Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dreaming the Dream

Breaking News: Snow fell in Colorado Friday!

I'm still hoping that the America's Cup will be contested on San Francisco Bay come 2013 or 2014. Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing won the right to host the next America's Cup in a place and manner of it's own choosing when it won the America's Cup this February in Valencia, Spain.

Ellison wants to bring the Cup Races to the Bay, but there's trouble in Paradise it seems. I found this story at the San Francisco Chronicle this morning: "America's Cup may need environmental exemption"

Typical of what passes for newspaper writing these days, the story doesn't identify who "some environmental groups" are, and San Francisco is overrun with hyperventilating "environmental groups", if by groups you mean somebody with a website, a blog, and a fax machine.

Sure, there's a preponderance of Enviros in San Francisco, some of them biggies, but Green is a Cottage Industry in the Bay Area.

I'm not sure from the Chronicle story what the enviros are worried about. Piers 30 and 32 aren't pristine wilderness...nothing on San Francisco Bay is. There's every likelihood that these piers are built on bayfill. Most of the SF Waterfront is fill. I could understand if the Organizers were trying to put up a Wal*Mart for the Cup Races, but you'd think a new, public transit served entertainment infrastructure this close to downtown would be favored by the greenies.

These piers have been home to music festivals and a few sporting events over the years, hosting the Van's Warped Tour in 2009, the Summer X-Games in 1999/2000. Now reduced to fading parking lots, the piers would be the ideal place to build new taxpaying infrastructure in The City's South Beach near the SF Giants' AT&T Park.

Folks, the State of California is broke. (or broken, really) Should the A/C Regatta go forward, the State would rake in $140 Million in tax revenue for starters. Californians, drop your State Legislators a letter of support for whatever it takes to get the Regatta to happen on California waters.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Niche Sports: In The News

Regular readers will remember that I'm a Niche Sports Fan. Aside from baseball, my sporting tastes are a little more off the beaten path. I follow Formula One motor racing and IndyCar racing. NASCAR? Not much. I love Grand Tour Bicycle racing, and Le Tour de France is my favorite Sporting Event...all three weeks of it. I watch Alpine Skiing every Winter, and in Winter Olympic years, I actually seek out and watch Curling along with the Alpine Ski Racing. I totally missed the America's Cup Regatta from Valencia, Spain this past February...but it was easy to wasn't televised as far as I know, and the regatta itself took place in just one week, thanks to some heated legal battling leading up to the racing.

It was by pure happenstance that I found out about the 33rd America's Cup Regatta. Facebook suggested that I follow "America's Cup 33", so I did. This was right in the middle of the deciding race! I found a Twitter link and followed in real-time until BMW Oracle won the race, and it turned out the Cup itself. I found out the rest of the story over the following days, and was overjoyed that the America's Cup Regatta could really, at last, finally be coming to my beloved San Francisco Bay!

Seeing the America's Cup racers on SF Bay has been my dream since I first watched the LIVE ESPN coverage of the America's Cup from Newport, Rhode Island back in 1983, when the Cup was lost by the American sailors for the first time.

Australia's innovative Winged Keel was the winning technology that fired the opening shot of the High Tech Arms Race that A/C Racing has become today. Concurrently, TV mini-cam development had reached the stage where TV Producers could mount a dozen minicams on each racing yacht, and provide broadcast quality LIVE video from the decks of the competitors as they battled gunwale to gunwale on the high seas. This was very compelling television.

In 1986, the Louis Vuitton Cup racing trials were underway to choose the American Challenger Syndicate to go to Fremantle, Australia to wrest the cup away from the Aussies and bring it back to the States. Seven Syndicates had entered the Challenger Series. A local Bay Area rogue sailor named Tom Blackaller, who'd grown up racing on San Francisco Bay helmed  the 12 Meter boat named USA.

The 12 Meter sailboat, USA was the embodiment of "Thinking outside the box". Staying within the restrictive 12 Meter Formula, USA was a quantum leap in 12 Meter design. The boat had twin rudders, fore and aft, and the ballast was all moved to a torpedo shaped "bulb" hanging from the bottom of the thin, narrow, keel. As you might imagine, USA could "turn on a dime" and was extremely fast in the water. Crew mistakes and ill-timed teething problems with the high tech twin rudder steering allowed Dennis Connor's Stars & Stripes to challenge and beat Australia's Kookabarra 3 in Fremantle's 1987 A/C Regatta.

