Tuesday, February 28, 2006


(No, I don't have new time-shifting technology. By post-dating
the message, it will keep the webcam link at the top of the 'blog.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More random Olympic views.

Saturday Feb 25-

I got to go skiing...
It had been snowing for almost 3 days straight. I rented skis and boots and headed for the slopes above Sauze d'Oulx.

Visibility was horrible

My right leg only wanted to ski for a half day, though.
Around 1:00 my right calf siezed up... I spent the rest of the day and most of the night with a Lidocaine patch on it to relieve the pain...

Working on my brain freeze.

Up on the mountain there was a little cafe...

...with porno on the menu.

Speaking of menus...

How have people been ordering their steaks that prompted this little nugget?

At the broadcast compound in Bardonecchia, a big dog was staking out the catering tent.

"No one gets breakfast until I see some bacon and hash browns in a doggiebowl."

He takes up the entire entrance way to the tent.

On another note...

Brain Socks... for smart feet.

By popular request... Riberi Media Village.

Tell me this doesn't look like an mental institution.

Now, being from Florida, I didn't know about the dangers of falling ice...

After a heavy snowfall the snow and ice builds up...

Then it begins to slide off...

If you slam the door of the cabine, there is an excellent chance of getting hit by a big (heavy, sharp) chunk of ice.

Sometimes they are incredibly intricate, and dangerous since the convoluted design makes for unpredictable breakage.

Note to self- don't stand under the big sharp ice-stuff.

Famous out-

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Food fun, Olympic Style

Now, you would think that in a country that is known for it's cuisine and wines they they would pull out all the stops when they are in the world's spotlight...
Sadly, either they have been pulling the wool over our eyes for years, or they just don't give a crap.

I'm not sure what I was expecting...
First, I'm not a big fan of Italian food to begin with.
True- I make a mean lasagna, and I enjoy the occasional meal at Carrabbas, but by and large, I'll take barbeque or chicken wings over pasta and red sauce any day.
Second, I'm not sure the Piedmont (Northwest Italy) is exactly known for it's gastronomic delights as much as southern Italy.
What I can tell you is that most non-catered meals have been a relative disappointment when it comes to flavor and content. As for catered meals, that is a completely different kettle of fish...or chicken, and we'll get to that in just a minute.

Restaurant food, especially in Sauze d'Oulx and Torino, has been a disappointment. I think the guy that knew where the garlic was growing died and didn't tell anyone where the stash was... All the food has been pretty bland- with one notable exception.
A restaurant called Sugo's down in Sauze d'Oulx has been a treat every time we have been there. They specialize in two things, Bruschetta and Pasta. And because they concentrate on that, thay have it down to a science. They had 15 or so variations of bruschetta with differing combinations of parma ham, spek ham, mozzarella, gorgonzola, walnuts, cream, olives, tomato, and othe savories. The pasta is served family style- Big pots or dished piled high with different types of pasta. We tried a penne with beef, garlic and peppers that was just fantastic. Another one we tried was a tagliatelle with wild boar meat, garlic and chilis. Really an excellent choice. The guy that runs the place, Mauritzio (Maurice, or Furgeson, as I called him) is always willing to make a change or exception since the pasta is cooked fresh when you order... So if you wanted the wild boar sauce on farfalle instead of tagliatelle, it is no problem.

Other places have been very hit-or-miss...
Right next door to Suga is a place called del Borgo... Great cream of tomato soup- but the mushroom soup was poor. I expected more from their pizza, as it had come highly recommended. Alas, the two different evenings we went there, I was not exactly carried away. The best thing there was a chili oil we got them to bring in order to liven up our pizzas. The scoville rating wasn't very high on it, but it there was some good flavor to it.

Miraviello is right next to the hotel, they specialize in crepes, but the ones we tried were overcooked, or the ingredients were overpowering... Mark had a crepe with mozz, gorgonzola and an olive tapanade that was just overpowering... My Brie & Speck was ok, but very light on ingredients.

Godfather's restaurant was a disappointment- after we made our choices the owner came over to our table and tried to change everyone's mind... Mark & Jeff wanted pizzas, Mike & I wanted ribs. Il Padrino came over to push his pasta trio... ravioli, lasagana, and penne. "It is the best in Italy."
It's the best because it was cheap and already cooked... All he has to do is serve it, so it is a low cost-per-serving. A winner when it comes to the bottom line.
Well, he was able to sway Mark and Mike, and in the end they were really disappointed about it. I ordered the ribs, and they brought a t-bone steak that was still bleeding (more than normal). I sent it back and asked for my ribs, and they were a sad study in bovine anatomy. To say it was all flavorless would be an undestatement...
and to cap it off- this was the place that wouldn't serve coffee after our meal..."I don't serve coffee", the owner said, "because I don't like coffee."
How does this guy stay in business?

