Olympics

Lone Wolf '49

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Sunday, July 22



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Went to bed at 11 after riding the javelin to St. Pancras and the Piccadilly line to Holborn with P. Got slightly lost walking to the Montague and enjoyed watching Saturday-night revelers, (several carried pink balloons) including a low-slung young woman who said, “oh, s---, I give up”, took off her fancy shoes and walked in panty-hosed bare feet down the sidewalk with a somewhat tipsy smile..



Okay, I shouldn’t have learned how to turn off the wake-up call. I punched the button and rolled over at 6:30 today and slept until 8, with a lousy dream that D. Perry and I drove off a cliff, Thelma-and-Louise-style.



Breakfast: pork and beans, bacon, link sausage, toast with butter and black courant jelly, scrambled eggs, yogurt, orange juice. And a disaster. Determined to try everything, I spotted a pitcher of what I thought was grape juice. So I poured a glass and took a swig. Oh, my goodness…..It was beet juice!!!!! Is there an antidote for beet juice? Is there a worse food anywhere? I think I’m gonna be sick. Really, sick. Maybe that’s why I dreamed about D.



Commute: Media shuttle, jam-packed at 9:30. 45 minutes. A man on the Tube Friday had said, “towards the Olympic Park, you’ll be in the Americanized sector.” I didn’t know what he meant, but he’s right. Just beyond the Tower Bridge, after many blocks of narrow streets, lovely old buildings and sidewalk cafes, the bus goes into a tunnel and emerges in something like the LBJ Freeway: tall glass buildings, construction cranes and no pedestrians. Even a freeway. I prefer old London.



Home on the tube to Holborn after stopping to pick up some wine that P. had left at the accreditation station at Stratford. Didn’t even get lost in the walk from Holborn to the Montague.



My favorite activity in a foreign country, like Texas, is visiting grocery stores. There’s a big one, Morrison’s, near Westfield Mall. It has everything except Wheat Thins. Glad I brought some from home



The local organizing committee always assigns chaplains for the Olympics. For the first time, there are chaplains for the media. I met Alex Greenberg and Susan Blackmer, two of the 140 on the staff. Of those, 100 are Christian, maybe 20 are Jewish and the others are other.



I said I’d never seen chaplains at the Olympics before.



“You wouldn’t have,’ said Alex. “This is the first time chaplains have been assigned to the media center.”



Alex works at a college in real life. Susan is 55-ish with bright blue eyes like Jack Hancock’s which made me slightly sad because I won’t see six-year-old geandson Jack for a while, nor his brother, William, nor their cousin, Andie B..



Alex wore a Yarmulke. They suspect they’ll deal with frustrated journalists, tired journalists, lonely journalists, homesick journalists, and, perhaps, journalists who receive sad news from home. There’s a “quiet room” at the MPC. I liked Alex and Susan and vowed to do my part to help them. As the book says, Lord, let me be a blessing to someone today.



Email from home: “You lucky goat.”



Volunteer du jour: Andrea, earnest man of about 25, working at the media shuttle bus departure point at Russell Square. Headed to Royal Opera House tonight to see Shakespeare. Well, not the real Shakespeare in person, but “Othello” instead.



You gotta love a city that has a building named The Gherkin.



Sign: “The lights in this toilet have been altered to deter antisociable behavior.”



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” Catherine Perry pointed out that those “torches” that reporters used for light when they were covering the 1948 Olympics were flashlights.



Lunch: Cereal. Powerbar.



A guy told me the same jet stream that's causing the heat wave in the USA is causing the cool weather here. It’s plausible. Terry Schoeni can tell us for us.



Our office is in level three of the MPC—actually the fourth floor for us Americans, since the ground floor is level zero. We have an awesome view of the Olympic Stadium and the Orbit. It’s the best view we’ve had since Atlanta, when we overlooked Centennial Olympic Park. We looked right down on the bombing site there; what a sad. (I had gone to bed that night, early as usual, when people heard about the tragedy and began to call Nicki to ask about me. She knew I wasn’t nearby because it was after 8 p.m., but she called on the phone and woke me up, to make sure I was okay. “Well, I WAS.”)



There are nice views of the Olympic Park at this site:



http://www.london2012.com/spectators/venues/olympic-park/



Sign in grocery store that you won’t see in Hobart: “Stock Up for Ramadan.”



Weather: The most perfect spring day you can imagine. Well, maybe an Oklahoma one, because it’s windy. Low 57, high 73. Not a cloud in the sky. Let’s play two.



Fun Fact: 1948 was the first Olympics in which newspapers, radio, film and television were involved. More than 2,000 foreign journalists attended the London Olympics then, the largest number ever assembled in the world at the time.



Walked around the heart of Olympic Park to celebrate the gorgeous afternoon. Had the place pretty-much to myself, except for a few workers. Folks are going to love it.



I love the London newspapers. Today I read three of them.



The Observer, citing leaks, says the opening ceremonies playlist will include songs by Delphic, the Chemical Brothers, Dizzee Rascal and “a remix of Elton John vs. Pnau.” Golly, do I feel out of touch! (What about the Beatles? Herman’s Hermits? Gerry and the Pacemakers? Chad and Jeremy?)



The Observer also said the ceremony will include spoken lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Also, “The rumour mill has it that actor Kenneth Branagh has agreed to join the cast of 10,000.”



Dinner: Two cookies, apple, chips.



