Archive for '2010 Olympics'

Feb 20

Usually this website is about dyslexia and hyperlexia.  This is a diversion – report on my 2010 Olympic trip – to Vancouver.  Day eight, Feb 17th, last day.

I am sitting at the airport, gone through security – more thorough these days – had to open my computer and turn it on.  That hasn’t happened for a cat’s age. And I have gone through customs. No line. Now I have my Starbucks cup of chai tea and a muffin from Mum’s on Denman and am sitting at a long counter with huge windows in front of me giving me a spectacular view of the Coast Range Mountain.  Tucked behind them is snow-capped Whistler. It’s a beautiful twilight. Word has it that this coming week there will be sunny weather.  I am so glad for all the visitors – they need a break from rain. 

Guess what, I lost my umbrella yesterday!   

Riding on the subway to the airport I sat next to a woman coming to meet her brother coming for the Olympics.  One thing led to another and we ended up on the topic of security. She commented: I worked at Expo 67 in Montreal – we had none of this intense security.   Well, said I. So did I work there and we were off and running on many topics.  She worked in the office at Ile de Cite – sp?  And of course, had a great time.  This caused me to share with her an ah ha I had yesterday.  One of the reasons these Olympics seem so much fun for me comes in part from the fact that I was never a “tourist” at Expo 67 or 86.  I was too busy working and occasionally dashing to see a Pavilion when I could squeeze it in.  Now, I have the privilege of seeing the results of so many other people’s hard labor.  They have done a fabulous job. 

By the way, I meant to tell you about Jap a Dog.  The other day on the bus I passed a hot dog stand with a line that was a block long.  Four people were feverously selling hot dogs.  The bus moved on.  A few blocks later I saw the same thing and it was then that I grabbed the name. Jap a Dog.  This street side concession is very popular in VCR.  And, not all the patrons were Asian.    Wonder if this is anywhere else?  

I did have one disappointment today. I wanted to buy a pair of the Olympic mittens – they are bright red and adorable.  It turns out that Vannoc gave the concession to two large retailers:  Zellers and Hudson’s Bay.  There’s no Zeller’s downtown so I high tailed it to the Bay.  Can you believe there was a line that would take me and hour and half to go through to buy a pair of mittens?   You are right, I didn’t do it.  Isn’t odd that Vannoc didn’t want their merchandize sold all over the City!!!!

I was on my way to have lunch with Rae Ackerman – a former Expo 67 colleague who now manages all the Civic Theatres.  I was early so I jumped into a bar to see what sport was happening and to be viewed on a big screen. Women’s down hill.  Oh my God, did you watch?   They go at a speed that’s terrifying.  But with the sun out and the blue and green mountains in the background juxtaposed again the white snow with those strange watery blue lines to give the skier a sense of where she is and then the skier in her outfit – the sheer beauty of it all took over. I sat with two guys who kept their eye on the stop watch –  Hey, one would say – she’s losing time or  look at that, she’s under.   And, then together the three of us would hoop and holler. 

Hey, Mam, won’t you have a beer. 

Sorry, no.  I am going to a meeting at noon.

Oh, Okay.

And, soon I left them.  They were good company.

 Rae bought me lunch – delicious ribs and stuffed potato.  I cleaned my plate.  There is something about the Olympics.  I eat and don’t seem to gain.  I like that.

I did go back to the Ontario Pavilion – had heard the film was worth seeing.  Well, it was okay – would give it a six.  It’s 4-D.  If you haven’t seen a 4-D film yes, go. Otherwise, it’s a pass.  There is a half- hour line.  I was glad, however, to go back by GM Place area– for the crowds were energized – half of them were exiting after a hockey game (Finland versus Belarus).  You probably know Finland won.  And, then half the crowd was just about to enter for the next hockey game.  It’s that kind of energy that is fun to be around.

 And, then it was time to get back to Katherine’s, grab my luggage and head for the airport. 

My plane is now loading.  So, let me say, thanks for listening – you’ve been a great audience.  It’s enriching to record my experience and share it

PS.  Those of you in Vancouver or coming:  don’t forget the short train ride from the Athletes Village to Granville Island.  It’s fun.

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Feb 20

Yes, this blog is usually about dyslexia and hyperlexia but occasionally I am adding other topics.  This sequence is describing my Olympic 2010 experience.  Day Seven, Tuesday, Feb 16th, 2010.

Another full day – now only two things but ………  After a few errands I headed to Northern House (corner of Hastings and Seymour).  Peoples of the Northern Territories have transformed an old bank – you know one with high, high ceilings and a few posts to hold the next floor up –  into a pavilion.  This Pavilion wins my top marks. They organizers gave much thought – so much imagination is oozing out of that space.  The entire space has a natural feel.

Northern artists – different ones – were engaged to create poster art for the columns. They are splendid! 

2010 Olympics: Northern Pavilion: Ann's Rock Sculpture

Northern Pavilion: Ann's Rock Sculpture

And, the environment brings out the artist in us – the visitor. On a table are stones, stones from their land.  We are invited to create sculpture.

 Mine actually stood up!!!!  

And, athletes are present showing us some of the competitive games they play.  They are mostly feats of strength like hanging by your wrists on a pole as you are carried around the stage or the head to head pull – a strap around two person’s heads and they pull.  It’s fascinating to watch.  No, I didn’t try but many children and adults did.

And, they have beautiful art, simply displayed – including hand made clothes.

Go, you will enjoy. I stayed two hours.   

Then I caught a bus to the Coliseum for a late afternoon – into the evening of Men’s Figure Skating:  Short Program.   Well, it was short for the artists but four and a half hours for us.  Now, I am not complaining, I loved it but when I looked at my watch and it was 9 pm, I went wow.  Time has flown by. 

