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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Indescribable Proud Canadian

Last day of the games

And what a day it was.  The air traffic controllers must be working overtime.  The sky is filled with planes and helicopters.  They have been circling all day.  Road traffic control must have a migraine.  Bridges are closed for the closing ceremonies and buses line the Cambie bridge from downtown back to 12th Ave bringing in performers, athletes and the prominent.  As of 8:30 they are still there.

I spent the day on Robson Square watching the final gold medal game with about 100,000 other people.  What a game - a real nail biter.  As Canada won the gold, strangers hugged and kissed (and the occassional grope).  I hopped on the train to the next stop as it was easier than trying to move.  I wanted to get to Live City Yale Town for the celebration.  I was hugged and kissed and yes, groped (not sure though if I was the goper or the gropee) along the way.  The very packed train burst into spontaneous song.  Oh Canada was sung loud, proud and slightly off key. 

It was amazing to see groups of happy, proud Canadians.  Cars were honking horns and waving flags.  A bus driver held his hand out the window holding the flag and honking his horn.  I am not sure I have the words to descrbe the feelings of pride and patriotism that has been shown.  Not just today but throughout the 17 days.  I have always been proud to be Canadian and this experience has led to a swelling chest, damp cheeks and a bubbly feeling in my belly.

Speaking of belly's, I thought that since I must have walked at least 25 miles during these past 17 days I surely must have lost some weight.  My jeans were a little loser and I could have sworn I had to tighten my belt a notch.  However, it seems that washing those same jeans made them fit again.  I guess I can say now, the food provided to the volunteers was nothng to write home about.  In talking to other volunteers, they all had the same complaints.  Lunch always consisted of a sandwich, soup, apple/orange and a granola bar.  One fella said he grabbed a sandwich that had an expired date n it.  I spoke to a volunteer from Nova Scotia who stated that he had never had such bad food in all of his experiences volunteering at sporting events.  Aside from the bad food, I was too busy between work and the games to remember to go grocery shopping.  At one point I had the grandkids Corn Pops and that was about it.

As I left downtown just minutes before the closing ceremonies ended to avoid the crush of the train, I passed by a playground.  It was all lit up and a group of young kids were playing hockey.  As I passed by there was an argument between a couple of the players over who the other side would be.  As a youngster pointed out - they couldn't all be the Canadian team.  Wonder how that played out.

I will head into work tomorrow and perhaps be surprised at the city.  It may only last a short time however as the Para-Olympics start in about 10 days and a number of the venues will remain open.  I expect to see some of the party to continue but am not sure how big it will be.

A friend has found the article written about me in the Pravda Newspaper.  I hope to have it tomorrow for my final posting so stay tuned.

this has been fun.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Final Weekend

Day 16 of the games

We are almost at the end.  One last party night of concerts and fireworks.  It is expected that Sunday will have more people downtown than any other day yet.  Not sure if I want to go out in the crush tomorrow.

Friday was a great day.  After a day of giving directions, smiling, taking pictures of tourists one last time, I met up with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.  We wandered the marketplace and around Concord place where the kids played ball in the "active kids" tent.  We watched some of the men's hockey game on a couple of the giant screens around town.  The city was alive with excitement.  After the kids went home I watched the rest of the game with some happy strangers on the street.  After Canada squeeked out a narrow win, the group burst into song.  It was also announced that Canada had also just won 2 more gold medals in speed skating.  The group then started to sing our national anthem. 

As I sung with all my heart, I noticed the man standing next to me staring and smiling.  Must be a record producer I thought.  I am often surprised when I am not pulled over by multiple record producers as I sing in my car.  However, as the song ended instead of handing me his business card wrapped in a contract, he bent down to me and smiling stated "I bet you have to sing Happy Birthday in a group as well".  I wasn't exactly sure what he meant but I took it to mean that people often want me to sing with them.  I have decided it was a very nice compliment.

As I made my way along the waterfront around 11pm, there were so many people in the crowd enjoying Canada'a achievements of the day, the ending of the games and just being caught up in the moment.  It didn't matter that it was raining and windy.  We are counting down the hours now until the end however, we will only have 12 days to rest before the Paralimpics begin.  A lot of the venues will close however, a number will remain open including Robson Square skating rink and the zip line.  I am hopeful that I will get to zip before it all closes.

I am now done my Olympic volunteering but not my Olympic experience.  I am off to enjoy the final two days.  I will post again tomorrow night when it is all finished.

Stay tuned

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Very Blonde Day

Day 14 of the games

I spent the day at Live City, home of Canada House and Manitoba House and wandering the streets.  I was supposed to end up at the media centre.  Something went wrong.  Not sure it was really my fault.  However, my brother may be correct in that I tend to not watch where I am going and sort of day dream as I walk.

So, after a morning of pointing people in the right direction I was making my way through Granville street down to the media centre and the Olympic flame.  I am not sure how it all came about.  I was stopped at the corner of Pender and Granville by a group looking to get to Granville Island.  I spent about 15 minutes with them.  We had a few language barriers.  I thought that odd as they were Canadian but since they came into the city from Surrey, I cut them some slack. (Surrey folks always get a bum rap).  Before turning to continue on my way,  a crowd of people who had just gotten out of the Canadian Mint all seemed to converge upon me at once.  For these folks, I offered to walk them down to the waterfront to make sure they got there ok.

 I turned and before I could even think about it, I was down - in the midst of the crowd.  I took one of them with me.  I had no idea they did some road work down there and put in a new curb.  They should paint them red or something.  Perhaps they should even have them beeping like they do at some cross walks.  Suffice to say, the guy I took down with me stepped on the open part near my toes of my walking cast.  I also tore a hole in my pants. 

After I managed to laugh off one of the more embarrassing moments of my life and valiently tried to explain to the crowd that I was in fact part of the street entertainment and I would be falling again at 3pm on a different curb, I hobbled to a coffee shop and order a tequila straight up.  The guy behind the counter said he would love to offer me one as I looked like I was having a rough day, however the best he could offer was rum flavored coffee.  He did invite me back later for a private tequila.  However, since he was 12 years old, I passed on the offer.

I called it quits for the day figuring that since I have one more day of this before my gig is up, I might want to save the final killing of my body for tomorrow.  On the bus ride home, I met a young family from Seattle who were here for the games.  They had a small son of about 5 or 6 who asked about my cast.  I am still tired of telling the truth about it so I explained I did it snow boarding.  In his very wise voice he explained that I should be more careful.  If he only knew.

As I write, the Candian Women`s Hockey team just won gold against the USA.  The bells, horns and cannon just went off and the rings in the harbour are now gold.  If you see the arena on TV, it is a sea of red.  Nice.

Today`s picture is of the real RCMP in their beautiful red serge uniforms at Canada house.  Nothing could be more Canadian.

