Archive for the ‘1’ Category

what we own
February 28, 2010

I’m posting this hours before “la grande finale olympique” – the Gold Medal Hockey Game, followed closely by “la grande fin olympique” – the closing ceremonies, because whether it’s a gold or silver today, what we have come to own these last two weeks are the moments that will stitch themselves like canada flags on the backpack of our collective memories.

It’s not the podium we own
It’s a new found sense of home

It’s the CAN-ADA jackets we zip
Watching Joannie land a triple flip

It’s the maple leaf tatoos we don
To cheer when the hockey games are on

It’s the pitcher of beer we share
With the fans who helped get athletes there

It’s the friendly face of the volunteer
Who understands our need to be here

It’s the kinder words of the world press
Who now know what makes us different makes us best

It’s the kids who’ll remember the day
Canadian athletes showed the gold way

It’s the mom who tied her little ones skates
And shivered in the stands to watch her get great

It’s the course workers who stayed up all night
To make sure those runs were just right

It’s the zamboni driver going round and round
To ensure that olympic records were found

It’s the friends and the families who together watched
As our expectations of each other got topped

It’s Alex and his brother who remind us all
The biggest steps to victory can be ever so small

It’s the flags and the red and wild can-do cheer
Of a nation we now hold ever more dear

So Go Canada Go. And don’t ever stop
If we can do this, who knows where’s the top!

what a day!
February 25, 2010

the national anthem. twice in one day. one for yesterday’s bobsleigh, one for women’s hockey – and perhaps the greatest medal of all, Joannie’s for her mom.


canada-russia, the way we were
February 24, 2010

Of course, only us digital immigrants will remember the 1972 Canada Cup when Canada beat Russia. I was in Grade two. The TV was on in my school. We watched. It was a BIG DEAL. I remember the 1976 Canada Cup less however except that my parents were out of town and the babysitter was a hockey fanatic. And it seemed to me that every time she told the players to do something, they did it. So I thought twice before misbehaving under her watch. So when Canada met Russia today, I brought all that angst with me.

When I think about these games, I’m often reminded of how much Russia has changed. I remember the USSR. The long names, the fierce competitors, the incredibly moving national anthem. I was an amateur figure skater. When us small town skating club wannabe olympians watched the Russians compete, they were the enemy by virtue of how often they won. What they lacked in apparent personality, they made up for in medal count. Canadian skaters probably would have won too if their coaches were tougher. But we were soft. We couldn’t handle it. Which meant we stayed home and admired the talent on TV.

So is Russia  just like the rest of us now? So preoccupied with capitalism. spending too much time shopping and not enough time training? Even their team uniforms are, well, very western. The big red swirl design pops on a field of white. You can see them in any crowd. Any crowd. I saw a few athletes in Vancouver. They were perfectly coiffed and manicured. They even had a certain hollywood appeal. It was a fascinating surprise and reminder that things aren’t anything like they used to be.

The Russians won the medal count in 1972 and 1976. They were second to East Germany in 1980. They won in 1984 and 1988. Glasnost hit in 1989. They were second to a unified Germany in 1992. Then third in 1994 and 1998. Come 2002, they were 7th. Then 4th in Torino. At this very moment, Canada is just slightly ahead of Russia in the medal count. I can hardly believe it.

I know priorities change. It’s human nature. These days,  I think about laundry and lunches before most anything else. When I skated, I thought about how late I could go to bed and still have a half decent practice at 6 am. Turns out, 9:30 pm was the latest. So much for the social life of a teenager.

The jumps and spins and willingness to be up way before dawn to train have long left me but the wanna be competitor in me is still around. When the Russians are on, I get nervous. I’m just glad it only took a few minutes for Canada to own the rink tonight. And while I should be thinking about laundry and lunches, I might just settle in for a few more hours of Olympic TV watching. I’m a grown up now and if I want to stay up past 9:30, I’m allowed!


February 23, 2010

Quel courage. Quel défi.

