Friday, August 26, 2016

Travel Pro-Tips: Luggage and Houston Airport

Two items for your edification and amusement today, Constant Readers.

First- I am assuming you are one of the Smart People that actually check your luggage at the ticketing counter.
If you are, good for you. Spot on!

<Rant 1>
If you are one of those morons who insist on schlepping all your worldly goods into one bag and ignore the pleading from the gate attendant that you bag will not fit in the overhead and drag your steamer trunk down the aisle smacking everyone along the way in the knee, shoulder or head as you make your way to steerage class seating, only to find there is no room for your "carry-on bag" and have to inconvenience everyone doing your best salmon-swimming-upstream imitation to admit defeat and gate check your bag anyway, WTF, dude?

"BUT!" You'll stammer "I beat the airline! I didn't have to pay $25! I'm the winner here."

Shut up, asshole. Just sit down and play Crunchy Fruit or V'jazzled or whatever on your smartphone while first aid is administered to the other passengers that suffered injury as you passed to-and-fro with that footlocker that was festooned with razorblades and broken glass "to make it more identifiable".


If you are one of these assholes, please skip reading this, quit your job, destroy your smartphone, and move somewhere like Irkutsk or Ulan Bataar and reevaluate your life choices.

But you, you clever Constant Reader that knows your should check your bags and your privilege to make everyone's life easier... Good on ya.
Ready for that tip?

A trip to Lost Baggage is a trial and tribulation all its own.
Might as well call it "Lost Sanity" or "Lost Souls".
Lost Baggage is were airlines send troublesome employees. Folks that they would like to see change vocation or just go away.
Most people don't make it long there. You have to deal with angry people who are missing their belongings after a long flight. It's bad when you are getting home from a month in a 3rd World shithole. Much worse to lose your bag on the outbound side- arriving for work or vacation with only the clothes on your back. You'll want to tear the arms off the Poor Bastard in Lost Baggage- to impress upon him that You Need Your Fucking Bags Pronto, Cochise. Too much of that on a daily basis will make you long for a job in Roadkill Disposal in West Texas. Or late-night gas station attendant in Birmingham Alabama.
Now, there are a few sadists out the that derive pleasure from the pain and suffering of others, and they fit right it in Lost Souls & Baggage...
This is the guy that loves to hear how much you are suffering by being deprived of your bags. He finds your bags in short order, but sends them out for delivery after 1:30am. He'll call you at 2, 2:30, and 3am to let you know they are on the way...

Waking you up each time. 

He'll give instructions to the delivery guy to honk three times outside your house, then knock loudly on the door when dropping the bag off.
Evil bastards...
But I digress.

Here's your travel ProTip:
Take a picture of your bag(s) with your smartphone.
That way, when you arrive at your destination, and your bag(s) don't and you have to make that trip to Lost Baggage you will be prepared.

You: "It's a black duffle bag."
Lost Baggage Bastard: "Yes, but what *kind* of black duffle bag?"
He will helpfully pull out an 11x17 laminated sheet with 472 different kinds of black duffle bags.
You, you smart Constant Reader will pull out your phone show him a picture of the bag, shortcircuiting his next 62 questions detailing brands, straps, piping, logos, ID tags, distinguishing modifications like ribbons or colored markers. 
It will all be there in the picture.
That will take the wind out of his sails.
You will be on your way with a song in your heart and a slip of paper ensuring the your bags will be along Any Time Now, so be of good cheer. 
And listen for the honk in your driveway at 3 AM.
That can't be helped.

Second Pro Tip - Houston International Arrivals.

Are you Global Entry? If so, good on ya.
If not, do it. Do it now.
Are you TSA PreCheck?
If not, do it. It's worth it.

What does this have to do with IAH?

When you arrive in Houston from some 3rd World shithole like, say, Rio de Janeiro  Brazil, you'll stand in line to clear passport control... Global Entry will speed this process from 40+ mins to less that 5 minutes. You may or may not claim your bags, based on the aforementioned situation with Lost Baggage.

But the idea is to make the connection as smooth as possible.

After you pass the last customs check where you hand in your blue customs form or your global entry ticket, you'll be at baggage recheck.

Give them your bags (if you have them) then they will direct you upstairs to security for entry to the sterile area of the airport.

