Sunday, July 30, 2006


Frequently asked questions/ Frequently given answers.

(WTT edition)

1. Is the software finished?
2. Tennis? You're kidding, right?
3. Scoreboards? Who's going to set them up? Volunteers?
4. (You do know that tennis volunteers tend to be 50+ year old divorcees chasing the club pro...)
5. Paint, blood and teargas.
6. What's the temperature today? A hundred and WHAT?
7. They are supposed to be green and fuzzy.
8. 1-866-6??-5300. Tell them I told you to call.
9. Let me spell it out for you... "M-O-N-E-Y"
10. 3O3
11. Where is the closest Starbucks?
12. If the DJ plays House of Pain's "Jump Around" one more time, I'm gonna go strangle him with his mic cord...
13. What is the boiling point of silicone?
14. Captain & Coffee? Sure. Why not?
15. Do we have a match order yet?
16. No...Nothing is open here. You need to drive to Anaheim.
17. Where is the nearest Hooters?
18. She's not the waitress. She's a homeless woman who lives behind our dumpster.
19. Me, tennis isn't; You do.
20. Remember when I was complaining about the snow in Italy? I was wrong.
21. What software version is on this machine?!
22. No, collegen is for the lips, Botox is for the wrinkles.
23. I will NOT share my Ambien with you. Forget it.
24. Find me an umbrella or a sunshade, or I am going to kill everyone and everything within a 300 yard radius.
25. Don't try this at home, kids. I'm a professional.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

And another thing-

The IDS Help Desk, purveyors of fine support for the NBA, NHL, WTT tennis, and scorebugs and a plethora of other stuff... Ron, Jeff, Hector, Bill, Steve, Dave, Chris, Mark, Sam, Lafaro, Sean, Ryan, Jim, Claudia...are among the finest, most competent, and technically capable people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

They have many challenges to overcome on a daily basis, consisting of marginal software, a lack of training time, poorly tested systems, overly-high expectations and a lack of capable people in the field to work with.
Miracles performed immediately, the impossible requires 24 hour notice.

Even with some of these issues, the Help Desk guys work diligently to provide support and assistance in the face of impending deadlines and unrelenting pressure from outside influences.

Good work, guys.
(Even though in the heat of the battle I called one of them a ben tian sheng de yi dui rou...Dong ma?)

Famous out-

One more thing...

MY current addiction...

Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Coffee from Starbucks.

I get mine without whipped cream, but with an extra shot of espresso.

400 calories and a rollercoaster ride to hell in a 24oz plastic cup.

From the Starbucks nutrition (heh) calculator.

Serving Size 24 fl. oz.
Calories - 400
Fat Calories - 50
Total Fat (g) - 6
Sat. Fat (g) - 3
Trans Fat (g) - 0
Cholesterol (mg) - 20
Sodium (mg) - 340
Total Carbs (g) - 81
Fiber (g) - <1
Sugars (g) - 67
Protein (g) - 8
Vitamin A - 0%
Vitamin C - 0%
Calcium - 25%
Iron - 10%

* The nutrition information for beverages is based on Starbucks® beverage recipes. Because beverages are handcrafted, exact information may vary. Data is calculated using esha Research’s Genesis® R&D software, and rounded to meet FDA regulations. Data for vitamins and minerals refers to percentage of US recommended daily intake values.


Famous out-

Sacramento & Newport, again.

24 hours in Sacarmento-
In SAC at 11:30, a power-nap in the site parking lot under a tree,
in the rental car with the AC running full blast to keep the temp
a cool 75 degrees for an hour... Trying to catch up on just a little sleep.

Our WTT match was at 7:30 local time- I did some prep work to make breakdown go a little better, then we just killed time until the start of the match.

I spent a good amount of time price-comparing digital cameras, since I had lost mine at some point between 5 and 11 AM... It was either in my room in Newport, in the rental car in Newport, or at the TSA checkpoint in the OC airport.
I was resigned to getting a new one, and kicking myself in the ass for losing my favorite camera.

The match went off without a hitch- (good thing too...I was in no mood for shenanigans.)
No webcam this time for stuff like that...
The match ended just after 10:00pm- I started breaking down at 10:30, as soon as I could get enough room on the court to move the scoreboards and start pulling cables.
I wrapped the scoring table and packed it to be shipped, then Rick Farmer (the site manager) and I removed the wheels from the scoreboards and got them in the crates, padded for transport and I was off the site by 1:30AM...
I got pulled over by the Rancho Cordova police on the way to the hotel for suspicion of DUI...
I was on the wrong side of road on the way into the hotel- but it was because the lanes were poorly marked, and definitely not because of inebriation...after 45 minutes of discussion and debate I got a written warning and finally checked in to the hotel and got some blissful sleep.

I was out at 6:00AM and heading back to the Airport- I had to stop by the site and do one last check before departing, and I needed to agument my wardrobe- during breakdown the night before I had torn the only pair of cargo shorts I brought to Sacramento... I stopped at Target and set a new in-and-out record for a purchase- in at 8:01, back in the car with a new pair of shorts at 8:04.
When I refueled my rental car on the way to the airport I changed into the shorts in the bathroom at the gas station... I kinda missed the cool airflow the hole in the seat was providing, but since modesty and good taste are high on my personal priorities list, I decided to opt for propriety and discretion. Besides, I didn't want to scare anyone unnecessarily.

No delays this time, and although I didn't get a bulkhead/aisle seat, I did get a good seat about 12 rows back, and the woman in the window seat was a joy to chat with... A grandmother who was heading to OC to join up with her kids and grand kids for a flight to Cancun... She was a lot of fun and made the time pass quickly.

When I got off the flight, my cell phone jumped to life- Problems at the site... Hurry up and get to Palisades and get things fixed...
I got to the site by 2:00 and recitified the problems by 3:00 (urgency in resolution mandated by the 100+ degree temperature), then headed for the hotel for a power nap in the delightful Air Conditioning.
Back on site at 5:00- the 7:00pm match was played without issues and we were off-site by 11:00.