Paddy McGinty's is the Irish bar in Sauze. Fortuitously located directly across from our hotel, it is one of the "crawling distance" bars that, even better, carries Captain Morgans Rum.
On a sign outside they tout their various cuisine... Thai, Indian, Mexican, Chinese...
It is somewhat misleading... Just because you carry frozen spring rolls, that doesn't mean you are serving Thai. Ditto for Fajitas (especially curry chicken fajitas) as the height of Mexican food.
Chinese... I don't remember what the Chinese dish was, but I'm sure it was very marginal.
Now, truth be told, I had the BBQ ribs and they pretty tasty. And Ivan the GE Guy had a t-bone that was outrageous. But...
On the other hand, there is something to be said for truth in advertising.
On the menu they have potato skins...
The menu reads "Deep fried... Hell.. Here, you read it...

Look there... Fried potato skins, cheese, bacon bits.

Now- I'm thinking a TGiFridays kinds thing...

What came to the table, however. was a bit of surprise.

Does this look like deep-fried potato skins to you?

Overall, so far the food has been disappointing.

Want to make a billion dollars?
Open a Chinese restaurant in Sauze d'Oulx.
And bring some garlic.

Now- Apart from the slice of hell that is the local restaurant scene, the catered food here is atrocious.
Even worse tasting, food that is supposed to be warm or hot is cold, the cold food is hot, things are either burnt or raw, and are almost universally bad.
I believe the best food I had was at the IBC (International Broadcast Center) in Torino for breakfast one morning... They were making pancakes with Canadian maple syrup. By far the best meal I have had here.
And don't get me started on the BBQ spare ribs that were covered in a nice marinara instead of BBQ sauce.
Sad, really.

The other bizarre thing is the catering crew they have at the venues (BDY and SDO at least) are world-class when it comes to playing with food. As they stand there waiting to slop a scoop of cold scrambled eggs on your plate, they are continuously moving the food around the chafing dish. Scoop scoop, scrape scrape, dig dig... And give them a pliable media like mashed potatoes and they start ot get creative. A sculpture of the NBC peacock in macaroni & cheese, the Olympic rings in scalloped potatoes.
One guy at SDO is a real winner... He'll capture one of the pressed-and-formed pork cutlets with his tongs, then suspend it from one corner, gently shaking it until the piece breaks off, then he eats the little piece. Truly bizarre.

There have been several articles on how bad the food is here...
From a piece on CNN.com...

-CNN Story-

...Russian bobsledder Nadezda Orlova didn't need words to describe what she thought of the food -- she just gave a thumbs down.
Her physiotherapist, Alexander Kluykov, said he feared the food could affect Orlova's performance.
"She wants to eat, but she can't," he said. "When you eat something it must taste of something, it must smell of something."
In the prefabricated tent that houses the cafeteria, American skier Ted Ligety, who won gold in the combined, left a plate of pasta with tomato sauce half finished on the eve of the giant slalom.
"The food here is actually not so good," he said. "The highlight this week is that they installed a machine for ice-cream bars."

The really telling comment from this piece...

Not everyone was critical of the cooking.
"I think the food is good, especially the Chinese food," said Polish bobsledder Mariusz Latkowski.
Then he added: "But I'm sad there isn't a McDonald's here."
(Usually there is a huge McDonalds in every Olympic Village.)

This piece is actually on the food in the athlete's dining rooms in the Olympic Villages, so I can tell you that the stuff for us production peons is exponentially worse.

The games are drawing to a close. Time to start branching out.
There has to be good food somewhere.

Hungry the Jay out-

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Taken Out of Context - Continued.

A real winner from Paddy McGinty's Pub last night.

"That's the biggest piece of meat I have seen in Italy. "


Amazing out-

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Someone, please just put a bullet in me now...

Let me just give you the items, and you can fill in the scathing commentary.

  • Riberi... Mental hospital part due.
  • IBC...Fascisti Mag & Bag guys.
  • NBC Commissary - E.Coli Cafe; Pasta, or is it PASTE-a?
  • Riding the buses - taking a different route every time. 10 minutes or 45, for a 2km trip.
  • Curling - Hours and hours and hours of curling.
  • Ribs for dinner - The red sauce was marinara, not barbeque...
  • More curling
  • Back to Riberi - 8:00am call to go back to the Sauze d'Oulx.
  • 90 minutes to the Mountains- 60 minutes of morning traffic.
    (And everyone knows how much I hate traffic!)
  • Scaring the driver with my snoring as I slept in the car on the way out to Sauze.

More out-of-context quotes:

"The NBC show has begun. We don't need no stinking athletes."

"Geez- I hope the webcam didn't catch that..."

"In order to get information, one must endure the bullshit."

"What kind of winter sport that involves snow gets delayed because of snow?"

