Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chores 'n More

Not much has me excited today. It's Monday that has my attention. Today is mostly chores aside from a foray to the Farmer's Market.

Top of the To-Do List is to R&R an extra fuel tank for SturgeUrge's boat. I've assembled all the parts, today I strip all the sun-baked fuel hose stuff off the tank and install all the new stuff.

Monday we're going sturgeon fishing on San Pablo Bay. The sturgeon have been "stacked up like cordwood" say reports. There was even a front page story in the Local Fishwrap last week, titled "Enormous Sturgeon Crowding Into San Pablo Bay"

Searching for that story I looked at Wednesday's Fishing Report:  
SAN PABLO BAY: Sturgeon fishing hasn't slowed. One angler caught and released nine sturgeon Wednesday at the Shellbank. Go anywhere north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and stay away from the other boats. A few stripers are around. Halibut aren't around during the minus tides.

This guy gets into his fishing! Photo courtesy of Contra Costa Times

Along with the fuel tank project, I have to gather some intel about a new (to us) boat ramp. June is the month of big and minus tides. We need to know if our desired new ramp is usable during very low tides. Last year about this time we spent all morning doing a boat ramp tour instead of fishing, and given these ridiculously high gas prices we don't want to drive from one side of the Bay to the other and back only to view a string of mud-bound boat ramps.

Even with a boat in tow, a big SUV gets ten times better gas mileage that boats do...we don't want to keep those "Enormous Sturgeon" waiting! Sturgeon are the only "Big Game" fish within range of the FV SturgeUrge, and we want to catch and release a few of those big ones!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things Are Heating Up

on San Francisco Bay.

Summer officially begins next Tuesday. Spiritually, Summer arrived last week when temperatures finally reached the normal range.

The Little Heat Wave brought the usual brisk afternoon winds through the Golden Gate as temps in the Big Valley flirted with the 90's.

There was a spate of never before seen activity on The Bay's waters, America's Cup Racing Catamarans began testing.

It was quite a week!

The new boats on the Bay are AC45's. They are 45 foot long catamarans with a Wing Mainsail, and are the boats that will be raced in The America's Cup World Series, a world tour in 2012 that is to introduce the 34th America's Cup Regatta that will be contested on SF Bay in August 2013.

Towards the end of this Summer, the AC72's will be launched. These are the boats that will compete in the 34th America's Cup Regatta. Depending on conditions, the Wing Mainsail will be between 70 ft and 103ft tall. The Organizers say these boats will make 40 knots in a stiff wind. That's 46 mph landlubbers!

Judging from Monday's drama on the Bay, the Big AC72's racing in the Cup is going to be wild!

What was so wild on Monday? The AC45 dug the bow of one of it's hulls, "Pitch Poled" over and capsized. In the video you can see Oracle Racing's CEO and Helmsman Russell Coutts fall right through the Wing and into the Bay!

Lots of buzz is starting to escape from the local sailing fraternity.  Today lots of blogs have landed on Facebook Walls. Here's a firsthand account of a ride on the AC45. The San Francisco Chronicle is on the story as well as all of the Local Television News Outlets.

The Oracle AC45's will be shaking down on the Bay, Monday through Friday afternoons through August.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


"Be careful what you wish for" goes the Sage Old Advice...

I watched KCRA's Noon News today. On the third hot day of June the whining has become deafening! The poor tiny weatherwoman genuinely looked sorry for the seasonable temps.

I was on the road early, and I sat in the car for a half an hour listening to the radio before 11 AM. It was already pushing 80°F

I finally got into the garden at 3PM. It was uphill of 90°F, but my chore was in the shade of our big cedar deodara tree. I spent a leisurely 90 minutes trying out my new classic Felco F-2 Hand Pruner. There's no substitute for the best tool for the job, whether your talking carpenter's tool, gardener's tools, or grooming machines.

About the time I started picking up my work area, my Mom came out and said: "There's a deer in the front yard"! "No kidding"? I replied, and I walked my sweaty body down the street and had a look-see. No Bambi in sight. I finished cleaning the cedar sap off the Felcos, oiled the blades and the spring and headed back inside. Mom was in the living room, and damn if that deer wasn't right outside the front window!

Mom and I were less than eight feet from the yearling doe, but the deer's attention was riveted down our street somewhere. You don't think of glass as decent camouflage, but it did the trick in this instance.

The deer stayed there in the shade of the redwood tree for a while. I kicked back with the internet, and looked for some SF Giants injury reports. No news is good news I guess...

