Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ottawa - Take 12

The Final Take

Back in Ottawa and getting into a different routine.

My 2010 Olympic Winter Games volunteer journey started more than two years ago when I applied on-line.  As one of the 75 Ceremonies Support Volunteers, I had no idea what to expect.  The tasks were many and varied and very different from my previous volunteer experiences.

What I saw was an amazing group, mostly young Canadians, practicing hard in their cast roles, often late into the evening, to deliver the best performance they could for the Opening or Closing Ceremonies.  It was interesting to see how all the components for such a major event are pulled together.  We were given an opportunity to see, first-hand, the imagination, dedication and talent of the excellent production team; David Atkins, Drew Anthony, Steve Boyd, Jane Misovich, and the many others whose seemed to be there 24/7 to fine tune every aspect.

We were very lucky to have an superb group of volunteer and cast coordinators, particularly Antoine, Judy, Michael, Melanie, Liza, Alison, and Chistina.  Not to mention the other cast coordinators, stage managers, and other volunteers who I had the pleasure to work with during the three months. They worked extremely hard to accommodate everyone, deal with many last minutes crises, and provide all of us with a very memorable experience.  Thanks for all the fun.

To all of my friends in Vancouver, thanks for putting-up with Graham.  Amazingly, I may be welcomed back!

So what's next - London 2012 - You never know!

One of the unique memories was as the protocol stand-in for Jacques Rogge.  I am not sure what I did to have 60,000 listening to Graham speaking! Unfortunately, at present, I don't have any pictures celebrating Graham's performance. 

What follows are a few pictures from Graham's volunteer journey.

Graham and some of the support volunteers 
(The Van 2010 volunteers were referred to as ``Smurfs'' - I wonder why?)

Graham and the other protocol stand-ins

Graham, Zoe, and Gary at the Sliding Centre (Whistler) for the 2 Man Bobsleigh

Clara Hughes getting the Long Track Bronze Medal (Ladies 5000m)

Some of the thousand celebrating Canada's win in the Gold Medal Hockey Game as they got ready for the Closing Ceremonies

Backstage at the Closing Ceremonies:

Adding the Gold Medal for Canada to a large table top hockey player

The GBR team getting ready to enter


 Manipulating the mouse!

In the Edmonton Air Canada Lounge (en route back to Ottawa) with Kevin Martin and the Gold Medal

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vancouver - Take 11

Almost Over

For the past month, the Vancouver transit system has been great and made getting to all the venues very easy.  The seats I had for the events were very good, with one exception, the men's semi-final curling.

It was a great game if you could see it!  They used two sheets and because of the number of times Canada had played the various sheets, for the semi-final, Canada had to play on a side sheet.  The good news was that Canada won.  The bad news was that, for those in the closest stands and that included yours truly, you could hardly see any of the play.   It appears the same occurred for the women's semi-final match with Canada once again playing on a side sheet.   I have no idea whey they built the stands in such a way that you could not see the side sheet closest to you.  If they constructed the stands three metres back everyone could have seen the matches on both side sheets.  We managed to move our seats which gave a better view of one end but made looking at the game on the TV screen almost impossible. Some of the spectators were so mad they left to watch the matches at home.  A great atmosphere but not a great spectator experience, particularly as the seats were Class A and supposed to be "the best" with no obstructed views. As you may imagine, I will be pursuing the matter.

The final Victory Ceremony and concert was Friday night (February 26).  The women's gold medal curling game (Canada against Sweden) took place in the afternoon and I wanted to watch it before heading to BC Stadium.  As the game went into an extra end and, unfortunately, Canada lost, it made for a mad dash to the stadium.  Great Big Sea was the headline group and they made it a large Newfoundland style "kitchen party".  At the same time as the concert, Canada was playing Slovakia for a place in the gold medal game.  All of us kept trying to find out the score. When we left the stadium and got to the Alberta pavilion, it was 3-2 and only a few minutes left.  We all stood in the rain and watched Canada hang on for the win.

With Canada through to the gold medal game, the crowds were out in the streets celebrating.  This was my last chance to walk around downtown, so I joined the thousands for the street party.

