Friday, June 17, 2011

7 Reasons to be Proud of Your Vancouver Canucks

So the Canucks lost Game 7, the final game of the Stanley Cup series. After a convincing journey to become the best team in the regular season, the team just did not have the resources to finish strong. Many people were upset. The city of Vancouver appears to be in a state of shock. On that fateful Wednesday night, almost immediately following the buzzer, some irresponsible thugs triggered a wave of violence and destruction in downtown Vancouver.  Sadness gives way to anger. Anger deteriorates into a few hours of anarchy.

The day after the senseless riots, I walk the streets of downtown Vancouver. I see touching scenes where people volunteer to clean up the streets, scrub the burnt walls, and offer words of encouragement to the 'real fans of Vancouver' as well as the Vancouver Canucks. It is in this spirit that I feel there are more reasons to celebrate, rather than to criticize. I offer 7 reasons why we in the city of Vancouver ought to be proud of this year's home team.

1) President's Cup Winners

For the first time in its 40 years franchise history, the Canucks won the title of being the best team in the NHL in the regular season. Just look at the table to see how the Canucks distinguished themselves this year. In fact, they are the first team to be guaranteed a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

2) The Way They Performed

Going into the playoffs, the Canucks had the best power play, scored the most goals, allowed the least goals, and have consistently performed better than any team in the league. They are no fluke. Looking at the classy way in which they have played the game, they made the game of hockey such a beautiful sport. I remember how the Sedins pass the puck so gracefully that it looks like figure skating with a hockey stick.

3) The Team Talent
The Canucks distinguish themselves as a cohesive team. Without laying blame on any one individual, they have consistently adopted a posture of rising and falling as a team. This is clear from many of the interviews individual players have given. All of them have an extremely high regard for one another. In fact, each player passes so well, sometimes too much, demonstrating that it does not matter who scores, as long as the team wins.

4) The Captain

The captain, Henrik Sedin is a class gentleman. He does not assign blame even after the team lost the final game. Instead, he takes responsibility and leadership. In one memorable game, he intentionally protects the puck that is heading toward the opposition goal. Instead of slamming it home to rack up credit for himself, he allows the puck to go in so that his teammate, Aaron Rome, gets his first goal in the league. Classy.

5) A Great Stanley Cup Run

The Canucks went all the way to the very last game. Together with the Bruins, they played the most number of games. They struggled with injuries. They played like true warriors in the sport. Many of the players battle with injuries. Come on. Hockey is a very punishing sport. After playing 82 games, to try to win another 16 high intensity games is already an exceptionally difficult task. That is why many has said that the Stanley Cup is the world's most difficult prize to win. With this long Stanley Cup run, the Canucks have given the city of Vancouver, and the entire BC province as well as Canada, a real hope. It does not matter about the final result. What matter is that they have provided for us great sportsmanship and entertainment. It was after all, a great Stanley Cup run.

6) Sportsmanship

Dr John Stackhouse of Regent College gives a very insightful reflection on the team. He writes the following which sums up the quality and sportsmanlike of the team.

"Sportswriters and TV analysts scratched their tiny heads at how the pride of the Canucks’ league-leading offense, the Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin, seemed to disappear for much of the playoffs and particularly the finals. (They actually were one-two in leading the Canucks in points, but given their usual prowess, they did seem to disappear for long stretches.) But there is no mystery here, even while the Sedins themselves were too sportsmanlike to state the obvious, blaming themselves instead. No, the brute fact is that their opponents were granted permission by the referees to vandalize their brilliant game of flashing skates, creative positioning, and pinpoint passing.Worse, their opponents were given permission to hack at the backs of their lower legs and punch them in the face, to attack the few places on the body unprotected by hockey pads, thus crippling and distracting two of the quickest players in the league." (blog)
Looking at it, I tend to agree. It makes me feel like, if one has to beat up the other team physically in order to win the Cup, then that Cup is not really worth winning at all. Most commentators have already said that if the Canucks were to battle with the Bruins in the trenches, the Bruins win hands down, by virtue of their huge sizes and brute intensity. If one wants to win, let it be done gracefully. I believe that the winner is not the one lifting the cup. The winner is anyone who has given their best, being graceful in every win, and being gracious in every loss.

