Advance ticket sales

Yes, I have whined about the ticket selling processes before.  I guess the Olympics ticket buying experience was the most challenging, but let’s talk about closer to home:

Presale?

They should actually call it THE sale. If you have ever purchased tickets online, you probably know what I mean. Purchasing sports tickets or concert tickets online will probably get you a “presale” offer some day in the future. If you have the right charge card, you might get a presale offer as well. The more tickets you buy and the more cards you have means the greater possibility for a presale code. That is your chance to get tickets before everyone else, or is it?

Yes, I have purchased plenty of tickets and have lots of charge cards, but it does not seem to have helped. A couple years ago there was a 2 day “presale” for tickets to Maroon 5 at Ravinia Festival. I thought it would be a great idea to go with a friend, but I unfortunately decided to wait until the second day so I could ask him if he really wanted to go. That was because we saw them once before. I was thinking an outdoor concert would be great but incorrectly concluded I had plenty of time to get the tickets. With an affirmative answer from my friend, I checked back the second day to get our great tickets to the show before the M5 fans moved like Jagger to the virtual box office. Not only were they sold out, you could already find a lot of them listed on Stub Hub. Some had more lawn seats listed than they would have been able to buy, meaning they had real accomplices for the cyber ticket office. If you were eagerly awaiting the tickets to go on sale, you waited in vain. If you got into the website 5 seconds after the tickets allegedly went on sale, you found nothing. Ticket sellers now avoid the big crush of buyers that used to cause their sites to crash when the sale began. Now buyers drift in during the “presale” so the “onsale” date no longer exists.

Despite the reality of the situation, I eagerly attacked the next opportunity that held something I wanted, Chicago Bulls playoff tickets. When I found the email with a code for presale of playoff tickets I was on the site and ready to pay up for a seat to what could have been a run to the 7th Bulls trophy (It wasn’t anyway). I passed right by round one games and went for round two, game B, but there was nothing. No worries, I went on to game A, then game C but I had no luck. WTF? OK, we will have to go to round 1, game A. Game B? You know the rest of the story, no tickets. They were gone before they were “on sale.”

So what does “on sale to the general public” mean? By the time the presale starts, they are on sale to the general public. If you did not get a presale code, ask around. You probably have a friend who could give you one. You might have a better chance buying Olympics tickets on their lottery system. That is the system where you send in your order but no one really knows how they fill the orders. You just wait for months to see if they will take your money, but I digress.

I suppose if I check Stub Hub or one of the other resale sites, I will find Bulls playoff tickets or other highly coveted tickets when the time comes. I have purchased tickets there before for something I wanted. Yes, I got M5 tix there for Ravinia. I will probably get Bulls play-off tickets there too.  Just keep in mind that tickets are no longer “on sale” for any hot event. There is presale and post presale, aka Stub Hub, Vivid Seats or ebay (who owns Stub Hub). If you wait for tix to go on sale, you waited too long.

Jordan Statue

All fans worship at the shrine of championships

The Olympic Venue

The Sochi 2014 Winter Games came under criticism even before the opening ceremonies.  There have been complaints about the conditions of the ski slopes, complaints about extensive surveillance (spying?), complaints about accommodations.   Journalists who were on hand days in advance were finding little to praise.  As a matter of a fact, one of the hotels built to house journalists was not even ready.  CNN reports this from the Olympic Committee:  “Dear Media,” the committee wrote, “this is to inform you that the official opening of the hotel Gorki Grand has been postponed due to technical reasons.”  What is the technical reason?  They said it was the water.  There have been complaints about that from elsewhere anyway.  

The Russian Federation did a lot to prepare for the games and provide security, but they did not finish on time.  Certainly it is hard to build a an Olympic Village (town, actually) in just a few years (OK, it was seven), especially considering the vast resources required.  London did it, however, for the last Olympics.  It will forever be the best one for me.  That might be because it is probably the only one I will ever attend.  It was amazing.  Here are our thoughts written when we returned.

London 2012 photo gallery

A London Underground train decorated to promot...