There is a big sign for TSA PreCheck there but IT'S NEVER OPEN. You will always have to go through regular scanning (Full Monty nude-o-vision scoping, shoes off, unpack your backpack, body cavity search).

I button-holed a nice lady with a Global Services sign this AM and asked her if the PreCheck was open today.

Global Service Lady: "Oh honey, that's never open. I've been here 20 years and it's never been opened up one time." 

YT: "Is there another option?"

GSL: "Lord yes! Just drop your bag at ReCheck the go out the doors that say "Welcome to Houston and take the escalator up one level. PreCheck is always open there. Easy as pie."

And it was...

When I cleared security from that side I could see the other security lanes- easily 200 people going through 2 lanes.


And to add insult to injury, it was a shit-ton of international arrivals - half returning US citizen with lots of carry-on shit needing scrutiny,  the other half are Foreign Devils (including kids and ReallyOldPeople)  that were having a tough time navigating escalators and moving sidewalks and eyed luggage carts with suspicion. US-Style security scanning is more confusing to them than non-Euclidian geometric analysis of half-life proton decay is to flatworms.

Listen to your Uncle Jay, bypass the international arrival recheck security line. Go out the back in through the main security entrance. 

You're welcome.

TBG - still travelin'

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You Talkin' To Me?

Names and monikers use in addressing me during the Rio Games

Big Jay
John (used by those who don't know better or know me by legal paperwork. Like cops and attorneys.)
Big Man
Big Fella
Hey- IDS guy...
Harley Davidson
Famous / Amazing!
Big American

I'm sure there were some terms/names used about me- but as long as they were polite when they actually spoke to me, I didn't rip anyone's arms off.

TBG - Travelin'

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Aussie Olympic Humor

Great bit, especially is you can decipher the Aussie slang...

"Ooh. Sailing's started."
"I'll call the wife and tell her I'll be late!"


"Is there a big statue of Jesus in Rio? Why don't they show us?!"

TBG - - [Exit - Pursued by a Boomer]

Music For Strike & Repack

Great stuff I've been enjoying-

A lot of this stuff is very reminiscent of Squirrel Nut Zippers...


Saturday, August 20, 2016

He Has A Way With Words, Don't He?

Lochte puts down his pencil...
"Here. Read this." he says to his publicist.
"I like, went to this club. Was cray cray, I was so wasted. We got some dude to take us back but I had to piss so we stop at this shithole gas station. Fucking doors locked man. Fuckers aren't stopping me though, I'm murican. So I kick down that door with one unstoppable roundhouse and we go piss on the floor to show them who's boss. Wouldn't you know it, some rent a cop starts yellin some jibberish at us and waving a gun. I'm like bro, I had to piss, door had to go. He just kept going on his voodoo speak so I tossed dude a couple hundo's and bailed. Now dudes all pissed that I went and told everyone how awesome I was. Haters. So yea murica, I'm sorry bro."
"Uh, Ryan... You wouldn't mind if we edit this just a little bit? Just so it reads a little better?"
From Lochte's Instagram account 

Let's analyze, shall we?

[1] "I want to apologize"
He's being a weasel. The "I want to" takes the force from the "apologize."
If you want to apologize you simply apologize. Dressing it up minimizes the effect.

[2] "for my behavior last weekend —"
This phrase, followed by the dash, is crucial.
It specifies what behavior he's apologizing for. He should be apologizing for being an obsequious asshole. But, no- he apologizes for getting caught.

[a] "for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and "

At the same time he's putting the focus on his description of the events, not what the events actually entailed- namely, drunken buffoonery and the lies he told about it- he sneaks in that the events occurred during the "early morning" (i.e., tired, after a night of drinking) in order to justify the supposed imprecision.
But remember that he told his lies much later, including media interviews and in official testimony to police. Post-interview damage control from the PR firm was obvious instruction "Don't lie any more, and don't admit to lying."

[b] for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics.
This is good. It shows a bit of awareness that people exist in the world besides himself.
But it does nothing to address his core misconduct: the vandalism and deliberately fabricated story (being stopped by a roadblock of assailants purporting to be cops who, among other things, held a gun to his head as he dismissed them with a nonchalant "whatever").
And there's the "for my role in" qualifying phrase- because he can't be taking responsibility for the actions of the group as a whole, or for media's role in shifting the focus away from the athletes.

