These are letters written to the editors of Whistler's two newspapers "Pique and Whistler Question.

 1. One World One Olympic Dream  August 25 2008 (P)
 2. Voyage of the Damned to Olympics  July 20 2009 (P)
 3. Missing Olympic Spirit  July 28 2009 (P)
 4. Olympic Opening  August 16 2009 (P)
 5. Olympic Memories  September 22 2009 (P)
 6. Olympic Pictures Worth a Thousand Words  October 4 2009 (P)
 7. The Light of the Olympic Torch  October 12 2009 (P)
 8. Olympic Security October 25 2009 (P)
 9. Olympic Credibility  October 25 2009 (WQ)
10. Olympic Spirits  November 2 2009 (P & WQ)
11. Olympic Insecurity November 26 2009 (P)
12. Olympic Bookends December 3 2009 (P)
13. Olympic Orgy December 10 2009 (P)
14. Christmas and Olympic Stories: do you believe? December 31 2009 (P)
15. Mom's Olympics January 14 2010 (P)
16. Olympic Afterglow January 28 2010 (P)
17. Olympic Costs February 4 2010 (P)
18. Olympic Bobbleheads February 11 2010 (P)
19. Making Olympic Poetry February 18 2010 (P)
20. Closing Letter March 4 2010 (P)

1. One World One Olympic Dream  August 25 2008 (P)

Both you and Max wrote prose opinions on the Olympics this past week. I wrote 2 poetic opinions, both as usual more like the one on the back page. You might have heard Peter Mansbridge's announcer read "Olympic Nightmare" on the National. A couple days later I wrote to thank the editor for my "Olympic moment". At the same time I told him I wasn't a fan of the Olympics epitomized by the spectacle of the media worshiping at the feet of Michael Phelps after he worked his magic on the water, a spectacle made worse by the announcer's comment when Phelp's won his seventh medal that his endorsement value had just risen to 35 million dollars. I told the editor that it was in both contexts that I wrote "Olympic Dreams".

Last night CTV's Lisa Laflamme ended her Olympic story by reminding us each Canadian gold medal winner received $20,000 while the losers who got the silver and bronze  would received $15,000 and $10,000 respectively. She then informed us that this was petty cash in comparison to the millions awarded to the Chinese gold medal winners who were going to receive 100 times the lifetime earnings of the average Chinese worker. "One world one dream" indeed; unless of course the dream is to win the Olympic 'gold'. Bring on the presidential race to the Gold House.

2. Voyage of the Damned to Olympics  July 20 2009 (P)

In your opening remarks you wrote about how the visa requirements will diminish Mexican tourist visits to Whistler. On the opposing page there is a declaration of war against pay parking. In the letters Harvey Lim and Greg Diamond rant against the sheer lunacy of removing the beautiful median on Blackcomb way to accommodate Olympic traffic to Celebration Plaza. Erin McCann wrote she's "had enough". Alex Wilde wanted "something for us". Linda McGraw and D.W Buchanan lamented the dreadful service in Whistler.

Leading the "news" there is "Anxiety high among business owners as 2010 draws closer". "RMOW staff costs increased 12.8% in 2008." On the last page Max once more counted the ways the mayor and counsel have gotten it wrong and again got a bigger number. Not in Pique but related there was a TV item this past week about our preparedness for the hundreds of visitors to Whistler for the Olympics who will likely bring with them the H1N1 virus. In the news headlines for the coming week on Global there is an item titled something like "the games are coming to BC and Whistler is going to pay".

On the cover of Pique this past week there was the headline "Voyage of the Dammed" and a picture of two beavers in a mountain lake. After reading the paper my impression was the headline and the picture were not connected. It seemed to me the "Voyage of the Dammed" is about the citizens of Whistler.

3. Missing Olympic Spirit  July 28 2009 (P)

Part of the missing collective Olympic spirit everyone is looking for is mine; and if the life of this Olympic monster depended on my contribution of spirit, it would die. I withhold my support only indirectly because of the obscene amount of money (some of it my taxes) being spent allowing a thousand or so elite athletes to decide who is best in a disintegrating world on one day in February 2010. I withhold my support more directly because the Olympics represents a way of life in such a state it seems almost as much money will be spent protecting it as running the event.

Most directly though I have a view of life in which we have unique capacities and that realizing them should be an Olympic journey for each of us regardless of our capacities. In this view there are no parades for individuals but rather a collective parade of human achievement in which we all participate. Rather than periodic competitions to see who is best there is constant unconditional cooperation to make each other better. Life is a continuous celebration in which each of us receives the same reward.

The 2010 Olympics distorts my view and while I am not trying to change anyone else's view I won't help perpetuate another with even my miniscule allotment of spirit. Sadly for humanity but luckily for Whistler I am probably the only one withholding my spirit because of this view. Everyone else it seems is just suffering as if in a bad marriage. When it began six years ago the 'marriage' seemed to fill the void in their lives. However, like all relationships that begin with that expectation, six years into it the partners once again see the black hole that creates a floating anxiety from which they wish to escape. However, rather than abandoning the Olympic relationship, the partners, like good parents, will stay together for the kids. The Olympics will 'succeed'. What comes after is anyone's guess.

4. Olympic Opening  August 16 2009 (P)

I want to thank Max for writing, "Welcome home, troops". He often leaves useful openings in his columns and this past week his statement "I don't know what the appropriate role should be for Canada's military" left an opening large enough to drive a tank through. I know our technology has 'improved' so that we are beyond beating our "swords into plowshares" but I would suggest we really should begin converting our tanks to tractors and training fighters to be farmers.

