Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lazy Dazy

I'm being a slug today...I'm feeling just a little weary...I went to bed early Friday night, too. Between the Tour de France and Formula One's European Swing, I've messed with my BodyClock a little too much for the last month or so.

In the Winter, there's plenty of thrills and adrenaline to be had that help make up for shaving hours off of one's sleep schedule. In the Dog Days, stayin' up late and gettin' up early are rewarded with hot afternoons that offer only sweaty naps as relief.

The other afternoon I was driving my Mom to an appointment in the next town over. We got behind the local fire truck for a couple of miles on the two lane road.

We came up on some CableTV contractors doing some trunk cable work. The had two snorkel trucks blocking the eastbound lane, and a worker at each end of their show to give traffic the stop-palm and the wave-around...we idled four a couple of minutes before it was westbound's turn to go...I inhaled deep when I caught the wafting diesel fumes of the firemen's rig.

I was surprised that a wave of longing and nostalgia came over me! The smell of diesel exhaust is very comforting to me...and it's becoming more rare even in winter thanks to modern computer controlled diesel engines. Even at idle the new Cats run pretty clean. I liken the smell to the smell of jets at the airport...

While I'm lazing about I have one eye on the TV...the NHRA drag racers are up at Sonoma County's Sears Point Raceway. ESPN2 is showing eliminations for Sunday's races. They're going fast today, and the weather has cooled a little...the better to make horsepower with...

I have my other eye on my laptop...I'm keeping an eye on Twitter and Tumblr for SF Giants' trade news and rumors. MLB's trade deadline is 4PM Sunday afternoon, and "Rumor Control" is running off the rails as the deadline approaches...the Giants still need a catcher who is good with the bat until Buster Posey comes back from his injuries next season.

Twitter really has stepped up it's game this year...some tweeter who's name escapes me tweeted that "Twitter has democratized the delivery of The News" Sportswriters on twitter are especially chatty I've found...with a high percentage of amateur comedians...democratic schmemocratic...snickers are snickers...snort...snort...snark...snark...

I may not know comedy, but I know when comedy sprains it's ankle!

That's's time for the Giants Warm-Up on the radio...stay tuned, as they say...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shifting Gears

Where did July go? Damn, it just flew by.

This morning I was burning some DVD's of Formula One stuff for a friend, and happened upon the two-part PBS documentary gem "Baseball: The Tenth Inning" by Ken Burns. These four hours are the update to the 18 1/2 hour, 1994 PBS Series, "Baseball"

Watching a little while I edited and added chapter marks to the F1 discs, I was reminded again of baseball's beauty and ability to charm. "Baseball: The Tenth Inning" covers the strike season in 1994 through the 2009 season. I found the post-9/11 coverage especially meaningful.

I was on a Baja fishing trip on 9/11, and stayed in Mexico for several days longer than planned because of the post attack grounding of aviation nationwide .

When we did get home to the States, baseball was just resuming play. Watching the Yankee's game from New York City at the Ancestral Digs in matching La-Z-Boys with my Dad was very therapeutic...that's when I knew America would come through the attacks OK. Later that same season, my Dad and I watched side by side again as San Francisco Giants' slugger Barry Bonds broke the Single Season Homerun Record with his 73rd.

Like millions of other American boys, I learned my love of America's Pastime from my Dad. He taught me to love the game, and to love his San Francisco Giants...I still think about him most when I'm watching the Giants play. He would have been thrilled to watch the Giants last season, as the scrappy team with no All Star sluggers and great pitching found a way to win, all the way to becoming World Series Champions. He'd be thrilled by this week's trade for NY Mets slugger Carlos Beltran too, though I'm a little worried that a star in the dougout might upset the delicate chemistry of San Francisco's "Band of Misfits"

The Giants have been playing their patented version of ball known to Giants' fans as "Torture". I've really been entertained so far this season...I'm liking the Giants' chances to repeat a little more each time they eke out another one run win.

I'll have plenty of time to enjoy the beginning of the Giants' "Stretch Run" because the Tour de France is over and my two favorite motorsports series are taking most of August off as usual.

MotoGP, the World Championship motorcycle road racing series takes three weeks off after Laguna Seca's USGP last weekend. Formula One races Sunday at the Hungaroring before taking their month-long summer vacation. Sadly, America's IndyCar has become as boring as the good ol' boy's NASCAR show. I'll watch a little of the NHRA drag racing spectacle, it is a technology series like F1, but it'll be Giants baseball that gets me through again.

