Monday, February 27, 2006

Feb 27 2nd day in Venice and then 3rd day off to Milan

Last Friday, the 25th was our 2nd day in Venice. We got to sleep in longer than usual. All the other days we had wake up calls anywhere between 6am to 6:30am and had to be on the bus anytime between 7:00 to 7:45am, depending on the tours schedule. We met our tour guide at 9am and walked to the boat docks and boarded a boat we all could fit in and rode to the island of Murano, known for glassblowing factories. We had a wonderful demonstration by a Master glassblower, who made a vase and a horse standing on its back legs. The horse was clear but had a blue color streaked through it. He created the shape of the horse from a blob of hot glass in only about 2 minutes. Then someone talked to us in a showroom about the different colors, and prices, etc. Then we had awhile to browse... there was room after room after room of things. I picked up one small tumbler shaped item with blue panels on it. There were scenes of Venice on each panel. One scene was of a person in costume to represent the Carnivale. A salesperson told me I could pick it up. I thought it was 210 Euro but at a closer look, I saw it was 1210 E - Yikes! I very carefully set it back down and walked away from it! Luckily one of the others asked where ornaments were, which I was interested in, so I followed her. They were in a room down one floor where things were much cheaper..... you know, the room they do not like to tell you about. I am sure most things were not of the highest standard. I found vases and horses like the one the Master had made in our demonstration - it turned out that these were the demonstration pieces. The vases were only 20E and the horses were only 10E so of course I had to get those. The vase had their stamp on it too which is great. They would not take a credit card nor ship them so I have been carrying them around. They are very light luckily and are packed well with bubble wrap. I do not want to carry them on our train trip so will need to get them shipped home. After that we got back on the boat and went to the island of Burano. The houses and shops there are all different colors and there are alot of nice little stores and restaurants. I bought myself a carnivale mask and a small mask that is a wall hanging (like a jesters head with paper curls with bells on them. The paper has scenes from Venice on them. I had been looking for one of those too, so was happy to find just the right one. I also bought 2 pieces of jewelry that were made by the couple who run the store. BTW, it was a rainy, cold day. After those boat tours I walked around a bit with the G5 girls and Mama and then I went back to the room to chill out. I later walked around to window shop and bought myself a nice sandwich and a pastry to eat in my room. I saw the figure skating exhibition on tv which I was happy about - it went late though.

The next day we left Venice and went about 2 hours to Verona, where Juliette and Romeo were supposed to have been. There is a colosseum there that in the summer is used as an outdoor theater. We saw a statue of Juliet underneath what they are claiming to be the balcony she stood at to call to Romeo, although there is no proof she ever lived in that house The guide told us that people have been rubbing one spot of the statue and that now that spot shows its original brass color - turns out the spot is her right breast (she is dressed). We did not get time to rub it, but I think I can live without having done that. We then bussed another 2 hours to Milan. We were going to be dropped off in a square for 2 hours to walk around. I was pooped and opted to go back to the hotel. Later we went to a very neat restaurant for our farewell dinner. I one of the few that got dressed up and I even wore my mask for a bit and everyone took photos of me. We all had our goodbye hugs and said we will e-mail eachother, which I already have some of them so they will have it when they get home. Yesterday, I took a train from Milan to Turin, which was 2 hours. I was shocked that it was only 7.90 Euros. Then I took a 2 1\2 bus ride to Pragelato that only cost 4.70 E. Cheap enough! A woman who joined the trip part way sat next to me. She spoke a little English and was determined to talk to me. She was very nice. I asked her the correct way to pronounce suitcase and she said I could say baaggage. I needed to remind the driver that I had luggage underneath as I could see at each stop that people would open the underneath of the bus and get their things out themselves, and I wanted him to leave me enough time to do that. The woman who sat next to me got off before me and she very kindly told the driver about my luggage and he actually got out and opened up the bus for me. So, the tour was awesome, and I highly recommend this tour and the company, which is Globus. I want to go back and see Southern Italy.

David and I will leave here on Thursday and start our train adventure. We will get home on March 10th. I will write and include photos sometime after that. Take care.
Ciao, ciao. Love and take care, Mom\Rosemary

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Feb 26th - a bit more info from Rosemary ref first day in Venice

Ref our first day in Venice I forgot something else important we did!! After a 4 hour bus ride from Florence to Venice and then in amongst all the other things we did on Thursday, we also went on the gondola ride I told you we were going to do!! There were 6 of us plus the "driver" in one gondola - it was a bit tippy - and we were told to NOT MOVE. I tried to put my head back just a bit to take a photo and even that was too much so I didn't move after that. One of the gondolas in our group had just 4 people from the tour in it, the "driver", a person playing an accordian and a singer. All of our gondolas got around that one and he serenaded us. It was beautiful. Then we went in a line down a small canal and he'd sing from time to time.

The water there is a murky green color and there is some trash floating in the water and there is a bit of an unpleasant smell from time to time but with all the other wonderful things, sights and sounds of Venice, you forget about that. It does have tides and sometimes the water comes up into the streets...knee or higher deep. They have a siren they blare if that is going to happen and then shops put out something in front of them to protect them and boards on risers are put out some places out so people can walk above the high water. We saw some of the boards in a church. I'm glad the water didn't rise up while we were there. We saw holes in the streets for drainage. I'm tuckered and going to sign off. Ciao, ciao, Love, Mom/Rosemary

Feb 26th - Rosemary's back from the tour -

Ciao! I got back from Milan today and David picked me up at the bus stop. I was SO glad to see him! He got to me to our condo and then had to go back to work. It will be a long rest of the day for them. They might not be back till midnight.

I am not good at typing on laptops as it is, but I am on Brian's now, with a smaller keyboard so I will apologize now for any mispellings and sentences that may not make sense. I may not go back to correct them.

So, let's go back to 3 days ago, when our tour arrived in Venice - WOW!! We were dropped off at some docks and we boarded water taxies. These boats have very low roofs but 3 of us sat on the back bench where there was like a sun roof open. We stood up, marveling at all the sights - churchs and colored buildings and beautiful lamp posts and gondolas, etc, etc - we felt like we were standing through a sunroof of a limo! I felt so lucky to have that opportunity to see so much and take so many photos (which I'll see when I can download them on to David's computer tomorrow) which I couldn't have if I had sat under the wooden roof. Everything is taken by boats - including caskets - I saw one covered in flowers on a gondola that was heading to the island that has their cemetery on it. (yes, I took a photo of it - now, you know you would have too!). The other thing I was excited about as we entered Venice was that Venice has a Mardi Gras and we were arriving on the next to the most festive day of it! (that was Thursday...the biggest day will be this coming Tuesday). After getting off the boat, we walked through small streets, and over bridges that were arched shaped, that had boats and gondolas going under them - there were lots of people in the streets...some wearing masks (I had seen some of these masks in Florence and wanted to buy one then but decided to hold out till I got to Venice.) We got to our hotel -- the entrance was in front of 1 of those arches bridges. We had a little free time to get lunch before our next tour, so I went with the 2 ladies I've mentioned before and a Mom and her 2 daughters (who are 24 & 29) - they can "smell" good food and pastries and hot chocolate shops a mile away! They'll buy 5 or 6 different pastries at once and share them, to see which ones they like best. We had a delicious lunch, which we ate while walking. I wanted to sit down but they wanted to keep moving, so I did too. Those 5 ladies are a LOT of fun. Then, we went with a local guide to a large square and into a town hall. While were in the square, and supposed to be paying attention to the guide, we were all distracted by people that were starting to enter the square, in costumes. Some costumes were very elaborate, so of course we had to take photos. The people would stop and pose. Some had their own photographers with them and did some elaborate poses. I felt bad for the guide but I think we all were getting a bit "guided toured" out, especially with the Carnivale atmosphere around us. After the tour was over, the two daughters I told you about earlier bought bird seed and we all took turns holding food and letting pigeons come onto our hands, arms, head, etc. It was such fun. We went to a shop and I got the best hot chocolate I've had so far - they've all been different. Some have actually been almost as thick as chocolate pudding. This one was light with gobs of real whipped cream (panna) on top. We got our way back through the crowds to our hotel - we had decided to go out to dinner and then back to the square to attend a free concert that was for the carnivale. I was feeling frazzled and thought I'd get to rest but the others said "we are leaving in 10 mins!" We had to bundle up as it was getting really cold out. So, after hemming and hawing, I decided I'd never have this opportunity again, and I didn't want to go alone, so I went with them. Someone else had scoped out a neat restaurant with great, yet inexpensive food so that's where we had dinner. We got our orders in just before hoards of other people came in. After eating and looking in shops (there are lots of neat shops) we went to the square. They were playing piped in music and showing photos from a projector onto the very tall clock tower that is there. At 9pm the tension was mounting and the musicians came on stage - trumpets and a tuba.....a tuba?? The music started slow and after some songs it got more upbeat (no singing, just instruments). Those that understood the significance were boogying on down, but we didn't get it - we tried to boogie anyways. As the crowd became more intense and the pushing and shoving started we linked arms and formed a circle... we became the "G-5" and held our ground. We weren't supposed to "break the circle" but I let an insistant woman get through and then others followed and I almost got whisked away with them, but I held on and got back in the circle. We had our own fun time. We all agreed that every single song sounded the same. Another, larger band came on and they played the same song the first group did!! - or so it souned to us. If someone next to us was doing something strange (which happened alot) we'd move our circle, in mass, away from them. Well, I am beat and can't write anymore. I'll try to write more soon.
Ciao, ciao and Love, Mom/Rosemary

Friday, February 24, 2006

The food

I know, we have already been supplying details about the food and how wonderful and fattening it is. And it is wonderful and it is very fattening....I now weigh 450lbs. And Brian is already over 300. What I want to write about is the food preparers. Our caterers.