These people are SO friendly…



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Monday, July 23



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Morning commute: Top level of media shuttle. Surprisingly light traffic. This may be like the Los Angeles Olympics, where the anticipated gridlock didn’t happen because many locals left town, and others worked from home. We’ll see. Love the daily view of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. I could stand here and absorb the scene until football season starts.



The shuttle goes past row houses with satellite dishes that looked like Bing Crosby ears



Forgot to mention announcement at the Tube station Saturday: “A backpack has been left at the bottom of the escalator. Please claim it, or we will shut down the station.” (paraphrase)



Immediately, a woman got on the nearby phone and said, “that’s my backpack! I’m pregnant and my father was carrying the bag for me and left it there accidentally.”



Many bikers on streets this morning. Bradley Wiggins is a national hero-much debate about whether his feat is greatest in British sports history. The Telegraph had a great photo of him riding in the Champs with his son on a look-alike bike.



Breakfast: pork-and-beans, bacon, link sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, cheese, mixed fruit, yogurt, orange juice.



The St. Pancras train station is lovely. It was constructed in 1886, for crying out loud! Then it was damaged during the Blitz. The attached hotel looks like something out of a storybook. I could people-watch there for a year. There are shops and food and benches for sleeping. The connection to the Piccadilly line is a fair walk from the Javelin train, but who’s counting steps.



Isn’t Piccadilly a beautiful word? It calls Brahms to mind. Pancras, not so much. It sounds like a condition.



Person du jour: Flo, about 30, a performer in the opening ceremonies who was strolling through Olympic Park before tonight’s rehearsal of the big show. (The final dress rehearsal will be Wednesday. LOCOG volunteers and performers’ families are allowed to attend the rehearsals, but are sworn to secrecy about the content.)



Flo told me she participated in a half-dozen auditions. What were the primary criteria? She laughed and said, “being lithe and beautiful and very British, I suppose.” She batted 1.000.



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” I asked about a truck on the highway. The young man didn’t know what I was talking about. Here it’s a lorry.



LOCOG provides each reporter with press kit that is basically a nice backpack with really helpful information and shaving cream inside. (Don’t ask me why it includes shaving cream. Women get a different bag; it also includes shaving cream.) Inside is a transportation guide and a big book that shows the games venues. You get the backpack at the media help desk. All signs here are in French and English. “Press Kit’ in French is “Kit Presse.”



Lunch: Apple and four cookies.



The country is bananas over Bradley Wiggins. Question in the Locog news conference, not in a negative way at all: “My Saturday was quite fouled up in delivering my children to practice because of the hordes of cyclists, most of them middle age. How do we ensure the legacy of these Olympics?”



Weather: Goodness gracious, today was the perfect spring day-again. It turned into the perfect spring evening.



Nicki Hancock will arrive Thursday. She’s in charge of a continuing-education seminar at the Olathe schools this week. It’s a shame she couldn’t have traveled with me.



A photographer was upset with me because she doesn’t qualify for opening ceremonies tickets. Sigh.



Many more journalist-friends arrived today. Most of them were groggy from jet lag. The Penn State news was heavily discussed.



Dinner: Four raviolii. (raviolus? Raviolorum?) Well, four ravioli deals. And half a hefty Italian beer whose name I’ve forgotten.



A train problem led to Olympic adventure tonight.



Dinner with Leslie, Luann and John from USA Gymnastics at Italian place in Westfield Mall. Central Line train was stopped inside Stratford station, and full of sweaty, grumpy-looking people. Nobody knew how long it would be stopped, so I went to Plan B and walked back through the mall a fun half-mile to the Javelin line. Met the USA men’s gymnastics coaches on the platform. Their team is mostly a university of Oklahoma bunch, as all Sooners know by now. Enjoyed visiting with head coach Mark Williams, who lives near Goldsby.



Oh, boy; got delightfully lost while walking through the beautiful evening back to the Montague. Two Bobbies came to the rescue and said to turn left at the fire station ahead. (They were Bobbies two-by-two, but weren’t on bicycles.)



After walking a few blocks, I decided a fire station in this neighbourhood was as likely as a giraffe in the orchestra. But, sure enough, I came to the lovely L.L.C. Brigade Station 1902 (dang, even the fire stations are beautiful here) and, after looking both ways six times, crossed the busy street.



On the corner stood a tired woman who asked me for directions to the King’s Crossing Station.



“I’m from Oklahoma…..” I said. (I switch hit.)



“Oh, bad news for me,” she said, interrupting and nearly crying.



“….but I happen to know. Turn right and walk about five blocks.”



She nearly cried again. ‘Thank you so much. It’s my lucky day!” She extended her hand and said her name was Jennie. (I asked her to spell it.) She was pulling a large black rollerboard (triple redundancy).



“Would you like to have a coffee?” she asked. Jennie may have been distinguished once. But it was a while ago. She was tiny and her foggy glasses came to points. Her hair, maybe formerly red, wiggled in the wind. I wiggled nervously and looked at my watch.



“I’m sorry, but it’s past my bed time.” It was 9:30, so I was being honest.



Jennie grabbed my hand. Her 60-ish fingers were cold. (Well, she didn’t have 60 fingers; they looked about 60 years old. Oh, this makes me think of Inigo Montoya seeking the six-fingered man. Anyway, back to the story.)



“Won’t you please have a coffee with me?”



“It’s really past my bed time. I’m sorry. Are you all right, Jennie?” I suddenly wished those chaplains were here. Or sort of maybe wished the Bobbies were her. But not quite.



“I know Oklahoma, and we could talk with a coffee,” she said, almost pleading, then she adjusted her glasses and kinda sang. “Oooooooo-klahoma.”



