Band Competition 2014

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The past few weekends have been VERY busy. I’m part of my air cadet squadron’s marching band, and we’ve been practicing every weekend for hours on end trying to perfect our routine for the Lower Mainland Band Competition.

Music has always been a big part of my life (well, my name IS Rhythm after all). Without band, I would’ve never had any interest at all to join cadets. Every year, around 15-20 sea, army, and air cadet bands compete for the much coveted, “A” Division trophy. I was privileged enough to be chosen as the parade commander for the awards ceremony, which basically meant that I had to deliver commands to 1000 cadets…talk about losing my voice!

After *500 HUNDRED 25 THOUSAND 6 HUNDRED MINUTTEESESS* (haha you see what I did there? ;)) of extremely hard work by the cadets of the band, I’m proud to say that WE WON BAND COMPETITION THIS YEAR WOOHOO! and EVERYONE knows that when there is celebration, there’s always CAKE! I went a little crazy today, but after 5 hours, I have finally baked enough for everyone in the band, which is around 70 cupcakes!

IMG_0638I only realized how big my squadron’s band actually was when I got the chance to see the replay of our band competition routine. Just look at that beautiful trophy :’)

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If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do! It’s worth every minute, trust me 😉

http://youtu.be/e5PQQjPY_2A

Song/Drill Selections:
1. Mission Theme 
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Waltzing in circles

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3. A Bridge Too Far
4. Across The Stars (From Star Wars) – Wifi
5. Seasons of Love (From Rent) – Circle bursting and forming into “759”

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Thank you cadets of 759 for leaving me with such a wonderful gift in my last year as an air cadet! I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for next year 🙂

Cheers!

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*Band photo and video credits to Mr. Eugenio Cordeiro

MRE Cupcakes…Say What?

Today, I introduce my newest creation: The MRE Cocoa Powder Smore’s Cupcake.

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Yes. I did it. I turned a field meal into a delicious cupcake. I can go anywhere as long as I have the imagination 😉

For those of you who don’t know, MREs stand for “Meals Ready To Eat.” It’s what military personnel (and cadets) eat when they go on exercises, such as the Field Training Exercise that I went on with my air cadet squadron.

IMG_5811Me lookin’ spiffy in my combats.

These meal packs look almost like the meals that astronauts eat. Each pack contains 1 meal, 1 side, 1 snack, and a couple drink mixes. Everything is vacuum sealed “for freshness.”

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Meals: Apple maple oatmeal, spaghetti, lasagna, chili with beans, sloppy joes

Sides: Fried rice, hash browns with bacon, apple sauce

Snacks: Pop tarts, cookies, crackers, wheat snack bread*

     *The wheat snack bread is literally half a loaf of bread crammed into one slice.

Condiments: Tabasco sauce, jam, cheese spread

Drinks: Cocoa, electrolyte drinks, pudding, milkshakes

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This FTX was aimed to be for level ones, which are cadets aged 12-13. They get to build their own shelters and experience what it is to live out in the woods for 3 days and 2 nights. There are also senior cadet instructors (like me) who teach them about survival skills, such as how to filter water, respect the environment, and make fires.

This was the FIRST TIME in my entire cadet career that it was NOT RAINING FOR 72 HOURS STRAIGHT. I was so happy to finally see the sun, I even got a little bit tanned!

Me and another senior cadet were designated the “cooks” for the weekend, meaning we had to cut and prepare 100+ MRE meals for every meal…it was killer on the hands.

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It was very cute to see them have their first MRE though. It’d only be 2 meals and they already knew the “most wanted” and “least wanted” meals that MREs had to offer.

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Another thing is when some of them came up to me to grab their meal, they said “YAY, we finally get to try some RhythmNoms!” I was so surprised to hear that because I don’t have any of them on Facebook, but somehow they’ve managed to find that hashtag and use it. I’m glad my brand is spreading so far!

Anyways, back to the cupcake itself, I was sad that it didn’t turn out that well. The cupcake was edible, but it was just too soft (I know, the only time I complain about a cake being too soft)! You could literally just take the muffin top off by pulling on it.

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On the other hand, I MADE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING EVER. I will post the recipe soon, but I am so convinced that it is the best frosting I will ever make. It looked BEAUTIFUL when I piped it on, and it wan’t too sweet either.

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I had extra graham crackers left over from the FTX so I just topped them on like S’mores.

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Anyways, I need to get back to studying now. Thank you for stopping by and reading about my FTX adventures! I’ll be posting more recipes once my exams are done. 3 down, 1 more too go!

Cheers 🙂

BC Cadet Honour Band: Where the Leprechaun Lives

This is a post dedicated to all of the cadets who went to Honour Band in 2012.

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St. Patrick’s Day isn’t really a big thing here in North Burnaby. Sure, the local bakeries sell a couple green-themed pastries and the dollar store stocks up with decorations, but I’ve never really seen anyone going full out celebrating it…until I went to Honour Band.

For those of you who are familiar with my cadet past, you’ll know that Honour Band was my first real cadet activity that I went to. I’d never went to camp before, so I wasn’t prepared for the wake-up call in the morning.

My first impression of a cadet “camp”? Annoying. Loud. Obnoxious. LEPRECHAUNS.

Cadets from 2012, I think you’ll remember this. The first morning in Victoria happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, and coincidentally, one of the officers was Irish. So this is how we were woken up at 6AM. Not only was the Irish officer shouting out at the top of his lungs, “HAPPY SAINT PATTY’S DAY” in his acted Irish accent, but he also came to all of our doors and kept slamming it with his ring finger.

IT WAS THE LOUDEST NOISE EVER.