A London Underground train decorated to promote London’s Olympic bid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

London was indeed ready for the 2012 summer games.  From sports venues to crowd control, everything was in order for the mass of humanity that arrived in London from all over the world.  This is not to say that we did not encounter some delays getting from venue to venue, but it all seemed to move along smoothly.  To have 70,000 volunteers on hand to greet us seemed an impossible task, but they did it.  Every where we went, the Brits greeted us with a smile and told us they were glad we came.  The volunteers were not just at the Olympic sites but at the train stations and intersections, landmarks and parks and just about anywhere a tourist might need a hand.  It was worth almost a year of vacation planning for us and we only wish we could have stayed a little while longer.  We are pleased to share just a few of the many pictures we brought home.

The closing ceremonies will give you a heavy dose of Beatles music, of course.  Appropriately, in my opinion, a small group of volunteers, representing the tens of thousands were presented flowers by medal winning athletes.  The finale rocks, literally.

LINK:  Official London 2012 closing ceremony photo gallery as well as links to all galleries can be found on the London site.   

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

There were 60 new posts according to this report.  Internet sharing and other Lies was the most popular.  It was actually a rerun.  Next was Being Alone, a piece I am proud of.  Olympic Diver Stands Up was next.  It was just a new intro about Tom Daley to a piece posted last year about Anderson Cooper and his coming out story.  The biggest news actually is that SERENDIPITY blog featured a couple of my short stories, thanks to Marilyn Armstrong.

Enriching your life

Recently I was giving thought to all of the good friends in my life.  Actually, I think about it a lot.  So it seems to me now is a good time to rerun a column I did last summer about family and friends.  The number of people I know in foreign countries has increased since then, which helps to broaden my understanding of life around the world.  I am glad I can add to my list of friends. You can never have too many.

Friends

There is no over estimating the value of friends in your life. While you hope immediate family will always be there for you, in the mobile society in which we live they may not always be nearby. Your personal support network needs to include friends to whom you can turn in times of need. When I was younger and moved from apartment to apartment several years in a row, my friends were there to help me move. They were certainly pleased when I landed at my present location and stayed put. The important thing was their willingness to be there for me. It is a comfort to know that.
Having friends to listen at the right times is also of great importance. You may stubbornly think that you need to bear an emotional or spiritual burden on your own, but it does not need to be that way. Good friends will listen.  They will offer advice when asked. Those not willing to hear you may need to be categorized as acquaintances or casual friends. It is OK to have plenty of them in your social circles. Good friends will populate your close personal circles along with your immediate family. They become your “extended family” which is so important in today’s world
Internet friends can now comprise part of your personal life. It seems an interesting phenomenon to me to have such friends. While a great deal of caution must go into cultivating this sort of friendship, it can have its own rewards. You may meet people with whom you can can correspond on a personal level. They may be able to help at various intellectual levels as well. Right now I believe I have three people on my facebook that I only know through the internet. Two of them I have known for years and perhaps some day we will actually meet. All three live in different countries.
I have met someone I had known for years just through shared internet experiences, all good, and personal correspondence. When we met he came with his roommate to visit. I had told him years earlier not to meet a new person alone, so this was fine by me. It turns out they are great people and now good friends. I consider myself lucky to have met them, although I still feel this sort of thing, meeting internet friends and expanding the friendship, is more the exception and not the rule.
My former place of employment had given me the opportunity to meet students from other countries though their internship program. In addition to attending local sports events with many of them, I have been able to keep in touch with some via facebook. In fact I am currently in France visiting one of my best friends and a former intern following our Olympic tour this past week. Email, Skype and facebook have allowed us to keep in close touch even though we are thousands of miles apart.
“You have more friends than I know people,” my brother told me at our mother’s wake. That’s because the funeral home was filled with an absolute gaggle of our relatives and my friends. My brother had moved away decades earlier so he did not know a lot of these people. I have thought about his comments a number of times since then. I used to tell people, “I have friends from 18 to 80.” This was largely due to our parish, community groups and even the internet. I guess I am lucky in all this to have so many great people as friends. Be open to friendships as they enrich your life.

A castle in Orschwiller, Alsace, France

Are we there yet?