"We call that place the LSA... Less Safe Area. It is an area with restaurants and pubs very nice, and low price. But people, they are not so nice.
So just pay more care in the LSA. In night time, consider to cross the LSA never alone."

IDS Employee going to McDonalds in IBC:
(Name withheld to protect identity. We'll just call her "Security Guard Killer")
SGK: I would like some fries, please.
McDonald: Would you like fries with that?

Amazing out-

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympics Gallery

I've posted part of the Olympics Gallery.

Click the the pic to view...

Famous out-

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I've made a temporary move from Sauze d'Oulx down to Torino. Definitely a step down. I'm staying at the Riberi Media Village...
(Riberi, Italian for "Mental Hospital built on toxic waste dump".)

I'm not saying the rooms are small, but I have to step out in the hall to change my mind. Even the mice are hunch-backed. All those old Henny Youngman lines...

The IBC isn't so bad.. the food is OK, and I keep running into people I know from NBC (the NBA days, Athens, etc) so that aspect is enjoyable. But I kinda miss the folks up in Sauze...

I'll be here a few days to give the guys here in town a couple days off, then I head back up to the mountains for the last couple Snowboard events (Parallel Giant Slalom) and to breakdown the equipment.

A few pics from Sauze...

From my window at the hotel in Sauze d'Oulx

Looking up the street.

And looking back down...

A timberwolf walking down the street in front of the hotel.

Please do not feed the wolf. (Picture courtesy of Spongemark Squarehands)

I did get one good pic from last night downtown near Piazza Vittorio Emanuelle...

One of the national promotional "houses" on the river Po. Not sure what the big blue place up on the hill is yet...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Taken out of context, part 2.

"One drunk girl and fifty guys does not constitute a strip club."

"Oh. That is terrible. Have a chips."

"That shiny one is going to be tough to get down..."

"But, I pulled down my pants for you!!"

"What is that new IRM code for Curling - FOA?"
"Falls On Ass... It's unofficial, of course."
"...Let's see if she goes down again."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Day # 7

Lucky 7?

(Snowboard spoiler omitted)

Oh well...

I have some pics and some out-of-context quotes for you to mull over...

In Sauze d'Oulx...

Here's your sign, Mark...

Stass is one sleepy codemonkey.

Snoozing between the Qualifiers and the Finals

There would never be price gouging at the Olympics.

For $1.80, that better be one tasty candy bar.

My stash of cold drinks.

Labels are important so no one grabs your stuff...


"We don't know dogs, we just shoot them."

"Don't let the facts get in the way of a good show, Billy."

"Is that clean, or is it clean-clean?"

"I looked into their eyes and do you know what I saw? The smell of defeat."

"Any Idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out."

"I'd explain it to you, but your brain would explode."

"But I don't live in Sez-tree-air. I live in Sow-zay-dooks-ee..."

Amazing out-

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Random Olympic Views - Day 6.

Just some pics...

IDS Breakfast... Water, Marmite, Clartyne, Espresso, and a flask of Capt. Morgan.

Standing in line at 5:30 AM, waiting to go through Mag & Bag.

Snowing harder in Bardonecchia before the competition starts.

What the well-dressed spotty dog is wearing this season.
A very sweet young dalmation in Sauze d'Oulx...

The view from the door of my trailer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Day 5 - Frequently Given Answers -continued.

(Sauze d'Oulx/Bardonnechia/Sestriere edition)

1. One hour. Maybe two. If not, ask again tomorrow.
2. If I had two, I'd give you one.
3. Four! Not one or two or three... Four!
4. [accent=Greek] Perhaps, yes. [/accent]
5. 6.5 pounds per gallon.
6. Dogfood. Low-grade dogfood.
7. I are wearing a jean pant.
8. Here's your sign.
9. The Finnish Contingent.
10. mom
11. Famous!
12. You must get out (of the car) here.
13. He is on the way. M92 or maybe V42. We don't know.
14. "Uscita Di Sicurezza"? It means "Don't open this door in case of fire."
15. Helicopter? What helicopter?
16. Where are you for dinner? You must eat here.
17. Stop. Let's try it again. And don't say 'arrogant asshole' this time.
18. It IS the rabbit.
19. PDP, oh, it's you again?
20. Another bottle of water, please.
21. You're screwed. (Athens legacy FGA - Transcends all listing.)
22. IDS? I don't sleep.
23. He says he thinks he knows you.
24. This credential is no good for you.
25. No pizza now. Come back after 2:00AM.
29. Crispy M&Ms.

Amazing out-

Quotable quotes. V1.1

You never know what you might hear, so it's good to keep your ears open...

Hmmm... Oh. Look. 'Windows Explorer has encountered a problem.'
Wouldn't that be 'Windows'?

"That guy comes back in here again, I'm gonna throw the fire hydrant at him."
(I think he meant "extinguisher")

"Oh look- The Japanese competitors are dropping like fries..."