I am glad to have seen the skating before the elimination.  We saw thirty skaters – only 20 move on to the final competition tomorrow.  We didn’t see the list of who made it into the finals but there were some very young skaters who did wonderful work.  They were just not in the league with the stars. The stars, Russian, American and Japanese were spectacular. Their choreography was complicated, their skill amazing, their music appropriate. They deserved being the top three.  What saddened me the most was the tumble.  So many of the skaters tumbled.  Nerves, I guess. 

I do have one complaint – nothing to do with the skaters but with the media.  Surely to goodness, in this day of heightened technology, some creative technician can come up with a way to film events like this without disturbing 2,000 people.  My seat was terrific – except that the media was a boom with a camera that kept jumping up in front of me and blocking my and so many other’s view.  This is not the time to penny wise and pound foolish. I feel sure the technology is there.  Producers need to put their foot down, stamp it down, and say to the media:  this kind of disturbance is unacceptable!    Solve it. 

And, programs. They are non existent at the Olympics. I searched the Coliseum yesterday.  I was told there was a souvenir program – couldn’t find it but was also told it said nothing about the skating athletes.  I, for one, like to know!   All there was, was a piece of paper scotch taped to the wall at the entrance that gave the list of when the skaters were performing   Same things goes for the Cultural Olympiad.  So little information about the work and the artists.  I felt sad about that.  Yes, I know it is green not to have programs with a decent amount of information but…………..If this is a harbinger for the future I feel sad for future audiences. 

By the way – here’s the current solution to the Robson Bus.  It is cancelled until March 1st.   They have created a downtown bus which goes up Georgia, down Pender to Homer loops around to Richards, up Richards to Davie, down Davie to Denman and then repeat.  So, all of you coming and staying in the West End, be prepared. There are lots of buses, the route is just different.  And, someone needs to give these bus drivers a huge pat on the back.  It is amazing how good their cheer is. Tonight coming back – 10:30 ish – downtown was jumping.  An amazing amount of action on Davie.  The party continues.

By the way, I see posters all over town for Nixon in China:  It’ an opera by John Adams a much respected contemporary composer being produced by the Vancouver Opera. If you still have a few pennies in your pocket – go – it’s in mid-March.

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Feb 20
2010 Olympics: Medals Ceremony

2010 Olympics: Medals Ceremony

This blog usually focusses on dyslexia and hyperlexia but I thought it would be fun to add my experience at the 2010 Olympics and Culural Olympiad.  This is day six, Monday, Feb 15th, 2010.

Today, I joined my nephew, Jason, his wife, Sarah and their energetic and curious kids, Jane (age 11) and Owen (age 9) and off we went exploring.  First Stop: Code 1.  Another digital location – this time Great Northern Way – a humoungous warehouse that is draped in blacks to create many large spaces for digital installations of all sorts.  It began with us wandering through a series of hanging plants which when you touch them make noise.  The four of us had quite a cacophony of sounds going.  That was a great beginning – it gave the kids the sense of – hey, anything goes here and they were off and exploring. And, so were we. The kid in us had a great time.  In one room were “ Condemned Bulbes” yes, that’s how it was spelled!!  – large, like a foot tall and 8 inches in diameter incandescent blubs hanging shoulder height. It was quite a beautiful, peaceful sight until we began wandering through them and they began to make sounds back at us. At first we thought movement was important so we began rushing the space – then Jane said:  stop!..  We stopped, different sounds happened and so it went.  Great fun. 

At one point we entered a room where the kids were invited to put on a cloak with many buttons.  Then, they ran up and down this forty foot space which caused the huge pictures on three large screens to change – from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa – to a pyramid – etc.  There was one magic button on this cloak.  Push it, and the world exploded on three screens – that caused much merriment.  Owen’s favorite exhibit was Papparazzi;  a camera followed you, just like those insidious paparazzi –  and your picture was constantly imaged on a large screen.   And, so it went.  We were there an hour and half exploring.  A wonderful time had by all.  And, as I muse on the experience now, I am wondering, are digital artists only interested in the interactive – is that how they measure their satisfaction with their creativity?

2010 Olympics: Jane, Ann, Owen and mascot

2010 Olympics: Jane, Ann, Owen and mascot

 On to the Russian Pavilion. We were traveling in Jason and Sarah’s car.  The question was: Where to park?  Parking is non existent these days.  Can you believe, we turned down a side street off Main, turned right again, by the old CNR railroad station and there was one block one with one parking space and no signs that said we couldn’t.  NONE. We blessed Mother Kabrini, Katherine’s patron saint of parking, and headed off for Science World, you know that huge dome at the end of False Creek. Currently it has been taken over by the Russians. As we waited a few minutes to enter, we looked across False Creek at the four huge apartment blocks that make up the Olympic Village for the contestants to discover they are draped with the flags of each country participating – a wonderful sight. 

The Russians have gone all out. All, and I mean all, of the Science World Exhibits are gone.  The place has been painted a warm white and Sochi, a tiny town on the Black Sea is the feature. This city will be the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  It seems this city has a very warm climate – 60 degrees –  in winter.  (sorry, I have no idea what that is in centigrade). And, it’s a tiny town, much smaller than Victoria. There are many screens and wall pictures showing this tiny town and the mountains an hour away. It seems it gets colder than Whistler!   Must be a fast descent.

 At the moment, Sochi is busy building a railroad which will have a solar and electric train running, taking all the visitors up. That is not all they are about to construct. They have to build several huge arenas to handle hockey, ice skating, etc.  Vancouver thought they had a lot of construction to undertake.  Nothing like Sochi:  Nothing exists yet.   