When I first arrived here, I met Paul, the American, and Paul, the Australian. Paul the American is our Catering Manager. He does events all over the world and had a house in Montana that he told me he has actually seen 5 times in 4 years. He finally sold it because he just was never home. In his early 40's, he just travels the world, doing these type of events. Paul the Aussie is just crazy. He is the chef, always singing, always telling "naughty stories" and loves life. I gave both Pauls a NBC pin when I first got here and I seem to have made friends for life. They have made sure my food needs as well as the crew have been taken care of. On one of our dark days, we don't have them prepare any food, just cooked to order because so few come in. I kiddingly said to Paul the Aussie "how about Eggs Benedict"? A panicked look came over his face as he asked me if I would like an omelet instead. Yes, the next dark day he supplied me with my Eggs Benedict (and the rest of the crew that did show up) with real, home made hollandaise sauce. During the rest of the dark day, with the crew gone off on "special assignment" (day off), I was doing my reports that NBC makes me do each day. My desk faces the catering tent and as I am strugglling thru each report, I notice a flash of blue go across my window.....It is Super Chef...a strange Australian creature that prowls the earth to feed those in need. Paul, the Aussie, had a blue cape and a mask and was running thru the compound with a crowd of people following. The Carabinieri (state police) came out and all had their pictures taken with him. The guy is just plain nuts.

So, as I sit here writing this Blog, my last story sits on my desk. I have a terrible sweet tooth. Doctors tell me not to eat chocolate due to my acid reflux. I am usually pretty good following their rules except for I slip from time to time. There was aMars bar on our catering table and I grabbed it for a quick snack (honest, Dr. Malonzo, that was the first and only one so far). So I kiddingly said to Paul, the American "got any more Mars bars?" I now have a case sitting on my desk, just for me.

Ciao from Pragelato Plan

Super Chef

Super Chef with Willetta

Paul the American

Thursday, February 23, 2006

As Rosemary has written she is off to Venice and we have a dark day and Brian is again skiing in the Alps, I guess I am left to report on the day.

We have three more days of the Olympics and two more competitions days. These last two will be the "marathon" type of competitions where the women ski for 30km and the men will ski for 50km. It is a mass start and they will race for over two hours. It should be interesting for the length of time they will ski. But they always save this for the last events of the Olympics because it is such a tiring race.

Last night, ski jumping venue closed so there was a party at the hotel to celebrate the closing of the event. Our crew took the opportunity to give Willetta, our Broadcast manager, and myself a bottle of wine and a signed picture thanking us for our help in making their jobs easier. It was one of those traditional suppers where it started at 9:30p and went past midnight. I got tired of waiting for food to show up so I left early and went back to our chalet. They partied on.

With this Olympics winding down, I will start to give my final impressions on Sunday. I am sure Brian will share his final impressions of his first Olympics and what he liked and didn't like.

I would have included more pictures but I think you have seen enough of our Alps.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Feb. 22 Ciao from Rosemary in Florence

Hello again! Last night we went to a restaurant in Tuscany, up in the hills. It used to be a Hunting Lodge. Very nice place. Too bad it was dark out, so we could not enjoy the views that were along the way and back. When we got there, we were given a welcome glass of BLUE wine. It is a sweet wine and I actually drank it. As our tour guide said, if nothing else, it makes for great conversation. Several people bought bottles of the blue wine when we left. I wanted to but they do not ship it and only make it for the restaurant and I have no where to pack it, etc. We had a lovely dinner and were entertained by a guitar player and a singer. I am finding, that the singers gravitate to me - seeing that I do not have a companion and they sing a song to me. Interestingly, both times this has happened, the men have sung a song called Maria. I told the first guy earlier this week that my name is Rosemary and he finished the song singing Rosemary instead of Maria. I am sure they give me this extra treatment thinking it will assure them a bigger tip. :=)

Today we were taken to Pisa, which was a 1 1\2 hr drive from here. The tour guide said we could see the top of the Dome, Church and Leaning Tower of Pisa when we got close to the town but I could not see if from the bus. We were then taken in a shuttle that was a little train (like in Disneyworld) to the entrance, which was several arches. Let me back up and say it was pouring when we got there. As we walked under the arches, it stopped raining and you could clearly see those 3 buildings. It was amazing feeling... kind of like going from Black & White to color, in the Wizard of Oz. We walked all around, taking all kinds of wonderful photos and, of course, scoped out the best spot to take a photo that would make it look like we were trying to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (Kitty, one of the women I hang with alot) found a great spot and we had fun doing that. You cannot get real close to the building but close enough. There were some neat shops there but we had to get back to the bus.

I meant to add yesterday that I rarely buy books of towns while on vacation, but I have bought several this trip because there is just so much to see that I did not get to see and many places you cannot take photos, or cannot take good enough photos. I have bought a lot of postcards to keep as well.

After we left Pisa we came back the 1 1\-2 hrs then went another hour or so to the Verrazzano Castle for a tour of the place and their wine cellar. We then had what they called a light lunch (which was a lot of food) and did wine tasting. It was a lot of fun. I did try the 3 wines, but only liked the 1st one, as it was the lightest. We also had a wine at the end that you dip biscoti in. I did not like that wine at all but loved the biscoti! The views from this place were beautiful and there was another vineyard across the way from this place. The road to it was narrow and did not have guard rails - it is up a long hill so we were a bit nervous at times. Our bus driver does an awesome job.

Many people have headed back into the shopping area but I wanted to stay back here to reorganize my suitcase of stuff, etc., and also to not be tempted by more shopping. We leave for Venice tomorrow morning (it will be a 4 hour ride) and many of us are saving our big shopping for the Glass place on the island of Murano on Friday. I really hope the tour allows us sufficient time to look there and shop. I know we will get to see Glassblowers at work. After we do some scheduled sightseeing tomorrow, some of us are going to take an optional tour, which is to go on a Gondola ride, where we will be serenaded. I am really looking forward to it! According to our guide, if you go on your own, the ride is supposed to be 30mins but often it is only 20min and they do not serenade you (I would be so bummed!!). Our tour is supposed to be 40mins long.
Oh, others on the tour told me that the guide told them at the WElcome dinner (that I missed) that the hotel in Venice will not be nice like the ones we have been in but it is in a location close to things we will want to walk to, so we are all wondering what the hotel will be like. We mainly only sleep there anyways, so it really does not matter as long as we feel safe.

I am hearing sounds that are either a lot of furniture being moved or thunder. It has rained off and on the past 2 days here which has made it quite chilly. Well, I am going to sign off now.
I probably will not get back on here until I am back in Pragelato Plan. I hope you are all well.
Love and Ciao! Rosemary

Special Assignment

I got a chance to steal away from the venue for a chance of a lifetime.

I went skiing in the Italian Alps! What was crazy about it, was that we took a lift to the top of a mountain, and from there you skied to other mountains which had more lifts that took you to other mountains. The number I heard was 62 miles of skiable terrain. Crazy time. The gentlemen I skied with, from our venue, had skied in France the previous time. While we were skiing from town to town of Italy, they had skied from country to country (France to Italy and back).

I started skiing downhill when I was 7. Now, many years later, I got a chance to ski in a different country. Of course the whole time I was trying to figure out how not to break my leg, since I haven't skied in over a year. Fortunately, I never fell. Of course I probably looked a little goofy sometimes. But, I never fell.

The terrain wasn't terribly difficult, but there were two points that made the whole trip worth it:
1. There was no one on the hill. It was Monday, and we saw some school kids and older people, but the slopes were ours. No lines. it was great.
2. The view was incredible. When we got to the bottom of the "hill" (and I use quotes, because it was more of a valley of a couple dozen peaks) there was a 360° view of mountain tops. No buildings, no power lines, the only sign of humans was the chair lift. It was beautiful. If only I had my camera with me. Oops.

After a long grueling day of skiing we went to Antique Astere. This was across the street of the La Grappe. It looked just like La Grappe, but the food was better. We walked in at 7:30, and they told us to come back in half an hour. When we did, we sat next to the fire place in a very comfy loveseat. Food and wine never stopped arriving. Antipasta, salad, spinach quiche, filet, creme brulee, oh my. The wine was excellent. We had white, red, and something the owner called the "Number one wine in Italy".

