Who would've thought... A Year Ago Today... I'd have just finished being a last-minute "Santa Spot" Olympic Torch Bearer?!?
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Who would've thought... A Year Ago Today... I'd have just finished being a last-minute "Santa Spot" Olympic Torch Bearer?!?
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
They are free, and on Pfizer Canada's "MoreThanMedication" website, Pfizer Canada being a proud sponsor of the Canadian Paralympic Team since 1996, and a major supporter for Canadian Paralympic Athletes. (Sorry, this means some folks may have to temporarily suspend their distaste for DrugCompanies to be able to enjoy these items.)
* Kids of Courage is a free full-colour e-picturebook which you can download to read with or read to your kids. An audio version of the story being read aloud is also provided.
"Written by Canadian author and educator, Cynthia Pratt Nicolson,
The e-book follows the story of two young people
Kids of Courage was inspired by
You can also download and share the audio version – introduced
The 2nd item is a very short inspirational film about Team Canada Sledge Hockey player Todd Nicholson, and the power of believing in yourself.
Pfizer is donating $5 for every time it is viewed and shared, to a total of $50,000. When I viewed it today, the amount reached was $28,340. And no, I have not received any other communications from Pfizer.
If you want to, you can watch this film and share the link to help the Canadian Paralympic Team reach the maximum donation of $50,000.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Over the past few weeks I've travelled the back-roads of elevators and accessible shuttles, bypassed painfully long 45 minute line-ups to SkyTrains and buses, used seats reserved for the disabled and elderly, and even had a volunteer roll me in a wheelchair to the "Accessibles" seating area: center-ice, front-row seats at the Men's Curling Competition. (I could reach out and TOUCH the cute Danish and American men curling up and down right in front of me! Kevin and his Canadian crew were only one sheet over. My pride may have taken a direct hit, but the thrills of that front-row priviledge will last a lifetime!)
I love it! May the term "Disabled" be forever banished from our vocabulary!!
I had great fun, watching all the kids file in and wave at the picture of HenryHudson Bear and myself which was being projected on the big old screen on the stage of the gym. The kids asked all kinds of naturally young kid questions -- no, I DIDN'T get to meet Sydney Crosby yet, and no, I didn't jump down on the ice and take his hockey stick and gloves! But yes, HenryHudsonBear DID enjoy having to take a bath yesterday after all!
It was incredible fun, but I really have to say that the experience reminds me so clearly of the times when I was a kid (yes, my lovelies, back in the dark ages) when we all gathered around our new black and white television set, and watched the first transmission of pictures and sounds from astronauts travelling in space -- the pictures all out of focus and gravelly, the sound coming through filled with static and echoes. But that new experience of communicating with someone at such an unbelievable distance right in front of our own eyes, nonetheless always elicited huge excitement and joy in that new "This-is so-cool-that-they-can-actually-DO-this" ability!!
And I can picture these very same kids 30 years from now telling THEIR kids the story of how they once sat on a hard gym floor and participated in their school's very first school-wide live video-conference -- and know they will be telling them "how archaic" it was!!! The picture all out of focus and gravelly, the sound filled with static and echoes, they all had to be VERY very quiet so the teacher at the Olympics could hear, and how some questions had to be repeated 3 TIMES before she could actually make out the question. "And can you believe at the time, we thought it was so COOL?!?"
Because I completely believe by that time, they'll all be carrying a single piece of technology in the palm of their hand which instantly provides seemless real-time picture and sound (and smell and feel?) connections, which will allow them to communicate with anyone around the world OR in outer space. I'm totally convinced, and I'm not nuts, that they'll have access to their entire lives through one single small device which connects them with family and friends around the world, educational and recreational activities, business and commercial enterprises, transportation systems, homes and 4- and 5-D virtual realities, where life-skills technologies operate through the same little one single tool (oh, to be able to order a home-made dinner cooked and ready at precisely the time you get home!!!)
"Your imagination is the preview to life's coming attractions." AE
So if I can imagine it, why can't all of that future just be transported here right NOW ?!?
Think of the things we could do, and the FUN we could have!!!
But for now, fromVancouver,
yours, in all my present-day limitations,
my apparently backward smiles (-:
and my pure technological impatience,
cb/beachcat11/Miss Beach ( =
Monday, March 1, 2010
And as a die-hard environmental and outdoor educator, after these 3 mind-boggling weeks of technological transformation, I have become even more convinced than ever, that the internet is just one more doorway IN and OUT of the global classroom...
