Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And last but not least

First Day all together in DisneyWorld

We gave the grandchildren these sweatshirts just
before heading out for the day - good timing as it
was a bit chilly out.

Photo by Disney

This straw hat that I paid $6.99 for in Key Largo
proved to be a hit with the grandkids! Eva now says
"see" before you can snap the photo as she knows the
photo will come up on the camera, so I have alot of photos
of her with her arms stretched out.

More photos in The Keys

Mailbox holders like these, and mailbox covers
(usually a fish) are a common site in The Keys

Key West and DisneyWorld Feb. 2007

Much to David’s chagrin, Eva has been calling him something other than Grandpa for a long time, and she would not deter from that, no matter how he tried. Also, as much as she likes to be around him, she used to run from him when he’d try to pick her up. However, when Lindsay, Eva and I were met at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale on Feb. 5th, by David and Brian, Eva called David Grandpa and reached for him! She has called him Grandpa ever since. So, David says she is “back in the will”!

We stayed in a beautiful 2 bedroom suite in Key Largo. I highly recommend the place (Ocean Pointe Suites). One bathroom had a whirlpool tub and the other had a gorgeous shower – it had a seat built into it and that was Eva’s favorite place to be our first day. We also had a full kitchen, big living room and 2 balconies. The place was $199 a night, which included a continental breakfast and parking, and that was a Peak Season price!

I had forgotten one piece of my luggage when I left, so didn’t have any sleepwear. I decided I’d hunt for a beach cover up, which would be good for a night gown. I lucked out, when we went into a Walgreens that had all kinds of beach wear items. I found 2 beach cover ups for only $7.99 each. The price tag was only a sticker and the cashier couldn’t find a bar code for them, so he used an item with a $6.99 bar code tag – it rang up once at $6.99 and $5.00 the second time, so I got both for only $11.99! Eva was fascinated with them and tried them on and wanted to wear them around, but they were too long, so I gave her one of my shirts to wear. Diane & Phil did bring me that luggage when they came to Orlando on the 10th, which was great because I also had gifts for the grandchildren in it.

While in The Keys, we saw the newest “Whaling Wall” that Wyland was in the process of painting. It was exciting to watch it progress over the days we were there. This is the last one he’s going to do in the U.S.

We did make it to the Southern most part of the U.S, which is in Key West. The Keys is a pretty laid back place and there seems to be one main road in, and one out so the traffic can get heavy. In our travels we didn’t see any of the gorgeous beaches they talk about but saw the water everywhere, with its many shades of blue and green.

We had originally planned to break up our drive from Key Largo to Orlando (about 6 hours) in to 2 days but we thought we’d take a chance on Eva being able to handle it and we made it in one day. We were able to get rooms at the Disney’s All Star Movie Resort that night, which was Feb. 9th. David and I went to Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island that night and went back with Brian, Lindsay and Eva the next morning.

We moved into our rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort in DisneyWorld on Saturday, the 10th. Diane, Phil, Stephanie and Cameron arrived that afternoon. We were thrilled that our rooms were next to each other and that ours were adjoining with Diane’s family’s room. If they had been adjoined with Brian’s room, we are sure Eva would never have slept, as she would have wanted to be with Stephanie and Cameron.

Sunday – Magic Kingdom. Got the family photo taken in front of The Castle. Disney photographers now give you a PhotoPass that you can hand other photographers who will scan all your photos in to. You can view your photos at their photo stores…. or online up to 30 days!
Eva got fairly close to characters but didn’t want to get too close so we didn’t get any photos of her with characters till the 4th day, when she decided she could meet Minnie Mouse with Stephanie! We were all very excited. Goofy was with Minnie but backed away when he saw Eva was afraid of him. But, he managed to sneak into the photo ops without her knowing!

Monday – Epcot. Phil had a surprise for us! He knows someone who works in Epcot and his family became the Family of the Day at Epcot and we got to be included in the fun. A race car was supposed to drive 4 of us to the Test Track, but it was raining so we walked there, with cast members leading us. We went by a lot of other cast members wearing Mickey Mouse paws who waved to us and wanted to High Five us. Most of us didn’t understand till later that they were there for US! We got to be the first ones to ride on the Test Track and were given photo in the car. Stephanie, Eva and I opted to not go on the ride and we went into a nearby store. Eva did some power shopping – she started by taking 3 stuffed Mickey Mouses. She gave one to Stephanie and one to me but we put them back. Eva got them again and hung on to them. She put 2 back finally and went around the store, picking up things and wanted to go to the counter to pay. I got her down to 1 item, just in time for everyone else the family to show up.

