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Reporters on the Job

Olympic Facilities: When the men's Super G was interrupted for three hours by a snowstorm last Saturday, spectators who decided to stay and wait for the weather to clear could hardly remain in their seats - unless they wanted to be blanketed by two inches of snow. But the only shelter provided, a "spectators' lounge," (a giant tent where food was served), was packed and there was a half-hour queue to get in. Smarter fans headed for the toilets - rows of portajohns set up in heated tents. As it turns out, improved technology has rendered the oft-maligned facilities surprisingly sweet smelling. And - they're heated.

"The lavatory is not the first place I would have thought of as a place in which to sit out a blizzard," says Peter Ford, "but it was warm and dry, which is what mattered."

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Churchgoing in Vietnam: Correspondent Simon Montlake had read about the cathedral at Phat Diem in northern Vietnam and wanted to check out its unusual architecture, so he spent a day there as part of his reporting on Christianity in Vietnam. "It's an impressive building - soaring pagoda roofs, thick crimson wooden beams, wooden side panels, and a limestone cave/grotto. It has a thriving Roman Catholic congregation, or so I was told by the priest."

Simon, who wasn't able to make it there for Sunday mass, discovered that the cathedral holds four services on Sunday, each attracting 1,000 worshipers. Religious festivals mean standing room only, with thousands more outside. "There were plenty of Vietnamese wandering around when I visited, stopping to admire the cathedral and pose for photos," Simon says. "It's a big, local tourist draw, and popular with courting couples. Completed in 1891, the sturdy historical building speaks to past French colonial rule - and the survival of the Roman Catholic faith today."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor