NBC, the Olympics, and the Disappointment of a Sick Little Girl

Yesterday, Evie had surgery to install a 4th set of ear tubes. At this point, that’s all very routine for that poor girl, and not what I’m here to talk about. I would like to talk about the Winter Olympics and NBC’s right to broadcast them.

After the surgery, Evie wanted to lay around on the couch a bit and watch the Olympics. Specifically figure skating, but anything would do. Knowing that NBC had the broadcast rights, I set her up on the couch with a blanket, and turned on the tv. I honestly thought that NBC was basically broadcasting Olympic coverage day and night, but instead they chose to show Days of our Lives or whatever their normal soap opera is.

Fair enough, no problem. I don’t give up easy: let’s turn to the Internet.

Our first stop was olympic.org, which contains videos from past Olympic games, but nothing from 2014. No video on sochi2014.com either. Okay, how about NBC? They have all the rights, surely they’re streaming video, even if they’re not playing on their broadcast. Oh, I have to download an app first? Le sigh, okay fine.

Now here’s where it starts to get truly frustrating. The app was large and took quite a long time to download. So by the time we’re booting up the app, we’ve been looking for video for about 30 minutes. But okay, we’re on the path now. We’re golden, right?

Wrong.

In order to watch the Olympics on NBC’s streaming app, you have to specify your cable carrier. We don’t have cable. You don’t need cable to watch NBC, and you *shouldn’t* need NBC to enjoy the Olympics. But you do…if you live in the United States*.

We were eventually able to sign up for a limited viewing time (30 minutes only) and get something up, but at this point 1) we had spent so long on this that Evie really didn’t care anymore, and 2) the app was so crappy that we kept freezing and losing video to the point that it was unwatchable anyway.

*The part we couldn’t figure out was why wouldn’t the Olympics themselves be broadcasting? I mean, sure, NBC has the rights in the U.S. so they would prefer nobody else step on that, but what about the rest of the world? They wouldn’t be beholden to NBC, right? Isn’t the Olympics bigger than NBC?

I’ve recently discovered that there are other websites which stream the Olympics, such as the BBC and CBC, but you are blocked from them if your ip address comes from the U.S. You can get around that by tricking them into thinking your ip address is originating from somewhere else in the world, at which point you can stream all the glorious Olympic action your heart can handle. But that’s a little much, isn’t it? (And possibly illegal).

I understand all of this is big business and totally allowable. NBC and the Olympics can sign whatever deal they want. NBC can broadcast whatever they want. I have no inherent right to see the Olympics, so I can want what I want, but that doesn’t mean I can have it. NBC is a private institution; we don’t have a government-sponsored channel.

On the other hand, there was a little girl recovering from surgery and wanting to watch some figure skating. Wanting to root for her country. Wanting to learn about the world.

Well, welcome to the world, sweetheart. Big business wins out every time.

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The best part about the Olympics: Diver Face

Chances are you’ve seen this somewhere on the Internet, but just in case you haven’t, I don’t want to deprive you.

When you’re doing some world class diving, you probably have other things on your mind than smiling for the cameras. I think this also speaks to just how fast these people are actually moving through the air. Nonetheless, tell me this isn’t hilarious:

You can see more here and here.

I’m sure they’re all so happy to have these hi res photos on the Internet.

The Fracus

On Friday I wrote a post about the Olympics and Chicago. It went live at 10:49 a.m., as soon as I heard the announcement. I had actually written the post the night before, and I was so sure Chicago was going to be awarded, that I wrote the whole thing as, “Yay, we did it!” So I had to totally re-do the post that morning.

At 11:54 I was notified that my post was promoted to the top story on wordpress.com, where it stayed for the rest of the day as the only Olympic related post. I was pretty excited about this. Too bad I had just completed my important moments in blogging timeline post! As expected, the post proceeded to blow up, dwarfing all of my previous high traffic numbers. I had over 1,500 hits on my blog that day (my previous high was like 150) and around 22 comments on the post, many of them from Brazil (and some not in English!) It remained on the front page Saturday and Sunday, netting me another 28 comments and 1,400 hits and 20 comments and 1,300 hits respectively. So, in three days, my blog had over 4,303 people visit, and that post received 70 comments.

