Thursday, November 25, 2010

Help! I've been up all night, and I can stop vibrating!

First shift back on the hill was a success!

I'm gonna take a few days off until my broadband is hooked up at the DaveCave Tuesday...I'm not comfortable blogging on a poached WiFi hotspot!

My Wednesday PM/Thursday AM in capsule form...

2:50 drive takes 5:30
I managed 3 hrs of sleep
jumped in my ol' driver's tiller
Spotlight handle broken
Mirrors caked with man-made snow...heater/actuator connectors unplugged and iced up beyond half a thermos of hot coffee's ability to remedy
Driver's side wiper arm broken
No AM reception on tractor's stereo
11+ hrs behind the sticks...I'm still vibrating
Will listen to the Who's "Maryanne with the shaky hand" when I get up to do it again (the grooming part...I didn't even drive a half mile to the market after work)

Happy Thanksgiving! and...Thanks for you patience.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grooming 101.7

The storm has been entertaining me now for a couple of days. This is fun! I've been burning up the internet looking at the various forecasts, chain control reports, PWS's, AFDs, webcams, and remote data webpages. Plenty of snow has fallen, and snowmaking temperatures are the rule of the day.

Tonight I'll be back in my beloved old BR350 for my first shift of the season.

I guess it's time to revisit Grooming 101...Just a little tune-up on the basics is in order every season.

As I do every year, I'll begin at the beginning.

The Groomers Kit Bag
I don't use a backpack anymore. After years of fighting fogged windows in my cats, I finally broke down and got a Dry Pack. These are used by watersports enthusiasts for dry storage. Dry Bags come in various sizes and shapes from small "stuff sacks" to expedition-sized duffel bags, and so-called Portage Packs favored by voyageurs (touring canoeists) The Dry Pack doesn't wick up any moisture like a plain backpack, where it's then exhausted onto the glass in the groomer's cab.

After a long search, I finally found a day pack sized Dry Pack by Eureka Tents that was affordable. I ordered it online and started pattin' myself on the back for outsmarting that crafty Moisture Monster! The Dry Pack was great, it did the trick and cut way down on my fogging problems...for a while...

As nice as that Dry Pack was, I couldn't stand up to Full Time Grooming fell apart in a matter of months. Oh, I kept it mended and in service, but I knew the light at the far end of the tunnel was an approaching train!

Back to the internet...back to the hunt. Lo and behold, I found a Pack Maker that makes Dry Bag style Bicycle Messenger Bags! I ordered the large orange model and waited for UPS to bring my latest Kit Bag.

The Bike Bag has been in service for two seasons now. If it has a downside, it's that I can put too much crap in there. (Think the Little Woman's huge shoulder bag) The single wide strap slings over my rain gear-clad shoulder easily, and aside from the failure of a zipper pull, it's given perfect service for around two hundred shifts. I paid less than $80, and I'm what you'd call a satisfied customer.

The Dry Pack failed because I carried too much crap in it. To wit:

1 Qt Stainless Steel Thermos
Watch Cap
Flashlight (now downsized from 3D-Cell MagLite to MiniMagLite)
Tool Kit (jack knife-style Torx, jack knife-style metric Hex wrenches, Gerber Multi-Tool)
iPod Kit in Bento Box
Digital Camera in small Pelican Box
Document Holder-style Clipboard

To be fair to Eureka, I was asking the Dry Pack to perform Combat Duty on Shore Leave Pay.

There's one thing about the BR350 that Bombardier omitted. The Grab Bar across the back window. In the old BR275 days, I'd clip my backpack to the grab bar with a carabiner and and the pack would say reach, and wouldn't fall to the floor when breaking over into a steep pass.

With the unrestrained Dry Pack riding on the passenger seat, it would take the big dump once in a while and the heavy contents did their damage...blowing out the strap anchors and finally tearing the side open.

Until Prinoth adds the grab bar, or I can convince the Vehicle Shop to retrofit a backpack anchor, I've developed a work around. I carry a six foot length of 1/2 inch nylon webbing with a carabiner at each end. I hook a 'biner to the bike bag's shoulder strap, and the other 'biner to my lunch pail's handle and lower both to the floor on the passenger side. I hook the middle of the webbing over the stinger joystick. No more big dumps, and my stuff is always at hand.

Those Big Dumps have cost me dearly since I got into BR350's...the Eureka Dry Pack, and the LCD Screen on my digital camera. I replaced the Dry Pack, I got a Used/New digicam from eBay, and bought a Pelican Box for the camera.

I just made myself a leftover turkey sandwich...when I went into the kitchen, my gaze fell on my thermos and I broke out my kitchen scale, filled the thermos with water and weighed it. 4.54 pounds. That's the battering ram that did in my camera, and blew out the Dry Pack.

Gravity plays for keeps.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Results So Far

From the TV overview this morning, they're really gettin' slammed up in the High Sierra.

I've got KMAX31TV's "Good Morning Sacramento" streaming on the laptop and KCRA3 on the tube. The storm coverage is fun to view from the cozy comfort under the covers...chain controls are all the way down to Colfax on Interstate 80. KCRA3 showed an awesome view of Lake Tahoe complete with the dark gray squall line right down on the lake.

All the webcam views are spectacular...winter wonderlands or near white-outs.

The the Thanksgiving table last evening, the Ancestral Digs were treated to lots of thunder and lightning, and the flickering power to remind us of our true place in this world.

Most of the lightning strikes were five or more miles from the Digs, as were the heaviest cells of rain. The Bay Bridge even sustained a lightning strike that was captured and posted to Facebook by KTVU2's senior meteorologist, Bill Martin.

Forecasters promise two more waves of moisture before all is said and done. Snowfall totals are in the midrange of the forecast...18-24 inches from each wave, not the 24-36 inches at the top end of the forecast range.

Four resorts are open this morning: Boreal, Northstar, Squaw Valley USA, and Mount Rose.

Temps are frigid, so snowmaking can run around the clock for the next few days. Lots of resorts will open in time for Thanksgiving.

In my post-turkey torpor last night, I snuck away from the family long enough to do a quick lap round my weather websites.

The latest 90 Day Outlook Discussion is up at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. This month's discussion says we have a "borderline strong La Niña", and there's a lot of cold water across the Eastern Pacific, and it's over a huge portion of the Tropical Pacific.

At 9:30AM Sunday, CalTrans closed I-80 again for accidents and spin-outs in the High Country.

It always happens during the first big winter storm...human nature being what it is, most folks are clueless when traveling over the High Sierra until they have their eyes opened by chain controls, a scary white-out, or a spin-out. Welcome back to reality! Now, pay attention!

White-out at Boreal means white-out on I-80 too!

I'll be back up there this week...I can't hardly wait!