Friday, December 31, 2010

"Michaela" Replies

"Michaela" replied to my sarcastic flame. I've got to give her credit for being professional in that respect (although not professional enough to know what a NEXUS card is until I clued her in).

She wrote they already have briefed their TSO's on TWIC, and will soon brief them on NEXUS.

She closed with "together we can only get better".

Insert vitriol-laced rejoinder here.......

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The TSA Continues To Suck

I admit, the TSA collected a few brownie points with me this year. After John Pistole vowed to communicate the elite status of TWIC and NEXUS cardholders down the line to his employees, after TSA brought in the backscatter scanners (not perfect but definitely a step in the right direction), and after the screeners at Kahului Airport all of a sudden started to recognize my Nexus card, they kinda had me a little less pissed off at them.

Then came 12/8/2010.

I had an EARLY flight (0600) that day from SLC to DFW. Alarm went off. Left my digs around 3:45. Got to SLC airport almost two hours in advance, like a good sheeple. Breezed through the car rental return. Nobody in line at American Airlines First Class Check-In, breezed through that too. Got to TSA around 4:25 was locked. They don't even open until 4:30.


By the time TSA opened, about 10 baristas and miscellaneous janitors were in the service line, and the one TSA agent checking IDs of course sent them all through before any (paying) passengers. I stood there. Finally the TSA chick waved at me, I stepped forward, and . . . . she wouldn't accept my Nexus card. Had no farking idea what a Nexus card was - despite the fact that it's clearly listed on TSA's own check-in information page. Despite the fact that her boss's boss's boss's boss's boss wants all TSA agents to know what the fark it is. Despite the fact that it's 4:45 AM and we're in Salt Lake City.

After unzipping my rollaboard, taking out my travel documents, showing her my passport with a grumble, zipping everything back up, shuffling through the barefoot kabuki dance, putting my belt back on, and shuffling down to my gate, I had about 45 minutes to kill and a good nerd-rage going. So I whipped out my phone, browsed to the FEEDBACK section of the TSA web site, and punched out a brief flame:

Just came thru TSA chkpt @ SLC Wed Dec 8 @ 4:35 AM. the agent would not accept my NEXUS card as ID, had never heard of NEXUS, had no idea what it was.

It is EXTREMELY frustrating that your employees CONTINUE TO WALLOW IN ABJECT IGNORANCE. Mr Pistole announced almost a year ago he was launching an education campaign to inform ALL TSA airport agents that the NEXUS pass is a legal form of ID and is, in fact, a much higher level of secure ID than a passport. recognition has improved, but this continued incompetence is simply unacceptable.



This morning, 3 weeks later, I actually got a canned reply from TSA:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding identification (ID) requirements at the security screening checkpoint. Specifically, you felt that the ID you presented should have been accepted...........

We regret you found your screening experiences unsatisfactory............

We are unable to determine why the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) did not accept the ID you presented at the screening checkpoint.

Yeah, Sherlock. I regret it too. I'm shocked you couldn't figure out why your mouth-breathing village idiot doesn't read TSA's own web site.

Furthermore, we have forwarded a copy of your email to the Customer Service Manager at SLC airport for review. The Customer Service Manager is responsible for ensuring that the TSO workforce adheres to TSA principles for professional and courteous customer service.

A few hours later, I was dumbstruck to receive a personal e-mail from a real person who is, apparently, a Customer Service Manager for TSA at SLC. Let's call her Michaela. Michaela wrote that she also had never heard of a Nexus card, but would be most interested to hear back from me exactly what it is.

WTF? You know, I've watched my share of episodes of Miami Vice, of Miami CSI, of SVU, and I never have seen, nor heard of, a law enforcement officer asking a suspect to explain the law to her.

I wrote back. First I asked her if she was kidding. Then I sent her a few links - one to Pistole's blog post on the TSA web site, in which he promised to educate all TSA agents nationwide about TSA/DHS's own Trusted Traveler programs. Another link to the TSA web site, which clearly lists the following as acceptable forms of ID:

DHS "Trusted Traveler" cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)

I sent Michaela a link to a thread on containing posts from lots of people, like me, flaming the TSA for not knowing anything about their own "Trusted Traveler" programs.

