Jacksonville - this week.


On the road again

In less than 48 hours, I'll be in Australia give or take a few hours. Six weeks later, I will return to the states. Wow, haven't been gone that long since I started at IDS.

Have a happy New Year and I'll post my next blog from Australia. G'day!


Home Home

As of 7:30 am tomorrow we will be on our way home to PA for Christmas. The drive doesn't seem to be promising after looking at the weather. I probably should have bought the new tires I've been thinking about!

Over the next 6 weeks, I will only see my house for about 2 days. The rest will be spent in PA, Australia and New Zealand. I am looking forward to my trip back down under. My last trip to Australia was in 2005 and I've missed the Souvlaki ever since.

New Zealand will be a new experience for me. The most I've seen of New Zealand has been the inside of the Auckland airport. At this point all I know is that Brandi and I are going there for just shy of two weeks. However, we haven't made any plans... We've got a lot of planning to do.

Anyway, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. I'll see y'all real soon.


Day 2

At 2:30 PM I killed a doe with a single shot. She felt no pain.


Deer season day 1

Day 1 wasn't so bad. I saw 5 deer today including a 6 point and an 8 point. My dad killed one of the smallest deer I've seen. Our neighbor killed a deer that wasn't much bigger and another member of our crew got a doe. So, like typical hicks, we've got three deer hanging in our garage.

Tomorrow will be a day filled with walking steep side hills and thick flats. I'll be ready for bed tomorrow night. I can already feel the cramps in my legs.


A River Runs Through It

I can see my house from here!
Tree Hugger

Here are some photos from today's trek down Wallace Run. My brother and I started on our walk around 7am and finished our walk around 1:00pm. My legs are dead after walking through 6 inches of snow. The pictures above are the sights from our walk today. Picture 1 is my brother pretending that he spotted a bear. In reality, I told him to look interesting - it didn't work. Picture 2 is one of the three porcupines we saw on our walk. And that is about all we saw apart from 2 moths and one hawk. Picture 3 is an Obelisk I built last year just north of Grindstone Gap. I never thought it would be standing a year later. It has survived vandalism, high water and high winds. It goes to show the excellent craftsmanship I put into my work. I have titled this work of art Enduring Hope.
Tomorrow is a hunting free day. Instead I get to play squash with my mother in law. She will likely kick my butt. I welcome any comments here.



A quick update from the Arctic (well, it feels like the Arctic) - No bear seen today. Day one of the hunt was unsuccessful. We did, however, see 1 deer and 1 porcupine. Tomorrow my brother and I will be making a 5 mile trek down Wallace Run looking for anything that may be alive. This will prove tricky with a few inches of snow that we will receive over night - on top of the existing 3 inches of snow.


Venison anyone?

It's not long now until Brandi and I head to Pennsylvania. Back to the land of snow and Hicks. For those of you who don't know, a Hick is the northern version of a Red Neck. I grew up in the middle of Hick Land where my family (including me) would be considered Hicks. As the picture shows we are typical PA hunters.

Let me talk more about this image. First of all, if I've offended anyone by the killing of a defenseless animal, tough. I started my venture into hunting way back when I was about 9 or 10. I can remember going Dove hunting with my Brother Todd and my neighbor Joe. They would let me shoot corn of the stalks with a single barrel/single shot 20 gauge. I took my Pennsylvania Game Commission hunters safety test when I was 12 and began hunting the same year. 

It is amazing how things have changed in 24 years. Back when I was younger, my Dad took good care of me by gutting my deer and then watching me drag a deer that weighed about 20 pounds less than I did. My Dad also watched out for me and my brother's welfare by keeping us outfitted in the best gear money could buy. Yep... Remember the green boots that you could buy at K-Mart with the synthetic yellow fur? Those were my hunting boots for the first two years of hunting. Imagine standing in 8 inches of snow with a plastic bag around your foot and nothing else - that is what it felt like wearing those boots. My brother and I have a plan that when my Dad dies, we will cremate him and store his ashes in a green rubber boot so he will be eternally cold as we were those years of hunting. Oh, and lets not forget gloves. Of course my brother and I wanted the Gore-Tex Thinsulate gloves that made your hands dry and toasty warm. Nope! We got cotton gloves with little rubber dots all over them. I must say, they did grip well.

Now that I can buy my own gear (OK, my wife buys it for me) I go for the adequate gear and my Dad gets my hand-me-downs. I tend to think he enjoys my extravagant tastes. And now that my Dad is old, my brother and I have to take care of him. We carry him in and carry him out of the woods. We give him a radio so he can be in constant contact with us. And he doesn't take the word CONSTANT lightly. We walk the woods and push deer his way. And on the rare occasion when he shoots a deer, we drag it out of the woods for him (as the picture above shows).

In all seriousness, I've felt (and I know my brother feels the same) extremely lucky to have a father that took me hunting. Contrary to what I've written above, Dad has taken great care of us and continues to do so. He will also out-walk almost everyone in our hunting crew - except my brother, who I call the Mountain Goat. I call him the Mountain Goat for two reasons: 1. He can climb a mountain like no other, and 2. he smells like one. 

So this year will be like all the others. My dad will complain that I'm procrastinating getting my hunting gear ready. My brother will pass gas and not roll the windows down. Our hunting buddy Brian will order a pizza while in his stand. Our buddy Greg will likely miss a dear because that is just the way it is (we call him shaky). My brother will hunt until he can't see his hand in front of his face. When asked where we should go next, I will always say "we could go home." And I will enjoy the time hunting with my family and not take if for granted. Regardless if I bag a deer, the experience will better than most could imagine. 


Are you kidding me?

Leave it to Andy D. to select a place for dinner that has Prime Rib the size of my thigh (pictured). This, by the way, is the small portion. Kudos to Keith who ate every last bite of the Prime Rib including most of the fat and gristle. He then proceeded to eat a salad and an ice cream dessert. Those UK boys sure can eat!

If anyone ever tells you to eat at Clarks Fish Camp in Jacksonville, Florida - Trust them!


Weekend Update

Even though it is Monday night, I thought I would quickly re-cap the weekend.

