Like most people in at least Canada and the US, I watched with interest the lead-up to Nik Wallenda’s walk across Niagara Falls. Since the actual walk was scheduled for 11:00 pm, and I figured there would be a lot of preamble, I opted for bed and checking in the morning.
I don’t know if I would have been more enticed to watch had he not been dragging a rolling box connecting him securely to the almost two inch steel cable. His worst-case scenario was that he would fall off the wire and end up dangling about five feet below it until they managed to pull him off, perhaps with the aid of a helicopter. That would have been embarrassing, but not fatal to more than his pride.
The tether was apparently mandated by his main sponsor, the ABC Network. They indicated they didn’t want responsibility for any mishap.
I’ve been told that Wallenda kneeled once along the way, but other than that performed no unusual acts on the wire, and finished the walk in about half the expected time. Looking at the news reports the next morning, I had to feel it was a bit of a non-event. Skill was certainly there, but for a Wallenda a bit of routine work. Though I would doubt I could make more than ten feet down the wire, I might have been willing to give it a try myself (for significant compensation), knowing that at the worst I would fall off a few feet and dangle until rescue.
I had a good time watching the Vancouver Winter Olympics. A lot of exciting competitions, many inspiring athletes, a thousand and one stories.
Often during the competitions, in the early morning hours when CTV was repeating the events of the day before, I would switch over to NBC’s American coverage. It was good to get another view of things, and I was frequently amazed with the attention being paid there to Canadian athletes. As was happening on Canadian television, the US reporters often related the human interest side of our athletes, such as the story of Moguls Gold winning Alex Bilodeau’s brother Frederic. Frederic is Alex’s strongest supporter and his inspiration, while living with a severe handicap of cerebral palsy. US reporters were enthralled with the story of Joannie Rochette, competing in figure skating and winning the Bronze Medal despite her mother’s unexpected death only days before. Despite NBC’s understandable desire for the American team to win the men’s hockey gold, they often spoke with great respect about the Canadian team and about the unbelievable way Canadians were behind them.
I’m an avid Olympics watcher, summer or winter, but I’m having trouble. As cute as Nikki Yanofski is, and as beautiful as the Olympic song may be, I’m starting to struggle with Believing.
We’ve been the source of humor on the American talk shows for our $113 million “Own the Podium” campaign– how un-Canadian of us! Pushy and confident. It’s our podium! Try to take it at your own risk! Under the big bucks of the OTP campaign, they’ve helped athletes, studied the science of the sports, supplied the most high-tech suits and equipment, done everything known to man to assure victories.
Doesn’t seem to be working out that way. Canada now has 8 medals, falling overnight to fifth place, far behind the US, which is having a great Olympics and has a present medal count of 23. Korea, which has largely owned the speed skating tracks, moved ahead of us in the medal count.
The findings of a report released last week into the tragic Taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski in the Vancouver Airport didn’t surprise me. Most of us had seen the video taken by a bystander, and could appreciate that the response of the RCMP Officers on the scene was inappropriate. Perhaps more significantly, we were aware that their inquiry testimony about the event differed strongly from the facts in the video.
One news commentator indicated that as far as public support, the RCMP has been “bleeding” badly over the last few years. It’s unfortunate that the force, long an iconic symbol of Canada, peaks in its support by Canadians only when some of the members are killed. “Inappropriate response” was a common phrase in the report on the Dziekanski incident, and that labels most difficulties the RCMP has gotten into over the last decade.
The hysteria is even getting to me. I came at this article with half a notion of revising my position on the H1N1 Swine flu, and probably urging all of you to stampede your way to the nearest vaccination center, shove a few hundred people aside, and demand to be immediately jabbed.
So… I did a little research. While it doesn’t seem to be human nature to let facts get in the way of “feelings”, I like to back up my all too ready opinions with at least some foundation.
We’re going nuts. The last couple of days saw hundreds of clinics open across the country to provide vaccinations. A couple of months ago, surveys indicated that a great many Canadians were less than excited about getting vaccinated for H1N1, in fact it was of great concern to health officials that interest in the shots by the general public didn’t mirror their hopes for coverage. That seems to have changed– no doubt due to the media attention, and the accidental or intended messages that health officials have been sending.
My articles have been few and far between lately… busy time.
I had written a draft of a column immediately following the discovery of the body of Tori Stafford, a follow-up to my last column (end of May—where does the time go?). I thought I should complete the column, perhaps as a way of getting things rolling again.
Reporters at the time of the discovery of Tori’s body described the situation accurately as one of intense but mixed feelings for the family. I don’t think anyone in the situation of a missing person, particularly a child, abandons all hope until a body is finally found. Despite indications that the child is likely dead, as with a person lost at sea somehow a sliver of hope remains that the impossible happened and somewhere, somehow, the person is alive. Could Victoria be somewhere else– perhaps transferred, sold, whatever, to another person or family, and the indications of her being killed only a story to divert attention? Unlikely, but an anguished family clings to this faint hope. When a body is found and confirmed to be the missing child, that hope, however unreasonable, is extinguished.
The only positive, if one can twist the mind in that direction is, as Tori’s aunt described it, “at least we won’t be spending the rest of our lives watching for her, scanning every crowd, looking in every car that passes.”