Then, after building up a good head of steam, I brought on my fastball, right down the center of the plate:

"So.....let me summarize. I have voluntarily submitted to DHS my retinal scan, and my fingerprints. I have been voluntarily investigated by DHS twice, they have approved me for their most elite travel status programs twice. I have invested significant time and a little bit of money filling out forms, applying to DHS for these trusted traveler programs, and going to interviews. I have been interviewed and verified by DHS agents at Honolulu and Edmonton Airports. I traveled outside of the US nine times in 2010; each time I returned, my Nexus or Global Entry biometrics allowed me to pass through Customs with nothing more than a cursory glance from a United States Customs agent. And YOUR DHS-employed TSA AGENT would NOT accept my DHS-ISSUED NEXUS ID FOR IDENTIFICATION at SLC for a DOMESTIC FLIGHT?????????????????????? She wants to see A DRIVER'S LICENSE, one of the most easily-forged pieces of ID on the planet? A drivers license issued by a STATE (not The Feds), a document half the teenagers in America buy counterfeited on the internet SO THEY CAN PURCHASE BEER?

Can you please tell me why I am explaining this to a DHS supervisor?


Hey, readers, it's the holidays.

I've got some time on my hands.


Captain Obvious

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thoughts on Christmas

I. Lakers got their asses kicked by the Miami Heat on Christmas Day. At LA. 96-80, but it wasn't even that close. Love it. The only thing better than watching the Lakers lose is watching them lose at home, in a Nationally-televised game, in a manner so crushing and embarrassing that their horrid "fans" (worst in the NBA) head for the exits with 5 minutes to go without even bothering to boo their own team (as they typically do)

Thank you, Santa.

To me, the coolest celebrity in LA is Charlize Theron, not because of her infinite gorgeousness but, rather, because she's a Clippers fan. I don't see anybody else from Hollywood watching my favorite NBA team, The Clippers, who are a very exiting team but have one of the worst records in the NBA. All the rest want to be seen at Lakers games.

II. I've had about 100,000 miles in my United (aka "Untied") FF account for 5 or 6 years now, but I rarely fly United. Didn't really want to lose the miles, so I got a United Mastercard and once a year I charge a Slurpee or something on the card so that United can't take back my miles. This year I checked my account and I noticed United has a pretty good miles-for-goods shopping web site. I looked around for a while and spent about 25,000 on a new toy, an Olympus Sp-800UZ digital camera.

Why that one?

1. 30x zoom. My current digital camera only has maybe 4x zoom, which is frequently inadequate because usually I'm stuck up in a timing tower or batcave somewhere, and I take a lot of photos at full zoom. In addition, I work in a lot of really huge venues (Kitzbuhel, for example) where 4x zoom just doesn't cut it. One of the coolest things about the downhill course at Kitzbuhel is the finish area is one of the best natural amphitheatres in sports. There are 4 or 5 places to die within sight of the 80,000-odd fans in the finish area.

2. It was out of the question to buy anything made by Nikon, since their Ashton Kutcher adverts are SO fucking annoying.

Well, sports fans.....when they say this thing zooms, they mean IT ZOOMS. WOW.

No Zoom:
About 25% Zoom:
About 75%

Max zoom:
The camera is the size of about 3 hockey pucks because the lens is so big, so it's not one of those cigarette-pack form factors you can stick in your coat and forget about it.

But I like.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Restoring Sanity To Airport Security?

To anybody who flies more than 4 times a year, I highly recommend Patrick Smith's column Ask The Pilot on

This new IATA plan Smith describes sounds great to me. As the owner of not one but two biometric passports (retinal scan for Nexus and fingerprints for Global Entry), I think the IATA plan is just peachy. But the key question, of course, is the one Smith asks in the article's subtitle:

Will the TSA bullies go for it?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Biggest Whores in Modern Society

I'm currently thinking the two biggest whores in US society are currently most organized religions ("tithe me a piece of your income and we'll allow you to feel good about yourself") and the current leadership of the Republican Party ("we don't care what's good for the US, we only care about what's good for The Republican Party").

If you want proof about the Republicans, simply watch Fox News for 5 minutes, read anything Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, or John Boehner have ever said in their entire political lives, or even check out C-SPAN (the total moral bankruptcy of the Republican leadership is so obvious that even a complete idiot doesn't need Sean Hannity or Glen Beck to explain it to him/her). For proof about the Catholic / Scientologist / whatever Church, well.....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let It Not Be Said That the United States Has Nothing Useful To Export.....

Hooters. Tokyo.


