Tag Archives: arrogance

Kangaroo Kontroversy

Now we’re truly getting down to what the Olympics are all about. The Australian athletes have hung a two-storey flag of the boxing kangaroo outside their residence in the Olympic village. The Olympic village in Vancouver is, like every other Olympic venue, cordoned off and protected by security enough to sink the Bismarck. The only people who might actually get into this “village” are the athletes, reporters, security goons and other bigwigs of Olympic importance. But it is where all the athletes, with their dreams and aspirations are housed. So it makes sense that everyone wants to show team and national spirit.

The boxing kangaroo is not the flag for Australia the country but it is the flag for their sporting attitude and has officially been that symbol since 1983 (Oh and belongs to the Australian Olympic Committee–aren’t they all part of the Olympic “family”?). On top of that the boxing kangaroo was supposedly used on fighter planes in the second world war. Just google it and you’ll see the examples. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has deemed it too commercial and have told the Australians to take their flag down. Too commercial. What’s wrong, IOC, are you afraid someone might buy an Australian? It’s not like it’s advertising beer or mitts; it’s advertising Australia’s competitive spirit.

But the IOC has proven that its main purpose is not to promote sports and fun and national competition. Its main purpose is to make tons and tons of money and get big advertising sponsors. It also shows there is no sense of humor whatsoever in the suits and ties gobbling up the money. Where does that money go? Good question.

They don’t pay the athletes, nor the hosting cities. Every city that bids on being an Olympic venue also pays a pretty stiff registration fee that they do not get back. But the money must go somewhere. Well, looking at the IOC’s role and mission this may give us a clue as to where the money goes.

The IOC’s role is to:

  1. Encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sport as well as education of youth through sport and to dedicate its efforts to ensuring that, in sport, the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned;
  2. Encourage and support the organization, development and coordination of sport and sports competitions;
  3. Ensure the regular celebration of the Olympic Games; Make that properly branded & trademarked celebration only.
  4. Cooperate with the competent public or private organizations and authorities in the endeavor to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace; Organizations like Visa, MacDonalds, Coca-Cola. Yay peace!
  5. Take action in order to strengthen the unity and to protect the independence of the Olympic Movement; The Olympic Movement: is that like a political thing or a just a bodily evacuation?
  6. Act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement; So what does that mean in regards to protestors.
  7. Encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women; Except where inconvenient like those darn female ski jumpers who don’t get to jump.
  8. Lead the fight against doping in sport;
  9. Encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes;
  10. Oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes; Get that kangaroo flag down, sports. Get that kangaroo flag down.
  11. Encourage and support the efforts of sports organizations and public authorities to provide for the social and professional future of athletes;
  12. Encourage and support the development of sport for all; But you can’t watch it unless you have a $100 or more for each ticket. So that should be for all wealthy people.
  13. Encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and to require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly; Do you know how many shiny white vans and trucks I’ve seen with the Olympic logo on the roads? Wouldn’t it be better to use old ones in good repair instead of adding more cars to the environment?
  14. Promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries; But we’ll ignore the fact that only one Olympic host city has ever made money. What’s the legacy: more taxes.
  15. Encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education;
  16. Encourage and support the activities of the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and other institutions which dedicate themselves to Olympic education.

I really hope the Australians keep the flag up the whole time and that other countries add their eagle (US), bulldog (UK), beaver (Canada), etc. to the mix. And I really hope that kangaroo has a middle finger for the IOC’s arrogance and commercial greed.

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Horror Hotel: Travelodge Review

If you travel to it, it will lodge in you like a cancerous tumor.

My sister and I drove up to Edmonton, Alberta for my brother’s surprise birthday. My sister-in-law had paid for a room at the Travelodge on 45 Ave.  As we drove in we noticed the nearly empty parking lot and mounds of dirt. Okay they were renovating or changing the lot. We go in and it’s relatively small as “hotels” go though I would call it more a motel. A little pool right off the front desk.