David and I did win one of Disney’s Wishes Come True prizes – we each got a Fast Pass for the day for rides in MGM. We got it while waiting for the Narnia show, which started with us going thru the bureau and into Narnia which was neat. The witch (a real person) talked a bit, but the rest of it was clips from the movie. Then you entered a place that showed some props and costumes from the movie. I recommend you not wait in a long line for this show!

On Valentine’s Day, we discovered our outside doors had been plastered with decorations and cards that Stephanie and Cameron had made which was a great surprise. The bus driver taking us to Magic Kingdom told us that there was going to be a wedding in front of the Castle! A couple had won it from Disney and Bride Magazine. (Entertainment Tonight has been showing some of it this week). I was the only one of our group to watch it. It was quite something. That afternoon, we had a late lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. We got to have our photos taken with Cinderella. I never thought about it before, but Phil pointed out that you never see her in the regular character “meet and greets”, so this was the only opportunity to meet her. At the table next to us, a woman was brought a glass slipper that had an engagement ring on it!!! So, we got to enjoy that couples’ engagement!

On Friday, just as David & I were leaving Magic Kingdom, some people asked us if we wanted to see a sneak preview of a new show, called “Monsters Inc, Laugh on the Floor”, which is not opening for a few months. It was neat – characters from the movie (not the main ones) acted like stand up comics, and it was like they really were on a stage and they could interact with the audience. It was neat but not roll on the floor funny. We were asked questions about it, etc.

Diane’s family found some neat things in the Innovations Buildings at Epcot that we missed. One was that they were shown how to draw Mickey Mouse’s face on Disney sketch paper, which they got to keep. They did a great job! One of the many things we learned in Epcot is that all of the states are listed on a 5 dollar bill. We got to see evidence of that with a high magnification glass. Also, Lincoln is standing in columns of the Lincoln Memorial that is on the back of a

The kids gave David & I a dinner out so we ate at a wonderful French Restaurant in Epcot.

If you plan a trip to DisneyWorld, I suggest you check out their Dining Card Plan – it’s a good value and you don’t have to think about carrying around enough money for meals, and/or how much they are going to cost. We found all the food to be really good and of higher quality than I recall in past years. We never saw the already made hot dogs and hamburgers wrapped in tin foil bags, waiting under a heat lamp, like we used to see, thank goodness. If you consider the dining plan, contact us and I’ll give you some tips/info about it.

The best part of the trip for David and I was spending time with our children and grandchildren and seeing them enjoy what they were seeing and doing. Looking forward to going back sometime!

Take care, Rosemary

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Brian's Final Thoughts

I've done an Olympics, World Series (Go Red Sox, 2004!), US Open (Tennis) for 3 years, and now I've done a Super Bowl. The size of the show is nothing new: a bunch of trucks working on separate sections of a show, to combine together to make one large show.

The big thing that made this different was my position. My title was transmission engineer, nothing too complicated compared to running a television truck. The job I performed was a learning experience for me, as I was helping the technical managers take care of their individual sections of the show. The next step for me in live production (sports), professionally, is to become a technical manager. I'm certainly not done being an engineer, but that is the next step, and ANY training and experience I can get will help me become a better technical manager.

Super Bowl was fun.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl David's Final Thoughts

It is always interesting doing these larger shows as it is Old Home Week. There is always re-establishment of friends and colleagues that you don't see but once a year. One person I ran in to I haven't seen in over 10 years. Working for CBS has always been fun and a challenge. But now that this one is over, I can truly say;

Just another tee shirt in the closet.

Next big event for me will be March Madness and Final Four.

Brian, your turn.

david and brian

Super Bowl, The Day After

We left the stadium last night at 11:00pm. The good news is that things went very well. Hopefully those that enjoy football and watched it, enjoyed it, as well. And those that don't enjoy football, enjoyed the commercials, as well. My favorite was the Bud Lite, Rock-Paper-Scissors commercial.

The bad news is that we were back here for 3am. Got back to the hotel at midnight, set three alarm clocks, woke up about and hour and a half later. Today is going to be a long day. We're doing the Early Morning show, again. And then we get to take all the cables we strung between the trucks, and pack them up.

