Monthly Archives: May 2005

Gung Haggis dragon boat team practice review May 25

Hi everybody

Wednesday's practice went well.

Early birds at 5:30pm all got one on one coaching with educational
correction. We went down to the boat early to practice paddling, and I
gave coaching tips, and corrected people's posture and
techniques.  We all agree that this is some of the best coaching
we can do.  Everybody feels they are paddling better after the one
on one work.

At 6:25 we went out in the boat.  I steered and coached leading
drills and pointers from the back, as Bob Brinson was unable to attend
practice due to work (this is why we have 2 coaches!)

We picked up Ashley and Randa from the Dragon Zone dock then did some
more practice starts, and we did the “parking exercise” where we talk
with our seat partner about what we want to work on for our own

The next starts were gradually more explosive, and our short race piece
was surprisingly good except for our finish where we went out of time.

On the whole, the team is progressing well.  At this point we are
looking now to assign specific seats to people, as by now you know
which side you prefer, and we have a better idea of your abilities.

We finished the practice off with some group work, alternating fronts,
middles and backs.  Some technique work for the 5-5-5 drill (5
draw strokes to the side, 45 deg angle 5 strokes, + 5 strokes
forward)  After the exercise, everybody was paddling quieter, the
paddles were deeper, and the catch was very together.

Short intense practice – less endurance or strengther training. 
We also taught people the stealth blades for preparation at a start,
and how to be always ready at a start by creating some race situations.

For Sunday's practice:

Please arrive by 12:15 pm at Dragon Zone
We are on the water by 1pm, and want to ensure that everybody is race
ready, as we pretend this is an actual race event, and will do a quick
warm-up then do a race with some other boats.

June 5th is Race Regatta Day
This is where we do an actual 500m race with other boats, as the ADBF
does a dress rehearsal for the technical side of the races…

June 18/19 is coming up fast…

Cheers, todd

Cross-cultural wedding in Canada – Celebrating our shared heritage.

Weddings… great places for cultural traditions to mix and match, as
more and more Canadians of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds
decide to tie the knot.

I attended a wedding reception for the son of one of my older cousins, Joe Wai, the architect of so many buildings in Vancouver's Chinatown and around this city.  Joe recently designed the Millenium Gate,
and previously designed the Chinatown Parkade, the Chinese Cultural
Centre Museum and Archives, as well as being one of the architects of
the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens
I have always counted Joe as one of my early role models for his vast
amount of community work, and ability to blend East and West together.

His son Jonathan had just gotten married.  I had never before met
the bride.  But when I walked into the Fortune Garden
Restaurant at
1475 West Broadway St. this past Saturday, I immediately identified her. 
She was standing, radiantly beautiful, wearing an intricately
embroidered antique Chinese jacket, and skirt emblazoned with dragons and phoenix
in stunning relief.  Calm and serene, she had presence and
dignity.  I was to discover later that the jacket and skirt had originally
belonged to my Auntie Rose and Aunt Lannie and had been given to one of my cousin's
wives recently.  They were loaned to the bride for this very special
occasion. Definitely now a museum-quality piece in all the good ways!

The bride was also wearing, which was to be revealed later, a red
Chinese cheong-sam – the traditional Chinese wedding dress.  Cheongsam
means “long dress.” It is floor length but with a slit on the side up
to the thigh, and it features a mandarin collar. It was featured in the
Spider Man movie worn by actress Kirsten Dunst.
What is amazing is that the bride,
is Caucasian, and the groom is Eurasian.  I learned many things
about Lisa Sowden the bride.  She is an actor
and she speaks more Cantonese than my younger cousin Jonathan, who is
now developing his law career.  Our families have always been
ethnically and culturally diverse.  Inter-racial marriage has
generally long been accepted on both sides of my family.  On my
father's side, 6 of my 9 cousins including Joe married
non-Asians.  On my mother's side, 10 of my married cousins
including my brother chose non-asians.

For me, the small Chinese banquet reception (50 guests) seemed so
More than half of the guests were caucasian, and we dined
on shark's fin soup, prawns, rock cod, crab and lobster, chinese
mushrooms, duck, chicken.  It was truly a grand wedding
banquet. Such gourmet delicacies are usually only ordered for
weddings.  Long Life noodles and Happy Marriage fried race
finished off the meal with Red Bean soup dessert.  As many of the
guests were not familiar with the significance of the menu items. 
My cousin Hayne Wai and I explained things such as the importance of
the head and tail being included in the fish and chicken dishes, to
signify wholeness.  The chinese pronounciation of Fish (Yee) is
similar to coin, the mushroom caps are uncut like large coins. 
The noodles are long to encourage long life. 

I got up briefly to talk with the bride and groom, and imagine my
surprise when I returned to my seat to find the cooked chicken head on
my plate.  Immediately I told the chinese wedding tradition about
putting the chicken head on a string and dangling it in front of the
bridal couple with the instructions to kiss it to bring good
luck.  Of course the person with the string pulls it up at the
last minute, initiating the couple in a kiss.  I think it worked
better in the days of arranged marriages when the couple didn't know
each other, and probably were no strangers to kissing each other.

At our table, I sat next to Lisa's friends Maria
(another actor) and her boyfriend Darren who not too familiar with
Chinese cuisine.  On my other side, Carole jumped right into each
of the dinner courses and enjoyed it tremendously.  While Carole
has a
French-Canadian background, it is her sister Tina, that married Joe's
younger brother Wayne, so… Carole is familiar around many of the
family's Chinese-Canadian activities and dinners.

At the evening's close, I gave a special bottle of Pinot Blanc Special
Late Harvest (-13) desert wine to the bride and groom.  It is Red Rooster Winery's “-13” or Minus Thirteen, created to celebrate the Year of the Rooster
It even has Chinese characters on the label, which is what initially
drew my attention tot he bottle.  Checking their website, I was
surprised to discover an Asian-Canadian winemaker, Richard Kanazawa. Of course I chose this bottle to celebrate the year they got married – Year of the Rooster. 

What does it mean for a Canadian couple of diverse cultural background
getting married in the Year of the Rooster and the Astrological sign of
Gemini?  Many things to many people!  And that's the great
thing about being Canadian, or to quote Bob and Doug Mackenzie, “Beauty, eh?”