We went to register and they found it right away. Good so far except then the guy asks how we are going to pay for the room. My sister said, It’s already paid for. She came in personally to pay for it. (We didn’t have a confirmation number but it was supposed to be more than confirmed.) The guy says there’s nothing here. He looks in the written book and it just has my name, no other information. We insist it’s been paid for and he says, there is nothing we can do.

As we’re standing there two guys come in from down the hall. One is wiry, bald, very long mustachios and a few tattoos. He’s already looking florid. He said something about paying for, and booking, the hotel online and how his friend (who had booked it)  was charged a month before they even got it. But the room they were given had air conditioning that wasn’t working (it’s 35 degrees Celsius in Edmonton right now). They’d shown him another room that was dingy and just as bad. In a livid rage he said he wanted his money back as the guy said, we can’t do that. There is nothing we can do.

We watch all this, now getting a true sense of Travelodge. As this guy rants the staff member goes, I’m senior management, there’s nothing we can do. It’s policy (like a broken record) which just makes this biker guy madder. He and and his friend say we’re going to post this on the internet. I’m not sure what eventually happened there as we were trying to deal with our problem. We can’t call my sister-in-law directly as this is supposed to be a surprise birthday for my brother. So I call my other brother but he’s enroute and can’t pass the message on.

So we reiterate that my sister-in-law came in Wednesday or Thursday in person and paid for the room. There is also a girl behind the desk and she says oh she would have booked the room by phone. But we say, maybe but she came in to pay. If she booked it by phone do you have a credit card number then? Can you check to see if she made a payment in her name? Then we get, we only use a credit card on the phone to hold a room. Well do you ever charge to it? No, we only hold a room. I ask, what happens if I don’t show up for my room then? Do you charge it? No, we never do that. Then why do you take the credit card as confirmation? You don’t understand, we only use it to hold the room. But if you actually never use it to charge for a room I could make up a number, couldn’t I?

Anyways, we go around like that for a bit with the supposedly “senior management” guy looking back through they payments made and saying there is nothing. There is nothing we can do. So my sister and I cart our luggage back to the car. It’s too early for the party so we just opening the car and trying to figure out what we can do when some other guy runs out and says oh they want to see you at the front desk. We had already been there for a half hour trying to sort this out. As we walk back in the girl comes out and says there has been a big misunderstanding that in fact yes, my sister-in-law had paid for the room and in fact the supposedly senior management guy had not read the deposit column. So, we do have a room but they had made no notation anywhere that it had been paid for or anything. I have to say the girl was apologetic. The other guy was arrogant and unhelpful and made the situation worse.

We walked down the dimly lit corridor with a well worn brown carpet. They were putting us on the first floor of a three floor hotel. We went into the hotel room, noticing the sagging beds, but got ready for the evening. There is a mirror in the bathroom and one full length one near the door. The outlet in the bathroom didn’t work for a flat-iron and there was no outlet near the other mirror. Other outlets were not flush to the wall, with plastered holes showing but not painted. The room was dim even with all the lights on (a desk lamp, a floor lamp and two bed lamps). My sister tried another outlet that didn’t work. Oh, and yes, there were ants in the bathroom. So on our way out we said, there are ants, the outlet doesn’t work in the bathroom nor in the room.

They were supposed to have fixed it but when we returned at 2:30 am there were over a dozen ants in the bathroom. Big ants. I flushed about ten down the drain, and we called them up. Instead of saying, sorry and coming to us and helping us move to another room, they made us pack up everything and come to the front desk so that we could then move to another room. Where it turned out the air conditioner barely put out slightly cool air through the night, the outlet in the bathroom didn’t work, another outlet in the wall didn’t work, the beds were uncomfortable and the pillows as lumpy as oatmeal. These rooms weren’t cheap and cost about $140 a night.