Saturday was the final dress rehearsals for the Closing Ceremony.  There were two run-throughs with Graham in his Jacques Rogge role.  During the first run-through, I had to stand quietly for about ten minutes while they got their cues and timing all set.  In spite of a brilliant performance, standing still and saying nothing, I was not asked to repeat it for the second run-through.  Instead they wanted me to speak for about four minutes.  I was not given a script, just told that I could say anything I wanted to until they cued me to announce that the 21st Olympic Winter Games were officially closed. Perhaps they realized that asking Graham to stand quietly again would be impossible! It gave me a chance to say a few remarks on my Olympic experience and to thank all those involved with the ceremonies, including the other volunteers and my stand-in partners.  The only people in the stadium were some of the cast, some ceremonies support staff, a few visitors (Russians and others), and some of the other volunteers.  So my remarks were mostly to an empty stadium.  However, some heard they had been thanked which made it worth while. For those who think that me standing quietly is better, I will try to do a few repeat performances on the golf course!

Sunday was the last day and what an experience. My final shift started at noon, just in time to watch the gold medal game with about a thousand cast members.  They were all supposed to be getting ready for the Closing Ceremonies.  Everyone was in a great mode for the first two periods but as the game went on the tension kept building.  As the game went into overtime, with many still to get ready, the production assistants and stage managers were getting very nervous.  When Canada scored the overtime goal, the place went wild.  Certainly a highlight of my Olympics.

My Closing Ceremonies assignment was to help coordinate the athlete marshals and the placard bearers. This gave me a chance to see much of the staging of the Closing Ceremonies as well as the athletes as they prepared to march into the stadium.  When we arrived in the waiting area we could see that only three of the pillars of the cauldron were up.  This was different from all the dress rehearsals with the centre and the four pillars all in place and the cauldron lit.  The decision to have the broken mechanism "fixed" as part of the closing and to have Catriona light the cauldron was a well kept secret.  All of us at the rehearsals had not got any sense that this was planned. It was great way to start the night, particularly as Canadian humour was going to be a major part of the Closing Ceremonies.

When the ceremonies were over, it was time to help give the cast and volunteers their closing gifts.  This was supposed to be the final time we would be together, so everyone took the chance to say goodbye and exchange contact info.  However, a few hours later we learned that a party for the ceremonies volunteers would take place on Monday night at a local night club. I took the chance to go along and guess what, I even won a door prize!

I will post the last blog (Take 12) when I am back in Ottawa and include some pictures.

I logged over 200 hours and my 10 weeks in Vancouver just flew by.  Many thanks to all those who made it a great Olympic and volunteer experience.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vancouver - Take 10

Four Days to go.

For over a week the weather has been great - warm and clear blue skies.  Vancouver and Whistler must have scored a lot of points with the media and the tourists.  On the weekend, the Skytrains were full with thousands of tourists and residents taking in the sites, the performances, and the fireworks.  The rain has returned but the party atmosphere continues.

Attending the curling events (most involving Canadian teams) has been a blast.  Canada won all the games I attended and after Canada won their match, support moved to one of the other matches still in progress.  I think many around wondered where we were from since we were willing to join any of the other "national" chants.  In fact, it did not matter who was playing the place rocked!

Since my first hockey game between Canada and Norway, all the games I have seen involved Latvia.  In support of a fellow Osprey, I felt I had to cheer for Latvia.  I am afraid my support did not help.  Latvia lost both games, one to the Republic of Czech and the other to Slovakia.  Even though Latvia lost, both games were closer than one would have expected.

On Sunday (February 21), I took the bus to the Whistler Sliding Centre and saw the final two runs of the two man bobsleigh.  After Canada 1 crashed on run 2, there was no chance of them getting to the podium.  However, Canada 2 did well - coming in 5th.  Having seen the bobsleigh up close, I would love a chance to try it.  I think it might be too risky to let Graham drive but riding brakeman could be quite an experience.

On February 23 and 24, it was my chance to see long track speed skating.  There may have been more Dutch supporters than Canadian ones in the Olympic Oval.  Orange was everywhere and there was even a Dutch Oompah band.  It appears the band travels to  many international events to entertain the crowd.  I saw the men's 10,000 metres where the leading Dutch skater got disqualified - very disappointing since he was on Olympic record pace.  I also saw the women's 5,000 metres with Clara Hughes winning the bronze medal.  You can imagine the audience reaction as, to that point, she posted the fasted time of the day.  I think it will be the only event I attended where Canada won a medal.