Fuck this- the entire thing smacks of : "My PR Guy said to say this so you might have some sympathy for me."

The entire non-apology is basically a slab of lawyer-ese in attempt to appease but to avoid acceptance of any kind of guilt.

If he'd written it himself I'd suggest he go work for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
He'd fit right in.
But based on his older Instagram & Twitter content, its obvious that the apology is a carefully crafted piece from a very capable PR firm that probably already has ties to some noisome political organizations.
Probably Trump's, maybe Clinton's too.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Cool Stuff in Rio

There is cool stuff to see, if you can tear your eyes away from the shoreline...
The Australian Women's Swim Team... God bless 'em.
At least they aren't out falsifying police reports or trashing gas station bathrooms...

I'm talking about Portuguese pavement-
The promenades at the beaches in Ipanema and at Copacabana have very iconic designs...

In Copacabana the promenade is about just over two miles long and is covered with a 'wave' pattern designed and implemented in the 1930s.

It's an impressive work, and is a very memorable part of the scenery at Copa.

The promenade at Ipanema is also a very recognizable design...

Portuguese pavement is a very arduous process...
A little research showed a number of examples around the world, but sadly it is becoming a dying art. The exceptionally low pay for apprentice artists, coupled with the fact that the pavement itself is dangerous as hell -it's a little too uneven and is slippery as greased weasel shit when its wet- makes it more and more unattractive to municipalities.

The process is very cool...

The paving stones are prepped by hand.

The designs are placed by hand, carefully following a repeating pattern or implementing a single design in a paved area.
One the design or area is finished the spaces between the stones is filled with a thin cement mixture.

A finished example of Portuguese paving...

Cool stuff...


Thanks A Lot, Lochte.

Anyone who goes to Rio (or any Olympic Games) always gets a briefing from their sponsoring group about etiquette and how their actions reflect back on their country.
I know I get them from the Large Broadcast Entity along with the 'Shit You Shouldn't Do' briefing...

So- hand a bunch of young athletes hopped up on adrenaline and 'I'm-a-gold-medal-winning-'Murican' pseudo-steroids and free flowing alcohol, then turn them loose -ostensibly to get back to their lodgings- without some kind of supervision, and your organizing committee is asking for trouble.
Nice work , TeamUSA. Spend some money on some effective professional personnel protective assets... It's a better investment that the $$$ you'll have to shell out for PR and legal fees.

Should they be able to act appropriately on their own? Yes.

Does their bullshit activities make things difficult for all Americans here (and elsewhere)?
You betcher ass.

Is this a isolated experience - Ugly Americans reinforcing stereotypes at the Olympic Games?

Absolutely not.

Sherman, set the WayBack to February 1998...
A number (as yet still unidentified and unpunished) NHL Hockey players, after getting bounced from the competition, ALLEGEDLY broke up furniture, damaged walls, set off fire extinguishers, and broke some windows in the Olympic Village.
The official word was that a few rather light and flimsy chairs were broken through normal use, because the players are big guys and they were just playing cards...
It blew over and no one thinks about it any more.
A little vandalism is one thing. We could call it a victimless crime, but to me criminal behavior is criminal behavior. YMMV.
When, like Lochte & Co, you make up a story involving local thugs, casting aspersions at teh local police by saying police (even fake police) were involved in order to cover up boorish behavior- it will not be swept under the carpet.
Lochte and Co, imbued with confidence, alcohol and the need to urinate decided their needs outweighed the "closed" sign at the gas station, showed their (figurative) asses, then tried to cover things up with with a hastily and poorly-conceived lie...
Nice work, guys. Make all us 'Murican look like assholes...

(Overheard on the shuttle bus last night- an OBS person saying good night to an American media person - "Hey- don't vandalize any gas stations tonight!")

Popular medal-winning athletes shouldn't be doing shit like this...

That's the job of the guys in our Golf division- they get paid to look like idjits.
Let our guys do their jobs.

You guys stick to swimming and carpool karaoke, let the professionals work.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus...

Yeah, yeah... Notre Dame has Touchdown Jesus.
That's adorable.

Rio will see your TD Jesus and raise you one Unsportsmanlike Conduct Jesus.