Between the skiiing and the dinner, I slept very well that night!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Feb. 21st -Rosemary does Florence - hmm that does not sound right. :-)

Ciao everyone!!!
Last Friday was an odd day. A taxi picked me up at the condo complex at 6am. It has snowed so roads had been sanded and it was slow going at first (ok with me) until we got onto the highway and then the cab driver booked it. Got to Torino airport in plenty of time. It was foggy but not bad. By the time my plane was to take off for Rome, airport was fogged in. Planes were delayed. Then, there were lots of announcements about the flight in Italian but not in English. I just watched teh other people - I figured if they were not leaving, that the flight had not been cancelled. And nothing on the monitors about it. I finally could not stand it and got up to the person at the desk and got an explaination in English. Our plane got diverted to a smaller airport in between Torino and Rome and we were going to be bussed for 1 1\2 hrs to that airport. All was very well organized. Took plane from there, got to Rome airport at 3:15, missing tours bus to hotel by 15mins. Had to wait till 6pm for next bus. Ride to hotel was CRAZY. Traffic was insane. We were on cobble stone roads so it was noisey. Most cars are very kind is a SMART Car...very tiny. It is coming to the US at some point. It is not street legal as far as the US is concerned yet, but apparently it is not a problem here. I missed the Welcome dinner party for the tour guests. Turned out I was the last one to arrive, which was funny since I was coming from inside Italy. I was tired, hungry, and feeling bad for myself. Ate dinner alone..sigh. But, next day, all turned around and Ive been having a FABULOUS time since! OMG, there is SO much to see in Rome! In one day, we went to the Vatican City, The Coloseum, some catacombs, the out to a wonderful restaurant, where we were surprised by entertainment... 3 opera singers and a strolling guitar player. The next day I took an optional tour to Pompeei. A 3 1\-2 hr drive each way. I honestly had no idea what to expect.. it was amazing! Yesterday, while driving to Florence we stopped at two Medevil (sp?) towns. It was wonderful. Today, we toured the Academy of Arts... saw the original statue of David. The local guides are very passionate and make you really appreciate the history, etc. I often feel overwhelmed about what I am doing.. where I am standing at the time, etc. This afternoon, I walked around Florence with 2 of the women on the tour. We finally tried some hot chocolate '- it was like just after you cook pudding. Then, we found a carousel!! My favorite ride! They rode on it with me.. we were the only ones to do it. Such fun. Oh, it has been fairly warm, except for today as it rained, which made it very chilly. Luckily it was never a real downpour. Traffic is crazy here too but not as insane as in Rome. There are much larger cars here. OH, also, there are gazillions of scooters here as there were in Rome. Easy way to get around.. and less expensive gas-wise. The two women I spent the afternoon with own a scooter dealership so they are all excited about all the scooters and things you can buy to do with scooters. Tonight we are going to a Hunting Lodge in Tuscany for dinner. Tomorrow to a castle for lunch and wine tasting. The hotel we are in now is very swanky - the kind with a phone and tv in the bathrooms.

Thank goodness I bought a 1Gig memory card - I do not know how many photos I have taken so far, but have about 700 plus left. Phew!

Nice to read the guys blogs since I have been gone.

I hope all is well with you! Love and Ciao! Mom\Rosemary

Monday, February 20, 2006

GE Man, our Olympic Snowman made by the crew

My turn.

Yesterday's event was the Men's 4X10km Relay. It is the "Superbowl" of cross country. It was still boring but we covered it. Unfortunately we had major storms in the area and many competitions were postponed including Men's Super G. This meant the prime time show was scrambling for programming and we were it. So the Production team planned out a 6 segment show with about 42 minutes of programming. Got the call from the Coordinating Producer that this was unnecessary and that to cut it back to 5 segments and keep it around 32 minutes of programming. So, we did our competition, got 5 segments together, and started to feed back to Torino. Well, in the middle of the feed, we got the call to maybe make it 6 segments and make it 35 minutes. So, we fed the show, re-cut the segments and it only took 4 hours to add 2 1/2 minutes to the segments we fed. The crew finally got out of here at 12:30a with a 15 hour day behind them.

People ask me why I take the smaller, un-important venues. My answer is "it pays the same". I don't need the glory (let Brian have that). I don't need the Olympic Challenge (same...give it to Brian). I just want to work the show, package it, and go home. To do some segments for prime time is a monumental pain in the rear. Don't need the glory, thanks.

We have a day off today and Brian has gone skiing. And Rosemary is in Florence. I think I will sleep today.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Our Jobs

The one question we're always asked is: What do you do? The reason it's difficult to describe, is because it encompasses so many different tasks.

My father is the Technical Manager for the Olympics. He was here, in Torino, a week before most of the crew arrived at the venue. His main job is to oversee the work done by all of the technical staff on site: the camera guys, engineers, tape guys, editers, etc. Not only does he have to make sure their doing their job, but coordinate with the Host Broadcaster (TOBO) to make sure our cameras are in the correct positions, that we have the correct feeds, etc. He also deals with the field shop, by coordinating delivery of equipment needed. And last, but not least, deals with the load out.

He deals with any technical issues that comes up. And, if he has done his job correctly (which he has), try and catch any issues that might come up, before they become an issue.

My job is titled Maintenance for the Olympics. Unfortunately the job title doesn't accurately describe what I do.

When I was a maintenance engineer for New Century Productions I fixed cables and equipment. I don't do that here. I don't have a soldering iron, connectors for cables, or any real tools to be able to fix anything in the field. Everything was checked before hand, to try and make sure all the cable and equipment work perfectly, so that we don't need someone with a soldering iron or connectors on duty all the time. There hasn't been a need for anyone to fix anything yet.

So, what do I do? I came into the venue with no knowledge of what kind of system I would have to work with. I was given a rack full of equipment, that had been wired up by someone else, a set of drawings, and box full of cable. I spent the first three days here wiring up what hadn't been done, out side of the C-World Control room. This meant interfacing with TOC (Technical Operations Center) for our 19 camera feeds, the Avid room (There are two Avids, one to digitize to and one to edit packages with), and TOES (Typical Old Edit System) where most of the packages are built.

After those three days, I just monitor equipment inside the C-World Control room to make sure that everything is operational. If I get a red light some where I'm not supposed to; I trouble shoot it as best I can, with what I have. If I can't fix it with the tools I brought with me, I just call one of the many technicians from the different vendors of equipment we're using and they fix it or replace it. This is a VERY nice gig.

We are NOT cameramen. There is nothing wrong with being a camera guy (except we get to stay inside a warm building or truck, while they freeze their patooties off). There is a HUGE chance you will never see us on television, as we're very rarely in the stadium working. The only time you might see us is if there is a problem with one of the cameras or a cable, you might catch a glimpse of us in the crowd. But don't look for us. You'll just get eye-strain.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just about half way

As we are getting close to the half way point, and Rosemary left early morning on her adventure, I thought I would talk about our venue in more of technical terms. The boring stuff.

Whenever you see a sports event on television, what you don't see is how it is put together. Normally there is a tv production truck, or in Europe, an OB van. In our case, we have what is called a fly-away system. Usually one or two cameras, a tape machine, and a small audio console for sound all packaged in shipping cases. We take our other cameras, microphones, and tape replay from the Host Broadcaster, in this case TOBO. In Olympics past, I worked for the Host Broadcaster and would have to deal with the 40 cameras, 12 tape machines, and over 100 mics. This time, working for NBC, I take all of their feeds plus their switched show. In NBC parlance, we are called a C-World venue. No OB van, and no 10-12 cameras, only 2. However, we are blessed with two roving ENG crews and 3 edit suites. So we are not a small venue and we do have over 45 people working.

As the snow FINALLY moves in. We had seen a lot of melting and this will help in the look up here. Not everyone is pleased, but we do need the snow.

The rack on the right is our "tv truck" and the people in the control room are getting ready for the race for the day. I am in the white shirt and bib ski pants down on the right. Normally I am just the supervisor for the venue but we are short staffed. I have been elected to be the technical director for this show as well as the video engineer. Brian, who took this shot, is the maintenance engineer, the part-time tech manager, the operations supervisor, etc, etc.

Our audio control room and audio engineer. It is really hard to tell but his tv monitors and speakers are on cardboard packing boxes. The aluminum foil is for blocking the light out and the panels are for sound baffling.

This is one of two non-linear edit suites (computer editers). They are both used for editting packages and features for insert within our shows. These people work long hours overnight to do most of the work. The person sitting to the left is a logger. She is an intern that actually doesn't get paid but is paying NBC to be here. Sigh....youth.

This is TOES. It stands for Typical Old Edit Suite. It is a 4 tape machine, 8 channels of video server, 32 channel audio console edit suite. All of the final pieces you see airing of Cross Country come from this room. All of the voicing and the original cuts come from the control room but are fed over to TOES. They will then clean any errors and do the final package to be sent back to the Broadcast Center in Torino. Interesting but the TOES maintenance engineer doesn't have any....toes that is. He was in a terrible motorcyle accident just before Athens and had half of his foot amputated. So the TOES engineer doesn't have any....toes. Sorry folks, I don't make them up, HE was the one that told me that and thinks it is very funny. Sick humor.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Feb. 15th - Rosemary's going on tour!

