Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Phase 1, Wrapped. Sort of.

Well… The Stanley Cup Final is underway. Finally. (Is that redundant?)

I’m putting the finishing touches on the first part of arena installations...
In this part I’ve installed hardware in Atlanta, Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, Madison Square Garden, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa, Toronto, and Vancouver. The last stop for phase 1 is in Columbus Ohio during the draft on June 18-19...

There are a few that will need follow-up trips to get them completed... Basically any team that didn’t make 2nd round of the playoffs will get a second visit.

Phase Two is in late August. Boston, Chicago, Denver, Edmonton, Florida, LA, New Jersey’s new arena, Philly, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Washington.

I’m just back from Anaheim right now, cabling the TV Trucks for feeds from the new interface, and after taking a nightmare of a red-eye flight from LAX to Jacksonville and sleeping for 13 hours, I’m back in the saddle, getting ready for the NBA finals.

The countdown is on for my sojourn to Loggerhead Key...

Can you see Loggerhead Key out on the horizon?

Here... An aerial shot...

Talk about a deserted island...

The Lighthouse and the Keeper's Quarters...

Much more info on this forthcoming…

TBG, out-

Monday, May 21, 2007

Homeward Blog

Anaheim pulled it out last night so the series is now Anaheim 3, Detroit 2. The series goes back out to Anaheim for the next game.

I, however, am going home. At least for a day or three.

Fortuitous, since I promised the perfect child that I would take her and her minions to the midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean – At Worlds End on Thursday night.

So… Polly was heading back to Jax, and Steve was heading out to Anaheim for game support, and I gave them a ride to the airport. At 4:45 in the morning. Heh.

Steve’s flight was at 7:00 and Polly’s was at 8 something… Mine was at 11, and I'm loaded with equipment from the TVI Test. I dropped them at the curbside check-in at about 5:20.

I was there a bit early… Like 5 hours, after I did all my travel chores… gassing the car, dropping it off at the rental drop, and taking the shuttle back to the terminal. Southwest won’t let you check in more than 4 hours before your flight, so I got to sit and kill some time near the security line…

It was kind of a “A Day at Disneyworld” kind of thing… the line went through a series of s-shaped crowd management turns, and then due to the early flights, the line snaked back down a blind hallway that you couldn’t see from the entrance…

As people would walk up, the ubiquitous Crowd Control “let me see your ticket” TSA guy was herding people back down the hallway as they tried to find a way past the bulk of the line.

“Sir, follow the line.”

“Mam, the line is there.”

“Please, back of the line, sir.”

The fun part was the reaction as people turned the corner and saw how far the line extended.

“Oh Man….I don’t believe…”


“Are you kidding?”


“Oh no…”

“What the hell…?”

Or some variation on the above themes.

The there are the people who were late for their flights and tried to go through the “Crew Only” lane…. Not pretty.

“Please sir, we go by the line, not your flight times…”

Two girls turned on the waterworks trying to avoid the 30 minute wait.
Very entertaining, to say the least. Mr. No Tolerance didn’t budge.

Oh well.

I’m on Fistfight Airlines… I mean Southwest Airlines. Time to go stake out my position in line.

TBG out-

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Helpful hint in Detroit

Tip #34,

In Detroit sushi bars, don't order the Octopus.

Big Al

TBG out-

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Is that what they do in there?

Damn you, auto-correcting spell checker!

From: *********
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 12:40:11 PM
To: Everybody
Subject: Downstairs Lady's Bathroom

Good afternoon everyone,
You may now use the downstairs lady's bathroom; however, please be couscous.



There are so many comments and jokes that I don't know where to start.

TBG, Speechless-

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

For Luc...

(Click picture for the full image)

The front row are the LA Kings RTSS officials, the back row are the Anaheim officials scoring on the new NHL HITS System.

Ain't technology a blast?