Jason, Sarah and I had a chuckle when we discovered who were these young Russians decked out in black suits with white hats.  They work for the railroad!  It was hard to see what their job was here as they headed for the room with computers, went on-line – we guessed sending an e-mail home.   At that point we were being entertained by six women in traditional colorful costumes with lovely voices dancing their way around the temporary stage. I suddenly thought I would love to go to Sochi and said: Hey Jane how about you and I volunteer for Sochi – it could be fun.   She’s not to sure.  We’ll see when we get closer. 

We headed on – to other pavilions – there was a huge line to get into Saskatchewan pavilion – we continued on, went into Quebec – it’s nothing, we continued on to Ontario:  They have a six minute film – but at least a half hour wait so we decided to check out their “common”  space.  Large screens allowing us to see some of the sports activity on Whistler and women’s hockey in Vancouver. 

We were close to BC Place.   I ran to see if I could get a ticket to the Medals – no go.  Sarah kept saying, you are taking my ticket – we have tickets for another medals night and are going again, I will get to see it.  So, that’s what I did.  But first we had to eat.  Not much around so we headed to Tinsletown and a Chinese restaurant.  A strange building with a huge movie complex and no people activity at all.  The dinner was delicious. 

Back to BC Place for the ceremony.  I must say I was grateful to Sarah. I loved being in the space, feeling it. To warm us up for the ceremony there was a French Canadian group – good solid entertainment – almost folk like.  Then, it was ceremony time. The energy of all 20,000 people was throbbing. They were going to see the first Canadian Gold Medal winner.  He got a heroes welcome.  And, when it was time to sing O Canada the place rocked.  Finally they played the anthem as it was written – not like the opening ceremony.  That romantic version drove me nuts!!!!! 

I, of course, got caught up in the lighting technology.  So many different tools – vertical lights, streaming thin lines of different colors into the audience, the moving lights wafting back and forth in different colors, the “movies”  playing behind the action. All this action, in itself, creates an ambiance that says, it’s exciting. I was really surprised that the flags which are raised as the gold medal winner’s anthem is played are not reaching as high into the space as I thought.  On TV – which is the only way I have seen it before, it always seemed to me to be stretching way up into space.   Not so.  Maybe 30 feet.  That’s not much.   Hmmmm.   Then we watched the medal ceremony in Whistler.  I had passed that location just a few days ago – now it was jammed with swaying people in colorful outfits and with flags of many countries being waved.  It didn’t matter that the sound didn’t work, at first.  Yes, it was perplexing but eventually It corrected itself – or rather technicians rushing about probably corrected it. 

A rock band took over as the ceremony concluded.  Not long after the kids were done – We had been going eight hours and they had been troupers.  So we headed off into the night.  I bid fond farewell.  They headed for buses and home. I am grateful to Sarah.  When I go home and see a medal ceremony I will know the truth of how it’s produced.  I like that. 

I headed for Live City – thought I might be able to get in. I suppose I could of but it would have been an hour and half wait and the rain was starting.  So I ventured off to find a bus.  By the way, Sue did say yesterday that they now are handling 10,000 a night.  There’s no question Live City is a huge success.  

Returning to Katherine’s was a giggle.  To explain.  The crowd around Robson Square keeps getting larger and larger – spilling down Robson toward Stanley Park making bus travel on Robson nearly impossible.  Last night I couldn’t find a bus coming down Robson at Burrard.   It was almost midnight.  I asked a policemen.  He said:  They are rerooted. Go to Davie.  I hopped a bus to Davie.  No luck there, so I jumped in a cab. 

So, tonight I wondered what will happen.  Success, I found a Davie bus and we went down Davie to English Bay.  I jumped off, and went to the bus in front which I expected would continue down Denman to Robson and go up Robson.

I said to the driver: Are you going down Denman?  Yes.

I got on.  Then the bus driver from the one I had just exited got on to talk to my bus driver.

He said to his colleague driving our bus:   Okay, I now have three stories on what route I am to drive. The two of them started howling with laughter. And, the rest of us with them. One driver said he was going to go down Robson until he couldn’t – the other said no, I am going down Georgia turning left on Burrard.  We all chimed in with ideas.   It was time for our bus to leave. Our bus driver turned around to us and said:  Anyone expecting I am going down Robson:  

Yes, chimed in several.

Okay, that’s what we are going to do.

We left.  I exited before the bus turned on Robson.  I will see tomorrow what is up.

What is delightful is that somehow it all works and everyone is just going with the flow having a good time.  And, these bus drivers don’t seemed hassled at all. In fact, our driver said, it’s fun, adds to the merriment of the experience.  (He’s very British with a distinct Brit accent). 

Before I forget it each day I am sending these e-mails from a coffee house, MUM’S on the corner of Denman and Haro.  If you are in the neighborhood, drop by. They make all the muffins, breads, etc daily in their kitchen and they are DIVINE.  Fresh, large – I know, not good for the waist – but what the heck, they are delicious!!!

 Time for bed.

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Feb 20

We woke up to sun.  Yes, sun. The mountains can be seen.  I had a quiet morning – time to work out at a Centre a block away.  My body needed that! 

Twas a cultural day, and a darn good one.  Met Susan Celms Baldwin, a colleague from Expo 67 days, and also from Vancouver and Crofton House, at the SFU’s bran new theatre in the stunning Woodward’s complex in downtown Vancouver.  Our purpose?  Matinee of Robert LePage’s The Blue Dragon. I saw this production a couple of years ago during the Cal Performances season at UC Berkeley and loved it. This time I found myself standing back from the production, watching it’s many components and the interweaving of them together. Mr. LePage’s is a story teller, a simple story teller who uses technology – simply.  I don’t mean that it’s simple to do – cause it’s not – but the show isn’t about technology, its focus is the story with the technology helping to move the tale along.  Three brilliant performers made this a wonderful afternoon.

