Vancouver 2010: 0 Day

Vancouver 2010: 0 Day

Today is the day. I don’t have a lot of time right now, but our GM at work is the best boss ever for letting us off work early today because of the opening ceremonies tonight.

I’m posting a ton of photos to Flickr today and throwing a little caution to the wind in terms of editing and just trying to get photos up as soon as I can.

Here’s a slideshow of the torch run events plus all the other photos I’ve taken and will take today and a link to the set on Flickr.

Today is a lifelong dream of being in an Olympic city coming true. I woke up happier than a kid on Christmas morning. My only wish would be to have all my friends and family here to share this amazing day. I love you all.

Granville Street with new lights for the Olympics

Granville Street has been under construction for what seems like forever. Since about 2006, the downtown portion of Granville hasn’t been completely open as it once was. Getting close to the opening ceremonies for the 2010 games, these new lights have gone up all the way down the downtown core portion of the street.

Granville Street with new lights

I took this shot last night on my way home. Standing in the middle of Georgia and Granville, this is what it looks like at night, looking towards Waterfront. Not sure if the lights will stay up after the games, but they’re a nice touch.

Photowalk: -20 Days to Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

I know that at time of publishing this post, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are eight days away. The photos contained in this post are from January 23rd, just twenty days before the opening ceremonies. Rebecca and I wandered on foot from the Olympic Village to downtown with our cameras.

A lot of what you see in the post has changed quite a bit, but I thought it would be interesting to have these posted for the sake of Vancouver history.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

This is one of the gates to get you into the Olympic Village. It reminds me of when I traveled to Berlin with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law and visited Checkpoint Charlie. Inviting, don’t you think?

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

I heard this would happen, and no building is too large or tall to put wrap on.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

I pass by the official countdown clock everyday and never forget to sneak a peak of it. And more recently, I too was a tourist in my own city.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

I used to work in the building pictured above. My first radio gig in Vancouver.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

Steps out of Robson Square. While they looked painted, they’re actually wrapped.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

The Robson Square Ice Rink in the opposite direction of the stairs. This will probably be a stopping point more than a few times depending on the mayhem going on here.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

Granville Street with art installations and an ode to Hole In The Wall. Well, not really, but you could just imagine if it was.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

These venue signs went up practically overnight. I’d like to see them keep these with references to popular landmarks in Vancouver after the games.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

What do you do with a building in downtown Vancouver that is under complete renovation? You wrap a huge, Canadian flag around it.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

Canada Place is for the media and accredited guests. Getting down here during the games will be tough unless you’re on foot.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

No one is completely sure what’s inside these walls. It might be a “satellite cauldron” for the Olympic flame. Some even say this is where the actual flame will reside, which isn’t crazy being that the Olympic stadium, BC Place, is a dome.

-20 Days to Vancouver 2010

Finally, the “VANOC Only” signs that are popping up all over the city. Unless you have that going for you, driving should be the last thing on your mind during these games in Vancouver.

Kudos to John Biehler who let me borrow his 35mm lens for some of these shots. You can see the entire set of photos from this photowalk on Flickr.

I’ll be posting more photos over the next few weeks as my adventures with True North Media House will see us doing photowalks among the other various things we get ourselves into. I don’t usually put explanations on my photos, but I’m doing this more for my family and friends who are watching these events from afar. I wish they could all be here to experience this once in a lifetime event, and this is my best attempt to share that with them as well as the world.

Where VANOC got it wrong by going exclusively with Visa

In the scope of the 2010 winter games coming to Vancouver in just over a week now, there are many issues that people are discussing that are probably much more impacting to the large scope of what would be considered important. There’s part of me that feels like the following topic is one that is frustrating enough to me to give it a little bit of attention.

2010 Olympics Team Canada Retail Apparel Launch

VANOC made the choice long ago as to who would be the official credit card in 2010. This went to Visa, who has a long history of being a supporter of the Olympics.

What this basically means is that VANOC got a large sum of money from Visa to use the “official” tag within their brand as well as accompanying images and logos of the 2010 games. This is your standard deal when it comes to sponsorship, and that money from Visa has a hand in making this whole thing actually happen, making this contract a good one for VANOC in the long run.

This is where my knowledge of the contract for being an official sponsor breaks down, but where my aggravation resides in their mutual agreement comes from a consumer’s perspective, not to mention as a local resident in Vancouver.