Here's the July Miracle: I had a day off.

That's right- no matches on Friday. No other city needing to be setup or broken down, just 24 hours of nothing.
I stuck the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and slept until 12:00, watched a couple DVDs. I went to Frys later in the afternoon and drooled on the esoteric hardware, and had a tasty dinner at Agora (link ), a Churrascaria near the hotel.
Tasty stuff at Agora, although it beats me why you name a Brazilian restaurant the Greek word for "market" (heh- "agora" in Portuguese means "now")... the food was phenomenal- especially the picana and the sirloin... The bacon-wrapped chicken was really moist and flavorful too...and the lamb.
If you're in the O.C.- check out Agora. Now. At the corner of Main and McArthur.

And good news! After many phone calls and pointed conversations and accusations with administrative officials at Avis, the TSA and the Crown Plaza Hotel, I have my camera back! The world is once again spinning in greased grooves.

It's a double header today... We have one match at 3:00pm, and another at 7:00pm. And the finals are tomorrow at 1:00pm. In the heat of the day...
( says 79 degrees at 2:00pm, like they know anything about the weather.)
We'll be breaking down by 5:00 or so.

Stay tuned for more WTT Fun.

Famous, out-

Southwest Airlines, Part 3.

I said I was going to go into this trip on Southwest with an open mind...

The tale of Flight 2211.

I had typed up a 3 page rant against Southwest Airlines, Santa Ana Airport, tennis events and frequent air travel. Most of it was typed with the assistance of Captain Morgan...
After proofing it yesterday, I decided that it was too full of bitterness, creative spelling, marginal grammar, lyrical profanity and general unreadability for public consumption.

I have decided to abandon that boatload of vitirol and disparagement against Southwest, SNA, tennis, Californians, Avis, hot weather, standing in lines, nomadic lifestyles, Starbucks, and the TSA...

Let me sum up...

Yadda yadda yadda, I still hate SWA,
blah, blah, blah, 2 hour-delayed flights,
Yadda yadda, it's %$@*&$ hot here in CA,
blah, blah, tennis sucks out loud.
yadda yadda, lost digital camera,
blah blah, body cavity search at SNA due to a misplaced screwdriver.

The only thing that deserves mention in detail are the folks in line with me for the flight on Wed AM...
They kept me from going completely postal and killing many many people...
Through their good humor I was able to keep my composure and actually survive the trip to Sacramento.
Thank you Lucille (and your partner-in-crime whose name I never got) from RK Properties , Harley Man, Jen and the girl whose bag we forgot when they made us change gates...

One other thing- this check-in procedure for Southwest bears a little scrutiny.
If you want an "A" boarding pass for SWA, you HAVE to do the on-line check-in, and you have to do it no less than 20 hours out from your flight.
For my 12:00pm flight on Thursday, I logged in as soon as I got to the site, 2:00pm on Wednesday, and I got a "B" boarding pass... I was the 65 person to check in for the flight.
Listen to your Uncle Jay- check in early, or be prepared to enjoy a middle seat in the back of the plane.

Enough said...

Famous out-

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Southwest Air, take 2.

Just a quick hit-

It was a bad experience this AM...
A 2 hour delay getting out of OC. Add the 2 hours that I arrived at the airport early-
Spent way too much time at the airport today.
Plus, Avis had no cars available-so I had to get a car from Alamo.
(Which means 30 minutes of paperwork.)

Oh... I can feel a rant coming on...

Why haven't you heard about the melt-down in the news?

Big Guy Kills 10 in Air Rage Incident- Film At 11:00

...because my fellow travelers kept me calm and sedated.

Smart folks, those ones...

More on this later...

Famous- out.

Escape from Indy, on to Cali.

(Out of the frying pan, into the fire.)

Look! Up in the sky!

It's a bird!

It's a plane!

It''s...a Toshiba Technorainbow video wall!

That's right, 4000 pounds of levitating hardware that would make one big hole in the pavement if one of the cables were to part...
(Astute readers will note that Yours Truly is nowhere near this beast while it is on the move...)

Breakdown in Indy was a slice of pie...
Play was over about 4:45 on Sunday afternoon... We had already loaded out the outside court alpha boards onto the truck earlier in the morning, so we were ahead of the came as the finals got underway.

We had 2 of our scoreboards that were heading to San Diego as cargo, one of our trucks was heading to Cincy, and the other was heading to Washington DC with the Video wall...

Polly and Matt handled wrapping up the TV Graphics equipment and cables, Glyn and Chris broke down the operations room, and Rich and I did the courtside equipment like the radar and the clocks. Once we wrapped up all the cables and the displays, we hit the Match Update center en-masse and wrapped that beast in record time.

The Match Update Center, A/k/a, The MUC.
And, if you haven't seen Hayes lately, he's the bald bastard next to the wall.

Next Matt and I undressed the video wall- taking apart everything that could be unplugged or unbolted or taken apart that wouldn't compromise the assembly...

We were way ahead of schedule, and thus were able to leave the site by just after 10:00.
A quick nosh in the restaurant in the hotel next door and we hit the sack- we had an early call on Monday... We had a rigger and a gaffer meeting us to help break down the video wall.

On the way out I saw one of the more bizarre sculptures I've ever seen...

I'm sure every city had a Deerwood, Deercreek, Deermeadows or something that the designer and landscaper decorate with a brass deer or two... Indy is no different...

But... I've never seen this kind of statue...

I just don't have the words to describe it...