Well, early night tonight as I get set for my final day.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What a Wednesday

Day 13 of the games

What a day today.  Canada wins 1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze and the night aint over yet.  The rings in the inner harbour turn to gold whenever we take the top prize.  Not sure if anyone else noticed, but all the medals today were won by women.  The city erupts with cheers, cow bells, horns and screams.  I love it.  If nothing else comes from these games, the sense of patriotism is particularly heartwarming. 

Ok, enough of the mushy stuff.  It has been brought to my attention that I may have been voted off the survivor mountain.  What if it is not my foot but rather an appeasement to the Russian team that has kept me off the mountain since Friday?  Suppose the Russian Comrades, as part of their fomal complaint were told that they could be assured "the blond bombshell dope-tester would no longer be a problem for their team?"  Since in Canada we rarely send anyone off to the Arctic, (hell, we hardly send anyone to big house for a full-blown grow-op), they had to settle for removing me from the anti-doping team and send me to the field as a roving greeter and dispenser of directions.  I hope the Comrades are happy.  I know I am not too terribly upset.  No more getting up at 4am to ride in sweaty snow pants for 2 hours to get to the mountain.  I actually feel kinda powerful.  I always suspected I had the ability to put fear in the face of men, given my career choice, but to piss off an entire country puts me in the big leagues.  Perhaps I should include this on my resume.

Today, the weather is back to somewhat normal - wet, cold and windy.  On my way home I noticed that I had even more flowers popping up in my garden from all the warmth and sun we have had.  If you have more than one crocus bloom is it called a bunch of coc-i?  The trees on the street are in full cherry clossom bloom as well.  What a sight for the end of February.  We are about a month early.

I have posted a picture of the fireworks from last night.  Not sure it is too great but it is from my balcony.  I have such a great view each night.  While I certainly enjoy the show each night, I might be done soon.  The boom and rattle of the windows each night at 11pm makes for trying to go to bed early a bit tough.

Tomorrow, I am off to spread charm and goodwill to the media centre area down at Coal Harbour.  I will keep you posted.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No longer on the mountain

Day 12 of the games

I was just too exhausted to post anything last night.  Due to my walking cast, I am no longer posted to the mountain in Whistler.  I am now an RV - Roving Volunteer.

I spent the day roving around the international marketplace and the seawall.  I answered questions for folks who were lost and in 3 cases, posed for pictures in full uniform.  I thought that was kind of odd.  There are 25,000 volunteers wandering around wearing the same uniform.  It's not like we are unique.  I am well aware that the camera is not my friend so as not to scare these lovely tourists when they go to take a look at the shot, I made like your slightly retarded cousin and made goofy faces.  This way it would look goofy on purpose not because I look like a freak of nature when the camera flashes.

Yesterday was another scorcher - 13 in the sun.  And as such, the streets were filled again.  Mind you, not quite as busy as on the weekend but not by much.  As an example, the line-up for Canada house was only 90 minutes as opposed to the 2 1/2 of the weekend.

The marketplace is kind of fun.  It is in the middle of the old Plaza of Nations of Expo fame and as such has a stage smack in the middle of it.  During my time there, they had 3 different musical acts playing.  I kind of felt bad for a couple of them.  They play in front of a giant screen that is showing all the games and at times, the audience would break into cheering and drown the poor band and singer right out. 

At one point, a rather inebriated fellow started to dance and tried to pull me into the mix.   I pointed down at my foot in the hopes that when he noticed the walking cast, he would back off.  I was wrong.  Instead, he started to bop around like he had one as well before reaching down to try to lift mine right off my foot.  I tried to laugh it off whilst pushing him back into his friends where it seems some beer was spilled.  As any good Canadian knows, you can do just about anything as long as you don't spill the beer.  I thought the friends would get mad at me but instead they called him an idiot and made him go off in search of more beers - one for me as well to make up for them having stupid friends.

Another fun event at the market - I got to have calamari on a stick for the first time.  Who would have thought you could have calamari on a stick?  I am here to try new things and this was most certainly one of them.  Makes for easy eats. .  It wasn't that is was so tasty, but I could walk, talk and eat all at the same time. 

I am back in the office today and tomorrow and then my last two shifts of the Olympics will be Thursday and Friday.  I will let you know where I will be.  I am getting tired.  I think only the young have the stamina to work 2 jobs. 

Today's picture is the Athletes Village from across the bay,.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

And the Beat Goes On

Day 10 of the Games and another incredible day in paradise.  I understand we hit 11 this afternoon in the sunshine.

The games are now more than half over and I am betting that the folks who live in Yale Town are counting the minutes.  Last nights Colin James concert on the water front was the loudest yet.  For those of you who are regular readers, you are aware I live, as the crow flies, less than half a kilometer away across the water.  I heard the music as clear as if I had been in a loud night club. 

My brother, sister-in-law and I took off to spend the day strolling around town.  We started at Granville Island where we rode a water taxi across the harbour to the site of the concerts in Yale Town.  It was 12:30pm in the afternoon and the wait to get inside was 45 minutes to wait for the first concert to begin at 5pm.  No thanks.  As mentioned previously, I wait for no one (except perhaps the fine Mr. Clooney and by the time he met me, he would be the one waiting for me).  Off we went for a stroll around the waterfront seawall.  It was more like a people wall to wall to wall.  As we made our way to what was once the Plaza of Nations of the old Expo 86 sight.  I hadn't been down there before and was surprised to discover that it had been converted into a huge market place.  Not only was there plenty of international types of food but the market had stalls from all over the globe selling interesting little trinkets.  I was offered the opportunity to purchase 7 year Ginsing.  If I understand, the taking of Ginsing is supposed to improve your memory.  I am pretty sure I will forget to take it every 7 years.  Better I should just buy one bottle of 'take me now' Ginsing and see how that works.  If my memory improves then most likely I won't need anymore in 7 years.

After the tour through the united nations market place (which I thoroughly enjoyed and will go back), we headed off to find Molson Canadian Hockey House.  We found it in the centre of Canada Place and were incredibly surprised and relived to discover that the line was relatively short - only one hour and that was only because they hadn't opened the doors yet.  As we stood there, I noticed the fellas in front of us were wearing some sort of pass and I noticed the name of Molson on it.  We asked and these kind men told us we needed tickets to get inside.  I went to check out the situation.  A rather flamboyant man opened the door and gently, although perhaps a little patronizingly (and those who know me know how well I handle being patronized) explained the only tickets they had left for that days festivities were the VIP ones for $525.00 - FOR THE DAY!  However, it would cover my food and alcohol and the hockey player who would show up for the evening.  I could watch the games on their big screens and be entertained by BTO.   After I stopped goggling at him in sincere disbelief, I was offered the opportunity to go online and check for any available 'fan' tickets for any other days of the games.  Those tickets could be had for a paltry $100 for the day but so sorry, that will not include the cost of food and beverage.  Beer is being reasonably offered for $10 per bottle.