TBG - - [Exit- pursued by a corcovado. (Spanish, not Portugese)]

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Semi-Rio-Related WTF

Conversation in the Scoring Control Center yesterday:
One of the guys I work with stuck his head in my office...
P: "Hey - we gotta change all our user names and passwords on all our machines. That gonna affect your stuff?"
YT: "Not a bit. What's up?"
P: "Fucking social media and basic stupidity. Some moron back in the home office wrote their user name and password on a piece of tape on their keyboard.
Today, she took a picture of a cupcake on her keyboard and posted it to Facebook.
With the username and password in full view."
YT: "Wow. Fired?"
P: "Shoulda been, but she invoked the Hillary defense. She didn't do it with malicious intent, so she's still around."
Jeebus. WTF?
"I didn't mean to do it, so it's okay."
TBG - surrounded by morons.

Monday, August 08, 2016

WTF Rio? - Part 207b

Now that the opening ceremonies are over and I finally have all my equipment in place, I have a little breathing room and can make some comments...

Re: Opening Ceremonies and one-off sports at Olympics.

When did walking in sparkly dress with a thigh-high slit in four inch heels become an Olympic event?

Don't get me wrong- I'm sure it was an Olympic feat for Giselle Bundchen to walk all the way across the floor of the stadium under the gaze of millions. But still...

I'm trying to find out how one gets to be a judge in that event.

Also- In Tokyo there will 6 exhibition sports - only for the 2020 Olympics.
Baseball/softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and speed climbing.
Being in Tokyo, I wonder about the surfing event- Will they create a wave simulator or some kind of man-made wave system...

Rio Navigation and Work Fun

Opening Ceremonies is a delay in my schedule because the TV Truck used for that show pulls up stakes and moves from Maracanã to the OLS (Olympic Stadium) for Track & Field. Once it landed at the T&F stadium I had to go install my last suite of hardware...

I was sitting at breakfast on Sunday planning to go to OLS at 8:30 or so, and the NBC IT guy who had installed the network hardware on Saturday afternoon had words of wisdom:
"Make sure your driver knows the way to the stadium.
Mine didn't, and we were totally lost in a not-very-nice area. The driver finally pulled over and found a guy with a machete, no shirt, prison tattoos, sitting by flaming oil drum full of burning chunks of old automobile tires under an overpass to ask about directions.
I was hiding under the back seat of the van. I knew we were both going to die!"
Dude... Never get out of the boat.
I got my install done with only a *little* shouting and death threats...
I ran into an IP conflict with some other equipment...
Valid IP addresses are few and far between in these parts, Buckaroo.
When the Powers That Be issue you an IP, you fucking use THAT address AND NOTHING ELSE.
I didn't actually hurt the offending technician, or his gear, but I guarantee he won't 'borrow' any addresses ever again.
Trolling the interns in the men's room...

(Man, that doesn't sound right...)

The restrooms in the IBC have Dyson Airblade Vs in them in an effort to make the Games greener.

(In this case, the green is the algae growing on the wall near the Airblades- the water is blown off your hands and soaks the wall the the counter-top. Lovely design.

But there is a trick to getting them to activate... You have to approach them a certain way or they don't do anything but sit there looking evil and angry...

I was drying my hands at one and one of the Interns/Runners - a snot-nosed young lad of 22 or so saw me and asked how it worked...

Snot-nosed Young Lad: "Dang. Those things DO work!? I thought is was just an air freshener or something. I  never saw one working before now."
I guess if there isn't an iPhone control app for it, it's not worth using.

I decided to have a little fun with him.

Yours Truly: "What, you haven't got your chip yet?"
S-NYL: "My what?"
YT: "Your chip. Your RFID chip from NBC."
S-NYL: Puzzled look, like a cocker spaniel when you make a squeaky noise.
YT: "Yeah, you need to go down to Engineering and ask for your chip implant. It activates the hand driers, but the really cool stuff they do is things like giving you access to the VIP sections in different venues- really useful in the Gymnastics and the Swimming venues. It also gives you access to the motorpool to get from site to site... Just get in one of the NBC cars and wave your hand over the reader and tell the driver where you want to go.
There's a bunch of other stuff... It'll be in the brochure they give you when they implant the chip...
S-NYL: "Everybody gets them?"
YT: "Yep...If you know who to ask. Just keep it on the down-low. The less people that know, the better."
I gave him the name of a certain Curmudgeon who hates EVERYBODY, especially the interns...
I'll be interested to see how that shakes out...