I was excited when they put the Olympic rings up on the hill. This in on the right side of the road, before the course for the cross country skiing.
This is the road we are on, that I keep talking about. It doesn't look too bad here, but when there are cars and big trucks coming both ways, with no sidewalks it is hard to walk on. There are usually lots of people walking on it too.

Hello again. Well, in two days I go on tour! Sounds like I am in a rock band. :=) I am being picked up by a taxi at 6am to be driven to the Torino Airport. Pricey but not many other options.
If anyone's interested, I'll be on this tour: Now, if this only takes you to Globus's home page, click on Europe, then Italy, then "Italy at Leisure". When you get to that page (it will have a map of where I'm going), you can click on Complete Itineray to find out where I'll be going and seeing each day. This will, in away, be like a replacement for daily blogs while I'm on tour, since I doubt I'll be able to do that.

This part is for "Dr. Mary" and any others interested in the food here - for lunch I had the most delicious pasta. Small shells that looked like hats (you can tell I'm a connosouire, huh?) with tuna, black olives and who knows what else. Oh, and with parmesean cheese on top, of course. Also, when I order at lunchtime, I can see the chef make my food up right then... nice and fresh.
Had some wonderful bread with butter that I didn't have to ask for this time.

So, this is likely my last blog entry for awhile. I think I'll be back here on the 27th. David & I will leave here on March 2nd and start train hopping through Switzerland and Austria. This will be our first time doing something like this. David and I will celebrate our 37th anniversary during that time. We'll be home on March 10th. I am so excited about the tour! Can't imagine what I'll see and experience. I hope you all will be well. A big thank you to Diane and Phil for giving the guys this blog site for Christmas. I know I've really enjoyed entering information and photos in to it and we've had good responses to it.

Ciao, ciao! Love, Mom/Rosemary

Feb. 15th Feeling very Olympic today!

"I am feeling very Olympic today!"
(from "Cool Runnings"). Taken in Sestriere 2/13

Hopefully you can see the very windy road in the 2nd photo. It is above the cross country skiing venue and goes up the side of the mountain. It is windy like this all the way and is two lanes. Thank goodness there are guardrails! This road leads to Sestriere. There is a beautiful view of the cross country ski course and other valleys from up there, but there is no where to pull over to take photos. The Church I included photos of yesterday is to the right of this area.

3rd photo: Compound David & Brian are in is in front. The condo complex in back. Just to show you how close condos are to where they work. The cross country skiing course is up the road abit and across the street.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Feb 14 - view from bedroom balcony & a Church

1st photo: the first building you see is the Spa at this's not open yet, sadly. Past that, and below it, is the compound David and Brian are working in, which I know you can't see much of. Past that is the Grandstand for the cross country skiing event..then the flags you see when the skiiers re=enter on the course in front of the Grandstand. 4th photo is top of mountains behind the grandstand.... about 5pm when light hits top of them. The Church is up a hill, past where the Cross Country skiing starts and finishes. Church photos were taken from the other side - from the road leading to Pragelato.

Feb 14th - newest article on David & Brian

Feb 14 - Photos From condo complex we are in, in Pragelato Plan

I 1st photo shows view from our room. 2nd shows front entrance to our condo - ours is last door at end. 3rd photo is backside of our condo so you can see some of the shutters..ours our on brown colored condo ...we have the balcony you can see in upper left. 4th photo is group of condos in the complex.

Feb. 14 - Backtracking - this is first hotel in Sestriere with view from our room.

Feb 14th. 2 more photos from that restaurant - there is text below them

These were taken last night. The other Dave was smart and said this was our Valentine's Dinner. In the one of me, I am melting one of FIVE hunks of cheese they gave me to melt and then pour over cooked potatoes.

Photos of The Unique Restaurant I was talking about - I can't seem to get them in the order I'd like, but after a few tries, this is close!

Feb. 14th. Some observations from Rosemary

Happy Valentine's Day! Here are some things I've observed/experienced while here.

1. Everyone we've met here so far has been very nice and helpful. If we can't communicate verbally, pantomiming, etc, works.

2. I've been asked to talk about the food. It is mostly very good - and too plentiful. At a US restaurant, we are lucky to get perhaps one roll a piece. Here, even if you are eating alone, you get a basket full of different breads. Hard to pass up, but I've been trying. You have to ask for butter (burro). Pasta dishes are amazing. Lighter than I'm used to. The parmesean cheese is much better too! Very fresh. I did have a pizza yesterday and although everyone else is raving about real Italian pizza (very light and on a very thin crust) I like the thick crust stuff from home much better.). Desserts are mostly wonderful. There are almost always 4 courses, which are 1-2 more courses than I'm used to or can hold. Water is big here. I don't know when I've drunk so much water on a trip but am glad to have it. We always get bottled mineral water, "still" (not fizzy). We haven't had a good steak yet. They are usually very thin, and tough. Sometime they are barely cooked. There was Hare in champagne in the buffet the other day - after I got over the idea of eating "Thumper", I tried one - it was awful. I think many others agreed as the next night they had Rabbit stew! (I'm assuming it was from all the leftover hare). I did not try it. Most candy and snacks I've tried are awesome. The front desk has some chocolates they are proud of and keep giving us but I don't like it - it is covered in what I would compare to as bitter sweet cooking cocoa powder.

We've eaten twice now at a very unique restaurant, that is up a tiny road, very close to here. David originally wrote about it, but then didn't end up posting the info, so I will tell you about it and include some photos later. It is a small place, all stone inside. Lots of stone arches. Looks like it might have been a wine cellar at some point. The first time we went, the menu was all in Italian so we had no idea what was on it. A man, who we thought was a customer, came over and explained the entire menu to us. Turned out he was one of the owners. He lives in Turin.
Their specialites are fondues (remember the "rage" of fondue pots in the 70's..or was it the 80's?). You can also cook food on hot "stones"...flat cooking tops over burners. The food cooks much quicker on these "stones". When we had supper there last night, they had a 4 course menu, in 3 languages, including English, with one price per person: 50 Euros. It included everything, including wine or beer, and Grappa at the end. If you haven't had Grappa before, it is a clear drink to help you digest your food. I did not have it, but the two Daves had it -- it smelled like lighter fluid or something equally as nasty. I wish I'd had my camera on when the other Dave took his first drink - the look on his face was priceless! You definitely wouldn't want to light a match while drinking that stuff! Oh, the first time we went, I asked for the "toilette" and the person took me outside! The bathrooms are in a separate building across the alley way. Nice bathrooms, but cold!

Speaking of bathrooms.. in Europe, you never know what you'll find as a method to flush them. It is always an experience. Something new to me here, is that they all lock differently. I often worry about getting locked in. That happened to one girl and she later found out that there was a different button to press to unlock the door. Odd.

3. Television: Many commercials, although in Italian, have American songs, sung in English, in them. I saw ____ Superstar (I couldn't read the first word in the title - it was too small) the other night - it is their "American Idol". The intro music was the same. The contestants sang American songs, in English! Even though the judges responded in Italian. The show I saw was the one where someone gets "kicked off" due to receiving the lowest points. They were down to about 7 contestants, who, at this point, are very close. Although it was in Italian, and I had no emotional investment in any of the contestants, I still became misty-eyed as they announced who would stay and who would go.

4. Oh, just one housekeeper has just arrived.. there are probably more waiting to pounce. :=)
This one speaks some English - yeah! I can finally tell someone to not bother to put on the comforter back on our bed (it is too heavy and hot) and see if she can get us another blanket. I could have written out this request from my phrase book, but I've tried that on other occasions, and from the looks I've gotten back from the people I've spoken to, it makes me wonder if the phrase book has tricked me into saying things I shouldn't! :=) Or, I'm guessing it is my bad pronounciations. Wow, she went right out and got me a blanket - yeah! It doesn't take much to make me happy. I want to keep her!! I spoke to someone yesterday who has an apartment in Turin and she had housekeepers who were doing the exact same things as the housekeepers here - and she felt the same way I do. When they started sending 4 people at a time, she got so bothered by everything, that she fired them! She knows someone else with an apartment who fired her housekeepers too! Whoa! I have actually gotten accustomed to the comings and goings and am just prepared to put on my parka and work on staying warm while there are here. yesterday I was wishing I had hot chocolate to offer them.

5. Airborne -- one day, after the housekeepers had left so many windows and doors open, I felt a cold coming on. I had bought "AirDefender" which is a take off of Airborne. I wish you could just swallow a pill, but you have to dissolve a pill in a small amount of water. It fizzes like Alkazeltzer. It tasted awful and I got some unpleasant side effects (intestinal) But I did NOT get a cold! Hmmm..I'll have to weigh out the pros and cons before considering taking this stuff again!