I cannot take my students around the world to open to them the vast array of different ways to live and speak and act and believe. But I can offer them as many different views of the world as I can find, and share my enjoyment and appreciation of them, and hope that they catch an exciting glimpse of the world which is waiting out there for them, both for better, and for worse.
"Give a child in fantasy what he cannot have in reality".
I live and teach by this creed. And so, if the internet has allowed my students to come along with me on a few of my Olympic adventures, and this has helped to open their hearts and minds to the possibilities of a future world, then as an educator my heart sings, and I can sleep well tonight.
A seed is planted, and some day, tall trees will grow.
Grow tall, my lovelies, grow tall.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Only 4 more days until Sunday's Closing Ceremonies, when someone will declare that the 21st Olympic Winter Games are closed and absolutely OVER. Can you believe it?
And with people seeing the end in sight, there seems to be a shift taking place in the air out here in Vancouver... all echoing the same sentiment: "Oh no, No No!"
Because, sad to say, over the past 2 weeks I have found Vancouver a city very much split in opinion over having the Olympics take place right here, on their own home ice. Many have actually fled the city until all the fru-ha-ha and traffic worries die down. But today, even the die-hard pessimists and woe-spinning journalists are clearly changing their tune, admitting regret and defeat... Those people really missed out on an absolutely wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience! It wasn't horrible at all.
Because while some folks clearly continued to focus on concerns and complaints, the wonderful friendly, down-to-earth and open-hearted people of Canada understood and took to the streets to celebrate the Olympic Spirit -- at the venues, on the buses, in the restaurants, and in the bars. Canadian Flags are displayed prominently, in the windows of stores and offices, houses and cars, whever you travel. Spectators in venue stands create an enormous sea of red, while business-men wear our famous red hockey jerseys downtown to work, supporting Iginla and Crosby and Luongo across their backs. And even all Vancouver buses say "Go Canada Go!" before telling you the route they travel.
Regardless of a few minor glitches here and there (and so far that's all we've really seen), the people of Canada and Vancouver have spilled out onto the streets and welcomed the world, demonstrating our infamous politeness, and our now enormous national pride, with spontaneous choruses of 'Oh Canada' in both English and French arising anywhere there's a person or reason to sing it. And regardless of any medal count, with those thousands of friendly blue-coat volunteers everywhere you go, WE the people who believe, have made these games a huge success.
And in my own small way, I am so grateful and proud to be playing a part in it.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
We've been so busy twittering, clicking video and photos, live-streaming, phlogging, video-conferencing, and checking all 3 email accounts (?) -- that blogging has become the LAST of all the techno-gizmo's we've had the time or energy to use to communicate.
But what great adventures and incredible FUN we've had!! (Yes my lovelies, you still get to use that "F-word" in class for a number of weeks longer.)
And perhaps that's as good an insight as any I'll get into the world of the new "social networking" tools the younger generation is using to communicate these days.... Fast, short, down, and dirty. A little addictive, self-centered, and non-retractable, but SUCH a lot of fun!
I've discovered that blogging (for me, at least) takes too much time, energy, effort, and concentration -- all of which I'm finding are in very short supply at night when the images of the day are free-floating in my brain. And then the next morning, we're off and running again!
But today is the beginning of 6 days of evening-only events, so I'll try to catch up on many of the blog posts I started this week, but never finished.
Oh, and the Term 2 report cards I still need to finish!
But for now,
for keeping up-to-date
on all of our Olympic adventures,
going to Twitter.com
HenryHudsonBear and/or beachcat11
clearly wins hands-down,
as the better place for you to see.
Week One score from the Ontario judge:
Twitter 2, Blogging 0.
cb ( =
Forwarded email: please let me know if you can find the author.
I love this!
Subject: So we're not perfect!
We never claimed to be perfect.
That means we've learned to be humble.
We say excuse me and I'm sorry, as well as please and thanks.
Even when its not our fault we apologize!
Sure one arm of the torch didn't rise,
But when the earthquake struck Haiti, Canadians raised their hands to say "We'll help".
And yah, there is a fence around the torch.
But you can walk right up and shake hands with our prime minister and most famous Canadians.
We put Gretzky in the back of a pick up, in the rain, not surrounded by police, and he was okay.
And by the way... the great one is Canadian, and HE wasn't complaining!
We do have security at the games, of course, but most people don't even own a gun they have to leave at home.
The medals ARE under lock and key, but our doors and our hearts are open to the world.
It has been pointed out that some buses broke down last week, but let's not overlook the fact that our banking system didn't.