1. Penn State lost to Iowa - That was a tad unpleasant - to put it mildly. You can see the disgust on the faces of two PSU fans (pictured - Andy & Lindsay D.)

2. Steelers lost - After the PSU loss, this was nothing

3. Finished my installation of the 10 sections of vinyl picket fencing - Got the thumbs up from the wife

4. Cleaned the Mazda inside and out - Got two thumbs up from the wife after she nearly fainted from the sight of me cleaning

5. Packed a suitcase for Florida

6. Woke up at 3:50am - out the door at 4:30 to Jacksonville

Pretty much hated this past weekend, one I soon hope to forget.


Never Mind

Whatever I said below, forget it... Although what ever bowl game we get to play, I'm confident we'll win it.

We were terrible!


Penn State Hopes

It's certainly not over. I'm worried that Iowa will put up a great defensive game and slow PSU down this Saturday. Nonetheless, there is a lot of talk about PSU going to the national championship game. There is also a lot of talk about PSU losing in the title game. A few weeks ago 6 of 8 CNN SI writers had PSU in the title game, all had them losing. The title picture has changed as of late but I'm sure the attitude towards PSU hasn't.

I don't think you can write off PSU so easily. Keep in mind the following items. Penn State is 9-2 in the past 11 bowl games. Joe Paterno is 23-10-1 in bowl games as a head coach. In the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, Penn State was a huge underdog to Miami who was supposed to kill PSU with their Vinny Testaverde high powered offense. Needless to say, Penn State prevailed 14-10. We would face a similar underdog scenario this year with Alabama, Florida, Texas or Texas Tech. All I can say is defense wins championships. Speaking of defense, Alabama has the 4th best defense in the nation, Texas Tech 55th, Penn State 6th (4th in pts. allowed), Florida 15th, and Texas 64th. So right now, Alabama is PSU's biggest threat. Penn State is 11th in the nation in the offensive category. Will this be enough?

All this said, Joe Paterno obviously prepares well for a bowl game. Penn State plays better as an underdog and the statistics favor the Nittany Lions if you forget the conference they are playing in. I don't care who you are, there would be nothing better than an 82 year old Hall of Fame Icon winning a Championship. If they do make it to "the game" then I'll be placing some money down on PSU while I'm in Australia (at the legal casino - the largest casino in the southern hemisphere).

We Are - Penn State


Live Election Coverage

For my 5 loyal readers, I will be providing you with live election updates. But first, let me reveal a famous face Brandi and I saw earlier in the day during lunch at Dean and Deluca in Charlotte center city (Pictured). Yankee's superstar Derek Jeter.

Back to election coverage:

6:30 - I ate dinner (left overs and veggies with dip) - Brandi is on a recruiting trip to Chapel Hill for work.

6:40 - My nerves are already frazzled waiting for some results to come in. Indiana and Kentucky are filtering in now with Obama having a slight lead in Indiana and McCain with a huge lead in Kentucky. The experts say that if Obama can take Indiana it's pretty much over for McCain.

7:01 - No shocker here, Obama takes Vermont, McCain takes Kentucky. Keep an eye on Indiana, it is very close at this point.

7:40 - My state (NC) has closed its polls, but as with a half dozen other states... It's too close to call! I'm already sick of hearing that tonight. 

7:43 - It is almost time for a snack... Tastykakes!

7:57 - I just completed a straw poll with my two dogs... Riley the elder female Black Lab pulls for McCain and Chase the younger male Black Lab pulls for Obama. Margin of error is +/- 1 dog. A load of states are just coming in!

8:00 - MSNBC just calls Pennsylvania for Obama. I'm proud of my home state! I'm definitely digging into those local Tastykakes now. However, FOX News has not called PA for Obama. Let's wait and see.

8:33 - Current Electoral Vote total - Obama - 103, McCain - 43. I'm starting to get bored - Switching back and forth between college football on ESPN2 and MSNBC and CNN.

8:54 - I just saw where Kay Hagan (Dem) beat out Elizabeth Dole (Rep) for the Senate Race in NC. Could this be an indicator for the Presidential Race?

9:01 - New totals. Obama - 175, McCain - 70. No surprises just yet... Still waiting for some of the toss up states to go one way or the other.

9:07 - I'm starting to pick up some negative comments (via my Skype account) about my blog from some of my "so called" friends. I think it comes down to jealousy over the quality of my blog and the live updates.

9:24 - Ohio to Obama. An MSNBC conservative commentator (Joe S.) just said the thread has broken for McCain. Is it over?

9:35 - That's it... I'm calling the election for Obama (the first Internet site to do so). He's got 200 Electoral Votes at this point, he'll win CA with 55 votes along with Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. It's over.

This live election coverage was brought to you by TastyKake, Rolo's, and the Apple MacBook. Correspondent credit goes out to Glyn Williams, Erich Geisler and Andy Doremus.


My Weekend

There is no Penn State game this weekend so my days will be filled with installing vinyl fence. The Breadwinner (my wife) recently bought 10 sections of vinyl picket fencing to finish the one side of our yard. So, that will be 10 holes 24 inches deep by 12 inches wide through clay and cedar roots. My hands are already blistered.

It does make the yard look a whole lot better. Our current fencing is old wood posts that are rotten with wire mesh fencing that is rusted. I guess anything would look better than what we have. 

It is important to note that my Dad was going to come down and help, but he decided he had something better to do. I'm definitely the #2 son - my brother has it so much better than me. My brother gets his yard mowed, his driveway snow-blow'd and non stop handyman support by my father. I should probably mention that my brother only lives 2 blocks away from my Parents. I live 532 miles away. In all fairness to my father, he has installed about 30 sections of fence with me already. Nonetheless, I will still make fun of him.

But I wasn't alone today. I had my helper (pictured) with me all day. Although his attention span quickly erodes when there is a squirrel in the yard. Tomorrow will be another fun filled day of fencing installation. Measure, mark, dig, plum, back fill, cement over and over and over.



Holy Crap! Penn State prevails 13-6 over Ohio State.

I am sick to my stomach and I'm working on a Migraine from the stress.

Brandi and I are scheduled to go to the PSU - Michigan State game on November 22 (If my loving Father can get us tickets). It will be awesome if PSU is still undefeated at that point.