5. I've been watching some of the Olympics on tv. The photography is amazing, but, as I know it is back home, events are chopped up, so you only see bits of several different events. Brian told me that during one of the cross country skiing events, some man tripped in the beginning, tripping up other skiiers. He even broke his ski. He was dead last, but amazingly, he endured and came in 2nd at the finish line! Now, that's an "Olympic moment"!!! I'm sure they people he tripped up weren't too happy though. BTW, if you should watch some of the downhill skiing, you will sometimes see a side view. There is a camera that travels 60mph to follow them! Pretty neat. It takes awhile to get back up the long hill though, so it can't follow every skiier.

I will work on including some photos next. Ciao, ciao! Rosemary

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The real article....

A few days ago a reporter from Foster's Daily Democrat e-mailed my father and I hoping to get info for a story he was writing on locals and their connection with the Olympics. After reading the article, it's easy to tell that he NEVER read our e-mails, and read the display my father has at the town hall, in Madbury. If you are a local to the area (Madbury, NH) I strongly recommend you go to the town hall and check it out (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Here are the questions John Doyle, from Foster's Daily Disappointment, asked, and our responses:

From John Doyle:
Brian and/or Dave,

Here's hoping you'll check your email before too late . . . I am a reporter for Foster's Daily Democrat in Dover, NH. I would like to file an article this week on your adventures in Italy for the newspaper. It is my hope that email will be the most efficient vessel of communication for this report.

I understand that you are extremely busy out there, but I was hoping Brian and/or Dave could find a few minutes to answer a few questions that I can use in the article. I hope to file this report for Thursday, Feb. 9, so I would need your comments as soon as possible. As I write this, it is approx. 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Dover, N.H., which I believe means it's about 10:30 p.m. in Turino.

--First, please comment on your experience in Italy so far (also, please specify who is speaking, Brian or Dave):

--What have you been doing to prepare for the task of producing the Games for television?

--Dave, what is one of your best memories of working at the Olympic Games?

--I understand you will be helping to produce the Biathlon coverage for NBC. Any thoughts on the challenges of producing such a unique event?

--Do either of you have any additional comments?

Thank you again for your time. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to respond to this email or, if possible, reach me at one of the numbers below. Thanks.
John Doyle Staff Sports Writer Foster's Daily Democrat Dover, N.H. 603-742-4455 x5515 800-660-8310 x5515

My Response:
This is Brian Raynes:

My experience in Italy so far has been amazing. The Italians have been very nice. Where we are staying in Pragelato Plan is in a valley, surrounded by snow capped mountains. When the sun rises over the mountain, in the morning, it is breath-taking.

Working for NBC Olympics has been a challenge, as it is the largest event I've been a part of, as a broadcast engineer. I've worked on the World Series in 2004, when the Red Sox won, the US Open (Tennis) for the last two years, and I worked the last Goodwill games, in Brisbane, Australia. But, nothing compares to the Olympics. The crew here have been wonderful to work with.

For the last three days I have been working with the NBC production team to prepare the facility we've been given to produce Cross Country. Normally, most engineers are used to working in a mobile unit (as I did for the last 3 years [New Century Productions, out of Allentown, PA]) or a television studio (Fox Sports New England). We're working in office trailers that have been filled with racks of equipment. I've worked with TOBO (Torino Olympic Broadcast Organization) the host broadcaster to receive some video feeds from their set of cameras (They have 40).

We are producing Cross Country for the NBC Olympics. It isn't as much of a challenge for me, as an engineer, when I just deal with the video and audio feeds given to me. The challenge is more of the fact I'm working on an Olympics. Which may not have a lot of feeds to deal with, but combines the efforts of many people, including people from other venues, and other countries.

Last comments: It is always a pleasure to work with my father, David B Raynes, who this is his 6th Olympic event. And finally, it is always difficult to be away from family. But, I must thank my wife Lindsay M Raynes and my daughter Eva M Raynes for their support and "Hi!" (My child is 15 months old).
Brian P Raynes
Little Bay Broadcast Services, LLC

My Father's response:
As Brian has answered most of your questions, I will only response to one.\nMy memoriable experience is the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona where I was doing Rowing and Canoeing up in Lake Banyolas, which is about 80 km outside of Barcelona. We were too far to be a part of the "Olympic Experience" and were very isolated. The Production Manager found us a small restaurant in the area which would take our whole crew. It was actually a home and the owner put us in a special room, rolled his personal TV set in, and we watched the Opening Ceremony having a special, well prepared meal. And watching the archer shoot his arrow to start the flame in the cauldron still brings chills to me, even today.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

February 11, 2006 Ciao from Rosemary

It is 4:00pm here (10:00am EST) and I just finished watching the Cross Country Skiing event live on an Italian station, Rai Duo. While hearing cheers from the fans on TV, I could hear the cheers and a commentator coming from outside – as the venue is just at the bottom of the hill from me. I can actually see the grandstands, some of the skiers and the flags flying in the wind, from our bedroom balcony. I watched some of the ski jumping on TV this morning – they were the same people who cross country skied this afternoon. “Skeleton” is on now. Who ever thought this event up?

We finally got an internet connection in our room last night. It turns out it will be expensive to use: $5.98 US for 1/2hr, $9.58 US for an hour and $23.98 US for 24 hours (within the same 24 hours), so I may not be on it much. As an apology for taking so long to get it up and running, the hotel gave each room 24 hours for free. It has to be used today.

Last night was opening ceremonies. Willeta organized a dinner party in one of the hotel’s other restaurants, that is downstairs from the main restaurant. Last night was only the 2nd time of it being open…the first time was for another NBC event. They brought in a big TV for us to watch the opening ceremonies. Since the commentary was in Italian, most of us did not understand the significance of what was going on. I would liked to have understood why there were arms and legs coming out of the floor – it made me think of synchronized swimming, only that isn’t a winter sport. I was sitting next to a man who will do the commentary for the cross country skiing for the US and he was able to tell us who a lot of the flag bearers were from other countries. He was also the first one in the room to realize that the skirts of the dresses of the women who would enter before each country of atheletes, carrying signs with the names of each country, represented mountains. I was glad that Yoko Ono did not sing, but thought that Peter Gabriel’s version of “Imagine” was awful – perhaps Yoko Ono could have done a better job. We left after the flame was lit (another awesome way!) so did not see the last hour.

Oh, back to dinner, the 2nd appetizers served were HUGE – we each got crocks about 3-4 times the size of what we’d get onion soup in. We all, guiltily, sent back most of what were in the crocks as we still had the main course coming. Of course, dessert, which came on large plates, was about 1 tablespoon each of 2 delicious desserts – one being crème brulee. Too bad the desserts didn’t come in crocks!

At the risk of continuing to sound like a spoiled brat, some of you may get a laugh out of me continuing my saga of “The Housekeepers”…dun, dun, dun…now they come in packs of 3 or 4….zooming through the condo, yelling to each other from downstairs to upstairs, still leaving the front door open. The door opens out instead of in, so it is pointless to try to leave it only ajar when they are here (I’ve tried!) because it always reopens all the way from its own weight. I rarely see the same women twice. When they come, I now put more clothing on top of what I’m wearing - including my parka!! I sit on the couch, reading, as where else would I go? After getting the condo warmed up again after 40+ minutes of the door being open, other people trotted through here for a day or two, bringing the phone, then installers for the phone, or someone adding things to the TV – all leaving the front door open. The other day the housekeepers left the balcony doors in our bedrooms and 2 windows wide open. It was freezing in here! I complained, AGAIN, to the front desk and it hasn’t happened since. When coming back from lunch today, I passed the women who had cleaned the condo today and they were all bundled up with scarfs, etc. as it is really cold out. I did feel sorry for them. I’m sure they’d much rather clean rooms that they can access from inside a warm hallway – I wish there was a warm hallway outside my door too!

Yesterday, Gaya took me back into Sestriere, so I could pick up our laundry while she did other errands for the crew. The streets were full of security and people wearing Olympic clothing (meaning they were workers or athletes) and people coming to see the Olympics. I was surprised to see lounge-like chairs outside of restaurants that those sitting in them could lean back in. People at one restaurant will have a nice view of the downhill skiing as the hill is right a cross the street. When I left the laundry the day before, I didn’t think to ask them to not use scented fabric softener…I wish I had as the clothes came back with a strong smell. Luckily, I didn’t send much of my own clothing to them. I hung the ones I did send, out on our balcony railings today, to air out.

Ciao, ciao! Rosemary

David's note: As Brian and I have been soooo busy doing the work here, I think it would be rather confusing to back track on the days. We will start fresh and go on with the day to day things. This should catch us up on the happenings now and get everyone up to date.

Here is Rosemary's entry.

Today is Feb 8th (Happy Birthday Duane!). I haven't had access to the internet since last Saturday, so I have been writing e-mails offline. As soon as internet is available in our condo,
I will get on and the e-mails will be sent.

I have been in Italy for 9 days and in the condo complex for a 7 of those days now and I am loosing my sense of humor and getting "condo fever". There are 2 small towns nearby (Pragelato and Sestriere) which I could get to by bus, but David drove us through the 2 towns on Sunday when most everything was closed and there wasn't any parking available. There isn't enough at either one for me to be motivated enough to walk through the small, crowded street the complex is on, to get to one bus and then further, up a hill to wait on the side of another, small, busy road for the other bus.