We didn't get the "green ice maker" right this time, but we will, eventually.
Just like we did when we invented the zamboni.
Citius Altius Fortius
If you don't reach higher, how do you get faster and stronger?
Was the first quad jump perfect?
Should we not have given snowboarding to the world "in case" it didn't take off?
So big deal! One out of four torch arms didn't rise. Good thing we had 3 more! It's called contingency planning!
But remember, the Canada Arm works every time in outerspace, and insulin turned out to be okay.
We couldn't change the weather, but maybe we can help stop global warming.
We don't have the tax base of the US, or the power of the Chinese but, per capita, we ponied up for some pretty kick-ass venues in the worst global recession ever.
Sure, some folks couldn't afford tickets, but our health care is universal.
We have shown the world that we can raise our voices in celebration and song, but moments later stand in silence to respect a tragic event... together... spontaneously, and unrehearsed.
What's more, we don't need permission from anyone to have a slam poet, fiddlers with piercings, and a lesbian singer tell our story to the world, while our multi-lingual, female, Haitian-born, black Head of State shares a box with her first nations' equals.
We've shown the world that it doesn't always rain in Vancouver, that you can strive for excellence, but not get hung up on perfection.
And we've learned what it feels like to be picked on by some no-name newspaper guy and we don't have to take it lying down!
So the point is not the snow, or the hydraulics, or a couple guys being 5 minutes late to ceremony. We know we're lucky that these are the biggest problems we had to deal within the last couple weeks.
So take your cheap shots, Guardian Newspaper and cynics of the world.
We're bigger and better than that.
What's more, we're finally starting to believe it!
Do you believe?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
48 hours have passed, and the 21st Winter Olympic Games have really begun.
The games proclaimed open, races done, medals won, and the unthinkable has actually happened -- an Olympian has died -- and a sliding track now judged the fastest on the planet has higher and protected sides. Too late for the young Olympian from Georgia, Asia, whose throttling G-force speeds threw him out of control and against the sides.
And so for me, the most painful moment of the Opening Ceremonies was seeing the Georgian team in the Parade of Nations begin their slow walk up the ramp to enter the BC Place stadium -- against a backdrop of snow and back-lit lighting -- it truly seemed an epic struggle for them to push themselves forwards to reach the entrance... a painful funeral procession. And then, on entering the stadium, the crowd spontaneously rising to their feet and drumming steadily, mournfully, and in respect, in ovation salute, grieving not only his loss and their loss, but our loss as well... the loss of innocence and the loss of illusion... the Olympics are not just some trivial fun set of games.
The thrill of extreme sport, the extreme challenge of world class competition, the ability to rise above and control the fear, the willingness to take risks which far exceed a few bruises or broken bones -- all of these combined make the Olympics a very deadly game.
The head of the Georgian team's trembling comment: "This is what I know. No sport is supposed to kill anyone. You're not supposed to do sports and die."
But athletes in extreme sports willingly take that risk, and knowingly tempt fate every time they pit themselves against a mountain, hurl themselves down a track, or throw themselves into the air off a stories-high jump.
But with the illusions of youth, they never expect it to end with black armbands and somber teammates walking a slow and painful procession around an Olympic stadium, wiping tears from their eyes.
Bienvenue…Welcome to Vancouver!
With Jack Poole and Nodar Kumaritashvili in our hearts – and standing on the shoulders of every Canadian – I commit that the men and women of Vancouver 2010 -- our partners and our friends -- are ready to deliver the performance of a life time.
Tonight through the magic of television, we visit the living rooms of the world to tell our story --- And as we do -- we invite people everywhere to share and experience -- even if just for a few moments -- what it feels like to be a proud Canadian.
As you - the best Winter Olympic athletes of all time – enter the arena prepared for you here in Canada - to compete in the honour and glory of sport – seizing the moment to inspire the youth of the world through your heroic efforts – you carry with you the hopes and the dreams of so many. You are role models for our children - heroes – giants--human champions – the best ever.
You are living proof that men and women everywhere are capable of doing great good – and that in life, as it is in sport -- we should always give our best -- and never, ever give up. You are our beacon of hope - in a world so much in need of peace – healing – unity - generosity and inspiration. Youth the world over aspire to be just like you. You compete with such bravery, conviction and pride. At these Games you now have the added burden to shine and be united around your fallen colleague Nodar. May you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders and compete with his spirit in your hearts.
