Monday, August 31, 2015

Just for the Record

(Just spent several hours enjoying "hospitality" at Beijing Capital Airport.)

I am getting to the point that I hate airports, airlines, airport personnel, airline employees, airline passengers, aircraft, and air travel in general.

I'd take the train everywhere if I hadn't found bedbugs on me during the trip on Amtrak in February...

Time for some serious decision-making.

More in 15 to 17 hours.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back to Beijing - IAAF World Champs 2015

(Like Famous the Tam is wont to say, I hate using good stuff at an away game.
I had to write up the my current tasking here for Oculus, the company newsletter; 

Since I wrote it, I have no issue with reproducing it here... Enjoy.)

Has it really been seven years?
Yes … Just seven years ago, the Olympic Green in Beijing was simply awash with my co-workers.

StAss the Mad Russian, Chief Propeller Head, Ty, Ben (no longer) in Florida, The Apostle, Spongemark, SGK, and a host of others in addition to your humble correspondent were dispatched far and wide over Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.
(For some of those tales, head to the left of the page and navigate to Aug of 2008, or click the Olympic tag to see all of that content)

Ah, yes- the agonizingly slow buses to the shoebox-like accommodations, the thorough and very invasive security pat-downs to get in and out of event spaces, the insane traffic as we tried to go from site to site or to see the local attractions, and of course, the spectacle of the opening ceremonies. Good times...good times...

Fast-forward to August 2015, and we (and by we, I mean yours truly, the lone survivor from the Battle of Beijing) are back in the Celestial Kingdom, and once again courting heat stroke, black lung disease and food poisoning as we provide stats interfacing for the Really Big American Network broadcast for the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in the National Stadium (国家体育场北京 aka the Bird's Nest). The former Olympic sites are a little faded and dusty, but the Water Cube and the other structures around the former Olympic site are still very recognizable.

Your humble correspondent is the boots-on-the-ground in Beijing, with very capable tele-support provided back in Florida by St.Ass and  The Apostle. This World Championship is basically a pre-Olympic event, a warm-up if you will, for the Rio Olympics in August 2016.

I had a bit of a scare in the days leading up to departure for the event … The container of equipment for the event was on-site in the port of Tainjin when a warehouse full of chemical and explosives blew up. I was sitting on the edge of my seat to find out if the container was OK. A backup plan was put in place where I would hand-carry the equipment in case the container was damaged, lost or destroyed.

The word came down the day before I left Jacksonville that the container had arrived in Beijing and all was well. (I brought the backup equipment anyway, because you never know.)

On arrival, I found the pre-shipped equipment was in pristine condition. I wish I was in as good condition after the 25 or so travel-hours it took to me get here.


There is a huge parade and showcase for Chinese militaria next week in front of Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City, in celebration of the anniversary of the victory over Japanese aggression (not kidding).
They are practicing different aspectds of how they will be screwing up basic services and inconveniencing everyone this week... We got caught in a traffic holdup and after waiting on a freeway offramp for 45 minutes and a van with no A/C, I said Adios MotherF'er and walked to the site... Ain't nobody got time for this.

There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I set up a Teamviewer app and was running my systems from the bar in the hotel, in order to avoid the traffic and the roasting highways.
No truth at all. None. Nothing to see here... Just move along.

I said move along. Now go.


My real workstation at the Birds Nest....

So China   Much exotic    Very Broadcast   Amaze.
There is a little Easter egg here that a few folks caught. So worth it.
The TIS Virus lives!!

A funny story: Everyone knows that the Silk Street Market is a six-floor building dedicated to separating tourists from their money in exchange for counterfeit or poorly made knock-offs of name-brand merchandise and mass-produced tchotchkes and gewgaws.

First-timers are cautioned not to go alone, or at least to be very wary of any deal that seems too good to be true. And this visit was no different.

The crew headed for the Silk Street Market to shop for souvenirs. One of the NBC runners for the event, who we shall call "Ferguson" in order to shield him from further ridicule, split off from the rest of us in search of adventure and treasure.

When we caught up with him later, we found he had not heeded the warnings from the Old China Hands on the crew, and proudly showed off his new "finest quality" Rolex he had just purchased for a ridiculously high "friend-price." Most of us, having seen the gamut of knock-off Rolexes from the shoddy to the near-perfect, gathered around to see how he did.

In a word: Awful.