My father and I will doing our final thoughts sometime in the next couple of days. The one thing I did want to show you, because I promised I would, is the Super-Secret tactical training the Police did, a couple of days ago.

As some might be aware of, there is a camera called Cable Cam. It sits out over the players, and is rigged up by pulleys, so they can put a camera where no camera has been before, out on the middle of the field, 20 feet in the air, and look over the Quarterbacks shoulder. This gives the fan at home a realistic view of what the players are seeing. This is not new technology, but it's the coolest thing they've done in a while. To rig this camera up in the air, there are wires that string out over the field.

After 9/11, large national events have become prime suspects for terrorism, as a lot of people are in a small area. Fortunately, there's a lot of security around, checking bags and so forth. Well, Home Land Security and the local police force decided that to make sure they can control the crowd if it gets out of hand, or if someone tries to do something stupid they wanted the ability to fly two Black Hawk helicopters into the stadium, deploy fully armed and armored troops onto the field, while a third helicopter sits outside of the stadiums bowl and observe. There was much concern with the Cable Cam's wires getting caught in the rotor. Personally, if there is a terrorist attack, cut the blasted cables and run like heck! Unfortunately, the company that owns that equipment didn't like that suggestion, so they practiced pulling the cables to the field (so they were out of the way) and flying the helicopters in. They did this three times in the day time, and twice at night.

My father happened to be in the stadium when they practiced the first time, and he didn't have a camera. He called me and I came running. The coolest part of the whole ordeal was the propwash. At a certain point, when the helicopters got into the bowl a huge gust of wind almost knocked you over. It was great!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Evening

Not too much to report. Brian cannot get on due to the power hits this morning, he lost his email server. So his end of the compound doesn't have internet. Also, just waiting for the last of the game and the awards ceremony so we can get out of here. Both Brian and I have to do one more show which is the Early Show in the morning. We have to be here at 3:00a so we will just get a couple hours of sleep and then come back in. After we will start striking the compound. We will try to give final thoughts of what we saw and felt thru-out these last two weeks.

Good night and I hope you have enjoyed the Super Bowl.

david and brian

Super Bowl Late Afternoon

Well, my first show is over. All of the pre-game show pieces went well and everyone is very pleased. There were some very good features done on previous some Super Bowls, coaches, and players. A 4 hour show is very tiring but it is done. Everyone is now going to dinner while the game show truck takes over. For me, the half-time show (not the Prince concert) and the post game show are left. Brian, however, is still working monitoring all of the feeds going out and needs to be attentive to what is happening.

I am going to go eat!

david and brian

Super Bowl Afternoon

Well, I don't believe my father put this morning in to perspective.


Today is not the day to be the power guy!

I was JUST about to get into the shower, when one of our satellite uplink operators called me. He thought I'd like to know that he was having a bad day, and wished to share his dispair. I got on the phone with all the tech managers, a couple of engineers of the television trucks, and ran for the door. Don't worry, I did take a shower before I left.

Getting here was a little nerve wracking. I hitched a ride with our lead tech manager, and spoke about all our options as we drove to the stadium. The stress of the situation was compounded by the fact we were parked in a different parking lot than the last two weeks. Security procedures were different than the last two weeks. All we wanted to do was get to our compound and find out what stage we were at, and how we were moving forward. While one set of tech managers worked on getting the power back up, I got handed CBS News, as they were doing a Face the Nation segment from inside the stadium. The good news was they were using the equipment inside of the satellite truck, which has it's own backup generator. The bad news was the cameras they were using went through the truck I use for transmission. It doesn't have it's own backup generator. Oops. We got them up for their 10:30am show.

After getting the power situation stabilized the SECOND time (Yes, I too went for a bagel during the second power outage), I had to run around and check all of my transmission equipment. Eventhough I haven't been here 24/7 (Thank, gosh!) we've kept our equipment online so it's always working, tested, tried-and-true. When you turn something off, or change ANYTHING about it, it is deemed untested. Anything could've happened during power-up. Fortunately, we did a transmission check, and everything came up fine. It's 1:43pm. We go on in 17 minutes.