If Travelodge offered me a free week at their hotels I wouldn’t take it. The hotel was so rundown looking, the beds so bad (and the sheets were wrinkled and made us suspicious that they hadn’t been changed), the rooms so shabby that I haven’t stayed in something this bad since India. Their overall lack of customer service and sheer arrogance was offputting. And whether those guys who had booked through the internet and had read the info correctly or not, there are better ways to diffuse a situation than what these guys did. Be warned. I would consider this chain of hotels to be any better elsewhere.

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Driving Me Crazy: Driver Etiquette

I really think that there are way too many people on the road these days who shouldn’t be there, who don’t know how to drive or who have forgotten or who have become just plain dangerous. What’s the solution? Have them do a driver’s test every year? Well, that would raise the cost of our licenses and everyone would study up (which would help) but it doesn’t mean they would drive better the rest of the time. So, I’m not sure what the solution is. Spy drivers? Increase fines for when you’re caught? But fines, like death, are something that people think will never happen to them.

Our cities are too congested, our roadways inadequate for the commuting, our public transit inefficient or too expensive for many commuters, our homes too expensive and so people buy further and further out. This all leads to people going long distances, speeding, feeling pressured, working too much and getting angry. Governments need to take a far ranging approach but also every person has to take responsibility for their own actions.

Here are some of the purely insane or stupid things I’ve seen drivers do. If you’re reading this, I hope you won’t/don’t do these or will consider not continuing to do them.

  • Changing lanes into a turning lane and then signal. Duh, it’s obvious once you’re in the turning lane that you’re going to turn. Let’s look at the word “signal.” What does it mean? If you signal someone or something you are attracting attention and letting someone know you’re going to do something. A turning signal lets people know you’re going to turn or change lanes. You use it before you move into another lane, not after. And as the bumper stickers say, it is not an option. It’s the law. If you signal that you’re changing lanes it lets the drivers around you know that you may be changing speed and merging. The signal should blink at least three times (not a half-blip) before you do any lane change or turn, giving everyone enough time to react properly. It’s done for safety and to avoid accidents. 
  • Speeding up to not let people in. I watched a guy in rush-hour traffic yesterday as all of us crept along. He would leave a big space in front of his car, but when a car signalled properly that it was going to change lanes and then merged into the empty spot, the guy sped up and honked his horn at the car, then of course veered into the HOV lane without signalling (and a single driver). Remember this, folks. No one is ever first on the road. It’s a long asphalt snake with no beginning and no ending (more or less) and there is always someone ahead of you and behind you. Try some courtesy and it might be returned. It’s give and take; if someone signals and gives enough time, let them in, and if you are the one signalling don’t cut off a car coming up quickly. Oh, and if someone does let you in, do signal them with a wave of thanks. It’s the polite thing to do.
  • Sideswiping and crowding. I’ve been nearly pushed into the retaining wall on the highway when I was already on the exit ramp and a truck came over from the next lane into me. I honked and he just kept coming, pushing me onto the shoulder. I’ve had some insane woman nearly crush me because I was coming from a merging lane, signalling, and she wouldn’t let me in, willing to risk damage. Another guy one night, when the highway was empty, came into my lane and pushed me toward the retaining wall. Why? I don’t get this at all. Where do you think people should go? We can’t disapparate.
  • Insane road rage. But perhaps the above is just another sign of road rage. Like the time I was in the curb lane with cars parked beside me. A car stopped in front of me, a taxi I think, to let someone out. The car behind me blared his horn. Then after the car in front of me turned off, that car followed me with his lights on high. I’m still not sure how I was supposed to do anything else.
  • Street racing: we can blame car companies partly for the increase in this. Ads always declare the cars fast and sexy. And yeah, young guys have to prove they’re cool by racing but it’s absolutely unsafe and enough people have already been killed in Vancouver because of it. Drag racing was the old style problem and again could be an issue for safety of other drivers and pedesterians. But the amount of souped up and super fast cars makes this even more of an issue. Speeds of 150 km in the city are not acceptable and you certainly can’t react fast enough at that speed.

Sideswiping, speeding, tailgating, rudeness, all are extremely dangerous and do lead to accidents and death. It is the worst type of bullying, and criminal. I still think of those poor guys, on the way to the airport, who were first pushed off the road and then the guy came back, insane with anger, and ran over one young man, killing him.  Why? Did they do something first? Who knows but this sort of escalation is completely crazy. Driving isn’t a game or a competition. Not on our city streets. It’s thousands of people, each one unique and important in their way, and they all have a myriad things going on. They’re busy, sick, preoccupied, worried, happy, rushed, relaxing, whatever. It’s about people getting safely from one destination to the next. You, the driver cannot possibly know why someone does something. People sometimes make stupid mistakes. But if we try to be kinder, calmer, not presume the worst and be more aware, perhaps we can save just a few more lives, or a lot more, on the roads.

And I have to watch it when these drivers drive me crazy. Therein lies the path to road rage. Right now I shoot them with my finger gun and leave at that, grateful that we do have gun laws. Maybe counselling should be added to every driver’s licence exam. Counselling before you get the license and every couple of years.

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You’re So Vain

Vanity. It’s usually said in disparaging ways, that a vain person is a bad thing. And is it? The dictionary says it is conceit, or having an excessively high regard for one’s self, looks, possessions or ability. Arrogance is related with its overbearing pride or self-importance.

The worst case of vanity and arrogance I ever saw was a boyfriend who believed that every time a woman talked to him, even if she was asking him the time, was because she wanted him. He believed everyone loved him and that he knew things no one else knew, had experienced events that no one else had ever experienced. But he was more arrogant than vain though it’s a slim line between the two.

A person who is extremely vain is often a narcissist, stuck in self-love and importance, appearance or abilities. They’re more concerned with how they look and what they do, than the world, people or events around them. They’re given to talking about themselves a lot. Like the joke goes, “Enough about me. What do you think about me?” And Carly Simon’s  song (You’re so Vain) of course frames it well, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself go by…”

I once dated a narcissist. Later, “as friends” we got together for coffee. Jon talked about his job, his family, his dog. He paused and there was silence since I had decided to let him be the first to ask how I was. I’d asked him about himself, his job, etc. but never once did he actually ask me anything about what I was doing, not even “how are you?”. After the pause, he talked about his love life, his place, himself. When we left, Jon had not asked me a thing. I could have had kittens and he wouldn’t have known. Not a great person to date.

Narcissists may go farther with their self-importance and date people who look like them. I remember a girl in school who once said, “I only read books where the character has the name Laura.” Guess what her name was? These are the worst aspects of vanity, self-involvement, where perspective centers only on self, believing one is always the best and that no one can compare.

But not all vanity is bad. The opposite end is humility, yet false humility is another form of vanity, where you extol the virtues of being humble in a way that makes you look better than anyone else for sacrificing so much.

Taking care of your appearance beyond simple grooming is caring about how you look and is a vanity. Does a hairstyle or particular color look better on you? Do you wear wrinkled clothes or items in a dirty or slovenly manner? Do you take pride in your appearance? Do you try to stay in shape, not just to feel better, but to look better?

It is not wrong to feel pride or feel good about how you look. In fact, someone who doesn’t care at all may have other emotional problems like low self-esteem or depression. It’s the absence of balance that is always the problem. Talk about how you look but then notice how the other person looks. Talk about what you’ve been doing but give a person fair share in time and show interest. There are people who can’t start conversations because they don’t know how to ask a question about someone else. They expect everyone to ask about them and they can go on.

Sometimes it isn’t so much vanity as the person may lack some social aspects, learning only to talk about what they know, sometimes incessantly. Chatterboxes can put you to sleep because they don’t allow anyone to get an word in or interact. They may be narcissist or vain or just inept on the nuances of conversation.

