Thursday, 21 February 2008

Rolllin’ Along

It’s that busy time of year. The students at school are working pretty hard, report cards are looming ahead so there’s lots of assessment and projects to mark, and the home front is pretty busy as number one daughter readies herself for graduation from high school and university next year.

Another thing I’ve been involved with is called Humanoes for Hope. It’s a project that our school district is getting involved in which brings wells , food, schools etc. to Malawi. My part has been to make the video for the project. Every spare moment that the computer is free, I’m busy burning DVDs - I’ll need a couple hundred before next month.

Anyway, I’ve been busy doing all these school related things that I haven’t really had or made time for long scooter rides during the past month. The weather’s been variable - some snowy or icy days and other days where the sun actually makes an all-to-brief appearance.

But I have been riding a lot. Most days to school or to Vancouver or to New Westminster - just not anywhere particularly new and exciting.

I haven’t bothered to take a camera lately but I am still enjoying the ride. Sometimes I underestimate and get a bit chilled or overestimate and end up stuffing my pet carrier with sweaters. But I still get that fresh feeling of excitement every time I hop on the scooter, whether it’s the hour long trek in Vancouver or the ten minute ride to school. It’s all good.

As the weather continues to warm and the load from school continues to lessen, I look forward to spending a day here and there just cruising. Until then, though, I will rollin’ along, with a smile on my face.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Gung Hey Fat Choi!

Happy New Year!

Chinese, that is....

Thursday marked the beginning of the newest lunar new year, the year of the rat, and I was lucky enough to have two opportunities to celebrate.

First, on Thursday, I took my class down to to Chinatown in Vancouver for a field trip. It is a great trip that is a real eye opener for many of my students.

The city where I live has around 8% visible minorities in the population, much less that Vancouver (where I grew up). The kids just aren't used to anything but "North American"or western culture. When they go to Chinatown, it's like a whole new world is opened up to them. And all of the comments from the kids are really positive.

We took Skytrain from New Westminster to get to Chinatown. Skytrain is an elevated rapid transit system which some of the kids have not taken before. It's quite a slick system and could accommodate all of us very easily.

After arriving in Chinatown, the students had a scavenger hunt to fill out which involved observing and taking to people in the different stores there. When we talked about that part the next day, all of the students had only good things to say about the merchants in Chinatown. Afterwards, we had dim sum in a large restaurant and then headed back to the school.

Today was the parade for Chinese New Year. My family and I headed down and got there just before it started. Because it was year of the rat, there were lots of Chinese Mickey Mouse hangings - and I'm sure that Disney In. received 0% in royalties!

The parade started off with the God of Prosperity - a very archetypical Chinese figure - and guys throwing lots of packs of firecrackers on the ground. My eldest daughter commented on how there were so many sound bites in the parade - firecrackers, music, bands, the crowd, the stores, drums - that really added to the parade.

After came the bands and then the politicians and other VIPs. Now, Vancouver is a very West Coast kind of place so instead of all the famous people sitting in fancy cars (which would cause a lot of pollution) they all were walking (The one exception, of course, was Mayor Sam Sullivan who was zipping along in his wheelchair)! It seemed a very open, green, and responsible thing to do.

After a few more marching groups such as the scouts or different Chinese societies, along came all of our favourite - the dragons! The dragons had at least two people in the costume. They ran and deked and spun around in a sort of dance. They are nothing short of spectacular to watch. One dragon had about ten people controlling it. Very cool!

There was a good mix of Chinese people and gwai loh - non-Chinese - and a very festive atmosphere. I think that it's great that people can be Canadian and live in a country yet still retain their cultural heritage.

As for scootering - two things since my last post. Number one, I didn't win the contest. There were literally hundreds of entries including people who kayaked every day, snow shoed, and a host of other remarkable commutes. Even thought I didn't win, I was glad for the chance to write down how I felt about my commute.

Number two, the weather here, after a fair bit of snow two weeks ago (including two snow days - Hurray!) has become decidedly warmer. The temperature has hovered around 8 or 9 degrees Celsius (close to 50° F.) and has been especially great for zipping around town. I'm looking forward to making some longer trips very soon!

Let me wish everyone gung hey fat choi (which means congratulations and prosperity) and may the new year be a great one!