Also in Pique this week Jim Horner wrote a letter urging us to read the "adopt-a-fry" letter by Alexandra Morton; and to ask for help producing and distributing "adopt-a-fry" fliers during the Olympics. A couple days prior to the distribution of Pique, DFO announced the Fraser River salmon fishery was closed because there were virtually no fish returning to the river. Meanwhile, our defense minister proudly announced he purchased on our behalf a multibillion dollar fleet of helicopters so we can continue to more effectively protect the way of life that seems to have brought the pacific salmon to the brink of extinction. Can there be any doubt we are living in the "Age of Asininity"?

Perhaps my mother and I will be visiting some of the Olympic venues; but not to view the events. While the military planes pass overhead, helicopters hover and troops march through the village in a multi billion dollar effort to protect the Olympic party, we might be handing out about ten dollars worth of modified fish fliers. Superimposed on the "adopt-a-fry" information will be the words "Too late" and what I think could well be the epitaph of humanity. It is a quote I read in an article entitled "Protesting at Climate Ground Zero" by Mark Engler. Commenting on the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Harvard University oceanographer James McCarthy said, "The worst stuff is not going to happen ... because we can't be that stupid." Where's the proof?

5. Olympic Memories  September 22 2009 (P)

Max has again engaged my mind. Unlike him I could not have recalled the highlights of the Calgary Olympics. However, had he mentioned "Eddie the Eagle" and Jamaican bobsled team I would have been able to connect them with the 1984 Olympics. Having passed his test on my terms I continued to recall other Olympic memories. The first that I don't have to be reminded of with historical video is the 1968 Olympics at which Nancy Green and Jean-Claude Killy were multiple winners. I cannot recall watching their races and more vivid than their results was the memory of the sponsorship deals they won with GM. Beyond being somehow involved in auto shows I don't know what else Nancy did but who can forget J-K, ass back tips up 'free' skiing the powder of the world for GM. My next memory is of the '76 Olympics in Montreal that could "no more run a deficit than a man can become pregnant". It will forever be known as the "Big Owe" and it was at least 2001 and perhaps even 2006 before the city was able to remove the debt legacy from their books.

The '84 Olympics I remember for the boycott and my cousin riding her horse "Dreamcrest" in one of the equestrian events. No one will forget the "88 Olympics in Seoul when Ben Johnson precipitated the war on drugs in sport that now requires a budget to keep the games 'clean' that rivals the budget to keep them safe. In '96 Atlanta there was Donavon Bailey, Bruny Surin, Glenroy Gilbert and Robert Esmie. Because Clara Hughes won Gold in Turin I know she also medaled in Atlanta because the media made such a big deal about the first Canadian to win a medal in both a summer and winter Olympics. However, more prominent than them all in my memory is cyclist Kurt Harnet and only because of a casual conversation with my brother, an avid cyclist at the time. Despite being told Kurt had thighs the size of my 31 inch waist I remember him because his blond curly mullet got him a sponsorship with a shampoo manufacturer so he was called "Pert" Harnet.

I have two memories of the '98 Olympics in Nagano. One is of Ross Rebagliati and second hand dope. The other is an iconic picture of Wayne Gretzky siting on the end of the bench apparently with tears in his eyes after losing the gold medal hockey game. I don't recall the original but the replay was used hundreds of times to justify hiring the now 9 million dollar a year coach of the bankrupt Coyotes to run team Canada in 2002 because "he gets it." That year the Canadian hockey teams did win the gold medals but the Olympics lost to the Sele´and Pelletier judging scandal. I remember in 2006 the Canadian men's hockey team was humiliated by a 6th place finish; and Cindy, Clara, Oh Canada Chandra and Jennifer all won medals. There are two memories of the '08 games that will be forever etched in my mind. The first occurred immediately after Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal when the commentator said, "That will be worth another million in endorsements." My last Olympic memory is the revelation that the Beijing Olympic committee had a little girl with gold medal looks lip sink the words of their national anthem sung by another little girl with a gold medal voice but with a face judged not pretty enough to make the podium.

I wonder what my memories of these Olympics will be. If we "show the world that we Canadians know how to throw one hell of a party", perhaps it will be one hell of a hangover I remember. Despite persistent assurances, maybe we will all remember the Whistler Olympics were the Big Owe Owe. It could be I will remember my nephew Davey realizing his dream of Olympic gold in skier cross. That would be a pleasant memory as would be memories of Ashleigh, Mercedes, and Julia, daughters of acquaintances, realizing their dreams.  I hope I will remember my mother and I watching figure skating together. It is her favourite. I will have memories because I will be watching some events. I have always appreciated the Olympic effort the athletes put into their activity. In my view which extends somewhat beyond the edge of our paved parking lots, it is this level of effort without 'Olympic' organizing committees, that will be required by all of us if we can repair the legacy our Olympic lifestyle has left. So my most cherished memory of the 2010 Olympics would be if February marked the time in our history when the Olympic movement was flushed.

6. Olympic Pictures Worth a Thousand Words  October 4 2009 (P)

The 'news' in Pique this past week was bookended by two equally inspiring columns that created a momentary dilemma until I saw the connection between the two. Both columns were 'pictures'. On the first page was a professional snap shot of us 'working' on climate change. If I could do it alone I would remove the "taxpayers" from the bottom of the picture. Agreeing we have degraded Nature and it might matter we don't, if we do not remove from the picture of climate change, "taxpayers" and the divine Economy we represent, there is as much chance of us reversing to the extent we can the destructive effects we have had on our environment as melting glaciers have of surviving the hell we have created.

