Welcome to my Musings

Welcome to my blog. This is the first time I have really tried to do this seriously. I need to be able to document my thoughts about things in the world. A few people have suggested that I try using this medium. I likely won't write everyday, but when something is important to me, so that might be several times per week. We'll see how it goes. Who knows, I may decide that I have something worthwhile to say everyday.

Tell me what you think about what I'm saying. Let me know if you see a hole in what I'm saying. All I ask is that you are nice about it. Enjoy!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why are the Paralympics seeming less important?

During the Olympics (Feb. 13-28) as i would travel down and back on Granville Street to my physio appt. i saw many flags on the front of houses. Every other car had at least 1 small Canadian flag flying from it, sometimes 2, others had rigged big flags on their cars or trucks. There was so much Canadian pride and support for the athletes, especially our own.

This Friday (Mar. 12) riding the bus down Granville St., from 49th to 16th i counted 4 flags in front of houses or in windows. I didn't count cars with flags, but there were less than 10 in total and this is going both ways. Vancouver, what is going on here? Why isn't the city pumping this up the way they did the Games for able-bodied athletes? No offence to those athletes, but Para-Olympians (don't know if that is the correct name) have to train that much harder because of their physical challenges.They should be getting just as much if not more support. I turned on CTV to see what games were on. There weren't any. A little bit later, there was 2 hours of highlights scheduled. Nothing live. During the February Games, there was hardly anything else to be found on that station or any sports channel for that matter, so i heard. I only watched CTV.

I have always thought more of the Para-Olympians, because of what they have had to overcome to even get to the point of training for something like the Olympics. I watched most of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. I was amazed by Lucas "Lazy Legs" Patuelli. I will give you a few links to watch a video he did, and a still shot from the Ceremony. They also had men in wheelchairs doing something that was much like skateboarding or even snowboarding, even flipping up into the air!!

There has been some debate in the Vancouver Sun (March 11, p. A13 & March 12, p. A15) between Dr. Robert Steadward, who is the Founder of the Internatinal Paralympic Committee (IPC) & Sir Phil Craven, current President of the IPC  as to whether the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games should be combined. Steadward believes that this would allow the Para-Olympians to share the same energy in the host city, host country and the rest of the world. He doesn't offer logistical solutions; but, is that his job? It all seems a bit idealistic, but i do like the idea of inclusion and having one big party, perhaps over 3 weeks as opposed to a 10 day break and then another 10 days of partying albeit on a smaller scale. Most downtown Vancouver venues are closing at 9pm. During the Olympics in Feb. the headline act didn't start till 9/9:30pm and that was on a Monday night!  I don't really see that there would be that much of a problem.

Craven says that combining the two different events would create inefficiences, too many athletes, coaches and officials. That the host city couldn't handle that many people at one time. Yes, a bigger athletes village would be needed, and there would be special transportation needs. But if we can do it separately, why not together? To be inclusive and not make a distinction between physical challenges of able-bodied athletes and those who are physically challenged in their everyday life takes away from the accomplishments of and the focus from the Para-Olympians. "we're able to have our own identity". He says, Jeff Lee wrote in the Sun (Mar. 12), that Craven wants the Paralympics to "stand on their own merit" Craven said "I believe the Paralympic Games have to attract the media in their own right". I see his point, but is this happening?

Vancouver is the first Olympic host city to host both the Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games. This will only happen for Winter Games. It's not really laid out why it only works for the Winter Games, but my guess is that there are only 5 events in the Winter Paralympic Games - Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Wheelchair Curling and Sledge Hockey (and then in many different categories such as visually impaired, sitting, standing, amputee etc. events) - whereas there are 20 summer events. Combining the Summer Games would be more difficult logistically, likely be more costly for the host city because they would likely have to run for at least a month. I don't remember how much of a break they had in Beijing, but it didn't seem all that long. But the Para-Olympians need to be able to go in and train and get a feel for the venues where they will be racing. So, perhaps that is what the break is for.

But, how can the host city keep up the energy of the Olympic Games? Well, i have a whole slue of ideas. Maybe the organizers thought of these things and didn't think they were worthwhile? How about making sure there is at least local media attention on Para-Olympians visiting places like GF Strong, schools where there are physically challenged kids. Maybe this has been happening, but not on the level of all of the other Olympic hype, cuz i haven't heard a lot about it, and i watch the news a lot. The big focus here was on the Torch Relay. Yes, it's important to involve the country and province and small communities of individuals who won't get to go to the Games in Vancouver. But this is where the action is going to be ultimately, and Whistler too. This is where the big hype needs to be; because unfortunately international media doesn't care about Lytton, Hope or Maple Ridge. But we should make them care. There have been some articles on able-bodied reporters trying out Paralympic equipment, but i think if they involved more of the general public and featured that on the national news broadcasts, in different parts of the country and really played it up more than they do, there would be more of an interest, & a curiosity about how it all works. It's all about marketing and media attention and if they are going to "stand on their own merit", then they better do something about their marketing department to keep the buzz alive.