DD (live announce guy at BDY)
"These girls will have to have the runs of their life if they want to medal..."

and a whole slew from Jeff (our director):
"I've lost myself. Which I don't mind."
"Dick!- Shit, I don't have Dick."
"Dick is out."
"Is Dick up?"
"Count me down, Dick."

(Corrected 2-15-06, 4:30)

Famous out-

Update - Early in the Morning

Just a few things...

I've been short on sleep, but nothing like my graphics crew.

Lisa (the DeKo operator) and "Super" Dave Osborne (the PA) are running on empty. Dave has logged 65 hours in the 3 days. When I left the other night, he was trying to catch a catnap in the graphics cabine...

Comfy boxes.

After 2 days of Freestyle and 2 days of Snowboarding Dave hadn't been back to his hotel in 48 hours, and therefore no shower either, so the air in the cabine was getting a little thick.
He had taken to wearing his scarf like a turban... Osama Bin Osborne. I think he wound it around his head to keep his brain from leaking out his ears.

Love the hair, Osama.

What else...

Oh yeah...

Mark is sick.

He's got some kind of sinus infection that has his ears screwed up. As long as he stays at about 1000m (basically, up at Freestyle or in Sauze d'Oulx) he's Ok, but when we go somewhere like into Torino or Sestriere, we come down off the mountain and the Pressure Elves go to work on his eardrums with the icepicks.

We went into Torino- to the IBC, at 6:30 in the bleeding cold morning yesterday. The Elves were working on Mark's ears as we descended into the Piedmont... By the time we got to the IBC in Lingotto he was in agony. He went to the infirmary to try to get some meds.
They gave him a dose of Clarityn (notice the European spelling) and told him to stay out of the cold.
"So... You stay out of the cold, yes?" Doc says.
Mark rolls his eyes.
"You are working where?" Doc inquires.
"Sauze d'Oulx."
Doc gives him a pitying look.
"If possible, you should keep-" he holds his hands over his ears in the 'hear no evil' pose.
We came back to Sauze in time for testing at Freestyle, and since we were back at altitude, the Elves had gone back into remission for a bit. We hung out for a bit and he wasn't feeling any better so he looked into possibilities for getting some better meds... The only NBC clinic is in Torino, which is a good 90 minute to 2 hour trip; He looked into going to a doctor in Sestriere and found it would cost him out-of-pocket to see a local doc, so he decided to go back to the IBC again.
(I opted out and went over to the Downhill to watch the skiier get hit in the face with the pole...)
Mark undertook the journey back to town for the second time that day... Poor bastard.
A futile trip, because they didn't give him any good meds. Heh.

So... Mens Moguls today at Sauze, I'm heading to Bardonecchia to do testing for Boardercross... Hoo ha! I'll be back to Sauze by 6:00 for the finals.

Famous out-

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Isn't that the way it always goes...
The one time I take off and try to enjoy the ONLY event that has anything going on at this time and I get busted.

I got out of Bardonecchia at a reasonable time (4:45pm, after having been there since 5:30AM) and we (Mark, Dave K and Lacey) decided to go to the one location out in the mountains that there was an event going on- Womens Luge in Cesana Pariol. We got there just in time for the 1st run of the finals.

Luge isn't a great sport to see in person... You can only see one small part of the track, and the amount of time they (the competitors) are in your viewing area is only a few miliseconds.
One of the thing we found interesting to do was to try to capture the riders on camera as they go flying by. I have 30 or 40 frames of...ice and railings. No rider.
I do have three or four where I have the rider, or a piece of the rider...

As we were trying to shoot pictures, my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number that was calling.
"Hey, Lummox. Quit taking pictures at Luge and get back to work."
Huh? I didn't recognize the voice right off...
"Who is this?"
"This is Mitch. Quit goofing off and go back to work."
Mitch is at the IBC, in downtown Torino, handling traffic cop duty for the data and feeds...
If Mitch knows I'm here, that means, oh crap... I'm on one of the video feeds going back to NBC...
I looked around and saw we were right in line with one of the finishline cameras.
Every time they played the slo-mo of the finish turn, we were right there.

Do you like my "pinky extended" photography technique?

Amazing in the rings.

I just can't catch a break.

Famous out-

Monday, February 13, 2006

Ned McKenzie

Ned makes his first appearance at the Winter Games...

Great White Ned - The lost McKenzie brother.

Famous out-

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Webcam Hall o' Shame


You know that there are some webcams here at the Winter Olympics...
I have one here at Bardonecchia and Mark has one in Sauze d'Oulx.
Every once in a while a picture shows up that needs to be preserved for posterity.

These are a few that have surfaced over the last few days.

Nice forehead there, Big Guy.

What you sippin' there, Code Monkey?

Ah, a full moon over Sauze d'Oulx.
(Bettina showing us her good side.)

