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Friday, February 8, 2002

No, I'm not bitter. What do I care if the rest of the country (the rest of the world, for all I know) sees the Olympics live, but we on the west coast of the United States see the games and ceremonies three hours late? It's all taking place just one time zone away, but we're here standing on the outside watching it all through the frosty window. But I'm not bitter. I'll just think of it as a slightly exaggerated satellite delay, like when the correspondents in Afghanistan answer the news anchor's questions from Washington.

What a shiver went through me, though, when I heard the first voice on NBC's coverage tonight. I recognized Jim McKay right away, because to me, he is the voice of the Olympics. I'll never forget watching the Munich games in 1972, when he became our window on terrorism in a time and place we never expected it. How appropriate that he would return for these games, in America this year.

The Opening Ceremony is a combination of ritual and spectacle, history and hope. The movement focuses the eyes of the world on the possibilities that exist to come together in peace. It unites athletes of different eras and all nations, passing the torch on to the next generation. Dreams and miracles are the theme, and this year it seems like a miracle just to pull it off.

So I watched, three hours late, trying to forget that most people had already seen it, and that the little boy in the red outfit was safe in his bed by the time we got our first look at him. The parade of nations was the usual exuberant celebration of (mostly) young athletes' just having made it to the Olympics. Of all the colorful elements in the program, I think I'm most likely to remember the giant animal puppets, loping along lighter than air.

The highlight of the night was the lighting of the flame by members of the 1980 U.S. hockey team, and seeing it blaze upward toward the cauldron and then burst into full brilliance. I already had chills by that time, but that was an electric moment. Tomorrow the competition begins, and there will be more exciting moments, some of them totally unexpected. People we've never heard of will do things we can't imagine, and we'll be pulling for them as if they were our old school chums or our long lost cousins. That's what makes this event special.

I've always been a big ol' sap for the Olympics, and I expect to get enthusiastic about these games. I don't follow winter sports closely in non-Olympic years, but I'll get caught up as much as I need to. Every so often I just have to let myself go and feel the emotion, take an interest in the stories that are playing out. I have to trust NBC to tell these stories, and I hope they're up to it. They lost me in Sydney, but I think most of that was because of the long delays. By the time an event was shown, it was long over and the results were known. I hope this experience will be different.


I like the swirly sky in today's sunset.

The worker's comp auditor had said she'd be here about 1:30 this afternoon. I didn't expect her to be on time, because no one ever finds my house the first time they look for it. I was waiting for a phone call asking for directions, but she drove up at 1:35. I'd been edgy waiting for her, even though I've been through this every year for the last fifteen and have never had a problem because I've always been ready. I keep the books in order, and this is when that pays off.

She set her laptop up on the table across from my desk and went straight to work. I had to pretend to be busy, so I went ahead and did some actual work myself. In fact, I have to admit I got more done in the hour and a half she was here than in all the rest of the day combined. I'm not sure what that says about me, unless it's that I'm not very productive when I'm nervous. Or maybe it's that I need some incentive to get to work in earnest. When no one's watching, I can get away with indulging my slacker nature.

When she left, she complimented me on the way I keep my records in order. She also said that everything checked out, with no discrepancies. Then she drove away, and I exhaled. And then I started bouncing off the walls, expending all the pent up energy I'd accumulated during all this unnecessary tension. I couldn't sit at the computer any longer, so that was the end of my productivity for the day.

I also went completely off my diet. Once the audit was all over, I couldn't stop eating everything in sight. Well, at least that means there's nothing left to tempt me for the rest of the weekend.

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So I just did me some talking to the sun,
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done.