On the last page was an artist's rendering of a future Olympic event. I could but I won't be painting myself in beside Max. Evidence confirms that next to "taxpayers" the greatest source of the conflict killing us are worshipers of gods. If I could do it alone I would also remove worshipers from the picture of humanity for as long as they are in the picture we will not be able to save ourselves. This assessment keeps me away from the church in which I was raised. If I painted myself into Max's picture I would feel like I was back in church.

Even so, neither will I be seen in a picture with protesters against climate or any other cause creating conflict with adherents or true believers who want to worship at the Olympic alter. I have changed myself. That is all I can do. I cannot change humanity.

7. The Light of the Olympic Torch  October 12 2009 (P)

The Olympic torch does not shed a lot of light. In fact it is more like a lightning bolt than a torch so what we see depends on who holds it and the direction it is pointed when it flashes. In your column you noted when "officials (hold the torch) the Olympics are about numbers, dollars, efficiencies, strategies, contractual obligations." When you held it, "They are about people."

I won't hold the torch but from where I watch the light show, in the flashes I see there is an eerie similarity between the Olympics and Christmas except that the former is only a quadrennial economic tsunami. Both have changed. Christians used to celebrate Christmas to thank Christ for saving their lives. Now retailers of every persuasion thank Christ for saving their bottom lines. Athletes used to thank God for sports. Now members of the IOC thank God for athletes who will live in 'stables' for years and sacrifice their lives so the members can live in 5 star inns. Unlike in previous centuries athletes and Christ are similarly incidental to the Olympic Games and Christmas respectively. The motto of Christmas used to be "peace on earth good will toward men" but now it is buy more than last year. The Olympic motto has changed from "swifter, higher, stronger" to good, better, best; and this year Canada has added its own "Buy the Podium". It seems only tradition prevents the respective events from being renamed Cashmass and Olympic Business.

As much as I would like Sara Jennings to succeed in changing the Olympics, changing them by attacking the IOC has as much chance of succeeding as trying to change our focus back to the original motto of Christmas by attacking retailers. The retailers only supply the materialistic stuff with which we try to fill the void in our lives. We create the demand. Given the nature of the void, more is never enough so we have similarly created the demand for 24/7 mind numbing entertainment of which the IOC supplies only a microscopic amount. Attacking it is futile. Nevertheless, if it matters that we survive it is obvious the Olympics must change but not because we change them. Rather they must change as an incidental consequence of us eliminating the demands that have brought humanity deep into the "Age of Entertainment" with catastrophic results. If we care we must hurry for current events are confirming we have already entered the "Age of Asininity" which clearly has the potential of being our last age.   

The 2010 Olympics are coming and with them comes hope. They have already been destructive enough so I hope no one deliberately stands in the way and that we all survive the wave. For the sake of humanity I hope the Games proceed without conflict despite their perverted goal because we need to see in the athletes the rare Olympic effort to "reach out the limits of their capacities..." we all need to make if we are to survive. Finally, I hope someone is able to create a mirror that reflects the light of the Olympic torch in a way each of us can see the source of destruction so the games legacy will be "people" who began the age of peace and good will toward others.

8. Olympic Security October 25 2009 (P)

Is Max still able and willing to speak? Shortly after Pique was distributed on Thursday I heard a commotion reminiscent of that associated with a deployed swat team and my first thought was the IOCops were heading to Max's house followed by a boisterous crowd of beer carrying "professional partiers" who wanted to see Max swatted. I'll be surprised if that wasn't what the noise was about. Sending the "memo to Olympics: F#*k You!" probably evoked the same hostile reaction he would receive from believers were he to lift the Pope's robe to see if he was sitting on his hands while preaching against deviating from church doctrine.

9. Olympic Credibility  October 25 2009 (WQ)

Ingrid Rice's editorial cartoon made my mind work. I scratched my head for quite a few seconds before I made the connection between the childish rhyme "Liar, liar pants on fire" and the flame drawn on Gordon Campbell's ass. It could just have easily been meant to represent one of those burning stacks you see in oil fields that burn off excess gas. In a few minutes of alternating thoughts after I made the connection I ended at the conclusion the cartoon was political which is to say it was created without any thought.

The caption read, "With his record of credibility, Gordon's presence at the Olympic torch lighting ceremony creates a moment of confusion." It implies the belief the Olympics does not have a credibility problem when clearly it does. Even given the divine placement of 1600 guards at the end of "The Rainbow", anyone with even one functioning brain cell cannot reconcile the belief the Olympics brings the world together in peace, and the $1 billion it is going to cost to keep parts of humanity apart. It is impossible for a thinking person not to become confused by Gordon's belief the "Olympics is about inspiring people to be the best we can be" and the fact $15 million has been spent to set up and operate the drug lab to catch those who will do whatever it takes to be the best; but then, we have never allowed the facts to distort a good belief.

No, rather than create a moment of confusion, Gordon's presence at the lighting of the Olympic torch created much more than a moment of clarity. To better represent the occasion a more appropriate cartoon would have been one of Gordon Campbell standing on a podium delivering his political speech while someone lit the Olympic torch with the little flame on his butt. 