As you can imagine, we left in disgust and headed toward the Russian House located in the former Science World.  It would have been very interesting and I was looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, it was now 2:30 and the exhibit would be closed by the time we got through the line.  Instead, we marched across the street to hop on the train to head back up town.  After we were shoe- horned in along with 20,000 other fine folks, (including the man who just ate a pound of garlic and was now sweating it out of his pores) we made it to our new stop where we all poured out like the yolk leaving a cracked egg.  I had to bite back the urge to start screaming at people the inadivsability of stopping dead in the road to decide where to go next.  Last year when I was in Lima, Peru, a city of 14 million, I noticed that people knew how to move.  Rarely did I run into anyone who decided to come to a dead stop in the middle of a crowd to pull out a map and gather their group around them to decide where to go for lunch.  They moved off to the side and kept the other 14 million moving.

About this time, I recieved a phone call from my cousin who announced that he and 4 other cousins happened to be in the city for the hockey games and wanted to meet for lunch.  We arranged a place and set off.   We fought through the immoveable objects, formerly known as people and made our way - slowly.  Along the way, we passed by the zip line.  They had a fun sign posted - only 5 hours to wait for less than 30 seconds of fun.  Perhaps tomorrow.

We had a wonderful lunch and a great visit.  After about 2 hours, it was time to part ways.  They, to return to the arena for the next hockey game and we to make our way home.  Transit was out of the question.  I had no desire to get groped in the crush of people pocked in a tight space so off we went for the walk home.  It was about a 4.5 kilometer walk and along the way we were treated to some great sights.  It was such fun to see such patriotic people.  A group of Canadians decked out in full red and white broke into a spontaneous rendition of the nathional anthem.  Buskers were on almost every corner.  We can across Irish House.  It was set up on the corner of Nelson and Seymour and is a giant white tent with IRISH HOUSE and a shamrock spelled out in front.  The line for this one stretched around the corner and down the street for over 2 and a half blocks.  Holy crap!  All this for the chance to see a leprechaun and drink some green beer.  If I wanted to see that I could go back to my poor ex-husband and just add a little food colouring to his nightly brew and he kind of resembles a leperechaun after the 5th or 6th bottle of Bud.

I almost collapsed when we made it home.  My foot was on fire and it seemed the walking cast hurt more than the actual fracture at this point.  It was almost more exhausting than the 15 hour days of volunteering at Whistler.

Well, off to the mountain tomorrow.  Today's picture is of the ski jump.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another wonderful day at Whistler

Day 8 of the games and Day 7 of competition

Today I was involved with the mens qualifying rounds of Ski Jumping and the women's 15KM cross-country event.  It was almost hot up there again.  Very sunny and absolutely spectacular.  People were in short sleeves, shorts and for some, shirtless.

It was my first time with the jumping that wasn't warm ups.  It was very exciting.  The crowd was huge and very vocal.  The Canadian's didn't do so well.  Only one made it through to tomorrow's final.  Based on the distances though, I am not holding my breath.

An interesting thing happened during lunch break in the workforce tent.  I sat down across from a group of interpreters.  One of them was the Russian interpreter assigned to the media and doping team.  He looked up and out of the blue asked if it was me that was involved in the incident on Wednesday with the Russian female and all the confusion.  He told me he was brought in as the interpreter as the Russian team filed a formal complaint with the IOC, Vanoc, the Russian Consulate and the head of the International Skiing Federation.  It seems that they feel that I went against the rules and therefore cost the team their medal.  I interupted her concentration before the competion was finished and they want me reprimanded and fired.  I guess they are not clear on the definition of "VOLUNTEER".  I was assured that none of this was my fault as I was just following the direction of my supervisor who decides who the random testing athletes are.  Gotta tell you, I was relieved.  It would be seriously embarrassing to be fired from a volunteer position.  I wouldn't be able to put it on my resume.

Due to my injured foot, I was not given any athletes for testing today.  I acted as the go between in finding the athletes for testing if they were a random draw.  Because of that I was finished early and able to leave the mountain on the 3:30 bus home.  Ski jumping is such a popular event in addition to the cross country that the mountain was incredibly crowded.  They were short of buses to take people back to the city.  Not sure how that happened since those same buses had to bring the people up.

Because normally I get off the mountain late, I have never had to face any of the mad house at Lonsdale Quay with the seabus.  However, arriving back in North Vancouver at 5:30, rush hour, on a Friday, with folks heading into the city for the weekend festivities, made for another nutso crazy day.  The line up for the seabus wound around the block and I was told that it would take at least 3 sailings before I could get on.  The seabus carries 400 people at a time so you can do the math.  When we landed on the other side, the line ups for the trains started.  It was easier to walk.  I took off up the hill and waited for my bus.

 A number of happy revellers on the bus started asking about my volunteer expierence and what a trooper I was to keep working with my foot in a cast.  I was getting tired of telling a boring story of falling down in the mailroom and I was bored so I told then I was a forerunner on for the ski jumping.  (there are fore runners for each event who go out and ensure the runs are ok).  I got a lot of oohs and ahhs.  It was fun.  I think on Monday when I am next working and in uniform, I will tell folks I fell during the super G slalom fore running.

About 2 stops into the trip a man about 35 years old, 5'10" and about 180lbs got on along with a short, slightly chubby woman of about 65 years of age.  They were standing in the aisle in front of me.  I started to hear angry words and then the bus driver was on his phone.  2 stops later a transit security officer got on the bus.  The man was getting angrier and the woman was muttering, looking around with a somewhat defiant look on her face.  As the man started to really shout and look like he was going to haul off and pop someone, the transit officer told the woman to give it up immediately.  She grinned and handed the man his wallet back.  Right in front of me and I missed the pick pocket.  Who would have expected Grandma to be a thief?

Well, when I arrived home, my much older brother David and his much younger wife Angie were waiting for me.  Due to the fact that I am too tired to even cut my meat, they took my brother Kris and went out to dinner without me.  I will be up to speed tomorrow so we will all go out and see some sights. 

I am back to the mountain on Monday.  I only have 2 more shifts and my volunteer experience will come to an end.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just imagine

Day 7 of the games and day 6 of competition

Ok, so you will need to use your imagination for a minute here.  Just imagine that the whackado L.Ron Hubbard was correct and we were put here by aliens.  Suppose that these aliens were none too bright.  Suppose this planet was naked - no human beings to speak of - and these aliens were told to plant the whole race, at once, on the planet.  Suppose these none too bright aliens got confused and planted everyone, at once, in one spot rather than to spread us all over the globe.  They planted everyone - all 6 billion of us - in downtown Vancouver.  That is what it felt like today.  It was the perfect storm.  The USA hockey team was playing earlier in the day and the Canadians were to play later.  EVERYONE was downtown.  I couldn't move along Granville, Robson or Georgia streets.  At one point I was watching from my window, 29 floors up, as a sea of people moved like lemmings along Georgia street making their way to and from Canada Hockey Place.  It was an amazing sea of people.  I do not think anyone ever thought we could hold so many happy people.