TBG out, taking pictures.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spectator sport

Quote of the night:

We're (some guys from the NHL) sitting in a bar in Anaheim watching the Buffalo / Ottawa game...
10 minutes left in the game- the bartender asks Damien,
"Hey, you want another beer?"
"Yeah, as a matter of fact bring me ten, then you better call the cops."


TBG, out drinking.

P.S. Ottawa won, 0-1, they are up 3 to 0. Someone tell the Fat Lady she's on in 5.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Memo from the Desk of Captain Obvious:

As we sat in lobby of the the Marriott (not the bar, go figure)
we were watching the Ottawa/Buffalo conference final go into overtime.
Dan P came up with the "uh...y'think?" quote of the night:

"This next goal is gonna be huge."

TBG, dreading overtime games, out-

Friday, May 11, 2007

Detroit- Round 3, Game 1, West.

Fun in the Motor City.

TBG Out-

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

From our "Don't-listen-to-what-she-says-Listen-to-what-she-means" Department:

Obviously a newlywed.

TBG out-

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fallen off the face of the Earth?

Well... Not really...

Last time I posted I was in on the road in the San Joaquin Valley heading for San Jose.

Since then I've been in San Jose, Seattle, Vancouver, Detroit, and finally back to Jacksonville.
As the late great Jerry Garcia said: What a long strange trip it's been.

Let's see...

A few pictures and a recap seem to be in order.

First- The drive from Jacksonville to Dallas was mostly uneventful.

I rented a Pontiac Vibe from Avis- gas milage wasn't too bad- I got about 360 miles per tank of gas. Not too shabby.

I got a late start out of Jax and as the sun was going down over Mobile it was killing my contacts so I stopped at one of the seafood places on Battleship Row...

My favorite one is being rebuilt after Katerina blew it out, so I had to go to the second choice.


The oysters were local and not too bad, but not great either.
I had some crab soup too... Again, nothing to write home about.
They were out of the fried crab claws, which was the entire reason I stopped. Bummer.

Oh well... Just my luck.

I got back on the road just after sundown.

I made it all the way to Breaux Bridge just outside Lafayette LA before I had to break for the night, and I was off again just after daybreak.

I caught a quick lunch at Crazy Bob's BBQ in Hog Eye Texas...
And I arrived in Dallas fairly early that afternoon.

So with my carload of equipment I got to work the next day and the first of a oft-recurring problem presented itself.

"Uh... did anyone get a tape measure and measure the brackets and the rack?"

Once Dallas was finished I was off to laid-back California...Home of Pearly Sweetcake, you probably knew her well...

The Honda Center in Anaheim was on the list. I loaded their equipment in and found that their rack was even shallower than the one in Dallas.
Lovely. We'll be putting a new rack in there... Probably doing it the 3rd round of the playoffs.

I loaded up my rental car and drove the next shipment up to San Jose...

Ever driven up I-5, through the Breadbasket of California?

It's nasty.
Farmlands and stockyards. Yuk.
I had left Anaheim in the early evening and made it up just north of LA before I took a short nap, then drove on to Coalinga and got a room at a Motel 6, so I'd have a real bed and a shower before getting to the HP PAvilion Arena in San Jose.

I arrived in San Jose early the next day and spent some time in the arena,
and had dinner at a place called Hukilau in Japantown, San Jose. Not a bad little place.

I finished out (most of) the install the next day. There are a couple things outstanding that we'll iron out during the off-season, but overall we're doing good there.
The UPS took a little damage in shipment...

The shipping company obviously dropped it right on the corner of the unit...
(heh..heh...he said "unit") but I got it straightened out and it's ok now.

One thing about California- they wear their hearts on their sleeves and they wear their politics on their bumpers...
One sticker I really got a tickle out of...

I caught a flight out of San Jose the next morning for Seattle on my way to Vancouver...
There is a big, long explanation concerning why I went to Seattle and drove to Vancouver, involving reasonable airfares, rental car drop-offs and border crossings, and if you really want to know the details, email me.
Otherwise just accept it and move along....