The stress continues.



I voted today, did you?

Here in Red Neck, NC we have early voting. It's nice too. I do not want to stand in line for 4 hours like I did in the last Presidential election, although, I did stand in line for 25 minutes today to cast my vote.

Since most of you know that I'm a registered Democrat, I can say that I voted for two Republicans (NC House, County Commissioner) and one Libertarian (County Commissioner) today.

Fight the lines and go vote!


New Zealand

I haven't even posted any photos from our trip to Scotland and I've already booked a trip to New Zealand.
Once I found out that it was confirmed that I will be working the Australian Open for IDS, I started working on a trip to New Zealand with Brandi. This process has not been fun. Here are some set backs along the way:

1. Brandi wanted to depart for NZ on January 24. With a Frequent Flyer ticket there are few options. I went through 5 departure dates before I found a "frequent flyer seat."

2. Alex from USAirways got me hooked up on an itinerary and put it on hold for 3 days

3. Brandi had to get approval from her boss for the trip - He would never say no because he's afraid Brandi may quit!

4. It takes 80,000 miles to book a ticket to NZ. I had 72,000 on USAirways. I had to find/buy 8000 miles.

5. I found out that I could "share" miles between participants of the Dividend Awards program.

6. I also found out that it costs 1 cent per mile + $30 processing fee + 7.5% Federal Tax. 8000 miles later (shared from Brandi's account to my account) it cost me $116.

7. I forgot to mention that the share program can only be completed on-line - where I had multiple errors popping up. After three calls to USAirways I found out that the FF# had to use upper case letters!

8. OK, miles sorted - onto the confirmed booking. I called USAirways back with my confirmation number and spoke to Sybile. Just as she got to the "miles deduction" from my account she noticed a problem and put me on hold. 30 minutes later on hold I decided to hang up and call back.

9. This time I spoke with Connie and I explained the situation and we started over.

9a. She also had an issue with the miles deductions - solved quickly - Great!

9b. As she was entering my Credit Card information she noticed that when she saved it, the information would disappear.

9c. Credit Card? Some of you may be wondering why I would be using a credit card for a "free ticket?" FYI - It cost me $146 for my "free ticket" added onto $116 for the "shared miles"

9d. Back on track now... Connie found out that there was an address in the record that didn't match mine.

9e. Back on HOLD again. Connie had to contact the ticketing agent so that when she re-entered my address, the ticket wouldn't be cancelled.

9f. It was later discovered that there was someone else editing my record at the same time Connie was (probably Sybile who forgot about me on hold)

9g. Finally after over 2 hours on the phone over two days I have a free ticket that cost me $262

10. But, the $262 is much better than the actual cost of a ticket to New Zealand which averages around $2000.

So, Brandi and I will be in New Zealand from January 30 until February 8. I will fly from Australia and meet her there. Now I've got the unenviable task of booking hotels, cars, a round trip flight from Melbourne, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand and figuring out how we are going to pay for all of this.

After looking at my schedule, I discovered that from November 21 to February 9 I will only be home for 12 days. My dogs will forget who I am!


New Things

A few new things to report on.

I just had my DVR installed by Time Warner Cable. I know I'm a little behind the times, say 2 years, but I'm back on track now. What does a DVR mean to me? It means that I'll be recording all of my shows so Brandi can watch Divine Design, Desperate Housewives, The Starter Wife, Project Runway, etc. I've failed to convince her to watch football and hockey.

Now that I mention football, the other new item I have is the Big Ten Network. Awesome! One day it magically appeared on channel 288 and I was in awe. I couldn't believe my eyes when the Penn State Football Story appeared - In Gaston County, NC. Well, as quickly as it appeared, it also disappeared. Apparently there was a trial viewing of the channel. It worked - I got on line the next day and ordered the channel for $2.25 which also comes with a bunch of Fox sports channels as well as the NHL Network.

Have a nice day!


Sorry for the Delays

Sorry for the delays in my blog... It resembles the delays in the Underground service tonight (Friday). On our way back from China Town (eating Singapore Noodles) we got on the Piccadilly Line and switched at Earls Court for the District Line to Wimbledon. We were good, but both the Victoria Line and Bakerloo Line were cancelled for the evening.

Anyway, the delays (to my blog) have been caused by an extreme lack of Internet service. That is unless I wanted to pay for it. I'm currently paying 5 pounds (10 dollars) to get Internet access for 60 minutes. I've posted a blog from our Edinburgh trip and due to my expiring Internet access, this is all you get for today.

Back in the States on Sunday!

Edinburgh, Scotland

So far Brandi and I have been on a whirlwind trip. A flight that departed on Friday and arrived Saturday morning at London's Gatwick Airport. Being bold travellers we chose to try the Gatwick express train to Victoria station (easy to use and quick). We then got on the Underground Victoria line to London's Kings Cross train station. Fortunately, we were able to get on an earlier train to Edinburgh which departed at 1:00pm. We were then on a train (1 change) for 7 hours. We finally got into our Bed and Breakfast at about 8:30pm. It is important to note that I woke up early to get the score of the Penn State game on my iPhone. It was a good morning to find out that Penn State won and Florida lost. The only thing that could have made it better was if FSU lost so JoePa could open up a two game lead over Bowden.

Needless to say, our journey to Edinburgh was quite exhausting. But it did get better from there. Sunday we spent the day at the Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and Holyrood Park - which included a failed attempt to hike up to Arthurs Seat, an ancient volcanic vent.

Monday we booked a tour to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond. The trip was a 9 hour tour that gave us extended time to tour Stirling Castle and walk around at Loch Lomond. The weather wasn't the greatest as it rained on an off all day. When we got to the Loch, it was raining sideways. Nevertheless, we did get a chance to hike some of the waterfalls (pictured) and trails that border the loch. The most memorable part of the trip was the persistent car sickness. There are a lot of single lane roads (only fit one vehicle at a time) where we had to stop constantly for oncoming traffic. This constant stopping, starting, curvy roads and pot holes made for a long day of willing ourselves not to throw up. A few times I looked at Brandi and new she was on the verge of losing it. But our perseverance paid off and we made it back to Edinburgh without incident.

