Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canadian snapshot

The focus of the 2010 Winter Olympics is on the athletes, the City of Vancouver and Canada.

But starting from snowboarder Johnny Lyall’s spectacular jump inside BC Place Stadium at the opening ceremonies, the positive side effects of these Olympics has been to expose the Canadian personality to the world.

We showed an enticing portrait of our First Nations people, the vastness of this country, our love of nature and sense of history on that first day. A hint that this tapestry of Canadians had something other than sports going on up there in the Great White North.

Sure, the world already knew we were polite, but by being the center of attention for two weeks, something we are usually a little uneasy with, we gave the world a glimpse of what Canadians really are. Polite but not meek. Proud but not arrogant. Confident with modesty. Intriguing yet unpretentious.

What wowed the world was Alexandre Bilodeau’s first gold medal on Canadian soil. Not the athletic feat but the devotion he showed to his cerebral palsy struck older brother. That was a vignette way more important than a physically fit athlete winning an event. And the country shone with pride at Alex’s humility and love of his family in TV interviews. His priorities were correct.

Maelle Ricker’s gold followed and this pretty women seemed like a cake bake-off winner instead of a finely tuned athlete. Nothing dramatic just grateful and appreciative thanks for the efforts of others in helping her to victory. The picture of Canadians was beginning to emerge.

Tears followed when gold favoured Mellisa Hollingsworth finished fifth in her skeleton sliding event. The old attitude of, ‘it just wasn’t my day’ became she felt she had 'let her country down.' Yet all of Canada came to her side in a show of winning isn’t the only thing. Being a real person who cared was. And Devon Kershaw's painful emotion after fifty exhausting kilometers of cross-country skiing and being only 1.6 seconds from a gold medal captured our hearts. But he is now one of the world's best and signaled the new attitude.

Time and time again our athletes appeared in the spotlight, not a harsh glare but more like a bright morning sun, and every one of them showed the personality that makes for great people. Revealing themselves to the world. Sometimes unsophisticated, sometimes worldly but always invigorating our spirits too.

Joannie Rochette’s courageous skate added to the aura of Canadians. The world held its breath and watched a young woman perform what became a private routine for her mother, tragically passed on only a few days before. Joannie allowed a few tears of grief only when the job was done. Fortitude and determination on display along with her graceful skill. Shared with a compassionate audience.

Then Jon Montgomery won the men’s skeleton and revealed yet another facet of the Canadian persona. Clearly enjoying a little glory while retaining his humbleness, grabbing a beer from a well wisher in the crowd and quaffing it before passing it on again. His fresh naturalness was his blessing.

The huge crowds in downtown Vancouver, after a short blip from protesters tolerated only once, embodied a spirit and fun and pride in being Canadian, almost as if no one was watching. Yet the world peeked in through television and learned that we too, can be flag wavers when the occasion demands it. Passion is part of our character and though k.d. lang sang a mellifluous and memorable Hallelueah at the opening, Oh Canada became the choice in the streets.

Even American NBC TV raved about how warm and welcoming we Canadians were to them and featured us in a favourable light.

Our hockey girls came through again, and were caught later still on the ice celebrating. What were they doing? Champagne and cigars! How unique and distant from the decorum others wanted to thrust on them. Canadians can be weird too!

So as our games went on, win or lose, we displayed our skills, our fine athletes, our country, our Canada. Even turned an early malfunction into a joke about ourselves in the closing ceremonies. But most of all, we displayed our Canadians as youthful eager participants on the way through life. A people who can adapt to whatever their needs are.

We gave the world a snapshot of what Canadians are, and can be, and will be and what makes us so great. A country full of proud, hopeful people who need no spotlight, yet can rise to the occasion and shine in their natural northern light, our beautiful aurora borealis.

And it is these many dimensions of character that assure the world that Canada and Canadians will continue to be trusted and respected in the future, in sports and in all aspects of life.

Good going Canada!

Canadians have shown the world that although winning isn’t everything, we still won. We wowed the world and we wowed ourselves too. Put the snapshot in your album, it's going to be there forever now.

Tom and Gary's Decentralized Dance Party

Go here - - look at this and try and tell me Vancouver isn't a fun city!

Tom and Gary will infect you with good clean fun in the streets with Tom and Gary's Dynamic Dance Party Delivery Service!