As I write this, Canada just won the game against the Swiss in a shoot-out.  The neighbourhood just erupted.  I can hear bells, horns from the barges in the harbour and the crowd down in Yale Town.  It must be even wilder downtown again.

And again, as with the last gold medal win, I knew the minute today's gold medal was won in speed skating.  I could hear the cheers all the way up to my office and again the cannon went off. 

Now, back to the crowd on Granville street.  I was trying to make my way to the salad bar for lunch and was drawn to a crowd in the middle of the street to see what they were all watching.  Turns out, it was Batman.  Not sure what Batman has to do with the Olympics but there he was up on a box and taking a few sheckles from the crowd who wanted their picture taken with him.  I like to think that he is here to protect us from the bad guys.  He could also be confused.  The laser beams shooting across the sky each night from English Bay could easily have been mistaken for the bat call.

After I obtained my salad, I tried to fight my way back to my office to eat in some peace and quiet.  However, I was again drawn to a crowd and someone yelling.  Turns out it was a preacher and he was getting visably upset that people were not listening to him as he tried to tell us that we needed to be saved and reach to our God as our saviour in order to make it to heaven.  He was red in the face and sweating.  He started to pump his fist in the air and stomp his feet.  Suddenly, I heard something that brought a collective gasp from the crowd before people started to laugh.  The preacher had reached his breaking point and just would not stand for people not paying attention to his message so he yelled "for F&*% sake!  Will you people just shut up and listen?"  Gotta tell ya, that kind of made my day.  I went back into my office with a smile on my face.

I am in bed early tonight for another big day at Whistler.  I will be wearing my walking cast as I found after yesterday that it is a must if I do not want to contemplate chewing my foot right off myself to make it stop hurting.  I guess I will find out if they will let me continue or not.  I will keep ya'll posted.

today's picture is of the view that the ski jumpers have of the mountains at Whistler.  How perfect is that?  How can the British papers say these are horrible games when you have something like that to look at?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What a mess

Day 6 of the Olympics and Day 5 of competition

Well, let me tell you about my day.  I awoke with a start at 5:15am and stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth and strat the process of getting ready.  I was putting my face on with my eyes half closed and eating a banana at the same time.  I made my way back into the bedroom to get into my snow pants, longs leeve shirt, wrap up my foot, stuff my feet into two pairs of socks, put on my fleece vest and into my jacket.  Last thing before locking the doors, grab my backpack and gloves.  I was off to the train to waterfront station and on to the seabus over to the Lonsdale Quay to catch my bus for the 2 hour ride up to Whistler.  I was now wide awake and excited.  However, the excitement died when I used the ladies room at the seabus and noticed, in my half-awake state, that I had mascara on only one eye and I put put blush on only one cheek.  Great, now I looked like a lop-sided clown.  I spent some time trying to wipe it off in the bathroom with just water.  By the time I left, I looked like I had a black eye and I looked ill.  In removing the one cheek of blush I now looked pale and sick.  I was off to a great day.  Because I took the extra time to try to fix my face, I had to run for my bus.  Thankfully, they held it for me.

2 hours later, at 8:45am I was walzting through the security check point at Whistler Olympic Park.  I signed in for my first full day at a chaperone for the anti-doping team.  I was pretty happy.  One more bus ride to the venue centre for my day at cross-country skiing.  I somehow got turned around as I exited the check-in tent and was forced to mae an extra run through security.  I am now on a first name basis with Bob - operator of the security wand.

Since I didn't have to check in to my station until 10:30, I had an hour and a half to kill.  I wandered over the ski jump area where they were holding pracise runs prior to tomorrows event.  It was amazing.  They go flying by you and you really feel the wind and they land with such force that I am sure if I was standing a little bit closer, you would feel the vibration on the ground.  They are averaging about 95 KM an hour.  Unfortunately, unless something changes tomorrow, I don't think the Canadian's will do so well tomorrow.  Our longest practise jump was 119.5 metres while the German's posted a 145M jump.  The average seemed to be about 130M.

Time was up.  I reported in and recieved all the documents, doping passes and water (for the athlete) and made my way to the Ladies cross-country sprints.  Today, we were testing the top 5 and 3 random athletes.  I was told that I would take a random (they tell you the number after the race) since I had experience in doing this previously.  It was some one elses tunr for a medalist (I had a world cup gold last year).  I waited and watched everything going on.  It is somewhat organized chaos behind the scenes.

The way the cross-country sprint works is similar to snowboarding.  They would run 5 heats and the top 2 winners from each heat would move on.  At the end of the semi's there would be 4 top finishers.  At that point 2 "lucky losers" would also make the final based on their overall times.  If your random sample athlete actually made it through then they would not be tested until the end. 

 I was told I would have #14, a Russian woman.  My supervisor told me she did not make it through as she came in 3rd in her heat.  I was to notify her of being chosen for dope testing.  Along for the ride as an observer was a member of WADA (world anti-doping association).  They are watching that we do everything right as we answer to them first and the IOC second.  So, my supervisor and I go up to #14 and I start in with my spiel.  She turned on me and started to yell.  I was told to just keep going.  I was still at it when she took off into the media area.  She was yelling at me over her shoulder.  She then came back into the notification area and her coach appeared.  Now they were both yelling at me in Russian.  I did my best to explain.  Then she was off again.  Each country has a wax room.  She ducked inside, slamming the door in my face.  The rules state I must keep her within 6-10 feet until the process is over and in my line of vision at all times.  She was on a walkie-talkie yelling about doping.  Now 3 coaches showed up and they were all yelling at me.  The WADA woman tried to interpret and explained I had just been sworn at in Russian.

My supervisor then shows up again and tells me to leave since there was an error and she had moved on and therefore she would be tested as part of the top 5 finishers.   I had just gotten back to the finish line when I was notified there was a mistake and she didn't make it and I had to go back to her.  To make a very long story short - we repeated this 4 times.  Mistake - she made it - no she didn't.  #14 was livid and decided on the last one to take it out on me.  She decided to go for a full out run.  The WADA person told me to go, I had to stay with her.  Let me tell you, I was dying and would have very happily tripped her with her own ski pole at that point.  I dropped my backpack as I tried to keep up.  Picture this old broad trying to stay with an Olympic athlete - while running on a fractured foot.  I actually did ok.  She then realized I wasn't going anyway so she started running for the race track.  I followed as far as I could because she then popped on a pair of skis and took off.  NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN for me to follow that.  I was defeated.  My first day, and I blew it.

When I limped back to my area, my supervisor told me it was in fact a mistake and she was going through to the finals.  It was embarrasing to say the least.  However, the WADA rep did come up and say I had provided some lively entertainment as as I chased after her.  I was rewarded for the fiasco with another athlete.  I got the gold medal winner from Norway.  She was lovely and co-operative.  They felt it best that another volunteer be asigned to the lovely #14 Russian nightmare.  Turns out it was a good thing as she filed a complaint against me. 

I was just doing as I was told and I end up being sworn at in Russian, run off my feet and was entertainment to the masses.