7:00 saw us arriving with a vengeance- ready to put everything in the truck that wasn't nailed down...
The stagehands were on-time and we flew the walls and disassembled them without incident or injury.
We had to play "magic box" to get all the cases into the truck; they were packed carefully in order to distribute the load inside the truck so we'd have no trouble while going through the weigh stations on the highway...
(The truck was back-axel heavy on the way up, unsafe and marginally illegal, so we were taking care not to have it happen on the way to the next event.)
It took some loading and unloading, repacking and stacking, but in the end we were successful...

We were out of the site by 2:00- An hour under my estimate.
We headed back to the hotel.
The other guys had one more night in Indy-
Yours Truly was on a 6:00p flight to the OC... Again.

A quick shower later and I was heading to the airport - and guess what...
That's right, 2 upgrades... Indy to Houston and Houston to Orange County.
I skipped dinner on the first flight, thinking I'd get something in Houston or in OC, but a thunderstorm killed my extra time in Houston and they only served a snack on the second flight...Oh well...
I can survive missing a few meals...As a matter of fact, it wouldn't hurt me to miss a few more.
But I digress...

Back here in OC for the WTT match tonite,
Gave the entire system a good scrubbing today- got the speed displays taken care of...
They are looking good. The scoreboards are good...
And since things were going too well, the NBA had to call and ask about doing a USAB game in Las Vegas next week.
So... I'll be in Lost Wages for a couple days before my next gig in Montreal.

All is going smoothly here. The radar is working, Hawkeye is hawking, our scoring software is chugging away...

We'll be out of here by 10:30...
I have an early flight to Sacramento again... Southwest Air... And I'm going into this with an open mind...
We'll see how it goes.

Famous, out-

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rules of the Roadie

Spongemark Squarehands is over in France working on the LPGA Masters in Evian.
(From my tenure at this event: The Tale of Dirty Bill)
I got a message from him this afternoon, passing along some words of wisdom from Phillipe at Supervision, one of our suppliers over in Europe.

Rules of the Roadie- (Euro version)
Everything that is red, you drink.
Everything that is white, you sniff.
Everything that is green, you smoke.
Everything that moves, you screw.
Everything that does not move, you put in the truck.


Famous, out.

Quotes/Taken out of context - Indiana.

Glyn: "Get your happy ass down off there."
(to Matt)

Matt: "I couldn't keep from making eye-to-eye contact with her breasts."

Glyn: "Do you think the clock will work?"
Chris: "I don't know. I just found the controller in a bag full of water."

Chris: "I don't know what happened... As soon as he went to serve, it all turned red."

Anonymous: "Not &%#@$% Mexican again."

Chris: "We didn't get it."

Matt: "I wanna meet her. She sounds hot."
(Famous last words.)

Chris: Wow. Better not use that bathroom for about 20 minutes.

Chris: Don't take the back all the way off during play.
Rich: Screw it. I'm taking it off... Wait! It's working.
Chris: Hurry, put the back back on... Let's go.

Chris: I just saw Melissa again. *sigh*

Chris: Her outfit was an embarassment.
YT: What? I didn't know you were the IDS fashion plate.

Polly: He's not ready. Get him out of there. Call the bullpen and get another statistican warming up.
Chris: Hey- it's his first time. He needs the experience.

(Granted without Spongemark Squarehands, things are a little tame here...)

Wow. I'm gonna be rich.

(Danger: Sarcasm mode=on)

Look what I got in my e-mail today! I'm so so lucky this guy in Nigeria has mistaken me for some other poor fool, so I can take advantage of this opportunity. HooHa!

ATTENTION: I must confess it's a great pleasure to admit my impeccable gratitude to have you as my honored personality I am UGOCHUKWU HARRISON, AN ACCOUNT ADVISER to Late Engr.Jim Watton ,a national of your country, who used to work with shell Development company in Nigeria.
Here after shall be referred to as my client. The fatal Planecrash which occured in Kanu On Saturday, 4 May, 2002 expires the entire family of my client.
Click on link below to view clips of incident:
Since then I have made several inquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives which proved unsuccessful.
After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track his last name over the Internet, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you. I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the money and property left behind by my client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by the entire management of GLOBAL BANK PLC.
This huge deposits that valued at about $32.2million US Dollars was lodged Particularly with GLOBAL BANK PLC (NIG) here in my branch. The GLOBAL BANK Managements has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have his account confiscated. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 2 years now I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased so that the proceeds of this account valued at $32.2million US Dollars can be paid to you and then you and I can share the money,60% to me while 40% to you,while every necessary documentation that will be needed to back up this claim will be procured by an attorney here whom we shall employ during this transaction...

Damn shame about Uncle Jim... Sure, UGOCHUKWU HARRISON, I'll send you a photocopy of my passport and a power-of-attorney for my bank accounts so you can wire this money to my account.


Anyone who would ever fall for one of these schemes has got to be the most criminally-minded, unintelligent, greedy idjit... And oddly enough, it seems like people fall for this kind of scam all the time.

Click here for more info.

Famous, out-

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's Thursday. This must be Indy.

Let's get caught up on current events...

I came up to Indianapolis to help out at the RCA Championships.
They are using one of our new videowalls here and I need to get familiar with it's setup and operations, since I'll be installing one in Montreal in a couple weeks.

Getting up here was pretty good-
An early flight on Northwest... I even got an upgrade on the flight due to my FF status w/ Continental. It was Jax-Detroit-Indy... I was able to wrangle the bulkhead-aisle for the DTW-IND flight, so all in all, good travel.
My bags and equipment made it ok too, wonder of wonders.

After my railing against Southwest last week I had to stop and analyze my comments...
I said some harsh things about SWA... And really my problem isn't with SWA as much as it is with the mentality of the SWA passengers.
The flight itself was good, the people were very nice, and the equipment (planes, seats, etc) were all good. What makes it a burden to fly is the extremes you have to go through in order to get a good seat.
(And in reality the regular seats are probably ok...the seats seem to be comfortable and the legroom looks to be better than the coach seats in Delta or American...)