Last year I penned the following before heading off to the Olympics.  OK, I did not actually do this with a pen, I just thought I would toss in one of those figures of speech we rarely use anymore.  Anyway, it was an excellent journey and we crossed another event off the bucket list.  It was actually much higher on my friend’s list than mine, but as usual, we found we enjoyed every bit of it.  I have learned in recent years the importance of the journey as much or even more than the destination.
With all the one year anniversary postings of London 2012 around the internet, I decided to look back at what I wrote. Usually if I repost, I do not change anything, unless I find some glaring mistake. This time, however, I rewrote some lines that did not sound right to my ear and offended my eyes. The original is in the archives as:

It’s the journey

You may have grown up with the belief that it really is all about the destination. That leads to the favorite question of parents, “Are we there yet?” I guess our parents are to blame for that as they would always sell us on the idea of the destination, never the journey. The trip was all about the beach, the dunes, the Dells (Wisconsin, if you are not from this area), maybe even Disneyland, or Disney World. It certainly was never about “What in the world will we give those kids to do for 14 hours while we drive to Aunt Hilda’s hideaway?” It may be easier these days with video games and dvd players but that only reduces, never eliminates, the driver’s refrain, “Don’t make me have to come back there,” or “knock it off or I’ll turn this car around.” What parents may forget is the kids might actually be thinking, “YES! Let’s turn this car around, I have a baseball game tomorrow.” They did not want to take the trip anyway. Aunt Hilda’s was never worth 14 hours by car, train or plane.

In a larger philosophical or theological sense, I suppose it is about the destination. Considering the extreme choices we are presented, we would like to end up at the right destination. If you give it a little extra thought, however, you will realize that only a good journey will lead you to the best destination. You have to make your one journey count, there is no turning the car around if you end up in the wrong place. Sorry, when you get to the Hotel California, you will not be going further.

As this is the case, doesn’t all the time count, especially the many hours we spend going to and from wherever it is we are going to and from? I admit that it is late that I come to this realization. As the years went on I thought it was always best to fly to and from the destination if that would truly get us there faster. This method, of course, means you get to see little of what is in between. The destination city, destination event, concert, game, or attraction were all important to me, but for some reason taking a thousand pictures were never high priority to me as they are for some. Hence, the memories are just in my brain and colored the way I like. I think my brother spent some vacations taking so many pictures that he did not actually see very much when he finally got to wherever he and his family were going.

Some of my European friends, one in particular, have helped me to see that life is not about some journeys we may take, but that it is all a journey, everything. It’s the travel, the sights, the camaraderie, the conversation, the smiles and the laughs that matter. It is the joy to “eat local, drink local” and taste new things. It is the total experience of going, staying, returning. Imagine how much we cheat ourselves out of when we start out with only the destination in mind. The journey itself presents great things to see and experience and the rest of the time is not idle time. For our car trips we have our favorite music. An American road trip meant America’s greatest hits (as in the band America) as well as rock of more recent vintage. There was never enough time along the way for our discussion of sports, politics, music, American culture, French culture, German culture, British culture. In recent years, it seemed like time went by so quickly, and never did it seem like we spent too much time in railroad stations or airports, although we may have encountered delays there. How much better I know my friend for having time between the starting point and destination.

So the latest trip is another opportunity for great adventure. Years ago I would have said something like “London? During the Olympics? Are you crazy?” Now I see it as a another chance for time with a great friend, so why not? Battling the crowds and standing in the que to get into or out of wherever will just be part of it. It will not be lost time, but more time to “people watch” or share thoughts about almost anything. It does not matter the topic, actually. As this gets published in cyberspace, we are on our way into Stansted airport for a couple of days of excitement. Volleyball and basketball are on the agenda. We will see France vs Argentina and USA vs Tunisia (I wonder which one thinks this is a bad draw in the prelim?). Hopefully we will see friends and enjoy food at a pub stop. OK, strike that, pubs might be the best place to eat in England but…oh, it’s all good, nevermind. This may be our only Olympics, so we will enjoy every bit of the journey. As we are flying from Baden-Baden, Germany back to London, I swear I will not turn to my friend and ask, “Are we there yet?” Besides, London is just a stop on the journey. After that it is back to Germany and on to France. I will bring back a picture or two as a reminder until the following adventure, whatever that may be.

Olympics

Not the destination, just a stop

Top 10 reasons your city does not want the Olympics

1.  A common cause might inflict such a feeling of civic pride, you might catch “Olympic fever.”

2.  The quaint infrastructure of your community might be replaced by modern structures.

3.  Tourists and sports buffs might overrun your city and fill your hotels and restaurants.

4.  Your parks might become littered with new sports facilities.

5.  Open and unused industrial or commercial land might be subject to some sort of residential “village.”

6.  Unique street art by local youth with spray paint might get washed away.

7.  Favorite old train cars and buses might be forced into early retirement by younger models.

8.  Many years of construction jobs could be imposed on the entire community.

9. Better to hear “Mind the gap” over and over then by annoyed with “The train is now approaching the station.”

10.  Familiar old train, bus and street signs might be removed and replaced with ones that actually tell you where you are going.