Be assured, after catching that yummy halibut Monday, SturgeUrge and I will spend a couple of days on the water this August!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stoopid Human Trix

Serendipity can't be beat! Here I am, deftly ignoring the hole in my soul left by the finishing of this year's Tour de France. I'm feeling a little numb...which is to say, I'm not feeling anything...not excited about anything today. Then I'm winding down before bed, surfing the web...when I find a video that just plain cracked me up.

In my 30+ years living in the High Sierra and working in the ski industry, I've witnessed a fair number of stupid human many frickin' follies that I've become jaded to the foolishness and the dumb as a stump screw-ups.

Every season I'm sure I've seen it all...that there's no possible way to be shown a new low. And every year my faith in mankind's remarkable survival these many millions of years is renewed despite man's ability to outsmart himself and court injury, property damage, and even death while walking upright..."It's OK...I've got it this time..."

Most of these stupid human tricks sort of evolve in real time as the out-thinker links a series of bad decisions, faulty assumptions, and knee-jerk reactions, resulting in the inevitable disaster for them, and any innocent bystanders (read fellow motorists, chairlift partners, chain installers, snowplow drivers...the list is endless) These are organic accidents...happenstance..."bad luck".

Tonight's video is something I've never seen in these 30+ years of mountain living and working. Sadly, this is a Premeditated Stupid Human Trick.

Behold the AUDI Snowplow:

This is wrong on so many levels...

As a Red-Blooded American Male, I've been a lover of cars since I was a boy in the late fifties, the era of chrome, tail fins, and big American V8 horsepower. I came of age in the Muscle Car Era, and learned to appreciate European Sports Sedans during the Disco Dust fueled Go Greed Go 80's.

When this AUDI 90 Quattro was showroom fresh, it was a highly desired ride by skiers, snowboarders and posers alike. Style, performance, comfort and solid Teutonic utility, all wrapped up in one refined package.

At the time, my auto-lust was for the AUDI's contemporary, the BMW 325ix, though I remember lamenting out loud that the 325ix didn't come as a convertible...hey...a removable hardtop would have made the 4X4 ixRagtop the perfect TruckeeMobile! No snowplow attachments allowed!

Reality? When these rigs were new...1986/1987, I was driving a '74 Power Wagon and buying a new leftover 1982 Yamaha 750 Maxim motorcycle.

You know, the AUDI Snowplow reminds me of another weird mountain mash-up machine, Alpine Meadows' "Bandwagon" that I've thought about that contraption for a season, I believe it too is wrong on so many levels.

I guess that these poor "performance artists" actually enrich my life in the long run...I hope they never run out of ways to surprise me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tour de France Wrap-Up

This year, the 98th Tour de France was full of drama and featured many unexpected heroes. There were too many first week crashes, and in it's last four days...fireworks, drama and grit were on display in the Alps before the first Australian ever donned the final maillot jaune and stood atop the podium in Paris. Good on ya, Cadel Evans!

I had lots of fun with my TdF Fantasy Teams this year. Of the four teams I played in two leagues, all my teams finished in the bottom third...better playing next year, I always say! Team CorduroyPlanet lost several riders during the first half crashfest: Lars Boom, Janez Brajkovič, Andreas Klöden, Juan Manual Garate, and David Zabriskie.

My teams had plenty of stage winners: Andy Schleck, Luis Leon Sánchez, Thor Hushovd-3 wins counting the Team Time Trial (TTT), Mark Cavendish-5 wins, and Tyler Farrar.

Team CorduroyPlanet is proud of our journeyman all-arounder Thomas Voekler, the unlikely  Frenchman who thrilled France by first donning the yellow jersey, then grittily hanging onto the maillot jaune for 10 days. He's a National Hero for Life now, truly humble, and worthy of the adulation...just a great story plain and simple.

Team CorduroyPlanet's Juan Antonio Flecha was knocked down by a TV-France car while leading a breakaway in Stage 9 causing Dutch racer, Johnny Hoogerland to somersault into a barbwire fence! Either man could have finished as the eventual winner when the crash occurred just 36Km from the finish. Hoogerland soldiered on and finished before getting 33 stiches and finishing 74th overall in Paris! I'll be looking for Johnny Hoogerland when I choose my fantasy racers for the 2012 TdF!

American cycling did very well again at the Tour this year. Of the 22 teams that started Le Tour, four were American: BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Cervélo, HTC-Highroad, and Team RadioShack.