Anyway... I have to take that same flight from OC to Sacramento next week, so I'll try to keep an open mind on things.

Indy- Man, it is hot here.
Actually it has been hot everywhere...but it seems like everywhere I have been lately it has just been steaming. 104 in Sacramento, high 90s in Newport Beach, Same in Jacksonville Beach...
Here in Indy, as we were setting up this morning the thermometer on the Stadium Court read 100 degrees even. We were out there working on the radar displays and the matrix boards- I was melting out there. I don't know how these guys are able to play hardcore tennis for upwards of two hours (including practice and warm-up) in this heat...

The new Toshiba video walls are really nice- and the hardware we have driving them- the new processor and the Folsum... all I can say is "Wow". Nice to work with new state-of-the-art equipment.

North End Wall

South End Wall

Breakdown should be interesting... We'll start tomorrow with our loadout from some of the outer courts. Sunday we'll have 2 matches and around 5:00 or so we'll start really tearing things up. I'll be taking care of most of our video equipment and then getting the video wall ready to come down... We'll have most stuff ready and staged for the trucks by 10:00PM and then at 8:00 AM sharp we'll have our crane and operator on-site and we'll start breaking down the Video Walls on the Stadium Court...
What fun.

I'm here in Indy with a bunch of the Event Staff Guys...
Chris and Glyn, Matt and a few others.
Night before last we stopped in the "International Plaza" of the event site.
I had a rum & coke or two- the guys were drinking beer-
I wasn't up for a long night out and bailed early.
Last night, however... Different story.
We got out at a reasonable hour- Left the site at 10:30 and had a little dinner.
At... you guessed it- Hooters.
I got in there at about 11:00- the place was dead... Odd, for a Thursday Night in Indy.
The problem: No AC. Their air conditioning system has been down for about a month now.
Needless to say, it was not a wondeful thing. The waitresses were surly and the overall atmoshpere was not jovial...
I had a small plate of wings and got out as soon as I could.
I called Chris and he said he and the other guys were on the way out to a club near my location- Ike & Jonsey's.

The place was packed...
I jumped into the Captain and Coke- and as soon as the boys arrived they followed suit. Matt got smacked around within minutes of his arrival for wearing his hat backwards...
(I guess they thought he was a gang banger or something.)
This is odd, because Matt's 23(?) and looks like he's about 16 years old...

Glyn and Matt -
Tell me Matt looks like he's over 21, and I'll call you a liar.

Speaking of Matt- he's has the honor of being part of the quote of the week...

An overly well-endowed girl (her cups runneth over) was passing us on the way off the dance floor...
Matt: "Hey- it's my birthday. How about a birthday hug?"
WE Girl:"Ok." (*Hug*)
Matt: "How about a birthday kiss?" (Pushing his luck.)
WE Girl: "Depends, How old are you?"
Matt: "How old are you?"
WE Girl: "I'm thirty."
Matt: "Oh- Cool. I've always wanted to hook up with an older woman."

Subtle, Matt. Very clever.

And for those keeping score:
No... No happy ending.

We headed off to Howl at the Moon for a bit following Matt's crash and burn at Ike and Jonseys...
The place was packed- there was a $5 dollar cover charge, and it was 5 dollar bucket night. 5 bucks got you a bucket with 5 bottles of warm Coors Light.
Oh goodie.
I had one with the guys then bailed...probably 1:30 or so.

Everyone showed up at 10:15 for our ride into work, so I guess they didn't stay out too much longer...

Just a few more items-

Another goodie from Wondermark...

Reminds me of mischief-making down in the Tortugas.

And for those who still get the giggles from my resemblance to the guy in "American Wedding"...
(You know who you are- the folks that walk by my door and go "Grrar!")
Here's a little something from Married to the Sea...

Ok- back to work with you...
You've wasted enough time.

Famous, out-

Sunday, July 16, 2006

World Cup

The REAL reason Argentina was eliminated in the World Cup...

And on that note....
By popular acclaim, Uncle Famous brings you

The Girls of World Cup 2006

Warning! Aviso! Nota Bene! Be Advised! Avertissement! Προειδοποίηση!
This page is what some would call Not Safe For Work, others might
refer to viewing it as a CLM - (a Career Limiting Move)
Those of you that would not get a chuckle out of what people do
to draw attention to themselves at sporting events had best click here, otherwise you might be offended. Ghod knows, we wouldn't want that, would we?

In any case, you have been warned.

Famous, out.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Can you hear the arteries hardening?

I was recently reading through my list o' interesting blogs when I ran across a message full of random coments and statements by a girl named Jess in Memphis.
(A weblog full of Good Stuff, reminding me of my days as a DJ...)

One of her comments was "Why is being healthy more expensive than being out of shape and eating poorly?"

Excellent question.

I gave her a somewhat flippant answer in a comment I left, but I caught a commercial as I was flipping through the tube tonight and it bears some examination in regards to Jess' commentary.

The object in question:

KFC's Famous Bowl.

Have you seen this goodie?

From KFC's Website:
"Freshly prepared with layers of your KFC favorites - a generous serving of our creamy mashed potatoes, sweet kernel corn, bite size pieces of all-white meat crispy chicken, topped with our homestyle gravy and 3-cheese blend.
All the KFC favorites you know and love served in a convenient easy-to-eat bowl!"

St. Herbert Tarnower on a jumped-up pogo stick!

This thing is so bad for you, KFC won't put it on their (ha ha) nutritional calculator... The monstrosity must ring in at over 2500 calories... And the sodium and fat in this baby... Oooo doggie! It's a heart attack in a bowl...

This thing (and things like it) are exactly the reason, Jess...
"All the KFC favorites you know and love served in a convenient easy-to-eat bowl!"

Hey America, stop by KFC on your way down to your pharmacy to get that refill for Lipitor.