Crappy band, ticking second hand, lightweight ... It was sad.
And poor Ferguson...
He thought he'd gotten a deal.
They saw him coming and they laid the sales pitch on hard.
Sat him down, gave him a cup of tea, brought out the pretty inlaid wood boxes and gave it to him with both barrels.

Word of his folly spread quickly once we got to the site for work that day...

And to add insult to injury, his painful lesson was reinforced every day, all day long on-site. 
There is a tape source named 'X'. During the broadcast, the director will call cameras and tape sources to be used on the air, and very, very often we will hear the director call "Ready X ... Roll X!" (Rolex! - Get it?)
In the spirit of fun, everyone started calling the source "Ferguson" or "Ferg" - So we heard "Ready Ferg ... Roll Ferg!" instead of “Roll X!” all through the broadcast.

From our "That Dude is Fucked" Department...

By now everyone should have seen The World's Fastest Man, Usain Bolt get taken out by a Chinese cameraman on a hands-free Segway...
Fortunately Bolt escaped the attack unscathed, later joking that American Justin Gatlin had paid the guy to run him over...
He had a great sense of humor about it.
Not sure the Ogranizing Committee will be as forgiving. They have zero tolerance policy  about public embarrassment. That and the $50,000 camera he destroyed...
I have a feeling that next week Segway CameraDude will be posted in 二连浩特市, (which is so far away that it doesn't have an English pronunciation) and will be videotaping yak turds for the rest of his career.

Outta here on Monday.

Cannot wait.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Track & Field: Observations

Watching the Heptathlon this morning.

1. These girls need a sandwich.

2. They are angry.

They're angry because they need a sandwich. With bacon.
Maybe a pork belly sandwich with bacon.
On bacon bread.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

That Ought To Hold Them For A While

Delivery time... A new shipment arrives at the Kardashian's house...


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Possibilities: Political Prediction from Uncle Jay

With all the coverage spinning up and the fallout from the Benghazi hearings, the classified info on her server, and lying about it, SS Hillary seems to be tanking fast.
I'm not a professional political pundit and have been known to be wrong occasionally, but I don't see her lasting too much longer.

I'm sure everyone's seen that Bubba and Obama spent the weekend together...
I'll bet there has been some pretty interesting off-course discussions, and probably some deal-making.

Hillary will withdraw for "health reasons", and Dirty Uncle Joe Biden will enter the race.
Once all the investigations have run their course, Hillary will get an executive pardon and a clean slate as a thank-you for putting Sheriff Joe in the Democratic Party's catbird seat.

Again, I might be wrong- but it sure seems like a distinct possibility.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

On Pins & Needles

Heading to Beijing on Wednesday...
I'm a little concerned with the event and my ability to work the contract deliverables-
I sent all my equipment to the project principal in May for them to cross ship to China in their container.
Guess where the container is/was last week?

I'm hoping that the container makes it to Beijing...
Hope, however, doesn't pay the bills, so I will be hand-carrying some extra equipment when I go, just in case the container (and my stuff) was blown to smithereens.
It's always something...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Still in Montana...

(Montana manatee in Swiftcurrent Lake, near Many Glacier in Glacier NP)

Friendly Advice*:
Don't taunt the moose.
Don't feed the moose.
Don't get near the moose.

They look like doofy horses, but they're bad-tempered, weighty, and strong.
If you want to simulate the after effects of a moose attack, hoist a pallet of cinder blocks two stories up, then drop it on your chest.

Just because it won't eat you afterwards, it doesn't mean it won't kill you.

A Møøse once bit my sister.
No realli! She was Karving her initials on the møøse...

*Really true this time. Not kidding.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Observations from the Field

Watching the news in the last couple weeks about the oh-so-Earthlike planet (somewhere off the Kessel run, reachable in 11 parsecs or so) and all the speculation therein...

We (all the Family here on vacation in Montana) were discussing the possibilities.

My final opinion, just before packing it in (at 7:30 PM - I was TIRED) was:

"I don't even qualify to live in Australia.
Even if we were able to colonize another planet in my life time there's not a chance they'd let me live there."



Friday, August 07, 2015


Bearhat Mountain, above Logan Pass & Hidden Lake, Glacier Nat'l Park.

The Huckleberry Thief

Hey Yogi! Where are all the picnic baskets?

The young black bear that lives near our house in East Glacier Park.


Life ProTip: In The Backcountry

Friendly advice*:

Prior to going out on a back country hike out here in Glacier National Park, make sure to slather yourself with Bear Spray...