10. Olympic Spirits  November 2 2009 (P & WQ)

I am disappointed by the extraordinary effort being made to have the bars and restaurants remain open an extra hour during the Olympic games. It is apparently so important the editor of Pique has now written 2 columns (Oct 15, Oct 29) in support of extended hours, separated appropriately by a column praising the effort required to bring to Whistler an MRI, a machine that will no doubt be used most often to diagnose damage to brain cells.

In my view of life there is an "ideal" which leaves no room for alcohol. It is a view in which the "ideal" purpose is for each one of us to reach out to the limits of our capacities. It is the view on which the "Olympic" ideal of "being the best we can be" was based before it was debased by the purpose of everyone involved in the Olympics trying to win 'gold'. Our capacities form a continuum that ranges from the physical to the mental and at no time in the history of humanity has alcohol been shown to help us reach out to the limits of our mental capacities. In fact to the contrary, the only purpose alcohol serves is to diminish our mental capacities so that when we are under its influence we are somewhere on the continuum of less than the best we can be that ranges from slightly incapacitated down to the point our mental capacities are completely "wasted".

Now given our predominant dependency on alcohol to accomplish the declared goal to remove at least the edge from our minds with a great Olympic party, I know closing down bars completely for all time, which I advocate, is not an option. Indeed, if Whistler decided to close the bars during the Olympics no one would come and we would confirm without a doubt what "The Games" are essentially about. However, if we were to at least leave the hours the bars are open unchanged we would in a small way be honouring the athletes' Olympic effort to be the best they can be by not adding to the $1 billion security budget needed to prevent us from moving closer to the worst we can be.

11. Olympic Insecurity November 26 2009 (P)

Max did it again with his column "...Olympic farce". He turned on one of  the lights above my head that has been there for a long time but in the interest of going green I have left it off for quite a while. For the fact it is now on, blame Max. It is my fault it will require a few minutes to find the switch.

In the meantime, the light shines on security but before you turn me off let me assure you this letter is not specifically about Olympic security. Enough has been said about the billion dollars committed to the games security, the troop deployments that would protect Afghanistan, the "mag and bag" booths that would be the envy of airports around the world, surveillance equipment that Google would want to buy and enough tasers, phasers, photon emitters and other crowd control equipment to keep the troops aroused for the duration of the games. The Olympics are coming, all the money is spent, we hope, Olympic security is a dead horse, we hope; and I don't want to beat a dead horse. No, this letter only mentions Olympic security in passing because every two years it erupts like a zit on the amount of money we spend every day on our Olympic insecurity.

Based on 2009 figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute just the top ten countries of the world spend 1.5 trillion dollars a year on their military alone and I don't think that figure includes waging wars. If it doesn't include 'indiscretionary' spending then add to the cost of boots between .5 million dollars (military) and 1 million dollars (civilian) per soldier per year to 'secure' Afghanistan. Is it any wonder President Obama is dithering over sending another 40,000 troop surge on borrowed money. On top of military expense is daily cost of 12 security walls being built and maintained around the world to control crowds of immigrants. The one between the US and Mexico is costing 2.25 million per kilometre for the 3200 Ks. Then there is the cost of surveillance by humans and the latest inhuman electronic equipment. On a smaller scale and more local level, about 2 years ago Stephen Harper bought all our border guards guns; and a few months ago the mayor of Vancouver proudly announced a surge of 500 troops on city streets. The costs of keeping us safe from each other goes on and on and.....

I know we are given regular reports of crime statistics that seem to indicate we are more secure than ever. However, these reports are always separated by as much time as possible from announcements about increased spending on measures to maintain security. I am going to speculate wildly and suggest there is a connection. In 1996 Paul Chamberlain wrote a book called "Can we be good without God". I haven't read the book so I don't know what his answer was but if God is supplying the money we spend on insecurity, the answer is obviously a resounding NO! Indeed, if we continue in the direction we are heading, the instant we quit increasing the money we spend on the effort to eliminate our insecurity, all hell will break loose. That could be life. As I see it though, it is delayed death; and as if I needed to be, I am reminded of the "grim reaper" by the "Olympic farce" every 2 years.

12. Olympic Bookends December 3 2009 (P)

I can't comment on the rhetorical question in Max's column "The Pod People..." without first acknowledging the skill required to write the entire piece about POWs and then in the last few sentences to work in a reference to the "O" word. In his column Max asked "What is it about political office that seems to strip the humanity, reason and ethical gyroscope out of a person?" when all he should have asked is "What is it...that seems to strip the humanity, reason and ethical gyroscope out of a person?" I won't quibble with the 'good' characteristics he suggests we could have. Whatever they are if there are any, political office does not strip them from us. They are gone when we get there, stripped by our collective reaction to"it". The lights in a political office simply reveal their absence in us.

I could tell you what "it" is within the generous extension of your 250 word limit you always give me, for there is really nothing to "it". I won't though because it has been my experience not many, even the highly educated who read Pique, want to read about "it". I will for present purposes say our individual reactions to "it" are a blend of the ideal and the absolutely restrictive and that they form a collective resultant reaction. We can assess the relative amounts of component reactions in our resultant by the amount of conflict that pervades our existence. In my assessment just the amount of conflict over money puts us closer to the absolutely restrictive than to the ideal and when we add to that, religious, political, environmental and every other aspect of conflict, the amount doesn't leave much room for hope because the consequence of the absolutely restrictive reaction is self-destruction.