Mom came in with the newspaper. She found a book review of a new tome: "Go the F**K to Sleep"  Published this week, she thought it would be great for my cousin who after retiring a Full-Bird Colonel from the Army, just adopted his first-born grandson. I clicked over to Amazon and ordered a copy for Cousin Brad, and one for Mom. Published Tuesday, Amazon's order page said it would ship in 7-9 days. Like the review said, Mansbach's "Children's Book for Adults" is a hit.

Not fifteen minutes later, I was scanning my Facebook wall, and there was a link to a YouTube video of Samuel L Jackson reading from "Go the F**K to Sleep"! I laughed out loud at the cosmic synchronicity. The link was posted by Cap'nDan, a groomer who worked with me 20 years ago. He and his wife became parents for the first time this spring, and we commented back and forth for a few minutes. 

Somehow, our exchange knocked some cobwebs out of my brain, and I started searching for a song I've been trying to identify for months. Cap'n Dan posts a lot of YouTube videos of classic rock, jazz, and blues. The song starring in My Quest is a throbbing Delta Blues number that's the soundtrack of a Porsche commercial that's been playing on every Formula One race I've watched this spring. In fact, I searched YouTube yesterday to no avail.

I searched via with a couple of new search strings, and then searched Porsche Owners Clubs. I landed on a page with a bunch of Flash Video links, and there was the spot complete with title. I ixquicked that and there was my latest Holy Grail.

Listen to the fine Delta Blues...don't succumb to the sports car pitch!

The late artist Junior Kimbrough's "Feels So Good #2" rocks my world, but turned into yet another head-scratcher. The tune is from Kimbrough's "First Recordings" album which is not available on CD! Vinyl or MP3 download, even a 10 inch vinyl pressing, but no CD.

I surrendered, and downloaded the tune from iTunes. I really want this guy's music on WAV me old fashioned...

Satisfied but stymied, I tuned in the radio for the Giants' Pre-Game. It was 106°F outside and 80°F inside Chase Field in Phoenix. Some wag actually said; "It's a dry heat"...if it hadn't been so hot, I would have done a spit take!

The Giants won and there were some real Highlight Reel defensive plays including an almost impossible relay throw to Home to get the runner at the plate! Not torture, but exquisite none the less.

It's half past midnight and still hot in the house...I'm hittin' the showers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Sun Shines In

I finished up with my errands this afternoon. It was a nice warm afternoon, and I even worked up a little sweat. While I was out driving around, I heard a radio spot for a new drug that treats some new-to-me malady called "Shift Work Disorder"

Now I've heard bits and pieces of news over the years about shift work and it's medical consequences, but this was the first time I've ever heard of a disorder named for the malady, or a drug to treat it for that matter. Truth be told, shift work isn't a problem...not in my world. It's Rotating shift work where trouble sets in.

Typically rotating shift work goes like this: Three/four weeks of day shift, rotate to swing shift for three/four weeks, then onto graveyard shift for another three/four weeks. Repeat until comatose.

I've heard news bits about Rotating Shift Work tripling heart attack risk. Maybe twenty years ago I tried a little experiment with my own schedule. I worked four days a week, but not the same shift nightly. It went like this: Grave/Swing, Grave/Swing, done, three day weekend. That day between the two Grave/Swings was a 24 hour off period.

My "thinking" at the time was that I was sneaking in an extra day off in the middle of my week. Looking back, I'm surprised that my boss allowed me to even try this stunt! I had to be way too dangerous to be anywhere near when I was operating...especially during those two Swing Shifts! I was clearly a rolling hazard, not to mention totally destroying my short term memory!

My experiment was a total failure...or maybe a total success. Either way I learned that the human body knows best...millions of years of synching the body's circadian rhythms with the rising and setting Sun, have hard wired humans to rely on their daily schedule of sleep at the same time every day...every night...but same time/same time.

So...I can't remember given the fog of time, how many weeks my experiment lasted, but I do believe no animals or lift operators were harmed in the commission of said experiment!

Since my experiment I've religiously practiced a regimen of dark curtains, and a regular bed-time. I keep this schedule even on my weekends.

I only reset my BodyClock once in the Fall at the beginning of the season, and once in the Spring, when ski season ends.  The Fall reset from sleeping nights to sleeping days is the easy one. Changing back in Springtime is a longer affair lasting about a month, whereas the start of the season's reset is done in a week's time.