Many thousands have made tonight and the days ahead possible -- But the spirit and soul of all 33 million Canadians has been sewn into the fabric of these Winter Olympic Games. This journey has not been about the few -- but rather the many. All Canadians – Aboriginal Canadians – New Canadians – English and Francophone Canadians – And the myriad of cultures, micro cultures, languages and peoples that make Canada - Canada.
And tonight the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history ends in this Stadium after an epic, unforgettable journey of discovery - across a land visually blessed - rich in history -- and profoundly human. The Olympic flame has touched many millions and prompted spontaneous, peaceful celebration – Reminding us all that those values that unite and inspire the best in us -- we must never abandon. As the Olympic Cauldron is lit – the unique magic of the Olympic Games will be released upon us. Magic so rare that it cannot be controlled by borders – The kind of magic that invades the human heart touching people of all cultures and beliefs – Magic that calls for the best that human beings have to offer – Magic that causes the athletes of the world to soar -- and the rest of us to dream.
Tonight – here - in the glow and wonder of the Flame -- we can all aspire to be Olympian.
From whatever continent you have come, we welcome you to Canada -- a country with a Generous Heart. We love that you are here. You are among good friends. Vous etes parmis vos amis. We are honoured to be received into so many hearts and homes all over the world this night – And we aspire to leave you with breathtaking memories to last a lifetime.
Let us all be reminded that the world is indeed watching. Hoping! Cheering! If you listen ….You can almost hear the voices. Through our example tonight and over the 16 days to come our children will begin to dream and believe in what is possible. Lives of great significance begin with a spark – a nudge – a gesture. Together let us touch as many as we can -- while we can.
On this the proudest night of my life… I thank my loyal, selfless team mates -- our tireless -- smiling “blue jacket” volunteers -- our partners -- our thoughtful leaders -- the IOC and global Olympic family and our many friends and families -- for their belief, their endurance, their sacrifice, and their courage. And of course, thanks to the thousands of media -- story tellers and broadcasters -- who will shape and chronicle every details of this adventure for its place in history. To the people of the Games' host communities -- we applaud you for your spirit and for opening your hearts and your homes to the world. And of course we thank the billions watching across the globe who hope and pray for our success.
Tonight we are - as we have been - One Team – Une Equipe.
And in keeping with proud Olympic Tradition we have given this grand, human adventure -- our very best.
As the 21st Olympic Winter Games – Canada’s Games -- begins, it is with Glowing Hearts – Des Plus Brilliants Exploits….. That we wish you all the Time of your Lives….. Que L’Esprit Des Jeux Vous Habite.
Thank you all and may God Bless Canada.
Friday, February 12, 2010
From the darkness of my bedroom, I can look out and see the bright lights of Vancouver's downtown, and watch the Olympic spot lights over False Creek move around and light up the undersides of the low-lying clouds. If I am thinking "it all begins in less than 24 hours", I can only imagine what thousands of athletes and their coaches must be thinking and feeling tonight.
Athletes, Vancouver 2010 organizers, and volunteers are posting messags after message about having huge knots in their stomachs, of not being able to sleep, of being struck by the incredible buzz and and anticipation of what tomorrow will bring, so many Olympic-size dreams realized, so many visions brought to life.
Here in the quiet of my room, I listen to the wind, and watch as the white lights dance on the underbelly of the clouds above the city, sometimes reminding me of an old-town car lot, then suddenly a vision of brilliant Northern Lights in white, and now, an Olympic oval.... I wonder if someone is leading them in their dance.... The world is watching -- and waiting --
For me, a strange sensation of calm, of what is going to be, will be... Perhaps I am getting old, or just a little wiser, and know now that as much as I can want different things to happen, certain outcomes I want to come to be, there is also much beyond my control. So I am content to watch, and wait, and allow tomorrow to bring whatever it will bring.
Good luck and best wishes to all those who struggle with sleep tonight. May the quiet of knowing you've done all you can, drift over you and lead you to sleep.
The Vancouver Winter Olympics, 2010, begin in hours. Sleep safely, sleep well.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
My vote all along has been for a hologram of Terry Fox lighting it -- technology these days can do just about anything! And he represents everything a true Olympic Champion could ever be. It would be so fitting that he could finally finish the Olympic Torch Journey, and light the final flame for these home-town Winter Olympics.
But last night I changed my mind...
I was picturing what Wayne Gretsky would be thinking as Terry Fox lit the flame in virtual reality. Yes, the gentleman that he is, Wayne would "get" it, and appreciate the all the wonderful intention and meaning behind it.