The Louis Vuitton Cup lasted several weeks, and ESPN broadcast two races live daily. While I watched the racing, it dawned on me that if  Blackaller's spaceship could win the regatta, it was virtually assured that he'd go Down Under and bring home the Cup. This meant the America's Cup would really be contested on San Francisco Bay!

Fast forward 21 years. My dream is nearly realized. High Tech Titan, Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle, sponsored by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, is seeking to host the America's Cup Regatta on San Francisco Bay in 2013/2014. As far as I know, at least ten Federal, State, and Local Regulatory Agencies need to sign off on Bayside Support Infrastructure.

In San Francisco, this spells nothing but trouble.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baseball Blues

I'm a little verklempt tonight. My SF Giants got clobbered again tonight. Clobbered with two outs to be exact...ouch!

I did some more irrigation plumbing this morning, and I returned some stuff that wouldn't work for my application to HomeDepot.

I had lunch at Casper's Hot Dogs, the Bay Area's treasure. Casper's dogs are especially good in the summertime because the tomatoes taste like tomatoes!

So, I got plumbing, errands and lunch all taken care of in plenty of time to settle in to watch the Giants' game from Philadelphia a 4PM.

I made a new recipe while I watched the Giants take the early lead. "Chopped Italian Salad"

I found the recipe in the Local Weekly a few weeks ago. Today I made it a second time, this time I layered the ingredients instead of tossing them. I didn't bother to make the vinaigrette, because we've been loving Trader Joe's Tuscan Italian Salad Dressing around here this season.

After the game, I spent an hour and a half doing some computer maintenance before I got hungry enough to put together a plate for dinner...I microwaved the last leftover Eggplant Parmigiano, and served the Chopped Italian Salad on the side. Delicious with a Gordon Biersch Czech Style Pilsner to "wash it down".

After dinner I watched my twitter feed and surfed the news, while I listened to some radio podcasts from earlier today. Some Organizers from the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race were in the Tahoe Basin this week to scout roads and towns for the 2011 race. There are some stupendous roads around the Basin for bike racing, replete with stunning scenery that every self-respecting multi-day bicycle race need to make the TV Coverage interesting to non-cycle racing geek viewers.

We've had another bicycle tour a little South of the Basin for several years, the ultra marathon "Tour of the California Alps" More familiarly known as "The Death Ride". The 2010 event marks the 30th Anniversary of the tour.

This extreme bicycle ride traverses as many as five huge Sierra Nevada Passes in a single day! This year, there were 3500 riders, and 2417 completed all five passes...the most to date.

Another bicycle story was featured on the Reno News, Burning Man Bikes. We're just two weeks from Labor Day Weekend and the Burning Man Festival north of Reno, NV on the Playa of The Black Rock Desert.

The New Age Art and Camping Festival attracts lots of Art Bicycles and related Kinetic Sculptures. This funky Counter-Culture Campout has always appealed to me, but every year I see the Burners come through Truckee on their way home and the fine coating of pale white dust from the Playa that covers every square millimeter of their cars, trailers, RV's, Sculptures. etc, reminds me that maybe I'd rather look at some photos and YouTube Videos, and not add the Playa Patina to me and mine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time Marches On

We're right smack-dab in the middle of "The Dog Days of Summer", though you wouldn't know it from the weather. Today the marine layer burned off just before noon. On the Noon News, the weatherdude said: "Today will be the warmest day of the week" Good! It was toasty hot out in the Diggins in mid-afternoon when I was making up some PVC irrigation piping.

Usually these hot August days seem timeless...just lazy afternoons in the shade with a cool beverage and some diversionary reading material...a Beach Read perhaps. Nothing to give the impression that time is even passing.

Unless you're a radiohead like me. Reality served LIVE every half hour. News...Weather...Traffic...Tic-Tock...