It was the first time I’d heard anyone sing my favorite song in at least seven hours.



“That’s nice, thank you very much. But I’m pretty sleepy. Good luck, Jennie. The station is just ahead a few blocks. You can’t miss it.”



I walked on toward Russell Square. Jennie, with a Brit’s confidence, had to look only one way and dragged her rollerboard across the street into the uncertain night. Then I ran into Jere and Karen from the New York Times, who had left the media shuttle and were seeking an Italian Restaurant. Then a party was happening under the wonderful sycamore trees on the grass at Russell Square, and I walked past and eavesdropped, but nobody asked me to join.



Then at the Montague, I had nice red vino with Los Angeles Times pals John and Bill and met another Bill rom their staff while they dined at the hotel’s beautiful garden terrace. It was 11 p.m. I hoped Jennie found the station and someone to listen.



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Tuesday, July 24



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Because London is so far north, the days are quite long. I woke up shortly after 4 today snd it was light outside. It got dark about 9:30. There was a great crescent moon.



Breakfast: Great crisp bacon, pork and beans, scrambled eggs, toast, cheese, orange juice. (No beat juice.)



As I left the hotel, Craig B. from Excelsior Springs arrived, having flown all night. I escorted him to the MPC and showed him around. He knows enough to fight through the first day. One reporter told me he took a four-hour nap the first day he arrived; and he wondered why his body hadn’t gotten back on cycle.



Confession: I laid down on the bed my first day, for just a little snooze. After four minutes, something started beeping in the hallway and woke me up. Thank goodness. I haven’t heard any beeping since then. I think it was my sleep Angel.



Commute: Took the 8 a.m. double-decker red media shuttle from Russell Square, 46 minutes. A little smoggy, but the Tower of London and Tower Bridge were still there. You can’t imagine how beautiful they are. Same shuttle back, 10 p.m. departure from MPC. A new record: only 34 minuteds.



Absolutely beautiful morning, like something from a fairy tale.



The USA tennis team’s press conference was today. Wow, what an impressive group.



Nine people got stuck on the elevator in the MPC for nearly an hour. Nobody freaked out. An hour later, 14 others got stuck in the same car, including a pregnant woman.



Yesterday three guys brought a whole cart load of soft drinks and water for the office staff. Only a few folks were there to unload it. My wife and PA need not panic: I used only my good hand. Karen Rosen, a reporter who is maybe the nicest person at the Olympics, used both of hers.



A reporter brought her year-old daughter and her mother to London with her. The grandmother takes care of the little girl while the mom chases news stories all day. How cool is that!?!



I have given up McDonald’s for the Olympics. You know I love the restaurant, but figure when in Rome I’ll roam.



Volunteer du jour: Hafiz, happily guarding a fence in Olympic Park. “Who says security people can’t smile and help people?” he says.



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” We got three card for hauling athletes from the village to the press center. (I drove them in Vancouver, but not here; we have drivers.) One of the staff members posted the parking credential in the left front window of the car. I said, “won’t that block the driver’s view?” Not! I also tried to find the button to open the trunk. “That’s not the trunk. That’s the boot.”



Speaking of Shaw, so far I have heard nobody say, “In ‘artford, ‘eresford and ‘ampshire, ‘urricanes ‘ardly hever ‘appen.”



Lunch: apple, yogurt, four cookies. Power bar.



When Mike Moran invited me to my first Olympics-and my friend Bob Condron to his-back in 1984, I was 33 years old. I thought I was a wise and wily veteran of the world. Now I’m 61 and growing less wily each day.



Bob has retired after something like 17 Games. I miss him. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for him to stay home after all that time. Well, yes I can-my first Final Four after 16 years on the NCAA staff was really weird, mostly because I missed the people and the ice cream. Bob’s replacement is good-guy Mark Jones.



Very true note from a top-flight PR person back home: “One of the NFL PR guys told me last week “When you volunteer to work the Super Bowl, you become an intern again.” So true (I ended up making copies, taking quotes and holding a microphone…sounds like you’ve got some of that as well). But it’s also nice not to have too much responsibility sometimes. It also serves well to keep you humble and grounded to get back to the roots sometimes.”



There are many fresh haircuts in the Main Press Center.



The catering folks offer “at-desk dining” in the MPC and IBC. It’s room service.



Email from home: “What’s your favorite Olympic event?”

Answer: well, mine is connecting with people from all over the world. As for sport, my single favorite is the marathon. Both marathons. Second-favorite is the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. It’s ballet.



Weather: This was the most perfect June day you can imagine. Let’s play two. High in Olympic park 84, low 64.



E-mail from home: “Are you sure they’re pork and beans?”



Answer: “good point; I really don’t know. They LOOK like pork and beans, and they TASTE like pork and beans.” But maybe they’re not a duck at all.



London Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: 4,000 trees and 74,000 plants and 70,000 bulbs have been planted for the Games-it’s UK’s largest planting project ever.



In other news, Vahe’s luggage arrived today, 24 hours after he did. Gary and Craig were stuck on a train for a long time. The Independent reported a man drowned while attempting to swim the English Channel yesterday.



It’s fun to speculate about the opening ceremony. I’ll be disappointed someone doesn’t sing “Hey Jude.” I’ve given up hope for “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am.” The other hot topic is who will light the flame. I’m hoping for Roger Bannister. Or Kate. Or Petula Clark, but I suppose she’ll be occupied downtown.



