Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday, February 6th, 2010 -- Tropical Vancouver :)

G'Day, Bloggymates!

Yes, my token one word with an Aussie accent... in tribute to the Aussie team's boxing Kangaroo mascot flag! LOL! Oh, it's all too funny that the games haven't even started yet and already we have an International incident!!

As you can see from the picture, some of Team Aussie have arrived in Vancouver and they have hung their team mascot flag (a 2 storey flag) from the balconies of the condos they are staying in at the Athletes Village. But, some beaurocrat at the IOC has no sense of ha ha and has told them it must come down. Little did the IOC realize that the whole city, including the Mayor is on the side of the Aussies and their mascot flag ... to the point where, if the IOC officially orders them to take it down, then the Mayor of Vancouver and the Mayor of Surrey have both said they would be proud to fly the flag at their City Halls :) The IOC would be nuts to order the flag removed... their reason is, since it is a trademark flag, then it is too commercial. But the flag is not selling anything other than promoting team spirit ... which is what the Olympics are all about, no?? :)

For more on this -- and I'm sure if you were to Google it, you'd find News articles about it in papers from all over the world since the Aussies have the world on their side. Hehehe... I want to get one to add to my Team Canada flag on my car .

And now... can we talk about winter in Vancouver?? Yikes!! Here is a picture with some of the pilons(sp?) along the side of the road which will be one of the roads that are closed down during an event:

Yes, people... those are daffodils in full bloom!! At the beginning of Feb (picture was taken today). I was hoping to be able to put up a picture of the cherry blossoms that have started coming out this week... they normally aren't in full bloom until April! Now, we all know Vancouver is known for it's mild winters... but spring does not usually arrive in February! And wouldn't you know it, last year at this time we were the ones that were buried under more snow than we had seen in years. I remember being apartment-bound for over a week... and when I did finally get to go out, I was limited as to where I could go because of the snow. This year, not a problem... but the problem is definitely up on the local mountains!

Our local Cypress Mountain is where the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events are going to be held and they are having serious problems with a lack of snow! It is just too warm up there with temps hovering around the 11C (approx 52F) so they can't even "make snow". Instead, they have had to put together a fleet of helicopters and a fleet of trucks who are transporting snow from mountains further away and building up the courses. Every three minutes, 24/7, helicopters are coming in with tons of snow. The trucks are stockpiling it at the top of the mountain so it can be brought down as needed over the 18 days. Of course, they are really hoping the temps drop up on the mountain so they can start "making snow" with the snow making machines.

Oh, and I think I mentioned the other night about the Vectorial Elevation light show that is just down the street from me. I am so thrilled with it... I can watch the dancing lights for hours! Here is a picture that I captured off the web cam (, the same web cam on the bridge that I have mentioned to out of town friends that they can see the summer fireworks competition on:

I'm pretty sure I put up the link for this lightshow in a previous entry but what the heck, it's got to be one of my favourite things about the Olympics so far, so I'll put it again -- If you go to that link, whether you live in Canada or not, you can participate in this light show artwork by designing a pattern for the lights... it's an interactive work of art that everyone can participate in!

So, today I was busy, busy, busy here at home, trying to get caught up in all the Suzy Domestic chores. I have a funny feeling that during the Olympics, even when I am at home, life is going to revolve around the games and what's going on in Vancouver. I do know I want to get down to some of the Venues close by... but we'll have to see if I can physically handle it. Walking for any length of time is not one of my strong points and with that many people roaming around, getting transportation out of the venues might be a problem. But, even if I am at home, like previous Olympics in other cities, I found myself glued to the television. Something tells me, this year's Winter Olympics will be that much more personal being that they are right here... with or without snow. So the last thing I want hanging over my head are all the household chores... laundry being a biggie! Yikes... I had 5 loads of laundry this week! I kept putting it off and putting it off and before you knew it, I had 5 loads. Well, I finally got them all finished today... so I am now laundry free... for a few days :D

Now, on Monday, it should be a real adventure! I am going to be taking a cab and hopefully get as close to BC Place (that's the stadium with the air-dome roof that you all have probably seen when you see a picture of downtown Vancouver). That is one of the venues so of course, it is in a security zone where the roads all around it are shut down. So I'm not sure how close a cab can get me to it... but that's where I'm going on Monday to watch one of the dress rehearsals for the Opening Ceremonies (which will actually take place for real on Fri, Feb 12). It should be interesting because all of us in the audience (around 50,000 invited audience) are asked to wear white... and that we will know why once we get there. Of course, one of the rules is "No Cameras", which is totally understandable. They don't want pictures of any of the acts in the Opening Ceremonies to be put on the internet before the actual official show on Feb 12th. So, even though this is a dress rehearsal and not the official opening... I think it should still be very exciting.