We all have moments when we want the attention on us. It’s human nature to want to feel special, to shine at some aspect of our lives. But we have to share the limelight. It’s all right to be selfish sometimes and say me first, or it’s about me. I’ve been accused of making things all about me when I tried to stop a friend from physically fighting with another friend who had just slept with someone not his wife. That man accused me of making it all about me when somehow I was trying to help him save his marriage. I said, when we talked afterward, that yes, it was about me in that I was selfish and liked my friends and didn’t want to see them broken up and that I wanted them happy. That’s my selfishness. I have found sometimes that people will accuse someone of vanity at the weirdest times for completely unrelated things. I’m beginning to realize that this can be a misfired plea for some attention.

So if you say, “Wow, look at this poster.” And your friend says, “Oh everything always has to be about you,” then maybe what they’re saying is, “Me, me, look at me.” You may have to say, “What do you think about this poster?” People are weird and vanity tempered with humility is probably the best way to go.

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Separtism vs Unity

I was going to write a book review today but this is more important. Thanks, Stephen Harper, for raising the hoary head of separatism yet again. Wasn’t it enough that it’s almost torn the country apart twice in the past?

Stephen Harper is like Gordon Campbell. They both have this smooth plasticky look that I’ve never trusted. And Gordon Campbell’s adamant voice this last week against a coalition partially formed of his party (albeit at a federal level) really cements that he is a Conservative in Liberal clothing. BC Liberals are the same as Alberta Conservatives.

Anyway, I wouldn’t trust either as far as I could throw them. But back to Harper who in his arrogance not just poked at the sleeping lion of separatism, but prodded it with a red hot poker. He has single handedly guaranteed that the Conservatives will not win in Quebec’s provincial election that’s coming up.

Although I do not like what the Bloc stands for and there is a huge problem in having a federal party that is only concerned with one geographic area (I don’t think it should be allowed at all but how do you word something like that?), they are a valid party in the current parameters and have to be respected in that aspect.

When Harper said, “The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister, one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people and not from Quebec separatists,” he pried open the lid on the issue that will not die and now has another chance to suck the lifeblood from Canada. Somehow, he neglected to understand that Quebec is part of Canada.  He pitted anglophone Canada against francophone.

But of course, he isn’t the only one who sees Quebec as separate. Jacques Parizeau, a former Quebec premier, was quoted as saying, “The fact that the Bloc got Stéphane Dion to sign a political accord in which it is explicitly written that he undertakes  ‘to act in partnership with Canadians and the Québécois should bring a smile to the face of many sovereigntists.’ ” Here again we see Québécois as separate or other from Canadians when in fact they are Canadians.

The separatist (or soverignist if you want the word that muddies the connotations) movement has surged like a tide in the past. A good French-Canadian friend has told me that the provincial government often keeps the Québécois insulated from the rest of the goings on in Canada. We’re a bilingual country but truly it’s Quebec and New Brunswicks and some of the other areas in eastern Canada that speak French and that right is protected. Western Canada predominantly speaks English. There is a law that public signage has to be in both languages, especially official and government signs, yet in Montreal when I was there, there was a lack of English

The Québécois have received many rights protecting their culture, which is absolutely fine but they don’t always realize that they sometimes have more rights than the rest of Canada. And then on top of that, there are those who foment views that they’re hard done by, they’re picked on, they’re whatever. Canada is a large country with not an overly large population when you compare it to smaller countries. But Quebec is about a third of Canada’s population. There are unique areas and cultures throughout this country.

Any split of Quebec from Canada would sever Canada as a nation. We wouldn’t survive. You can’t take a chunk out of the middle and expect it to continue. Of course the Québécois wouldn’t want to take one-third of the deficit and other costs that have been spent to maintain the provinces. And the US would be waiting like a hungry shark to get the little provinces that couldn’t survive on their own. The maritimes may be the first to go. BC and Alberta (especially) would most likely survive as their own little nations.