An MPC security guard questioned why a spoon was in my backpack. He called the supervisor who granted absolution. I understood: knives are banned. So are forks.



Email from home: “Which wrist did you break? (left, thank goodness) Wouldn't be an Olympics without a Hancock broken bone. I kinda feel sorry for Jennie. Had to look up Bradley Wiggins.”



We met with NBC’s staff tonight. You probably know that every Olympic event will be available live. I’m sure you will see more of it at home than we will here.



Dinner: Burrito with green peppers, chicken, salsa, sour cream, lettuce and cheese-in the press center cafeteria, at 9 p.m. I’ve come to London to go to Don Chilito’s.



These people are SO friendly…



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Wednesday, July 25



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome bacon, great link sausage, scrambled eggs which were good after I figured out how to grind the salt, wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt.



Commute: Wow, the 7:30 shuttle from Russell Square to the MPC left three minutes early. I made it, but imagine others who arrived on time were disappointed. The drive past the Tower of London and Tower Bridge gives me a chill every single morning. Somehow they’re becoming my friends. I also enjoy coming around another corner and glimpsing the Olympic Stadium for the first time each day.



The Olympic Lanes (“open to athletes, VIPs and media,” reported the BBC” were available for the first time today. . Basically all other traffic is prohibited. The other Olympic cities did the same thing.



Saw a peloton of 15 cyclists riding over the Thames. The weather was San Diego-perfect. One of to-rent bike stations is near the Montague, and I’m tempted. But I left my helmet at home, and can’t figure out how to shift gears with a stupid broken wrist.



As usual, soccer kicks off the Olympics (pun intended); the first matches are today in Cardiff. Oh, my gosh, our women are behind, 2-0, and the match just started. (We rallied. Big time.)



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” The front end of that car is not a hood. It’s a bonnet.



So far, no one on the street has said to me, “buy a flowr off a pool gurl.”



But I did bump into a panhandler on the street. After each person declined, he said, “foken bathtud.” I made the mistake of making eye contact. My heart went out to him. I wanted to give him my car keys or my house. But I think Nicki Hancock would object.



Email from home: “The reason you have not heard (that Shaw quote) is because Rex Harrison is dead and no one remembers professor Higgins.”



Worker du jour: Rebecca, serving food in the MPC cafeteria. She giggled when I asked if England has Mexican restaurants. “Yes, of course, we have Mexican bars. Myself, I prefer burgers and chips.”



Lunch: Apple, yogurt, two cookies.



If you enjoy Olympic history, you’ll like this piece from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:



http://www.cleveland.com/olympics/index.ssf/2012/07/the_olympics_return_to_london.html



Weather: Actually hot. Smoggy. Several reporters were dripping sweat when they stopped by the office. High 85, low 68. Beautiful morning and evening.



The Main Press Center last week was like a college town in summer. Now the students are back! There’s a line at the bank, more customers at the store, even more people in the restrooms. I’m in line behind four Swedish journalists at the IOC ticket office. They’re happy.



One newspaper office has the expected sign saying “only XX days to go.” Like they’re in shackles with Papillion or something. No! They should be saying, “Only XX days to treasure!”



Olympic Park is buzzing. The final rehearsal for the opening ceremony is tonight. The concession stands are being spruced up. The temporary restrooms are open.



A paper reported that 50 Mary Poppinses will be in the ceremony. A Brit who attended Monday’s rehearsal said it made him weep with joy. Folks are waiting like kids on December 23.



Well, it’s a “tired happy.” It’s the first of many such days ahead.



The USOC staged a nice reception for the media tonight at USA House, which is basically a comfortable place where Olympians’ family members can go. It’s near Hyde Park, and we got a lift from USA Today’s driver. Traveling through the city was a thrill. Saw the Bank of England (see the steps and think “feed the birds”) building, Trafalgar Square, and on and on and on.



Dinner: Real average chicken Caesar salad between tables full of happy Mexican and Japanese Olympic folks at 11 p.m.. The chicken had bones. Anyone who has dinner at such a late hour deserves to have average salad.



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Thursday, July 26

(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bacon, great link sausage, scrambled eggs which were good after I figured out how to grind the salt, canaloni beans (that’s what the server called them; they’ll always be pork ‘n to us rednecks),wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, pork and beans. Ate real quickly with Gary and discussed photography.



Commute: 8 a.m. media shuttle through Central London to the Victoria Embankment, then left along the Thames to Olympic park. 29 minutes. Very light drizzle. The Tower of London and Tower Bridge didn’t seem to mind the dripping. I also enjoy coming around another corner and glimpsing the Olympic Stadium for the first time each day.



Home on the Central line from Stratford. Wanted to show Nicki the way. The Westfield mall was crowded as was the tube. We’re buying a phone for Nicki. It took a long time.



Michael Phelps news conference drew the largest crowd so far. Actually, it was the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at the Olympics. Wow, he is well-spoken. When he says he’s just here for the fun, I believe it. Me, too.



Also had press conferences today for women’s basketball, the USOC leadership, women’s wrestling, women’s gymnastics and shooting.



However small and cute and fun you think the women’s gymnasts are, double it. Folks just love them.



Volunteer du jour: Phil, works at the handball arena. About 60. Runs a music company and has led several tours to “the states.”



Elliott Almond, a track writer from new York, went to his first Olympics in 1968 and hasn’ts missed one since. He’s 78 and can tell plenty of stories



There’s an extra energy on the streets today, a little extra jaunt in the steps. The Brits are excited. Me, too.



