Monday, February 25, 2008

More adventures, please

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person. I love adventures.

I'm not talking about climbing Mount Everest or bushwhacking through the Amazon. I'm talking about the small things that thrill, amuse, entertain or challenge us on a daily basis.

Everything has the potential to be an adventure. Taking the bus can be adventure. Walking to work can be an adventure. Even counting ballots can be an adventure.

Of course, the best adventures are the ones that include trying something new for the first time. Last week I did two things I had never done before -- fly in a floatplane and attend a budget lock-up.

Both were pretty exciting experiences. When my boss told me she was sending me to Victoria for the release of the B.C. budget, I was happy about getting out of the office for a few days. But I wasn't happy about the fact that she was sending me there by floatplane.

Now, I hate boats and I hate small planes. Put the two of them together and you get my worst nightmare. I had visions of vomiting all over the cabin and crashing into the ocean.

This is Vancouver's floating "airport." The whole scene looks pretty sketchy to me.

But I'm pleased to report that I didn't get sick and that the plane didn't nosedive into the ocean. The scenery was spectacular. Check out my video!

I even got to sit right behind the pilot (I guess they're not worried about terrorists on floatplanes).

The budget lock-up was also a pretty awesome experience.

A lock-up is exactly what it sounds like -- prison. The lock-up allows journalists and stakeholders to look at the budget before it's officially released in the legislature. It gives journalists a chance to study the details and gives stakeholders a chance to generate an informed response before it's unleashed on the public.

But you pretty much have to sign away all of your personal liberties and freedoms for the privilege of getting a sneak peek at the budget. We had to sign a waiver that said we would not leak the details of the budget to the outside world.

Just like a real prison, they took away our cell phones and blackberries and put them into sealed plastic bags that were not returned to us until we were released.

Stripped of all contact with the outside world, we were then directed into a large, windowless room filled with tables and chairs where we spent the next five hours poring over the budget.

We were not allowed to leave the building. We were allowed to go to the bathroom but security guards followed us there. The provincial government also provided a buffet breakfast and lunch (the egg salad sandwiches were particularly delicious).

The only entertainment was when Finance Minister Carole Taylor came in the room to do a presentation on the budget and answer journalists' questions (can I just say that Ms. Taylor is one of the smartest, most passionate and most beautiful women in Canadian politics? She’s our Obama, and my newest non-sexual crush).

At about 1:00 p.m. the 70 journalists in the lock-up were allowed to cross the room and interview the stakeholders. It sounds civilized but it was actually extremely chaotic. It was like a feeding frenzy with journalists running around thrusting cameras and microphones in peoples' faces.

The chaos subsided after the journalists had their fill of quotes and sat down to write their stories. By 3:00 p.m., Carole Taylor was standing up in the legislature delivering the budget and the lock-up was lifted. The whole thing made me want to be a journalist again. I miss the adventures.

More adventures, please!

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