Amazing, out (to lunch) -

Blog Profile: The Mad Tea Party

"'The time has come,' the Walrus said, 'To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings.'" --Tweedledee; "Through the Looking Glass"

Thus reads the opening of the weblog "The Mad Tea Party"...

The March Hare is the hostess of this little slice of the Web.
A devout Roman Catholic and a perpetual Girl Scout* with excellent taste in books and music.
She profiled Yours Truly in her 'blog and since no good turn ever goes unpunished, I'm returning the favor.
A girl who likes Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, Lewis Carroll, and a wide variety of SciFi and Fantasy authors can be forgiven her geographical abberations, and her well-thought-out literary reviews are very insightful.

I've read through her archives and followed the trials and tribulations of The Hare and her family living in No. California... She seems a little too "Red State" to be comfortable there, but home is where you hang your hat, and they seem to have found a good place to hang theirs.

“'But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.'
'How do you know I’m mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,” said the Cat. 'or you wouldn’t have come here.'”
-- Alice & The Cheshire Cat; "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Explore the March Hare's House...
If you don't like it, you must be mad.


(Edit note: I originally said she was an ex-Girl Scout, but I stand corrected- Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout... at least that's the way it is for The (wild) Hare.)

Friday, July 14, 2006


World Teamtennis - Sacramento Capitals

Sacramento was HOT... I mean it was smokin'!
It was so hot, I saw Satan hisself in Lowes trying to buy an oscillating fan...
Seriously, When I got to the tennis site at 11:30 it was 104 degrees.
I did some prework, took a good look around the site then got the hell out.
I quickly found a bar and immersed myself in a huge rum drink and watched the World Cup Finals match... Hunter and I traded SMS messages all afternoon during the game...
(There is a nice Caribbean-themed bar/restaurant on Sunrise in Citrus Heights called Barbacoa Breeze. Good music, tasty food... Definitely worth a stop.)
When the game was over I headed to the hotel- Much better than the Motel 6- it was a Marriott- (Ranch Cordova, for those keeping score.)

My equipment arrived the next morning and I spent the rest of the day putting the scoreboards in place and running my cables...
I arranged to have scoreboards placed with adequate clearspace for crowd entry/egress. I also discussed possibility for installing castor wheels on scoreboards as the Fire Marshall had already made a visit to the site and warned them about the need for emergency exits from the court.
I installed the ad panels and did the scoring position setup and testing.

I headed over to Fry's Electronics to pick up some pieces and parts...

(If you don't know Fry's, man, you need to get out to California and visit one... What a cool place. Imagine Best Buy on Nerd Steroids... All the cool parts, pieces, tools, gewgaws, knicknacks, and doodads... It is truly Nerd-vana...)

When I came out of the store I noticed I had a flat tire...
Did I mention it's &^%$ng hot here? Like 100 degrees?

I called Avis roadside assistance...just to explore the possibilities...
(Note to frequent renters- call from a local phone. Save yourself 20 minutes of bull$#|+... the Roadside Assistance system had number recognition and will route you to the facility for your area code/exchange...Forget that when you give them your Rental Agreement Number they know you rented the car at the airport in Sacramento...
Hence this conversation:
Roadside Assistance: "So, you have a flat tire. Where exactly are you?"
Yours Truly: "I'm on Northgate Ave near I-80."
RA: "Hmmm. Northgate? Don't you mean Gateway on I-95?"
YT: "No.. I'm in Sacramento, just off I-80."
RA: "Are you sure? You're calling from a Jacksonville exchange."
YT: "Uh, yeah. I'm calling from my cell phone."
RA: Long pause as the concept took hold.
RA: "Okay... So... can you call back from a payphone? That way the call will be routed to the correct office."
YT: "You must be kidding.")

I changed the tire myself and took the car back to the Airport and got a new car.

Dinner? Glad you asked. I went to Hooters on Truxel...
(Alas, it was a franchisee, so I didn't get to have Cajun wings. Almost ruined my night.)

The next morning I went back to the site and the scoreboards had been put on wheels.


Large scratches on the court surface in front of one of my scoreboards.


Green court surface residue on the top of my ad panel...

Double Hmmm.

A closer inspection shows that north end scoreboard had been dropped.
(No one volunteered any info, and short of accusing malfeasance, I let the matter lie since testing showed no permanent damage. Re-seated digit displays and tested the hardware... It all seemed OK.
I believe the Ops guys lifted the scoreboard with forklift in order to install the wheels, and accidently dropped it.

I had good rapport with these guys and didn't want to endanger it by accusations and recriminations, so I just filed the pictures in my Pearl Harbor folder and went about the business of Tennis Scoring.

The girl that had been tasked with scoring operations showed up at 12:00 and I gave her some Special High Intensity Training...

She's pretty sharp- looks like she won't have any problem handling the system.
By the way, I need to mention the SHE'S ONLY 17. Get your collective minds out of the gutter.

I was running my webcam during the day, for the benefit of the guys beck in the Help Desk...

Kaitlin- Scoring Volunteer Extraordinaire.

Kaitlin and one of her partners in crime, little sister...

A message for Chris Crews of the Help Desk.

The obligatory girls-in-the-crowd shot.

The event was a breeze- no problems, no real issues.
I was out by 11:00-
I grabbed a burger at the In-N-Out Burger on Sunrise and was blissfully asleep by 1:00.
I slept like a baby.

I even wet the bed.

Noon flight the next day...

Back on Continental, I tried for a bulkhead seat- No joy.
But, the Patron Saint of Frequent Flyers, Saint Shaniqua, smiled upon me and the gate agent brought me an upgrade just before they closed the door...
Bulkhead row in business class. I must be living right.

The movie was the Pink Panther...
Not too shabby. Steve Martin did a reasonable job with the character...
I probably like the original better- Sellers (rest his poor demented soul) did a much better Clouseau- not quite so over-the-top.
Still, the movie was enjoyable, though.
And it killed the 3 hours to Houston admirably.