7) Hope

So what the Canucks did not win. Why should anyone of us let one final game condemn a great team? Look at the team. They played the entire series all the way. They won the President's Trophy, the Western Conference, and is a Stanley Cup finalist. At each step, they have offered the entire city and supporters much hope. Look at how the people rejoice and party through the night this year. It is something not commonly seen. This final reason is perhaps the best I can think of. It is possible. There is no shame in losing the last game. Likewise, fans have every reason to be proud of their Canucks. Let there be no blame. Let there be no shame. Keep your chin up. Stand tall. There is hope. With the experience gained, there is more for the team to gain.

Do not let one final game, even though they lost, blind us from the fact that the team this year has done well. Exceptionally well. True fans will learn to win gracefully or lose graciously.

Go Canucks Go!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

True Fans are Not Rioters

Saddened. Shocked. Shamed. As news media around the world parade the images of Vancouver like vultures looking for meaty news, the beautiful city of Vancouver is forever tarnished. As Vancouver Police Chief has said, these rioters are no Canucks fans. They are 'criminals, anarchists, and thugs.' The photos say it all.

Photo Credit: National Post
You can see more shocking images here. There are many Youtube videos that show the senseless destruction of a city, under he guise of being a Canucks fan. One of them below shows how sickening it can get.

As I watch the news and listen to the radio, I am convinced that the majority of the troublemakers planned these rioting beforehand. According to some eye-witnesses, the rioters came prepared with sledgehammers, bandanas, fire-starters and many kinds of home-made weaponry. Obviously, they had a plan regardless of the results of Game 7 hockey game. In other words, they were already prepared to riot whether the team wins or loses.  One bus driver even overheard that her passengers in the bus were conspiring about what targets to hit as they were traveling downtown. These people are not true hockey fans.

Unfortunately, these rioters don the Vancouver Canucks jerseys as they go around damaging public and private property. They have shown the world that they are thugs ready to cause trouble, hurt property and people. These are definitely not Vancouver Canucks fans.

I feel sad that a few bad eggs have damaged the reputation of a beautiful city. After all the wonderful reviews in last year's Olympics celebrations, this year has not only erased all the goodwill. It created more bad taste in all, both local and overseas. I am ashamed. Utterly ashamed. Yet, there is hope. Hope that the majority of the city dwellers are peace-loving, and good respectful hockey fans. They may be sad, but they know how to lose graciously. I believe that the media ought to highlight the news of Vancouver in proportion. For example, a few hundred people riot downtown yesterday. This morning, thousands more people volunteer to help in the cleaning up. You do the math.

Vancouver is still a beautiful place, and I am proud to be living in this world class city. Do not let these minority 'criminals, anarchists, and thugs' destroy the majority image. Here is a snippet of images of real Vancouver Canucks fans. These people volunteer at their own time and expense. They mop. They cleanup. They restore as much as they can. These are the true Canucks fans. These fans are true blue Canucks and they are not rioters.

Photo Credit: Maurice Li

Check it out here.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Sung-Bong Choi's story

It seems like many countries are having their own versions of "America's Got Talent." Here is the Korean version which has gone viral. It is a touching moment when Sung-Bong Choi takes the stage, and shares his humble story. It is another reminder that wherever we are, if we try our best to be the best version of ourselves, when opportunity strikes, we will be ready. Be cheered. Be warmed. Be inspired. Check out the video here.


Friday, June 10, 2011

AA or BB?

I read this news with dismay. Entitled, "Does religion belong at AA? Fight over 'God' splits Toronto AA Groups." In it, people who seek help for their drinking problem are increasingly upset over the presence of 'God' and 'religion' in their 12 steps to recover. In secular Canada, religion and anything to do with God is taboo in many public and private circles. Since four of the 12 steps make explicit reference to a God-figure, naturally, atheists and secularists are up in arms. They have come up with their own set of 12 steps that removes all references to God, and call it "Beyond Belief."