Now, were on our way back to London on the train. I am writing this on the train since the train has been the only place I've had a free Internet connection. And back to work it is for me. Meetings Wednesday and Thursday and then more site-seeing Friday and Saturday.


At last, an update!

So, it has been a while since I last updated you all on my progress. Not much has happened over the past ten days. I've basically been working around the house doing my duties as a stay at home dad with two dogs.

Today was a little exciting. After being sore from last night's hockey game (left hip) I decided to remove four stumps. Now the soreness has spread. But, the stumps are out and I am on my way to completing my list - handed to me by my wife of course. It has been a while since I've shared my list, so why don't we review it quickly.

1. Purchase and place Pennsylvania field stone in dry creek bed (photo)
2. Clean and seal outdoor bench (this can wait)
3. Lay edging in the front flower bed
4. Remove struggling Willow tree
5. Kill Yellow Jackets (a constant struggle)
6. Remove Stumps near sun room (Done! Sore!)
7. Get Mulch (two loads)
8. Call about refinancing (probably the worst time in history to refinance)
9. Get new fridge filter
10. Clean off dresser (never!)
11. Purchase chain saw (I can't wait for this one)
12. Download songs from iTunes (my wife likes some crappy songs)
13. Clean Fountain
14. Get a load of Mushroom Compost (man this stuff stinks)

The next big thing is installing 10 sections of vinyl picket fence that we've just ordered. The install should take me about 3 or 4 days of good weather to complete, depending on how many roots I have to dig through. Maybe my Dad will come down and help me install the fence (HINT HINT).

My travel is winding down, however, I will be in Jacksonville, FL on Monday and Tuesday (22nd, 23rd) and then I'll be heading to London on the 26th. Brandi and I are going to visit Scotland for a few days and then we'll be back in London for my Wimbledon meetings on the 1st and 2nd of October.


Finally Home

After 26 days on the road, I'm finally home and doing what I do best... Nothing! Actually, I arrived home on Friday and on Saturday and Sunday I assisted the new kid Steve Hepner set up a video wall in Hickory, NC. So today is my first real day off and I'm loving it.

As for the video wall set up, I am really getting too old for that. Everything is sore on me today. I was all gung-ho about going for a jog on the local mountain bike trail today, but when I walked to get the mail this morning my right butt-muscle told me that running would be a bad idea. However, Chase (the 4 year old black lab) is now telling me to ignore all of my pains and get moving, and of course take him with me.

I think a quick jog to the couch is going to be my exercise for the day.


Elton John

Elton John was spotted doing stats on Grandstand Court on Monday. Elton was overheard saying "I enjoy bringing a little style to the stats booth."


Out on the Grounds

One quote comes to mind when I look at this photo; "He's a big, dumb animal, isn't he folks?" (Tommy Boy) Yep, that's Andy you see in the photo. Sometimes I wonder to myself why I ever helped him get hired at IDS. Then I wonder how his wonderful wife Pam can live with him day in and day out.

But, then I realize that he was born and raised in State College, PA and is a huge Penn State fan - even when he played football at Bucknell. Maybe he's not so bad.


In the Big House

I'm in the "Big House" today. What I mean to say is that today is my day doing stats on Ashe Stadium Court with Bill Macatee (pictured), Jim Courier and Tracy Austin. I'm actually writing this on my break. I have some fairly boring matches today: Kuznetsova, Jankovic and Djokovic. The Djokovic match should provide maybe a little entertainment.

Ashe stats is usually the worst assignment. One, because it's cramped - sort of like stuffing 7 people in a Chevy Geo. Two, because it's a tad more stressful since you're on headset with the graphics folks, writing hand stats, as well as passing notes to the commentators. Three, because if you screw up the score only a few million people see it. No pressure huh?

Enjoy the matches, I've got to run back to my position.


Unrelenting Tennis

Here was my schedule on Louis Armstrong Stadium today(photo):

Match 1: Ferrer v Vassallo Arguello
Match 2: Zhang v Kuznetsova
Match 3: Roitman v Murray
Match 4: Makarova v Chakvetadze
Match 5: Del Potro v Canas

What does all of that equal? Just shy of 12 hours of tennis, a full bladder and a tired brain. And it's only day number one. I have to admit that I made 4 scoring errors today - which I'm sure drops my ranking on the statisticians ranking list. But with the new stats program I'm not concerned just yet.

I'm hoping tomorrow is a better day for me.


Fastest Serve

Glyn Williams recorded the fastest serve of the day at the IBM Kids Day serve speed competition. The problem is that Glyn is almost 28. Glyn recorded a 101MPH serve during our testing this morning. Note the perfect form and his concentration on the ball. Also notice the "cute" wrist bands he has on. He definitely showed up prepared to break last year's record of 67.

Speaking of kids day, it was an absolute nightmare. Imagine a site full of 5-16 year olds, most of them screaming to the featured band Menudo. Yes, Menudo, the band made up of kids not older than 16. Weren't they popular 20 years ago?


US Open

I finally made it. Ray (see photo on left) and I drove from DC yesterday and arrived in Flushing around 12:30pm. Fortunately, that was just in time to make a run to Mamas - the best sandwich on the planet. Mamas makes their own mozzarella and they layer it on very thick. Along with the fresh meats, the pepper and mushroom mixture the put on is outstanding.

I didn't get any dinner, however, since we were here until 10:30pm. But I did make up for the missed dinner with a full breakfast this morning. I am currently stuffed!

So anyway, qualifying is under way and the main event is approaching. You know it's getting close when you see the kids day stage set up on Stadium Court.

The US Hopeless (as it's affectionately known by IDS'ers) will be another stellar event. Even if we are all worn out and already looking forward to going home. Only two and a half weeks to go for me!


Nandos here I come

I've just discovered that there is one Nandos in the USA. Funny that it happens to be in DC. Needless to say, after breakdown on Monday, I will be dining there. For those of you who don't know, Nandos has the best chicken on the planet, hands down. I've been to a Nandos in London, UK, Melbourne, Australia and I'll now be adding Washington DC.