IAH to Jax- Another upgrade and a walk in the park...

(Hey- Continental is serving soup in Biz Class for Lunch and Dinner these days.
Corn chowder on the first flight and a really good cream of mushroom on the second.)

I was back in the humidity-laden air of North Florida by 10:30p...

An hour later, a large spotted dog was digging her tonenails into my chest and clearing the end tables with her wagging tail.
A fine welcome home.

Famous, out.

Flight time

Boy, I hate Southwest Airlines.

Getting from John Wayne Airport in OC to Sacramento was a pain in the ass...
There was a dearth of choices to get from SNA to SMF. In the end, I was forced
(at gunpoint) to take Southwest Airlines.
(I have to tall you, I'm not a fan of cattle-car airlines. I know the drill though, that in order to get a good seat, you have to be in line early... So 24 hours before my flight, I checked in on-line. Then, with my flight leaving at 9:30, I arrived right at 7:00. Actually on the SWA website the recommended arrival time for SNA was 90 minutes before the flight... So there I was.
I got checked in- dropped my bags and went to the gate to wait.
(From the "It's a small World Department: I ran into Eddie Okuno from ABC/ESPN at the airport... We had a small chit-chat in regards to the NBA pre-season games, especially the games in Europe and in Japan. More on those events later.)

Gate 2 had a flight departing to Las Vegas before the Sacramento flight...

(Something odd there- there were 9 (count 'em, 9) people in wheelchairs, and at least 8 more folks in walkers or otherwise impaired enough to need an appliance to get around that were on the flight to Las Vegas... Hope the casinos are ADA compliant... Looks like a fun time in Vegas this week, maybe an octogenarian quadrapelegic convention at Harrahs? Appearently SWA is THE airline for Mobility-impaired Seniors traveling to throw their children's inheritence away.)

Anyway- after the Vegas flight departed, I staked out the first position in the "A" group, and defended it with the gusto of a hound dog...
The line for the A group built quickly and occasionally some savvy Southwest traveler would try to jump to the front by trying to stand around the corner from where I was heading up the line, intending to jump out at the last second.
Unfortunately for them, I was pissed off enough for having to ride on SWA that I had no problem confronting these idiots.
Reading the body language was easy...
I sat with my crossword puzzle and watched as people walked up the the gate and then saw the 35 or so people in line for the "A" group, then they would look around the waiting area to see how they could find a way to circumvent going to the back of the line. I watched them look up and down the line, look back at their ticket, then at the large "A" sign directly over my head, then try to nonchalantly stand by the wall between the gate and the front of the line...
"Excuse me..." I would start.
"Do you have an A boarding pass?"
"Uh... Yes."
"Then the end of the line is back there... All these people took special effort to get to the airport early so they could get in line according to Southwest's established procedures... I doubt they would take kindly to someone making up their own rules in order to improve their chances for a prime seat, thus negating their proactive measures."
The Queue Jumper would sheepishly move to the back of the line, usually muttering something about Neo-Nazi air travelers and I-paid-my-money-too...

One woman was really blantant... A woman of about 35, well dressed, attractive, walked up about 10 minutes before loading time. She stood next to me and asked if this was the A group line. (Like she couldn't see the sign or something...) then asked a few other inane questions (Do you fly out of here often?) as she sat her bags down.
I finally turned to her and asked if she had an "A" boarding pass...
She held it up so I could see it.
"Well.. you're in the right place, but at the wrong end of the line. The end of the line is back there-" I said, hooking my thumb over my shoulder.
She had a stunned look- like I had slapped her with a mackerel.
Apperently the "Chatting up a spot in line" method usually works pretty good for her, alas, she had come up against someone who is impervious to her feminine charm.

The guy next to me, who had arrived about 2 minutes after I got my spot in line, shook his head in amazement.
"People never cease to amaze me."
I don't know if he was talking about me, or her. Personally, I don't care.
I got the bulkhead seat on the aisle... Exactly what I wanted.
The flight was short and uneventful, and I even got my bags in almost record-time.

I still hate Southwest Airlines.

Famous out-

Fruits, Nuts and Flakes.

Newport Beach California

The Event- World TeamTennis

Man. Every time I go to Southern California it makes me so happy to be back in Florida. You have no idea.
(I'm sure the folks in California are happy I'm out of their state too...Especially the CHP Troopers and the waitstaff at Barbacoa Breeze on Sunrise in Citrus Heights.)

First the airline report- I got upgrades on both legs of the outbound flight...
Since it was 7.5 hours, I was ecstatic about that...
The movie on the IAH to SNA flight was "Take the Lead" with Antonio Bandaras, which I had no desire to watch. I read my magazines and did a crossword or 3.
My next flight was on Southwest in a couple days...and I was dreading that.

Newport Beach was interesting, to say the least. Right in the heart of the OC...
And it also further confirmed "Uncle Jays California Breast Hypothesis" which states, a) All women in Southern California get breast implants between the ages of 17 and 22
and b) the more physically unattractive the woman, the bigger the implants.
(Hence, the girls with the largest implants should not be looked upon without eye protection.)

Palisades Tennis Club was a nice, if tiny, facility... the people were ok, but they have some strange ideas about running a tennis tournament...(The tournament-supplied beverage for the volunteers that were working out in the sun all day? Warm, damn near hot, Gatorade.)

Just out of curiousity how many handicapped spaces does a TENNIS facility need.

There are 15 handicapped spots in the main lot.
That ADA compliance officer has been working overtime here...

Aside from one small hiccup with the forklifts- (There were two delivered instead of one) setup went ok...
The Internode is a little iffy- sometimes it's up, and sometimes, well, not so much...
The volunteer who is working the scoring table is pretty young, but hopefully he'll be OK.
(Note on 7-14, Based on the last few event days, things have not gone so well for Newport Beach- The Interwub has been hosed several times, and they have had some issues with other parts of operating the software... Not pretty.)