I would pay significant money to see the faces of these girls when my gaijin friend The Big Guy walks in.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fucking Frogs, chapter 9,456,213,709,101

Of course, the Frogs' own failure to recognize a design flaw in a pattern of many dozen similar tire blowouts was not recognized in this verdict. Instead, they single out an hourly-wage welder (who is NOT French) as the predominantly guilty party.

link <-link

'Metzner swiftly said the US airline [Continental] would appeal the verdict, slamming a ruling that "only protects French interests".


Absurd, xenophobic, typical Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Remember That Old Expression "Up To Your Ass In Alligators"?

After a day at IDS in JAX discussing AKI stuff, I took Tomas to The Alligator Farm in St Augustine. I was, almost literally, up to my ass in alligators.

Tomas is one of those rare European characters who actually enjoys & appreciates US kitsch, US culture, and American humour. He loved The Alligator Farm. A typical Euro (especially a frog) would have sniffed something snarky like "well, WE have The Louvre and the Vienna Opera House". Afterwards we watched the return of LeBron to Cleveland (Heat vs Cavaliers) on an 80-inch TV at my friend's house. THAT's an American day of leisure: The Alligator farm, an NBA game, and a couple of big meals.

Hadn't been to the IDS mothership in about 10 years. Saw all kinds of familiar shady characters: Slaw, Benjy, Dingo, Leroy, Marco (why doesn't Marco have a nickname?), Croc, Mitch, Boris, Gars. Unfortunately, several of the shadiest of the shady were out of town - Cockroach, The Big Guy, and SpongeMarkSquareHands. Also had dinner w/Leroy and Dommie Sue at Slider's in Neptune Beach, which was really fun (tasty too).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good thing It Wasn't A Jack Daniels Distillery

This one's for you, Trampass:


You never know what your bees are going to stick their little stingers into.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Big honker of an earthquake here, around midnight Eastern time. 4.6 on the Richter scale. Must have lasted 20 seconds or so. Then an aftershock about 15 minutes later.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Don't Like The TSA


Catchy tune. And the subject, of course, is poignant.

I do not, however, agree with these guys:


One of the most infuriating things (in my estimation) about the whole ridiculous TSA Barefoot Kabuki Dance is that it just takes so fucking long. In this age of science and technology, in which iPhones and Android and noise-canceling Bluetooth headsets can literally change our lives (for the better) overnight, I simply can't believe that Google or Apple or Dean Kamen can't invent a machine which we can walk through, fully clothed, with our laptops in our rollaboards, which will accomplish "security". These new "porno-scanners" may not be perfect, but to me they're a step in right direction, toward what I described in my previous sentence. I really don't give a shit if some Wackenhut-reject knuckle-dragging moron can see my junk or the roll of fat around my beltline. I just want to get through their hoops as quickly as possible and get to the Admiral's Club.

When leaving Hawaii for the mainland, you are scanned TWICE at the airport for FRUIT. I shit you not. You are scanned three times - once by the TSA and twice by THE FDA. I guess Osama must be sitting in his filthy, stinky cave in the mountains of Pakistan plotting to blow up LAX with an orange. It's way more infuriating than the TSA bullshit.

Both are carbuncles on the butt cheek of our society.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You Look Like Shit

Guaranteed. This will be the funniest thing you see all day.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Double Rainbow

Time: Thursday morning.
Place: My office window.
This is one seriously vivid-ass rainbow.

Actually it's a double rainbow.
We regularly see even triple rainbows around here. The absolute coolest is when you get a double MOONbow. The air is so clear here, and hence the moon is so bright, rainbows are visible at night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hangin' Wit Da Monk Seals

What a spectacular day here today. Last night, what NOAA calls an "Extra-Large-To-Giant" swell hit the Hawaiian Islands. So big that the North Shore was completely closed out, "Condition Red". Unsurfable, although those with the ability and equipment could tow in.

The waves were so huge that they wrapped completely around the island to Kihei, so I threw my board on the car, drove over to a spot called Guard Rails near Lahaina, and rode glassy little head-high waves all morning. Blue sky, glassy waves, and a couple of big fat lazy Monk seals dozing in the sun on the beach. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Monk seals are like housecats. They eat and they sleep, that's about it. They even have whiskers like housecats.

I topped off a great surf session by climbing into my hammock, making like a Monk seal, and dozing most of the afternoon away. A few more days like this one and I just may recover from 3 weeks without sleep at the World Equestrian Games.