A new world record

I would like to thank all of my supporters out there for helping me achieve a milestone. No, it is not age, grey hair or money. Yesterday, I received 22 visits on my blog far surpassing my previous record of 13 and my average of about 6. I have now tallied hits from the US, Canada, Australia (thanks Joanne), China, Chile, France and England.

I owe a lot of this success to two people; Erich Geisler and Glyn Williams. When I was bored at Wimbledon they were there for me keeping my attention focused on the wonderful world of the Internet blogs. When I succumbed to writers block, they were my inspiration for stupid and outrageous stories. When I thought having a blog was dumb and childish, they agreed but continued to support me in my endeavours. Thank you Glyn and Erich!

I am now the Michael Phelps of Internet Blogs. The Gold goes to Travis, Silver to the Aussies, and Bronze to the Chinese. But with great success comes great responsibility. I am now feeling to pressure to pump out quality blogs at a steady pace. But I'm not concerned, the US Open is only a week away and there will be plenty of good material for me to talk about there.


Back in the day

So far I've been good in Washington. I've been able to run a few miles each day on a canal that parallels the Potomac River. I've been thinking to myself what it would have looked like back in the day when mules would pull the barges along the canal.

Today I found out. I had to run a little faster to catch up to the boat, but I managed to catch up and grab a few photos from my phone. It appears as if they had a tour group in the boat, but the guys operating the mules and the boat were in their period garb.


That's my stapler

Milton Waddams from Office Space is in the house.

"And I said, I don't care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Kemper that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I'm quitting, I'm going to quit. And, and I told Travis too, because they've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married... But then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll, I'll, I'll set the building on fire... "


"The ratio of people to cake is too big."


DC day 1

It's day number 1 (for me) at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. It is nice rolling into an event that all of the set up is complete. But, Kemper is running a tight ship here, no slacking allowed!

We do have a cast of characters here... Kemper - Dew Tour Master, Vern - My equipment is working Master, Ray - Fonts Coordinator, Director, Producer, Switcher Master, and ME - sitting around watching everyone else work Master.
It is noteworthy to mention that I was once the Project Manager of the Legg Mason, even though it was probably in 1997. Back then we were still using DOS, Telxon's, Small Seven Segments, and Small Matrix Boards. I was the ETS guy, the EDM guy and the PM all in one. But things were simpler then. I led a team of horses and covered wagons to get the equipment from Jacksonville, FL. I used the US Postal service to get the office to mail me the graphic files on a floppy disk. I used a land line to call the office if I had any problems since cell phones were for the "rich." I know this is a hard one to believe, but back then we even had a Democrat as President and a budget surplus of nearly 200 billion.



For my Father... Here it is! This picture was taken moments before I put the application into my backpack. Rest assured that I will not be using your tag to bag a deer.


Hunting Season

(photo: My Brother Todd)
Alas, hunting season is approaching. Even though the opening day of deer season is 3 months away, there are some tasks that need to be finalized over the next few weeks. One is purchase my license - COMPLETE, two is to send in my Doe License application - PENDING. The doe application process is somewhat tricky. I have to send in the license so that it doesn't arrive in Pennsylvania too early or too late. If it's too early, it will get sent back to me. If it's too late, I will likely not get a doe license. It's tricky, but not difficult. I have set a plan in place to mail the doe license on Friday, August 15 for it to arrive in PA on the following Monday - the day that out of state licenses are accepted.

Enter my Father. So far, I've had 3 emails and 2 calls reminding me that I need to remember to mail my doe license on Friday the 15th. This is a regular occurrence around this time of year. I speak to my father more in the first two weeks of August than I do over the next three months. This is part of the reason we like to call my father by the name of "dispatch." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the calls from my father, I guess I wish that he would say "hey, how's your day?" instead of "hey, don't forget about your doe license."

The funny thing is that every time I've applied for my license I've received one. So there is no history that would cause these repeated phone calls. I did remind my father last night that I am 35 years old and have been living on my own for almost 17 years now. It is important to note that my father still mails the application for my Brother - Todd is now 42.

I guess we'll always be kids to my father. That's OK with me because I'm still a spoiled little brat. When I'm visiting home in Bellefonte, PA, I pretty much get what I want when I want. I usually walk in the door and my mother asks what I want for dinner each night. And my dad will even cook breakfast for me.

So dad, keep calling! At 35 years old it's not so bad being treated like a kid. Now, if I could only get my muscles and joints to respond like a kid.


My TV Office

The picture to the left shows the luxurious office I have in the TV Compound here at the Senior Open. It comes with air conditioning (if there's a breeze), a comfy chair (an empty CAT 5 Spool), and a desk (a green tub). Fortunately, I only have to be there from 7:00am until 3:30pm.

I guess it goes with the pay grade.


Ahhh, the Joy of TV

I love to watch television, but I dislike working with some TV personnel. My duties here in Colorado require me to manage the TV services for IBM/IDS. I've worked with TV on many occasions and have had numerous "run ins" with TV people. The latest was just one incident in a string of many.

Robbie, Dan and I set up TV yesterday and had a pleasant experience except for when we walked into the EVS/Tape trailer. As soon as we locked the first computer, we started getting the comments. "I've been on this truck for years and I've never seen a computer locked." "IBM laptops are junk anyway, why would you care is someone stole it?" "What happens if you damage our equipment with the lock cable" "This is ridiculous, we have laptops in here that we don't lock" And so on and so forth with some expletives.

Everywhere else we set up a computer, not one thing was mentioned about how we set them up. The graphics folks were actually helping us do whatever we needed to do. Mike the engineer for the A unit was as helpful as any engineer I've encountered. But, EVS/Tape will not be on my Christmas card list. Jim Ingalls (VP of IDS) has told me to remove the laptops from EVS is I have any other issues. I can't wait for that.

Overall, the incident was minor compared to some that I've had in the past. It's just very annoying. Other than that, the event is running smoothly. The weather has be warm and we've fended off the afternoon thunderstorms. But tomorrow is the big day and we'll be on site at least by 5:15am.


Off to Colorado Springs

I don't really want to leave home, but this heat and humidity is killing me in North Carolina. I hope that the weather is a bit cooler in C-Springs, enough that I don't sweat as soon as I step foot outside.