Today I was reminded before I was even out of bed that Time waits for no man. Today the morning AM chuckleheads were talking about the Beloit College Mindset List for students entering college this fall.

This is the list, published every Back-to-School Season since 1998, that gives the sociological fun facts about this year's crop of eighteen-year-olds. Over the past decade that the Mindset List has been in my consciousness, It's put the period on the passing of the Dial Telephone, Betamax, and Answering Machines.

This year it's the Wristwatch...cell phones have clocks...Clint Eastwood is a sensitive, respected film director to the Class of 2014, and not Dirty Harry Callahan.

I've been paying attention to the Mindset List since I first heard of it. Why? Because I work with a new crop of eighteen-year-olds every season. They come to My Mountain to work and/or play instead of going straight to college after high school. Over the years I've found many of these kids to be enigmatic...what are they teaching these kids in school anyway?

Let me just say that not once have I ever stood on my front porch and yelled: "Get off my lawn, you kids"!

These kids "don't know what they don't know" as the saying goes. They are possessed of high self esteem...though I suspect it was drilled into them rather than earned the old fashioned way.

In all fairness, many of these kids aren't going to college...ever. More Americans heading off to the job more, no less. This is still America, so we may hear of one of these kids some day, and buy their music, patronize their restaurant, see their movie, read their book, or use their revolutionary gizmo that adds more familiar old tech to the Mindset List's Gadget Graveyard.

History Rears It's Head
On the baseball diamond...

I've really been enjoying my San Francisco Giants this Summer. There's been a "Playoff Atmosphere" to their games since the All Star Break, as the team has really come together. The last time I had this much fun with the Giants was when I was a kid and the Giants battled the Dodgers right down to the wire. The Pennant was decided in a tie-breaker series...that the Giants won...Game Three of the three game series. They went on to lose the 1962 World Series to the New York Yankees.

While I watched today's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the news came that Bobby Thomson passed away. On October 3rd, 1951, Thomson hit "The Shot Heard 'Round The World", the game winning home run that gave the New York Giants the National League Pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers in their pennant playoff series. That hit is arguably the most famous home run ever hit.

The radio play-by-play of the hit also gained fame. Russ Hodges screaming: "The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant!" has become immortal, too. Russ Hodges came west with the Giants and Dodgers in 1958, and I listened to his play-by-play in 1962, when the Giants beat the Dodgers for the pennant on October 3rd again...eleven years after "The Shot Heard 'Round The World"

As a ten year old, I'd never heard of "The Shot Heard 'Round The World", 48 years later, I can't remember the first time I heard that famous play-by-play. It's part of me now...just like baseball.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Easy Ways

I always liked the phrase "Easy Ways". When I was twenty-something, some friends had a rock n' roll band named "Easy Ways" I rediscovered the phrase this week when I was thinking about Fingers' Mom's remembrance.

I took the concept to heart, I lived it. Oh, I was up early and listened to America's Digital Goddess over the internet. I made some photos of the Ancestral Diggins, edited some video, and put off the provisioning 'till Monday.

I did this to clear the day so I could watch the SF Giants vs San Diego Padres baseball game without interruption. What a grand afternoon out at the ballpark! Good pitching, good small ball, and timely hitting allowed the Giants to win 3-2 in the 11th inning. Very satisfying.

Not so satisfying was trying to synch the HDTV broadcast of the game with the radio play by play. TV was a good two pitches behind the radio broadcast. I don't have a satisfactory (read thrifty) DVR for HDTV yet. I'm thinking a Digital Delay Box for the radio...great another gadget... *rolls eyes*

I spent a few hours online reading the pundits and some blogs...politics is my go-to bloodsport. Going down the home stretch towards the November 2nd elections, the action is already heating up. The sleeping giant is wide awake now, and can't wait to get into the voting booth.

I decided to give those bees in my bonnet an outlet, so I opened a Twitter account where I can go politically steampunk...there, there old fella...settle down...everything's gonna be alright...

I spent a couple more hours looking for photos of corduroy...pretty slim pickins corduroy-wise.

I'll make a point of taking lots and lots of corduroy photos this season.

You know...Easy Ways...reminds me of "Easiest Way Down"...sorta...