Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Montreal - City of One Thousand Saints

Montreal-

I've traveled quite a bit, as most Constsant Readers know, and I have to tell you the Montreal ranks pretty high in The Big Guy's City Index.

Curiously, I have found Toronto to be fairly bland, but Vancouver is probably my favorite city in North America. Not really sure why I like Canadian cities above US metropoli, but there it is.
(Don't get you knickers in a twist about *your* city. You need to pay a visit to the Jewel of British Columbia to really appreciate it.)

Now on this trip, I'm finding Montreal to be a place with charm, history, culture and ambiance.
Not that I'm really getting to immerse myself in the culture and charms of the city, but in traveling about the city you can get a taste of the style, the flair. Hopefully I will get to spend more time here on a subsequent trip to really get a full taste of the city.

Getting here was a chore... I had a ton o' crap to do on my 2 days in the office and it spilled over into Wednesday AM. I got to the airport right at 1 hour before flight time. Alas- No upgrade on the flight. I was bummed.
I did relish the full-size aircraft for a little while- knowing that I would be flying the hated Embraer 145 between Newark and Montreal.
The real blemish on the travel was The Man and his two-year-old daughter who sat next to me.
Initially, it was the man and his wife, each with a child in the lap. Five of us in the three-across seats in coach... The flight attendant came by and said they couldn't sit that way- not enough oxygen masks if there were to be a problem so Mom and the youngest youngun were moved a couple rows upstream. (Lucky lady. Saved her a ton of embarrasment.)
Dad had the window seat, and The Little Miss had the center seat- Everything was hunky-dory until it was time to put on the seat belt...
Little Miss I-Don't-Wanna pitched a complete pedal-to-the-metal conniption fit, complete with the kicking and the screaming and the ear-splitting squeals that had the passengers in the two rows fore and aft of us bleeding from the ears.
This child went completely ape-shit, and nothing Dad could do would pacify the critter. If was as if the mere suggestion of strapping-in flipped some cranial synapse- and she kept going and going and going until her batteries ran down. She screamed for a solid hour, by the end of which Dad was a frazzle and I was completely deaf in my left ear. My left arm was also having muscle spasms from being constantly tensed against the kicking that Miss Sunshine was doing... Had I had my ubiquitous roll of duct tape, I would have used it... Probably with Dad's help.
In case you are wondering, Mom never turned around... Never acknowledged our presence. I'm sure she was thinking her stars that she was away from the scene of the carnage.

Things weren't over when her batteries wore down, either. When we started our descent into the Newark airport, she was unable to clear her ears, so we were back with the screaming and the kicking... The little girl was kicking and screaming too...
Compared to that flight, the 56 minutes on the EJ145 between Newark and Montreal was heaven.

So much for The Travel Experience...

In Montreal, the real fun began.

We'd been running all-out since Thursday morning...

Jon Hart and I arrived at 6:50 in the morning, and our crane and riggers arrived at 7:00. As we looked at the site, my apprehention began to grow...
Our "crane" was a boom truck that at full extention couldn't lift one row of modules, let alone the full sized wall...


Then we had "issues" with ad panels, equipment locations, the size of the bolt holes for attaching the 4000lb video wall to the hanging structure...


Oh, we didn't just have issues, we had a whole subscription.
We finally got a real crane around 2:00, and in the midst of a cold rain, we were able to get the show on the road.


Hard to move the cases when the wheels aren't "wheels" any more...


Looks like the lid for that case is a bit off-center. Has *nothing* to do with the 600 pounds of video modules stacked on it.


4000lbs of flying hardware, with the reletive aerodynamics of a set of car keys.


Ready to lift off...


Did I mention the wind was really screaming as we were flying the walls?

Well...
We got the walls up on Thursday, and on Friday morning we concentrated on cabling and rigging said cables, then placing the processors and power distributors.
Lastly we dealt with rigging signal cables from our broadcast location to the processors...

That finished for the day, we hit the road and had dinner with the boys from Hawkeye- my friends from Newport, John and Chris, and two others, Raz and another Chris.
After an interesting sushi dinner at a take-out sushi place near McGill University, we wound up in a pub near the Fairmont...

Raz & Chris


Chris, Chris & John


And of course, Jon & Jennifer

Good times...Good times...