Once I had the other ahtlete, it was a blast.  I was with her through the media scrum.  This is where the media are put in little pens along the back of the finish line and the athletes have to make thier way through before heading to the press conferences.  She was there a long time as everyone wanted a wee interview.  The doping rules state the athlete only has 60 minutes from the time I notify them.  We needed an extra 30 minutes.

The day was picture perfect in terms of weather.  It was almost too warm.  I had to take off my vest and gloves and wished I didnt have the extra socks or tights.

I think however, I may have overdone it with my foot.  I had to give up most of my shifts.  I am going to try it again on Friday and then my last one will be next Thursday.  I am quite upset and really mad at myself.  These people on the 2 inch wide skis actually are much more graceful than I am on my feet.

Anyway, today's picture is of the ski jumping.

Stay tuned.  I am off to bed now after a 16 hour day

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bells and Whistles

Day 5 of the Olympics and Day 4 of competition

In dowtown Vancouver at noon each day a whistle down at the waterfront is blown to signal the beginning of the lunch hour.  A cannon that sits in Stanley Park is shot off on special occassions.  At about 2:30pm, I was surprised to hear both.  The Whistle blew first and then the cannon followed shortly after.  Within about 20 seconds I could hear the shouts and cheers coming up from the street 29 floors below me.  Someone from the office across the hall ran into our office to shout the news that we had another gold medal.  The winner this time was a young woman right from North Vancouver who won the snow boarding event. 

I wanted to be a part of the excitement on the street so I left my computer, turned off the phone and hit Granville street.  People were shouting, ringing cow bells, waving flags and all wearing happy smiles.  The pride of a country was palpable.  It is certainly nice to see in "no fun city",

I heard today that some London newspaper was making fun of us.  Generally speaking, just being plain mean.  They apparently wrote that our games were a disaster with the rain at Cypress . Yeah, one mountain venue makes it a disaster.  Considering that they are still running events there, I think I have to give some credit to the effort put in despite the rain.  I guess they never learned their manners at their mother's knee - if you can't say anything nice then keep your damn mouth shut.  (My mother never said damn so I am improvising here)  They also made a comment on our "Own the Podium" campaign.  They wrote that it is un-Canadian to be so aggressive.  They say it is impolite and they find it comical as it goes against everything Canadian.  It seems they feel we have stepped out of character and our manners flew out the window.

Ha - spoilsports.  They haven't medalled at all yet.  I mean really, other than fish and chips, what are they doing in the winter games.  I guess they are still upset over the fact we never invited the Queen to the games.  They also seem to know nothing of Karma.  They are hosting the summer games next and it is my guess that more than a few local reporters are kind of pissed off at the articles - so beware - what goes around comes around.

I am going to bed early tonight to get ready for my first full day tomorrow as your local Anti-Doping control chaperone.  I will be at either the cross-country or biatholon venue.  I need to be up and out of the door at 6am.  It is supposed to be sunny and dry on Whistler tomorrow.  I will have my foot taped up like a hockey player as I cannot wear my walking cast.  I am hopefull that with my new boots, the wrapping and the new pain pills, I will be ok.  If nothing else, it will be kind of fun to be the anti-doping operative while dopped up myself.  Could be interesting.

Today's picture is of the kids in front of the electric polar bear display.

Stay tuned - much more tomorrow

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kind of Surreal

Today is day 3 of competition.

We started the day off by hoping on the Olympic Line streetcar to Granville island to check out some of the Olympic events planned.  Atlantic Canada house is located there and the smell of cooking seafood (think I caught a whiff of lobster) was overwhelming.  The kids didn't want to wait in line so we went for gelato cones instead.

Then we were off on the bus  to I scope out the city in search of some pin trading.  Turns out it was not as easy as one might expect.  Usually, at big events like this they have a pavillion dedicated to the art of pin trading with hundreds of traders around.  This time there is only one official area and that is inside The Bay Olympic superstore where you have to line up to get inside.  I was not up for it (as I wait in line for no one) however, Xavier had his heart set on it and talked his sisters into it as well.  What did they care?  They had a stroller to sit in to wait.  We started off with buying 2 pins each and I had a number of pins from preivous events over the years which I allowed the kids to trade with.  After we got inside, Xavier went right to work.  He ended up getting two more free pins for all the kids from Coke and one from a fella from Atlanta who gave them Olympic pins from the 96 games. 

Since it was sunny and quite warm, the city was wall to wall people.  Took us an hour just to get lunch.  Someone in line asked where we were headed and I mentioned we were trying to find more pin trading and she said she saw a bunch of them down at the waterfront in Coal Harbour.  Off we went in search.  We were in luck.  Xavier spotted a couple and he was off and running (it was like tracking a deer) before they left.  He traded some more pins and ended up with one from Nortel (may be the only thing worth anything for them) and a hockey player with the Stanley cup.  Rae traded a pin for a McDonalds one.  Lexie was asleep in the stroller so she missed out.

We headed back to catch the train back downtown.  Holy Schnikies!  The people!  It was like we were a race of rabbits and had multiplied in the last couple of hours.  We had to line up to get to the line up to catch the train.  Would have been quicker to walk but by that point my foot was on fire.  Back at Robson Square people were crowded around the giant TV screens watching the mens mogul races.  It was very exciting and the noise almost deafening as we watched we had 2 in medal position.  As the second to last skier came down, the last Canadian, I could no longer even hear myself thinking and right there was Xavier shouting and jumping up and down.  Rae got caught up in it as well and Lexi was just mesmerized by her surroundings.  When we won the gold the street vibrated from the sound of a very proud country.

After I took the children home to their parents, I made my way home by train and bus.  As I got off the bus, I could hear the celebrations taking place in Yale town across the water.  I could hear the music and the cheering as clearly as if I was sitting right there.  The fireworks went off as scheduled at 11pm.  We have a perfect picture window view from our balcony.  I can only imagine how it must be for the condos around Yale town since it sounds like cannons going off from our place.  I understand that some people down there are complaining since they are going off late and the laser show lasts all night.  I can only imagine trying to go to bed because you have to work early the next day and having laser beams shooting through your window and then cannons going off.  Must be fun.

Today's picture is of Xavier and Rae trying out a bobsled.

stay tuned

Saturday, February 13, 2010

First full day

Day 2 of the games

What a fabulous day!  I took the train to meet the kids in Coquitlam to bring them down for a little Olympic fun and to spend the weekend.  Boy they were not kidding when they said it would be crowded and that transit would be a bit of a nightmare.  The trains were packed like sardines.  I will have to revise my previous estimate that there wouldn't be as many people as the organizers thought.  However, I still think most were locals - or at least BCers and the press.  Perhaps it was mostly due to it being the first day but I am not holding my breath.

Once down town, even the rain couldn't dampen the spirits.  People were out in droves enjoying the live music, the art work and giant TV screens showing the action.  We stood in the middle of Robson Street and watched the zip liners overhead.  I asked Xavier if he wanted to give it a try.  His reply was that he would but that his Mom wouldn't let him so I guess he couldn't go.  I remember when I used my parents to get out of stuff too.