Yesterday a huge cloud of black smoke erupted beyond the Olympic stadium. Two photographers dashed into our office to shoot it. I thought it was a bad explosion or fire and would be a major world news event. But I haven’t read anything about it. So the world didn’t end.



Lunch: yogurt, four cookies, Pringles



Weather: Still warmish. A volunteer apologized for the extreme heat and humidity. Frankly, I find it quite pleasant. The person would have trouble in Kansas this summer. High 78, low 64.



Nicki arrived this afternoon and went immediately to work. She’s the official greeter in the USOC office, and also copy girl. She’s awesome. She was pretty excited and took photos of the MPC from the bus. So did some Chinese photographers. Five security people boarded the bus and sternly made them erase the photos. Nobody wants the bad guys to be able to scope the place out.



The other day, workers were installing colored lights high in the trees at Russell Square. And then, from the sidewalk outside the square, I could hear a scary sort of growling sound. I dunno.



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” Don’t even think about calling it “soccer” here.



Speaking of Shaw, so far, I have not heard anybody say “lots of chocolates for me to eat! Lot's of coal makin' lots of heat. Warm face, warm hands, warm feet. Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?” But it was a loverly day except for the smog.



Dinner: Two cookies, one piece of chocolate candy.



Sign: “Take tunnel for Waterloo Bridge.”



Got just a little bit lost headed for the Stratford station. The night was cool and soft. Nicki, too.



These people are SO friendly…



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Friday, July 27



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Nicki’s phone rang at 1 a.m. and again about 3 a.m. Then the hair-dryer rang about 6. Ah, roomies. Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em.



Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bacon (ACB), great link sausage, scrambled eggs which were good after I figured out how to grind the salt, canaloni beans (pork ‘n to us rednecks),wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt:



The torch has taken on an almost human quality here—kind of like the Stanley Cup. It spent the night in the Tower of London. It’s cute.



Commute: 8 a.m. media shuttle through Central London to the Victoria Embankment, then left along the Thames to Olympic park. Very light drizzle. The Tower of London and Tower Bridge didn’t seem to mind the dripping. I also enjoy coming around another corner and glimpsing the Olympic Stadium for the first time each day.



A woman told me yesterday that she lives not too far from Olympic Park and can see the stadium lights from her window. That’s the extent of her Olympics, but she is delighted to be a part of it in her own small way.



The Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I’ve had ten lifetimes so far. I’m one lucky goat.



Opening-ceremony day is thrilling. Ten thousand athletes or more have worked all their lives for this. And today is their day. It’s not ours; we’re just kibitzers. It’s theirs.



New people arrive every day. Sam Mellinger got here today. New ones are sleepy and lost; I get to help them. My advice to rookies like Sam: smell the roses, get enough sleep, eat reasonably, drink plenty of liquids and wash your hands. We learned all that in fifth grade, but some of us were sick that day



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” Those snack foods that I’ve been enjoying for lunch? They’re not cookies—they’re biscuits.



Speaking of which, the rine in spine sties minely in the pline but also sties in London a lot, and the self-deprecating natives love to joke about it.



Volunteer du jour: Claudia, round and bubbly and extremely busy at the security check point. But she took time out to be friendly. These Brits are terrific. “I am SO excited about the opening ceremony. I sawr the rehearsal Monday night. It’s absolutely beautiful. I can’t go tonight; it’s too expensive. I will be watching every minute on the telly.”



Lunch: yogurt. Pringles. Four cookies.



Email from home: “50 Mary Poppinses” – That is a lot of spoonfuls of sugar. I still have a crush on Julie Andrews because of this role (and fraulein Maria of course).”



Weather: Cloudy all day, more drizzle. High seems to have been about 70; low somewhere near 54.



Dinner: (see below)



When all the ticketing was done and it was time to depart for the opening ceremony, a couple of friends suggested we walk. My instinct said to take the media shuttle, which would drop us off at the proper, convenient entrance to the stadium. They wanted to walk.



I should have said “we’ll meet you there” but I knew the chances of actually meeting in a media section that extended over about 20 percent of the stadium were about like salsa in Senegal. And I wanted to be sociable. And so we walked and walked and walked some more until we entered the stadium on the opposite side of the MPC. We immediately got separated, but I grabbed Nicki’s jacket and held onto her. We were pointed to an elevator which took us to the field level where performers were stretching and generally green-rooming. We skedaddled onto another elevator before they put us in the show.



We arrived only about 100 minutes before the ceremony’s start, late by the traditional standard. Most of the media seats were already occupied. Some very kind American sports-writing pals squeezed us in. I went off to buy a hot dog and returned with a nice English pastie instead. Nicki and I shared it and vowed to have 137 more before we go home.



I loved the ceremony. My favorite part was the farm scene; we walked in from the chaos outside into field with sleep, ducks, and an eighteenth-century cottage. Sweet country sounds like chirping birds were piped into the stadium. People harvested grain, fed the animals, played cricket and generally did 18th-century stuff. It was intriguing and relaxing.



You got to watch the spectacle on TV, so I won’t give a play-by-play. But the Queen, Camilla, Nicki and I enjoyed it very much. So much was happening; I had to make myself watch the field instead of the monitor that Nicki and I shared.



About four jakillion people around the were watching and we actually got to be here. I missed my friend Bob Condron, with whom I had shared nine ceremonies including my all-time favorite, Los Angeles’s.



The real queen! The real J.K. Rowling in a rare public appearance! The real Michelle Obama! The real Paul McCartney! The real James Bond! (Well, not exactly. Sean Connery wasn’t here.)



