingly, even though it was so obvious that my Gram probably would have seen it, no call was made. Geno doesn't get mad, though. He gets even: He picked himself back up and just seconds later, he scored a goal (with a little help from Georges Laraque, who muscled an Islander out of the way to make room for Geno's shot). [Pens 1, Isles 0]

On the next play, the Isles tried to buy a penalty after Freddy Meyer lifted Ryan Whitney's stick up and over Dubielewicz's face. (Whit, by the way, was on the left wing again tonight.) A slight scrum ensued, but no penalties were handed out. Geno took the brunt of a hard shot from Bugsy. The puck hit him in the left leg, and he left visibly in pain. He wasn't seriously hurt (thank God) as he returned to the ice for his next shift as usual. Sidney nearly had a breakaway chance, but he was speeding on his skates so fast that he overskated the puck. Whit nearly scored, but Dubie blocked the attempt.

We were told again that Mr. and Mrs. Pascal Dupuis welcomed a baby girl they named Zoe on Monday. Another Penguin couple, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Eaton, also had a baby this week. The Eatons' daughter Adrianna was born this Tuesday. Mazel tav to all the new parents! Then we're told another tidbit of Sid info: despite having missed more than a quarter of this season, he's still tied for 34th place in NHL scoring. Stop for a second and think about how different the Art Ross race would be if Sid had never gotten hurt...

With about 3:30 left in the period, Vasicek sneaked a backhand shot past Flower. [Pens 1, Isles 1] On the next play, Sid was backchecked all the way into the net by Trent Hunter. Then Mad Max Talbot lined up Tim Jackman and absolutely drilled the much larger Jackman into the boards. Dupuis fanned on a chance in the high slot with less than a minute to go in the 1st. In the last 20 seconds of the period, we were given a gift when Guerin fired a shot that hit the post. Then the rebound went right to Sean Bergenheim, who was wide open, but MAF anticipated and gloved his shot nicely. The period ended with the teams tied at one.

At the start of the second, FSN Pittsburgh gave us the following stats: In all the games Sid has been able to play in this season, he's earned 1.37 points per game. Geno has earned 1.32 points per game in all the games he played in this season. Again - stop for a second and think about how different the Art Ross race would be if Sid had never gotten hurt... (>_<) Or don't... It might make your head hurt.

Hossa took a penalty for hitting Radek Martinek in the head. He was assessed a roughing penalty for the infraction. Jordan Staal had a sweet shorthanded chance, but Dubie wouldn't let the puck go past the goal line. The Isles didn't score on their advantage. After Hossa came out of the box, he sped down the ice like a mad man. Martinek backchecked Hossa nicely to prevent him from getting a shot off, but then Geno swooped in from out of nowhere and almost scored, but he just couldn't get it past Dubie.

Then something happened to let us know that Sid was back - I mean really back - this time. He was flying down the ice. The puck was up on its edge and, to get around the Isles' defenders, Sid used the blade of his stick to flip the puck up over Meyer. Then Sid skated around Meyer and regained control of the puck. He just couldn't get a shot on goal, or that would have been one of those highlight reel goals. It was stunning!!!

Jarrko Ruutu took a dumb penalty in the offensive zone for roughing. Luckily, the Isles didn't score on their advantage. After a series of insane chances by Hossa and Geno, Hossa was hip checked low in the legs (it was also a late hit) by Rob Davison. Hossa had a scoring chance after the hit but was unable to fully take advantage of it. After the play was whistled down, the teams went nuts. It was, as they say, a yard sale on the ice. There were gloves and sticks everywhere as Geno went after Hunter and Petr Sykora went after Miroslav Satan. Syko and Satan were in a full on fight, and when the dust finally settled, Syko and Geno went to the box for the Pens, while Satan, Hunter, and Jeff Tambellini were penalized for the Isles. Meanwhile, Hossa left the ice and went down the runway...

On the Pens' power play, Max's stick was held, but no call was made. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. FSN went to commercial, and as they came back, we were shown that Hossa returned to the bench. We were told that he's been wearing a brace on his knee and that it may have needed to be adjusted.