We stopped in front of a couple of sculpted Polar Bears and I set the oldest kids up for a shot (Lexie was sleeping in the stroller).  I noticed there were other people waiting to take pictures as well.  When I told the kids we had to move, Rae held up her hand and told me to wait - there were lots of other people who wanted to take her picture.  This brought a great laugh from crowd to which she just smiled sweetly and swear to God, bowed before leaving.

I have many trading pins from years on the circut with my daughter Jennifer and I was wearing most of them today in the hopes find the pin trading as I thought the kids would love it.  We couldn't find the location but we are not to be put off.  We each bought pins with which to trade tomorrow when we go in search of the pin trading pavillion.  Xavier is quite excited and wants to trade with me now.  However, since I already bought his pin and the one he wants from me is my volunteer pin, he is outta luck.  Rae just wanted a princess pin.  She settled for one of Quachi. Lex stuck hers in her mouth.

We get a pretty good view of the laser show that takes place every night from Eglish Bay.  the kids put on thier boots and stood on the balcony and watched for a long time.  It is pretty cool.  The nightly celebrations at David Lam park in Yale Town are in full swing tonight.  I can hear them from my living room.  They are about 1 kilometer away, as the crow flies over false creek and the inlet.  They are very loud.  However, the kids are flat on their backs snoring at the noment so it shouldn't bother them at all.

We have another busy day planned for tomorrow - off to check out Granville island and then to find the pin trading.

The picture today is in front of the Art Gallery with all three of the kids - Xavier, Rae and Lexie (featuring her thumb).

Stay tuned

Friday, February 12, 2010

No More Sleeps

It is finally here.  I am watching the opening ceremonies as I write.  While I certainly appreciate the young lady who sang so well the national anthem, I barely recognized it.  It was the wrong tempo and well, quite frankly, I was a little disappointed when extra bars and other wierd stuff was added.

What a day today.  It was like we were invaded.  I have never seen so many people in our city before.   I got off the bus for work at about 8:30am and the streets were crowed already.  The torch was on its way.  It was a little bit early but I waited like everyone else who were pouring out of the offices around me.  There was quite a procession starting with 2 buses for volunteers, then a van carrying the runners for the day and then 2 coke trucks blasting music and dancers who whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  Considering it was a work morning in the heart of the financial district in front of two Starbucks, the amount of spilled coffee was minimal.  The coke trucks were followed by the RCMP in cars and then 4 mounted police.  Finally, the van carrying the flame was followed by the torch runner.  I was unable to get a picture of the runner due to protecting my own Starbucks cup.

By noon, I was hearing a lot of noise from the street 29 floors below me.  I looked out to see someone on a trampoline doing some tricks for an excited crowd.  I also noticed a crowd starting to line the streets up Georgia and Howe street and in front of the First Nations pavillion (its the space ship in the picture) by the Library.  The torch had made its final run around the city and was on its way back to the downtown base for the final leg prior to the opening ceremonies.  I have inserted the picture from my window of what it looked like about 20 minutes before the torch arrived.  Quite a crowd gatthered.  The fella on the trampoline lost momentum and gave up after awhile.

I wrapped up early in the hopes of catching my bus to Granville Island a little early to pick up some dinner before heading home for the night and getting off the street.  However, as I made my way towards my bus I was confronted by a mob.  I had forgotten about the demonstration that was to take place at the Art Gallery.  Well, it spilled over onto the street and broke through the police barricade to march up Georgia street.  While it appeared some wore their goggles and their special vinegar covered bandanas, a lot seemed to have forgotten.  Too bad for one fella because he got poked in the eyeball by a flag someone was waving.  I sort of felt sorry for him.  Hard to be a badass protester with tears running down your face because you got poked in the eye by a 5 year old waving a flag.  It was a disappointing protest.  They couldn't seem to make up their mind as to what to protest so they protested everything.  It was a bit of a mess and kind of embarrasing for me as a Canadian to discover that a number of our protesters couldn't even spell.  Some of the signage was just plain sad.  For the world press who showed up, it didn't bode well for our school system.  Perhaps I misunderstood and they were protesting poor teaching.

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow - 1st day of competion.  Go Canada Go!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Torched

1 more sleep

The torch just passed by our house.  Well, it was one block away, but still....  I couldnt take any pictures because it was so crowded and the security moved the runner along pretty well.  It is quite remarkable really.  The music and singing is loud and people are hooting and hollering and waving their flags.  I am attending a torch party tomorrow morning at 9am in our office.  The torch passes right by our front door.  The party apparently include a Baileys toast as they pass.  It may be a long day.  The protesters have announced they will be in full force in front of the Art Gallery first thing in the morning.  Should be an interesting time.

I met one my fellow volunteers today who is most likely the most dedicated person I have ever met.  He is a student who transferred here from Slovakia to attend UBC so that he could become an Olympic volunteer.  He is working the transit area at Whistler directing buses and is very happy about it. 

Sears downtown has found a new calling in life.  It is no longer just a department store but now they are posing as a giant flat screen TV.  The west side of the building is now showing the projection of concerts being played in Robson Square.  It is kinda cool.  You can wait for your bus and watch the concert at the same time.

As for me, I was fit for a full walking air cast today.  Here is hoping they let me back on the mountain with it.  If I do not get called in on my on-call shifts for Saturday and Monday then my next full day on the mountain is next Wednesday.  If I promise to keep it elevated and stay off it as much as possible, then I am hopeful that I can still volunteer.  Kris thinks I might be able to pick up a pair of bigger boots at Army and Navy and slide the cast in and then no one at Vanoc will know and keep me away.  I will give it a try tomorrow.  If I cannot find a pair to cover the cast then I will just go with a strong supporting pair of boots and hope for the best.  I haven't worked this hard for the last 2 years not to get across the finish line.  It is too much like finally getting my date with George Clooney only to break out with a case of the mumps the night before.  A real bummer.

The picture is the welcome centre at Pan Pacific.  I will have a new one tomorrow after the torch relay and the bust up at the Art Gallery.  Unless of course, I am in jail and in need of bail money.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

1st Day on the Mountain

1 1/2 days to go

Wow!  What a day!  Up at 6:30 and off to the train by 7:30 to make it to Lonsdale Quay for the trip to Whistler arriving by noon.  This was my first time at my Venue.  I am posted to the Whistler Olympic Village - home of the Ski Jumping, Biathalon and cross country skiing. 

Our bus driver was from Oklahoma and it was his frist trip up the mountain as well.  People on the bus kept talking to him as he drove.  Mentally, I was telling everyone to shut up as I have a fear of being driven off the side of the mountain and into the ocean where a shark will find that I have enough fat to feed his entire family.  In any event, we made it ok.