In the meantime, come on citizens of Vancouver. Show the Para-Olympians that you are just as proud of them as their counterparts who don't have to face the same kinds of (daily) challenges, let alone training for the Olympics, as the Para-Olympians do.


Video of Lucus "Lazy Legs" Patuelli : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6Dolnuar-A

Still shot of Patuelli at the Winter Paralympic Opening Ceremony : http://news.globaltv.com/sports/story.html?id=2677691

My Olympic Experience

Actually written Feb. 26, 2010

Well, here we are, almost at the end of what was going to be a relaxing 2 weeks for me. Cuz i wasn't going to go anywhere near downtown. But i caught the fever. I played into their hand. I am weak. I've always loved the Olympics and honestly, the first thing i thought of when i heard that we were going to have them here, i thought about volunteering, or if i could afford tix to any of the figure skating.

But then after hearing the other side, my social conscience kicked in and I decided that it was wrong for Vancouver to be hosting these Games. I have maintained that stance all of these years. I still maintain that belief. I don't think that Vancouver could afford to do this, but they did, even though there was a referendum and a majority of citizens voted against it.

So British Columbia gave money to build stuff. There may even be some federal money pumped in there. Vancouver built a lot of stuff. Richmond built some stuff too. We are on the hook for billions of dollars. But now the Games are here, and it's about the athletes who have worked so hard for their shining moment(s). I've been very proud of all of the athletes. Here's how i see it. If you're a good enough athlete to qualify to go to the Olympics you should be very proud of yourself. If you improve your performance/time, that's really great. If you get a medal of any colour, that is awesome! If you get a Gold medal, that is the icing on the cake.

I haven't been to any actual sport events, but i've watched a lot on tv and am learning more about hockey and enjoying it. Sure, it would be cool to be able to say that i was at an event where Canada won a medal, but i've watched a lot of medal-winning performances, and got a great view of the athletes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Where will all the young artists go???

There is now some funding now for arts programs that employ or are geared towards youth, but, I beg the question: if arts funding for adults is slashed, what are these kids training for? Once they turn 19, are they screwed? Sure, the numbers in the budget might change, especially if BC residents give their heads a shake and elect a decent government that honestly (there's a word you don't see in the same sentence as government very often) cares about the arts and all of the benefits that strong arts programs provide the general population. It seems very hypocritical for the Liberal government to support and tout the Cultural Olympiad and then turn around and screw-over those very same performers by yanking their funding to do more of what they love. Pretty twisted if you ask me.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tilikum: Serial Killer? Really? Can you blame him?

I'm in the middle of a post about the Olympics, but this is just too much. Any of you who know me really well, know how i feel about Orcas, whales in general (well, giraffes too, but so far no killer giraffes that i know of), and then there are my feelings about wild animals in captivity. Animals that some people believe that they have the right to take out of their natural environment for amusement (masked as education) and financial gain. How arrogant can people be? Why is it our "right"? Just because they are there?

This poor creature needs to go to a whale rehab centre so that he can learn to be self-sufficient again and released back into the wild! I'm sure he is pissed off; after 27 years of having to perform tricks. Makes me wonder if evolution is going to come full circle one day and humans will be the ones in the cages doing tricks. I know it's been portrayed, to some extent, in Planet of the Apes (of which i haven't seen all of the movies) but i get the point. I think it would be fair trade. Taste of our own medicine, so to speak.

There are people who operate aquariums (i have to admit that the Vancouver Aquarium does have a large edutainment component to their facility) and places like SeaWorld who will be touting all of the benefits of having such an animal to "learn from". But wouldn't we actually learn more, if they were filmed, somehow discretely, of how they live and interact in the oceans where they belong? We could make 3D movies.

I hope in the generations to come, that technology will advance enough to allow animals to remain where they are meant to live their lives and we are still able to learn from them. Somehow, make things like photo safaris more accessible or produce 3D adventures and travel to schools and educate students about animals and how they survive (or not) in their original environment. That would be so much more humane. There still may be some human risk involved, but if that's what your passion, then that is your right, just as other professions have risks.

So, tell me what you think? Haven't heard from many of you. Maybe you're all just bored with the Olympic stuff but there will probably be 1 or 2 more posts about it with other photos (i'm gonna try to figure out tomorrow how to post photos here) and then i will move onto more topics. Promise.

Monday, February 22, 2010

So much for "hockey is our game" or "this is my hill/track/ice"

What is going on with our athletes? Is competing at home just too much pressure? Sure, we've got some medals. But loosing 5-3 against the USA? Hockey is supposed to be our game! We're supposed to  "know more about "winter sport" than any other nation except for maybe Russia", according to Brian Williams (or some other CTV newscaster, can't remember if it was him).

