Monday, September 26, 2011

2007 SFU Draft: A look back.

Part one of the final-semester-at-SFU series.

Rewind back a couple years. It's 2007. I've just graduated the horror that was high school, and ready to move on with my life. To where exactly? Hmm, not so sure. UBC didn't want to take me, SFU didn't seem to want to take me either, UVIC didn't even humour me with a response, while Thompson Rivers University and UNBC all seemed too eager to take me in their arts program (to all out there who hasn't heard of these universities, don't worry -- I haven't either*). It was so comical that even the journalism program at Langara didn't want me. Lan-bloody-gara. It was like having my application rejected at the Canadian Alliance of Rejected Outcasts (membership: 1).

Things were looking grim. I was about to be shipped off to Kamloops for university. My math grades were uglier than Piers Morgan's face, I got a 4 in my LPI, and oh look -- Dr. Swain from the counsellor's office screwed something up again. My summer in 2007 would then consist of being employee of the month at T&T supermarket as a busboy. All my Asian relatives would then look at me as an example for their kids: "you see Simon over there? Now he is not in UBC and he's working at T&T everyday. See what happens when you don't work hard enough at school?"

It wasn't until the middle of June when Simon Fraser University sent me an email admitting me to TechOne, which was an "excellent set of first-year courses that will enable you to pursue the degree of your choice at SFU!" (Read: You're not good enough for our Arts and Social Science program, so here's a random program you can play with for a year while we figure out what to do with your sorry ass.)

Fast forward. It's now 2011. I am a 4th year Communication Major and Political Science Minor at SFU about to graduate, and ready to move on with my life. To where exactly? Hmm, not so sure... How things change, eh?

Anyways, in honour of me surviving the past four years at SFU, I'll look back at all the courses I've ever taken -- draft style. Note: This has nothing to do with other mainstream sports drafts whatsoever. No. Especially the logo. This is completely original.

2007 SFU Freshmen Draft.

1st Round (September - December, 2007).

1st pick: Tech 106 -- Spatial Thinking and Communications.
Potential: Not much really -- it's 1 of 4 compulsory courses at TechOne, and the term "spatial thinking" is as vague as it gets. What is it exactly? Something about designing three-dimensional looking cubes and how that could relate to communicating ideas. Erm, yeah.
Reality: As expected, the course was as vague and bizarre as it gets. There was quite an amount of drawing random objects on a computer. The book was thicker than the holy bible but didn't teach me anything useful. We did have to design and build a model for our term project though -- and we came up with a wooden mechanical-esque thingy that allows you to control a guy to hit a Mexican pinata (and yes you're reading this right). Alas, I didn't do much useful compared to my group members. We got an A in the project.
Boom or bust?: Meh.

2nd pick: Tech 114 -- Technology in Everyday Contexts.
Potential: Much like the other one, this was a bit of a mystery to me before I took this course.
Reality: This is still a mystery to me after I took this course. Academic-wise I had no idea what was going on -- the professor just kept on quoting Marshall McLuhan and how "the medium is the message" -- I know, right? I remember playing around on computers a lot. The class was a slack-fest in general -- we just spent time on macs going online and not doing anything, which was sooooo much fun. Ended up with a B+ in the end -- so it can't be too bad.
Boom or bust?: The jury is still out on that one. I can tell you though, it was fun.

3rd pick: IAT 244 -- Digital Photography I.
Potential: Highly-touted, supposedly a super-easy course that talks about something I happen to be moderately good at -- photography. Should be an easy one for me.
Reality: What I hadn't realized is that any courses that's art-related is prone to arguments over artistic interpretation. "I told you already that the design of the lighting is meant to portray the subject in a blah blah blah manner!" "... Meh, I'm giving you a B-." The prof was a nice enough guy, but the TA was from Poland or something and didn't speak English very well. Which made all the arguing much more difficult.
Boom or bust?: Not bad at all, but not that great either.

4th pick: CMNS 110 -- Introduction to Communication Studies.
Potential: Back then -- way before my life was inundated by all the essay writing I've had to do these 4 years at SFU, there was a point when I actually wanted to take journalism as a major. Alas, they don't have journalism at SFU, while UBC offers it as a graduate program. So instead I gave this a shot, and the rest is history.
Reality: The class was fairly basic -- all the theories were learned here, which almost guaranteed a boring class. Not quite so, however, because my professor turned this ship around quickly. Picture an old, bearded 60-ish-year-old guy who dresses like he is a detective from the 1950s. Imagine him as a grumpy person who is mad about everything in the world. Add a couple of "fucks" and "cunts" in his dictionary. Now picture him teach this class. Entertainment value: A+.
Boom or bust?: Actual course grade: B-. But doesn't matter, one of the best classes I've ever taken.