And the Code Monkey takes the gold!!

Mark checking out Omega Girl.

Mark and Omega Girl, enjoying the moment together.

Famous out-

Friday, February 10, 2006

What? No more frames?

Finally spent a little time fixing the 'site.
Got rid of the last remnants of the original Uncle Jay site- incorporating it all into the current webpage...

As Mark said: "About damn time."

Meanwhile, here's some of the items on my to-do list:

  • Adjust the tint on all the monitors in the Edit Room so that all the people are green, and insist to others that Matt Lauer "likes it that way".
  • Sing the Batman theme incessantly.
  • Staple results printouts in the middle of the page.
  • Ask the hotel security guards out for dates.
  • Produce a deKo feed consisting entirely of dire NBC copyright warnings instead of location slates.
  • Sew big hunks of gun-shaped metal into people's backpacks for the security guys to find.
  • Hide dairy products in inaccessible places in the hotel.
  • Set alarms for random times.
  • Figure out how to implement morse code in Skype.
  • Buy large quantities of Happy Dent mint dental floss just to lick the flavor off.
  • Order a side of pork rinds with your pasta.
  • Ask for a fine American wine, Gallo or Mogen David for instance, with dinner.
  • Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a "croaking" noise.
  • Tape segments of "Sweating to the Oldies" over the master NBC tape at your venue.
  • Wear all your clothes backwards.
  • Begin all your sentences with "ooh la la!"
  • Leave venue ops manager's printer in compressed-italic-cyrillic-landscape mode.
  • only type in lowercase.
Amazing the Guy Big out-

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Signs of the Apocalypse

VSA additional instructions...

Screening level three is the only one that is accurate. Levels two and one have additional steps that are not listed on the sign.

Level two:

5. Drop to your knees.
6. Hands behind head.
7. Be very still as attack dog inspects you for contraband and dangerous materials.
8. Do not make any threatening movements.
9. When dog urinates on your back, re-enter your vehicle and proceed to next check point.

Level one:

5. Remove pants
6. Lie face-down on ground
7. To prevent injury to yourself and the inspector, please don't tense up.
8. Wait for the "all clear" air horn to sound before getting up and looking for clothes.
9. Crawl on hands and knees to next checkpoint.

Amazing out-

Frequently Given Answers

(Sauze d'Oulx/Bardonnechia edition)

1. I trust no one. Especially you.
2. We haven't finished killing all the developers yet.
3. No.
4. Ok, yes then.
5. 193 kilos. 195 when I get wet.
6. Yes, but only when the moon is full.
7. It is supposed to be slippery.
8. I could kill you, but then I'd have to hide your body, and you're not worth the trouble.
9. Let me spell it out for you... "B-I-T-E-M-E"
10. wow
11. Milk. Leche... How about latte? Screw it.
12. The key is broken, that's why.
13. I'm not not sure we can get a gallon of flea shampoo here in Italy.
14. Captain & Coke...A double. Twice. And one for Mark too.
15. They are always photocopies. No one has originals.
16. No... I want pizza. Not PASTA.
17. This isn't the right road. I've never seen that elephant statue before.
18. That's not a dog, it's the waitress.
19. Me, winning isn't; You do.
20. There are no more. There won't be any more. Ever.
21. You're screwed. (Athens legacy FGA)
22. No, honestly. I really like pork tartare.
23. A rum and coke doesn't have ANY vodka in it.
24. Just drive through them. What are they going to do, chase us down?
25. You are not having cold?

Bonus answer:

26: I don't like coffee.

Amazing out-

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Listen to your Uncle Amazing

A guy (Pauolo) who was hanging out with the VITM yesterday came to Cabine 5 today...
He never said a word when Edouardo and I talked yesterday.
Today I found out why.

Pauolo comes to my door:
"You are Amazing the Technician Jay?"
"You are Amazing, yes?"
Hmmm. I guess so...
"Uh, Sure."
"Wonderful. Amazing, I need to drive something into your brain."
Shit. Stand in line, dude.
"Amazing, the networking of the connection in the TOBO...
(He goes into a long, confusing explanation of how the feeds are run here...stuff that is interesting only in the same way a car accident is interesting.)
"Do you have this in your brain now?"
"Um... I guess so."
"Ah! Famous! I thank you, my friend Amazing."
Pauolo trots off. I stand there trying to process the exchange.
I'm not sure what just happened.

Amazing out.

Random Olympic Views

In Bardonecchia:

Mark Moore, Chilling.

Yours Truly, hanging out at the HalfPipe.

For those that think this is such a great gig,
let me share the downside with you...

Here's my work location...

Kinda small, aint it?
It's gonna be tight when the 2 guys from Omega Timing, and 2 NBC Operators and Yours Truly are shoehorned into this crackerbox.

And just in case you're thinking that it must have a great view of the slopes, or be close to all the action...

