Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Happy Island

Mens room, Kahului airport (OGG).

A more creative graffiti artist would have drawn in flip-flops.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Preparations for World Equestrian Games

HD production trucks in the TV compound
Single-mode fiber pedestal in the TV compound

Denise: "GRFX Chick"
Daktronics ProStar in Outdoor Stadium

I was asked by "TV Producer" to come to the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event for a few days to attend production meetings for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

My involvement with WEG has been a long and winding road. Originally, I put in a bid to be the overall provider of all timing & scoring + TV graphics. WEG decided to go with a Dutch technology provider, which was a disappointment on many fronts. I didn't really understand, amongst other things, why WEG management would even consider a non-US provider in these difficult economic times. But politics work in mysterious ways. You smack your head up against the office wall a few times, curse a bit, and move on.

After "Dutch Provider" did the World Cup Final in Las Vegas last year with "TV Producer" as the host, I was asked to come back into the mix. "TV Producer" has decided not to take "Dutch Provider"'s graphics for WEG. "TV Producer" will do the whole event (almost 150 hours of live TV, plus 4 two-hour shows on An American Network) via interfaces, D.P. will provide only data. And Interfaces R Us. So, another twist of fate, and I'm back booking flight tix to Lexington Airport.

WEG and Kentucky Horse Park are a somewhat odd public / private partnership, which is usually a recipe for disaster. But in this week's meetings, I was impressed with much of the infrastructure the State of Kentucky has provided. On paper, the fiber backbone (actually two BBs, one for TV and one for networking) is a nice design. I see a couple of problems, and a couple of areas where I would have done things differently, but the plan will work. I was pleasantly surprised with the expertise of the infrastructure team people from the State.

Should be an interesting September.

I really enjoy working for "TV Producer". The company is run by two really cool, unusual and talented guys, the production team is populated by lots of other cool and talented people, and the general competency of the whole outfit is WAY high. The workplace takes on almost a family atmosphere, which stands in stark contrast to many production outfits, in which the atmosphere can be toxic. Those of you who work in TV know all about The Screamers; there's none of that at "TV Producers".

WEG will be a long and difficult event, we'll be on the air 4-8 hours a day for 16 days, so working in a nice atmosphere with laid-back people will make things a lot easier.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tracks of the Rare Alpine Skunk Spotted at Snowbasin

Yesterday I went alpentouring on Strawberry at Snowbasin, which has been closed for the season for about a week. Beautiful, cloudless day. Warm. Not a soul in the same ZIP code. No tracks in the snow, except for the paw prints of a few critters.

The whole time I was up there, I kept thinking about the old "Last Run" photo-essay on the last page of SKI magazine. Every month, they'd publish some irony-laced photo on the inside of the back cover, many dealing with desperate skiers dealing with the end of the ski season. I wouldn't know anything about that.

The other thing running through my mind was the memorable K2 ski print ad from a few years back, which showed a guy camped in the parking lot of Copper Mountain in the middle of the summer, alone with his SUV and a tent, reading a copy of SKI magazine while sitting in a lawn chair. Shirtless. His ski boots and a freshly-tuned pair of K2s sat on the tarmac beside him.

I toured around for over 5 hours in a t-shirt. Got some really fun turns in the untracked snow, which was, admittedly, pretty slushy.

Discovering alpentouring whilst marooned in Austria in the winter of 2004 has enlarged my repertoire, enhanced my fitness, and increased my enjoyment of skiing immeasurably. It has opened up a whole new world to me.

The runout at the bottom of Strawberry, named "Last Chance", was beyond slushy. It was downright melted. But I snapped the perfect shot for SKI magazine's Last Run.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My George Clooney Moment at 37,000 Feet

Today I flew aboard American Airlines flight 2527 from Dallas to Salt Lake City. As the plane was on initial climb, I reached into the seat pocket in front of me and grabbed a copy of "Celebrated Living", American's First Class-only inflight magazine. Andy Garcia was on the cover.

CL is considerably more upscale than American's regular inflight mag, advertising $50,000 wristwatches, and Aston Martins, and all sorts of ostentatious stuff I really have no desire to own.

I flipped through it idly, waiting for the seat belt sign to go off so I could whip out my phone and listen to a couple of NPR podcasts I'd downloaded at the gate. An article entitled "Global Rut Busters", about exotic vacations in places like Belize and Norway, caught my eye. Seemed interesting. As I flipped toward the end of the article, on page 56, I saw two photos

More precisely, not so much as photos of me, but photos in which I was one of several subjects. But it is definitely me, I've seen both photos before, they were done in a professional photo shoot about 6 or 7 years ago.

I guess guys like George Clooney and Lance Armstrong get used to seeing themselves in that type of context, but not me. I have, on occasion, appeared in a few sports and computing magazines, but I always knew beforehand. This one, I had no idea. I just ran across it out of dumb luck.

In a small, lame way, it was pretty cool.

My good friend Donnie Arnoult, a former elite professional bicycle racer, owns a bike shop called Maui Cyclery, as well as Go Cycling Maui, which is sort of fantasy camp for bike racer wanna-be's. Go Cycling Maui made CL's "bucket list", and the article was accompanied by two photos showing the Maui Cyclery racing team riding, as a group, down our exotic-looking roads.

It's easy to tell which rider I am, because on the day those photos were shot, I was wearing a Briko "Twinner" helmet, which are rare in the US, and have a distinctive shape.

I was really happy for Donnie, because the article spoke in glowing terms of Go Cycling Maui, and it listed the shop's phone number. I'd guess, pulling a figure out of my ass, it was about $40,000 or $50,000 of free advertising. As soon as the plane landed, I called him and told him all about it.

I grabbed 3 or 4 copies and will FedEx them out to him tomorrow, since I'm on the road and won't see him until the end of the month.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This Is One Clever Teenager.


Now THAT is clever.

As a personal aside, I've always thought North Face stuff was crap, at least as far as skiwear goes. I own none of it. The gold standard, as far as I'm concerned, are Spyder and Descente. FlyLow is my favorite for more backcountry-oriented apparel.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Quote of the Day

"If it flies, floats, or it".

- Felix Dennis, author and billionaire.