2nd Round: (January - April, 2008)

5th pick: IAT 100 -- Systems of Media Representation.
Potential: High. Everybody kept telling me that it's the easiest class in the world / GPA booster / best class ever / savior of humanity.
Reality: Blurgh. Worst class ever. The prof was a douche. HTML was easy, but then it all turned to shit when they started teaching flash. Colour me defeated. Promised myself that I'd never take another IAT class in my life ever again.
Boom or bust?: Bust.

6th pick: Tech 101W -- Communication, teamwork and process.
Potential: First W course ever taken -- it was meant to be a "writing intensive" course, writing essays were to be expected in this.
Reality: It was writing intensive alright. One essay. One 1000-word essay was as intense as it got. It wasn't much work at all, but they did manage to teach me a little something about researching for papers, which ended up being pretty darn useful for the 9325346 papers I ended up writing the next couple years.
Boom or bust?: Meh (one can't help but be a tad alarmed that most TechOne courses are just a fine collection of adequacy -- you probably won't remember much about it two weeks after you've finished the course)

7th pick: Tech 124 -- Design thinking.
Potential: Supposed to be similar to Tech 114 -- focusing the communication side of things in design.
Reality: Nope, still can't tell you what "communication side of things in design" really is. For our term project, we had to redesign a skytrain station to reflect... Something about Surrey. So I took the Surrey Central Station and turned it into a Hong Kong MTR-esque station, only to find out that my TAs weren't really fond of it. This was about the same time when I stopped liking my TAs. At the end we came up with the design and I named our group "PenIsland" -- and I am not joking -- much to the delight of our TAs.
Boom or bust?: So-so. It was better than all the other Tech courses.

8th pick: CMNS 130W -- Mass Communication.
Potential: After the delight that was CMNS 110, I thought CMNS 130W would be very much the same thing -- fascinating course with tons of fairly useful information. If I do well in this, then I'll be pretty much set as a Communications major at SFU.
Unfortunately, I didn't do very well. As a matter of fact, this course still stands today as the worst class I've performed in (a putrid C). The prof was monotone, the course was boring, it was horribly disorganized, the TAs were harsh markers, and I had my first taste of a truly writing intensive course -- registering 3 essays, 1 presentation, 1 gigantic video project in four months. To give you an idea of how bad everything was, I got an A in the video project. Still I only got a C. After I was done with this course I was scared shitless and was no longer certain whether I wanted to do CMNS anymore.
Boom or bust?:

3rd Round: (May - August, 2008)

9th pick: FAN X99 -- Analytical / Quantitative Reasoning.
Potential: Meh. It's math and I had to take it because of some stupid SFU regulation about me needing to take foundational math courses if I didn't do better than a 70% in math 12. Pfft, who'd do that well anyway? On the bright side, it's the last class in my first year.
It was awesome. It was fun, exciting, and it opened my eyes to new things I hadn't seen before. It's where I met my cousins too -- and I haven't seen them in years. Oh, I am sorry. Are we talking about this shitty course? I thought we're talking about how I took two weeks off from this class to go on a trip to Toronto + Montréal + New York City + Philadelphia + Washington DC.
Boom or bust?:


This concludes my first year.

Coming soon: 2008 SFU Sophomore Draft.

*To the people of the fine towns of Kamloops and Prince George: Please don't kill me. Although even if you do, that's quite some traveling to do just to kill a person, no?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Not a lot of things have gone the way I wanted lately. For one, technology has a vendetta toward me lately it seems -- things have gone wrong with my laptop, my headphones and a game I forked over 60 bucks for. School's started and classes have been less than steller, to be honest. I finally escaped from a long dreadful semester of statistics, only to find myself emerging into a class that talks about geometry and trigonometry. I've spent a lot more time being alone at home as of late and as a result, my mind wanders off in all directions and brings back an avalanche of stupid thoughts. I have a bad tendency to over-think at times, and there are only so many comedy shows on YouTube to distract myself with before I become possessed by the curse of my own mind again.