I could have kept going here.  In London I noticed that people had to rethink traffic flow.  Alternate ways to get to work were considered by most.  The challenge of keeping the city moving while a million people descended upon it in just over two weeks was met beautifully by the British team.

Check back tonight for some pictures from London as well as the National anthem video which is already up on the You Tube channel.  The link is in the banner above.

Credit:  Banner photo by Nike #findgreatness.

Friends

There is no over estimating the value of friends in your life. While you hope immediate family will always be there for you, in the mobile society in which we live they may not always be nearby. Your personal support network needs to include friends to whom you can turn in times of need. When I was younger and moved from apartment to apartment several years in a row, my friends were there to help me move. They were certainly pleased when I landed at my present location and stayed put. The important thing was their willingness to be there for me. It is a comfort to know that.
Having friends to listen at the right times is also of great importance. You may stubbornly think that you need to bear an emotional or spiritual burden on your own, but it does not need to be that way. Good friends will listen They will offer advice when asked. Those not willing to hear you may need to be categorized as acquaintances or casual friends. It is OK to have plenty of them in your social circles. Good friends will populate your close personal circles along with your immediate family. They become your “extended family” which is so important in today’s world
Internet friends can now comprise part of your personal life. It seems an interesting phenomenon to me to have such friends. While a great deal of caution must go into cultivating this sort of friendship, it can have its own rewards. You may meet people with whom can can correspond on a personal level. They may be able to help at various intellectual levels. Right now I believe I have three people on my facebook that I only know through the internet. Two of them I have known for years and perhaps some day we will actually meet. All three live in different countries.
I have met someone I had known for years just through shared internet experiences, all good, and personal correspondence. When we met he came with his roommate to visit. I had told him years earlier not to meet a new person alone, so this was fine by me. It turns out they are great people and now good friends. I consider myself lucky to have met them, although I still feel this sort of thing, meeting internet friends and expanding the friendship, is more the exception and not the rule.
My former place of employment had given me the opportunity to meet students from other countries though their internship program. In addition to attending local sports events with many of them, I have been able to keep in touch with some via facebook. In fact I am currently in France visiting one of my best friends and a former intern following our Olympic tour this past week. Email, Skype and facebook have allowed us to keep in close touch even though we are thousands of miles apart.
“You have more friends than I know people,” my brother told me at our mother’s wake. That’s because the funeral home was filled with an absolute gaggle of our relatives and my friends. My brother had moved away decades earlier so he did not know a lot of these people. I have thought about his comments a number of times since then. I used to tell people, “I have friends from 18 to 80.” This was largely due to our parish, community groups and even the internet. I guess I am lucky in all this to have so many great people as friends. Be open to friendships as they enrich your life.