My next event is the men's curling semi-final (February 25).  I am sure the audience is going to be pumped with lots of red and white and I hope Canada makes it through to the gold medal game.  I have tickets to the final Victory Ceremony which is Newfoundland's night with Great Big Sea as the headline act.  Should be a good final show.

Only a few days left before the Closing Ceremonies.

Obviously my stand-in role as IOC President for the Opening Ceremonies must have been recognized as I have been asked to do my stand-in routine again.  This time I get to officially close the games and pass the flag from Vancouver to Sochi  - well at least in the rehearsals.  There is no audience present for the dress rehearsals so it is not necessary for me to speak.  Consequently, I have to stand quietly for several minutes. Have some golfers have been in touch with those responsible to ensure Graham learns this skill?  Don't hold your breath!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vancouver - Take 9

Let the Games begin.

The Opening Ceremonies are over and certainly there have been lots of comments and reactions. The Globe, the New York Times and others were very positive while the Guardian was one of those very critical.  Some liked that they tried to do something very different to Beijing.  I think they tried very hard to ensure the first nations were appropriately highlighted but seemed to miss other parts of Canada.

It was great to see the ceremonies live. The atmosphere was fantastic and, until the lighting of the cauldron, all the performances and all the technical aspects went off without a hitch.  Opinions were very split on the singing of the Canadian anthem.  Some were pleased that Celine Dion was not the one singing it.  The common complaint was that a more traditional version would have given the audience a chance to sing along.  It was a very emotional moment when all in the audience stood for the Georgian team.  When the Canadian team came in at the end of the parade of athletes, the place went wild.  That fact that one of the pillars did not rise for the lighting of the cauldron was not so obvious to many in the audience. People wondered if there was supposed to be three or four.  I have not seen CTV or NBC coverage of the Opening but, from all accounts,  CTV coverage was not good.  Many wish that CBC had not lost out to CTV for the rights.

The day after the Opening Ceremonies, the producer explained why the President's box was disorganized at the beginning.  The Governor General and the four first nations chiefs were delayed by protestors and up to 45 seconds before the start there was a chance all would have to be delayed.  I am not sure why the police and those responsible had not taken steps to ensure all the dignitaries were in place well ahead of schedule.  During rehearsals, we stand-ins had to be present there two hours before the start.  Volunteers and performers reported that Graham's stand-in for the event (Jacques Rogge) was not as good and have suggested that I take over for the closing.  Also, in spite of comments from some "friends"  in Ottawa, I was not responsible for the malfunction of the cauldron.  I did not drop something into the gears and I was not distracted and talking to someone at the critical moment the mechanism had to be operated.

On Sunday (February 14), it was the first of the Victory ceremonies.  British Columbia was responsible for the show before the medal presentations and I was asked to help out.  I had my longest shift (13 hours) with a different group of producers.  It was not my best experience. Those in charge did not seem to have any idea of what we were supposed to do and their attitude to the volunteers left a lot to be desired.

In addition to the Opening Ceremony, I have seen a Figure Skating practice session (Mens and Pairs), the Canada/Norway hockey game (a blow-out for Canada) and one session of mens curling (including Canada against Germany) - some of the shots were truly amazing.  I would give the Van 2010 organizers very good marks for the arrangements to get spectators to and from the venues.  Once you are at an event, getting though security and getting into the venue is quite a challenge.  For the Canada/Norway hockey game, once through security, we were herded into an outside enclosure with thousands of other waiting spectators.  Thankfully it was not raining!  Once we given the OK to enter, we all had to walk up a narrow temporary staircase, across a bridge and down another staircase.  Added to the enjoyment were many stopping to take pictures of all those tackling the obstacle course.  Since the bridge went over a road that had been closed for weeks, I have no idea why they did not open a way across the street - it would have been so much easier.  You can imagine how much fun we all had before we even got into the stadium.

Today, the sun is shining and the forecast for the next few days is sun, sun sun. The organizers must be breathing a big sigh of relief with, hopefully, no rain for a while.

The city is certainly hopping every night.  Lots going on and the visitors seem to be having a great time celebrating. 