I am dismayed for the following reasons. Firstly, the amputation of tradition removes a part of the identity. I remember a Malay proverb that says: "The beans forget the pods that bore them." Like children biting off the hand that feeds them, it is like sawing off the tradition that has held the organization for years. Tradition is important because it is part of one's identity. History and stories about the tradition is key to retaining an understanding of that heritage. Chop it off and we will have lost a large chunk of humble beginnings and the many good works achieved over the years.

Secondly, I feel that freedom of practice needs to be respected for those who wants the original 12 steps. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with the new set of 'God'-less steps. There are many who want to remain status quo. What about the 'rights' of these people wanting the 12 steps to remain unchanged? By demanding a removal of God from these steps, what about those who are against removal? Perhaps, the die-hard secularists should form their own group by themselves. They have their freedom to do whatever they want.

Thirdly, I believe that the essence of AA is a recognition that one cannot depend on self for recovery. One needs help, and one needs a help greater than self. God is there for a reason. God is there as our Higher Power. Remove that away, and we would have chopped off our main reason for hope and recovery.

While the article goes on to talk about the differences between the traditional AA-12 steps and the BB 12 steps, how it ends is notable.

But it’s essential to turn yourself over to something or someone other, says Watters. “If you don’t believe in any power greater than yourself, you are on your own.”

A woman member of a group that adheres to the traditional Twelve Steps puts it this way: “You need to believe in something higher than yourself. Our self got us drunk.”

The key success factor for AA through the years is to seek help when we cannot help ourselves. AA fits the bill. On the other hand, BB at its very essence seeks a power that elevates the self, that the self is the 'higher power.' This is self-deception in its highest manifestation.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Looking for Hope

TITLE: Looking for Hope
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 9 June 2011

Vancouver’s home ice-hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks has accomplished a lot this year, much more than previous years. Winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the very first time, it is widely acknowledged as the best team in the National Hockey League for the year 2011. At the post-season playoffs, they have also demonstrated resilience in coming back to defeat their nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks, overcoming the Nashville Predators, and steamrolling over the San Jose Sharks to win the top prize of the Western Conference. Fans throughout the province who have been captivated by the success of the Canucks, have made many restaurants and bars profitably happy. The mood in the streets is chirpy. People everywhere are understandably hopeful that this year will be the year the Canucks will bring back the coveted Stanley Cup.

After winning the first two games, city folks have helped to drive up ticket prices, increased police presence on the streets, and sparked a huge demand for Canucks jerseys and memorabilia. After losing the next two games, many were left in a state of shock. They don’t know what hit them.

Hanging on the balance
What do we do when our last hope is hanging on the balance? On the one hand, we do not want to ‘jinx’ the probability of winning. On the other hand, we are careful not to put all our hopes in one hockey team for the fear of being disappointed. Where then is hope?

Today, the city is much more subdued. The local team has lost miserably to the Boston Bruins. According to one report, ticket prices have fallen a whopping 40%! So much for fan loyalty. As quick as some people are to embrace the Canucks as their team, so quickly they lose their enthusiasm, and their hopes as well.

I know of some people who will pray for the Canucks during a tense game situation. Incredibly, losing is not an option. Losing to a hated team is anathema. How does hope look like when the results hang on the balance?

Expression of Hope in the Psalms
The Psalms of David are filled with all kinds of emotions. It expresses both joy as well as sorrow, gladness and sadness; hopefulness and hopelessness. That is why reading the Psalms is one way of enabling us to express our humanness in our world of ups and downs. One popular Psalm is Ps 42. Beginning with a reference to a deer panting for waters, so too are people who longs deeply for God. Being taunted by enemies, forsaken by loved ones, misunderstood by friends, it is a lonely journey to bear emotions of hurt. The Psalmist finds strength in taking refuge in God.

"Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence." (Ps 42:5)

This verse probes inside a person to ask what is troubling the heart. The Psalmist recognizes that the soul is going through a hard time. It is in despair. It is in turmoil. The Hebrew expresses this cry of the heart as ‘roaring’ its cries. It is intense. The whole being is shaken.

Meekly, there is a glimmer of hope. Gently, the psalmist pulls back from total self-destruction. Firmly, he gathers himself to recognize the reality of WHO is in control. It is not the emotional turmoil. It is not the enemy. Neither is it the circumstances that led to the troubled heart. He yearns for God. He lives on in hope. He embraces the LORD Almighty as the Giver of all hope. God’s presence is all he needs.

As we increase our awareness that the LORD is in control, we decrease our tendency to yield ourselves to things outside of our control. When we gaze upon the Face of God, we will not be easily moved or shaken by the events of the world. Instead of banking all of our hopes in mere results of a hockey game, an examination result, or an important contract, we ought to sit our hearts in our Creator God. Only God alone satisfies. Only God alone purifies. Only God alone supplies us all things. Including hope.

For fans of Vancouver Canucks, do not fret. Do not fear. May the best team win. More importantly, let us pray that the home team will play with winning hearts and in true sportsmanship. Do not lose sight of the meaning of a game. It is just a game. Allow it to bring out the best in us. Regardless of the results, may it bring out the best not only among the players, but among all supporters near and far. I will rather the home team lose graciously and with sportsmanlike behaviour, than to win at an ugly cost. Life is more than a hockey game. Let us put our hopes not on the results, but on the living God.

Game 5 is tomorrow. Bring on our hopes. It is not the winning or losing. It is the hoping that brings life.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sad Postal Strike

Workers at Canada Post have voted to go on strike. Each day as I look at my empty letter box, I shake my head at how the striking workers are shooting themselves and others on the foot. I am sad for the following reasons. With the strike that is affecting daily businesses and the reliability of local mails:

  1. More businesses will avoid using snail-mail. (LOWER MAIL VOLUME)
  2. More businesses will opt for email based communications. (LESSER PAPER MAIL TO DELIVER)
  3. Cost of Sending Mail Goes Up (MORE PEOPLE AVOID SENDING SNAIL MAIL)
Credit: Mauritiushot,com
I think understanding the business environment is key. For the management, they need to do a better job in explaining the tougher business environment they are in. They need to bear the responsibility of not responding fast enough to the changing postal environment. Most critically, they need to improve their relationships with the union.

For the workers on strike, I understand that union members have to obey the directives set out by their leaders. Yet, I cannot help but feel they will need to start looking for another job, if the challenging postal environment turns out worse after the strike. One needs to know who is paying their salaries. It is not the management of Canada Post. It is ultimately the people who pay the postage, whether directly or indirectly. Piss these paying customers off, and you will probably have begun sawing off the very branch you are sitting on. The moment other viable alternatives appear, you would have sawed off the whole branch. With the strike, a conventional postal system that is becoming more irrelevant, will become more irrelevant. Exponentially.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

On Cell-phone radiation and Its Impact on the brain

My daughter's class had a discussion today about cell-phones, radiation and the brain. Her teachers brought up the study that linked cancer with cell-phone usage. I am not surprised. Just recently, the WHO has said that cell-phone radiation are 'possibly carcinogenic.' In other words, they claim it is possible that cell radiation causes cancer.

Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your FamilyI have recently reviewed DISCONNECT, a book by anti-cell phone advocate, Devra Davis. She has some poignant points to make, and it is worth taking note. You can read my review here, or at Amazon.

For an increasingly cell-phone dependent world, let not the convenience of such devices take away the common-sense that we should adopt. In other words, If cell-phones emit radio waves like a tiny microwave oven, imagine putting a tiny microwave oven next to our ears and brains. Can we then say for sure that cell phones are 100% safe?


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