One segment sort of featured what the press kit said—and the Brit next to me agreed—was “England’s beloved national health service.” Say that again. Think about it.



I made my traditional visit to the concession stand after Greece made its traditional entrance. I was seduced by the fish and chips sign. Neither was inspiring. The people in front of me in line spent $170 on fish and chips, pickles and Diet Coke. THAT was impressive. I live in a different world, because I was angry with myself for wasting my $15.



(I’m writing from the media seating area; Pakistan just entered.)



In contrast to the overwhelming heat at Beijing’s ceremony, we wore jackets and long pants to this one and I nearly wished for my gloves. It only rained for three minutes, but we happy to be under the canvas roof—about two-thirds of the way to the top on the “press box” side.



It was a grand night and I’m so happy for the English people and for the athletes and proud of the world’s people for coming together again for a big party.



We walked out into a very chilly night wind, better people.



What a privilege to be in London! Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Saturday, July 28



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Left the office after the ceremony at 1:45 a.m. The line for the media shuttle to

Russell Square was even longer than the one Ralphie and Randy faced at the department store. A few reporters tried to jump the line. When they spotted the transgression, others said “hey, kid, the line ENDS here. It starts there….” (Two photographers almost got into fisticuffs over a line-jumping sin. I was happy neither was an American.)



Locog scrounged more buses out of thin air and we only had to wait about 25 minutes. We did see a screaming match after one photographer jumped the line and another ordered him to go to the back like everyone else. I was happy neither was an American.



Also last night, one of the double-decker bus driver in the media’s Olympic Park loop took a wrong turn and his bus was too tall for a bridge. It shattered the front window in the upper deck; luckily no one was hurt. The two American passengers said another bus arrived in 30 minutes to haul everyone back to the MPC. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky….



Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bacon (ACB), great link sausage, scrambled eggs which were good after I figured out how to grind the salt, canaloni beans (pork ‘n to us rsdneck),wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt. Adele, the wonderfully pleasant server at the Montague, said, “are you having your usual, Mr. Hancock?”



Commute: Red double-decker shuttle to the MPC, 33 minutes. NOT full. 8 a.m .bus after 3 a.m. bedtime. The Tower of London and Tower Bridge were not sleepy; bikers and runners were enjoying the quiet Saturday morning. Back to Russell Square tonight on the 8:30 shuttle.



Email from home: As Edward R. Murrow used to say, "You are there".



Email from home: “I guess that wasn't you and Nicki sitting directly behind the Queen about 3 rows up. My mistake. I saw in Newsweek or TIME that opening ceremony tickets were over $3000.00! I'm glad it was on TV!”



The Olympics is such a happy place, with mostly jovial people. Grumps melt away like the wicked witch.



I will say this: it is really difficult to understand what some Brits are saying. My most-used word here has been “huh?”



What’s better in music than 40,000 people singing Waltzing Matilda, or or Hava Nagila or “Our Chant Rolls On and On” or Hang On Sloopy, or Hey Jude?



Email from home: “So, did you sing along with Sir Paul?”



Answer: “No, I didn’t. There’s no singing in the press box.”



Volunteers du jour: Ben, 50’s, works at the catch-all, do-anything-for-you, sensational technology help desk in the MPC. I asked what’s the weirdest request he’s received: “One chap asked about windows. I asked whether he meant Windows Vista, or Windows 7 or Windows 8. No, you bloody fool, I’m having trouble with the windows in my office in the MPC: they won’t open.” (It’s true; a few offices do have windows that actually open. It’s a first, at least in my memory.)



We’ve solved the mystery of the colored lights and “growling” in Russell Square: it’s the “breathing trees.” Why didn’t I think of that! It’s art work. The purple, red and blue lights come on, and there’s a recorded sound that’s really does sound a lot like breathing. Each tree breathes about once every 20 seconds. It’s extremely cool.



Email from home: “Whatever you do, don't get thrown in gaol.”



Saw a large yacht moored on the Thames; I guess it’s some kind of floating bar, because people were having dinks and watching the Olympics on a big-screen television. What a life.



Knock on wood, security is nicely not overwhelming. In fact, it’s almost invisible. Like a good referee, we don’t even know it’s there.



Lunch: Six cookies, tasty strawberry yogurt, banana from cart.



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” The elevators here in the Main Press Center are the fancy kind where you press your floor and the elevator tells you which one is going to your floor. Oops, they’re “lifts,” not elevators.



Speaking of Shaw, two friends reached their hotel at 5 a.m.today after writing about the wonderful opening ceremony. I don’t suppose either of them said, “some bloke who’s able, lift up the table, but me to the (Main Press Center) on time.”



It really was a long night for journalists. They were writing their stories in the work room in the bowls of the Olympic Stadium when the people in charge said all writers would need to leave at 3 a.m. And the work room was full of reporters, all on varying deadlines. Not wanting a confrontation, the two savvy Americans rode the bus back to the MPC and finished working here. I’m happy I wasn’t there at 3 a.m.



Email from home: “I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who remembers every line from My Fair Lady.”



London papers are giving glowing reviews of the opening ceremony. The word in the Main Press Center are also overwhelmingly positive-at least from people who were there. On the other hand, reporters who watched it on television felt pretty grumpy about it. I’m sorry for them. I loved it.



Watching on television on one of the four televisions in our office, we got way into archery as the U.S. men’s team kept winning and made its way into the finals. We lost by one (point?) to Italy when their guy made a clutch 10-point bull’s eye on the last arrow. It was as exciting as a two-point conversion at the end of the fourth overtime.