Yes, I've been down lately.

It's usually times like this when I find myself wondering about the ideals vs. reality -- the what-ifs; if-nots; wouldn't-it-be-great-if... blah blah blah. "If" could be such a powerful word precisely because it brings you to a world that doesn't exist. If things went the way you wanted. If only. Reality is often more disappointing, isn't it? Recently I found myself thinking about an alternate universe where, Simon, a 22-year-old in Vancouver, lives in a world where things goes his way just a little more.

"If only..."

In an ideal world, my headphones wouldn't be so flimsy that it breaks whenever I pull the cord.

In an ideal world, the hinge of my laptop screen wouldn't be so flimsy either.

In an ideal world, the sales person wouldn't lie to me by saying that the laptop came with international warranty when it actually applies in Asia only. Now I have a laptop that would disintegrate if I bring it out and HP Canada wouldn't fix it. And the warranty is expiring in 3 days.

In an ideal world, NHL 12 won't be the most overpriced, glitchy and laggy piece of horse manure that I've ever played. And I would actually enjoy playing it right now.

In an ideal world, the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future and the portal from Being John Malkovich exist so I could go back to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final -- where I'd wait until the final 15 minutes, hack into Tim Thomas's head and force him to let in 5 goals just before the game is over.

In an ideal world, I'd be driving a Volkswagen Golf GTI or an E30 M3.

In an ideal world, I would have longer fingers so I can play chords properly instead of having the guitar sitting in the corner of the closet for years now.

(Actually I wish I wouldn't be so shit at music in general...)

In an ideal world, I would write and speak much better English than I could now. I've always envied the likes of Stephen Fry and Aaron Sorkin -- who always seem to have the ability to play with words so effortlessly and taking language into a true art form.

In an ideal world, I wish I'd come to Canada sooner. My 17-year stay in Hong Kong was 10 years too long.

In an ideal world, university wouldn't be such a creativity-killer. I wish I could enjoy writing again.

In an ideal world, high school in Hong Kong wouldn't be such a confidence-killer either.

In an ideal world, I wouldn't have recurring nightmares about studying in Hong Kong because of a broken education system.

In an ideal world, I would've preferred if that same broken education system didn't drive my friend Bernard to suicide at the age of 15.

In an ideal world, my relatives would stop nagging me about moving back to Hong Kong. It isn't going to happen.

In an ideal world, I would stop being jealous of other people's happiness.

In an ideal world, I wouldn't be still trapped in a relationship that ended over 4 years ago.

In an ideal world, it'd be more "Happy Together" that reminds me of you, rather than "Two Weeks in Hawaii".

In an ideal world, we'd be living on the same continent.

In an ideal world, the sight of you two together on facebook wouldn't crush me like a freight train.

In an ideal world, I should've manned up and said what needed to be said when I saw you last year. I lost courage and words escaped me.

In an ideal world, you wouldn't come crying to me everytime he breaks your heart only to go off again when he does superficial things to cheer you up.

In an ideal world, I would be able to move on and be happy for other people.

In an ideal world, things wouldn't be so hard.

In an ideal world, I would stop wondering about these things.


In this night I need to call you,
but all our lines are blown

If only you knew how empty I feel
Maybe then you're lonely too
And it's tearing through you like a puncture wound
Maybe no one knows what to do
When we know we're alone
In a temporary home
Maybe we'll realize
That's a blessing in disguise
A blessing in disguise

Well don't you know the sound of anger
Brings a dark result
And every insult is like a lightening bolt
So go home now oh yeah you do not have one
To some guy that you don't know
And make a baby
That won't change my problem though

I spent the last three years setting myself
On fire for you, I spent the last three years
Never knowing if what you say is true
And it will be this way til one of us dies
Is that a blessing in disguise?
It's a blessing in disguise?

And I tell myself what we're living for
And say rejoice evermore
Till one of us dies

Well I confess that so far happiness
Eludes me in my life
You better hurry up if it's ever to be mine
Better hurry up now if we're ever going to find
What we're living for
If it's not you anymore
I'll learn to sing
Rejoice evermore

Third Eye Blind - Dao of St. Paul.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

O Summer, where art thou?

"Oh look, there it is!"

Summer has been woefully short this year.

Of course, it's not helped by the fact that I took summer this year as well. But when one is desperate to graduate, what can you do?