We are now into rehearsals for the Closing Ceremonies and I don't have any shifts until the 19th.  I'll take the opportunity to walk around, visit some of the pavilions, and take in the Olympic atmosphere.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vancouver - Take 8

Crunch time!

Only hours to go and the city is in Olympic mode.

Teams have been arriving and as you walk around the city you see more and more athletes in their uniforms.  As you might expect, red and blue are the popular colours.  Apart from  the over 20,000 Van 2010 volunteers in their turquoise uniform everywhere, you have several teams in red, the Coca_Cola reps (some 3,000) in red, CTV in red, while the City of Vancouver Staff is blue, and even the transit drivers have special blue Olympic vests.

The cultural program has been going on since January 22nd and there are lots of special performances and exhibits.  Granville Street has a number of special displays and this should be a very popular street during the games.  Light shows in Robson Square and close to the Burrard Bridge, started last Friday.  The one at Burrard Bridge goes from dusk to dawn.  A fireworks, water and laser show will take place each night from February 12th at False Creek.  It is very near where I am staying so I will go have a go and take look in the next few days.

As one would expect, lots of signage is now up and security has tightened-up.  I heard that they are expecting quite a few protest groups with some already turned back at the boarder.

Many have wondered how Graham would handle stepping down as CMS Executive Director and would he slow down!  The Olympic volunteering has been a good transition and certainly kept me doing a lot of running around BC Stadium.  It may even have prepared me for my next assignment - President of the IOC.

I can now reveal that, since January 30th, my ceremonies VIP stand-in role has been as Jacques Rogge.  Do they know talent when they see it!

For the preliminary dress rehearsals last week, Graham was introduced into the President's box and got to watch the show from there, sitting next to the Governor General (well, at least the stand-in).

On Saturday (February 6th), it was the first full run through with no audience, except for all the cast sitting in the stadium after their performances.  At one point I had to move to the main protocol stage, make a very short speech and announce that we need to wait for a further three minutes and, believe it or not, I had to stand still and say nothing for over three minutes.  During the pause, those in the seats started the wave, shouted, waved flags, etc.  making it difficult to stand "presidentially" - it was a blast.  Will this have changed Graham for ever - don't hold your breath!

On Monday (February 8th), it was the second complete rehearsal.  The audience (some 25,000) was made up of family and friends of all the cast members and ceremonies volunteers.  The cast and volunteers were not able to be in the audience since they were all busy working.  It was a way to thank those who have been supporting all of those involved in the ceremonies.   I had to do my Jacques Rogge impersonation again.  This time they decided to abandon the part where I had to stand still, and instead, I had to read a four minute speech (the length of time Jacques is expected to speak).  Perhaps they realized that Graham being quiet again was too much to ask! 

Another full dress rehearsal took place on Wednesday (February 10th) and I had to do it all over again.  At this rehearsal, all the 2010 volunteers were given the opportunity of getting two tickets and 60,000 spectators were there.  Believe it all not, Dr. Chaos did not make an appearance and the rehearsal did not have to be stopped short.  I guess I have had my fifteen minutes of fame!

They have added another full rehearsal on Thursday so they can check camera angles and make sure they have everything as perfect as possible.

There are several rumours regarding what is planed for the lighting of the flame.  Even though I have been at all the full rehearsals, I have no real idea.  Also, with some 85,000 at the dress rehearsals on Monday and Wednesday, it will be remarkable if they keep all the plans for Opening Ceremonies confidential until Friday.

With all the hours I have worked so far, they have given me the day off on Friday.  So, I will be able to use my ticket and attend the Opening Ceremony.  It will be good to see how it all comes together for the actual show. 

As you may realize, I am having a great time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vancouver - Take 7

Getting ever closer!

Even though more roads will close at the end of this week, as I drove into Vancouver to move into the apartment and to return the rental car, it was obvious that traffic in certain areas was already quite congested, and this was at mid-day.  A major arterial into downtown, the one that goes by BC Stadium and Canada Hockey Place, will close on Friday.  This will add more headaches for those trying to drive downtown.  Many roads will have Olympic only lanes so at least official vehicles should be OK and, hopefully, they can get all the athletes to their venues on time.  Certainly by foot or by public transit (TransLink) will be the way to go for all the spectators and visitors.