brian and dave

Super Bowl Morning

Well, the day started poorly. I was in the shower when my cell phone rang.....typcial. Brian had called and when I called him back, he said there was no power in the tv compound as the generator went down. Typically, large events like this, the networks will go with their own power instead of house power. Bad choice this time. Brian started calling all of the technical management while I was contacting my boss. We could not drive in as there was a bus service to take the crew in from the hotels. I was able to grab a ride from one of these managers so I didn't have to wait for the bus. As he was panicked, he zoomed (60 MPH) past Brian's hotel before I could say anything. We are 20 minutes away but needed to be on site to coordinate the re-powering of all of the equipment. TV equipment and computers don't take well to the loss of power or voltage variations. Crossed fingers as to if anything burned up or just broke with this loss of power. We got the power turned back on and we started bringing up the equipment. Despite the loss of one function, all of my equipment came back up. Just as I was giving a sigh of relief, the power went out again. Something had happened within the generator system that just shut the generators down, completely. I went for a bagel.

We got power back again and re-established all of my equipment with no issues. Production was able to start doing their inserts and all seems to be well.....for now.

Brian has been running around taking care of transmission and will be on later today.

david and brian

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super Bowl Day 11

Day before Super Bowl and we are ready. Pre-game crew is practicing and rehearsing and going thru another technical run thru. Tempers are a little shorter today due to yesterday's long day. Also, it is getting closer to game day so everyone is getting nervous as well. From a technical point of view, we are ready. We have given production all of their needs and we are now wanting to get this over with. One engineer said it best when he said you know setup is over when you start striking (removing) the equipment. John Doyle from Fosters asked me in an interview what the difference is in my opinion of doing a Super Bowl over an Olympics. I told him an Olympics is an international event with lots of athletes and lots of venues with excitement everywhere. Super Bowl is more of just one game with lots of partying. And I guess you could just say that Super Bowl (like World Series, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup) is just another tee shirt in the closet for us. I haven't asked Brian how he feels about being here but I am sure on our final notes, that he will describe his own feelings of what it was like for him.

Look for the interview of Brian and myself in tomorrow's Fosters Sunday News.

The entertainment tomorrow will be outstanding. With Prince at half time and Stevie Nicks and Cirque du Soleil and the Thunder Birds flying overhead, it will be quite a show. Sometimes, with all of this entertainment, you wonder if the football game gets in the way of the entertainment. Also, with the new commercials that are introduced, yet another thing that the football games gets in the way of. The graphics will be dazzling in both pre-game and game show. We have over 48 cameras for this as well as aerial shots of in the stadium and out. The NFL experience is another addition that we cover. Our pre-game show will be 6 hours long and there will be lots to see. DO NOT LOOK FOR BRIAN AND MYSELF BECAUSE WE ARE TUCKED AWAY IN THE COMPOUND. We have always been asked if there is a chance of being seen on the show. The answer is NO!

So, dear readers, hang on to your hats because tomorrow should be very interesting. I am still on site writing this while they do their last minute graphics updates. Brian has been released and will get a decent meal before the storm hits.

I hope you all enjoy the Super Bowl

david and brian

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl, Day 10

Remember, we both got finished around 9pm last night.

2:50am (This morning) - Wake up
3:20am - Meet my father for a ride to Dolphins Stadium
4:00am - Arrive at Stadium
The bad part about arriving early to be ready for an early news hit from South Beach Florida, through Miami Dolphins' Stadium, to CBS-NY was they weren't here when they were supposed to be. The good news about being here early is that we actually had a breakfast! Yippee! It was the best breakfast we've had in a very long time. Typically we've arrived to find bagels and sweet breads. Don't get me wrong, I like bagels and sweet breads. But, after almost 3 weeks, it's getting old, and I've gained 10 pounds. We ate like Kings! Maybe, we felt like Kings. OK, I felt like a King. The truth is we drove by a Burger King, and it was closed. Gosh, am I tired!
4:30am - Check all the transmission paths, as it is my job.
7:00am - On the air, with news or something.
9:00am - News is off the air. Now we can get back to sports.
12:00pm - Lunch time.
1:00pm - Check all of our transmission paths, inside the compound.
4:00pm- Start dialy transmission test.
This can be very difficult to describe, but I'll do my best. We are transmitting in High Definition with Dolby E Surround Sound. What this means is that we're trying to give the viewer at home the best quality experience we can. The high definition is the best quality image we can give, and the 5.1 surround gives the viewer at home the best audio quality we can to make him or her feel like they are in the stands. In this day and age, the newest technology comes down to ones and zeroes. The video and audio have become streams of data. The music on your iPod, your cellphone's ringtone or even video on a DVD is just data now. Just like on a computer, you can take that raw data and compress it. The old adage of, "Time is money" is still true, but now it's more like "Space is money". To pass all this information down a thin, long piece of glass, or up to a satellite over 50 miles away the video and audio needs to be compressed.
The biggest reason for the testing between us and NY is to make sure what we are sending to them is what they are actually receiving. CBS-NY checks the color of our video, the level of our audio, that what they should be hearing on the left channel is there. This takes a long time. Remember: We have 5 paths going out. Each need to be checked. And, we're sending 8 channels of audio with the video.
7:00pm - Finish daily transmission test.
9:00pm - We finish. Except for my father and the Graphics operators.
11:00pm - My father's done. We drive half an hour back to our hotel, have dinner, go to bed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Super Bowl Day 9