Hey, Tom and Gary, I saw you down there in Library Square last night. Hooting and hollering and singing and dancing around. You pissed me off ‘cause you were all having way too much fun. And I am old. (pout) I get jealous about stuff like that.
Feb 28. It was midnight.
Then you led those jolly jiggling people off into the night like a pair of Pied Pipers, a cluster of red and white and dance party vibrations going who knows where?
And I was sad when the echoes stopped reverberating through the buildings because I knew it would take way too long to tie my shoe laces and follow you.
Well maybe it is leap year and my wife will ask me to marry her tomorrow.
Oh Canada.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic curling

Flicking around the other night during the Games. No Olympic hockey on the tely. No skiing. No moguls. Flick. Flick.
Wait, what was that? (flick back) Ooo, whooo is she? Nice. Canada's Cheryl Bernard. Wow. What a great looker.
(Steady gaze) Very nice and she seems to be playing some sort of game. Oh yes, curling. My my. Intense too when throwing a rock. And what's that she's shouting? Hard! Hard, harder! OMG. (Of course this is 'dirty old man' think.)

So I watched Cheryl for awhile. And came to the conclusion that maybe curling is actually a good sport.
I used to think it could be improved with body checking. Used to think it was boring. So between ogling Cheryl and watching what she was actually doing, I realized this sweet looking woman is extremely good at her sport. And curling is pretty interesting. Full of strategy and thought. Someone said chess on ice. Later I tuned in the Canada mens games and noted that Kevin Martin was accurate as hell in leading his team to victory too.

So of course I began watching curling at the Olympics. And several friends have found the same thing, that curling is an interesting sport that it is much more complex than I had imagined.
Now I am watching several curling games/matches/contests. And the bonus for a d.o.m. is that the women are so good looking. Can you say that?
So do they care how I got interested in curling? Do they care that I wonder if Cheryl will appear in the Canadian edition of Playboy? The announcer said 'curling is sexy', not me.
Well, I am now a fan, I think they care about that.

And I can say that Cheryl Bernard got me into curling.

adenda - The team won silver medal!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thanks guys.

I don't know if these men in black were Vancouver City Police, VANOC Integrated Security Unit, or RCMP, but there were 7 of them up there on a rooftop overlooking BC Place yesterday.
They were positioned on each corner of the building and watching the huge crowd coming in for the opening ceremonies.
You might notice the rifle scope sticking out of the bag.

It started raining and got cold as the gray day wore on. But they were vigilant on that rooftop, watching everything below with scopes and binoculars, just popping up their hoods and ignoring the chill.
I watched them into the rainy night. When it got really dark I could barely see them, on that roof, lurking in the shadow. Watchful. Scanning below. The ceremonies ended just after 9 pm and it became a driving rain.

Gretsky, taking the final torch to light the waterfront cauldron, endured it for a few moments, although perhaps warmed by his Olympic torch, and got huge applause. Happy people left BC Place and the street party began, enthusiasm undampened by the cold rain and the night.

I went to bed at 1 am and had a last look through a scope at that black rooftop. I could barely pick them out until my eyes adjusted, but they were still up there, standing darkly on the corners of that roof like ethereal gargoyles.
They were still there looking out for us, folks, you and me.

Over 60 thousand people attended those magical opening ceremonies, most of them proud of Canada and Canadians and unaware they were being looked after so well.

I suggest a huge thanks and a round of applause for them too.
Thanks guys.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Today in History ... February 05

1989 - Radio Moscow announced that the last Soviet soldier had left Kabul, Afghanistan.
Just in time for the first American soldier to arrive.
Meanwhile the Afghanis checked their stockpiles of American weapons, supplied to them by the American CIA to use against the Soviets, now ready for use against the Americans.
Alas. The cycle continues.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Open letter to Rafe Mair

You've no idea how many people miss an investigative reporter with some bristle.
Even though one mellows with age and accepts things one never would have at 20 or 30 or 40, one begins to realize that what we knew and how we lived when younger, will probably never happen again.
It seems today's newspapers, radio and TV news are all in line to simply pass on information designed for us by someone else.
I have quit listening to Bill Good because there are too many times I find myself egging him on and saying, "Ask your guest about this!" But alas, he meekly allows them to escape without insisting on answers. And most of the news outlets simply accept the politician's answers. (Michael Smyth may be a bright spot)

Well, I really wanted to tell you my take on the destruction of BC without much questioning from the general public. I am not blaming that public, only realizing that everyday they are slugging out a living and have no time for blame. Of course, there was a time when we knew Rafe WAS asking those prickly questions in the Jack Webster tradition on behalf of the public.

