Saturday, March 6, 2010

Two days done but more to come March 6, 2010

Well I have now finished two days of the volunteer stint and so far so good - things are starting to get busier now that the athletes have started to arrive - I drove one of the team officials back to Whistler from the airport - he has never been to Vancouver so he certainly was snapping the pictures as we drove up the Sea to Sky until sunny and warm skies.

Our leaders are hands on guys - while we are helping out they are also doing some things themselves.

The delegation office is now up and running and since it is directly across from a wi-fi hotspot I am able to access it from the office while watching a dog show on TSN - TV seems to be limited to the CTV Olympic stations.

Tomorrow we will be formally introduced to the team and while I have met a number of them the remainder are in transit right now from YVR by bus.

Took a number of shots of the Athlete's Village this afternoon but in keeping with the terms of my volunteer contract I won't be publishing many of them here.

My accommodation is just inside the Village which makes it a little easier to move around - those outside have to go through security each time they enter.

The battery is running low - will recharge later - the food as you can see from the attached photo is okay - because I missed lunch I filled the plate tonight.

We have started to fill in the work schedule and I will definitely be able to take next Tuesday off for the birthday party.

More later



Friday, March 5, 2010

The day have finally arrived March 5, 2010

Off in about 30 minutes to the Athletes Village where I will pick up a delegation member and a GMC Acadia and drive them to Whistler and there meet up with another member of our team who is already there - then a couple of short meetings and then I got to see my accommodation for the first time.

We are starting to work as a team as the emails are starting to flow between team members - this is a good sign and another good sign is that the weather is starting to cool so there should be some new snow at Whistler over the next week.

There is wireless in the Village but it is spotty and there is also one computer we can share so I should be able to post here fairly often during this stint - keep in mind there are some things that they won't want us posting while the Games are on.

Outta here


Thursday, March 4, 2010


After having coffee with a couple of friends I returned home around midnight to see the message light flashing on the home phone - it was from my supervisor with yet another change in my plans - remember our theme - expect the unexpected - and that is what it was - for some reason there aren't any vehicles available on Thursday to transport the delegation to Whistler - it will have to wait until tomorrow BUT they still need us to be at the Village at 11 AM all nicely decked out in our fill uniform - still plan on wearing the lighter blue pants since they said it was okay given the warmer weather and it is consider to be part of the move in process.

The message ended with the words you will be able to have one more sleep in your own bed.

Confirmed this morning that it's just a day at the Vancouver Village - have on the uniform for the first time and it feels good and also warm. Need to find out if we need the vest on at all times or just if we are cold. Almost reminds me of my working days where we had uniforms for our customer service role.

More later on this the next step in living my Paralympic dreams.



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Expect the unexpected March 3, 2010

Throughout our training for the NPC Assistants job we were constantly reminded that things can and will change on short notice and tonight the first of those changes has occurred - I received an email asking if I would be available to drive some of the Slovak delegation up to Whistler tomorrow instead of me busing it up and waiting for them. Of course I said yes but there was one proviso - there might not be enough room of my luggage as well as the team's and I might have to bus it back to Vancouver and then come up on the bus on Friday - well after a couple of phone calls and some repacking - told that I probably only need one complete change as we will probably be living in our uniforms and with free laundry that should suffice I will now be able to take a smaller overnight bag and my Vanoc day pack.

Also was able to clarify the bus scene for days off - there is a work force bus that runs every two hours 24/7 between the two athletes villages so we are free to use it to get back to Vancouver on our days off - only one proviso and that is we have to give up our seat if an athlete needs it and wait for the next bus.

Also learned that the Chef DE missions are letting the delegations work out our shifts among ourselves as long as there are enough of us to meet their needs each day - I am going to try to get the early shift as it fits my long time body usage from years of early morning work shifts.

Also will try to get either March 10th off or work the later shift as I can attend the 70Th birthday party of a friend in Vancouver that night.



It's just about time for Whistler March 3, 2010

I am all packed and ready for my departure tomorrow around noon for Whistler - manged to get everything I think I need into a large duffle bag and my Olympic day pack - even remembered to change over the logos etc.

The Chef de Mission for our delegation arrives tonight and will stay at the Village in Vancouver before heading up to Whistler - one of the Slovak speaking members of our team is picking them up this evening at YVR.

Just waiting for one more email about when the rest of us will all get to meet each other and our boss - the Chef De Mission.

The Paralympic torch was lit in Ottawa today and will visit ten cities before arriving in Vancouver and relighting the cauldron here.

The loner range forecast also seems to be showing a cooling trend next week with a lower freezing level which should provide some new snow for the athletes and perhaps even some at the Village and in Whistler.



