Rio de Janeiro
It's been an interesting first 10 days in Rio.
1. The first American journalist we saw in Rio told us nightmares about backed up toilets and sewage. We have not been so unfortunate.
2. An Olympic official today told reporters of the slime-green water in the diving venue that ``Chemistry is not an exact science.''
3. A bullet flew hit and landed in a press tent early in the Games. More bullets apparently hit a media bus the other day, although Olympic officlals are saying rocks broke the window. Which seems highly unlikely.
4. Other than bullets, things have gone better than expected. There aren't many mosquitos so Zika is not the overwhelming threat it was made out to be. I don't know anyone who has gotten sick from drinking the Rio water. The rowers said the water quality in the lagoon where they competed was just fine. Moral of the story: Avoid the bullets and you'll be fine.
5. My experiences with Brazilians is that they are quite nice and helpful, but they're not exactly watching the clock. You want to eat a meal in a restuarant? Better cut out a couple of hours.
6. Perhaps more important than food and lodging to people covering the Olympics is bus efficiency. The buses have run on time and have been driven very fast. There are always glitches in transportation during an Olympics but Rio has done well with this so far.
7. Had an American fan just tell me that a security guard told him that security has been lacking of late. I haven't noticed any problems but that doesn't sound good.
8. Rio is beautiful. A friend who vacationed here told me that visiting Christ The Redeemer is the obvious thing to do but that the ski lifts that take you to one of the mountaintops near the beach is the best tourist attraction in the city.
9. I"ve seen stories, including one in the Star Tribune, about the efficacy of holding the Olympics in one (or several) standing sites to save money and ensure efficiency. That makes a lot of financial sense. I'm not sure it's in keeping with what is good about the Olympics - that the Games are supposed to be inclusive. Selfishly I would love it if the Games were held in one of the world's great cities every year. Paris, anyone? That might cut down on the corruption that plagues the Olympics and the IOC, but would that be what the Olympics should be? I'd like to believe that someday the Olympics could be profitable, corruption-free and mobile. Maybe I'm naive.
10. Sports journalists don't have the hardest jobs in the world. I learned while working in a factory and at a smelter's and in retail that I preferred a career in journalism, and I've been rewarded many times by my choice. Just because the job doesn't require breaking rocks doesn't mean journalists don't work hard in their own way and I'm heartened at events like this to see so many great writers and relentless workers gathered in one place. The Washington Post produces a phenomenal sports section. Some of the best people from ESPN and USA Today are here. And the reporters and columnists representing papers across the country work ridiculous hours and produce remarkably high-quality material under less than perfect conditions. I always find covering the Olympics to be challenging. I'm out of my comfort zone, and I'm amazed by the work some of my peers produce from the Games.