On the local news last night, they announced good news from TransLink.  During the Olympics, the wait for the SkyTrain should only be about an hour!  Clearly it will be necessary to allow a lot of time to get to the venue and, once there, to clear security.  Traveling maybe something of an adventure but I trust all goes as smoothly as possible.

My volunteering for the Ceremonies is getting into high gear.  On Sunday (January 31st), many groups who have been rehearsing separately came together.  This gave a real chance to appreciate what can be anticipated for the cultural part of the Opening Ceremonies.  Trying to coordinate a very large group of performers is extremely challenging but very interesting.  The more I see what is involved in planning such a large event the more I am impressed by the entire production team.  My only previous experience was when Canada hosted the 1995 International Mathematical Olympiad.  As you can imagine, the  difference is night and day!

On Wednesday, I will repeat as a VIP stand-in for the protocol rehearsals.  There is a possibility I may be asked to perform this role at the dress rehearsals - with large audiences.  Do those in charge realize the risks involved?

Stay tuned for more details!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vancouver - Take 6

Two weeks tomorrow and the fun begins!

This weekend they will be closing a number of major roads, particularly in the downtown core.  There are signs everywhere warning of the difficulties of driving into the centre of town or to any of the venues.  Fortunately, on Monday, I will be moving into the apartment I'll be renting for the next month.  It is close to English Bay and it should make it easy to get to BC Stadium (for the Opening, Victory and Closing Ceremonies) or to Canada Hockey Place (GM Place before and after the Olympics).  To get to the other events, the SkyTrain and bus will be the means of travel.

For the various sports venues, all seems to be in place.  Cypress Mountain (just north of Vancouver), where the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding will take place, seems to be the only one where there is some concern.  It has been relatively warm lately with the usual liquid sunshine that Vancouver gets at this time of the year.  I bet the Olympic organizers wish it was last year with all that snow.  Not sure what the weather forecast holds for the next two weeks but I guess they will do what other winter olympic sites have done, try and make as much snow as possible at night and, if necessary, truck in more snow.

I wish to thank my former CMS colleagues and those in the CMS Executive Office for making sure Vancouver realized that a special volunteer was in town.  While visiting Granville Island I could not miss the store that had a special window display.  I made sure a picture was taken as an official record.

I also took a ride on the Olympic Line - the new Bombardier tram that runs from Athletes Village to Granville Island.  A friend is a Bombardier volunteer and take turns driving the tram.  Luckily he was not driving it when I took the ride! (The Bombadier volunteers are in red and the City of Vancouver volunteers in blue.)

My horoscope, reported on in last week's blog, knew there was going to be a special role for Graham.  My "exceptional capabilities" have been acknowledged and the organizers have realized that I should have been a VIP at the Opening Ceremonies.  To make up for this oversight, I have been asked to stand-in for one of the real dignitaries as part of the ceremonies rehearsals.  As close to the real thing as I will get!

I will be working almost every day from January 29th to the Opening Ceremonies on February 12th.  Some of the days will be very long so the energizer bunny will need to make sure his batteries are fully charged!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vancouver - Take 5

For the flight to Vancouver on Monday, I lucked out and got upgraded again.  For the evening flight, which includes dinner, wine etc., it is a good one for an upgrade.

While in lounge in Ottawa, I exercised my brain and solved the Post's Sudoku puzzle - yes in 10 minutes!.  Adjacent to the Sudoku was the horoscope section so I decided to read what the fates had in store for this Olympic traveller as he headed to Vancouver for his six weeks of volunteering and seeing some events.

"For the next six weeks, the Sun is at high noon in your chart acting like a spotlight, calling attention to you.  Bosses, parents, teachers, and VIP's not only notice you, but they think you're exceptionally capable.  The police will notice you too."   (National Post - January 18, 2010)

While certainly accurate about my capabilities, I am not sure what I am going to do to get the attention of the police.  Several out here have ideas!  The former Osprey Captain expected that the Opening Ceremonies would be cancelled by now.  In addition to his numerous other talents, perhaps he can see into the future as well!

On Wednesday evening I received my BC Stadium Induction, so I am now cleared to volunteer there.  Even though a great deal has already been done, with only 23 days to go, it looks like they will be working around the clock to get everything ready.  As we left the stadium at 11 p.m., the night crew was getting started.