The "oh by the ways" seem to be done and it is very calm today. I am now in firefighting mode and just fixing things as they come up. And tomorrow will be the start of our broadcasts. Brian and I just found out we are coming in at 4:00a to start our day doing the "Early Show" for CBS. So we are very excited about dragging our butts out of bed at 2:45a and working 16 hour day.

We are continually asked, "what are we doing here". I know both Brian and I have discussed this in the past but here goes again.

We start each day so far leaving the hotel at 7:10a each morning. We are 18 miles away from Dolphin Stadium (use to be called Joe Robbie Stadium). We arrive at the parking lot and go thru a security gate and do the "mag and bag" which is where we walk thru an airport type sweep of ourselves and inspection of our bags. We then walk half way around the stadium as this is where media parks compared to where our compound is. Usually Brian heads out to check his feeds and I turn on all of the monitors and make sure that everything is working. Then we go for the same old stick in the throat bagels and bad coffee. We both meet up for the 8:30a tech meeting to get status reports or find out what is expected for the day. So far, we have seen meeting last 30 seconds to 30 minutes. Brian and I then seperate and attend to our particualar projects. Brian is in charge of all transmission out of the compound so if you stop seeing the Super Bowl, that is Brian's fault. I had the responsibility of building the pre-game graphics trailer. Normally I will have a 48 foot production truck to generate the graphics and lower third supers for each week's show. In this case, I had to build all of that equipment plus more in an office trailer. So, during the day, I fix little issues and answer questions while they prepare for the shows we are doing. Brian and I ususally meet for lunch and then dash back to take care of our own worlds. We usually work until 6:00p but last few nights it has been getting longer. We have enough restaurants around the hotel we go to the same places for supper. And then back to the hotel for bed.

Today, I will be sharing pictures of the field, the pre-game studio, and the compounds with the people. I am sure that we will start sharing more information tomorrow with the start of the broadcasts.

Catering trailer Lunch!

One end zone camera Goal camera

Graphics trailer in operation Video server operator

Outside the CBS Compound Preparing the field

david and brian

Super Bowl, Day 8

Thank you, Father, for giving me the task of explaining the NFL Experience. Basically it's a way for people to experience what it's like to be part of the NFL. So, they had professional cheerleaders teaching kids how hard it is to train for and the dance routines. They have the kids learn how to tackle, etc, etc. And I'm sure it costs a LOT of money, too!

Yesterday was an interesting day. The first thing that was really interesting, is the local police have a tactical response, God for bid, there was a terrorist incident during the Super Bowl. They said don't take pictures, but everyone did. I'd LOVE to post pictures of what they are going to do, but I can't, because I don't want to get blown up and/or lose my job. So, I'll post them later, and explain what happened later, during my wrap up.

The other fun part of yesterday was the first transmission test. This is where we test the lines of communication and video/audio paths out of the stadium to CBS control room in New York. We have five paths: Two fiber lines and three uplinks (satellite trucks). During the last Super Bowl, it took 8 HOURS to do the first transmission test. We got more accomplished in an hour and a half. This is the reason I'm here, to test and make sure that we're not wasting any body's time. This made me feel really good.

The pictures I've included today is of the panel that all the video in and out of the truck I'm working in, which is the hub of the production. Everything comes into and out of here. By the way, compared to the US Open Tennis, of which I've done the last three years: This is a small show.

By the way, we're more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
My e-mail (Brian) is and my father's e-mail (Dave) is

brian and dave