I definitely abandoned my blog yet again. So blogging wasn't one of the many things I did this summer. Meh. I did plenty of other things though, so I guess that's a consolation. Aside from school and the essays that latches on like leeches, I also took (gasp) a statistics course! And I did not fail! I know I know, the chances of me taking anything related to math AND not have the final result looking like it's been destroyed by a Texas-sized meteor is just, as they call it, astronomical.

P(me taking a statistics course) x P(me passing the statistics course) = Get the hell out of here, you kiddin'?

Well, thanks to one of SFU's many rules applied to undergraduates, I was forced to take it because somehow every student will be better-equipped for the horrors of society if they know how to add some numbers together to make another number. I know, crazy eh?

It hasn't been a bad summer though, I must say. And it's not only because I did not fail my stupid stats course.

June, 2011.

Ahh, June. Normally this is the time when school is in full swing and I'd be busy crapping my pants because of a) essays; b) midterms; c) presentations; d) my aunt hogging the washroom. This year though? It's a tad different. Thanks to some stellar performance by the Vancouver Canucks instead of being dismissed for the third time in three consecutive years by the assholes in Chicago, we made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

It's funny what happens when a major sports team make it this far -- everything just sort of... stops. Statistics? Pfft. Essays? Meh. Midterms? Who gives a flying crap! I don't even know the names of my professors! OH LOOK! ALEX BURROWS JUST SCORED IN OVERTIME! HAHA TIM THOMAS YOU SUCK! WE'RE BRINGING HOME THE CUP THIS YEAR! SUCK IT BRUINS!!...

... As far as I am concerned, the finals stopped right there. I don't remember anything that happened between game 3 to 7. What? We had a scoring drought? Luu is being blamed for everything again? Riot? What riot? The day before my birthday? Now, that's something I should be able to remember now, isn't it?

Oh, right.

June also happens to be the month of my birthday. So Sonia Mak and Teresa Li decided to throw me the best surprise party in the history of the universe.

Thanks people!

Also scored three Canucks jerseys in one night -- which I was going to wear all summer, but...

July, 2011.

The Cup-denial phase starts. This is when you get back to your normal, boring life and sob in quiet depression over the loss. Of course, such is not helped by the fact that Vancouver suddenly pissed rain for a couple weeks and turned into November. In this time period, you're willing to stab anyone who's from Boston. Hell, anyone from New England who speaks with a weird accent (think Matt Damon in The Departed) would be vulnerable. Alas, since we're Canadians, we just spend most of the time quietly sobbing in a corner. And saying sorry.

This is when I downloaded roughly 50 movies and old television shows. Dr. Strangelove? Check. Amélie? Check. First season of ER with George Clooney still in the cast? You bet! Countless nights were spent watching videos on my computer while I sobbed to my heart's content.

Thank you, ER. Although I'd be much happier if you weren't set in Chicago.

August, 2011.

August was really the month when summer started for me. Summer semester was nearing the end, and I really couldn't give a rat's ass towards the gigantic failure that is statistics. I wasn't really bothered with my political science paper either -- I wrote the darn thing in 12 hours. All 3500 words of it. You'd imagine my surprise then, when I saw this on my own paper:

"Simon, you're the best paper writer in the world. A+. Signed, professor."

I landed on a wedding gig, so with my painfully amateurish photo equipment I yet again took photos for a wedding -- this time, some engagement shots in Gastown. However, it went splendidly, and happy couple Owen and Saskia couldn't be more sweet and made the afternoon ever more fun for me.

Best photoshoot yet.

In keeping with the tradition of July / August being the road-trip period (2008 July: Toronto > Montreal > NYC > Philadelphia > DC; 2009 July: Ucluelet, BC; 2010 August: Miami, FL), three separate trips to Seattle were in order. Observation #1: there are a couple of USAF fighter jets doing random fly-bys over Downtown Seattle in the middle of the day for reasons unknown, which was quite a sight. Observation #2: The Cheesecake Factory makes awesome cheesecakes. Verdict: Seattle is quite awesome.

My parents also suddenly decided to come into town, blitzkrieg-style. Pretty glad to see them, especially this time I got a surprise new camera from them. Which we took to Yellowstone. Oh, have I mentioned that we drove to Yellowstone National Park? No? Well, we drove to Yellowstone National Park. Quite some awesome pictures taken over there. Arguing the choice of music played in the car for 7 days with my cars, on the other hand, was less than desirable. I also got caught doing almost 80 in a 65 zone in the middle of Montana, by what seemed to be the friendliest cop I've ever met.