This is where I live.

Nice, huh.

TBG Out.

Random Olympic Stuff

We (Mark Moore and Yours Truly) ran across something unheard-of in Europe the other night... It's not normal, it might be illegal, and it is probably one of the signs of the impending Apocalypse...

We were in a restaurant that didn't serve coffee after dinner.

Collectively, we have never seen this before.
As a matter of fact, after a short poll by TBG Reseasch LLC, it seems like no one has ever seen this before. No coffee after dinner. Harumpf!

The restaurant is Il Padrino (The Godfather)- almost directly across from the Holiday Dibili Hotel. The owner of the restaurant was in the house when we tried to get some coffee after having our meal... We were refused, and we asked the owner why.
"No coffee?" we asked. "Why don't you serve coffee?"
"Because I don't like coffee." he replied.
We were speechless.

I bet you don't like assholes either, but you still serve them...

TBG Out-

Fun on the menu.

I love foreign menus.

Actually, I just love foreign food...

Take this for instance...

I want an order of this...
(As a matter of fact, make it a double.)

Now, on the other hand, sometimes it pays to look closely at the ingredients label on foreign foods.
Take this for instance...

I don't care if it is Coca Cola...
I not drinking anything with ANALCOOLICA in it.

TBG Out...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Adventures in Transportation

(It wouldn’t hurt to refresh yourself with the concept of “The Big Guy Irritation Index” from Athens 2004. Find it here.)

Skip a bit if you don't want to read the tale of our night with The Captain.

Sunday started as a continuation of Saturday night.
Midnight found Mark and I at the Queen's Lounge, about a block from our hotel.
Now... For those of you who are trying to get a jump on things, we are in Italy, not Key West or San Francisco. The Queens Lounge is an English pub (and nothing else) conveniently located by the closest ATM to the hotel.
We were on a quest to find a place to watch the Superbowl and were systematically checking all the bars and pubs within crawling distance to the hotel.
The usual response from the local pubkeepers: "Wot? American football? Why doncha watch a real man's sport- rugby!"
So - Midnight rolls around and we're in the Queen's.
Drinking. (Duh.)
Drinking a lot. (Again, Duh.)
One of the other qualifications for the bar-of-choice is that they have a decent selection of Tequila and/or Rum... Capt. Morgan’s, specifically.
And, God save 'er, the Queen has several bottles.
So our friendly bar wench, Nicky, from Wales no less, was giving us a very generous pour.
She started to fill the glass with rum, looking at Mark for a nod when to stop.
Mark signaled her to keep pouring...and pouring...3 ice cubes, 4 to 5 ounces of Captain and a half ounce of Coca Cola. That was her version of Captain and Coke. After 3 of those, and the one we had at Paddy McGinty's during the cocktail hour, and the half bottle of red wine (La LePre) for dinner...
Well, let's just say we were feeling mighty fine.

Last order rolled around about quarter of one, then the manager from Queen's dragged us over to Schuss, a completely dead disco even closer to the hotel. We were sociable and had another Captains with him there, along with the eight or ten rugby snowboarders that had tagged along also...
The joint was pretty dead so we decided to split and we trudged, or better yet, staggered up the hill back to Paddy's.
Part of our plan was based on the concept of "If you can't beat them, join them." The first couple night’s sleep in Sauze D'Oulx were interrupted when Paddy's would close about 2 in the morning... All the patrons would stand outside (on the road in front of our hotel) and sing, discuss the events of the day, giggle, tell jokes, etc. Needless to say, it was a bit disturbing for us... We figured that instead of trying to sleep through it, we'd just join in.
So... 'Round about 2AM we were back drinking with The Captain at Paddy’s...
Amy, the bar wench at Paddy's had an interesting methodology for her mixing; She'd fill the glass with The Captain, then wave a bottle of Coke over the glasses.
She handed one to Mark who sampled the mix, smiled and gave a "thumbs up" sign.
"As a matter of fact," he said, "If I had three hands, I'd give it two thumbs up."
The total for the evening was something like 8 very generous Captain & Cokes each...

The 7 AM wake-up call came only moments after my head hit the pillow...

This is where things get interesting...

We ordered a car from NBC Transportation for 9AM. In the morning. (Ouch)

Want to see a map of where we are talking about?

Click on map for full-sized PDF. Enjoy.

The plan:
1. 9:00 Pick up in Sauze D'Oulx.
2. Drive to Colle in Sestriere. (one hour)
3. Pick up our equipment at Alpine venue.
(2 x 5' 100 lb equipment cases)
4. Drive back to Sauze D'Oulx (one hour)
5. Drop off Mark and his equipment at Freestyle.
6. Yours Truly would continue to Bardonecchia (30 Minutes)
7. Drop YT and my equipment at Snowboarding.