The restriction is of course on our continuum of physical/mental activity. The restriction on our mental activity strips the "humanity, reason and ethical gyroscope" out of us. As an example of how inhumane we are consider the fact that while we have strict rules about how to treat prisoners of war, we maintain a vertical economy that guarantees the further removed we are from the top the more torturous is our existence. To illustrate the absence of an ethical compass I will use an enhanced version of my mother's most frequent comment. If she killed someone on the street she would be put in jail yet we justify aborting lives at any stage in clinics and in theatres of war.

Examples of our lack of reason have no end but where do I start? I could begin with the observation we can agree on the rules of war but not on the rule of peace. But then there are our 'leaders' telling us we will do nothing to save our environment that will harm the economy. The completely unreasonable perpetuation of religious myths deserves consideration. Though all worthy I begin and, because I am well beyond my allotment of words, end with the lack of reason shown by spending billions of dollars on an athletic 'party' that allows a few individuals and one nation to claim they are the best in a worsening world; and gives thousands of others another opportunity to make the world worse by getting 'wasted' to avoid thinking about "it" for a couple weeks.

13. Olympic Orgy December 10 2009 (P)

Their publication notwithstanding, the response my letters to the editor have evoked has been expiring so I was thinking seriously I should quit writing before I am empty. I was at the point where only God could change my mind. Then this week CTV and Vancouver Sun publicized the fact local health authorities are going to give Olympic athletes and officials 100,000 condoms. God indeed works in mysterious ways.  

The irrefutable evidence accumulates as I write. Taking sex as a reaction to "it" is more destructive than reacting with either alcohol or drugs; and as with all other reactions to "it", more is never enough. If we don't look too deeply it will appear by taking alcohol or drugs we can self-destruct in isolation. By contrast, taking sex intimately involves at least one other person so the destruction of lives is more widespread in any view. Together the three anesthetics cause almost as much self-destruction as other reactions such as defending religious beliefs or trying to accumulate more money than everyone else and still we try reacting to "it" with sex.

As if we needed more evidence Tiger gave us another piece. If early reports are any indication, we will eventually learn Tiger has won more major trophies with his short club than he has with his long clubs. I can imagine upon discovering proof Tiger was not the husband and father he is being paid a billion dollars to be, his wife went ballistic. In response Tiger yelled, "You're nuts!" to which his wife replied, "No, your nuts!", as she lined them up with his driver. Were it not for the safety glass in his Escalade there is a pretty good chance Tiger, along with his bag and balls would have been driven into a hole and marked with a flag.

Do I think Tiger will learn that trying to react to "it" with sex is self-destructive? Not even if his wife becomes the first $1 billion ex. Really and truly---as confirmed by the on going destruction of our environment, human beings have got to be the dumbest species on the planet and perhaps in the universe. There is no other explanation for the 'thinking' behind what I didn't know is the continuing practice of giving condoms to Olympic athletes.  It began in 1992 and in Sydney the initial supply of 70,000 ran out so another 20,000 were ordered. Athens officials ordered 130,000 which worked out to 12 for each of 10,500 athletes . Beijing only ordered 100,000 condoms but they were uniquely imprinted with the motto "faster, higher, stronger". Though there were more athletes than at Athens, they only used 95,000 because the pollution diminished all activity.

To win the gold for condom distribution Canadians are giving 100,000 condoms to 6,850 athletes and officials, a new world record of 14.6 condoms and presumably 19.2 encounters per person. The persons using these condoms will have to be careful though because the officials who approved the plan likely cut the .4 off the closed end. It is rumoured Canadian condoms will have on the packing two curling stones on either side of an erect broom with the motto "hurry, hard". I wonder if a sexual orgy is what Gordon Campbell had in mind when in his sales pitch he said Olympic athletes will inspire young people to be the best they can be. WTF eh? Why we will spend $16.4 million to prevent athletes from taking drugs yet extend drinking by an hour and supply condoms to facilitate equally self-destructive activities is beyond me. I think I must be missing the Olympic equivalent of military intelligence.

Lest you think I am on a "holier than thou" moral crusade I must reveal that in a previous life I learned from frightening experience how self-destructive it was going to be for me, to be involved in another person's reaction to "it" with sex. However, I can see myself being recognized above the rest of humanity as the dumbest human for thinking as long as I have it should matter that we don't self-destruct. Until now I never thought officials will probably hand out condoms in Copenhagen. I don't know how much an actual condom costs, but as a metaphor, it is priceless.

14. Christmas and Olympic Stories: do you believe? December 31 2009 (P)

At this time of the year every year, we are asked to believe in the Christmas story. It seems as if this year all year, young Canadian athletes have been asking, "Do you believe?" in the Olympic story. It has been many years since I have considered either part of the Christmas story credible. I can't remember when Santa died. I know my belief in gift giving began to whither when I noticed people with money were exchanging gifts with each other in a vain attempt to make everyone happy. It died when I discovered I couldn't make someone happy. My unbelief grows with each televised attempt to convince me, giving a stuffed animal to a "less fortunate" child and a stuffed turkey dinner to a homeless person can make them happy for longer than a TV clip.

I have no problem accepting as fact that about two thousand years ago a baby named Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I have no doubt while Jesus learned to be a carpenter he developed a view of life which so threatened the keepers of the prevalent view they crucified him. There is no question the essence of Jesus's view that we "love one another..." will have to quickly become a dominant part of our prevalent view if it matters we survive. However I find the rest of the Christian narrative church fathers created completely unreasonable especially the part about the virgin birth. Knowing Jesus was a child of love is actually more appealing to me than the marketed belief he is the "Son of God".