BMC Racing Team worked tirelessly for eventual winner Cadel Evans. Evans' American teammate in his 16th Tour, George Hincappie captained the squad for Evans. Next year will be Hincappie's 17th, and a new record for the Tour.

Garmin-Cervélo won the TTT and the Team Competition. Garmin-Cervélo's Thor Hushovd won two stages, Tyler Farrar won his first TdF stage- on the 4th of July to boot! Garmin-Cervélo rider Tom Danielson, in his first TdF finished 9th overall. Good work from the young team! Dave Zabriskie who abandoned with a broken wrist in Stage 9, was honored by the team in Paris. Directeur sportif Jonathan Vaughters brought a life-size cardboard cutout of Zabriskie onto the podium with the team for their Team Award ceremony showing respect, and what a good-times team they are. That's a lot of success for the four year old team!

HTC-Highroad featured sprinter Mark Cavendish who won the Green Jersey and sprinted to win five stages. HTC-Highroad helped make this year's tour almost doping-free. (That's the Highroad part) Only one rider, on Russia's Team Katusha, tested positive this tour...for a "masking agent", not a banned performance enhancing substance.

Of the American teams, only Team RadioShack really came to grief. Injuries took their toll, early and often. Janez Brajkovič crashed out on Stage 5. Tour of California winner Chris Horner was forced to abandon with a concussion after a crash in Stage 7 after incdedibly finishing the stage.  Trusty climber Yaroslav Popovych had enough and didn't start Stage 10.  Lastly, Andreas Klöden abandoned during Stage 13. Levi Leipheimer suffered many crashes and finished well back of the leaders. Only five of the team's nine riders made it to Paris.

As always the Tour de France this year was more literature than sporting event. Le Tour ranges from Shakespearean farce to Greek Tragedy over it's three weeks and 21 acts. Two thousand, one hundred and thirty miles of racing over 23 days in July...that's a huge canvas to paint yet another Impressionist Masterpiece on. There is so much happening on so many levels during the tour, so much intrigue, so much passion and pain, it always captures my soul in a new way every July. The Tour is a lot like America's Pastime, they are the most Human of all sporting endeavors. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Late Report

Late Report are the words everyone at my Online Fishing Club uses when they post a fishing report on the club's forums when it's not posted on the day of the fishing trip.

Here on CorduroyPlanet, this time, it means I'm two days late posting Sunday's blog.

First the Late Report: SF Bay Halibut
We launched the FV SturgeUrge at Richmond a little more than an hour before the top of the tide.

First drift near the Platform on Southampton Shoals.

Bait, frozen anchovy

26 in halibut on the first bait of the day! Fish in the box within 10 minutes! High fives, didn't think to snap any pictures.

That was it for the day.

We were mostly by ourselves all morning, we guessed everyone was after salmon at Duxbury Reef, of the Marin Coast.

It turned into one gorgeous afternoon once the gray burned off.

We met fellow member Blue Dolphin at the ramp, they had one Dux salmon and said the jellies weren't a problem.

Note: With a little embellishment here, that's the report I posted on Coastside. We have a paywall to protect the Fishing Report Forums. The dues the members contribute go to the club's ongoing fight to protect fisheries and fishing access...alas, Sportsfishermen rank right down with tobacco smokers in California these days, so these fights eventually take place in front of a judge...

Monday's trip was the capper to a very satisfying three weeks in July. Dog Days baseball is so much sweeter when your team are defending World Series Champions,  are selling out every home game, avoided their traditional "June Swoon", are playing their highly entertaining "Torture" style of ball, and are leading the division. They're a joy to watch.

The first three weeks of July featured the 98th Tour de France, full of drama, unexpected heroes, too many first week crashes, and in it's last four days...fireworks and grit in the Alps before the first Australian ever donned the final maillot jaune and stood atop the podium in Paris. Good on ya, Cadel Evans!

My weekend featured a dash up and down the hill. Two roughly four hour drives in 27 hours, and I was totally whipped!

It's curious...I do 9-10 hours a night 4-5 nights a week in my BR350 all winter, and never feel as tired as I did after running up the hill Friday and back down Saturday. Heck, I even slept in my own bed between trips!

You know what it is? There are no motorists out on My and trees never change lanes without looking. Make your highway forays on Friday and Saturday and the white knuckle factor rises even more. CalTrans summer road construction turns up the volume another notch, so I understand my fatigue.

Today, I can say: "It's a Good Tired"