Hahaha... then it should be really interesting once the show is over! EVERYONE will be leaving at the same time... and there is no vehicle traffic in the area. So everyone will be leaving the area on the skytrain, public transit or by cab. Just how long will it take to get everyone out of the area?? We have never had an event with that many people at the stadium and no cars. When there are events, people come down in their cars... park... and then leave by car. Soooo, I have no idea when/how I will be getting home :) Wish me luck!

I'm sure there were some other things I was going to mention, but alas, my brain has turned to mush. So I think I'll call it a night and crawl into bed, with a certain little diva schnauzer who went to bed about an hour ago after we came in from her trip out to the back lane :)

Ta ta for now!



Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday, Feb 4th, 2010 -- We need snow!!!

Hiya Bloggymates!

The air is just crackling with excitement in this here fair city of ours... but I'm thinking that it hasn't really sunk in just how huge this Winter Olympics event is! Seriously! I mean, yes, we've all watched them in past years, on the tv... and I know there are more friends than just me who say they normally don't ever watch sports on tv (have no interest in them) EXCEPT for the Olympics. For some reason, Olympic sports always seem to bring out the patriotism in everyone, no matter where you live or where the Olympics are being hosted.

So, ok, it's Vancouver's turn to host and shine. For sure, there will always be controversy around such a huge event... usually based around the amount of money that is spent to bring these games to fruitation. And wherever you have huge amounts of money being spent, you will have politics/government involved... which REALLY gets everyone going. Then, no matter how pure the "Olympic Spirit" may or may not be, there are all the big names in the Corporate World involved... with the corporates sinking in big $$$'s to have their logo and brand name splashed everywhere. This event is HUGE... and for us little folk who just happen to be living here and will admit to a closet addiction to watching Olympic sports... I don't think the hugeness of the event is really going to hit us until it's all over :)

So here, on my little blog... that is not meant to be an Olympic blog, but it just happens the Olympics are happening in this blogger's hometown, I will be reporting on the various goings ons that may or may not be making it to the headlines of the papers outside of Vancouver. For this, I'm going to have two sets of awards --- the Party Pooper Award which I'll give out to those companies/individuals who just aren't living up to the Olympic Spirit as hosts, which all of us who live here are hosts to the games... and then the Olympic Gold Rings Award that will go to any company/individual who I think has truly embraced the Olympic Spirit and done something to make the Olympics special for a visitor or resident.

Soooo... on Feb 4th, 2010 I am handing out the first 2 Awards. The Party Pooper Award goes to a company from Edmonton (Newwest Special Projects) who leased the cruise ship "Norwegian Star". This ship had planned to come here and dock in Vancouver to be used as a floating hotel. But, due to "not making enough bookings" they are now pulling out and leaving about 1000 people stranded with no accommodation. 1000 people who booked early and were so excited to be coming to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics... and now they are without accomodation. Nothing like pulling out a week before the event opens, eh? But, at the same time I am going to give out an Olympic Gold Rings Award to a New Jersey marketing company, JetSet Sports, a ticket supplier for the games... who came through for 13 terminally ill children from Canada, the US and Australia (and their 53 family members) who were booked on the Norwegian Star through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Their dreams of coming to the Olympics in Vancouver, seeing some of their favourite events and meeting some of their heroes (athletes), was all arranged for them, until the accommodations were no longer. JetSet Sports has rooms for their corporate needs/staff and they are giving these rooms to the kids and their families. Now THAT'S when I can't fault Corporate "greed"... when they turn around and do something like this!! Meanwhile, the phones have been ringing off the hook at Make-A-Wish-Foundation with people from all over Vancouver offering their homes to these children and families. So, we have the greed of Corporate Newwest Special Projects putting all these people in a position of having no accommodation, and another corporate player coming to the rescue. Mind you, it is the Make-A-Wish kids who are the winners here... the rest of the 1000 customers are now scrambling for accommodation.