What courage. What challenge. To face the biggest event of your life without your biggest fan. Figure skating is almost as famous for its skating mothers as for its skaters. And sadly, tonight, it’s about both. She is every mom’s daughter now. And she is the bravest child. Bravo Joannie. Bravo.

Canada-USA cliche
February 22, 2010

It is cliche of course to say that sports is a metaphor for life. But, in the full day that has past since the end of this memorable hockey showdown, I have come to acknowledge, that some cliches are worth their weight in gold.

1) It ain’t over till it’s over

Everyone watching that game had to know that up until the best empty net goal ever, things could have been much different. It came down to the last two minutes.

2) Being good isn’t good enough

The maple leaf squad is good, no question. But the US Team has lightning fast skaters. You can’t just be good – you have to keep up too. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if I was watching hockey or short track speed skating. Really really fast.

3) You can’t just shoot, you have to score

Team Canada out shot the US 4 to 1 last night and scored 3 goals. If it were a battle of effort and talent, we would have won. But it wasn’t. It’s a numbers game. Like sports, life rewards results, not efforts.

4) Locals know best

OK, I’m quite possibly Canada’s newest hockey commentator here at the Blagh Blog – and I know that Martin Brodeur is the winning-est goalie ever – but Vancouver is Luongo’s turf. Always trust the locals. He knows that rink better then any other goalie on earth. I think for this game, he should have been minding that net.

5) Don’t assume

The crowd at the game was a lopsided mix of thousands upon thousands of Team Canada hockey jerseys plus 10% navy blue USA gear. Team USA fans were polite, indeed a bit taken aback by the crowd. Some even asking to have their picture taken with the leagues of crazy canuck helmet headed, red body painted, long underwear wearing hockey fans. The party on the way to the party was more than half the fun. I assumed there might be boo-ing. There wasn’t much. I assumed there would be gloating U-S-A chants after the game. Didn’t hear much of that either. Of course, you couldn’t hear much of anything in that arena. It’s as if the USA was, gulp, humbled, by the win. A US fan I met on the bus the day before whispered to me that he “hoped we would win because we deserved it for being so nice”. No kidding. Granted, it’s not a typical american attitude. Or have I been making to many assumptions?

6) You can’t put a price on value

A fellow sitting next to us at the game paid $1,100 for his ticket. We got lucky and paid the actual ticket price. Regardless, our tickets could have fetched us a 2 week holiday anywhere in the world. Was it still worth it even if Canada lost? You bet. Those 60 minutes of drama and the full day of excitment that led up to it will last a lifetime. It was worth every penny. I suspect the fellow who paid $1,100 felt the same way too.

7) If you lose, don’t lose the lesson

And we’ll all stand by and see tomorrow when Canada (with Luongo in net) takes on Germany.


vancouver is at its finest
February 21, 2010

Being at the Olympics here in Vancouver is a bit like being in the world’s friendliest airport. There are crowds and line ups and people from all over the world coming and going. It’s fascinating. There are check points and tickets. There are departure times and arrival times. There are restrictions and rules. And we are indeed flying high! Vancouver is at its shiny best – from friendly transit workers and joyful volunteers who literally, both welcome you to an event, then thank you afterwads as you wait in well managed line ups for the ride home to city streets and event locations gift wrapped in blue and green vancouver 2010 graphics. It really is stunning.

It’s been a wild ride so far! Women’s aerials and short track speed skating made for some incredible thrills and spills. The crowds cheer for everyone. Americans cheer for Canadian Athletes, we return the favour. Win or lose – the crowds response to the efforts of the athletes. At women’s aerials, an athlete fell, lost both skiis and skided down on ski boots across the line. The crowd went wild and her grin told the story of how awesome it must be to compete in the Olympics. But perhaps the greatest cheers await today as we head back into the city for the Canada USA Men’s Hockey Game. And the fun begins far before and after the game. On the trains. In the street. It’s everywhere. I’m beginning to “believe” we were indeed “made for this”!