But more than the geo-political aspects, there are those of nationality, of identity. I very much feel that I’m Canadian, so much so that when I thought of moving to Seattle to work I just couldn’t do it. Only love could make me move. I love my country in a way that’s not stand-up-and-wave-the-flag, hand-on-my-heart patriotic. But it is a deep and visceral love of this land and way of life.

It makes me furious whenever someone stirs the pot and makes people think they’re disenfranchised. Stephen Harper gave in to base prejudices and let his arrogance get the better of him. He’s been accused of showing little respect and it is damaging the nation, just as the Bloc would if they ran this country for it wouldn’t be a country for long. But saying that a government can’t work with the Bloc is thumbing one’s nose in their faces. We have a government and it is made up of several parties, including the Bloc. The governing includes all parties coming to decisions.

Unfortunately people often vote with their hearts and not their heads. I just hope that the Quebec people realize that there are many people in Canada and that we’re not all Stephen Harper. I’ve been to Montreal and it is beautiful and intriquing and full of artistic life and unique culturer. I don’t want it to be somewhere else. I want it part of Canada. Just as I want all the idiosyncratic pieces and cultures and diversity.

And I just wish that we could see more effort in the political parties (all of them) at working together and finding solutions, rather than finding the flaws in each other and name calling. I’d rather see a party saying what they’re going to do and do it, than pointing fingers at others and saying what they’re doing. Some integrity in politics again would really be nice. So let’s stay united.

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It’s an All About Me World

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be living at the height of the 40s when people doffed their hats, everyone said please and thank you and called people by their last names, and politeness was just a way of life. Over the decades things have changed. Morals and moires have loosened up, there is more freedom in speech and thought and dress and we live in a very affluent society in North America.

With that, has come consumption at a phenomenal rate. Products are over-packaged, packaged and packaged again to make them splashier, bigger, brighter and harder to rip off. Fashions for everything from clothing, to cars to home furnishings are advertised everywhere, on billboards, in magazines, on TV. Even the poor have TVs and cell phones and wearing the latest cool rock or movie star inspired trend is what matters.

We toss out usable TVs, computers, clothing, furniture because we’re tired of them, they don’t fit the new decor, whatever. Once upon a time in a world only a hundred years old people kept and used items until they were used up. Except perhaps for the rich. But now we have a much richer society compared to a lot of the world’s population.

And what does it seem to have made us? Selfish, self-centered, rude, righteous and arrogant. How often do we drive, turning every other driver into a nonentity or someone to race past, curse out or otherwise denigrate to prove we’re superior, faster, more entitled to use that HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane to switch in and out of traffic than all those people who follow the rules? How often do we shop in a store or walk down the sidewalk, not considering that other people are using it too and trying to get past but making everyone move at our pace?

Do you bump into someone and don’t even bother to say, “Sorry,” presuming that they just expect it to happen? Do you throw your litter on the ground because you don’t care, it doesn’t matter, everyone does it, or any other way that you justify it being fine for you to do what you want? Do you push in front of someone in line, whether on the road, or at an event? Do you stand in the middle of a walkway, chatting with your friends and blocking the way for everyone? Do you say thank you if someone serves you, lets you in, holds a door for you (no matter the gender)?

We’ve become such a selfish me-me-me society that it really saddens me. I too fall into this at times, because I’m in a rush, I’m grumpy, I was cut off by that jerk. I’m not perfect but I try to consider others around me and not make it that the world was designed only for me and serves me first.

It takes effort to be polite, courteous, kind, but it can really make one feel a lot better if someone says thanks. I once needed change for parking, four quarters for a dollar. I tried to ask a man walking by and he veered around me like I was a leper. We’re turned into a very uncaring and callous society. If we all just try a bit harder we can make our rich, affluent world a pleasant one. Try just being considerate to one person more than you’re considerate to today. Consider a stranger and how your actions may affect them. Think about the world around you and try and imprint it with kindness. The 40s seem quaint now but they had their value.

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