Many years ago, I worked for a film production company, and we made the film 20 Great Years for WAC Bennett. We were told (in secrecy) about the upcoming election about nine months before it was announced by Premier Bennett. I did a lot of work on that film including editing, directing, filming and writing. I was also involved in researching the many aspects of what the Social Credit Government had done in those twenty great years. That was when I became sold on how great British Columbia was.

But my long winded point of this letter is that starting with WAC Bennett, the intent of the succeeding premiers was always the same, regardless of political party, to continue to build this great province.
Dave Barrett, Bill Bennett, Mike Harcourt, Bill Vander Zalm, Glen Clark, et al, in spite of their problems that the press made much controversy about, still had the intent of building our province. And in retrospect, when reviewing what they did, one has to ask how bad was it? They all still placed BC first.
From WAC's taking control of the Pacific Great Eastern railway and making it BC Rail to open up and service BC's interior and north, to the expropriation of the BC Electric and making of BC Hydro, we had British Columbians with guts, talent and smarts who looked after us, were proud to participate in our province, and made our lives better. Our wild salmon fishery was one of the wonders of the world. We got our Knowledge Network etc etc.

With Mr Gordon Campbell, it is almost like we are dealing with a mole spy from another country, who has gotten into power and has now set about to dismantle the province, and turn it over to foreign interests.
Why would anyone put a middle man into our Hydro power system who needs to siphon off profit when BC Hydro's profit went wholly into BC?
What is the true purpose of Run of the River power projects except to extract profit for others?
Why would we allow those foreign owned Atlantic salmon fish farms to destroy that great wild sockeye fishery?
When virtually ALL our liquor profits went into BC's coffers, why would we want to sell out that for some other people's profits?
Why did we need outsiders looking for profits to make BC Gas global? I'm still not sure how our BC Gas became Terasen?
What reasons can be used for sending 430 million dollars to German workers for BC Ferries when British Columbia ship yards are totally capable and already have built enduring ships still in service. And that 430 million would have filtered into BC's economy and workers instead of Germany's. What possible reason would Mr. Campbell have had for trying to shut down the Georgia Straight tabloid? Except to stop free speech? Well, he has effectively curtailed all our news outlets now.

We used to proudly build hospitals, not shut them down. And what premier from this history would have ever separated a husband and wife in their last few years together? None of them, we had human people in charge of our province then. BC people. And virtually all of these premiers trusted British Columbians to run things. No need to import strangers with secret agendas.
The non answers to these questions set conspiracy theorists vibrating with corruption and secret bank account speculations. Which is one result of unanswered questions.

Most of us old timers recall the days of Pat Burns, Jack Webster, Gary Bannerman and Ed Murphy on our radio waves. And especially the days when Rafe Mair, at the risk of making an enemy, refused to accept an evasive answer, and went again and again after the truth.

It is with dismay that anyone born and raised here looks at the state of our province today and contemplates it's future.
The only question I have left to ask is: Are we past the point of no return?

Monday, February 01, 2010


This is about spiders and crickets.
Jonathan Storm, a behavioural ecologist at the University of South Carolina exposed lab-grown female crickets to wolf spiders whose fangs had been immobilised with wax, then studied the behaviour of their subsequent offspring.
Storm found that cricket infants remained motionless for longer in the presence of spider silk or droppings than the offspring of mothers that had not been exposed to spiders. Staying still is one of the ways that crickets avoid becoming spider food.
Great so far.
Exposing the eggs or juvenile crickets themselves to spider cues did not alter their behaviour, suggesting that mothers had influenced this aspect of their young's behaviour during the egg's production.
Ok, then what?
Wild-caught crickets from spider-rich habitats also produce more cautious offspring than mothers from spider-poor habitats, Storm found.
I think I get it, spiders eat noisy crickets. Did we need to give Mr. Storm a government grant for that revelation?
Storm doesn't know whether the cricket mother's warning is transmitted to the egg via maternal hormones or some other mechanism.
But I think he wants another grant to find out.

I have only one question. Mr Storm, have you nothing else to do?

Cricket, watch out, your spidey senses are telling you portent stuff.