From Pat Caldwell's O'ahu Surf Forecast:

The NNW component was generated by fetch starting late last Friday over 1200 nm long and 900 nm wide stretching from near Kamchatka to about 40°N latitude NNW of Hawaii, or about 1000 nm out, by mid Sunday. The winds in the 325-345 degree band ranged from gales to storm-force, with the strongest winds toward the eastern side of the Hawaii swell window. The jason altimeter on Sunday validated wave model expectations of seas over 40 feet in the patch aimed NE of Hawaii. For seas pointed toward Hawaii, heights were to 30 feet in an area about 1000 nm away late Sunday. Long period swell of 14-19 seconds from this source is expected to fill in locally Monday night, peak on Tuesday, and slowly drop on Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PGA Grand Slam of Golf

Greetings from the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton, Bermuda.

Enjoy the view.

The Whale Bay Battery is adjacent to the 15th Fairway. Originally built in the early 1600's, refurbished for modern guns in 1870.
Amongst the 4 Majors champions, Oosthuizen and Mickelsen bailed, so David Toms and Ernie Els are filling in. Nice gig to sub, as you're guaranteed $200K just to show.

The Rolex clocks are the same type as the ones used at the World Equestrian Games. NOTHING ELSE, however, is similar to ANYTHING in Kentucky.

Tomorrow the tee times have been moved up from 10:30 to 9:00, as bad weather is expected in the afternoon. After the first day, David Toms leads Els by one stroke.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Since my last post I've returned from the World Equestrian Games, slept about 15 hours a day for 4 days (being careful to stay on Eastern Time), and now in a few hours I'm out the door to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda.

Will post a few pikkies from the gorgeous Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton when I get a chance.

The only bummer about this trip is I change planes at DFW before Smoothie King opens. :=(

Funny how these gigs have social continuity (i.e. the same cast of characters). Johnny P and John R from Bexel occupied the office right next to mine at WEG; they packed up and headed to BDA directly from Lexington. I came home for a few days and will be working right alongside them on Saturday. Different sport, different country, different network, same week. Fortunately, those two particular fellas are great guys and super-talented at what they do, so working with them again in Southampton is something to look forward to.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

HD World

I apologize, loyal readers, for the dearth of material from the World Equestrian Games. I have been working around the clock, and have been lucky to get a few hours of sleep each night.

This morning I got here before 6 and none of the trucks were open, so I trotted up to the top of Rolex Stadium and snapped a few pre-dawn photos of my world:

Carr-Hughes / NBC compound.
Who's who in the zoo.
Don't forget The Bee!
Office space.

And the end result is.......this.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Jump #3 in the opening Speed Class at the World Equestrian Games...


I guess it would be more correct to write "FEI honors the skunk". It is not a case of "FEI honors The Skunk". In other words, nobody outside of the FEI TV office knows me from Ted Koppel.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day One In The Barn at World Equestrian Games

1st reining competition and the Opening Ceremonies are done. Today it's 7 AM and there are already two venues going.

One of CBS's NFL trucks, Super-Shooter 10

That CBS logo is already hidden under tape.

These days, a full HD production truck is actually two double-blowout trucks connected by a power bus and a data bus.
This is Super-B, which is essentially an edit suite here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monument to Rolex

Rolex isn't just a sponsor here...they are an object of worship. Here is the altar, all 8,000 lbs of it.

Does this horse have brass balls?

Just a thought. I'll check and get back to you.


Looks like the Scoring & Timing network has plenty of bandwidth!


T3 speed on the download side (34 Megs)

T2 speed on the upload side (6 Megs)

Just like Alpine Ski World Cup @ Lake Louise! (Not)

Friday, September 17, 2010

World Equestrian Games

After 2 1/2 years of preparation, it's finally here.

A lot of work ahead, but I've got my own office. With a T3 line! Wheeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TSA - Could it Be That John Pistole Is Actually Doing His Job?

With a few minutes to kill before driving to the airport today, I happened to surf onto the TSA blog, and saw the following comments from John Pistole, the head of the TSA:

"There seems to be a trend of TSO’s not recognizing TWIC cards at our checkpoints. As a result of your feedback, I will ensure that TSA officers receive the necessary refresher training to recognize TWIC cards and other government-issued ID's (Including NEXUS cards) brought to the checkpoint.

Thank you for raising this issue so we can improve our security screening process moving forward."

My bullshit detector went off like a nuclear bomb, given my experiences trying to use my Nexus card as ID at Kahului airport (OGG - the land that time forgot).

Pistole's comments were dated 8/20 (about three weeks ago).

As a refresher to my loyal readers, a Nexus card is several security levels above a passport. Obtaining one requires first getting a passport, then applying for Nexus status, agreeing to have your background investigated by the Feds, attending a personal interview with a TSA investigator, getting your retinas scanned, and undergoing a proctological exam.