The multi media Olympic myth evokes similar unbelief. I do believe the torch bearers who become misty eyed because they can't think of anything to say about the experience beyond "it is hard to put into words", because it is impossible to create meaning out of myth. I know it is a fact that to the extent we "reach out to the limits of our capacities..." we enjoy life; and that athletes with the greatest capacities who reach out to their limits, can participate in the Olympics if their capacities fit an Olympic sport. However, believing we need the Olympic orgy, to "reach out to the limits of our capacities..." is as unnecessary to life as needing to believe in the virgin birth.

Several years ago when I suggested we try for Mom, a sister in Vancouver who has committed her life to the Christian part of the Christmas story told me "Your unbelief is an impediment to us getting along." It would not have helped for me to point out it is not unbelief but beliefs that cause conflict and that if everyone didn't believe what I don't believe, we would all get along. I haven't changed my unbelief; but on Christmas Eve my mother and I travelled to Vancouver where we spent an enjoyable day with my sister and her husband. Do you believe?

15. Mom's Olympics January 14 2010 (P)

I didn't want another week to pass before thanking you for publishing my letter last week. The title was great, the banner a bonus and although I am guessing about this, being at the end of the letter section is the best location. Despite your effort, it didn't help but then even if you surrounded  my letter with lights it wouldn't help those who don't want to see.

I didn't write last week because I "hit the wall" and even now it hurts. Part of the wall was Christmas but it is gone. Another part is the ongoing desperate and oppressive ad campaign to sell the Olympic party and the constant barrage of media interviews with those who believe in the Olympic myth. Mercifully this will be over in 45 days and the relief will be beyond words. The final part of my wall and infinitely more significant than the other two combined was the anniversary of my mother's birthday. She was 94 on December 28. It was the yearly event I no longer need to remind me of what is real.

When Mom gets up each morning she climbs onto the podium and I cheer as she celebrates one more win in the race against time and is awarded another golden day. As she competes I share her frustration and console her when she loses some of her capacity; but I give her several hugs a day whether or not she needs them. I admire her grace in defeat. As we walk up and down the hills of Emerald Estates we hold arms and laugh together as we sing her anthem, "The old grey mare she ain't what she used to be". When Mom wins a nightly "scrabble" game she treats me magnanimously, as soon as she regains control. If she beats my computer at solitaire she ignores her typical reserve. The 'light' in her eyes inspires me as no number of Olympic torches could.

Sixty-three years ago Mom gave me life. When I was able I began spending it perfecting a view of what's happening. I ran out of life just before my parents moved in with me in 2001. When Mom and I continued our journey together three years later, she gave me life again. She allowed me time I would not have otherwise had, to publish my view; and to realize a capacity to write, such as it is, of which I was unaware. She continues to give and if discover I have not wasted her gifts, then I am my mother's legacy. Whatever, I think she likes me.

I know the wall is ahead. I will hit it again and when I hit the wall for the last time the grief will be beyond words; but that is real life. We will face it together without Olympic distractions.  We appreciate your continued support as we walk toward the finish line.

16. Olympic Afterglow January 28 2010 (P)

The global economy almost crashed. Haiti crashed. I won't say it for fear of setting up a self-fulfilling prophesy but just in case the light pollution from our Olympic bus terminal is the only afterglow we see after the Olympics, we should be looking for innovative ways of bringing tourist cash to our town.

The brightest idea I think is to put all the Olympic torches into our parliament. If they unify members of parliament the way they are, according to the advertisers, unifying Canadians and citizens of the world, then the money saved by eliminating political conflict could be used to resurrect our community. If as I suspect the effect of the flame lasts only as long as the cameras roll, then we can sue the misleading advertisers.

Another popular way of attracting visitors to a town is to advertise it as "The Home of the Biggest  ........" We could have three such attractions. The aforementioned bus terminal could be promoted as the latest human installation that can be viewed from space, at night; and the erect hydrogen tank could be a side attraction. We could put a huge trunk at the bottom of the sliding centre and advertise it as the world's largest white elephant.

The third possible attraction doesn't yet exist. We'd have to get Randy at Proteck to fabricate a giant screw. It would be placed on an attractive concrete footing with the pointy end up in front of a "The home of the 2010 Olympics" sign. On the sign we would paint "Home of the Largest Olympic Screw Up (so far). To finish the monument we could staple on the sign packets of unused Olympic condoms, if there are any.

17. Olympic Costs February 4 2010 (P)

I wanted to know how much the Olympics are going to cost so I searched and found an article written January 23, 2009, by Daphne Bramham, a Vancouver Sun columnist . The figures are obviously old. For instance the estimated cost for security was 800 hundred million dollars and the current rounded figure is 1 billion. There was also 600 million dollars of direct federal "Olympic investments". I wanted to see if the amount included the cost of buying the podium so I found the gov.ca Olympic site and clicked on "Olympic investments". The page was filled with "coming soon", which is probably the real reason Stephen Harper prorogued parliament. The underestimates aside Daphne collected all costs associated with the Olympics except perhaps the cost of the bid but including the $300 million bribe paid to municipal employees for a no strike contract. Read it for yourself to see how she came up with a cost of 6 billion dollars and counting, back then.