Afterwards we meandered.  For those of you in Vancouver or coming, check out Urbanity, a store on Abbott Street. They have stylish clothes in “real” fabrics  coming from various parts of Scandinavia. Then we ambled over to the Aboriginal Pavilion which is housed on the Plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  Both of us were excited to go – the aboriginals are making a major contribution to these Olympics.  Well, we all know you win some and then you don’t.  Here was an amazing opportunity to tell their stories, stories from their wise ones, stories of their culture. But, this was not their choice. We were offered 360 degree screen of pictures – yes of their art and of their people and their places but none of it seemed to pull into a whole. We went away feeling sad about that. 

After a hearty dinner we headed to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for Dance Canada Dance – bringing together dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.  This concept was born twenty five years ago by David Y.H. Lui – a dance impresario – for Expo 86.  It worked then, (Les Grands Ballet, from Montreal were also involved), and it worked now – brilliantly.

Susan and I made a very wise choice and bought balcony seats – several weeks ago.  We like seeing patterns.  Well, there tons to see. 

We were offered three ballets beginning with the National Ballet dancing to Chopin with choreography set by Marie Chouinard, an avant garde choreographer. I know, you might ask: did it work?  Yes, it did. Ms Chouinard had them moving – not ballet steps (although they did slip in) – mostly it was movement. I was fascinated.  The evening continued with As above/So Below combining National Ballet and Royal Winnipeg dancers. The piece was choreographed by Mark Godden.  I loved this work. Musically it began with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and then segued into John Adam’s Fearful Symmetries. This mesmerizing music gave a flow that had me wondering where I would be taken next. And each time, I was moved to something new. During this piece I had the flash of how nice it is to see the work of other ballet companies.  We have a fabulous company in San Francisco, but I see them often. And, they have their artistic stamp.  It felt refreshing to see new dancers, different choreography.

The final piece was my favorite.  The Royal Winnipeg Ballet doing Hikarizatto choreographed by Itzik Galilli to percussive music – strong, powerful, percussive sounds. The lighting in this piece added an important ingredient holding each segment – sometimes only ten seconds but mostly longer – together. This was a collaborative effort – it must have been – to reach such heights.  At it’s conclusion Susan turned to me and said: That is why the RWB is so great.  They are truly innovative. 

 Before Susan headed home we walked across the street to Live City – Downtown.  This location has the large screen which carries the live entertainment that Sue is overseeing at the David Lam Park, a mile away.  The Canada Pavilion is in this location and worth visiting. It is a good place for kids into computers, great computer games to be played – about Canada, hockey, skating etc.  etc.  And, for those tourists who are dying to see a Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their Red Uniform and brown hat – they are there.  I don’t know about you but know I have been asked by several foreign visitors:  Where can I see a Mountie?  Well, now I have the answer. 

By the way, I have a correction to make.  In my first report from the Olympics, I mentioned that Sue had been my assistant at Expo 67.  Wrong!   She was with me at Expo ’86.  Susan Celms caught this error. Sorry Sue. 

And, others have been asking for the name of the bar where I watched the Opening Ceremonies. Here are the details: It’s called Jimmy’s and it’s at the corner of Robson and Homer.   If you are planning to watch a game there, I suggest you go into the temporary tent – the one with the peak.  It’s right on the corner of Robson and Homer. Entrance is through the bar.  And, they do serve food. 

Good night.  It’s been a lovely day.

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Feb 20

 I know this website has a dyslexic/hyperlexic theme but thought I just add some other spice.  My time at the 2010 Olympics.  This is Day Four, Saturday, Feb 13th, 2010

Good morning:

Oh my gosh, there was no way I was writing last night!!!!!!!!   Not even for myself.  I got back to Katherine’s at 12:30 am.   It was POURING RAIN and the streets, even her street in the West End was teaming – well, about ten of us – with Olympics people – all volunteers heading wearily home for a good night’s rest.  The guy I chatted with as we walked the block from Denman to K’s apartment is from Montreal – He’s a volunteer – driving artists all over town and loving it every moment.  He’s was all decked up in his “blue and green uniform with his identification hanging down in a pouch from his neck, feeling very proud  He’s having a blast!!!! 

Day Four, yesterday, began with a quick trip to the Vanoc Box Office – looking for a medal’s ceremony ticket.  No luck yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then my day four really began. 

Whistler.  Now, can you believe the last time I went to Whistler was 1964.  Haig and Mary took me along with Jane and Charlie Kimbrough who were in VCR performing at the Vancouver International Festival and Romilly.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  All I remember is a colorful meadow with many sorts of wildflowers and a stream, a rushing stream and Mary’s generous picnic including a bottle of red wine.  Those were my drinking days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    We had a great time.  

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that has all changed. Thank heavens I had pre-arranged my transportation which departed at 9:10 promptly – leaving many behind to wait for the next bus.   I had a cup of hot milk from Starbucks to keep me company as we set off.  I was lucky to garner a front seat – my seat partner was a pilot with Fedex who had dead- headed from Connecticut via Memphis and then VCR.   I learned a lot about FEDEX behind the scenes but mostly we kept questioning our bus driver – what’s that, oh, what’s this.  It was one of British Columbia’s typical winter days – overcast.  The clouds were hanging every so low as we journeyed into the mountains.  The new road is beautiful – does hang a bit on a cliff at times – not unlike Highway 1 going out of San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 

 We passed through Britannia Beach. Remember how at school we learned about businesses in Canada and how copper came from Britannia Beach.  Well, there we were going through Britannia Beach.  Kind of a sad town now! 