2010 Olympics Team Canada Retail Apparel Launch

Aside from all of the logos, ads, and commercials you see on TV about Visa being this official sponsor of the games, the other aspect of this deal comes in when you visit the official store of the games at The Bay in downtown Vancouver.

Rebecca and I have made our way down to the store a handful of times. Yes, we’ve bought a variety of things for ourselves and as gifts for family members around the holiday season.

What gets me extremely frustrated is the fact that only Visa debit and credit cards are accepted as payment when you purchase anything from the official, VANOC store.

Why does this matter? Well, as a local resident to Vancouver, the people who are most effected by the overall cost of these games, I cannot use the debit card from my bank to purchase any items from the official store. While cash is also accepted, you’re basically hooped if you think that you can approach the checkout with plenty of money to spend from your bank account.

2010 Olympics Team Canada Retail Apparel Launch

Rewind to when it was Christmas time. I wandered in there a few times to do some window shopping, but as someone who doesn’t possess anything Visa, I couldn’t buy anything unless I walked into the store with a wad of cash in my wallet. During the busiest shopping period of the year, you can almost guarantee that I was not the only one who ran into this problem.

So what do you do? You tell yourself that you’ll come back to the store another time with some cash and purchase whatever it was that you wanted then. But do you actually end up making it back to the store to make said purchase? Why do that when you can pop down to Lululemon or some other store selling something 2010 looking or related item of some sort. And big shocker, you can even use your debit card!

To me, the way the partnership that VANOC established with Visa actually hurts the amount of revenue that could be made at the official store downtown if the way you could pay for their items was opened up. Sure, there are a ton of people already running around the city with all sorts of hoodies, hats, etc. Could you imagine how much more could have moved off the shelves if you could use your debit card from any bank?

Like I said, I’m a local resident of Vancouver. I had money I wanted to give VANOC so I could buy their stuff, pouring more money back into whatever sink hole of a budget these games have ballooned into.

VANOC releases updated balanced budget for 2010 Winter Games

Jan 30, 2009

Vancouver, BC — An updated, balanced operating budget of $1.76 billion, with a contingency of $77 million was released today by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). The updated budget places a priority on athletes, sporting competitions and the spectator experience at the Games and on television. []

But I couldn’t. It doesn’t make economic sense to me. You have millions of people living in the lower mainland, and when the games are over, we’re the ones left to deal with the aftermath of these games. No matter how amazing, awesome, or lacking they end up being, the price tag is what a lot of locals are worried about.

Like a square peg in a round hole, VANOC makes it tougher on themselves to help make revenue back, no matter how little the profit might be from their official store sales. I had money that I wanted to give them, but this decision of Visa being everywhere VANOC wants them to be, in my opinion, prevents more people from helping that billion dollar price tag.

All of this is outside of any knowledge that I have of cost analysis or profit projections that VANOC, Visa, and people who are generally smarter than I am with it comes to dollars and numbers had with each other. However, I doubt that Visa kicked in any extra money to help out with the costs that have arisen as the games approach. Not that people would rush out to buy more 2010 threads just to help with the overall cost of the games, especially in this economy, but why have just one, single funnel for all the official store profit?

Again, I know there are far more serious issues surrounding these games, but this is a look at one that is less addressed than others. With hope, this can raise issues for future games if not for future business decisions.

True North Media House: 2010 independent, self-accredited reporting in Vancouver

TNMH Media Badge
TNMH Media Badge by John Biehler on Flickr
One of the ways I plan to to document my experiences during these winter games in Vancouver is through the various outlets that I have available to me on a personal level. Be it my photography, writing, video, audio, and most likely Twitter, there’s a lot more to share with the world other than what you see on TV during the time between opening and closing ceremonies.

This is where the True North Media House comes in.

I’ve watched this plan hatch from an idea to a project in full motion. Somewhere along the line, and most likely of my own doing, I’ve gotten myself involved with the venture of helping it come up on a quickly approaching horizon.

In order to better explain what TNMH is, here’s a quote from the website:

The True North Media House project aims to inspire social media creation and educate about best practices for sharing content with audience. We’ll do this through a variety of meet-ups, photo walks, field trips, and outings with international media makers and aggregating Olympic culture-related content licensed with a Creative Commons license. []

True North Media HouseLet’s be honest. There are a lot of other people out there in the world who like to create the types of media that me, Rebecca, or like many of our friends do. Chances are, some of them will be coming to Vancouver to follow the adventures of their fellow men and women from the countries coming to the lower mainland.