A castle in Orschwiller, Alsace, France

It’s the journey

You may have grown up with the belief that it really is all about the destination. That leads to the favorite question of parents, “Are we there yet?” I guess our parents are to blame for that as they would always sell us on the idea of the destination, never the journey. The trip was all about the beach, the dunes, the Dells (Wisconsin, if you are not from this area), maybe even Disneyland, or Disney World. It certainly was never about “What in the world will we give those kids to do for 14 hours while we drive to Aunt Hilda’s hideaway?” It may be easier these days with video games and dvd players but that only reduces, never eliminates, the driver seat refrain, “Don’t make me have to come back there,” or “knock it off or I’ll turn this car around.” What parents may forget is the kid might actually be thinking, “YES! Let’s turn this car around, I have a baseball game tomorrow.” They did not want to take the trip anyway. Aunt Hilda’s was never worth 14 hours by car, train or plane.
In a larger philosophical or theological sense, I suppose it is about the destination. Considering the extreme choices we are presented, we would like to end up at the right destination. If you give it a little extra thought, however, you will realize that only a good journey will lead you to the best destination. You have to make your one journey count, there is no turning the car around if you end up in the wrong place. Sorry, when you get to the Hotel California, you will not be going further.
As this is the case, doesn’t all the time count, especially the many hours we spend going to and from wherever it is we are going to and from? I admit that it is late that I come to this realization. As the years went on I thought it was always best to fly to and from the destination if that would truly get us there faster. This method, of course, means you get to see little of what is in between. The destination city, destination event, concert, game, the destination attraction were important and for some reason a thousand pictures were never high priority to me as they are for some. I think my brother spent some vacations taking so many pictures that he did not actually see very much when he finally got to wherever they were going.
Some of my European friends, one in particular, have helped me to see that it not only is about the journey, but that it is all a journey, everything. It’s the travel, the sights, the camaraderie, the conversation, the smiles and the laughs that matter. It is the joy to “eat local, drink local” and taste new things. It is the total experience of going, staying, returning. Imagine how much we cheat ourselves out of when we start out with only the destination in mind. The journey itself presents great things to see and experience and the rest of the time is not idle time. For our car trips we have our favorite music. An American road trip meant America’s greatest hits (as in the band America) as well as rock of more recent vintage. There was never enough time along the way for our discussion of sports, politics, music, American culture, French culture, German culture, British culture. In recent years, it seemed like time went by so quickly and never did it seem like we spent too much time in railroad stations or airports, although we may have encountered delays there. How much better I know my friend for having time between starting point and destination.
So the latest trip is another opportunity for great adventure. Years ago I would have said something like “London? During the Olympics? Are you crazy?” Now I see it as a another chance for time with a great friend, so why not? Battling the crowds and standing in the que to get into or out of wherever will just be part of it. It will not be lost time, but more time to “people watch” or share thoughts about almost anything. It does not matter the topic, actually. As this gets published in cyberspace, we are on our way into Stansted airport for a couple of days of excitement. Volleyball and basketball are on the agenda. We will see France vs Argentina and USA vs Tunisia (I wonder watch one thinks this is a bad draw in the prelims?). Hopefully we will see friends and enjoy food at a pub stop. OK, strike that, pubs might be the best place to eat in England but…oh, it’s all good, nevermind. This may be our only Olympics, so we will enjoy every bit of the journey. As we are flying from Baden-Baden, Germany back to London, I swear I will not turn to my friend and ask, “Are we there yet?” Besides, London is just a stop on the journey. After that it is back to Germany and on to France. I will bring back a picture or two as a reminder until the following adventure, whatever that may be.

Olympics

Not the destination, just a stop

Chick-fil-A and other updates

According to the clock on my wall it is time again to piss off my gay friends. OK, it’s like this: if you are following all the laws you can build your restaurant anywhere you want. I am then free to patronize someone else. We do not serve the cause of equality well by trying to deny a business a place to legally set up shop. If we deny someone his right to have stupid comments come out of his mouth or to run his stupid business, then we are denying the first amendment. The next thing you know we won’t just be discriminating against the stupid, we will want to deny rights to someone because he is black or Japanese or, I don’t know, gay maybe.

Last Sunday I talked about the proliferation of postings on social media sites that involve statements that just are not true. This week I see Fox News is up to its old tricks. They are busy taking some of the Presidents words out of context in order to create a false impression. Of course, since it is coming from a “fair and balanced” news outlet, people are believing it. Fox panders to a certain type of prejudiced viewer and drags a lot more down with them. Fortunately, John Stewart completely blew up this nonsense on his show.

Jon Stewart Slams You-Didn\’t-Build-That-Gate In Romney, Fox News\’ Faces #VIDEO#

viaJon Stewart Slams You-Didn\'t-Build-That-Gate In Romney, Fox News\' Faces (VIDEO).

For some reason people want to tell me about the security measures, or lack thereof, for the Olympics. Perhaps my friends are just trying to be helpful before I leave for the games. They will not scare us into staying home because we have been planning this for a long time, and have lots of devalued American dollars and euros invested in this. Unfortunately Mitt has decided to piss off the Brits by questioning whether they are ready for the London 2012 games. That’s the way to show your foreign policy savvy.

Romney stirs Olympic tiff

via Romney stirs Olympic tiff as European tour begins | Political Headlines | Comcast.

We will be in Germany when the USA plays France in basketball, but we will have the opportunity to see most of the game before going to London. Because of the outrageous costs of going direct to London from the USA or France, we are heading to Germany first. It seems strange, I know, but it appeared to be a good idea months ago. This Sunday Night the blog will take on the merits of travel. After that I hope to bring back some good pictures to share with you.