And, then two and half hours later we were in Whistler. The bus driver admonished us.  Be sure you take note of where I have dropped you off.  Remember Seven-Eleven.  Whistler Village will all seem similar and for the Olympics our stop has changed.  We leave on time so get back here – find your way in plenty of time.  I knew I would get lost, directions are not my best!  Seven-Eleven, that I can find, ‘cause I can keep asking until I find it. 

The first thing that struck me about Whistler is the architecture.  Some of the hotels seem reminiscent of the old CPR and CNR train hotels with their peaked roofs – no not copper – but still. Whistler didn’t feel like a quaint old ski town.  Hmmmm 

Then I realized, I have no idea what to do here. I asked one of those Vannoc volunteers in their blue and green outfits – you can’t miss them, you know:  Where is the Tourist Bureau.   You go turn left and then right and then left.   Grump.  I got lost twice (didn’t care – kind of fun) but then, voila, there it was.  I asked:  How can I best take advantage of my day in Whistler;  I have a ticket in the evening to The Nix but nothing else. 

Well, it began with a trip up the gondola – me and six others. They all had skis and those funny boots.  Have you watched how people walk in ski boots – it’s like they tip toe – only they are in these clumsy, not flexible boots.  I would HATE that experience.  They seem unconcerned.  Our gondola headed straight up, over snow, mounds of snow.  We even watched for a few minutes – from our bird’s eye view – a practice session of the salalom (sp) race – you know, know the one where they have to wind their way around poles.  I learned it’s okay to hit them??????    My fellow travelers in my cubicle high above the snow told me:  Be sure you get the clear floor when you go peak to peak. They were referring to the next top of the mountain ride I was going to take.  Okay, Okay I said.  We arrived at the top of whatever, I think it was Whistler and it was darn cold as we exited.  There were people, and skis and people and skis everywhere.  I looked to my left and was befuddled.  What in God’s name is that?   It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting– you know the one where all the paint is spattered on the canvas – only this was huge.   I approached and laughed and laughed.  It was rows and rows of skis waiting their owners to pick them up.  Kind of like lost children. 

I wandered about a bit and decided – time for peak to peak.  Now, it’s an overcast day and fog – yes – fog was about.   So, the drama of this trip was minimized somewhat for in the valley between each peak was scattered fog – seemed like SF home.  This is an extraordinary ride:  It’s a suspension ride.  One very tall tower on one mountain whose stable cables are driven deep, deep into the group holds three cables strung across this immense valley to the next mountain and another very tall tower.  I decided for my first trip across I would choose a cabin with the solid floor – didn’t want to scare myself to death.

Had great fun chatting with all the skiers from ALL OVER THE WORLD, each with a unique story.   We made it across, whew!!!! – took twenty minutes.    I wandered this mountain for a while.  I would love to come back and hike here!!!   Then, my tummy told me – eat Ann.  So I headed in.  Awful food – but who cared.  I chose a hamburger – needed protein and of course chips.  It’s so great to be back in Canada – they serve vinegar with chips,, the one redeeming lunch feature.  I found myself sitting at a table with four volunteers, in their late 50’s. They are from Thunder Bay in Eastern Canada.  Guess what they are doing?   Preparing the courses for the skiers.  Today the gals – went in tandem sideways down the steep course sideways stamping down the course so it is flat and pristine and their husbands stood on the side of the course and had huge whisks on long handles gently brushing aside the powder snow that their wives have unsettled.   They had been up since 5 am and it was now 1:30 pm. Famished, exhausted and hilariously funny.   Didn’t matter my lunch was so awful. 

Time to return on the gondola back to the original peak.  I never did figure out when I was on Whistler and when on Blackcomb.  Didn’t really matter.  This time I went in a glass bottom gondola. LOVED IT.  It was like sitting on top of trees ladened (sp) with snow.  It would have been fun to be able to swing from those tree tops.  The fog was doing its fog thing, swirling about.  We all took each other’s pictures.  Lot’s of fun.

2010 Olympics: Ann atop Whistler Mountain on a gondola

Ann in a gondola atop Whistler Mountain

I hung out on the other mountain top for a while, just taking it all in.  So beautiful.  And, I wasn’t cold at all.  Had one of Mum’s hand knitted sweaters – the bright orange one –  with its high neck.  No cold could get in there!  And, then it was time to return down the mountain.  This time I got a gondola all to myself.  What a treasured time that was.  And, guess who called on my cell?   Haig and Mary – They are in Hawaii  sunning.  What a hoot that with all the technology no matter where you are you are connected! 

My late afternoon in Whistler Village was figuring out where the Seven Eleven is.  You know, the village all looks alike so I need to get my bearings for I was taking another bus up to Lost Lake for a performance at 7:30 pm and knew everything would look different later.  I finally felt like I had it figured out, found a Starbucks for my afternoon Chai and then headed to the large screen to watch the first part of the Canada and ? hockey teams play.  Canada was well ahead when I meandered on for my theater.  Now, I had to take the number 6 six bus to get there.  It was jammed with tired skiers and visitors.  A man said to me: Lost Lake, theater.  I don’t think so.  Oh yes, I said. At which point an Asian couple said, yes, she’s right, we’re going too.  It took the bus half an hour to get us there.  Nearly the last stop.  And, suddenly we were left – the three of us in the dark.  A lady appeared with a flash light and said welcome to THE NIX.  Just walk down this snowy path and you will come across a tent.   Now, I could see why the instructions I printed off their site had a BIG warming.  DO NOT WEAR HIGH HEELS.  This was a snow adventure.   

