Thank You Vancouver

The best Winter Olympics ever? As a Canadian, I can hardly be seen as an impartial judge of that, but I think the world has seen first-hand the warmth, friendliness, fun, inclusion and patriotism that is this country.

The games began with not a bang, but rather stuttery whimper, with the tragic passing of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, then a mechanical failure in the opening ceremonies. Conditions at Cypress Mountain were abysmal to start the games and Whistler didn’t fare much better, with rain and fog postponing the alpine events.

The early going wasn’t great for Team Canada either. After a lot of pump-up with the “Own the Podium” program, which I still don’t like, it looked like we owned the podium, but were letting a whole lot of other people stand on it. There were uncomfortable upsets, and a medal eeked out here and there. Alexandre Bilodeau gave the country something to cheer about, saying his was but the first of many gold medals to come for Canada. At the same time, I felt terrible for Jenn Heil. The media descended on her silver as though she should be ashamed of it. Shame on the media instead.

Sure, setting out the goal of winning the most medals at the Winter Olympics on home soil was an aspiration, but was it unnecessary pressure? Melissa Hollingsworth’s emotional interview showed how much the athletes thought the country cared about medals above all else. Do we? She thought she let the country down. Were we all standing on her shoulders? That’s a heavy burden to bear. There are bound to be disappointments in the Olympics, if not for our country then for the ones we compete against. Not everyone can win, but everyone is giving it their all.

Nine or ten days into the Olympics and the skeptics came out to play in force. Was Own the Podium a complete, utter failure? Denny Morrison seemed to think so, telling the country that the program prevented him from training with his long-time training partner Shani Davis, who won gold in the 1000m long track event. All of a sudden, the goal wasn’t to win the Olympics, but rather try to make it to perhaps 20 medals. Let’s try not to embarrass ourselves in light of the hoopla surrounding medal count. The Americans joked about their “Rent the Podium” program.

It was probably around the time Jon Montgomery won the men’s skeleton gold that the country got pumped again. Jon is quite the character, a banner athlete for Canada certainly. His enthusiasm is electrifying and contagious. Perhaps it was just that for Team Canada. A few days later, Joannie Rochette puts up a fantastic perform in the face of grave emotional pain and lands a bronze medal. That was perhaps the most inspirational story of the games, garnering her a share of the Terry Fox award as well carrying Canada’s flag into the closing ceremony.

The rest is pretty much history – 5 gold medals in the last few days of competition brought Canada’s medal count to 26 and gold count to 14, the highest in Olympic history for any nation. Of course that record-breaking gold came courtesy of the men’s Team Canada hockey team, a game that I watched with the utmost excitement and gut-wrenching worry. When Crosby scored that overtime goal, I thought I was in a dazed dream. The streets were immediately filled with honking cars. It’s very unique to be in a country that can be united so strongly under a single hope. Perhaps this day will become a national holiday! 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happy moment bring so many people together anywhere in the world. We love our hockey and our country.

Team Canada has made this nation more proud than it’s ever been. These Vancouver Winter Olympics will be remembered for a very, very long time for the excitement a country brought the world. We’ve never been ones to boast or belittle. But these Olympics have shown how strong our will is and how big our hearts are.

Thank you Vancouver for uniting this country under the maple leaf and giving the world a taste of what I’ve lived and loved for nearly 20 years.

Silly Money – A Satirical Overview of the Financial Crisis

I was introduced to the comedy of Rory Bremner, a British comedian, this past week at a WIREX talk. In a four-part series, entitled Silly Money, he along with ‘The Two Johns’ take a satirical look at the financial crisis.

The videos are available on Google Video and I’ve linked the search for your enjoyment. Not only are they witty, they also convey some insight to the global financial crisis in a way that can be understood by all.

FRONTLINE: Bush’s War

For the past several days, I’ve been fascinated by a FRONTLINE series on the war in Iraq, entitled “Bush’s War”. I’ll leave the pro/anti-war discussion out of this snippet, but regardless of position, the internal political power struggles that occurred are very interesting.

I’m very glad this series was made available for consumption on the web.

Michigan Tourism Ads Work

A good advertisement should instill within you a strong emotion, be memorable and make you want to buy the product or service. Those three things are precisely what the Pure Michigan advertisements do for me.

I first heard them on the radio at work one day and they made such an impression that I went and searched for the advertisements online. It must truly say something when someone goes searching for advertisements as opposed to advertisements searching for customers. The ads are extremely relaxing and reach out to the golfer or fisherman or beach-goer in you. They paint extremely vivid mental images of bubbling water, a nice breeze on a hot summer’s day, or other equally pleasing thoughts.

Very powerful stuff. Go listen to a couple of them and you’ll know what I mean. If the actual place is anything like what the advertisements make me feel, it’s definitely a place worth visiting.

Links for Friday the 13th

No More Mail in Rebates

A couple weeks ago Best Buy announced that it was eliminating mail in rebates from manufacturers. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen a great sale on a flyer, only to check the asterisk for more details and see that it’s actually $5 and an additional $50 in a mail in rebate. I’ve had a pretty good track record for actually getting mail in rebates back, but the fact is, they’re a pain to fill out. That’s not mentioning the fact that you still have to pay taxes before you can send off that rebate. And I guess it’s only natural that FutureShop (which is owned by Best Buy) has now eliminated mail in rebates as well.

Actually it’s not a great situation for some; the people who take the time to fill in rebates (such as myself) may lose a bit in value. Chances are, with manufacturer rebates gone, sale prices are going to look a little less tasty down the road.

Video Game Texture Piracy

You don’t hear about this sort of thing everyday – there’s talk around the ‘net about a major game ripping graphical assets from other games. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has been accused by some of blatantly taking in-game textures from Doom 3 and Half Life 2. I mean if you’re going to take someone else’s game files you might want to at least change their filenames…

Vancouver and Dallas Go At It Again

I’ve been secretly rooting for the Canucks all year and the opening game of the Vancouver-Dallas series was quite the thriller. In fact, it was the sixth-longest game in NHL history, requiring over 78 minutes of extra time to end.

The two teams play again tonight.

Canada Buys Tanks?!

Not so long after the idea of scrapping the entire tank fleet and replacing them with Mobile Gun Systems (which are based on the Stryker platform, which is in turn based on Canada’s LAV III, which is in turn based on the Mowag Piranha) the Canadian government made it known that Canada will be replacing its fleet of 100-plus Leopard 1’s with 20 new Leopard 2A6M’s from Germany and up to 100 used Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands. The 20 advanced Leopard 2’s from Germany will be leased and sent directly to Afghanistan while the older Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands (which have been in storage for 10 years and actually never deployed) will be shipped to Canada later and refitted with, among other things, an air-conditioning system.

One of the main faults of the 30 year-old Leopard 1 is the lack of any sort of climate control inside the tank. As a result, under the Afghan sun, temperatures are reaching into the 60’s Celsius.

Hopefully the new tanks will make a difference – it’s sad to see so many of our soldiers dying.