Saturday AM was videowall time to fine-tune our display of the signal and picture appearance-

A big shout-out to Ken "Redneck" Flanagan who provided tech support from a counter seat at a Waffle House in North Carolina, having a good ol' Southern breakfast while I swapped cables and tickled the switches on the Folsum and the processor on the Toshiba until we had a pretty picture.
(Bear in mind that I went to the site early, foregoing breakfast in hopes of getting the videowall tuned before 10:00- So I could barely hear his coaching over my stomach rumbling... And it didn't help to hear his running commentary about the fine Awful House food... ("It's an 'Awful House'" he told me "it was a Waffle House, but the W is missing from the sign.")
Joh and I spent the rest of the day in "cleanup" mode, moving empty cases, dressing cables, organizing the operations space, etc and headed out just after play was over for the day...
It is the rare day when you can leave a tennis event while the sun is still in the sky.
The Hawkeye guys were making a late night of it, they needed to do a night-time calibration of their hardware, so they stuck around after we left.

Bill "The Tennis Machine" Mitchell arrived that evening- We wound up at a pizza joint on University Avenue... Tasty stuff. We all walked around a bunch after that- Just people watching on Saint Catherine St. and avoiding the strip club barkers..
"C'mon in, and let the sin begin!"
"This is the place you can grab some titty!"
and the classic-
"It's like Disneyland for your hands!"

Wow.

Needless to say, with Jenny Mac along, we kept our evening "PG rated".

Sunday involved getting Bill and his equipment situated, and doing more site organization.
It was my last day on-site so I was trying to get as much done to help get things situated for the event day-to-day stuff, and to give Jon a headstart with breakdown.
We moved some more cases and did a few more housekeeping chores, then we were in a holding pattern until the TV crews were in and did their setup...


Hey Event Staffers- Anyone recognize these gray cases hiding on the site?"

Sunday PM I got a chance to get re-acquainted with a loyal listen2unclejay.com reader, Luc from Montreal- he and his family were on-site at the tennis centre- a long-time family tradition. I had met Luc nine years ago...(Wow. Nine years.) We were both in Pittsburgh for then NHL draft in 1997... Luc runs the Big Iron - the IBM Mainframes- for the NHL. Somehow, Luc and Dan-O and P-Squared were talking about my website a few months ago and Luc has been looking in now and again...


Luc & his peeps in the stands. Just my luck that he turned around as I shot the pic.
We shot the breeze on the upper deck of the centre court for a little while, until some folks started shooting us dirty looks for talking during play...
Luc and I will be crossing paths (and maybe swords) as our NHL project progresses later this year...

There were only 4 matches on Centre Court, so we were out before sundown again on Sunday, and after a bit of rest and a couple asprin we headed out.

We wound up in a bar called "Les 3 Brasseurs" for dinner- it's a microbrewery on St. Catherine St... They have some great beers- Jon was downing the Blonde ale like it was water- I was drinking with The Captain, and after one Captain and Coke, Bill switched to plain ol' Coke, as he mistakenly wore his "drinking skirt" out that evening...
They have a pseudo-pizza thing called "les flamms"... Tasty tasty...
And watch out for their "Meter of Beer" - 10 1/2 pint glasses of beer on a long wood rack.
Check out the menu on their website... Good stuff.
Yet another good time was had by all...

I retired from the field early- My flight was at 6:40 the following morning- so I was needing to leave the hotel between 4:15 and 4:30- I didn't know what the conditions at the airport were going to be like, given the latest brouhaha over in the UK.

I packed my bags and cleaned out my backpack so there was nothing that would catch the eye of the security screeners or the Customs dudes...
I got a reasonably good night sleep and only said 4 or 5 dirty words when the alarm went off at 4:00.
AM.
In the morning.
(I have GOT to quit taking morning flights.)

The trip to Jax was uneventful- the 50 minute flight from YUL to EWR was a EJR145 and I was able to grit my teeth and bear it... The EWR to JAX was a 737, and I got my upgrade- nice... except no food. Odd- they usually serve something on the moring flights. Oh well...
Not like missing a meal or two is going to hurt me, eh?

Prepping now for a trip to Denver at the end of this week with Dan-O...

Denver...
Rodizio Grill... LoDo... The Cheshire Cat in Arvada...

Hmmm...

Could be trouble...


Famous, out-

3 comments:

Annie said...

As usual, TBG, you show incredibly good taste. Vancouver is one of my favorites, too. Clean, polite people, lots to see and do, architecturally fascinating. Don't remember much about the cuisine but I'm sure you'll remedy that. Now that I'm living on the opposite corner of the continent, it's unlikely I'll get there again, so please post lots and lots. Thanks :) -Annie.

Annie said...

Oh heck, I just re-read the post and realized you aren't going to Vancouver anytime soon. ... sigh ... I blame lack of coffee which I am going to remedy right now. Well, you still have incredibly good taste ...

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with you Annie. Though I'm from the Montreal area, I had the chance to spend a little more than a week in Vancouver working at the NHL Draft. How many places can you play golf, sail and ski on the same day???

Jay, you're a gentleman and a swell dancer. I've enjoyed conversing with you as much as I enjoy reading your blog.

Well met sir!

Luc