I was relieved to see that apparently somebody is doing something about it. According to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Official Newspaper of the 2002 Winter Games, The University of Utah Meteorology Department will receive $97,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce to continue weather studies at Olympic venues. Secured by Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, the funds will be used for automated weather stations and to upgrade data collection to improve forecasting capabilities for mountain competition sites.
It all sounds very impressive. Yet a hundred grand seems a paltry sum to spend on such lofty scientific pursuits. I know Frank and the lads at SLOC toss and turn at night worrying about having enough snow on the mountains in February 2002. If the professors of weather at the university can assure Frank that snow will fall in 2002, then that will be one less burden for the hardest-working man in the Olympic Movement. (I’m glad they finally gave Frank a living wage. The job has taken its toll: Frank has aged beyond his years in the jobpeople don’t realize that he’s actually only 38 years old.)
But read that press release again. On second reading you realize that this is just one more Olympic boondoggle. I especially like the phrase secured by Sen. Bob Bennett. If it looks like pork, oinks like pork, and smells like pork, you know the seven-foot-tall senator has been reaching deep into the pork barrel.
Now, a hundred grand is only a 10th of what Tom Welch gets a year for just keeping out of embarrassing sight. But it’s our tax money, and I think the weather professors should demonstrate their Olympic Spirit and give the money back. Then we could elicit true Olympic Spirit from our citizenry by having them volunteer to collect weather data. Instead of automated weather stations, we could have real people camping out up there on the mountains, scanning the skies for clouds, measuring wind velocity with their wet fingers held high in the air, and collecting snow in dixie cups. Maybe Sen. Bennett could show the Olympic Spirit and use his seven-foot-two inch stature to measure wind velocity and look for clouds on the horizon.
The PR release published in the Official Olympic Newspaper also announced tryouts for the national Bobsled Team. Tests include 30, 60 and 100 meter sprints, a shot put, five consecutive hops and a vertical jump. (By the way, the jumping and hopping are already required of applicants for executive positions with the SLOC.)
These tests gave me an idea for how to choose the weather volunteers. There should be tests for 1. boredom-toleration: applicants must listen to several hours of Frank’s pontifications on Olympic Spirit without going into a coma; 2. voice-volume: applicants must be heard shouting Here comes the snow, Frank from a distance of 1.3 kilometers; and 3. cold-endurance: applicants must spend a week-end camped out in a Smith’s Food Store meat locker.
So imbued with the Olympic Spirit is every man, woman, child, and sea gull of Utah that I’m certain weather data collectors would number yea as the multitude of hairs in Gov. Mike Leavitt’s toupee.
As far as forecasting the weather is concerned, I think we could get it done cheaper and more accurately by the Psychic Network, the Associated Palm Readers of Utah, or soothsayers who read the future by studying the intestines of deceased birds.
And knowing how much Frank wants to save money and also spread the Olympic Spirit, let me suggest some citizen participation activities that will kill two birds (to be used by soothsayers) with one stone. To ensure the comfort and safety of the self-sacrificing International Olympic Committee luminaries, we desperately need bed testers and food tasters. And a call should go out for Joklik, Samaranch, Corradini and Leavitt look-alikes to act as doubles to confuse terrorists lurking in Pioneer Park (Look-alikes should report to SLOC headquarters this Saturday at 10 a.m.).
In the spirit of the Olympic Spirit, I have one final suggestion for making the 2002 Olympics a financial as well as spiritual success. The SLOC is now considering three sites for the medals ceremonies: Temple Square, Deedee Corradini Field (formerly known as Franklin Quest), and the Kennecott Copper Pit. For all he’s done for the Olympics, (and the Olympics for him), I propose honoring Earl Holding by staging the ceremonies on the patio in his backyard.