Good evening sir. How are you?
Er, good.
Are you in a race?
Me: No, sir.
Cop: (smiling) Are you winning?
Me: Er, no, sir.
Cop: Do you know how fast you were going?
Me: I don't know... Around 75?
Cop: Hmm you're quite close. I clocked you at 78. This is a 65 zone at night.
Me: Oh, I am sorry. (thinking to self: fuck, fuck, fuck...)
Cop: May I have your driver's license please?
Me: (scrambles to find wallet, which seems to have disappeared in the most inopportune time, but found it anyway)
Cop: (looks at license) Where is "Burnaby"?
Me: Er, that's in Vancouver, sir.
[Few moments later]
Cop: Alright you're free to go. Just keep it under 65 for the rest of the way because you might hit a deer this time of night. I don't want you hittin' any deers.
Me: Yes, sir.
Cop: Where are you headin' to?
Me: Whitefish.
And then my dad pretty much defused the whole situation by asking
Dad: Do you know any good motels over there?
Me: (has a heart attack)
Cop: Oh... Well, there are plenty of motels over there. Do you want a pool? Try the Best Western o'er there. It's pretty nice. Just head into town and turn right about a mile in. Can't miss it.
Me: Thank you very much.
Cop: Yeah no problem. Just try to keep it under 65 'cause there are deers around here. Y'all take care now.
Instinctively I went and shook his hand. Amazingly, he obliged. After that, I buggered off and did 55 the rest of the way. Now, picture this happening to me, but in LA:
[Helicopters hovering around, 10+ Ford Police Interceptors parked behind my car, sirens blaring, guns blazing]
Cop: (through microphone) Driver! Get the fuck out of the vehicle!
Me: (Stumbles out of the car, falling because I can't feel my legs. Gets tackled by 20 police officers, gets hit in the head by a police baton, Arrested Development style)
I kid, I kid. Yellowstone was quite awesome. My 5-year streak of no speeding tickets issued by a cop lives on. Although combined with the three trips to Seattle, the distance I've driven this month could've taken me to Halifax, Nova Scotia. So I'm a little tired of driving, you could say.

Oh well, school just started now. So soon I'll revert back to getting tired of a) essays, b) midterms, c) presentations and d) living alone.

RIP Pavol Demitra and the victims of the Lokomotiv plane crash.


For those curious about my 30-day song challenge that was abandoned like an orphan in a Dickens novel, here's the whole list.

Day 1 - your favorite song: Death Cab For Cutie - Grapevine Fires.
Day 2 - your least favorite song: Black Eyed Peas - Fergalicious.
Day 3 - a song that makes you happy: Hall & Oates: You Make My Dreams.
Day 4 - a song that makes you sad: U2 - Walk On.
Day 5 - a song that reminds you of someone: Hellogoodbye - Two Weeks in Hawaii.
Day 6 - a song that reminds you of somewhere: Hot Hot Heat - YVR.
Day 7 - a song that reminds you of a certain event: Green Day - Holiday.
Day 8 - a song that you know all the words to: Third Eye Blind - Motorcycle Drive By.
Day 9 - a song that you can dance to: Village People - YMCA.
Day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep: Maclean - German Industrial City Retract.
Day 11 - a song from your favorite band: Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life.
Day 12 - a song from a band you hate: Nickelback - Far Away.
Day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure: Loco Locass - Le But.
Day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love: Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.
Day 15 - a song that describes you: Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer.
Day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate: The All-American Rejects - Dirty Little Secret.
Day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio: Jason Mraz - I'm Yours.
Day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio: Hot Hot Heat - Middle of Nowhere.
Day 19 - a song from your favorite album: Maclean - Much Better People.
Day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry: Metallica - Enter Sandman.
Day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy: Jackie Wilson - I Get the Sweetest Feeling.
Day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad: Rent - Will I
Day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding: Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling in Love.
Day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral: Justin Bond & the Hungry March Band - In the End.
Day 25 - a song that makes you laugh: Rent - La Vie Boheme.
Day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument: The Beatles - Yesterday.
Day 27 - a song that you wish you could play: Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird.
Day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty: Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter.
Day 29 - a song from your childhood: Backstreet Boys - Everybody.
Day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year: AC/DC - Night Prowler.