The condo is very nice, the staff and food are amazing, but the days are long waiting for the men folk to come "home". They generally leave around 6:30am and don't get back till 7:30 or 8pm at which time we go to dinner. When we get back we watch a movie (Thank goodness Brian brought some DVDs!) and go to bed. Last night, we got back from dinner at 9:15 and the guys went right to bed. The TV just started working a few days ago and then yesterday they hooked up the cable or something so we got more now we have 3 news channels in English. CNN being one of them. I can't watch that too long, but it's good for a distraction now and then. The tv isn't working today. They brought a phone yesterday but it's not working yet. I did bring a lot to read so have been going through those things. The housekeepers' erractic times of coming in here have been bothering me and almost every time I walk on the only pathway to or from the condo, there is a construction vehicle obstructing my walking. The pathways to the condos and the "road" leading to the main building of the complex where the lobby, restaurant and bar are, are all gravel which is tiring to walk on and there are usually construction vehicles on them. The carpenters, etc, who work outside build small fires from scrap wood which is smelly. Again, the one road in and out of the "town" is small and full of traffic coming and going, I'm sure most of it is for the Olympics. There are no sidewalks so you often feel like you are jeopardizing your life to walk on the road. Brian did take a short break today to take me to the bank in Pragelato and when we got back we had to go through a security checkpoint. They checked everything and everyone in the car before us so we had to wait quite awhile. With Brian's NBC pass (and I have an NBC visitor's pass for the hotel area) they only checked the inside of the back of the car and under the hood. The road will be closed during the Olympics and I'm guessing spectators will be bussed in. I am wondering if I'll be allowed to walk on the road during the Olympics- if I could I might be able to see some of the skiing from a nearby hill = if I could stay clear of traffic on that road. We lose electricity in the condo at least once a day. I am able to start it up again at the fuse box. As exciting as it is to say I'm in Italy, I do feel quite isolated here. Today I am feeling like a spoiled American!

Now, with all the negative stuff I’ve been saying, you can see something new the workers here have done every time you go outside. And, of course, I am lucky to have housekeepers! :=)
The staff in the main building are already feeling like friends as they always greet you and ask how you are, even if you are just walking by them and they aren’t the one waiting on you, etc.

My tour starts in 9 days - that seems like a long ways a way right now! David's boss's wife is in an apartment in Turin and she and I had e-mailed each other before I left home but we haven't connected in person yet. I will probably take a bus from here to Turin a day or 2 before my flight to Rome, where the tour starts and I'm hoping she'll let me stay at her apartment so we can do some sightseeing together and maybe go see figure skating one night. There are very strict laws about having guests stay at your place so I would probably have to pay a fee, which would be ok.

Ciao! Mom/Rosemary

Feb. 9th
My Condo Fever has broken for today - yeah! Gaya (woman from Italy who is Runner in David's venue) drove me to Sestriere this morning so I could take our laundry to a "Fluff and Fold" place (they wash, dry and fold clothes for you). Gaya will pick it up tomorrow. Can't imagine how much it will cost with all I took in between the 3 of us here, but it will be worth it. The laundry service at the condos is ready but they aren't going to pick up clothes till Saturday and not bring them back till Tuesday. We can't wait that long. I told Gaya the things I wanted to shop for and she took me to just 2 places that had everything I wanted. While driving back I could see below us the whole start and finish area for David's event. Skiiers were doing trial runs and the big tv screen near the finish line was lit up. There isn't any place to pull over to take photos so I decided I would walk back there later. It is really nice out and a great day for a walk. I tried walking to a hill near an old church I like that overlooks the event area, but there a big mess with traffic and big vehicles having troubles, and I was afraid to try to walk up the hill, past them and possibly cause more problems, so I turned back. I will try again tomorrow.

Also, while traveling to Pragelato, you can see the venue for the Ski Jumping - the hill and jump are huge - quite impressive - you can't get the real feel for how long it is when you see it on TV. While traveling to Sestriere, you can see the downhill skiing hill...again, quite impressive! I saw a small blimp that will have a camera in it and will hover over David's and the ski jumping's venues.

I am looking forward to watching the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow night! Will be interesting with the commentary in Italian!

Ciao! Mom/Rosemary

Feb. 6, 2006 Hi from Rosemary

On Saturday, I spent a lot of time at the Venue, visiting David and his crew, and meeting more crew members who had just arrived that day. I got to have lunch with them at the catering tent. Wonderful food. Gaya, who is the runner from Italy, explained in great detail about how I can take busses to the next 2 towns and into Turin, which I will need to do around the 16th, as I am scheduled to fly out of Turin to Rome on the 17th, to meet up with the tour I'm going on. I'll have to go on the 16th as the morning bus on the 17th won't get me in Turin in time to get to the airport and get onto my flight. So, I've got to find a place to stay on the 16th, which could be difficult with the Olympics going on. People have been offering to look into some options for me, so I'm sure I'll find something. Brian arrived late afternoon and I ran out to him saying "My baby's here!"- so I probably embarrassed him, but he was glad to see me. When we went to dinner Saturday night, two "Spotters" joined us. A man (he's turning 30 soon) and his step-sister, who is college-aged, who are from the states. Their Dad is one of the commentators and they have traveled all over the world with him. As spotters, they will stand at certain spots on the course and radio in when an American cross country skier goes by them, so the commentator and camera men will be prepared to talk about them and film them. They are fun kids.

Apparently The Torch Run went by here Saturday night. I didn’t know about it so I missed it. One of the runners saw it in Sestriere and took photos, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some of hers to share with you.

Yesterday, Security was sweeping through the venue, so David and Brian couldn't go to the venue till about 5:30. They were itching to go in as they had work to get done, but I was thrilled they had some time off with me. David drove us to "downtown" Pragelato and to Sestriere. Although it was Sunday, some stores were open. We couldn't find a place to park though so we didn't get to look inside any stores. We were able to stop in at a small Market and finally buy some milk for the condo. This market sold everything, including thong underwear! Well, I guess it's natural here to buy some thong underwear while picking up a loaf of bread! The small amount of parking available really makes me wonder how these towns are going to handle the Olympic tourists who will arriving soon. I'm sure spectators will have to be bussed to the events around here.

David has put in his blog about the wonderful restaurant we had lunch at, so I won't go over that again. I did suggest that NBC do a story on the restaurant, as they usually tell stories about local places during the Olympics.. they thought that was a good idea and are going to set something up!

In the afternoon, David, Brian and I sat around talking in the condo, waiting for them to get the go ahead to get back into the venue. It felt very cold in the condo. We thought it was because the temp had really dropped outside, but then Brian discovered that Housekeeping had opened our balcony doors while cleaning and had left them open! They'd been open all day. I'm telling you, the housekeepers, while they do a nice job cleaning, are my biggest stress here. The main reasons being, that I don't know when they are coming. 1st day was at 9am, getting me out of bed, the 2nd day was at 5pm, the next day they didn't come at all and yesterday they came at 9am getting me out of bed again, although I did want to get up. I went and got a "Do not disturb" sign from the lobby. When they clean, they leave the front door open, so if I'm here, I'm freezing. I realize that the timing of housekeepers is not always the same at hotels either, but for various reasons, it is different here in the condo and I feel very stressed about it. I know, very minor compared to other peoples' problems. I got up and showered before 9 today and of course, they haven't come.

I think the staff in the main building (lobby staff, managers, bar & restaurant staff) must live here as you always see the same people here. They are very nice and are trying to be helpful. They really need to get the internet going here though before guests start rioting. There is no way to communicate around here without it, and without phones in our room. People who arrived yesterday have not been able to contact their families to let them know they got here safely...many are college kids, whose parents, I'm sure are worrying about them. The nearby towns are not within walking distance so without a car, you are pretty isolated here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

February 2

February 2, 2006

Today is now the first day with no panics. We are settling in with our venue and have some control over what is happening. The issues of the cable routing have already been contained. The problems of the hotel are long gone with good food and a great room. Dealing with individual problems seems to be very minor due to the requests that we are making are fulfilled with quick attention due to the demands that we are not making. It is always better to be nice and ask nicely then it is to demand. We are getting our way.

Alister Scott is the Broadcast Venue Manager for Pragaloto Plan. He is from Scotland and is a very cheery sort. He understands our dilemma and is quick to help. He is frustrated by the Organizing Committee and the lack of attention he gets. He has requested our compound to have snow removed and still does not get action. He finally showed up with his own shovel and started cleaning out the area. He has not lost his sense of humor (yet) and is great to reacting to our issues. Matts Berggren is a Swede that is the Venue Technical Manager (the exact same position I had in Salt Lake). Matts has been here for about 2 ½ weeks and has lost his sense of humor (yea, that is about how long it took me too). With the pressures of trying to cable the park, move mobile units into his compound, and answer stupid questions from people like me, he has been on a dead run. I feel bad for him but I still have to ask those stupid questions. We get along well, and I hope that we will be okay throughout this venue.