Weather: Sunny, coolish and breezy. High 68, low 57.



Watched the Lochte-Phelps match (from the MPC talk, you’d think nobody else was in the pool!) with great interest. Time marches on.



London Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me:



Four major poor newspapers missed the 2 p.m. deadline to pick up tonight’s swimming tickets, but I held them, knowing the folks would be along soon. Sure enough, one frustrated editor arrived to say his reporter had been negligent, one writer frantically said he had lost his ticket, and a photographer gave his back. One paper’s reporter never did show up, so somebody got a second ticket.



Dinner: Went totally crazy at 10 p.m. Had way too much terrific hand-made lasagna. garlic toast and some of Nicki’s spaghetti. Chardonnay.



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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Sunday, July 29



(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bacon (ACB), great link sausage, scrambled eggs which were good after I figured out how to grind the salt, canaloni beans (pork ‘n to us rednecks),wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt.



Commute: Media shuttle 35 minutes from Russell Square to Wimbledon. Getting to Olympic Park, District Line tube 20 minutes to Notting Hill Gate, then Central Line tube 45 minutes to Stratford.



Busy in the office, but decided I’ll only once, so took off for Wimbledon.l Boarded the 7:40 a.m. bus from Russell Square. The bus ride was spectacular; the weather felt like driving through the autumn leaves to a game at Notre Dame. We rode on the top deck and looked out at the Thames, Big Ben and then Westminster Abby. Oh, my.



Wimbledon! It’s truly a legendary place, like Fenway Park, Carnegie Hall and Owen Field rolled into one. Just an icon, that’s all.. I had high expectations and they were exceeded. Because I had to get back to the office, I wasn’t able to see any actual tennis. But Craig and I got to prowl around the entire grounds on this beautiful sunny morning



The area around Wimbledon reminds me of Pasadena: quiet and dignified, except the houses are smaller. The tennis complex itself is orderly and lovely, as expected. It even seems to be down in something like an arroyo. And, like the Rose Bowl, you don’t really know you’re there until you’re, well, there.



Also, like the Rose Bowl, there’s a golf course next door. Golfers were walking—I didn’t see any carts. Craig and I walked all around the place. We watched the grounds crew painting the lines on the incredible grass courts, like painting the batter’s box. Unfortunately the concession stand selling strawberries was closed, but we got photos which were healthier. Strawberries cost about $3.75 U.S. We were able to talk to the workers before they got worn down by hot, tired fans.



Sign on the concourse at Wimbledon Centre Court: “No babes in arms or children under five.”



And: “Glass drinking vessels may not be used.”



And spectators in wheelchairs are prohibited from Centre Court.



I wanted to take a nap on the grass. I’ve napped at Pebble Beach and Augusta National; why not here?



We learned that German bombs hit Wimbledon during the blitz.



I had a made what I thought was a good plan: shuttle to Wimbledon, then another shuttle back to the MPC. But had to go to Plan B, because the MPC shuttle didn’t have Wimbledon until 11:40 a.m. and ticketing was scheduled to begin at 11. So we went to plan B, the tube. The station is a 20-minute walk from the tennis grounds.



Volunteers du jour: ushers at Wimbledon, maybe 70 of them, sitting at center court enjoying the quiet morning and bright sunshine. Making memories, just like the rest of us.



Two sports writers told me they were in each other’s weddings, as best man. How cool is that!?



The men’s baskegball game began at 2:30, and about 2:45 thre calls from reporters began. Many American journalists were turned away because of insufficient space in the tribune (press box.) The calls kept coming and coming, the rumors were flying, and I’m eager to hear the whole truth. I suspect maybe the IOC and Locog will decide to require ticketing.



Lunch: yogurt, apple, Pringles, three cookies.



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” Back in the old days, when we used pencils, we removed our mistakes with an eraser. Here, they use a rubber. (Stop giggling, you bunch of silly sophomores.)



Speaking of Shaw, and France’s victory over our guys in the relay, reminded me that the French don't care what they do actually, as long as they pronounce it properly.



Weather: Perfect football weather in the morning, then spectacular clouds leading to plenty of rain in the afternoon. High about 68, low 55. I love to watch clouds and the huge banks of windows on two sides of our office afforded the perfect opportunity.



Rode the Olympic park media bus to swimming tonight. Saw all the stars except Missy. The venue is a tribute to British austerity and to the sustainability of these Games. The concourses are open-air; the walls seem like some sort of canvas. It’s a very comfortable stadium, and the wide walkways and good directional signs make it impossible to get lost or get grumpy. Walked 20 minutes back to the MPC through the chilly evening and under spectacular cumulus cloud, some pink.



When we accidentally tried to enter a restricted area, a very young and very British security man in a casual outfit said, “I think you are looking for a different room because access to this one takes a 5, and you have a 4. Could I help you find the correct place?”



In most places back home, the guard would have said, “you can’t go into this room.” Period. The British way makes \a person smile.



Dinner: Pastie with Nicki at the swimming venue.



These people are SO friendly…



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

Lone Wolf '49

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(Please excuse the typos. Will hurry. There’s much Olympics to explore.)



Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bscon (ACB), great link sausage, scrambled eggs, canaloni beans (pork ‘n to us rednecks), wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt:



Commute: Slept in‘til 7. Took the 8:30 red double-decker. Top deck. Bus not full. Worked instead of looking at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Won’t make that mistake again.