Just kidding about the last part.

I haven't even attempted to use my Nexus card at OGG all summer, as the highly-trained TSA numbskulls are so clueless that they seldom even know what it is - even though it's 5 levels above a passport and about 25 levels above a drivers license - and when they do, they won't accept it anyway. Even with a printout of the TSA list of qualifying IDs, they never once have accepted it as my ID.

So, arriving at OGG plenty early, with no line whatsoever at TSA, I whipped out my Nexus card.

First TSA Agent: "Oh cool, a Nexus card. Hey Joe, check this out, a Nexus card".

Joe: "Hmmm, wow. I've never seen one either".

Both examine it carefully, front and back.

First guy, to Joe (who's apparently a supervisor): "The scan code is on the back, right?"

Joe: "Yes, same code as his passport".

First guy puts it under his light.

First guy, handing it back to me: "Very cool. Have a nice flight".

Me: "Thanks. That card is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Takes me a maximum of 15 seconds to get through Customs, no matter how long the line is".

First guy: "Nice." appears that John Pistole, head of the TSA, is actually doing his job. Given my faith in the US Government, it could have been a fluke. But perhaps not.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

They're Packin'm in At Spruce Meadows

Nations Cup day. What....are they giving away free beer? The place is packed.

Not one empty seat in this grandstand.

Nor in this one.
Also Holland day. Tulips and clogs.

The Americans won! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Holland: Close but no cigar.
Look at that fabulous video wall interface. Who is the ingenious programmer who came up with that? Oh yeah, that would
Big flags on the video wall for the Nations Cup. Big sponsor logo (BMO) too.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's Raining..... It's Pouring..... And Q.E.D, The Old Man....

.....the old man must be in Calgary for The Masters at Spruce Meadows.

Soggy at Spruce.

Must be The Masters - says so right on top of the grandstand.

One good thing about rain: the gloomy skies make the video walls look like they're a few billion candlepower.
Foul weather gear.

Friday, September 03, 2010

No Bullseye

Damn. If any place on this planet deserves to be flattened by a natural disaster, it's the US Open. But not this year.

A few rain delays is all they got out of Earl.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Will Earl Hit The Bullseye At The US Open?

Should be an interesting weekend at the US Open, with Hurricane Earl bearing down on Long Island.

On one hand, I feel sorry for my good friends at That Sports Technology Company From Jacksonville, because bad weather only makes a terrible event even worse. WAY worse. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the roof of The Batcave leaks - directly onto my former desk.

A bad-weather shout-out to Lloyd, Trampass, Dingo, Cockroach, and all the other poor bastards marooned in Hell. Break out the trash cans, boys!

On the other hand, I do SO enjoy reading about USTA officials squirming and ahem-ing and haw-ing at those contentious, weather-delay press conferences. Trying to explain how they managed to spend $270 million of USTA members' money on a poorly designed, poorly built, leaky stadium. In the midst of a blighted, violent slum. Which was obsolete before it was finished. And which remains the only Grand Slam tournament without a retractable roof (Melbourne has TWO, Wimbledon's Centre Court has one, Roland Garros' roof will be ready in 2011).

Answering to a bored, pissed-off, stir-crazy press corp is the yearly cross the USTA must bear for amazingly bad decision-making and incompetence.

The middle weekend is, in relative terms, the best time for a hurricane to hit The Open. If the weather has been decent for the first 4 or 5 days, the schedule collapses from 16 to 10 courts. The Juniors can wait, or they can always be farmed out to local indoor facilities. But the ticketholders get screwed. Let's say you flew in to NY from (wherever) for Labor Day Weekend to enjoy some tennis. Odds are you'll get back on the plane without ever having seen a ball struck, with a "rain check" for a Monday or Tuesday session you'll never attend. If this was the Australian Open in Melbourne (by far the best tennis tournament in the world), you'd have gotten a belly full of tennis at Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, both of which have retractable roofs.

Labor Day weekend tix to the US Open are the hottest tickets in NY. This year, it looks like they may be worthless. And the USTA has nobody to blame other than themselves.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's All Taking Shape at TBird

Notice the integration of video and timing data. The cycling video is an AVI from Solvang TT at the Tour of California last year.

A rack mount holds all the guts.

This studly young feller is the boss of showjumping operations at Thunderbird

The "real" mounting hardware won't be here until tomorrow, so for now the display is strapped to a flatbed.