We are quietly getting ahead and listening to the problems of the other sites on our nightly conference call, we are the fortunate ones. I only can hope this will last.

In the Italian Alps.


Brian's Turn

Hello, All!

There will be a jump in the time line, because of the lack of internet connection at the hotel my father and mother have been writing their blog entries on another computer, and my father has been transferring them as fast as he can. But, I wanted to get some of my thoughts and observations done, before I forget. (Also, I figured something that was actually daily might be more interesting.....)

First of all, driving in Italy is very interesting. As there was a possibility that I might need to drive to a venue or the field shop, I had to get my International Driver's Permit. When driving in Italy drive poorly, and you'll be just fine. On the switchbacks (Very sharp turns built onto the side of the mountian) close your eyes, don't worry if someone passes you on a curve, and whatever you do (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!) Don't Look DOWN! It's not recommended, and frankly bad for your health.

Second, typing on a European keyboard is different, as they have symbols used in other languages like ò à ù è ì to show accents. Well, if you receive an e-mail or as part of the blog, and you see something like ° instead of a " donàt panic, as some of the keys are moved around.

Third, the Italians running the hotel are very nice. They've been very kind to the crew, especially for those that don't speak a lot of Italian (like my mother). I've learned the basics, but can get by with the French I learned in High School and the Spanish I learned in College. The funniest incident occured last night at dinner, when my mother wanted a hot tea with milk. She asked for a "Hot tè, with cold latte", the waitress heard cold tè, and my mother received an iced tea. Oops. When we tried explaining again, with hand gestures and broken Italian from my phrase book, we had success. So much so, when the server returned (the same woman we get everynight, basically) I clapped and she took a bow.

Well, I'm sure there is plenty more to discuss, but there are many days between now and when we return. I can't run out of things to talk about next week.


Feb. 1, 2005 Hi from Rosemary

I arrived in Italy on Monday, Jan 30th. David’s boss, Dave Crane, drove David to pick me up at the airport. Then they had me wait in the break room in their Field Shop for what was to be about an hour, but turned into 3 ½ hours. As we were leaving at 7:30pm, David told me the drive to our hotel would be 1 ½ hours! Somehow I managed to still stay in a good mood. Dave C. drove quite fast, spending some time chatting on his cell phone to his wife and daughter who are in an apartment in Turin. I was a nervous. Once we got through all the tunnels David told you about, we started on the road up to our hotel. It was a long, steep, winding road…as we got closer it was raining, which then turned to snow. Some cars couldn’t make it up the road but Dave C’s car is all wheel drive so he was able to go right around them. The 2 lane road is not very wide and there is not much land to the right side of the road….you look down into valleys. Thank goodness there were guard rails or I would have had to spend the rest of the ride with my eyes shut. It was really pretty looking down on the lights of the buildings and churches in the valleys. We got here and had dinner at 9. I just wanted a sandwich but it was a 4 course meal and we had some language barriers with the waiters, who were very professional and dressed in short jacketed tuxes and very eager to please. Food was amazing. We didn’t get to bed until midnight, which was 6pm back from Madbury. I was quite pleased at first that there was a radiator in our bathroom, as most hotel bathrooms are cold, but the heat from that radiator made our room very hot which made it hard to sleep. We couldn’t figure out how to turn it down. David hardly slept and had to be up at 6am and then was driving, for the first time here, the1 ½ hours back to the Field Shop. I was worried about him, but he got there just fine. I slept in. I stirred at 10:30am at which time I opened the curtains – I was blinded by the sun and the snow on the mountains that surround the hotel. Mountains? OMG.. I am actually in The Alps! It is beautiful. I went back to bed till noon and then slowly moved about. I tried to tell the housekeeper about the room being too hot, but I think she thought I was too cold…ack.. do NOT turn the radiator up, I thought! Silly me, I should have searched the Italian phrase book I’d bought. I later found “My room is too cold” in the book…hmm, and then later found the word hot. I told a man at the front desk, who speaks English, about it but it wasn’t taken care of. I had lunch in the dining room and the waiter didn’t speak English so he got another waiter. I felt really bad then about not finding the time before coming here to learn Italian. I also felt a bit lonely – not knowing what was being said around me or being able to chit chat with the waiters. I spent the rest of the day in my room, reading or sleeping. We have a balcony, so I would leave the doors to it open for short periods of time to cool the room off. I did take a walk outside and it was beautiful out. David got back at 7:30pm and we headed to the bar where I got to meet lots of people working for NBC. Had another big dinner, which wasn’t as good as last night’s. This morning we had an “American continental breakfast” the waiter informed me. There wasn’t much food - but there were some yummy filled croissants. I had poured some hot water over a tea bag and left the table to get some food. When I got back to the table, the tea was blue!! It is called Blue Mallow. Blue is my favorite color, but not what I’d pick for the color of my tea! It actually tasted ok but once was enough.

There are 3 TV channels in English at this hotel…all news stations, so at least I can keep up with the news.

We are moving to the condo today. We are excited about seeing what it will be like, since it is brand new, and only just finished being built. We’ve been joking that there will probably be sawdust all over the place. We are hoping their restaurant will be open.

David no longer has to drive to the field shop. His venue is right next to the condo we are moving to, which will be great! Take care, Rosemary

February 3, 2006 Hi again from Rosemary

Hope all is well with all of you. David has already told you in his daily info about our experiences of checking out of the 1st hotel and moving into the condo complex. I talked to the NBC liaison with the complex and she said they were about 6 months behind where they’d hoped to be by now. They have already done a lot with the excavating of one of the roads that leads to the hotel since we got here. The restaurant is open, thank goodness. I am considered a guest in our condo so I have to pay a fee – about $32.50 US a day covers my fee for being in the room, plus my breakfasts and dinners which I think is a great deal. The meals are buffet style and are plentiful and wonderful. The phone, internet access and TV services in the rooms have not been connected yet – should be any day now.

They have a large, 2 story, made-to-look- rustic lounge. They have a piano player in there The first night I was in there, he was playing “Over The Rainbow” beautifully. He really got into it with his facial expressions…I thought he was going to cry at one moment.

While having breakfast yesterday, the man at the table next to me asked me how I liked the place. Turned out that he was the owner! He is from Ireland. We had a nice chat.

Some one finally picked up our bags at the Venue David is at yesterday morning and brought them to our room. I unpacked everything downstairs and carried it up. Every time I went upstairs, I felt faint, so I ended up taking a lot of naps. I think I might have been getting altitude sickness. I put on the Seabands I wear when on cruises and have been feeling much better since.

I spent a lot of time with one of the managers on the first day, so she always waves or approaches me when I am in the main building. She came to check on me while I was having breakfast today and I told her I had a long list of questions, which I expected someone else to deal with, but she took care of answering them all for me herself. The staff is very friendly and helpful and many speak English. I try to use some common Italian greetings, etc, and whenever I do, I get a smile and a happy response back in Italian. When I leave here, I will miss hearing people saying “Buon giorno Signora” to me.

I spoke with some of the Carabenaira (Military police) who are staying here today. One lives in Rome and is not used to the snow or cold temps they are experiencing here.

There are 3 condos to a building and they are Chalet-styled. The windows have big, wooden shutters you can close completely over the windows and doors if you want.
Our condo has a hallway, kitchen, dining/livingroom, 2 full bathrooms and 2 bedrooms.
There are balconies off the bedrooms.

The advertised workout room and spa won’t be ready while we are here. I never use a workout room at a hotel, but had planned to use a treadmill this time and certainly had hoped to use the pool and get massages. Oh well. I do get lots of exercise walking up and down the hill to David’s venue, to the main building where the restaurant is, and around this complex. The community laundry room isn’t ready yet – good thing we each brought lots of the essentials! I fell on ice today and got my clean jeans all muddy so I hand washed them and they are drying in the shower.

Brian is flying here as I write this. He’ll get here tomorrow. We are looking forward to having him here.

Today, I spent several hours at David’s venue. I enjoy Willeta (the Production Manager), and their 3 Runners (gophers): 1 woman from Italy, and 2 college-aged kids. David took me along when he took Willeta out to the “Field of Play”, which is where the cross country skiing event will take place. I got to see things like where the commentators will be sitting (there are several booths above the grandstands, one for each country commenting on the event), where the crew will walk to get to the event, where cameras will be positioned, where the start and finish lines are and the warming huts where athletes will go to warm up.

Tomorrow will be the last day I’ll get to visit at the venue as it will go on “lockdown” on Sunday. Only people hired by NBC, or the other companies there, will be allowed in. I’ll miss my visits there.

I got some bus schedules today and will venture out someday soon to some other towns to get some groceries and check out stores, etc. There aren’t any “markets” for me to walk to here. I better get out and about before the spectators for the Olympics arrive and traffic will be crazier than it already is and busses will be packed. Take care, Rosemary

February 1, 2006

Moving day. When we first arrived in Italy we were suppose to be in a hotel at Pragelato Plan. The hotel wasn’t ready so we moved up the street in to Sestriere. We had received word that our hotel was ready and we could move in today. As we didn’t unpack anything, we were finally looking forward to moving in to our new digs for the rest of the Olympics. More on that later.