The play took place in snow sculpture.  It was a good enough play – you know about being uphappy and finding love.  It was the environment that was unique.  I had a little blanket that stored into nothing that I brought along.  This young New Zealander was sitting by me – he was dressed for the summer, so we shared my blanket.  I didn’t want his teeth chattering!!!     I told the guy taking tickets that I had a 9:30 bus to catch back to Vancouver.  After the half hour trip to get to the “theatre”  I was a bit apprehensive about the reality of my making my bus.  Oh, he said:  I will get you a taxi.  Seemed somewhat impossible out in this wilderness – but by gum, it did happen.  The return trip was no more than five minutes and he knew where the Seven-Eleven was.  Yes, I made my bus. 

 Predictably, the bus was jammed.  We were all tired. The chatter soon stopped.  Before we knew it we were back in Vancouver – two and a half hours had flown by disembarking at the Hyatt, next to the subway.  It was just past midnight.  Vancouver was jumping.  Oh my goodness.   

 A wonderful day.

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Feb 20

Kla how ya Tillicum.   (Indian, for how goes it)  With me, just fine, in fact, more than fine.  I know this website has a dyslexic/hyperlexic theme but  I am departing for a few blogs to share my time at the 2010 Olympics.  This is my day three, Feb 12th.  Opening day. 

I am sure many of you watched the Olympic opening tonight.  That show speaks for itself – they did a wonderful job!!!!  For me, a highlight was seeing Barbara Ann Scott one of the eight carrying the Olympic Flag.  I remember when she won her gold.  I was so excited for her!!!  (for those of you who have NO IDEA who she is, she was the winning figure skater!)   I did talk with my nine year old nephew, Owen and my eleven year old niece, Jane as they sat in BC Place before the show began.  Jane said, Ann, if they don’t do anything else I am happy.  BC Place is beautiful and they have given each of us a packet of stuff:  a white jacket, a drum, a light.  We are going to be part of the show.  We are going to bang a drum. !!!!!!!!!.  I am so excited.  Then, Owen came on.  Ann, it looks like someone is going to ski here – there is a ski run.  Oh, it’s so wonderful.   I was just so excited those kids were going to have this special evening.

Choosing where to watch last night’s spectacle was my challenge. I couldn’t make up my mind.   I was toying with going back to the Live City – Sue’s venue – for there are two huge screens. In fact I set out to go there when it started to rain.  I decided tonight was not the night for rain, I really wanted to see the show, not darting umbrellas – so I headed for a bar. It took me a few trys before I was satisfied with my environment but then I settled in.  A restaurant had been very smart and enclosed their veranda at the front of their venue – room for six tables and a huge screen.  I joined a table of two Swedish guys here for the entire duration of the Olympics – determined that Sweden will take back the hockey gold. We had a great time.  Around us were tables of Canadians who knew the names of the Canadian athletes and singers so we were well informed.  There were about twenty of us – we had our own party. All of us were cheerers – and cheer, hoot and holler we did.  It was a fun evening marveling at the creativity and talent – both sport and artistic being displayed before us. And, when Wayne Gretsky took to the street with the torch, we were just a block away and could see him start on his journey through the city – down Georgia to Thurlow, turn right and down to the water on the Stanley Park side of the huge Canada Pavilion from Expo 86. 

 It’s odd, I walked by that site this afternoon and said to myself, what a shame that Vanoc (Vancouver Olympic Committee) has put up a wall along here blocking the beautiful view of the mountains.  Well, there was method in their madness.  They were hiding the form that created the base for the flame. I have just come in from viewing the flame, there.   It is truly spectacular.  My little phone camera doesn’t do it justice unfortunately – there is so much light emanating from flaming sculpture that the subtle blues get lost in the picture.  Oh well.  I have it in my mind.

 The streets of Vancouver are in a celebratory mode – especially around Robson Square. Everyone is having fun!!

By the way, I did get up early this morning to watch the flame go down Denman.  I woke up and thought, well, how silly not to make the effort even though I saw it last night.  I wasn’t disappointment.  The street was lined with cheering crowd three rows deep.  One young couple had just come racing from Stanley Park.  They had wanted to see Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?).  It seems many others did.  Interesting eh?

And, another woman told me that her brother, who is policeman in Manitoba is here with several of his colleagues.  These and many more security types are staying on three cruise ships in the harbor – being treated with great care.  Fun eh?

Today I was dealing with basics, like picking up my ice skating ticket for Tuesday. That was easy.  It was awaiting me and no line!!!. However, I have been trying to get a ticket to the Awards Ceremony on Monday night with no luck.  Finally I discovered why.  Vanoc has tickets, they just parcel them out in small doses and one has to be in the right place at the right time to get one.  Most frustrating!   I will keep trying.  Somehow I will win.

I decided to explore pavilions today.  Now, the definition of a pavilion here is not like a World Exposition.  These are, for the most part, tiny centers with some info – some better than others. Be sure to check out the Bell Pavilion if you are coming.  In my journey to find pavilions I was wandering down by the old Train Station – it has another name now????? – to discover that the parking lot has been taken over by the Germans who have created a beer Haus.  I was hungry and felt sure they would have sausages.  Correct!!!!.  The place was a mad house – noisy and crazy.  I got my sausage, asked for a non alcoholic beer – they thought I was crazy – so I ended up with water.  I found a place to sit – and began chatting with a couple from Beijing.  Quite fascinating.  He’s thirty seven, made his money in technology in China, has retired and is now searching for his next whatever.  He seems to think he ought to go to Harvard for an MBA.  His friends tell him he is over qualified.  We had quite a conversation.

 Time for bed.  The days just flew by.  I must have walked nearly eight miles today.  My body is looking forward to being prone!!!!!

 Several of you have responded saying you are enjoying these reflections.  I am glad.  Writing them is a great way to relax after my day

 PS.  Walking home I passed a rather proper type couple sitting under an umbrella drinking coffee.  They had the tiny drums in tow.  I asked:  Was it fun playing them?   Oh, it was marvelous, and what was even better, we didn’t have to clap – we could just bang, and bang and bang!!!!!!!