There are a thousands stories to tell from all sorts of perspectives, and True North is what aims to bring this people together to share an understanding of how to publish, create, generate, or whatever they do with their experiences. And more so, what you should or shouldn’t do to make sure that what you have made still falls inside the guidelines TNMH promotes.

Even further to what True North Media House is, Andrew Lavigne has released this great piece from the documentary he is making entitled, With Glowing Hearts. It’s great back story that gives a better foundation from how this group came about. Webisode #2 ‘True North Media House’ from Andrew Lavigne on Vimeo.

I’m looking forward to what should be some unique experiences as well as meeting new people, local and from afar, who are anxious to see what the lower mainland will be like over these next few weeks.

How are you spending your Olympics? No matter how you roll, whether you plan to celebrate, protest, or observe, my admonition is to document the people’s history about how the Olympics interacts with our communities like historian Howard Zinn would advise. Perhaps you’re skipping out of school to see some events or explore Vancouver’s hidden gems? Good. Recluse J.D. Salinger woulda wanted you to, but wouldn’t let you know it. [Dave Olson,]

If you are interested in finding out more about True North Media House and maybe even getting on the bus, head over to the website for all the details.

B.C. tourism commercial sums it up for me

I cannot help but let this 90 second spot get me more and more amped for the games. I’m not a fan of the millions spent on this ad campaign, but at least they did this one very well.

I think what’s more impacting is not only the beauty of B.C. that is showcased in this commercial but the way it’s delivered. I mean, if you compare those California ads with all the athletes, movie stars, and celebrity politicians, this is night and day. Some subtle background music, amazing shots, and, yes, some celebrities telling you how amazing it is here, but it’s done in a way that is very B.C.

I think the slogan used to be, “Beautiful, B.C.” This ad actually makes that slogan work now. If you don’t believe me, just look at what Rebecca did recently: outdoor speed skating, dog sledding, and, oh yeah, she caught the torch as it ran through Prince George, B.C.

That was all in one weekend.

This brings me back to my point: I’m getting really excited for the games. The city is buzzing, evidence is everywhere, and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things that can be seen, done, and hopefully documented over the next two months.

We have tickets to a few events, but I feel like the most fun will be what we are able to find away from the event locations themselves. Getting to those places sounds like a real adventure, potentially a nightmare, so we anticipate doing all we can by foot, transit, and probably more by foot on the other side of that.

I know they say you gotta be here, but here is just too broad when it comes to these games. Right now, “here” feels like I want to be everywhere and do everything.

Thoughts on the Beijing Olympics

When the opening ceremonies kick off for the Olympics, I get excited. It doesn’t matter if it’s the summer or winter version of the games. I simply love the Olympics.

Photo by Robert Scales
Photo credit: Robert Scales on Flickr

When the closing ceremonies come about, I get a little sad. Two weeks straight of competition seems to have gone by in a blur. It only lasts a few days until you realize that the next games will come about in two years, so it all works out in the end.

Perhaps there was something a little extra to these games in Beijing, but my level of interest has certainly gone up from previous games. I think it’s because of my realization of how incredible the human body can be in particular events.
Continue reading “Thoughts on the Beijing Olympics”

Going from the U.S. to Canada, watching the Beijing 2008 Olympics on TV the whole way

When we were in Kansas City last week, the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics started. During our time there, every TV we were around seemed to be tuned into the games. Pretty much everyone was talking about the opening ceremonies, and my family nearly dropped everything to find a TV to watch the amazing show they put on to kick off the games.

Photo by Kris Krug
Photo credit: Kris Krug on Flickr

Quite honestly, I love the Olympics. Winter or summer, I get glued to anything and everything. I think it basically comes down to the competition of the world’s best, and it only happens every four years. I really dig that. Well, maybe not curling just yet (maybe Vancouver 2010 will change that), but the rest of it is pretty cool.

In various hotel rooms and living rooms of my relatives, it was NBC, MSNBC, and USA Network to flip between and feed the need. According to my brother, who is very into digital satellite and HD, he had access to a few more extra channels of continuous Olympics coverage, but that’s extra that you have to pay compared to this standard trio of channels that most cable TV subscribers get.