These blogs make us look bitchy, eh?
February 16, 2010

It occurs to me this morning while watching the Today Show broadcast from Grouse Mountain, that one of the main differences between coverage of the last Olympics vs these ones – a mere 18 months ago – is social media. WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are giving public voices to those who just a year and a half ago in Beijing, had very little. It can be difficult to face the criticism of the world media, especially when we all want to solicit the approval of the world, eh? So interesed are we in doing so that the Today Show devoted a full three minutes and twenty three seconds to an investigative report on the meaning of “eh”.

So which opinions of others have we solicited?  It comes from inside and out. The Downtown Eastside Poverty groups, who are probably in the best position to criticize, have been vocal and significantly disruptive the last day of the torch relay. As for that crazy bunch who smashed the windows at the Hudson Bay Company flagship Olympic store, I can’t see past the vandalism to understand what message they wanted to send. The worst injury of all to me are comments made in the UK’s Daily Mail about our role as a nation in the terrible death of the Georgian Luger. I believe our collective heart broke into 33,311,389 pieces on news of the accident and the tragic outcome. But somehow that didn’t make his blog. On a lighter note (also a favourite turn of phrase at the Today Show), there’s Zambonigate at the Richmond Oval. Great to see Geatan Boucher on CTV this morning noting that prior to the Calgary Olympics, speed skaters had to compete, gulp, on real ice, outside, in real weather. Zamboni, Zamshmonie fellow bloggers.

In researching my own upcoming trip to the games, I have read some terrible things written by actual spectators about the venue at Cypress Mountain. And I’m more than a little nervous bringing my kids up the mountain to face an unreasonable expectation of food, water and bathroom breaks in exchange for the the look on their faces when the aerial magic happens. But risk I will. Because this is a once in a lifetime experience for my family. And while access to the blogging universe means we can read into the minds of the world, it somehow makes it more irresitible than ever to head over the hills and down to the coast to take in the vibe of our greatest olympics moment, eh?

I hope there’s no line ups to access wireless networks. I hope to type updates to this blog throughout the weekend. I’d call them in but I feel  sure you’d never hear what I had to say as the noise of the Olympics are, if nothing else, deafening.

it’s marketing christmas eve
February 11, 2010

Here we are. Hours away from the Olympics in Vancouver. “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (faster, higher, stronger) is the motto of an Olympian. And the same holds true for the marketers who will help pay for the rights to broadcast it. So who will show olympic creativity in advertising? I cannot begin to guess. It’s bad luck to try anyway. But I can’t wait. And I know I will be surprised and hopefully delighted. So I will don my new pjs, and sleep tight knowing tomorrow, on TV, I’ll be in for a big surprise.  I’ve been very good this  year. I hope i’ll be rewarded and enjoy. The milk and cookies are on the table. Let’s see who takes a bite.

holding title on entitlement
January 25, 2010

When I’m angry or frustrated with someone or something, I can almost always chalk it up to an overblown sense of my own entitlement. I think it’s human nature. I think (well at least I hope) it happens to everyone. Next time you curse the weather or damn the traffic for messing up your carefully laid plans, check your sense of entitlement. I’m guessing it’s a bit on the high side.

There’s a chaotic battle of entitlement happening right here, in my still charming small town, as we collectively trip and stumble our way through an especially complicated development process.

Smart Centres has purchased a parcel of land on the edge of town with the intent of building a gigantic shopping mall. The promise of new jobs, better prices and more selection is hard to resist. Many, in fact, feel they are entitled to their own big box mall after years of shopping in neighbouring communities. The bloggers and facebookers in support of the project blast local retailers for price gouging and poor selection. Other supporters feel entitled to benefit from a project that will help their businesses, increase their traffic or their property value or whatever it is they feel they deserve.

Smart Centres also shows its own sense of entitlement (especially having been refused once before by the City of Salmon Arm). As owners of the property, they intend to develop it. Trouble is, there’s the small matter of the Official Community Plan Amendment they need (and indeed feel entitled to) from the City to move ahead.