And the real capper for this part of the trip-
What stellar accommodations did the tournament place us in?
Motel 6.
(But in fairness, they did leave the light on for us...)

Onward- to Sacramento

Amazing out-

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Other random stuff.

Some things that have been piling up in my "To be blogged" folder...


I hear they will be replacing the composting toilets
down in the Tortugas with this new Japanese* unit.
(*Those crafty sandal-wearing goldfish tenders...)

Looks very, uh, helpful.

From the "Duh. Like, I didn't know that." Department:

Do the math.

Actually, the verse goes something like "The love of money is the root of all evil."
But the math still works...

Very topical with the "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" coming out the weekend....

Basically, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature. This has as much scientific validity as alot of the crap that gets attention from the liberal media these days...

And finally, a question for Mark Moore...

When is Sombrero Night?


Recent Words of Wisdom and Questions for Pondering:

Whose sadistic idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

For Anna on the Sunny Days ferryboat:
"People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them."
(Anna got pissed with me as she was proselytizing her form of Christianity when I brought up the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the manifesto thereof.)

Read more about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Don't confuse your career with your life.

You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

It is suggested that you should never say anything to a woman that even remotely implies that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

A person, who is nice to you, but rude to a waiter, is not a nice person.
(This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

Learned while traveling in China:

While travelling the rural areas of third-world countries, you may come across some very primitive toilet situations. To mask unpleasant odors, carry a mentholated chap stick and rub it under your nose before using the facilities.
(This could save your olfactory senses, and perhaps your life.)

Famous, out-

The Bookstore

The Bookstore.
The bane of my existence. Even though I spent as little time as possible in this prison cell, it was still a font of humor, frustration, ill-will, amusement and sometimes even amazement.

Inside the Fort Jefferson Visitor Center there is a small (5' tall) doorway with a sigh overhead reading "BOOKSTORE" along with a sign that says "LOW ENTRY - Watch your head".
(Even with the warning, at least once a day someone would hit their head on the top of the doorway. Heh.)

Imagine, if you will, a 12' by 12' room with postcards, refrigerator magnets, navagational charts, t-shirts and one whole wall filled with books.
Further imagine a large, hot, irritable, ogre seated behind the desk within.
("Hot" as in roasting, not "Hot" as in sexually desirable. Quite the opposite, actually.)

Joe (or Josephine) Visitor looks inside, glances around, sees the ogre and asks the inevitable question:
"Is this the bookstore?"
Yon ogre has little patience for repitition. Hence, when the 3rd or 4th visitor walks (ducks) into the above-described room and asks "Is this the bookstore?" you can imagine the response.
(Complaint forms are over on the table near the window. Please be specific about HOW he pissed you off.)

Oh, we get all kinds of questions in the bookstore...

See the t-shirt display? The one that has the prices, the t-shirt sizes, compositional makeup, and the request not to open the packages? You see it there, next to the display shirt showing the pretty design featuring the Fort, non-existent sea grape and palm trees, terns and other colorful flora of Garden Key...

Clueless Visitor: "How much are the t-shirts?"
Ogre in Bookstore: "Please see the sign- 17.99, 19.99 for 2XL."

CV: "Do they shrink?"
OiB: "See the sign. They are pre-shrunk."

CV: "What are they made out of?"
OiB: "The sign says cotton."

CV starts to unwrap one of the t-shirts from the stock shelf.
OiB: "Please don't do that."
CV: "But I wanted to see what the design looks like."
OiB: "It looks like the one *right there* on the display."

Clueless Visitor continues looking around the store...

Clueless Visitor 2 wanders in... Looking around carefully.
The Ogre has seen this one too...

CV2 is holding a soda can or water bottle or some other trash.

CV2: "Uh... Do you have a trash can?"
OiB: "No... The trash can you are looking for is out in the sally port, next to the sign that says "NO FOOD OR DRINKS INSIDE FORT"
CV2: "Oh. Uh. Thanks." and sheepishly departs.

The original CV has another question...

CV: "Do you have any books here?"
OiB: "Is this a trick question?" indicating the entire wall of books, with subjects ranging from Marine Science to Botany, from Historical biographies of the Lincoln conspirators to the construction of Bastions and armament design. Books on fish, birds, marine life and Florida wildflowers. Different field guides for everthing from saltwater fishes to astronomy.
Do we have books? Does a cripple crab crawl?
CV: "Oh. I didn't see them."

Oh the questions we get...

- How do you get here in the morning?

- Do you live out here?

- What do you eat out here?

- How do you cook your food?

- Do you sleep in the campground?

And not just the personal questions... Sometimes the questions are downright weird.

- Where can I rent a speargun? I want to shoot some lobsters I saw out in the coaling docks.

- Can I rent one of those yellow carts? I'm too tired/it's too hot to walk around the Fort.

- Where is the best diving? (I usually answer "Australia".)

- Can you shoot the fish with your gun? (Asked of one of the Law Enforcement rangers)

The bookstore and ersatz "giftshop" often gets interesting requests for odd items...

- Where is your drink cooler? (Usually a camper or a visitor on a private boat)

- Do you sell ice? (Same as above)

- Is there ANY way to get a perscription filled here? (This confused me horribly. Like I was going to whip up some Darvocet out of buttonwood and casurina bark or something.)

- Can you give me a razor? I cannot be seen in my swimsuit until I shave! (She points at her armpits and groin.)
(This came from Niki Ryan, who in the 3 years she worked in this loony bin saw *everything*.)

And the infamous question:

- What time does the self-guided tour start?

Ah, the Bookstore.

Good times, good times.

Famous, out-

Leaving DRTO

Hi Kids...