Now, in order to make sure that the transportation order is correct and they understand what I want to do I go, in person, to the transportation office in Sestriere the evening before. I explain that I want a van, big enough for Mark and YT, all our equipment, and with the right passes, credentials, stickers, tickets, etc, to get in to the venues at Colle, Sauze D'Oulx, and Bardonecchia.
"No problem. We have the right passes- everything."
I even get a follow up call from the Big Guy at Transportation, John, assuring me that all will be as ordered.

Ok... Mark and I are dutifully, if a bit hung over, waiting outside the hotel at 8:50...
(BGII – 0 - Cold but in good spirits. I'm ready to really get some work accomplished today.)
I get a call from PDP (Transportation).
"He's on the way. Car M93."
9:00- No car.
9:15- No car.
We start to notice people putting up balloons and banners around town...
A crowd starts gathering down the street in the square. My spider sense starts tingling.
I call NBC Transportation.
"The driver was held up by the torch relay in Cesana... He will be there in moments."
9:30- No sign of the car. More people. It becomes obvious that the torch is coming through the middle of Sauze D'Oulx.
Not a good thing.

- We have retreated to the lobby of the hotel to ward off frostbite.
10:00- No car. Another call to transportation is made.
"He is almost there." they tell me.
10:30- Our car arrives in Sauze D'Oulx. With the Olympic torch. Hundreds of people are lining the streets in Sauze D’Oulx.
Transportation calls me...
"The driver is waiting for you at the town square."
"Ok... we'll head that way." I tell her.
I grab my bags...
This is a good time to tell you about my tool kit.
It is a 15"x24" hard plastic black Pelican case... Weighs about 50 pounds.
Has all my tools and sundry items that make events run smoother.
So... I want you to visualize Mark and Yours Truly hastening to the square down the hill from the hotel- Mark with his backpack and a no-nonsense attitude... Me, with my backpack and my tool kit. Walking with haste and purpose. Black jeans, boots, black jacket- looking for all the world like a terrorist rushing through the crowd looking for the optimal place to set off my explosives.

We couldn't find the car down in the square, so I called transportation back...
"Oh... He is in the town square uphill from the hotel... I'm sorry."
Lovely. Two town squares.
(BGII – 2)
We wade back into the crowd, huffing and puffing up the road to the OTHER town square.
Did I mention it was UPHILL? Yeah.
There are even more people up here, and we're moving through the crowd like we're on a mission from God.
We finally made it to the vehicle, threaded our way through the crowd and headed out to Colle... We were even ahead of the torch as it was making it's way downhill.
It was an uneventful trip on the way to Colle- I actually got to enjoy the trip and get a look at the scenery during the journey.
Mark, the sly bastard, got shotgun, so I was sitting in the jump seat in the back of the Lancia.
So... In Colle- we went through vehicle search fast and easy...
Vehicle search is the automotive version of Mag & Bag. The use mirrors to look under the car, they search the engine compartment (the bonnet), the trunk (the boot), and any other nooks and crannies they can find. The occupants are subjected to basic mag & bag procedures, or a pat down, or even a wanding (my personal favorite). Once the vehicle is searched it is allowed to enter the venue or compound.
We got all the way to the NBC Broadcast compound in Colle, loaded out our cases and were back on the road in record time.

Local Yokels
Heading back to Sauze D'Oulx... The driver decided to take the "low road" that goes back along the floor of the valley, rather than along the high road that we had taken from Oulx to Colle. Big mistake.
Just as we were getting into Cesana there was a police roadblock... Not the Carabinieri, the national police, but the local yokels. You know... Morons.
Needless to say, I started doing a quick mental inventory of all the stuff in my bag, toolkit and equipment case...The worst thing I could think of was the flask of Captain Morgan in my jacket pocket.
(Hair of the Dog, you know.)
Anyway- we get pulled over and the local police commence to putting the driver through the wringer.
In the end the issue wound up being that he (the driver) didn't have the original registration for the rental car. Now, I don't know about you, but if I ever get an original registration for a rental vehicle, it will be on Autotrader.com about 30 minutes after I leave the rental lot...
I don't think I've ever even seen a original registration in any kind of rental vehicle.
Anyway, we waste 30 minutes with the Polizia Locale Cesana and we are finally on our way again...
(BGII – 3)
We arrive in Sauze D'Oulx at Freestyle skiing...Mark’s venue.
Actually we arrive at the VSA at Freestyle... We start the process. We know that want to search the car. No Problem.
The 19 or so Carabinieri start to converge on us and one of the Olympic security guys comes to the driver and they have a short but spirited discussion in Italian...
At the end of the chat our status is as follows:
Mark is allowed in. His credential is good.
YT is permitted to enter the site. My creds pass muster.
The vehicle is OK to go in, it has the right sticker.
(...After it is checked for explosives, smallpox, anthrax, and whooping cough, of course.)
BUT... the driver is not allowed to go in the site- his creds don't permit him access.
Easy solution: I'll drive the car. Driver can wait outside the venue.
OK, but he has to check it out with his supervisor first.
A quick phone call is made- the answer is No. His supervisor had another solution...
The driver trudges up the road and goes to the Accreditation Office to get a day pass.
We wait...
15 minutes later, he's back. No pass. He cannot come in. (Why not? Who knows.)
Ok... Now Olympic Security Guy comes back and says that the car is not allowed in either.
(BGII – 5)
It wouldn't be a big deal, but the equipment cases are a bitch to roll, and the road to the NBC compound is unpaved and is currently a muddy mess. Let's go into resolution mode...
Mark places a call the tech manager to see if he can send a car out to pick him up out at the security checkpoint (Mag and Bag).
"No problem- sit tight and we'll get a car to you."
Ok... part one solved.
We leave Mark at Mag & Bag for FreeStyle.
(The last time I saw him, they (site security) were removing each piece of equipment from his equipment case and running it through the x-ray machine.
Thye funny part? The x-rayed everything EXCEPT the packing case which had 4" padding all around the equipment. They never checked the case, just the laptops and equipment inside. Definitely rocket surgeons workin' the Mag & Bag at Freestyle.)