The day started out very hectic with cable crews, control room installers, and edit installers. Sorting all of this out and making sure that everyone had their needs and work was getting done and we were seeing progress. The morning went by quickly and time for us to check out. I went back and got Rosemary and our luggage. Problem #1, checking out. NBC had not told the hotel Rosemary was staying with me. Italian laws are very strict on room sharing. You have to pay extra for a guest in your room. And they were trying to figure out the bill and include Rosemary’s charges. Almost an hour goes by while we try to sort this out. NBC logistics people do come down and help and we are finally on our way. As check in is not until 2:00p, Rosemary sits at the venue and meets our crew. Meanwhile Problem #2 arises. We find out that the cable paths that we need to cable our cameras are not approved. For most sporting events, TV can put their cables any darn place they want. In Olympics, that is not quite true. All cables have got to be run in approved paths by the Organizing Committee. As these are crucial paths, we all thought they had been approved. They hadn’t. So I spent half the afternoon dealing with getting our cables in place. Or sort of until we did get final approval.

Problem #3. Hotel is not ready. And we are being told that it is dangerous to stay there. So Willetta asked that I go for myself up to look at the situation. I was not going thru the hassle I went thru at the hotel again this morning if I had to go back there. So with Rosemary in tow, to make sure I didn’t agree to something stupid (I was ready to sleep in the car if necessary), we went to look at the situation at the hotel. The paths were clogged with excavators and workmen. We were smothered with goodwill as we met with the management. We went to look at our room and it is amazing. Two story with two bedrooms (Brian will have the other). Big living and dining area and nice kitchen. All new and very nice. I am staying! Rosemary agrees and we tell the management we will go back and recommend the others to stay. I leave Rosemary in charge to move our luggage because the parking lot is not ready and we will leave the car at the venue compound (did I say the resort is right next door to the venue….COOL). I go back for more small issues and get ready for the conference call. Rosemary shows up to say they are not ready to move the luggage so she came to get Willetta and the runners to check out their rooms. About an hour later, they show up discouraged. The State Police, all 350 of them, who have been hired to do security at the Olympics show up to check in. Now the hotel staff have no time to move our luggage. I am on the con-call but tell them they should just pack their back packs and haul what they easily can carry to the room for the night….screw going back to the first hotel. They cheer up and do that. I get off the con-call and we all walk to our new digs. A very nice dinner and now to enjoy our new home for the next 4 weeks. (By the way, this is the first day the hotel and it’s restaurant are open, and they take in 359 people! It was quite chaotic at the buffet supper)
View of office

View of compound and hill

David and Willetta

David talking on computer

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

January 31, 2006

Now starting to feel the Olympic spirit. Got up this morning at 6:00am to be at the Field Shop for orientation. Not sure why I have to be there but I am going. Willeta Dement is my Broadcast Manager (BM), and I am to pick her up as well to discuss setting up our team. So, off I finally go in my Fiat van to trek down the hill. It is icy with steep curves and 2000 foot revines. I am doing about 40km per hour down these hills. It can be very scary but exhilarating. I finally got to the Field Shop for our meeting on things I can care less about; catering, paperwork, and doing more reports about the day. Again, more old home week and I was able to re-establish contacts with more old friends. Finally, I load Willeta’s luggage and head back up the hill.
Willeta is a staffer for NBC and has done a lot doing golf and now hockey. She has never done an Olympics and is looking for the challenge. She and I chat as we drive up and get to work a lot of the things out before we see the venue. I was planning on going to the hotel to drop off Willeta and get my snow pants and boots back on. However, a panic phone call from my boss gets me diverted back to the venue so check-in and boots have to wait. As there is a cable crew waiting for me, the edit system installers waiting for me, and the control room installers are waiting for me, I have no choice but go. So, finally, I get things all set and find that I have to do a conference call that night to review how things are going at each venue. I decide to duck out of the venue and do the con-call at the hotel. Willeta can check in and I can do the call. The call goes on and on and finally is over and my boss and I go to the bar to meet everyone. Dinner and to bed after a very long day.

January 30, 2006

This is my second day working on the Olympics. I have been in country for the last two days and have not driven yet. I have a car waiting but I am being driven to venues to do my work. The driving here is quite dangerous as stop signs are an option, not a law. People will drive thru a stop sign without a single thought. You have to be very alert when you drive around up here and that is something I cannot do while I am still shaking off the jet lag. In the mean time, I am being chauffeured.

I have finally seen my venue and am starting to get in to the “Olympic” mode. And trying to find some of the different keys like “@” has been a challenge on an European keyboard. Typing these logs will be a challenge with the European keys that tend to challenge the writing speed.

I spent most of the day at my venue but waiting until 1:00p to go get Rosemary at the airport. She lands in Torino at 2:10p but will probably be ready to be out of customs by 3:00p. We finally get to the airport and rescue her and go to the Field Shop. Then I get stuck dealing with my credentials. Then we get stuck with the tech manager conference call that goes on FOREVER! Finally we take the 1 ½ hour trip back to Sestriere. It has been a long frustrating day and I am glad we are back at the hotel.

View from our first hotel

Another view of the valley of the first hotel

Warming huts for the athletes

Install crew having a picnic with our runners

Monday, February 06, 2006

January 29, 2006


January 29, 2006

So starts this log (or Blog)

After a very exhausting 9 hour flight from Atlanta to Milan, I was able to reach Italy for the start of the next adventure. I was unable to sleep (which is unusual for me on a plane) and it was a little cramped. It was a very interesting coincidence that when I got on the flight, I thought I recognized someone in the waiting area. It was, in fact, a person I had worked with at Avid who was going over. The coincidence gets better because we are sitting together on the flight. And it keeps going on because I was going to call this person to thank him for recommending a job we received (Keene State College). And I haven’t seen or heard from this person in 6 years.

After waiting for an hour for our luggage, with me also carrying Rosemary’s large suitcase so she won’t have to deal with it, we are met by the NBC crew. Unlike the IOC, these people have always done this right. We were met outside of Passport Control, walked thru Customs (there really wasn’t any to speak of), marched out to the bus, and driven to our next stop, the Field Shop. A funny story, in Seoul for that Olympics, after a 22 hour flight, met by the NBC people, driven around, handed $2,200 in travelers checks for per diem, dumped with SWAG (Stuff We All Get), and then pushed back on the bus is a very exhausting start. Same again. Only I already received the per diem and was getting SWAG again. Which I really don’t care about any more and have Rosemary give away once the Olympics is over. Any takers?

This is also the time for Old Home Week. Old friends, that I don’t see unless I work one of these things, shows up. Poor NBC people were trying to SWAG me, process me, give me a car, read the “rules of the road” and push me out quickly just didn’t happen when you get another “Hey Dave”. We get thru the process, finally and I meet my friend, Mr. Family Wagon, out in the parking lot. The runners for NBC even loaded it for me with all of the suitcases and SWAG. Now to drive up to Sestriere for the evening. The roads are confusing enough but I still haven’t had any sleep. They decide to give me a driver that will come back later from an office up in the mountains. We start.

Torino is a nice city that is set up for tourism. It is just outside the Italian Alps and is perfect for doing a winter Olympics. We don’t see much of it as we head northwest towards the Italian border. My venue is Cross Country and we are located in Prageloto Plan which is way up in the Alps. For tonight and tomorrow I am located in Sestriere, which is the town for hosting the Giant Slalom and Downhill. We are driving thru mountains (no, really thru mountains…big tunnels) and heading up towards the Alps. It has snowed in the last few days and for Torino this is very surprising. They received about 6 inches and the town is paralyized. Usually they get snow in the morning and it is gone in the afternoon. This has stayed and is now raining. As we are heading north thru these long incredible tunnels, it is still raining. The wild part is that we enter one tunnel near the end of our journey with rain, and a huge blizzard coming out the other. We have landed.

Sestriere is a wonderful Alpine town that you always think of when you hear Alps. Chalet after chalet with snow covered roads and no @#$#@ sidewalks! You walk in the @#$% street trying not to get killed. We are actually located in Sestriere Colle, which was built in the 1930’s by the Fiat Family who gave weekend trips to their employees to come up to ski. The resort town grew from there. It will host the downhill events, as I mentioned earlier.

That night, I had another chance to meet more old friends that were working in Colle. They will be the technical managers here and we did have a nice long chat. For dinner, we eat in the hotel. As this doesn’t sound exciting, let me say that having to not trek again out in the cold was a plus. To not have to go in to Colle to find a place to eat was another plus. Also, the food was top draw with 4 courses served by an expert staff you don’t always see in a hotel. Unfortunately the food is very, very good and rich so expect Rosemary, Brian and I to come home 300 lbs. heavier. And the wine was fantastic. And it was incredibly cheap. So, when you see us again, we will be alcoholics and fat!

Because of the heavy snow, I did not get a chance to take any pictures. You would have seen nothing but white. I will start including pictures as the weather improves.

Hotel Field of Play

NBC office where I work Start and finish area