But even that says it! Who else in our country's history of sport is larger than life, the true epidome of Canadian Hockey, a true representative of Canadian personality and integrity, and in the world of sport, truly, truly, truly deserving of this Olympic Champion honour?
It's Wayne Gretsky for me, all the way. I think a zillion athletes from around the world would see it the same way. What do YOU think?
We'll see, won't we? Because 26 hours from now, we'll know!
A dream of a lifetime!
Yes, I'm finally here! Colin Jagoe, Jeff Brown, and our KPR IT folks have been absolutely amazing in helping my Gr 7 class at Chemong set up the technology so that we can send and receive messages, record podcasts, send pictures and video, and keep up to date on all the action through Twitter -- including reports from "HenryHudson Bear", a teddybear sidekick travelling with me who is recording his Olympic Adventures for little kids in his own Twitter account! A picture of him getting to sit in the cockpit of the plane yesterday is attached.
And -- wonder of wonders -- I'm even going to be able to send LIVE-STREAM video from events like the Opening Ceremonies, the Canada-U.S. hockey game, both women and men's hockey playoff games, the GOLD MEDAL sledge hockey game, Paralympic Alpine Skiing where BLIND people ski downhill at I-can't-believe-anyone-would-do-that speeds, Short Track and Long Track Speed Skating, Men and Women's Curling (both Olympic and Wheelchair), Womens' Snowboard Cross, 4-man Bobsleigh, and even more -- can you believe I'm getting to do all this?!?!? (OK, so noone starts getting the wrong idea, perhaps I should add that I'm on an Unpaid Leave, I'm volunteering as a Driver in the Transportation Fleet, and I'll be teaching until I'm 95 to pay for all of this!)
This evening I'm off to the dress rehearsal for the Opening Ceremonies with my 12-year old niece -- all Olympic Volunteers were given a free ticket, and were allowed to buy 1 ticket to take someone else. We're excited! But we've been sworn to silence: no pictures or messages from there, so you won't hear anything from me -- too many secrets for Friday night, I guess!
If you're interested in seeing any of our reports, or you have young primary-junior kids who'd enjoy following HenryHudsonBear, the links are printed below. And if you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see or hear about, or people out here with whom you have connections, please email and let me know. My class is looking for people out here to interview, to hear all about what they're doing here, and to ask their point of view on their Olympic experiences. (Our literacy SmartGoal is perspective, eh?) (-:
I'm just a neophyte at doing all this, so please be patient with my lack of skills - but the learning curve is turning out to be lots of fun! I've added some simple info below for any other non-techies like myself, who may want to understand how to work some of it. It's R-E-A-L-L-Y simple!!
http://www.twitter.com/beachcat11 (I'm beachcat in FirstClass and the name stuck)
http://www.twitter.com/henryhudsonbear (HenryHudsonBear for the little kids)
For people new to this, like myself:
All the the links are on the front page of my blog, or you can see very short update messages in either of the twitter accounts. You don't need to have a Twitter account of your own to read the messages -- it's basically just a webpage where you can read what they've been doing and saying. You only need a Twitter account if you want to reply to the person either publically or privately, or you want to "follow" someone. If you are "following" someone on Twitter, you get a "tweet" or a notice every time they post something new, like now they are here or there, or they've just posted a new podcast (an audio voice recorded message), or they're reporting Live from one of the events and you want to see it in real time. When you get a "tweet" , you just click on the link in the message and that connects you to the podca st, the picture, live-stream video, or whatever. Most of my podcasts, pictures, and videos, etc. will be linked on my blog as well, if you ever want a simple way to find and check them out.
I hope this info helps!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
And so, as a gift before I fly off to Vancouver for 6 weeks, I have put together a little presentation for my students -- to explain what My Olympic Journey means to me, and to try to plant seeds of hope and inspiration to believe in and achieve in the power of their dreams.
My little presentation goes like this:
PART A - The Seeds of a Dream . . .
(The Story of My Dream. I'll eventually post this so you can read it.)
PART B - What IS the Olympic Dream?
** "Dreams are Whispers"... an inspirational film clip from SimpleTruths.com
** A music video of LeAnn Rymes song "Light the Fire Within" created by Dark Moon Studios
** Canada's Celine Dion singing "The Power of the Dream", with the song's Canadian composer, David Foster, on piano at the Atlanta Opening Ceremonies in 1996.
** The Children of Atlanta sing "The Power of the Dream" at the Atlanta Closing Ceremonies.
I hope you'll have a moment to watch and enjoy!