In speed skating, why do they push so hard to be first out and be in the lead and then loose steam with 2 or 3 laps to go? The commentators know that the Koreans do this - hang back till near the end and then punch it and win. Do the other skaters know this? I understand that they want a record-setting time, but if they would wait till the end to do this, wouldn't work out to be the same? At the same time, they are already great athletes to even BE in the Olympics. I don't know anything about speed skating. Only paying attention to what's going on and what the commentators are saying. But i understand the basic concepts of the sport. Crossing the finish line first is good. Yes, having a really fast time is good too. Anyway, enough complaining and onto congratulating.

I don't care what colour medal you get, it's a medal at the Olympics! I of course congratulate Alexandre Bilodeau for winning Canada's first medal on Canadian soil at the Olympics but also to Jen Heil, Mike Robertson, Maelle Ricker, Jon Montgomery, Christine Nesbitt, Christina Groves and Marianna St.- Gelais. You guys rock. Thank you.

I'd also like to thank the million+ people in town and the thousands downtown. I have heard of so few bad incidents involving Olympic revellers. Even though we lost the hockey game, i didn't hear about any fighting.  I did, however, tune into the news late. It seems that Vancouverites and Canadians in general are on their best behaviour and showing the world how great it is to call this great city home. We do have a lot of problems to fix and now that the world has seen some of our problems, maybe that's enough to light a fire under the asses of the politicians that can actually make some good decisions and fix it.

I will be going downtown tomorrow, in the thick of it. Neil and i walked around through part of it, like where Russia House is (Science World for my local followers). But when we got off the bus (that we waited 1/2 an hour for) at Main St. Stn, in front of the Pacific Central Stn (buses, Amtrack, VIA Rail) the line up to get onto the skytrain was unbelievable. If i can figure out how to post photos on here, i will, on Tues., along with any other photos i take tomorrow. There will not be photos of the cauldron till after the Olypmics are over. Apparently, it's a permanent fixture. I'll wait till i don't have to wait in line for an hour or more. The weather will just keep getting better and better now, so waiting won't have to be long or in the rain. I'll try to take interesting photos tomorrow and not just of crowds.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Feelings on the Olympics

This was actually written on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

Well, I don’t know what to say. I am very firm in my beliefs that having the Olympics in Vancouver is a bad idea. There are many different aspects that contribute to the negative feelings and the reasons why we shouldn’t have the Games here. My biggest reason for not supporting the Games is that we simply can’t afford it. In Vancouver, the homeless issue is a very big reason why we shouldn’t be spending money on this big party. Education is another reason. School s are screaming for funding. Where did it go? The Olympics. Where did the $50,000 legacy left for the Stanley Park Children’s Farmyard go? The Olympics. The Campbell government (our provincial gov’t) has cut funding to the Arts by 92% for 2010. Why? The Olympics. They are talking about cutting our Health Care funding; this could play out in several different ways: cut or delayed surgeries and procedures which means, some people will probably die. Where did that money go? You already know the answer.

I have been telling people for weeks, maybe even months, that I’m not going down into the fray of downtown Vancouver for the next 2 weeks. There is the crowd aspect; but I also feel that if I have negative feelings about Vancouver hosting the Olympics and don’t support the Games being here, then I would be a hypocrite to go down and partake of the festivities. There is nothing that I dislike more, that a hypocrite.

I watched the Opening Ceremonies tonight. I figured, I’m going to help pay for it for the rest of my life, I’d like to see how my money is being spent. I was out to find fault and laugh at mistakes, but I didn’t see any until the end when the 4th piece of the cauldron didn’t come up in BC Place. I had a little chuckle, but my first thought was, Oh, bummer. But before that, when the athletes were walking in I watched all of them and saw pride in each one of their faces, from every country.

Now, normally, when I’m at a Vancouver Canadians baseball game, they usually play American teams. The American flag is raised and someone belts out “Ooohhh say can you see, by the dawns early light…”. I get all choked up. Then the Canadian anthem is played and I can honestly say that it gets me too. Tonight watching the American team walk in, seeing the American flag, I felt no emotion one way or the other. But, when the Canadian Athletes came out, they carried the Canadian flag and hearing Nikki Yanofsky sing “Oh Canada”, it made me cry. What does this all mean?

Watching Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky being transported down Georgia Street to light the outdoor cauldron and seeing how happy people were, how excited they were (the cynical side of me would say that they have bought into all of the propaganda) but these people were genuinely excited and so incredibly happy. It was very obvious that there was a lot of Canadian pride. Having lived in both the USA and Canada – USA 27 years, Brasil 1 year and Canada 20 years last Sept. – I can tell you that there is a lot of patriotic national pride on both sides of the 49th Parallel. But they have a different feel to them.

I hope that my American friends and family (should anyone read this) understand what I am about to say. I know that my Canadian friends and family will. The difference between the sense of pride for Americans and Canadians is this:

USA - We are the best in the world and we are so proud of that.

Canada – We know that we’re the best, but we don’t have to announce it, we’ll just show you how it’s done.