Another thing I look forward to is rooming with Jim Ingalls. Our political talk alone will be enough to entertain me for weeks. It is safe to say that Jim and I are on opposite sides (I won't say who believes what) of many issues. But I can say that we both believe in one thing - that I'm always right. OK, that may be a stretch, but it has been a lot of years since Jim and I have worked together for any length of time and I am looking forward to it.

Lastly, it will be nice to get back into some golf again. Tennis has ruled my world for a few months and that was a few months too long. But who can complain about being at Wimbledon, right? I won't be me, otherwise, BM may give me a beat down.


To Do List

Since I've been so lazy around the house (granted I've been sick for the past week) my wife has handed me a to do list to spark my husbandry skills. Let's review the list if you don't mind.

1. Laundry - I've certainly neglected this as I'm down to my last pair of underwear
2. Clean the Bathtub - It was clean when I left for Wimbledon - therefore I still consider it clean.
3. Change HVAC filter - Yep... Way past due.
4. Sweep Laundry Room (no dead spiders!) - Yes Brandi actually wrote the "no dead spiders" as if it were my fault that they died.
5. Get Vanguard Paperwork - Time to move some money
6. Clean Fencing - In this heat? I'll get to this around October.
7. Flea & Tick - For the dogs, not me.
8. Goodwill - I'm not sure if I'm supposed to spread goodwill and joy to all or if I'm supposed to drop off some 2nd hand stuff at GoodWill?
9. Water Fern (front) - We have more than one fern... Already completed.
10. Get Mushroom Compost - What is not listed here is empty the mulch from the pick up truck first. Short Story: I urgently had to get mulch prior to my departure to Wimbledon so that my wife could spread the mulch while I was away. Over a month later the mulch has not been spread and now it's urgent that she have the Mushroom Compost which makes it urgent that I remove the mulch first. Vicious Cycle.
11. Water Heuchera in Crepe Myrtle Bed - Don't know what a Heuchera is so I'm not doing it.
12. Trim Camellia Hedge - Fair enough, should have been done months ago.
13. Download songs - Not sure if I want to do this since they are mostly hip hop songs that I despise and I don't want them contaminating my iPod.

This is just a brief glimpse into my day. There is a lot to do and pretty much all of the items on the list are justified, however, It is always enjoyable to poke fun at my wife.

Prior to being handed the list, I already had a list of what I needed to accomplish today.

1. Eat Breakfast
2. Poop
3. Nap
4. Eat Lunch
5. Post Blog (already ahead of schedule)
6. Nap
7. Plan for the rest of day

I guess it was good that my wife handed me a list even if I need to incorporate my list into her list.


Headin' to Jacksonville

I'll be on my way to Jacksonville, Florida in the morning. Hopefully my time of departure will be around 5:00 am so I can get to the office and print things out before my Wimbledon Debrief meeting.

Although the drive to Jacksonville is just shy of 6 hours, I've grown to hate the drive. I95 is one of the worst interstates in the country. Mostly, it is just a very boring drive. 

However, I'm hoping that the weather is cooler with the ocean breeze. It is forecasted to be 99 degrees in Charlotte on Monday with high humidity and no wind. 

My next update will be from Jacksonville. I'll likely be in a few political discussions while I'm there. It seems as if everyone at IDS is on the "other side of the isle" from me. In addition, they really like to push my buttons when it comes to certain issues. 


Phone Sick

I think I lengthened the duration of my cold/flu by standing in line yesterday waiting for my IPhone. Yes, I waited for 5 hours to get my 2 IPhones. Fortunately, the nice man behind me held the line for me while I went to blow my nose.

When I arrived at the Apple store, I was about 50th in line and I was the last person to be handed a guaranteed ticket for an IPhone. The others behind me had to stick around and hope some folks dropped out of line. The guy behind me was buying 3 IPhones and the girl behind him was buying 4 IPhones. In the end, everyone was able to get an IPhone because they had a shipment arrive after they opened. Nonetheless, I am the proud owner of two IPhones, one a 16 gig white and the other a 8 gig black. I've already been amazed at its functionality.

Other than that, I continue to feel like crap. Especially since I have to document the Wimbledon scoreboard functionality while sick.


Stay away from me

I started feeling a sore throat on the Tuesday after Wimbledon ended. This is typical, I always seem to get sick after a big event. But the sore throat wore off by Thursday when I was back in the US. Today, however, my head feels like it is in a vice regardless of how much Dayquil Sinus crap I take. I've never felt sinus pressure like this before; it feels like Tommy Boy is sitting on my head, minus the wretched stench. Also, every thing in my body aches. My teeth hurt, my hair hurts, my toes hurt... You get the picture.

So I've spent the day either in bed with the dog licking my face or sitting on the couch so I could be upright where the snot would drain from my nose.

I'm going back to bed!


Getting into the swing of things

About all I've done since I've returned from Wimbledon is Laundry. Oh, I did mow the grass on Saturday with my dusty John Deere. I thought about cutting the grass at 1/4 of an inch to simulate Centre Court at Wimbledon, but I don't think I have the right grass mixture to do so.

So yes, I've been relaxing. My wife says that I'm still in "work mode" which is her way of saying - snap out of it idiot.

I do recognize that when I return from a long trip, such as Wimbledon, that I go into a trance. It's as if I forget how to live and function at home. I often find myself watching TV to no end while my wife cleans up around me - not that there's anything wrong with that. The only burst of energy I got yesterday was when I had the great idea to go to the Waffle House for dinner. I must say that I was very pleased with the elegant food and the wonderful atmosphere. Today I gathered up enough energy to drive to the Apple store to purchase an IPhone. But as my luck would have it - SOLD OUT. After that disappointment, I lost all energy and the will to perform any household task. I barely have the energy to type this blog. But since I will have a whopping 4 people reading this over the next few days, I felt that it was my duty to supply my readers with some content.

So, once I get out of this fog that I am in, I will be checking on my bees, completing the Wimbledon Scoreboard users guide, buying groceries and likely cleaning up after myself. But I make no promises on when this fog will actually lift.