Here's the warnings for the drug, Nuvigil (get it? New Vigil?)...from a "Sponsored Page" on WebMD. I've gotta say hearing this over the radio was much more chilling than just reading the words.

NUVIGIL may cause serious side effects including a serious rash or a serious allergic reaction that may affect parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells, and may result in hospitalization and be life-threatening. If you develop a skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, blisters, swelling, peeling, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, trouble swallowing or breathing, dark urine, or fever, stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor right away or get emergency help.
  • Stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:
    • Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems.
    • Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beat, and trouble breathing.
  • Common side effects of NUVIGIL are headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL.
  • Tell your doctor if you get any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Talk to your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Yikes! My little experiment doesn't seem so dire anymore!

Morning Update
I wrote the above late Monday afternoon. Curiosity got the best of me Tuesday morning and I searched for the Nuvigil Commercial online. The video was the best I could find. Consumer Reports' producers went a little easy on Nuvigil and it's maker, Cephalon in my opinion...the second sound bite from the commercial ended before the scary part that made my blood run cold when I heard it...the part about heart attacks, life threatening side effects, and emergency medical attention being needed right away.

My search enlightened me to the extent that Nuvigil is a revamped medication that's been introduced in time to cover the sunset of Provigil's patent. Provigil was Cephalon's predecessor for treating Narcolepsy and "Shift Work Disorder"

I'll just set a cast in stone bedtime and stick to it like glue, thank you very much!

Side Effects? Only Sweet Dreams!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surf Marathon

Couch surfin' that is! This weekend I surrendered totally to the panoply of motorsports on TV. The 24 Hours of Le Mans was epic as always in it's inimitable style, but there was a new twist I haven't seen from le Circuit de la Sarthe, record cold temperatures.

As Sunday morning dawned over Le Mans, the mercury dipped to 40°F, a record going back at least 15 years (I couldn't find the all-time record low for the day in Le Mans) The cold proved to be quite a problem when the cars were following slowly behind the Safety Car and tire temperatures fell out of the optimum range for decent traction.

There were more periods behind the safety car than I remember from Le Mans past, and the chilled rubber lead to many off track excursions once the Safety Care left the circuit. There were a fair number of offs coming out of the pits as well.

Tire warmer blankets like those used by Formula One Teams are not allowed in Sports Car Endurance Racing, but the Le Mans Teams use Infrared Ovens to heat the tires. However, pit stops in Endurance Racing are not the lightning fast sub-12 second stops as seen in F1, IndyCar or NASCAR.

Le Mans pit stops are more stately affairs where nothing else happens when the fuel is flowing into the cars. Once refueling is completed, then the tires can be changed, wings adjusted, drivers changed, even brakes can be replaced if necessary. All this caution does come at a price...while all this is going on, the tires...on the cars, or fresh out of the ovens, are cooling off, and when the cars finally leave pit lane, the tires can be out of the desired temperature range for best traction.

Should a driver not heed the subtle signs of a tire not up to temp, he can spin off the track in the blink of an eye. There was a lot of that Sunday morning.

Still, Le Mans was one for The Ages this year, with the last man standing AUDI battling three Peugeots for the victory. The two other AUDIs suffered horrific crashes that fortunately didn't hurt anyone.

I watched a lot of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I couldn't stay awake with four hours to go, so I set my alarm for 5:45AM and got up for the final 15 minutes. It didn't stick...I fell back asleep in two minutes flat.

On this side of the Big Pond, torrential rain was on tap for the start of the Canadian Grand Prix. The race began behind the Safety Car for the first five laps before the cars were released to race at full song. The track began to dry and Jensen Button was the first car to pit of intermediate rain tires. Button's lap times began to fall quickly, and in three laps time, Jensen was lapping 5 seconds quicker that the cars still on full wets.

Several cars pitted for Inters before the skies opened and Biblical Flood-Style rain caused race control to redeploy the Safety Car. On Lap 20 of 70 the race was red now we wait...

11:30AM PDT
My DVR is watching the MotoGP from Silverstone...I wonder if it's raining there too?

It's still pouring down in Montreal...forecasters say it will begin to lighten up around 15 minutes from now, but watching the video of some Stewards' Cars driving around the track I'm guessing an hour after it stops raining before the track can be dried enough to restart the race.

If and when they get the Canadian Grand Prix restarted, I'm hoping it will be over by the first pitch of this evening's Giants game!

Noon PDT
I'm off to the Farmer's Market!