After check-in, we were allowed to eat lunch before going to an orientation session.  We were issued cell phones and back-packs.  It seems I have to keep the cell phone with me at all times as I am on call for a few additional days.  We will also need them as we move around in case we lose our athlete or something else fun and exciting happens.

We then toured the three venues we will be working.  We are never allowed to take the athlete we are escorting for doping control out into public areas so we were moving through the mazes at the back.  Quite frankly, I got seriously lost.  I think this is why we need the cell phones.  I am pretty sure at least 2 of us a day will be lost in the back country trying to ward off the bears who should be hibernating but there is so much noise they will want to get up and see what is going on.  I fully expect to hear of at least one blue uniform being found covered in blood.

It was an incredibly long day.  There were many other volunteers also going through their finaly run-throughs.  I met people who came from Nova Scotia to volunteer.  Now that is dedication.  We made it back to the bus for the long trip back to Lonsdale at 5:30.  If you miss that bus, the next one into the city is at 9:30.  I had to really hustle for my bus as if I got stuck up there until 9:30 I might have just sat down and cried.

I hobbled onto the bus and shook off my wet coat and took off my touque to dry and took a look at my foot.  I am kind of worried.  It was so sore and swollen that I am afraid I may not make all my shifts.  I will try purchasing new boots tomorrow that might offer more support.  Maybe that will help.  Oh well, nothing is going to stop me short of amputation.

After making it back downtown via the seabus and the train, I transferred to the bus.  However, I obviously looked tired as I seem to have attracted a whack job who took it upon himself to introduce the fact that he is a homeopath and he could tell by my stance and limp hair (touque remember) that I do not eat enough protien and am looking old around the eyes.  He figured I looked much older than my actual age.  Imagine his surprise when I informed him I was actually 62.  Thank God my bus showed up.

Well, my next full shift isnt until next week but I am on call for this weekend. The picture today shows we are getting some snow on the local mountains.  As of tomight, it has been snowing steadily on Cypress and Whistler.

Stay tuned/

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I am Gonna Be Famous!

2 Days To Go

Unless of course you look at the picture I have posted today.  This is the time clock in front of the Art Gallery that counts down the days, hours and minutes.  It says we are still 30 days away.

Well, if anyone has access to Swiss television, you may spot me being interviewed.  I was stopped on Georgia street by a Swiss reporter.  She wanted to know what I thought of all the people in the city.  Was I excited for the games and most importantly, was it always like this in February?  Today happened to be a balmy 10 degrees under very sunny skies so I answered the only way possible - yes, of course.

The news teams and camera crews appear to have almost taken over the city.  They are everywhere and in some cases, standing beside one another reporting to their respective countries in front of the same scenes.  Of course, the talk today revolved around the fact that Matt Lauer of the Today show arrived in town.  I happen to think he is a cutie patootie so I know there will be competition for his attention.  I need to plan my stalking carefully.  Thankfully, it has come to my attention that the NBC crew is staying in the hotel right behind where I live.  If I plan this right, I can stake out their news van and possibly get him in the parking lot.

It was also announced today the California Governer Arnold the terminator will be in town tomorrow to run the torch through Stanley Park.  Not sure why he is involved but I think it is because of the never ending love affair that seems to be taking place between him and our Premier. 

Well, tomorrow is my first day on the mountain.  It is sort of the dress rehearsal before the main event.  We will go through the final walk through and make sure everything is in place.  I am looking forward to it and will have a full report upon my return.

Stay tuned

Monday, February 8, 2010

4 days to go


It seems I have developed a wee stress fracture in my right foot. I have no idea how it happened really. One minute I was fine and on my way to pick up the mail for the office and the next thing I knew I was on the floor. After my doctor stopped laughing at me he sent me for x-rays. Due to his intense laughing he made a mistake as he wrote the order and the next thing I knew I was awaiting my turn in the hospital x-ray department being told I was to have both chest and foot pictures done. I tried to explain there was a mistake but they were adamant I had to have both. I think my doctor and I will be having a real heart to heart soon. I would love to hear his explanation for the need of a chest x-ray for a sore foot.

Prior to my wee side trip, I was out on Granville street enjoying the scenery of another spectacular day (high of 13) when I came across some members of the team from Bulgaria - all of them wearing shorts. They were laughing at those of us wraped up in winter coats and scarves.

I am guessing that the many notices regarding road closures and the need to take public transit rather than drive downtown worked and a great many people took heed and either stayed home or took transit to work. I looked out my window at 8:00am and where I would normally see bumper to bumper traffic along the Cambie bridge and up Seymour, I saw pretty much nothing. I could have run naked down the middle of the street and no one would have noticed as no one was there. I discovered on the train ride home, it was the latter. I had to suck in my stomach just to get on the very packed train..

The photo today is of the Robson skating rink.

Stay tuned

Sunday, February 7, 2010

And the Momentum Grows

5 Days to go

I slipped on my volunteer jacket and headed towards the train to check out a Sunday afternoon in downtown.  The athletes are spilling out on to the street.   The Granville street area is busier than any weekday lunch period. 

As I walked along, I looked up to see the Athletes Village where I was treated to the sight of a number of flags hanging over the balconies of the dorms.  A very large one of a fighting Kangaroo has caught the attention of the IOC.  If seems since it is not the national flag of Australia they want it removed.  I don't understand the issue since it is not advertising a product.  But the IOC gestapo has other ideas.  Let's see who wins.  It is fun to see all the different country flags haning around the village.  There is even one that says "Hi Mom". 

I enjoyed the atmosphere downtown even with a little misting of rain.  I was asked directions by a couple of the Swiss athletes.  They wanted to locate Winners as they were told they could get cheap athletic gear.  We talked for about 10 minutes.  They said they really like Vancouver and Canada.  It is so clean.  They like the warmth as well.  How lucky we are to live in such a wonderful place.  I must admit, I felt a good amount of pride in my country.

A live concert was taking place in Robson Square within the skating rink.  Overheard the zip line is gearing up.  There is music all around.  Buskers are everywhere.  In the train stations, on almost every corner (they should coordinate that one) and spilling out of the bars, pubs and stores all over town.  Everyone seems to be ramping up and enjoying themselves.

On the train ride back a fella sat down next to me and asked where I was volunteering.  I explained I was posted to Whistler and on the Doping Control team.  As I was answering his questions as to what my job would entail, I recieved a tap on my shoulder from behind.  Two young guys were sitting there grinning at me.  They asked "Are you really with doping control?  Can you get us some that you don't need?"
I am guessing they are not a product of a completed public school education.  Thier mothers must be so proud.

Today's picture is of the side of the Royal Bank welcoming the world and showing their support.

Stay tuned

Friday, February 5, 2010

More Stuff

7 Days to go

Another day in paradise.  While it didn't reach 13 again today, it did hit 10 degrees.  We are still in the midst of the warmest winter on record.  Great for tourists not so hot for the skiers planning to compete at Cypress.  If the games were last year, with all the snow we had, they could have done the luge straight down Georgia street with the finish line at Pacific Centre.