Crossing the border at the Peace Bridge north of Seattle was cool...

I got into Vancouver that evening and stayed in a funky little Best Western called the Abercorn Inn in Richmond... The motif was Highland Scotland, and the folks in the bar were right friendly. The game was on that night and I hung out in the bar with a bunch of tourists from "Minna-Sowta" and had a great time.

Again, into battle the next morning, installing the UPS, switches, server, wiring, shelving and what-have-you...

The Canucks were practicing as I was installing my equipment... I peered over the edge of the press box to see what was going on...

Looked like a big druid worship circle, imploring the big fish-god to bring them a victory...
All went well... Obstacles were encountered and overcome.

I headed out that night, crossed back into the good ol' US of A, and stayed in one of the little neon-lit cut-rate hotel-places that border SEA-TAC, since I had a 5:30 AM flight to Detroit.
Just for the record- the Red Roof Inn at Sea-Tac is not worth the $59.00 a night that I paid. $39.00 would be overpaying. To call it a nasty shithole would be an insult to other nasty shitholes.
Avoid avoid avoid.

Back to Detroit. Again.

I got into the arena and got my hardware... I even found the cables that the building guys had run for me...
None of them were labeled, and I had no idea which ones went where, but I never let a little thing like that stop me... I jumped right into the fray.

What the hell...?

Doesn't that look suspiciously like a forklift tine hole in the side of my server box?

Why yes, so it does look like a forklift done skewered my server!

I'm fortunate, Constant Readers, that I was alone up in rafters of Joe Louis Arena; Had anyone been with me it would have been an embarrassment, As I stood there looking at the pierced box (No out-of-context jokes please) I went through all 5 stages of the Kubler-Ross grief cycle:

Denial - No way! They did not run a forklift tine into my server!

Anger - If I find the M#*&%@er who did this...I'm gonna razzel-frazzin...

Bargaining - Oh, C'mon... If I could fix that UPS in San Jose, I'm sure I could get this patched up...And besides, Detroit probably won't make it to the third round anyway.

Depression - Oh man... I'm screwed. This thing is dead-dead-dead, and they'll never believe it was like this when I got here. They'll blame it on me. It will all end in tears.

Acceptance - Screw it. I'll give it a shot just to see if it will work. Who knows, I might get lucky.

Well... It was ok... the damage was superficial. I dodged a bullet there.

I did as much as I could and then split out of there...

As for the East- teams like Ottawa, Bufallo and the NY/NJ multiplex, my compatriot Sean handled them...

Sean? You know Sean.

This is Sean. (He's the one on the right.)
The other one is Nicole. You can visit her at the Hooters near the Long Island Coliseum.

Ok... Onward. More stuff as we proceed into Round 3.

(Oh yeah- By the way- Luc, I got your message. I said *I* liked "Galapagos"... I didn't say *you* would... I am a warped and twisted literary omnivore. My taste is quite suspect. The only thing I like better than Hunter S. Thompson's writing is perusing pornographic stained-glass windows. )

TBG out-

Flight Tips

I sat with two Flight Attendants while waiting on my flight to Orange County...

We discussed the issues surrounding Flight Attendants and passengers...
I had to share my irritation with them about getting whacked in the shoulder every time the beverage cart passes, and they told me the Flight Attendant's Litany of Passenger Stupidity.

Here are my takeaways from this oh-so-enlightening chat.
(Bear in mind, it was 5:30 AM when this took place.)

Good Ideas:

1. Never push the call button.
(Get up and find your own blanket or pillow, I'm not your Mom. And we'll be back around with the beverage cart or to pick up the trash shortly. Cool your jets.)
And NEVER ever push the call button just to ask when we are going to land.