One last thing on Mark- I had been sitting in the back seat of this Lancia, in a nice (hard, cold) vinyl seat. By the time we arrived back in Sauze D'Oulx, my ass had a terminal case of frostbite and knees were permanantly locked in a Z-formation.
After dropping off Mark I took shotgun and found that the front seat was a soft, luxurious HEATED Lay-Z-Boy recliner... Mark had been up in the front luxuriating in warmth and comfort... Revenge will be mine, Mark-old-buddy-old-pal...

Ok... On to Bardonecchia.
Well... Almost.

We went from Sauze D'Oulx to Oulx, basically just to the bottom of the hill, and pulled into a parking lot.
The driver explains:
"I can no longer drive."
Apparently there is an issue on how many hours you are allowed to drive, or some such other nonsense.
"It is not a problem, though... The are sending another driver from Sestriere."
"How long is that going to take?"
"He is already on his way. He will be here soon."
(BGII – 6 and I'm getting close to losing every bit of my oh-so-copious charm.)
We wasted another 40 minutes waiting for the new driver to arrive...
Finally the new driver, Matteo, shows up... We do a quick swap of keys, radios and paperwork and we are all off again.
Over the river and through the woods, up to Bardonecchia and then to Melezet.
(Melezet is the actual event location, Bardoneccia is nearest town to the venue.)

Finally- the light at the end of the tunnel...

We arrived at VSA to get into Snowboarding, and guess what? We weren't allowed in.
(BGII – 7)
Who's surprised? A show of hands... No one? Good. You're catching on.
Well... I was allowed in, but Matteo was not. My case was another story. Having seen they shenanigans they put Mark through, I was not going to go through that. No way.
I called the Tech Manager (Bruce Middleton, a gentleman and a scholar I knew from our days with the NBA on NBC together) to ask if they had a vehicle to pick me up.
He said he'd send it down in just a few minutes, and by golly, 4 minutes had elapsed and Simone (NBC's Runner) had arrived with the car and he helped me transfer equipment.
He took the car through VSA and I went through the regular M&B.
Then they dragged me back to the VSA because they wanted to look inside all my cases...
"No problem," says I, and we dragged them back out of the car and opened everything up. The asked the same questions I always hear-
“Who are you, Why do you need this, Who do you work for?”
I can see the finish line in sight now, so I answer all the questions, politely and with a smile...but the BGII was rapidly closing on 8...
Yes sir, no sir, yes sir...
They pass us on and we are rolling into the Broadcast compound...
Finish time: 3:05 PM, for a job that should have been through at 11:00 if the credentials were right, and there was no torch relay...
Really- it was a comedy of errors- none the fault of the Transportation department, or the drivers...I do fault the cops, and the clueless VSA goobers and their inability to stick to the long-ago agreed-upon procedures.

One last goodie:
When it was finally time for Mark to leave his venue, he called transportation for a vehicle. They said “No problem, 20 minutes.”
Twenty minutes passes and he gets a call from PDP.
“Your car has arrived.”
Excellent, he thinks- it will be down the road where they hold all the non-accredited vehicles that come to pick up staff.
He walks out of the graphics truck and the car is waiting at the foot of the stairs.
Inside the venue.
In the broadcast compound.
Without correct credentials for the driver or the car.
She just drove right in, no muss no fuss.

BGII Level 9.

I'm wondering if the roof of the hotel will do instead of a clock tower...

One final thing, the webcam is up when I'm in my hovel.

No, it doesn't refresh on its own... The pic changes every 60 seconds.
Hit F5 for a refresh.

TBG out...