Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Notes on the Emmys

This will make for a remarkably easy Emmys recap. In nearly every category that was presented last night, the winner was a previous winner, often in the same category and for that show. Allison Janney's sixth Emmy for Mom is a new category win for her (since Mom was a new show last season she couldn't be expected to have a prior win); it was her second Emmy in ten days. Kathy Bates's win for American Horror Story: Coven was her first for that show (possibly her first season on the show).

Because nearly everyone who won is someone who previously won there are no EGOT standings to update. First time winners Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are likely (Benedict moreso than Martin) to pick up more EGOT letters in the future. Cumbie cockblocked Matthew Macwhatever's attempt to build on his Oscar, so there's that.

As a Libra I'm both disappointed and relieved that Larry Kramer didn't win for adapting his play The Normal Heart. I'm sure he would have torn some folks a new asshole or 2, but on the other hand maybe Larry can just take a break. I know he'd have plenty of moral high ground to point out my years of comfort and complacency only exist because he worked so hard. It's true. But you've got the rest of your life to be a martyr, so maybe take a night off.

Is Gwen Stefani an idiot? Her inability to pronounce The Colbert Report did provide one of the funniest acceptance speeches of the evening. And kudos to Stephen Colbert and the folks at the show for another win before they close the books on one of the most fantastic shows that will ever be. I'm more than a little sad.

I wonder if Jon Hamm will ever win an Emmy. Maybe when he's 73.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Another lesson on the importance of paying attention

I think an eventual eulogy for me will include the phrase "he meant well," quite possibly following "he did some stupid things but" which is how my Friday night/Saturday morning went far differently than I expected.

First a bit of background: Portland hosts one of the largest relay races in the world, the annual Hood to Coast relay starting on Mt. Hood and concluding on the Oregon coast (the name makes total sense if you think about it). I've been adjacent to Hood to Coast-itis for years now, but I've avoided volunteering thus far (I have given, at this point, a shit ton of cash, well over a grand all total). There are 12,600 runners and the logistics require 3,600 volunteers. My former coworkers were struggling to find their third mandatory volunteer and Maddie offered to make me a cake and that was all she wrote.

Oh, it might also help to know that when Maureen did the walking version, Portland to Coast, the overnight leg in the country fascinated me. I keep wanting someone to see Big Foot out there. So when I picked my volunteer post, it was with the intention of seeing Big Foot out in the sticks. But because I am so smart, I picked a location where I would still have cell phone service.

Or so I thought.

It turns out I picked a location well out of cell phone service AND I made things worse by not paying super close attention to the directions I'd dutifully printed out before leaving the house.

I left the house at 11, plenty of time to get to Scappoose with no traffic (the fact that Scappoose wasn't actually my destination is besides the point). I missed the turn off Highway 30 then missed 2 subsequent turns, but recovered and found my post. I got parked and found the volunteer check in by 12:15 (oh yeah, there's this ominous thing where if I failed to show for my volunteer post the team would be disqualified which would totally suck and I did not want that no me).

At 12:16, not finding my name on their volunteer list, I asked which  post they were and found out that exchange 18 and exchange 19 are actually different places. [Distance traveled thus far: 27.5 miles.]

It turns out the directions to exchange 19 take you past exchange 18... but they don't actually say to stop there and try to check in.

When I left the exchange, to go the last 7 miles to the correct exchange, it was following the vague hand motion of a volunteer and the flow of traffic leaving the exchange.

A little more background: each team has 12 runners. The race allows each team to have 2 vehicles and they are only present together at exchanges divisible by 6 (your 6, your 12, your 24, etc.). Both vans would have been at exchange 18 but only van 2 would have gone to exchange 19. Van 1 for each team would have gone an alternate route to eventually meet the runners at exchange 24.

Apparently this is the flow of traffic I started following.

Oh, and all this time, I had my phone's GPS following a link from the HTC organization directing me to my place. Or something. It was a hot link to a map. But that map may not have been my specific leg. In fact it wasn't, which is why I was following these vans. I'm not an idiot.

I mean, I do really stupid things (but I mean well) but I'm not, clinically, an idiot.

The GPS on my phone kept working and gave me advice that kept me in the line of vehicles and after some ungodly amount of time (I was hoping I'd be there by 1:00 a.m., late but not horribly late, I could always work an extra hour) we came to more volunteers on the course. I asked them about exchange 19.

They were leg 22.


Imagine that windy stretch of road, in the dark, no cell, stressed about being late. It is less than 6 miles between exchange 18 and 19. I was in Vernonia, nearly 25 miles away. [Distance traveled thus far: 52.2 miles.]

At least finding exchange 19 would be easy. All I'd have to do is drive against the flow of runners. Easy peasy. Aside from there being long stretches of gravel back roads; no street lights and tons of runners coming at me. And vans. All 1,050 vans. But that just makes it easy.

My poor car needs a bath
I made it to exchange 21. It took a while, the roads were paved but narrow and windy and the runners kept coming. I couldn't really go more than 30 mph (I did, but I shouldn't have). The 7 miles probably took 20 minutes.

Then it was on to exchange 20. This was 5 miles of gravel and dust and runners and chaos. Those 5 miles probably took me a half hour. By this point it's getting close to 2:00 a.m. I am late as fuck and worried. But after exchange 20 I would be free and clear.

Or I would have been if I could have driven the course after exchange 20. The road was too narrow for them to allow me to go against traffic for this last leg. This last fucking leg. I was 6 miles from where I needed to be. I parked and talked to the volunteer coordinator. Could I just volunteer here? I just didn't want the team disqualified.

With no cell service they rely on ham radio to communicate between exchanges. I talked to the creepy pedo helpful ham radio operator hidden away in a van and he asked exchange 19 if I could check in remotely and do my time there or if I should come to the exchange even if I would be seriously late.

"Tell him to come on to exchange 19 even if he's late" would be the words haunting me for another 90 minutes. [Distance traveled thus far: 64 miles.]

I had to turn around and retrace my steps, almost back to exchange 18. By this time all functionality of my phone was lost. But I happened to have an old school GPS in the glove box (actually I had 2, shut up) and could see enough of the proper address on the print out so I was able to use that to get to the exchange. Or almost to the exchange.  Even with that I had to rely on following runners and asking volunteers. Another 36 miles back and then 5 miles to the exchange.

I arrived for my midnight to 4:00 a.m. shift at 3:30 in the morning. [Distance traveled thus far: 105 miles. Should have traveled: 34 miles.]

After 4+ hours of stress and driving I found my destination and only need to park in the horse corral. Which is when the passenger side rearview mirror lost the fight with a fence post. I heard it hit the post and stopped to back up. But when I backed up the mirror decided to stay with the post. Apparently this noise was very loud.

Very loud.

At 3:30 in the morning in the busy exchange the sound of plastic popping off my car pierced the area.

At least that's how my fellow volunteer, "comic book shop guy," described it.

But by god, I signed in and got my motherfucking t-shirt (size XL because that's all they had at that hour), the team didn't get disqualified (that I know of) and I kept the emergency vehicle zone clear of vans until 5:45.

My entire volunteer effort could have been handled by 4 orange plastic cones, but that's not what's important. What's important is you should always use your GPS and possibly pay attention to things.

That or don't volunteer in the middle of the night.