More road closures.  Both of the viaducts are closed now until March 2nd.  Next week - more closures, including turning Robson street to pedestrian only.  For those of us walkers, I think it will be nice to have both Robson and Granville for pedestrians.

It seems we are to prepare for quite the sight next Friday.  It is not just the fact that the torch will be making its way through town to BC place for the opening ceremonies but that the rent-a-thugs are promising an interesting side event.  According to the news last night, they are shipping in protesting staff from around the globe.  They are advising staff to bring their own goggles and to soak their bandana's in apple cider vinegar to help ward off the tear gas that Canadian Police are well known for using (??? really?? I thought it was tasers we were well known for). 

I made a pit stop on the way home and and I am now the proud owner of my very own pepper spray.  I figure this is my perfect chance to try it out.  Who's going to notice?  It seems the protest is planned right outside my office so it will be handy.  While the police are busy with thier tear gas, who is going to notice a middle aged woman testing pepper spray?  They will be protected by the apple cider vinegar anyway.

I'll let you all know how it works out.  I might have to ask for bail money, but I think the chance is slim.

Today's picture is of the Robson Square skating rink.  As I was waiting for the bus I noticed that there was a skating performance taking place.  This is a break in the action and one of the Mascots took to the ice.  The kids in the crowd went nuts.

Stay tuned

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Little Paranoia

8 Days to go

Well, it hit 13 in the city today.  Wonder if we should start the Spring Olympics. 

So, there is security everywhere.  The police helicopters have been buzzing around our building and over the false creek area for a couple of days now.  It seemed to be a little more today though.  Since I have just enough healthy paranoia, I was able to slip into my Wonder Woman costume and skip out the back door unnoticed.

The radio waves were abuzz with cranky people today.  I have pretty much had enough of all the grumps.  A group of mostly rent-a-thugs have announced that on Friday as the torch makes it way through downtown on its way to the dome for opening ceremonies they are planning a big protest.  They state they want to cause as much disruption as possible to the event.  All in the name of free speech.  What about my freedom to enjoy myself?  It seems these dissolutioned fools are using the argument that if we hadn't spent all this money on the games then suddenly we wouldn't have any poverty or homelessness.  What on earth makes them think that the money spent the Olympics would have been spent other stuff?  I am pretty confident that would not have been the case.  Most likely we would have built another bridge or bribed someone or perhaps paid for some politicians rehab.

Every station I turned on today someone was complaining about the cost, the games, the people, the cars, the buses and anything else they can think of.  I am so tired of it.  For goodness sakes, they are here - nothing can be done and whether we agree or disagree there is nothing to be done to stop them.  Damn it - put a smile on your face and pull the stick out of your butt or stay the hell home and outta my way.  I am planning on having a great time if I have to hurt someone to do it.

The picture today is of the back side of the Art Gallery.  The jumbo tron will show some of the games and because there will be a zip line going across Robson Gallery, they will show all the goofy people sailing above the street.  Should be fun and I will be one of the goofs.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Better Now

9 Days to go

The weather is sort of co-operating.  It is a little bit chillier than yesterday.  I think we went down to 7 degrees and it seems that some snow fell on Cypress yesterday.  They have been trucking in dump truck loads of snow from the back country and Manning Park to try to get Cypress covered before NBC shows up. 

So, after the issue with the signage being wrong and tourists wandering into the ocean hit the news, the city sent out workers to correct all the signs.  I was almost disappointed.  There goes a wee bit of fun.  It was fun directing the tourists one way while the signs pointed them elsewhere. 

The games volunteers were offered 1 free ticket (with each additional costing $50) to the final dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies on the 10th.  They stated we can pick them up all this week.  Well, it must have been a hit with a lot of people wanting the to go.  The line-up lasted all day and sneaked around 4 blocks.  Within minutes of picking up the tickets this morning some very enterprising volunteers had them on Craigs List for upwards of $100.  These are most likely the cheapest tickets to anything during the games.  Other tickets for the real opening ceremonies are posted on line for anywhere from $3745.00 to $2200.00 per ticket.  It is faintly embarrassing to see the greed and price gouging.  I hope it backfires on them.  It seems to have already backfired on some folks.  It seems there are some of empty hotel rooms and individual suites in homes.  People got too greedy and now there are all these empty places.  In fact, the floating hotel just cancelled.  The cruise ship started out asking almost $1000 per night and at the end of the games it would cruise to San Fransisco.  When it didn't sell out, they lowered the price to around $500 and then $250 followed.  It didn't work and last night they cancelled.  Perhaps the people who did pay for it will now fill up some of the empty rooms.

I think I have a bit of a mean streak.  I love to see some of these greedy buggers go down and get stuck. 

The picture today is of the TD Tower and their giant cell phone advertistment.  I will cruise with the camera again tomorrow as something odd has popped up down by the Library and I will put that photo up.

Stay tuned

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nice to Know

11 days to go

So another mild and wet day today.  We are still in double digits - 10 was the high today.  It is supposed to get a little cooler this week and there is a good chance of snow on the local mountains.

It is nice to know that those of us who may have children who want government jobs but didn't finish high school, I am hear to tell you not to worry.  There is evidence that education is not a factor in the hiring process.

As I waited for my bus home today I had the pleasure of watching some city workers put up a beautiful sign in front of the Art gallery.  It really is very nice and must have cost a very pretty penny.  The sign points the way to Robson square, the law courts and the Art gallery.  However, even though it is placed directly in front of the same Art gallery, it points the wrong way.  In fact, all the locations it touts are in the wrong direction.  If you follow the directions on the sign you better bring your swim suit because you are going to land in Burrard Inlet.  As I watched this sign go up, other people stopped to stare.  One fella asked if we should tell the workers that the sign is wrong.  The general concensus was the passing of a hat for bets on how long it would take them to figure it out.  Cost me $5 but it was worth the laugh.  Finally, one of our group could stand it no longer and approached the team of 5 putting up the sign.  While we couldn't hear the actually conversation there was a lot of pointing and nodding involved.  The fella came back to our group and told us to wait for it.  After one of the workers finished polishing the front of the sign he pulled a piece of green cardboard out of his backpack along with a staple gun.  When he was finished we all stepped back to admire his work.  The green cardboard sign posted a wee correction to two of the locations.  Neither of which was the Art gallery which we were still standing in front of.  Who knew?  Could have saved $50,000 for a fancy sign when all you really need is poster board from the dollar store and a stick.

I was sorry when my bus finally came by.  However, when we stopped at another stop I happened to look out the window and noticed another of these very fancy signs and felt all warm and fuzzy in the knowlede that this sign was also wrong.  The sign is placed at the entrance to Granville Island.  The posted directions to Granville Island will lead the visitor to Vancouver General Hospital.  I guess we have to wait for the green poster board correction.

So, as you can see, anyone with just a minimal education can work for city government - at least as a sign painter.

Today's picture is of the Pan Pacific and the welcome to the world's media.

stay tuned