I also found out there will be 5,500 Olympic athletes and officials. Because it was easier than separating them I considered them all athletes and rounded the number up to 6000 to make dividing even easier. When I divide $6,000,000,000 by 6,000 I get $1,000,000 'given' to each athlete for a chance to realize their dream. It is appropriate that the cost of sending a soldier to Afghanistan is also $1,000,000, for staging both wars make the same amount of nonsense. I searched for the number of events but had to count the award ceremonies instead. I got to 80 plus but rounded it up to 100 and acknowledge the number probably doesn't include all members of the Canadian hockey teams. 6 billion divided by 100 is approximately $60 million per gold medal. If we are lucky we it will cost us $1.8 billion to hear the national anthem sung 30 times while the rest pays for hearing other national anthems; and we didn't get to vote. I hope we enjoy the experience.

So far the total aid to Haiti is $2 billion and change. On the weekend Global/Variety held their annual telethon and raised $7.4 million for special needs kids. Do you think there may be 6000 in BC?  I wonder how many will not be able to realize their dreams of a more normal life because there won't be enough money to get around to them. At this point I would like to ask, "Have we lost our money loving flipping minds?" but that would require I make a questionable assumption.

18. Olympic Bobbleheads February 11 2010 (P)

February 12 marks the end of the government's agreement to match individual donations to Haiti relief and the end can't come soon enough for me because every time I hear about it I cry. I think the government made the agreement official shortly after the earthquake but if not it was certainly announced during the relief concert the three national TV networks organized a couple weeks ago. Prior to the concert Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a video appearance during which he proudly announced that his government would match individual donations. George and his cohosts immediately praised the Prime Minister for his generosity and the audience applauded enthusiastically.

Now, the last time I heard our Government gets its money from us so to say it is matching individual donations with Government funds is not only blatantly dishonest it is incredibly wasteful. When we gave to Haitian relief we most likely gave a dollar we had in our front pocket. Because the Government doesn't even have any of our money on hand it has to borrow to match our donation. By the time it pays interest on the loan and processes the paper work through its labyrinthine bureaucracy it slips into our back pocket a UO US for $1.50 our children will inherit when we give them our pants.

Because we can then applaud the government for being generous while wasting our money explains how we can be so easily deceived by the Olympic marketing and accounting. This evidence that reveals we Canadians are generally such gullible bobbleheads is enough to make a thoughtful person cry. The end of the Olympics cannot come soon enough.

19. Making Olympic Poetry February 18 2010 (P)

At the end of your opening remarks last week you wrote, "We also have the opportunity to make poetry. Not everyone has that chance." I am quite certain you did not mean write a poem but were using poetry to describe an experience like you would be doing if you said when we get the rhythm right, making love is pure poetry. However, inspired by just the slimmest hope you did have writing a poem in mind, here is another one of mine.

"Olympic Dreams"

We all should have Olympic dreams
To be what we can be.
That's what real life should be about.
It's not the life I see.

Life is about preeminence;
To be the number one.
We think unless we win that 'gold'
Our life will not be done.

But winning gold is not life's end.
When there we'll only find
That striving for external 'golds'
Did not bring peace of mind.

The 'golds' we win can't fill the void
Left after we ask "Why?"
That is a race we can not win
No matter how we try.

Too, gold we pull toward ourselves
Is from another's hand;
And conflict that results destroys
Our common human band.

Now if the band we wish to mend,
We must pursue our dream;
But in cooperation with
Each member of our team.

When all of us race to the ends
Of our capacity,
Up on the highest podium
Will be humanity.

You already know I was not invited to recite my poem at the opening ceremonies. I was not at all surprised for it does not meet the criterion of needing to feed the jingoistic frenzy of the Canadian fans waiting to worship their Olympic gods. I do not anticipate being asked to recite my poem as long as we remain addicted to the entertainment epitomized by the Olympic games and as a consequence the televised media continues to inhabit the body of the IOC it snatched four decades ago. In fact, my poem may never be read. It could be our addiction will end as all addictions do so we won't have the opportunity to get the rhythm right and though we may write poems, we will never make 'poetry'.

20. Closing Letter March 4 2010 (P)

I waited until the end of the games to see if VANOC would call and ask me to recite my poem "Olympic Dreams" at the closing ceremonies to insert a few words of sanity into the insane spectacle I watched over the last 17 days. However, like most Canadian athletes I didn't make the podium so I had to settle for forth or worse, being published in Pique, but still a personal best.

Until I saw "Olympism" in the title of Michael Beaudry's feature I didn't know what we just witnessed might have a name. When I heard an apologist for Olympism use the word in an interview a few days ago I checked it out before I wrote this letter. Olympism is not in my Mac dictionary nor in my Canadian Oxford so according the these it is not a word. However, when I searched the web I found a definition of Olympism on the site of the New Zealand OC site. There was a 4 line description of ancient Olympism and a 5 line introduction to modern Olympism followed by a 4 point mission statement which says it "...promotes a way of life based on:

...the balanced development of the body, will and mind
...the joy found in effort
...the educational value of being a good role model
...(edited) tolerance, generosity, unity, friendship, non-discrimination (now predominantly financial) and respect for others

Following this definition was a brief explanation of Pierre de Coubertin's motivation. It seems "...he realized sport...was being eaten away by the same ills that were rotting the life of society: racketeering, nationalism, chauvinism, xenophobia...he denounced the influence of money on betting based sport, which was already sullied by the poison of drugs (and probably alcohol)...He wanted to shelter (sport) from the damaging effects of modern civilization."