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Feb 20

I know this blog is about dyslexia and hyperlexia but I thought it would be fun to add some diversity and share my wonderful time at the 2010.  This report is my day two, Feb 11th, at the  Olympics.

A weary voyager is checking in. We were on a 12 hour marathon today.  It was wonderful, fun, entertaining and informative.  And, now I am just wondering what it was we did, there was so much. 

To set the stage, it was cloudy, at times pouring with rain. Neither mattered, we just soldiered on.  My friend Marie had done a lot of reconnoitering so our time was well spent. 

To start the day was a visit to London Drugs to get me a backpack and thank goodness we did for throughout the day we picked up SO MUCH STUFF, maps, tour guides, a book.  A hint to those of you still coming.  Forget purses.  Bring a wallet belt for around the waist and a backpack.  You have much more freedom, especially if it’s raining.  Gives a free arm for the umbrella.

 Our first Cultural Olympiad stop was the Vancouver Art Gallery and a show with original and copies of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of the body, detailed drawings, more detailed than most books that exist today.  It seems that he and a doctor in the early 1500’s collaborated and the result is some of the most beautiful and factual explanations of how the movement system of how the body works.  It’s a sobering show – sobering to think that five hundred or so years ago so much information on the body became available. And, as we were viewing almost simultaneously we said to one another – how brilliant of the Gallery staff to present this show – what are the Olympics but about the body, a healthy body. Leonardo wrote thoughts in the margins by the drawings: most of them encouraging anyone viewing these works, to think about themselves, the way they lived and the importance of treating the body with love and care. And, all of this happened a half a millennium ago!  The setting of the show is done with simplicity. There is aesthetic space to breathe, to take in the achievements. 

We headed back out into the rain to take in the “wrap” of the Vancouver Art Gallery – the old court house.  In this rainy day, the colorful huge flowers covering the immense space added life and lightness.  And, then we noticed that many of the high rise office buildings have huge hangings welcoming the visitors and athletes. It was very exciting to see and feel.   As we waited for the bus, in the pouring rain, to take us to Granville Island we watched with awe a free ride: Zip ride: two very tall towers, like two hundred feet have been constructed in either end of Robson Square. A cable is strung between – about one very long city block apart.  You can climb one tower, don a suit, hooked to the cable and “fly” along the rope to the other side.  One guy was very brave and kept turning himself upside down on his journey.   Amazing.   I think I will pass on that one.  I understand the Premier of the Province, a gentleman well into his sixties took the ride when it debuted.  Brave man!

We began to realize that we were very lucky to be viewing/sightseeing today.  Tomorrow the crowds will burst on the scene. We were able to get with ease into everything we wanted.  We spent quite amount of time at Code 2:  The digital show at Emily Carr. (Code 1)  I have not been very interested in digital art and its many ramifications but today I became intrigued. Artists are using technology and coming up with very satisfying results.  We loved the “costume” show.  Beautifully constructed “costumes” with digital elements make them alive – one dress whispered, another had lights that twinkled, subtly when you walked by and on an on. We also sat in a theater – miniature  – two rows, donned headsets listening as we watched. There were two purposes for the headsets. To tell the tale of the film we were watching and to disturb, interrupt – it was quite disconcerting at first – a voice was whispering in our ear – want popcorn or did you leave the stove on at home.  And then we could hear someone chewing on popcorn.  I hate popcorn, so I got really annoyed for an instant and then of course realized it was only on the headset.  All the while we were watching a very odd film.  Marie became very annoyed with the audio and took off the headset.  I had no idea she had done that until the end.  It was a disconcerting but interesting experience. 

In the middle of all of this we had lunch at the Granville Island Market:  I inhaled protein.  I was starved and then we headed back out into the rain and more digital art.  We discovered a train running from Granville Island to the Olympic Village that has been built on old railroad tracks.  It seems that 100,000 people have taken this train since Jan 1!!!!.  They use it as a commuter getting across the City.  We just marveled and then  returned to the Market to relax at the Granville Island Tea Company. I had the best cup of tea in years.  A special brew – kind of Lapsang Suchong but softer.   We had great fun sitting at the counter and chattering with the visitors that passed by asking them where they were from. Everyone seems to wander in groups wearing skiing jackets to identify them. Our challenge was guessing where they were from.  The Swedish jackets look not unlike the VANOC jackets – only have yellow. We were very forward, stopping them and asking.  Some guys sat down next to us and they were chattering away in what sounded like German – they were Swiss – musicians – here to perform for the President of Switzerland who was about to arrive at the “Swiss Pavilion” – located in Bridges, a large restaurant on Granville Island.  And, so it went.

Then it was time to head to the other side of the Creek to LiveCity Yaletown – Sue’s project.  We took the tub: an adorable boat which gave us a trip down False Creek by the new Arthur Erickson building:  Another legacy that is so distinctive. Disembarking we were right at the Live site – stood in line – for an hour – to get in. The security was major – like the airport. Nobody seemed to care about waiting.  Royal Bank and Coke, two sponsors, were busy giving out freebees and everyone, even in the pouring rain, were in good humor. Once in, we had a good time.  We saw three pavilions – Aker from Italy with many interesting technologies which we tried.  Yes, we did! Samsong – left me rather uninterested and then on to the: Laneway House, an efficient and most attractively designed house using green technology. It’s a product of two designers in North Vancouver.  Haig, if you and Mary do decide to build – I suggest you look at this company!!!! 