I now have a few days clear before my shifts start again on Sunday. I had better take this time to relax as I will likely be working almost every day from Sunday thru to the Opening on February 12. For the Opening Ceremony and, possibly, for the Closing as well, the main role they have in mind for me is linked to the Athlete Marshals.  It would involve coordinating this group and a good chance to experience this part of the Opening from ground level. 

They have some other roles in mind but nothing definite as yet.  One would require me to stand quietly for some time.  I am sure some of my golf partners would appreciate Graham developing this skill.

As an Opening Ceremonies volunteer, I will get some free tickets to the two main dress rehearsals.  I have to work at both rehearsals, so some lucky friends will get a first chance to see what is in store.

If it works out with the weather and my shifts, I will go to Whistler next week and see how these preparations are going.

Stay tuned for Take 6 and maybe more pictures!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ottawa - Take 4

I made it back to Ottawa and, as I managed to get upgraded to business class, it was a very pleasant flight.  Thanks to all those looking after my house - all was great except for some white stuff all around.  For my week in Ottawa the weather was kind - nothing too cold and hardly any snow.  The cold weather should hold off and no major storms appear to be in the forecast before I fly back to Vancouver on Monday evening.

I am now fully accredited (do the realize what they have done!) and I got fitted out with the uniform.  I am not sure who they used for sizing but, for some parts of the uniform, I needed the small size.  I feel sorry for the truly "small" volunteers. I have to start wearing the uniform in February and since the uniform is quite bright, all those volunteering will be hard to miss.  There may be a picture in a future blog!

With nine shifts completed (almost 50 hours), I think I will have done close to 200 hours when everything is finished.  All of the ceremonies volunteers have now completed several shifts so the main coordinators have an idea of where each person would be most useful.  Yes, believe it or not they still think that applies to Graham!  In fact, they have suggested two responsibilities for Graham and both could be very interesting.  Both involve me using a radio and needing to speak quietly - don't you think this is one of my talents!

I am getting an idea of what shifts I will have to do before the Opening Ceremony and during the olympics.  Fortunately, I should be able to work my shifts around the events for which I have tickets.  I expect to be working at both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and I doubt I will get a chance to see much.  I am am sure, however, I will hear everything.  The roles they have in mind should give me an excellent opportunity to experience the ceremonies from a unique perspective.

Look out Vancouver, trouble is headed back!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vancouver - Take 3

WOW - My first month in Vancouver is almost at an end.  Time flies when you are having fun!

Seven shifts completed and things are picking up with Opening Day fast approaching.  The rehearsals move to BC Stadium next week and I have to complete an "induction" to be cleared to work there.  I'll do my induction on January 20, just after I get back from Ottawa and before I start working at the Stadium. Once the rehearsals are in BC Stadium, all the performers have to wear radios and head phones.  So, even though they are still practicing in a large tent across the street from the Stadium, to get them used to the system, the routine now includes distributing communication devices.

I receive my uniform and accreditation tonight.  Come mid-January the accreditation will allow for free transit on the SkyTrain, buses, etc.  For those with tickets to an event, the ticket will also allow for free transit within Vancouver on the event day.

Vancouver is starting to feel more like an Olympic city - increased signage, road closures, security fences being installed, and more and more event buildings going up.  January 22 marks the beginning of the Cultural Olympics so not long now before things start in earnest.

One of the friends I am staying with, and I use the term loosely, has a rye sense of humor and had one of the chief coordinators very worried.  They phoned last Saturday and wanted to talk to me to confirm a time.  She was shocked when told there was some very unfortunate news  about Graham.   The news was that "Graham had gone mad and they needed to get rid of him!"  When she realized GPW was really OK, my reputation as being "trouble" became even more cemented.

On the non-Olympic front, to keep in shape for the start of the golf season in Ottawa (probably four months away), I signed-up at a local community centre.  It is close by, very reasonable and with a good gym and swimming pool.  I usually go each morning and feel really at home with all the other seniors! 

As I will be gone for week, I have shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before I fly back to Ottawa on Monday.  I'll be in Ottawa from January 11 - 18, and hopefully I will be able to connect with some of you while I am back home.