I never knew a ring could make so much racket! Well if you ever need a loud alarm in the morning, tell your parents to wake you up by slamming their ring hand at your door, because it will be so unpleasant that you’ll never want to go to sleep again.

It was quite hilarious to see him at rehearsal during the day though. He was dressed as a full on leprechaun, with green velvet clothes, curly red hair, and he purposely grew a red beard to fit the occasion. He actually looked like a more Irish version of Lucky from Lucky Charms!

He really showed me the true side of officers. I had always been scared of them at my squadron because they were always so uptight and always seemed to be mad at something. The officers at Honour Band are truly the best, and I was so glad to meet such “dynamic” music instructors!

Anyways, I’m sharing this out of my sorrows that I was not able to go to Honour Band this year because it’s midterm season for universities. I couldn’t afford to miss any more school days because I’d already missed a lot for my New Zealand Trip. Seeing cadets who are on tour right now post pictures on Instagram and Facebook is making me a little teary eyed – I’m beyond jealous!

To those bandies out there who are still young and still have a few years left in cadets, work on your music levels so that you can get in to Honour Band! It was definitely one of the greatest and most memorable experiences in my LIFE, and I was so glad that I had the opportunity to meet so many great and young musicians from all over BC who later on became the best friends I’ve ever made.

To the cadets who are at Honour Band right now, I can’t wait to watch the concert on Thursday night! I’ll definitely bring some cookies for you guys to nom on while you guys are en route to Vernon. I hope you guys are having fun, and remember to bring back awesome stories of your experiences to spread the music love at your home units!

See you guys tomorrow night! 🙂

Honour Band 2012:

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I am Rhythm Tang, and I am CANADIAN.

…and Canada remains at the top for gold medal counts! I hope all of you are having a wonderful time getting caught up with the Olympic spirit!

It felt like just yesterday that I was going to downtown Vancouver almost every day to celebrate the Winter Olympics…Those times lining up at the Canadian mint to get the newest coin, rehearsing as part of the cast for the closing ceremony, and trading pins with collectors along Robson street…

Even though I have never tried 90% of the sports present in the Winter Olympics, my eyes are still glued to the TV and computer monitor, spectating every event and reading every article on CBC.

What makes me so compelled to watch Canadian athletes compete against the world is the strong feeling of cohesiveness: That moment when two figure skaters execute a jump in sync, that moment when a snowboarder lands sturdily from 3 back flips, that moment when Canada scores the winning goal. I feel as if I’m actually in their shoes/boots, cringing every time that flaw occurs, and flashing a huge smile every time I make a perfect run.

Canada is such a large country.

I didn’t realize what being a true Canadian was until I went on an International Cadet Exercise to New Zealand (Jan 21 to Jan 31, 2014). Canada’s top 6 cadets were chosen to represent our nation at New Zealand’s 150th Cadet Forces Celebration, which consisted of 6 days of elective training and a final ceremony (parade) on the last day.

*Check out this video to see all the cool activities I got to do in New Zealand, from FAM flying, CasEvac, shooting Steyres, to Military Weaponary Familiarization. A little snippet of me at 16:40 and 16:55…quite nerve-racking to stare into a large camera with mics going everywhere haha

On the first day we arrived, we were split up into different training groups consisting of approximately 35 cadets each. For the first couple days, being amongst 1200 New Zealand cadets and 60 Australian cadets, I felt quite out of place.

I just didn’t seem to fit right into the culture, and I found it difficult to start the simplest conversations because I didn’t want to run into the awkwardness of not understanding their Kiwi “accent”.

As the exercise progressed, I made a lot of new Kiwi and Aussie friends, and started to feel more comfortable. But, I still can’t explain how happy I was every time I happened to spot another Canadian! Even though the 6 of us only met for 24 hours before we were split off, it felt like we’d be friends forever. Everything seemed so familiar: our accent, our experiences, our style of speech…

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The height of my patriotism finally reached it’s maximum on the last day of the exercise: Final Parade. I was selected to be the flight commander of the Canadian contingent, and I must say, I almost got a little teary eyed as our tiny flight of 6 cadets marched through the paparazzi of cameras along the road that led to the parade field. :’)

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A flush of Canadian pride surged through me as I was shouting out the cadence in French (Thanks William Enlow ;)), and I tried not to laugh every time I heard someone from the sidelines hushing to their friends, “Look! It’s the Canadians,” or, “Wow, look at those Canadians march!” Over 20 flights went before us, so I hope we ended the march-on on a good bang!

What I took away most from this international experience was the sense of Canadian citizenship, and how all Canadians – West Coast, Central, East Coast, North – stick together.

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We are all proud to wear that maple leaf on our uniforms, backpacks, and luggage because we want to let the world know that we are CANADIANS. WE are the ones who always say “eh”. WE are the ones who brave the cold morning temperature in t-shirts because we were told not to bring tunics. WE are the ones who can call out French commands. WE are the ones who pronounce every syllable in a word. WE are the ones who say that we’re from CANADA (not CaNAdia).

I understand how difficult it is to be away from home in a COMPLETELY different cultural setting, and how comforting it is to hear from someone back in my home country. And so, continuing my obsession with baking over my reading break, I dedicate this batch of cupcakes to the Olympians who are defending our Canadian title halfway across the world in Sochi.

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I am so proud to be a true Canadian, born and raised in Vancouver, BC. From my travels around the world, not many people actually know about Canada. In fact, they just think we’re a piece of land North of the United States.

To the athletes, thank you for showing that Canada does have it’s strengths, and that we are, indeed, the fierce underdogs.

Congratulations to the athletes who have won medals so far, and good luck to the athletes who will be competing in the next week!

Thank you for representing our nation!