2. Unless you absolutely have to be up, keep your butt in your seat. If they're doing a snack-and-beverage service, it's almost impossible with people in the aisle.
This especially includes you 18-to-24 year olds... You don't need to go visit the other folks in your group to discuss the hottie in row 14. You'll have plenty of time to do that when you get to our destination.

3. If it's a short flight or a small commuter plane, use the bathroom in the terminal before the flight.

4. If there is a food service of any sort, asking for seconds of anything is a way to get the big "ASSHOLE" tattoo on your forehead by the Flight Attendants.

5. Look- here comes the Flight Attendants with the fod service. I think I'll wait until they arrive and are holding my tray out for me to take before I start putting away my laptop and papers...
(you can wind up wearing your beef-with-brown-gravy-stuff if you take too long.)

8. If you are traveling with little 2 year-old Precious, find out what he or she wants before the Flight Attendant gets there for the beverage service. Asking Precious what he or she wants as the Flight Attendant waits and waits and waits is a Bad Thing.

7. You are a dipshit if you ask for a pillow, watch the Flight Attendant look through 8 overhead bins to find you one, then when she finally finds one for you, you then ask for a blanket too.

7a. You are REALLY a dipshit if you watch your neighbor ask for a blanket, then a pillow, and THEN ask the Flight Attendant to find you one (or both).

8. Don't ask the Flight Attendants to help you lift your bag into the overhead bin. Jerk.

9. If you absolutely have to take off your shoes during a flight, have the good taste to wear socks. Please. And don't put your bare feet up on the bulkhead walls or the back of the seat in front of you.

10. A good way to get a drink spilled on you is to request a refill of your beverage by rattling your cup of ice at the Flight Attendant.

11. You have ample warning as the Flight Attendants get the plane ready to land before they make the announcement to shut your Gameboy, iPod, Walkman, MP3 player, laptop, Crackberry, or whathaveyou... If the Flight Attendant has to come remind you to shut you item off, you are an asshat.

12. Don't let little Precious wander up and down the aisle. And clean your kid up, for crying out loud. No one want to see Precious' candy-bar-stained face and hands rubbed against their clothes as he/she meanders down the aisle..

13. Don't paint your nails on the plane. (This is from 5/1/07, on my flight from Seattle to Chicago) The smell irritates everyone for 4 rows around you.

14. Don't touch!! Don't poke, tap, grab or tug the Flight Attendant to get her attention while she's serving someone else...

15. Speak your order in tones loud enough to be heard. (I'm guilty of this... Just mouthing the drink order, because I'm afraid of yelling over the ambient noise level of the plane.)

16. Don't call the Flight Attendant a Stewardess. No no no.

17. Don't, under pain of getting stragled with a seat belt extention, as you are getting off the plane, tell the Flight Attendant to "Smile!". Big mistake.

Never Never nevers:

1. Never yell at, curse at, intimidate or threaten a Flight Attendant.
They are protected by federal statutes (just like manatees and spotted owls). Any interference with them doing their duties can land you with a hefty fine and prison time (up to 10 years). The law and the TSA is on their side, and they will make your life miserable if they want to...

2. Don't upgrade yourself. Aside from the walk of shame *when* you get caught (and you WILL get caught) is theft of service if the Flight Attendant and the Captain want to make a case for it.

3. Don't take anything off the beverage cart. Unattended or not, don't take sodas, ice, water or booze... Stealing is stealing...Even in business class, where the booze is free, you can't just take it. It must be served. Part of the regulations for service. Don't touch the cart.

Things I still don't understand...

Why I get yelled at when my seat is reclined 2 inches during take off.

Why do we get the life vest and seat-cushion-floatation-device talk when we are flying from Dallas to Denver. Aside from the obvious futility of a water landing (i.e. a crash), I doubt the captain will be trying to land in a lake or a swimming pool if we are going down during that flight.

And the ubiquituous "to fasten your seat belt, to unfasten your seatbelt..." lesson:
Do they think there is anyone on there that hasn't ever used a seatbelt before?

TBG, heading out, again-