I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of fun. I couldn’t stop compulsively checking it all weekend. I would go away for a few minutes and when I came back, there would be more comments. I was trying to approve the comments as fast as possible to keep the discussion going. It’s kind of funny because I didn’t really put any more time and effort into that post than any of my other posts. So it is kind of interesting to read all of the comments and really analyze that post in detail. I’m guessing my post was picked because it is somewhat informative, with a hometown view, without being critical or nasty. I wonder how much thought they put into picking posts for the front page. It’s probably totally random. 🙂

Anyway, in order to capitalize on the traffic, I put posts up for Saturday and Sunday as well. Many people who stopped did go and check out the next post back, to see if there was anything interesting. What post was it? The Toot Hole. <sarcasm>Lovely. I couldn’t have picked a better one if I tried, that’s exactly the post I would want the world to read. </sarcasm>

As of today the post is still on the front page, though it’s not the top post anymore, moving down 7 spots. I don’t know how often they change it, but it seems like it might be up there for a couple of more days. As much fun as it was to constantly see the stats going up, I don’t exactly feel like personally accomplished. After all, it was more of a “right place at the right time” kind of thing than a “my blog is awesome and deserved it” kind of thing. Still, I guess you make your own luck to some degree, and if you put enough stuff out there, something’s bound to catch on.

So, if you were wondering what was going on here over the weekend, now you know. And knowing is half the battle. The other half is getting your lazy keister off the couch. If only G.I. Joe would have had 10 more seconds each week to explain the second half of the battle, they could have changed the outlook of an entire generation.

No Olympics for Chicago in 2016

Chicago will not be hosting the 2016 Olympic games.

Goodbye skyrocketing  property values! It is quite a let down. Towards the end there, there was really a feeling of inevitability about it. I guess we were overly optimistic.

I remember when we went to London during their bid for the 2012 Olympics. There were “back the bid” signs everywhere we went and I thought, “How exciting! It would be neat to be a part of that.” I never really got that feeling here in Chicago, like everyone in the city was pulling for it. Certainly, everyone in my neighborhood was not pulling for it. There were some legitimate reasons, and some not.

For example, one concern was that bringing the Olympics, specifically to the poorer South Side neighborhoods, will raise property values pushing out the people who live paycheck to paycheck and therefore rent instead of own. If the property is more expensive, the rent will be forced up, and they won’t be able to afford to pay. This is a legitimate concern, however, I don’t know how I feel about that exactly. I do see the point, but on the other hand, A) I don’t rent, I own, so rising value is good for me, and B) I want my neighborhood to be nice. I refuse to accept the argument that improving the neighborhood is a bad thing, and I refuse to accept a crappy (sometimes dangerous) neighborhood.

Other concerns are ridiculous, such as the people complaining about how the Olympics will create traffic or parking problems. Sheesh, talk about self-centered. I don’t want this major ridiculous event that half the world would kill to get because for 2 weeks I might have trouble getting a parking spot! Waaah! I also reject the arguments about keeping the stadium out of the park that hardly anyone wants to go to now anyway. I hear people complaining that hosting an Olympics is a money losing venture. That is probably true, if you look at it on a city wide scale. But if you live in this neighborhood, at Olympics ground zero, it is not true. Think about it: all of the infrastructure that will be built, will be built here. But all of the cost will be split across all of Chicago. So the people out in the suburbs are essentially paying for your infrastructure improvements. They should be the ones complaining, if anybody!

I don’t know if the public opposition had anything to do with it or not. There could have been a whole host of reasons. And, hey, if Rio de Janeiro wins, I won’t feel too bad. The Olympics have never been hosted anywhere on the South American continent. That is a shame. I can’t begrudge the judges if they award it to them over the U.S. who has hosted many.

By the by, there isn’t quite as much excitement over the Paralympics, but don’t discount them…I just learned of the existence of wheelchair fencing!!

Big news for my neck of the woods

Two separate front-page-of-CNN news stories that greatly impact this little neighborhood of mine:

1) Barack Obama officially gained enough delegates to lock up the nomination, although Clinton hasn’t officially conceded yet.  As you probably know, Obama lives right by me.  We’re practically neighbors. 😉

2) The list for the 2016 Summer Olympics was just shortened by 3, leaving Chicago as #3 of 4.  Tokyo and Madrid were ranked #1 and #2 respectively at this point in the game (odds listed for all the gamblers out there).  There are 16 months until the final decision, which means Chicago needs to get it in gear!  As you probably know, if the Olympics come to Chicago, they will be situated basically in my back yard.  We’ll practically be neighbors.

Hoth Olympics

You know what would be a really good place to hold the winter olympics? Hoth.

It will be sad when the Olympics are over

I can’t say enough about how awesome it is that CNBC is showing curling every day.  I love curling.

But more importantly, holy crap, have you seen snowboard cross?  That’s my new favorite event, replacing short track speed skating.  I wish that was on all day.

I know everybody likes figure skating, but I don’t.  And I hate how I can’t watch any olympics without seeing it.  If everybody is so keen on the figure skating, the I wish they would put that on one channel and everything else on a different channel so I could watch that other channel.

This works for Netscape too.  If you type “about:config” in the address bar, it will open up a page that contains every option that is set for your browser.  If you double click on any of the lines you can edit the value.  This is particularly useful to edit options that you can’t get to any other way, but good luck finding them in the huge list.  Good to know though.