My local AT&T store sold out of the IPhone in under an hour. "It would have been faster" the clerk said "if there wasn't a glitch in the activations." You can tell I live in a smaller town since the store I visited was only allotted 45 IPhone's to sell. Now I'm told that I'll have to order one and wait 7-10 business days.

I think I may visit another "non redneck" store tomorrow and see how that goes. I might even venture into the Apple Store in the Mall. More than likely, I'll procrastinate and do it next week. I'm very good at procrastination.

Gotta Run - heading to the upscale restaurant Cracker Barrel.


Flat Baggage

I awoke to a new day, a new horizon, a new... problem. Just when I thought the stress of Wimbledon has passed, I start my day off with a few issues. First of all, my baggage was not in Charlotte when I was yesterday afternoon. But not to worry Delta says, my baggage will be delivered at the latest - this afternoon. Yea, right!

Secondly, my tire is flat on the Mazda. I've already removed the tire and will be on my way to Clark Auto and Tire within a few minutes. Of course, I need to take my '89 Chevy truck with a load of mulch in the back topped with a nice old flat tire. On top of that, the truck is running on fumes which means that I'll be dropping about $100 at the pump if I choose to completely fill the tank. Joanne says that I'm not allowed to complain about the gas prices however, since the fuel costs in Australia double those in the US.

But, I promise that the day will get better. I will be scheduling an appointment for an hour massage later today. Coincidentally, the massage place is located right beside the AT&T store where I will pick up my new IPhone tomorrow. Now, my wife has indicated that she may want one as well (an IPhone, not a massage). Good thing Brandi is the breadwinner.

NOTE: My day is already getting better as my luggage has just arrived. Sorry to Delta for my earlier comments.

Maybe my next post will be from my IPhone.



There is not much to blog about today. Today was filled with pulling equipment, wrapping with bubble wrap and inventory. It appears as if we didn't lose anything and all equipment will be on its way to either Jacksonville or Evian. Tomorrow I will be loading 22 cases on to a truck and waving goodbye to Wimbledon 2008. Good timing too - I am ready to go home.

Hopefully my next post will be from my couch describing how I am doing absolutely nothing and loving it. That is until Chase, my male lab, pulls me off the couch to go play outside in the sweltering heat of North Carolina.


Rainbledon Day 14

It's raining! Supposedly, the rain will cease around 2:30pm with some sunny and rainy intervals after that. I really don't want to be here tomorrow with tennis being played. I would much rather be here tomorrow packing equipment for its journey to Jacksonville and Evian.
Even though today has started out "tickety bummer," yesterday proved to be a day of firsts.

Joanne and I completed our first doubles match with the new stats system that will be used at the US Open. It's fair to say that we mangled a few points but we did manage to keep the score correct. Let's just say that my voice radio will be turned off for the first day of stats at the US Open. I do not want to hear "come in court 11... court 11 your score is wrong... court 11 the director is screaming at me... court 11 you are an idiot." I am certain that there will be at least 4 or 5 significant mistakes on each of the stats courts on day 1. I really do like the new system because of the detail that is included. However, it will just take some getting used to.

Also on Day 13, Venus Williams hit a new record serve - 129mph - in her effort to win the Championship. It bears mentioning that the Williams family took home over 2.3 million dollars yesterday in the Singles final and the Doubles final combined.

It took a junior player to win the first Wimbledon title since 1983 (I think). Laura Robson (GBR) won the Girls Junior singles title yesterday. Now the immense pressure for this 14 year old to follow up her success will no doubt be the same pressure that leads to her ultimate demise. But, in the mean time, let enjoy this one for the Britts.

I also filled out my first "full report" on an apparent incident of pressing importance. Every now and again, you will hear a message that begins with "staff announcement." This is a cue to place some security symbols on our scoreboards. We heard that announcement on Friday and we placed the symbols on the scoreboard. We then took them off knowing that it was just a test. I guess we didn't have them on long enough because the person in charge of health and safety for the Championships was not pleased. What I'm not pleased about is the fact that we are never notified when to take the symbols down. We have these stand-down pagers that are supposed to indicate when it is time to take the symbols down. They haven't worked from day one. So, for now on, I'll leave the symbols on the scoreboards until the cows come home or until I get a call from the safety office telling me to do so.



Tickity Boo

It's womens final Saturday and it hasn't rained. Tickity Boo they say here in London - to indicate that everything is hunky dorey. What is not tickity boo is that fact that I'm creating a contingency plan for a 3rd Monday at Wimbledon. There is heavy rain in the forecast for Sunday and there is a chance that we may be scoring on Monday. However, the weather forecast changes here more than Nadal picks the wedgies from his butt. Nonetheless, there is a plan in place to have services up and running on Monday. We won't be happy about it, but we'll be here. You can't just up and leave Wimbledon - you might not be asked to come back.

On a food related note, I finally took a night off from Chinese or Thai food last night. I met Bill, Erin and Joanne at Nandos (see picture) for an evening of fine chicken cuisine. Nandos is awesome. It is basically a fast food joint that has excellent chicken with a Portugese flavor. It's a chain restaurant, but it can only be found in a few countries - one of them NOT being the US. Anyway, the food was great and I'll either have to go to Australia this winter or back to Wimbledon next year to eat it again.


Wimbdependence Day 12

It is hard to celebrate Independence day in the country which you gained your indepenence from. Apparently there are no hard feelings anymore seeing that the press broadcast centre dining was serving American BBQ today.

I pretty much forgot that is was July 4th. It doesn't really matter, however, since I don't get the day off. And, when you haven't had a day off in almost a month, the days start to run together. I don't think of today as July 4th or Friday. I think of it as Mens Semi-final day. The only day I'm thinking of now is Wednesday, July 9th when I am scheduled to fly home. With my luck, the flight will be cancelled and the airline will go into bankruptcy in the time it takes me to get from the hotel to the airport. If that happens, Andy Doremus will be purchasing me a First Class upgrade back to the US. I'm sure he can find me a free upgrage on ebay.

I will miss the fireworks and the festivities that happen on the 4th. There will be none of that here. We might as well be celebrating the Chinese new year here in Wimbledon as much as we eat Chinese or Thai. Although, now that I think of it, I hear (and smell) fireworks on the walk to and from the site coming from Erich's and Glyn's butt. Thankfully there were no open flames near by. It's simply a case of too much Chinese food as mentioned before.