Sorry about the delay, it's been crazy here.
Trying to get caught up with 3 weeks worth of progress in the office... I'm just getting the low-down on most of the current projects and other upcoming events, some of which I am heavily involved in/with.
Have you ever noticed when you aren't in the event meetings because you are elsewhere (i.e "on vacation") you wind up being assigned the not-quite-so-nice tasks, or cut out of tasty assignments...?
Oh well... My turn in the barrel, I guess. Not a bad exchange for 3 weeks on Garden Key.
No matter how small the accommodations, it is still a great place to live for three weeks.

Cozy Quarters- you see the picnic table on the second level? that's where the volunteers live.
Great view, itty-bitty living space.

The visitors, however... But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Speaking of which...

Let's see... How about the last few days in the Tortugas?...

Lots of fun things going on. Like the girl from Virginia, Olivia, and her boyfriend John who were fishing off the dock and caught a remora...
One of the guys that was hanging about suggested that she stick her arm out and let it adhere itself to her...
Hilarity ensued, along with a rather suspicious-looking hickey.

Good times, good times.

A shark was also dragged in by one of the local fishermen... About a 4 foot nurse shark.

Yours Truly examining the tag in the front dorsal fin.

There's a bunch of Mote Marine Labs shark researchers working out at the Fort right now. It's silly season for the nurse sharks out there. Nothing like spending hours sitting on a ladder getting your jollies watching 8' long nurse sharks makin' whopee.

Let's see...

We had a bunch of heavy equipment show up out at Ft. Jeff... A tractor, backhoe and a boomlift- Moving some structures from the helicopter pad to the North Coaling Dock, and re-plumbing the diesel lines from the main dock to the disel storage tanks.
As they were taking the equipment off the LST/Barge, it lost power and steering and slewed sideways and almost took a big bite out of one of our visitor's boats.

I watched from a distance. No way was I getting tangled up in this fiasco...

On a lighter note, it seems like several people didn't like the way I handled some issues that cropped up during my last week at the Fort...
I know that the owners of the Yankee Freedom got a 4-page letter that outlined what horrible treatment some campers got while out at the Park. The crew, who recieved a reprimand from their owners of their company, said that Yours Truly was mentioned several times in the course of the letter for "conduct unbecoming..." or some such other horseshit...
Another group were really miffed at the way I dealt with their nocturnal change-of-address... It was too hot in their campsite, so they decided to move out to the beach so they might catch a breeze.
(Hey, if it's too hot for you, stay your ass in Key West in your air-conditioned hovel.)
I rather unceremoniously told them to get their tent and stuff off the beach immediately (no profanity, wonder of wonders, eh?) otherwise I would make sure every one of them got a ticket for a closure violation.

Another group took pains to press every one of my buttons while they camped for two nights. Within 10 minutes of arriving, they were arguing about established policies and how they hadn't been covered on this and that issue, and how they didn't have to pay their fees, and why had they been forbidden to bring anything to cook with, etc.
Everthing was a struggle with these people, and then they bent or broke every rule established for the safety and well being of the visitors and the Park-
They threw a load of garbage in the composting toilets, which I had to then go fish out of the muck and mire in the holding tank of the facility. (Do you think I was pissed about that? You have no idea....)
Yours Truly:"Do you remember the camper Orientation? What part of 'ONLY human waste and OUR toilet paper goes in these toilets' did you not understand?"
Pain-in-the-ass Camper:"Oh. We thought, since they were composting toilets we could throw our orange peels and other food trash down there. Sorry."
They hung all their towels in my poor pitiful trees... They borrowed a kayak and were paddling around the swim area.
YT:"Didn't you see the sign that said 'No Boats'?"
PITA Camper: "But this is a kayak."
I was having a hard time supressing the urge to find powder and shot to load one of the Rodmans up on the top of the fort to blow that silly SOB out of the water. Not killing this group took every bit of my self-control, and drove me to the very end of my charming demeanor.

My replacements showed up and we had them trained in no time at all...
On Thursday morning I bartered a seat on the deadhead run of the first seaplane of the day and was back in Key West by 9:30AM...
(Sorry no pics. I thought I had left my camera during the rush to get to the plane.)
When I got off the plane, I was confronted by the guy I had yelled at for moving his tent out onto the beach. WTF?
Chuck and Eloise were giving me a ride from the airport to my car and as we were loading up, this guy (who works at the local FBO at EYW) confronts me...
"Hey man. I really didn't like how you handled the situation the other day down at Ft. Jefferson."
It took a second then I figured it out... He and his buddies had taken the weekend off and had come out to the Fort in their boat. I let him have his say, how he took offense, and didn't like my attitude... Well... Maybe I was a bit heavy handed, but like I told him, the first few times, I can be somewhat diplomatic about transgressions... After the 20th time, you're going to get the Hammer.
Besides... this guy is a local- he should have known better than to pull that kind of stunt down there.
(God I hope they goes back down there and pull that stunt again soon. Ranger Trep is back in town, and these guys will be up to their eyeballs in federal violation citations before they can say "Boy howdy".)

It is just amazing... The only people who complain about how they are treated are the ones who get yelled at/ticketed/in trouble for violations of the rules.

After this little exchange I have formulated the following theory:

Trying to educate visitors to the Dry Tortugas is like trying to light a wet cigarette...on a rollercoaster...with a childproof a thunderstorm...with no thumbs.

Anyway- Back in KW- Retrieved Physalia, had lunch and did a couple errands...
I was on the road before 2:00 and got back into Jax by 11:00Pm...
One really long day, that one...

Amazing- back in the saddle.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Out of date.


The webcam pic is out of date...
I'm not sitting at the park HQ office in the Dry Tortugas anymore.

As we speak I'm putting together a series of posts covering the last week in in the Tortugas
including "Tales From Hell's Bookstore", "Olivia and Remora", "The Complainer's Tales" (a/k/a "You Can't Fire Me, I'm A Volunteer") and many more.

Stay tuned, constant readers.

Amazing, out.