Pierre and I share considerable common ground but we have a reconcilable difference in our mission statements. Mine promotes the balanced development of body/mind which generates spirit that I would not mind defining as the "joy found in effort". This inclusive universally funded way of life would require unconditional cooperation which precludes the need for identifying subsequent characteristics like tolerance, generosity, unity and so on; and everyone would be a role model. Although the realization of physical and mental capacities is an ongoing process that generates constant spirit there would certainly be a need to gather and share the joy found in periodic particular realizations but these gatherings I would have to call "Life Games" to differentiate them from the Olympic games and "Olympism".

"Ism" is actually a noun almost exclusively having a derogatory connotation that is used in a sentence like, Olympism is infected by many of the other isms "rotting the life of society" such as nationalism, chauvinism, materialism, capitalism, commercialism, communism, liberalism, conservatism, republicanism, 'democratism', protestantism, catholicism, all other religions and their offspring whether or not they are suffixed with ism, elitism and so on. In addition to indicating views of life, ism can also be added to nouns to denote pathological thus self-destructive conditions such as alcoholism.   

The last 17 days of Olympic games fit the entire definition of Olympism perfectly. Who better to light the Olympic torch, the symbol of Olympism, than multimillionaire superstar hockey player Wayne Gretzky, except of course Tiger Woods but he is an American eh. The day after the torch was lit I saw Lindsey Vonn in a swimsuit for longer than I saw her in a ski suit. In discussing her with Kelly VanderBeek Michael Landsberg of TSN offered that "marketing yourself is what it is all about." Brit and Emily won't be able to sell themselves. Ashleigh will be able to 'sell' her gold if she so decides. She is as pretty as Lindsey but because her sport is the ugly stepsister, she will experience the financial discrimination that pervades life. While Lindsey is advertising Rolex, Ashleigh who "takes a licking but keeps on ticking", might be offered Timex.

My nephew Davey has skied for 30 years, the last 4 in an effort to earn a spot on the Olympic ski cross team. Despite 2 podium finishes he was excluded from the race until two team mates were injured. He came 6th. He was interviewed for 30 seconds, only because after Destiny brought him to the big final she kicked Chris Del Bosco in the groin and he was in too much pain to speak. The 19 year old Korean girl who won the gold for woman's figure skating is a multi millionaire rock star god. I saw her commercials. The parents of the girl who won the ice dance had to mortgage their house. I didn't see Joannie Rochette in any commercials. On Sunday, while 20,000 screaming fanatics who paid about $40,000,000 watched about $100,000,000 dollars worth of hockey players, Devon Kershaw, who probably lives below the poverty line, was competing in the 50k cross country race in front of the competitors behind him. He was fifth but just missed gold by 1.5 seconds. He was interviewed for only about 15 seconds. Perhaps the interview was short because they had to go back to hockey and interview every Canadian player and his mother; or it could have been because Devon's sentiments which echoed those of all losers in the insane games, would rhyme with they suck.

It is not Pierre's fault. When Olympism is superimposed on all the other isms of life, despite what he says not even John Furlong can keep any number of them from showing through. I will eat Pique if as he said in his closing remarks, "...Canadians are more united than ever before." To be fair though I insist I wait until after our government begins 'working' again on March 3. If our 'leaders' show any sign of characteristic disunity I will further wait until we are told how much borrowed money everything related to the Olympics cost and how much of its share the federal government will download onto BC and Whistler as it tries to trim its ballooning deficit. By then I am confident I will not only not have to eat shredded Pique, there will be talk of BC separating from both Canada and Victoria. I hate to be a skeptic but I wonder too how patriotic athletes will remain when their funding is eventually cut. I wasn't personally affected by the patriotism. To help pay for it last year, our BC government cut $8 million (80% of its budget) from the environmental protection agency we wouldn't even need if we had half a brain, and I find it impossible to be a proud Canadian when I am embarrassed to be a human. What embarrassing cuts will there be this year?

I must say though, the entire Olympic experience was not negative for me. When I separate Olympism from athleticism I am amazed by the performances. If I get twisted the wrong way when I get up at night, I can't find the way to the bathroom so any activity that involves flipping and twisting leaves me particularly awed. Not counting the number of times I fell while learning how to snowboard about 15 years ago, I can count on one hand the number of times I have fallen while enjoying the slopes over the years. So anyone who races on the edge especially with three other people also amazes me. Because I have my own dream I enjoyed sharing the "I did it" moments of the athletes. I have had my dream for 40 years. It is a life dream not related to the Olympics so I have had to fund it myself. I now rely on my mother for support. I think of having my own moment and you publishing my Olympic letters has helped keep my dream alive. I thank my mother many times a day. I thank you one last time.

Even your negative comment in your opening remarks last week, that the "extra half hour opening for bars...hasn't signaled the decline of civilization" revealed a glimmer of hope for the future. During one of the myriad interviews during the non-stop Olympic celebrations I heard a bar operator brag that they had sold 2 or 3 times as much beer in a day than they usually sell in a month and when I read your claim I did a search to see if I could find the clip. I couldn't but while I was looking I found an article about Prime Minister Putin's ambitious program to cut Russian alcohol consumption in half by 2020. He will fail of course unless he can "promote the balanced development of body/mind and the generation of spirit,... the joy of effort." Nevertheless, at least he understands the factual relationship between increased consumption of alcohol and the further decline of civilization. Perhaps I will send him a copy of the February 17 Pique in which you published my poem. Maybe he will read it at the $11 billion 2014 Sochi Olympics, if they get the town built and there is enough snow.