Happy 4th of July.


Wimby Day 11

I just can't find the words today and/or I just haven't had any inspiration. I'm told I have bloggers block.

We did have a few power outages on our Centre Court scoreboards today. That got the adrenaline going 30 minutes before the Venus Williams Semifinal. There was really nothing we could do since we only send the signal to the board. But in true event fashion, the power was restored without any one touching a thing. We later found out that the power outage/surge killed the UPS that was attached to the processor. By later, I mean during the second women's semifinal match. It's funny how many people know your phone number when something isn't working.

On an unrelated note, I figured out this morning that I have enough pairs of underwear to avoid doing laundry until I get back to the States. This is important because the tiny washer in our huge house fits about 5 items of clothing. I swear we're renting a house that is likely worth 1,000,000 pounds / 2,000,000 dollars. But, the washer is worth about 100 pounds. It is a front load washer - which is nice - but the holding tank is about the size of a 5 gallon bucket. What I really don't comprehend is that the dryer can handle 4 times what the washer can. It is not an issue of space - the laundry room is as big as my spare bedroom in NC. I'm done complaining.


Day 10 Rain and Stats

Today has been a mixture of sun, clouds and rain. It has also been a day to sit back and reflect upon the changes to the tennis scoring system. Glyn was cool enough to get the GHO tennis system up and running for BM and I. Cool because he is like Rico Suave (you know that song from the early nineties) and cool becuase he is wicked smart. No one will admit it, but we all have a man-crush on Glyn. It must be an aussie thing 'cause I definitely had a man-crush on Patrick Rafter too; not so much for Mark Phillipoussis. Anyway, back on point, BM and I were testing out the new system. We were probably the worst two people to first try it out for two reasons. One, we're old and we fear change. Two, we think we know it all and how it should be programmed. Number one is true, number two is just how it is.
On a more serious note, I will need lot's of practice before the US Open. Please don't pair me with Mike Davis... I love the guy, but I can't answer 8 consecutive questions while also inputing 4 additional stats.


Wimby Day 9

My big toe on my left foot is sore today. It is mostly due to me kicking Erich in the butt to move faster on our walk to work. I swear that Erich's body can not physically tolerate a speed over 2 mph. Maybe his newly trimmed hair catches fire from the intense friction of the breeze passing over it. Or my toe could be sore from the 3.2 miles I jogged this morning. Either way, I have an excuse.

I should be tracking our miles walked here. I figure we're walking just over 2 miles a day with our combined trips to and from work. Then if you add to that the 3 miles of running Glyn and I do 3 days a week - it starts to add up. The additional exercise is maintaining my health and keeping Glyn as thin as he has always been. I can tell a change in Erich's metabolism too. He eats no more than 5-6 times a day. I wish I could eat that much and still have the physique that Erich does. Add to that Erich's quiet confidence and his prepotent presence and you see why he's adored by the ladies here in Wimbledon.


Day 8 Swarm

How appropriate that my blog is called Sports and Swarms... I took this photo outside of Centre Court today around 5:00 PM. The tournament blocked off an area around the tree and had about 6 ground staff there scratching their heads about what to do. I would classify this as a very small swarm - maybe 1,000 bees.

This is the second event that I've been to where I've seen a swarm. The other event was in 2007 during the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic LPGA in Toledo, Ohio. That swarm freaked everyone out. The swarm came out of an office trailer near our truck and had bees all over the place. People were running for their lives. And of course no one got stung. When everyone found out that I was a beekeeper, I became the resident expert on what to do next.

Seeing this swarm really fires me up to get home and check on my hives. I'll be harvesting what ever honey I have - hopefully enough to fill a few jars. However, I fear that the drought is affecting production.

Middle Sunday

It was a fine day off from Tennis on this past Sunday. Bill Mitchell and I tubed it down to Abbey Road and got some pictures crossing Abbey Road. I'm not much of a beatles fan but it was nice to see the area and see what all of the fuss is about. We also stopped by McCartney's house. He wasn't home.

After a stop in Spital Square and Brick Road (a surprisingly eccentric area) we jumped back on the tube to head home. We ended up being late to our own party. We planned a gathering for IDS and IBM folks which turned out to be very nice. Erich did most of the cooking - which was outstanding. I'm impressed by Erich culinary skills. Erich apparently watches the food channel as much as I do. He is a confessed Rachel Ray lover.

I tried to go to bed around 10:40 pm. Unfortunately, the noise emminating from the lower part of the house was beyond my IPod's capacity to mask it. Since I lost the noise battle I just began reading. Not long after midnight, the neighbor called to say pipe it down. The party ended. The one thing I learned last night is that no one employed by IBM or IDS can carry a tune. I guess that is why they're stuck in the IT field.

The weather today is looking good and play is well under way. It's looking as if we may get some bad weather on Wednesday after a splendid day forcasted for Tuesday. My luck, it will rain Saturday and Sunday and they'll move play to Monday. Nonetheless, I'll be back in the states in just over a week.


Wimby Day 6

A wonderful day in London. Sun is shining, temperature is warm and we have a new logo on the IBM display. The dingo is not only a network superstar but a graphics genius as well.

It is unfortunate that we are running out of American players in The Championships. But in the end, I could care less. As long as the scoreboards and radar are working for the final on Sunday I will be a happy man. Then, if the maid folds my laundry Monday morning... well, it just can't get any better than that.

Tomorrow is a day off. No play on the middle Sunday here at Wimbledon. I plan on sleeping a lot. BM is going to take me to some Beatles sites which should fill up some of the day. Maybe I'll have some pictures to post after our excursion.


Wimbledon Day 5

Things are running fairly smoothly here in Wimbledon. Apart from some operator error from the dingo and some fixes by the FSU Ref, I'm confident about the rest of the tournament.

We did see our first rain today that suspended play for about 1 hour. Fortunately, we can look forward to a day off on Sunday. I'm voting for all grand slams to have the middle Sunday designated as a staff day off. We can all sleep in and recharge our batteries at the pub. I'm sure that was just an oversight!