Laugh Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Best of RAH96:
Olympic Countdown 1996

by Dave Bealer

Copyright © 1996 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.

The Olympic Torch is currently making its way towards Atlanta. The route is a bit circuitous. So far the torch has passed through the cul-de-sac where I live three times. As I prepared the take a picture of the scene the first time the torch came past my house, members of the support team immediately plastered up sponsor banners behind the torch-bearing runner. It's a federal offense to take any Olympic picture without the logos of at least three official Olympic sponsors in the background. My neighbors across the street have had a tough time removing the banners from the front of their houses.

Not that I'm implying that any person or organization is taking undue advantage of the publicity surrounding the Olympic Flame. Obviously the Space Shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, which is located on an isolated, well-guarded piece of land near the Atlantic Ocean, was directly on the path between one torch rest stop and another. Perhaps the reason for the meandering route will be explained when the Flame appears as a guest on Oprah next week. The topic of the show will be "Great Symbols of the Human Spirit that have turned to prostitution."

Olympic Athlete Preparation

Thousands of athletes around the world are preparing to compete in one of hundreds of Olympic events. A few great athletes will qualify to compete in multiple events in their specialties. Rare is the athlete who can qualify to compete in two different categories of event. American Pete Sampras, the top ranked tennis player in the world, is attempting to become one of those rare athletes.

It is well known that Pete Sampras has been selected to represent his country on the U.S. Olympic Tennis Team. Here Pete is seen on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

Less well known is the fact that Sampras is also attempting to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Furniture Jumping Team.

Here Sampras can be seen training for his best furniture event, the 11 meter chair hurdles.

Obviously Sampras needs a little work on his style in this event.

Sampras didn't fare much better in tennis, at least at Wimbledon. Pete was eliminated from the men's singles draw in the quarterfinals by eventual tournament winner Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands.

Olympic Spectator Preparation

Millions of spectators are also preparing to descend on Atlanta. I am one of them. Spectator preparation differs from athlete preparation, but only slightly. The biggest challenge for both groups is arranging for lodging. Athletes must earn a place on their country's Olympic team in order to gain a room in the Olympic Village. Attempting to make a reservation in the larger spectator Olympic Village (read: Georgia) is about as tough (and slightly more expensive than fielding an Olympic team).

The Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games organizing committee (ACOG) is the primary culprit in this fiasco. They forced most hotels and motels in Georgia to hold at least 50% of their rooms to be booked through the ACOG travel agency. The "system" by which ACOG awarded these rooms to ticket holders was apparently designed by unemployed Soviet central planners. The system was that efficient and cost effective.

For several months in late 1995 and early 1996 I attempted to book a room somewhere within a planetary diameter of Atlanta, with no success. My travel companion and I planned to stay with some of his relatives who live near Macon, about 60 miles from Atlanta. Suddenly in early June there were rumblings that many hotel rooms were still available. Apparently the ACOG travel weenies had released many unsold rooms back to the hotels.

I made contact with a travel agency in Georgia that tried to rip me off to the tune of $260/night for a standard motel room in a large chain motel property about 30 miles South of Atlanta. These clowns wanted me to pay with a business check because "the consumer protection laws in Georgia prevented them from charging 'a commission' on hotel room reservations for individuals." When I pointed out that it was unfair that they'd book rooms for businesses and not for individuals, the agent had the audacity to point out that "you could call every hotel in Georgia, but we know which ones have rooms available." Charming.

I agreed to the deal, grudgingly. The agent's one mistake was in e-mailing me an invoice with the name and address of the motel where I would be getting a room. It occurred to me that the 800-number operators for that chain would also know which of their properties in the Atlanta area had rooms available. I called them up directly and ended up with a suite in Marietta, about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta. The cost of this suite (complete with refrigerator and wet bar) was $199/night. This reservation was made about one month before the games were scheduled to start! Sometimes it does pay to procrastinate.

RAH96 Olympic Coverage

So there will be RAH96 coverage of the Atlanta Olympic games. Just don't expect it to be available in anything like real time. In fact I expect to be incommunicado throughout most of my trip, which will last from Sunday, July 21 through Friday, August 2. Hey, this is my vacation! I will be keeping notes and will write up a travelogue when I return.

By the time I'm ready to post my Olympic travelogue Greg should have another piece ready for publication. At that point we'll begin the more or less monthly rotation of material through RAH96. The best of RAH96 will be kept online indefinitely on a submenu - much like the one for the old "Best of RAH" material.

I have to go now. The Olympic Flame is scheduled to come through my cul-de-sac again in a few minutes. I'm gonna go stand in my front yard with a portable rail gun and make sure nobody posts any banners on the front of my house.


Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor. Dave can be reached via e-mail at:


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