Being on vacation, I can’t complain about the coverage too much because we were on a trip to see my family and enjoy KCMO. Still, when we could, we caught what we could of the games, whatever events were being shown. Combined with some incredible coverage by our Raincity Studio pals Kris Krug and Robert Scales, renowned new media gurus on the ground in Beijing, we were keeping up just fine and dandy.

Photo by Kris Krug
Photo credit: Kris Krug on Flickr

Come back to Vancouver, and the scope of coverage changes dramatically on TV. Of course, it’s all CBC back in Canada, but the amount of coverage and the way they do it is significantly better. (Hint: get proxy access and watch their streaming coverage)

On the CBC, you do see more events that you probably wouldn’t see on NBC’s coverage, and a lot of that is due to the precedence that comes from showing as much U.S. athletes as possible. If there is a game of beach volleyball between two countries in an elimination round and one of them isn’t the U.S., you’re probably not going to see it unless it’s for a medal. You’ll get highlights, but you probably didn’t get to watch China take out Austria today like we did on CBC. You might get the highlights though.

Do I care about any of those teams? Not really, but it was a good match, regardless of how bad the Austrians played. Oh man, and it was really bad.

One thing we have access to back in Vancouver is a NBC affiliate in Detroit and Seattle, giving us both east and west coast coverage. Basically, all of the “live” coverage that the east coast gets is mostly prerecorded live and run in prime time. That makes sense because NBC wants to maximize their audience (which mostly means maximize profits so they can jack up the prices to advertisers who run their commercials during those events at the most inconvenient time).

On the other hand, CBC seems to be running as much as they can in real time. East coast runs the desk in Beijing until it’s time for the west coast prime time to kick in. They’re subtle about stuff that is tape delayed, but they hardly call it “live”.

Ron McLean has even been up front about some airing of events being tape delayed. I’m fine with that. There are so many events, there is no way that you can show everything all at once. Even at work I’ve turned on Radio-Canada in the background just so I can see the events. I don’t understand a lick of French, but they run a lot through the day to give me my fix, much of it being repeated over and over until Toronto kicks back in with English.

Duane shared this post with me, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one feeling this. To say that Russell Beattie is somewhat upset with NBC’s coverage is slightly understated, and he goes on to point out numerous reasons that makes a lot of sense to me in hindsight, especially in comparison with the coverage I see on CBC now.

The absolute blind rage I’m experiencing trying to view the Olympics is going to give me a fucking embolism. I was already prepared for the worst from NBC, who have fucked up the last 3 Olympic games coverage, but I honestly couldn’t have imagined how evil and extortionary they have become. [russellbeattie]

I’m not going to say that what NBC has done so far with these games is wrong, right, better, or worse, but once you are able to get away from it, you have to wonder about how much better it could be done.

Since everything is shown in the evening prime time, there is no stopping everything in the middle of your work day to watch some amazing, breath stopping event. There is no cohesion with the world in being in that one, true moment of greatness. This does not represent the “one world” notion that the Olympics is meant to be.

We watched Michael Phelps win his 8th gold medal when it happened. It wasn’t shown on the west coast feed on NBC until four hours later. We saw highlights from the end of the womens marathon on CBC just a few hours after it was over, but we were able to watch the end of it “live” nearly five hours later on NBC.

I’m not sure how you change it, but there is something being lost by the way NBC is conducting their control over how the U.S. gets Olympic coverage. I’m not sure that many Americans even know it.

Comparing nearly six months progress of the Vancouver Olympic Village

I have a mild obsession with the Olympics. The fascination has been with me for as long as I can remember, so it’s no surprise that I watch all the construction with anticipation, all political arguments aside. I just love the games. Period.

So almost six months ago, I took this photo on my way into work in the morning.

Daily pass of the Olympic Village

This afternoon, I took this photo on my walk home.

Overall shot from Cambie Bridge

The progress of this small city is astounding. We watch it everyday at work, and I battle the lines at the various places to eat near work on a constant basis. No matter when or where, there is always at least one construction guy or gal either buying coffee or having a bite to eat. The day I don’t have to cross the street without the fear of impending doom from a cement truck barreling down the street will be a strange day, especially with that Canada Line going in just a few blocks away.

Here’s another neat comparison of a photo that I took back in January, looking towards Science World from the Cambie Bridge.

Very Vancouver

And then, today, looking from about the same point, slightly more zoomed in.

Can't see Science World anymore

I’d say that’s progress, but here’s a couple more photos for fun.

Crews at work

Looking down the streets

You can see more here.