And be sure to give the kids an extra-heavy dose... wouldn't want anyone to get hurt by the marauding
Ursus arctos horribilis.

I know...
Some people just want to watch the world burn.

*This Satire. Do not do this. This is a joke. Srsly.

Notes From Vacationland

Been on a little family vacation in Nosebleed, Montana...

I've been keeping notes since liveblogging is impossible in the land of moose, bears, elk and non-existent WiFi.

I have a few things to share- starting on the trip out here...

(From Sunday AM Flight)

On the flight from MCO to ORD,
I have the Weather Channel on the in-flight entertainment system...
They are ginning up all the enthusiasm they can muster for a very marginal tropical storm (Guillermo) in the Pacific...

You know, it's got to be killing them that they don't have a Cat-4 or 5 storm so far in the 2015 hurricane season.
(Considering that they have way overestimated the number of Cat3+ storms the past few years  this is quite an embarrassment for them.)

Sadly (for them) all they can doomshout about is the "record-breaking heat" and the probable effects on the Arctic icecap.

Of course, when  a Climate Denier mentions record cold or consecutive below - zero calendar weeks, he is admonished that "current weather is NOT 'climate'", and not to mistake months of record breaking cold over large areas as any kind of indicator of climate trend...

There are 2 flies buzzing around the cabin of this aircraft.
They will have quite the story to tell their new fly friends on arrival in Chicago...

ChiFly: "Hey. You're new around this shithole. Where are you from?"
FlaFly: "Hi. I'm from Florida."
ChiFly: "Wow. How'd you get here?"
FlaFly: "I flew, of course."
ChiFly: "Damn. Respect."


Thursday, August 06, 2015

Catching Up ... Lancaster to Bluffton and Beyond.

Been a little busy lately... Let's see if we can catch up a little.

After we survived the US Women's Open in Lancaster I headed back home for a quick turn around and headed back out to Bluffton SC for yet another USGA golf event,
a US Junior Amateur at Colleton Plantation.

Having not been on two wheels in a couple months, I rode the bike up...
And was turned away at the gate to the event site...
An older but heavily armed lady rental cop stopped me as I tried to get to the course.
Nice Security Guard: "Sorry, Honey- no motorcycles. One of the owners of Harley Davidson has a house here, and he has to keep all his bikes across the street at that mini-storage over there."

TBG: "Really? Do you know what units the bikes are stored in?"
(There's a Lowe's Home Improvement store with a nice selection of bolt cutters nearby...)
I parked the FJR at the security gate and the oh-so-very-charming-&-Southern security lady called for some assistance. A patrol vehicle arrived a little later and the other really nice security guard gave me a ride to the broadcast compound...

SMT Golf Stuff ensued for a couple days, and fortuitously, Bluffton is the residence of a couple friends - Magic Mike, one of my best Ball Position support guys, and of course my ol' buddy Pete is spending quite a bit of time there. Pete's running a project at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff - a $100 million dollar renovation/upgrade to a pricy resort/spa in the area.
So I was able to hang out with Pete one evening and hung out with Michael, watching the end of the British Open on Monday afternoon.

It was crazy hot in South Carolina lowlands-

I headed home on Wednesday at noon-
Dressed for the highway (helmet, jacket, boots, kevlar jeans, etc) I was slowly broiling as I headed back to Jax on I-95...
About 3:00 I got to Brunswick and decided on a late lunch-
At Southern Soul Barbecue, of course!
With items like their Bar-B-Cuban -


or their Brunswick Stew...

Completely awesome.
On arrival I was barely able to crawl inside and sit at the counter...
Heat and dehydration set in-
I motioned for a glass of half-and-half tea and proceeded to drink about a gallon before I could finally speak.
I had the smoked turkey plate- which was gone before I could take any pictures...
As I ate I kept tabs on the daily North Florida Thunderstorm as it was rolling in from the west...
Lovely- I needed to gas up anyway, so when I got on the road I fueled at GA MM5 or so and added my raingear on top of my already-stifling road armor.
I felt like a pot roast in a Brown-in-Bag...But I was happy about it just before I hit the FL/GA line when the bottom fell out.
Lots of hard rain and lightning all the way out to Jax Beach... And rumor has it a small twister touched down just before I arrived...
Jax Beach Weather Damage

I was able to a few days in at the office to keep the wheels in motion before I headed off for a little family vacation...

(Stay tuned...)