The Pens got another power play after Aaron Johnson took MAF out by plowing into him. Dubie made a great diving stick save on Geno. Hunter lost his stick, and Sid used that to his advantage, but the Pens did not score on this power play. Then, the ref made an awful too many men call on the Pens. Whit served the penalty. Even though it certainly looked like an erroneous call, it ended up working to the Pens' advantage. Ruutu was able to catch the Isles off guard as he chased down an errant pass and went streaking down towards Dubie. Ruutu faked Dubie out and froze him. He was able to go around the back of the cage, come out the other side, go from his backhand to his forehand, and score a beautiful shorthanded goal!!! [Pens 2, Isles 1] The Isles, by the way, were unable to score on their power play.

Jackman slashed Geno. It got by the refs but not by Daryl Sydor. Sydor went after Jackman. The fight was pretty evenly matched, but the edge should go to Jackman, since he landed a few good punches on Sydor and knocked Sydor's helmet off his head. Somehow, Geno also was penalized after the dust settled. He was called for roughing, so the Isles had the power play. Ruutu almost got his second shorthanded goal of the night, but his shot hit the goal post. The Isles didn't score on this power play, either.

With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Davison went after Ruutu and hit him hard. Ruutu called attention to the refs as Davison hit him in the face with his forearm. Ruutu, in turn, was given a penalty for holding while Davison went to the box for roughing. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Sid got 2 early chances, but Dubie stopped them both. Hossa made a beautiful centering pass to Staal, but he couldn't get a shot off. The period ended with the Pens up by a goal.

The third period began with shots of the Dreamworks movie cameras in the Mellon Arena. They were there to shoot the movie “She’s Out of My League.” Producer Jimmie Miller (brother of comic Dennis) used to work at the Mellon back when it was known as the Civic Arena.

There were :42 seconds left in the 4-on-4. Sid passed the puck right to the tape of Martinek, but thankfully, MAF was on his toes and ready to make the save on Martinek's shot. Neither team scored. Hossa must be one of the most unluckiest people in the NHL right now. After taking the blow to his previously injured knee without complication, he was hit in the back of the head from behind by Bergenheim. Hossa went flying and landed hard. As he lay on the ice motionless and trainers rushed to his aid, Orpik went after Bergenheim and Sid went after another Islander (I didn't see who that was). It was another mess, and after the refs regained control, Orpik, Guerin, and Bergenheim went to their respective sin bins. Bergenheim then came out and left the ice due to a cut on his hand. The Pens didn't take advantage of this power play.

Hal Gill set up the play that lead to the insurance goal. He poke checked the puck ahead to Ruutu, who then stretched way out to pass the puck to Laraque for the breakaway. Whether it was intentional or not, Laraque dribbled the puck on the blade of his stick then popped it up and went top shelf to score the goal. [Pens 3, Isles 1] Immediately after the puck went into the net, Dubie jumped up and covered his face (well, his mask anyways) with his hands in disbelief. Laraque's goal celebration was hilarious! He excitedly threw himself into the boards and smashed Martinek in the process.

We were told that Hossa would not be returning because he had sustained an "upper body injury" - whatever that means! (Could they be any more vague?!) Laraque was given a penalty for hooking, but the Isles didn't score on their advantage. Mad Max took one for the team when he sprawled out on the ice to block a shot. The Pens got another power play when Ruutu was tripped by Johnson, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage. Dubie was pulled with 1:10 left in the period. MAF decided to take a chance at scoring a goal, but his shot from behind his own cage hit the back of Orpik, who was defending the front of his own open net. Fortunately, Sergei Gonchar was there to make sure it didn't cross the goal line. Geno missed the empty net on a loooong range shot, and after a few last ditch efforts from the Isles, the game ended with a Penguin victory!!!

Ruutu was the star of the game for sure. He had a career high 3 point game. Sid, meanwhile, was held scoreless. He had 3 shots in 20 shifts. He clocked 20:25 minutes of ice time. He and others later would complain that both teams were struggling because of bad ice. Incidentally, this win puts the Pens atop the Eastern Conference! The Pens face the Isles again on Sunday afternoon. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!