Lone Wolf '49

Special Hen
Jan 18, 2008
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Oklahoma City
Tuesday, July 31

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

Breakfast: Mixed fruit, awesome crunchy bacon (ACB), great link sausage, scrambled eggs, canaloni beans (pork ‘n to us rednecks), wheat toast with currant jelly, orange juice, yogurt: Gary and Richard from the IOC joined us.

Commute: The 8 a.m. red double-deck bus from Russell Square to the MPC. The Thames was down this morning, revealing brown sand along he edges, and more calm than usual. Need to learn how they manage the water level. Bicycle communters whizzed past across the Tower Bridge and Tower of London, wash from their rear wheels spraying water like lawn srprinkler and their day-glo jackets stark against the ancient Tower. . Somehow they’re becoming my friends. I also enjoy coming around another corner and glimpsing the Olympic Stadium for the first time each day.

We sent Nicki to Wal-Mart this morning. She’s the greeter when folks walk into the office. She makes copies, makes coffee and smiles. Every morning, she writes the full day’s USA schedule on two bit white boards, then updates it during the day. Reporters check the board and make their daily plans. Everyone brags on Nicki’s handwriting.

It turned out not to be actually a Wal-Mart, but a nice large grocery store. One of our driver, Polish Robert, took her.

Every evening, musicians perform in the MPC courtyard. Mostly I hadn’t paid attention. But tonight two choirs of British schoolchildren sang, and they drew the largest crowds ever. They were adorable in their white shirts and red sweaters. It was an Olympic moment. Later, we saw them walking around the park. I wanted to bring them home and enroll them at Valley Park Elementary with William and Jack. (Andie has gone off to middle school.)

Richard Hymans, maybe the world’s foremost track and field (“athletics” in Olympic jargon) statisticians came to our office today. He’s 65-ish, a retired accountant, and lives in London and really seems to know everything about track. After prompting from a friend, he demonstrated an amazing skill: he can convert metric to imperial distances in his head. We tossed numbers to him:

7 feet 11 inches: “2.41 meters.”

73 feet, 2 inches: “22.3 meters”

We pitched about five more curve balls at him, and he batted 1.000. Astounding.

Volunteer du jour: Amelia, pretty, young and small, shuttle center at Russell Court. Incredible smile, even after she turned away from us because of the damp breeze. She’s from Malaysia. “I hope your athletes do well. Our best hope is badminton.”

Just east of the Tower Bridge, a McDonald’s (“open 24 hours”) shares a wall with The Old Rose, a perfectly ancient pub. It made me think about Nicki’s mother and six-year-old Jack Hancock….and Jack’s brother, William, and their cousin, Andie B. Hancock.

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.”

Despite all the buses entering Olympic Park, there’s never a long wait at the security inspection station. Today they’ve moved the “no photography” signs higher, so people can see them. (Actually the signs feature a camera with the ubiquitous circle and red line.) Today, the soldier checked all our credentials. The busie actually drove off before the security guy left the top deck. He applied the brakes pretty quickly.

Email from home, about that rude person who asked if Oklahoma was “ known for anything other than bombings.” – “You shoulda told him Will Rogers and Mickey Mantle. After you right crossed him.”

Lunch: Asian dish with cauliflower, greens and rice. Not to my taste.

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.” “Will you give me a ride” (to the Main Press Center, or wherever) means, well, something different in England than it does back home, but this is a G-rated piece and so you have to figure it out on your own.

Speaking of Shaw, sometimes it truly is difficult to understand what the British are saying, and vice-versa. I love talking to the young women who empty the trash and vacuum our office; their unleavened dialect is out of this world. And I usually need to repeat myself. After all, as Henry Higgins said, “There even are places where English completely disappears; in America they haven't used it for years.”

Weather: Cloudy, drizzly, cool. Then sunny and cool, with that storybook moon..

Email from home: “Given your age estimate, she's (Rosaland, yesterday’s grandmotherly volunteer du jour) is younger than we are, gramps.”

Response: you’re right. Rosaland probably wrote on her blog, “met an American, 60-ish and grandfatherly.” Gues that’s not all bad.

Met gold-medal shooter Vincent Hancock; he brought his wife and daughter to the news conference in the MPC. I introduced myself and told him I work in college football. He said, “Oh, I know you. I’m a U-Ga fan, and I intend to go to school there.” He’s a great young man; his wife and baby daughter got to attend the press conference, too.

Dinner: Two cookies, cheese, crackers

Went to field hockey, saw the USA defeat Argentina. Venue is the closest one to the MPC. Delightful evening for hockey or football, nearly-full moon rose over the Olympic Village. Blue field brought much talk about Boise State, of course. Five Argentina fans sang and cheered. Thrty USA folks did the same. The rest of us relaxed, and wished we were in as good condition as the women on the field.

I love outdoor stadiums. We saw waffles and strawberries coming from the conce4ssion stand and made a b-line for it after the game, but the line was already too long.

Summer Sanders got a ticket from me today. She showed me photos of her adorable children, ages six and four. I told her about Jack Hancock, who is gearing up for first grade.

Two reporters nearly ran smack-dab into Charles and Camilla at a venue yesterday. They were close enough to shake hands, although they didn’t do it. There have been no sightings of Kate.

A mixup of some sort caused cancellation of the “pixies’” news conference in the MPC after their great gold-medal performance this afternoon.

By the way, the gymnastics began at 4 p.m. here-10 a.m. Central time back home The swimming finals start at 7:30 each day.

And I made a stupid mistake in ticketing today. Sigh.

These Locog volunteers are SO friendly. I’d love to have a look at the training manual. Or, coming to think of it, is there a manual for developing that British spirit?

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

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