Day One:
Venue: OAS (Swimming)
Tech manager is trying to figure out a cable run for some in-truck services back to the TOC.
(TOC = big room full of operations equipment, especially the network switches that provide all the connectivity for each venue.)
In his effort, he pulls my connection out of the main switch...
My phone rings...
EG: "Hey- I've lost my connection."
YT: "WHAT?!" (Frantically pinging his switch and computers. Nothing. Oh shit.)
YT: "Find your Truck Guy, trace the blue cable from your switch to the patch block, make sure it's still plugged in. Then, look in the TOC for the cable bundle labeled 'GRAPHICS" make sure #6 is in port 45 on switch 2."
EG: "Find the truck guy. Got it."
YT: "Oh shit..." I grabbed my tool back and headed out the door.
Before I got to the shuttle bus, my phone rang.
EG: "Found it. Someone moved the cable."
YT: "Who? Who did it. What moronic motherhumper in the OAS compound is going to wind up with a 4 pound hammer embedded in his forehead?"
EG: "Don't know, but it's fixed."
YT: "Find out." (click)
Day Two:
Venue: ROA (Gymnastics)
We are live on the air... Phone
RJ: "Hey- I've lost my connection."
YT: "WHAT?!" (Frantically pinging his switch and computers. Nothing. Oh shit.)
Grab my bag and head to the shuttle.
I arrived at the ROA and started to go to the truck, but headed to the TOC instead...
I ran into the Tech Manager...
TM: "I know why you're here... Sorry- my fault. it's fixed now."
YT:  stunned silence
TM: "Yeah, one of the guys in the A-Truck had a problem with his internet connection. Your cable wasn't labeled and I didn't know what it was, so I pulled it."
YT: "Dude, are you fucking kidding me? There are 200 unlabeled cables in here...
You didn't pull them... Why are you pulling mine?"
TM: shrugs shoulders - "I don't know... I just thought it was in the wrong place."
Is it unreasonable for me to expect that while we are ON THE AIR that people don't pull out cables that they don't know what it's attached to?

(Oddly I am reminded of Buckaroo Banzai performing brain surgery:
"You can check your anatomy all you want, and even though there may be normal variation, when it comes right down to it, this far inside the head it all looks the same.
No, no, no, don't tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to."

I grab a roll of neon-yellow gaff tape and a Sharpie.
There... It's labeled.

I stuck my head in the B-Truck. My guy gives a thumbs up.
I head to Diving.
Tape. Sharpie.
I labeled Track & Field too...
Golf will get one as soon as I go back out there...

Morons. I'm surrounded by morons.


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Come Stay in Lovely Media Favela #3!

(Caution- Parody.
No one should infer that the following pictures and descriptions bear any resemblance to the truth or actual conditions. Things are actually really nice and we are having a great time. Seriously.)

Welcome to Rio2016!
We want you to relax and enjoy your stay in Rio as part of the 2016  Games.

We have tried to make you accommodations at our Media Favela #3 as nice as possible with all the comforts of home!

The common area of your room will be suitable for close intimate gathering of friends to enjoy an after-work beverage or an evening of good conversation.

When you retire for the evening, the cool crisp sheets will comfort you as you enjoy a full nights sleep in clean & fresh surroundings. Be careful that you don't oversleep and miss your shift tomorrow!

Out modern plumbing facilities will ensure a clean and sanitary experience for your morning ablutions.

Cutting edge technology will bring you the best electronic experience- great internet connectivity, clear, crisp telephone calls, and a host of TV channels for your entertainment all through our brand-new high-end technical infrastructure.

Meet your neighbors and coworkers from around the world... Make new friends as we all work and play together.

Enjoy a refreshing swim in our lovely swimming pool complex. A nice caipirinha poolside or other beverage will help you unwind after a long day.

If physical activity is more your style, shoot a round of hoops with your co-workers and neighbors.

...Or visit our weight room to have an intense workout and stay in shape.

Please enjoy your stay in Media Favela #3, and be sure to let us know if you need any assistance with your stay... Our lovely and talented admin staff will be happy to help!

TBG - - [Exit- pursued by howler monkey riding a capybara]