Then it was time to find a place for the show that began at 6:30 pm. We discovered that tonight the feature was the arrival of the Olympic Flame.  The rain stopped, thankfully, umbrellas went down which meant we could see the stage.  (Yes, there were large screens so you could see but I like also to see people, in their real selves, not blown up.) And, I had great fun watching the “moving lights” that are computer programmed and hang above the stage in full view.   As we waited for the Flame there were entertainers and at one point Marie whispered:  Ann, did you leave the stove on?  The two of us howled with laughter. And, then came the moment for the arrival of the flame through these thousands of people and up onto the stage.  It went right by me – two feet away.  I got some great photos on my phone camera.  To cap the event was a fireworks show.  Sue had a triumph tonight.  It all worked beautifully and thousands of us had a wonderful time.

Marie and I looked at ourselves and said, let’s find a place to sit – we had now been standing for nearly five hours.   Several blocks away we came across a Starbucks.  That chai latte never tasted so good.

And, now to bed.   I am so glad I am here.  It’s very special.

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Feb 20

I know this blog is about dyslexia and hyperlexia but I thought it would be fun to add some diversity and share my wonderful time at the 2010 Olympics.

Day One:  February 10th/2010  – two days before opening of the Olympics.

It’s true, I am certainly meant to be here.  Everything worked like clockwork: It began with an easy trip from SF.  Yes, our plane left a few minutes late but the time was made up – and it flew by.  I couldn’t resist after I had settled into my window seat to turn to the man sitting by me and say:  So, why are you going to Vancouver?  I wasn’t surprised when he said:  The Olympics, But I was surprised as he continued: I’m a volunteer.   I looked at him, a volunteer?  Yes.  I will be working the ice arena at UBC for 21/2 weeks beginning with women’s hockey – as an usher.  I get a uniform, you know, it’s worth $1,000.  I pick it up tonight.  Tomorrow we have training and then we are off and running.

What made you do this?

I grew up in Vancouver.  I want to be part of it.

What do you do?

I am executive with Chevron!!!!!!!

 And, so it goes, the excitement two days out is just ringing in the air.   The new subway from air port to downtown Vancouver operates like a dream.  I was a bit confused when I got off. No one took my ticket when I got and there is no place to put your ticket to exit.   I stopped someone to ask, where do I exit?  Oh, he said, you have.  It is the honor system here.  Yes, there are people who do spot checking but….

Traffic downtown is almost non existent – so many main streets seem to be closed.  Bus routes are changed.  Going to the Orpheum Theatre from Katherine’s apartment, I thought the Robson bus would get me there.  Nope, it turned down Burrard.  It will take continual surveillance to get it, but nobody seems to care.  In fact, you don’t hear much English around.  So many people, speaking so many different languages.  Thank heavens the bus drivers, proudly wearing Olympic vests, are good sorts.  They are getting a ton of questions. 

I have just come home from the Russian Gala:  I was a bit dubious about what this might be.  Well, they pulled it off with panache, style, talent and creativity.  The first half of the program featured the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra.  The key word in those last four words is Soloists.  This is an ensemble of soloists who performed Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.  We all know this piece, we hear it, we hear it.  Never, I venture to guess like we heard it tonight.    The collective sound they created was magical.  Each note so clearly played, the pathos deep and sad, the beauty of the humor profound, the attention to detail amazing.  The conductor Yuri Bashmet – a tiny man who knows how to bring out the best as he gives the best.

The next and last piece in the first half was Bashmet as viola soloist playing Schubert’s Sonata for Viola and Strings.  I don’t think I have ever heard a violist as soloist with an orchestra. The sound is so different: deep, resonant.  The audience got into it.

 A moment about the audience.  Sold out house. The Russians were out in full force. Old, and young.  Next to me on one side were three Russian woman, the mother who doesn’t speak English and two gorgeous blonde daughters, on the right hand side of me was a Russian family, mother, father, probably in their mid thirties and their young son – maybe six.  The child was totally absorbed.  He got it, he even laughed when the music made him laugh.  It was wonderful.  As the lights came up at intermission the older Russian Mama on my left – with few teeth – said to me in her few words of English and with tears streaming down her face:  Russians good??.  
Oh yes, oh, yes I said.  And we gave each other a hug.

Second half. A rendition of Bizet’s CARMEN.  What was fun for me was that on Monday night in San Francisco I saw a wonderful performance of CARMEN from the MET at the movies.  I wondered what will this orchestra and a few stars from the Bolshoi do with this.  Well, they matched the excellence and creativity of the Monday performance – that chamber orchestra and five Bolshoi dancers.  It wasn’t the CARMEN score as we all know it, Yes, the themes were there but it was a percussive and strings Carmen that literally talked us through the opera/ballet.   They added two characters:  At first I couldn’t figure out what this marionette like figure who was dancing with CARMEN at the outset could represent (Burke Taylor later said Death). Then came the Don Jose – a sensuous man, strong and dramatic.  The Toreador was a real bull fighter:  elegant, full of himself and ideal.  All the while lurking about was fate in black.  Well, it was quite a night.

 I did see both Sue and Burke.  For those of you who don’t know them Sue Harvery was my wonderful assistant when we did Expo 67, since then has done several things, but more recently overseen “culture” for the City of Vancouver.  Now she’s responsible for the free entertainment at the Olympics.  That’s a responsibility.  And, Sue debut’s tomorrow night with her free entertainment – outdoors.  Yes, it will probably rain, it’s Vancouver!   But, we and thousands of others will be there. And, Burke Taylor is another Expo colleague – Canadian Pavilion and now responsible for the Cultural Olympiad which has been up and running for three weeks. It’s been quite a journey getting to this point. As the Chairman of the Vancouver Olympics said in his opening remarks last night before the concert: these last four years have gone so fast!   Now we are here!  At this point all they all can think of is one down and more to go.  And, all goes well.  Finally the press are being supportive.

 And, I must away to bed.   Full day tomorrow.

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