It’s Monday and Londoners-those who stayed in town-are going back to work.



Home on the 10 p.m. red double-deck bus from the MPC to Russell Square. S



There’s an Olympic bubble, like Pleasantville. You could spend the whole Olympics in the bubble-eating, sleeping, working and shopping. Many people do it. But it’s important to break out. That’s why I love riding the tube. I love walking in the Russell Square. Inside the bubble is a great, enchanting magic world. Mostly the bubble was picked up by giant cranes and carried here from Vancouver. Vancouver hauled the bubble the same way from Beijing. I love it inside.



But outside is a place not to be missed. Real people are there. Real places to be smelled and tasted and seen. Real wide-eyed children. Real chances to show that Americans are not ugly.



Volunteer du jour: Rosaland, 60-ish, round-faced and grandmotherly. Working at different places in the MPC; was helping Gabi at the ticketing desk today. Thinks the Olympics is “fantastic, better than just about anything. The buzz…the energy….I will remember it for the rest of my life.” She was so happy, so almost made me cry.



Ouch. When I was walking past the press conference rooms this morning, a young man with a perky British accent asked where I was from; it was time for me to say Oklahoma. He responded, “are they known for anything other than bombings?”



I was too shocked to say what I should have: “golly, young man, everybody knew somebody, or knew somebody who knew somebody” and so he would have learned a lesson on thoughtfulness. Somebody else will teach him some day. With a right cross to the chin, maybe.



(Full disclosure: a British accent sounds a lot like Aussie, or Kiwi, and I sure wouldn’t recognize him if I saw himi gain. So I have no idea where he’s from and don’t want to indict any group. There are immature people everywhere.)



Lunch: Yogurt, apple, two cookies.



The Evening Standard reported that Paul McCartney and the others were paid just one pound for performing at the opening ceremony.



Workers have finished moving the Olympic flame to the south end of the stadium, where it will reside for the rest of the games. Only people with tickets to the track and field events will be able to see it in person. I’m sure you’ve heard the complaints about that.



Today’s confirmation that George Bernard Shaw was right when he wrote that we and the British are “two peoples separated by a common language.” The hotel guy said, “we can knock you up at 6:15.” Back home, we would have said, “I will knock on your door and wake you up at 6:15.”



Speaking of Shaw, to wake me up, they could hail and salute me, then haul off and shoot me, but get me to the MPC on time…



Walked over to the pool this afternoon and enjoyed the 10-meter men’s synchronized diving. The crowd was enjoying it, too. It’s a noisy arena. Such athleticism!



Email from a person at home who, while acknowledging that all typos are excused, thought he had spotted one: “At first I thought that was the case with today's final item - ‘Dinner: Pastie with Nicki at the swimming venue.’ Then I checked online and discovered that a pastie actually is ‘a large to medium sized round battered pie common to Northern Ireland.’”



Weather: Brilliant sun early, then the clouds rolled in. The a spectacular nearly-Oklahoma sunset. Breezy and pretty-much raw. High 66, low 54. The weather really has been quite brisk since last week. I do sort of stubbornly wear shorts every day, because it IS the summer Olympics, after all.



Email from home: “Sorry you are having to endure the chilly temperatures and rain. According to weather.com here's what's happening in Hobart:

Today 108 (107 right now at 2:30)
Tues 111
Weds 113
Thu 113
Fri 110
Sat 106
Sun 105
Mon 104



Locog’s daily newsletter listed some of the items that have been turned into lost-and-found here in the MPC: passports, phones, broadcast cameras, Kindles, clothing, keys, cameras and lenses, Dictaphones, wallets, sunglasses, microphones, laptops, binoculars and a set of paddles.



Watched the USA defeat Hungary in a sold-out water polo venue tonight. I really enjoy water polo. Or, as it was known after I asked the driver to take me to the “pollo aquatic” venue at the 1991 Pan American games, “water chicken.” (Someone heard me, and every day when I returned to our office in the Havana Libre Hotel, people would say, “how did we do in Water Chicken today?” The stadium here is next door to the swimming/diving venue. It’s warm and classy. And it was a great game.



Major fouls lead to exclusion; that is, time in the penalty box. After three exclusionary fouls, as the public address man said, “That is the third exclusionary foul on Jessica; she may participate no further.”



While we enjoyed the walk back to the MPC among happy strolling fellow Olympics lovers, the orange sunset stopped everyone in their tracks despite the cool breeze. The crowd cheered a GBR field hockey goal and young people relaxed on the grass beside the canal.



Email from Oklahoma: You may have already heard this but on the Today show this morning, they were broadcasting from London....behind them stood a guy holding an OU flag...it was front & center.



Dinner: porridge. Seriously. From a concession stand in Olympic Park. I asked the server what porridge is. “Oats,” he said. They hadn’t sold much so far, because he didn’t quie know how to make it. Somebody showed him how to pour in the hot water and stir. Nicki I shared. I liked it, but Nicki said it wasn’t as good as her beloved McDonald’s outmeal back home. She gives up Cheetos for Lent; I give up McDonald’s for the Olympics.



Maybe in honor of the buses, Nicole brought a double-deck McDonald’s burger to the office today. It sure did smell good.



So far 17,220 broadcasters and 6,601 print journalists have been credentialed.



Fun fact: in 1948, the equestrian events were still limited to male commissioned officers. A Swedish sergeant won gold, but was disqualified later for not being a commissioned officer.



These people are SO friendly and helpful and earnest….



What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Inspire a generation. And mind the gap.
 

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