Well, enough for today. It's 4pm and I have to take the car and see how long it takes me to get across the Lions' Gate Bridge to the North Shore. I'm heading over to my friends' to pick up a ticket to the first Dress Rehearsal of the Opening Ceremonies on Monday (Feb 8). Today is the FIRST day that the "Olympic Lanes" go in effect.... a lane on the major roads that are to be used for official Olympic vehicles and public transit (buses). So the start of the crazy traffic begins oh... about half an hour ago :)

Then, while I'm on the North Shore, I'm going to be meeting a friend for dinner... so hopefully when I come back tonight, traffic will be back to normal! Wish me luck!! LOL!



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday, Feb 2nd, 2010 - It's Olympic Countdown Time!

Ooooh, blogmates! The time is almost here! Only 10 more days and the world descends upon Vancouver and our little colonial town will cease to be a little town in the rainforest of Western Canada :)

That's right gang... we've been hearing for 8 years how the Olympics are coming, how all these plans are in the works, how we are over budget, how the security budget went from something like $160 million to over $4 billion. Everything is Olympics this and Olympics that. If you want to hear heated arguments, chances are the word "Olympics" comes into play. There are so many who are excited about the Olympics and this once in a lifetime event happening in our home city, there are those who are sooooo against them because of all the money that has/is going into them and in this recession we need money to be put into education, healthcare, seniors, etc. You will get those arguing that the Olympics HAVE brought jobs to those who otherwise would not have work because of the recession, not to mention the boost to the economy... but then you get the rest of the province saying that they have to help pay for the debt, but they don't actually get to see any benefits from the Olympics up where they are.

The end result... the Olympics are going to happen... and they start in 10 days! There are things that have been put into place that the majority of us have not had to deal with (or have seen) in our life in this city. For instance, today, police and law enforcement have arrived from across Canada, as well, I believe from Washington State. There are more officers/agents/undercover/security types here in this city, starting today, than have been on the West Coast of Canada since World War II ... when we were defending our shores from the Japanese who we/the US were at war with.

As a city, we have a public transit system, of which more buses will be added to the city routes, especially the downtown routes and the routes out to UBC (University of British Columbia). BUT, VANOC has contracted a US firm to supply 1000 buses (over and above what we already have) and 400+ drivers. Of course, this started an argument on Facebook about why didn't VANOC give the contract to a Canadian bus/charter company? Well, the reason is quite obvious... we don't have a bus company anywhere in Canada that can quickly amass 1000 extra buses plus 400+ licensed bus drivers. It's not a matter of ignoring Canadian bids for contracts... there are some contracts that no Canadian companies/individuals have bid on because they can't complete or commit to the contract... so VANOC has had to go elsewhere and hire a company that can. These 1000 buses have been arriving from all over the States starting this past weekend. These buses will make up the "Olympic Bus Network" which will be a network of buses that will take those with tickets to events, to the venues. For instance, a lot of the skiing/snow events are up at Whistler... a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from downtown Vancouver.

Now, get this... security IS going to be tight at the venues, and rightly so. So the Olympic organizers are telling people if you have tickets for any event, be it the Opening/Closing ceremonies or any of the sporting events... plan your day accordingly. You will want to get to the venue at least 2 hours before the event because you are going to have to go through the same kind of security that you would go through that you do when you have a ticket for a plane flight. Pack light... if you have a big purse or bag, then this will be xrayed, and manually checked, plus you will also go through a metal detector. If you pack light and only come with say a cell phone and your wallet, then you get to go through the Express Security Line... you still will need to go through the metal detector, and you'll still need to empty your pockets, etc... but you won't have to go through the manual check of a purse/backpack if you don't bring one. Oh... and leave those water bottles at home. You will not be able to bring water or beverages in... you'll have to buy them once you are in the venue. And once you are through security and in the venue? Don't think of leaving and coming out because once you are in, if you come out, you won't be allowed back in.

Starting today, the road closures have started. Not all of them... they are phasing them in over the next week... but once they are all in place, I think that's when we can expect this city to come to a vehicle stand-still, at least here in the downtown core. The rest of the city is going to have huge amounts of traffic trying to find other ways of getting from Point A to Point B. Then again, maybe people will just stay away from the downtown area with their car because even if they can get down here, there's nowhere for them to park. Almost all the main and semi-main roads have become no stopping/no parking streets.

I'm still prepared to leave my car home for the full 18 days if need be... but I'm hoping I will be able to get around to get to the grocery store, or up to my doctor's office (I have a blood test scheduled for Feb 8th)... but worst case scenerio, I'll be able to take a bus up the street :)

Let the games begin!! I just can't imagine where/when all the people are going to arrive... but we have been warned for 8 years now that they are all coming. So, who am I to think otherwise??

Ok.... time to call it a night!! Stay tuned :)