For its part, the City Council has also shown its sense of entitlement. Entitled to follow its own processes. Entitled to take in or block out information. Entitled to listen or ignore. Entitled to get the job done- not an easy task by any measure.

Those opposed to the project (and I count myself among them), feel this development is wrong. For some, it’s the wrong size and wrong location. For others it’s the wrong developer and the wrong tenants. For others still, it’s the wrong politics, wrong ethics and wrong tactics. Sometimes it’s for all of these reasons. Sometimes it’s only for a few. But we too have a sense of entitlement. We feel entitled to transparency, information, clarity of process, a rational list of priorities. We feel entitled not just to our opinions, but to have our opinions heard. Even if they are critical.

Those in support feel they are entitled to call the opponents nay-saying, extreme, elite, environmental yahoos or other, often much worse, names. Opponents feel entitled to show supporters they may ignore a fact or two. I, for one, feel entitled to tell the world the whole thing frustrates me to no end and could have been avoided had the previous council not been so keen to bring more shopping to town.

But back to my point, when I’m frustrated with something, it’s usually my overblown sense of entitlement. Truth is, I’m not entitled to grand stand on this or any other topic anymore than a neighbour who loves to shop is entitled to cheap prices and great selection as if it were a human right. It’s not. It’s economics. And economics is based on unlimited wants and limited resources. That’s the truth of it. We can’t have everything. We just can’t. So then what, how do we decide? I do think we are all entitled to the basics. Clean water, fresh air, a roof over head and food on our plate. I also think we’re entitled to our opinions and our processes.

But we get in real conflict when we delude ourselves into thinking our opinions, our expectations or even our demands, matter more than someone else’s. If we’re all going to hold title on our entitlements, this particular proposal turned debate turned impasse isn’t going to end neatly or anytime soon. And i’ll keep my last bit of entitlement to add that I think it’s a shame to spend so much time on this when, clearly, many other, dare I say, more important matters, need our collective attention.

water cooler days
January 14, 2010

While 95% of the time, I am grateful to be my own boss, this week was a five percenter. Five percent of the time, I long for the water cooler days of yore. I used to work in an office populated with 50 or more of the most interesting, intriguing and infuriating people known to man. We laughed. A lot. And when we weren’t busy working or running to the nearest coffee shop (Guttenberg, as I recall, in Library Square in Vancouver) for a tall americano with room for cream, we bitched alot too. Like hamsters in a wheel, we were often lulled into a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, we actually did accomplish things. Good things. Important things. Meaningful things. But that’s besides the point. What I miss the most is the mundane. The “hey did you see that bit on Letterman” or the “Kraft Dinner is better with ketchup” debates. I miss the days where a broken printer meant a quick call to extension 341 and magically, the coop student/computer science genius from SFU would show up and fix it as part of his higher learning. I miss the “i’ll transfer you to accounting” when suppliers phoned about an outstanding balance. I miss the deep philosophical conversation about paper vs. plastic while the boss was in a “management” meeting. I miss the pay cheque. I miss the coffee and the coffee filters and the coffee creamers that were always there when I needed them. These days, if something goes wrong, or the bill wasn’t paid, or the printer breaks, or the meeting goes long, it’s usually – no, actually, always, my fault and my responsibility.  It overwhelms. But that’s just for this week. Come Monday, I’ll remember the 95%. The “i can wear track pants if I want”, “i can say I was in a meeting, when I wasn’t”, “this job is so fun I’d do it for free (if I could)” moments that make up for the water cooler days. So if you’re thinking of self employment, give it some thought. And if you’re hating your slave to a pay cheque job, give it some thought too. If you’re gonna have the perfect work life, you’re gonna have some good days, some bad days and some “what I wouldn’t do to live in the other guys shoes” days. Because bitching about work is a priveledge, one that I shouldn’t and wouldn’t trade for the alternative.