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The next step - the Paralympics experience March 2, 2010

As the Paralympics are a different governing body the logos are different for each set of games -

Here you see the velcro patches that are used on the front of the Jacket - I will put the one on the right on my jacket.

This is the patch that you put on the back of the jacket to cover the Olympic rings - they are attached via grommets.

Even the day packs are changeable - there is a flap on the front that is removed to give you the Paralympic logo.

Now that the Winter Games are over the City's focus turns to the Paralympic Games - some 1300 athletes from over 40 countries will be competing in five events - sledge hockey and wheelchair curling in Vancouver and Alpine Skiing, Cross country and biathlon at Whistler.

This is where my full involvement with the Games occurs as I will be heading up to Whistler later in the week to take up residence in the Athletes village to fulfill my role as an assistant to the Slovakian delegation - there are six of us attached this team - a 3 - 3 gender split and a 3 - 3 I can speak Slovak split - two of the group will commute from Vancouver daily and supplement our work.

Three of us are retired and three are still working - of the three who speak Slovak - two fled as kids in 1968 when the then Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Russians.

Our accommodation is modest - two to a room and two rooms sharing a bathroom - as we will be working different shifts it could be interesting to see how this works out - we get two meals provided - breakfast and either lunch or supper depending on our shifts - there is free bus shuttle into the town proper so eating won't be a problem.

There is free wireless available and one computer but I will be bringing my net book mostly to upload my photos but I do hope to post to this blog each day relating my experiences.

There is also free laundry so that reduced the amount of clothing that I will need to bring and also makes it easier to keep our uniforms clean - just need to mark my name on the clothes so that they don't get mixed up.

I will get one day off in seven but except for a 70th birthday party for a friend from the Y I dont have any need to come down to Vancouver on my days off - this I intend to play by ear as it might depend on the day of the week and the weather.

I also am equipped by a Samsuung Omnia cell phone for use while serving the delegation and keeping in touch with other members of the team - while they don't want us to use them for personal use they also want us to make sure we know how they work so phoning a few friends is okay - they are set up for North American wide long distance and can be use by team members or delegation members.

The Slovak team has around 20 participants in the Games - all at Whistler - we won't know the exact number until we and the team arrive later in the week.

Look for progress reports over the next three weeks.



Olympic experience - Games wrap up March 2, 2010

Since my last post the Games have finished and a wonderful fun filled city is starting to return to normal.

It was a once in a lifetime experience and the great performance by athletes, volunteers, citizens and security people.

I would be remiss if I didn't make specific reference to the great job done by the police in controlling those large crowds with little to no damage to businesses etc.

While some people didn't like the idea of closing the liquor stores early it seemed to work like a charm - even with that there were over 20,000 liquor seizures during the course of the Games but only something like 250 arrests mostly for intoxication - yes some people did get ticketed for liquor possession - could be underagers that were targeted.

Transit also must get very high marks - we didn't have traffic gridlock - actually we had pedestrian gridlock - it is so bad on Sunday after the hockey game near Robson and Granville that I was getting pushed in all four directions by the swarming crowd - I finally turned around an very slowly was able to get about a block away where you could at least breathe.

The idea of letting Games day ticket holders also helped with the flow of traffic.

As I was walking through Robson Square our TSN panel of Darren Maillaird, Derek Pang, Nick Cyprios (sp) and Bob Mackenzie were setting up on the ice for a pre-game show and I was able to capture this moment with the Blackberry.

The lineup to get into the BC Pavilion at the Art Gallery was only about 15 minutes so I waited in line to get inside to see the display - it is actually my first time inside the Art Gallery - what a magnificent building - it was an old courthouse and has been the home of the Art Gallery for many years - in addition to the Pavilion you were able to view the exhibits on display but were asked not to take any photographs.

I happen to pop by the Y for a social visit and was asked if I wanted a free ticket to a playoff curling game between Great Britain and Sweden - while not a huge curling fan I have followed it somewhat over the years and was one of the sports that I did spend time in front of the TV.

As I only had 90 minutes notice of the Game I was only able to get Tom to join me - in talking to Grant who has curled if he had more time we would have come in from Cloverdale and joined Tom and I - what a great curling game - a playoff game that went an extra end with Sweden defeating the defending champs from Britain.

Every night during the Olympics we have been treated to a fireworks show at a couple of locations - I could see the Live Event Yaletown show from my condo and here is a image of the fireworks bursting out over the tops of the some of the condo towers in Yaletown - I also walked down to the site one day and catch them in person.

On Monday Feb 22, 2010 I finally got my uniform and coveted Blue Jacket and accreditation - that makes me official and allows me to use transit free until the end of the Paraylmpics.

What a great time to have witnessed here in Vancouver.



Sunday, February 28, 2010