Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dustbin Of History

No, not that one...I'm avoiding politics until after Labor Day!

While procrastinating at the DaveCave, I tried to coax my 2004 DVR to work with my 2011 Digital Cable feed. Actually, I was trying to get my 2011 LED TV to play nice with my CableCo's new (Mid-April) Digital feed. Since April, I've been getting four beautiful HDTV channels and the rest of the Basic Cable channels 16-71 in standard-def. Missing in action, channels of both PBS Stations and my favorite Train Wreck News, "Good Day Sacramento"

I rescanned several times over the months, I even browbeat my ancient 2004 DVR into tuning in most of the basic cable channels and those HDTV local networks...I'm a taxpayer, how come PBS isn't one of the Must Carry Channels? I'll never understand our bureaucracies!

While the old machine would reliably tune channels when it was constantly on, it refused to play nice when making a Timer Recording...the most important DVR function for a Graveyard Groomer!

I pulled the cable from the DVR and ran it straight to the TV and voilà, we have ignition! Every channel right where it's supposed to be. Satisfied with my progress, I hooked up the ethernet cable between the TV and my router, and explored the Internet Apps, after I created an Account (on my own TV!)...

First up the TV Guide App. Verdict: Way clunky. I doesn't list every channel of my Basic Cable Service...worst of all it omits the CSNBayArea home of the SF Giants!

I tried the Showtime App...teasers only of "The Franchise" this season's sports/reality show subtitled "A Season With the San Francisco Giants"...I missed the final episode last week. (I'll catch up when I get back to the Ancestral Digs) There were a couple of dozen third-tier movies available for streaming, but I wasn't into any of them...I was on radio duty...

Today I looked everywhere for a cable splitter (Type F coax). Every darn one I own in in a Plano Box down at the Ancestral Digs along with my other DVRs and cabling. I kept hunting...I dug through every box, bucket, basket, and tool tray, the drawers of tables...everywhere. Just a bunch of dust...and a few forgotten treasures.

I found some ancient groomer swag that I forgot I even had. Manufacturer's belt buckles dating back to 1983.

DMC's 1983 4700 Groomer on a Pewter Buckle
This brushed stainless steel photo buckle was probably a 1984 model. It's the DMC 4700 again.
There's a New Sheriff in Town 1989?
I used to have an older Thiokol buckle of an original Allis Chalmers powered 3700 snowcat, but I don't know where it's hiding.

DMC's SS Buckle paid homage to the Stainless Steel body of the DeLorean luxury sedan made famous as Dr Brown's car with the Flux Capacitor that became Marty McFly's Time Traveling DeLorean in "Back to The Future" and it's sequels. I thought the buckles were kinda tacky back in the day, and now that the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray of Back to The Future is going on a year old, I still think it's tacky.

DMC's 4700 was a short lived project from DMC. DeLorean Motor Co bought the snowcat division from Thiokol in the early 80s. DMC engineers modernized the straight six 3700, dropping in a Caterpiller 3208 V8 turbo diesel, adding a muffler, and smoothing the bodywork.

The 4700 was the first shot in the High Horsepower Arms Race in grooming machines. DeLorean fell afoul of the Drug Enforcement Agency about the time the 4700 was going into full production and it never had a chance. I didn't care for the machine as a whole, but I recognized the value of horsepower to burn!

Every groomer I've ever known who's seen or driven the 4700 says the same thing: "They should have  painted it kelly green, it looked just like Kermit D Frog of Muppet fame"!

Friday, September 2, 2011

All Or Nothing

Nothing, that's all I've got tonight. Where did my day go? I woke up around 0330, stayed up until 0530, then slept the morning away until I got up, brewed the French Roast, and got captured by events...

I caught up with some radio podcasts, and kept an eye on breaking news on the Telly...politics mostly.

Politics are off the hook, considering that the next National Elections are more than a year out. I do enjoy some good old fashioned schadenfreude! A lot of Golden Boys (and Golden Girls) are shooting themselves in the feet this week...Hell, I've always said: "Politics is the Ultimate Bloodsport" Comeuppance aside, Pols...keep it in your trousers until after Labor Day!

Oh yeah...I wrote yesterday about digital ephemera. My podcast files, about 6MB of 'em turned into long lost memories overnight, so I spent a couple of hours restoring my iTunes Accounts...

There go those computers again...making things easy for me again...

That's why I've got nothin'

Good Night

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not Ha-Ha Funny, But...

This morning I was listening to the Armstrong and Getty Show while lazing in bed surfing the 'net, when I saw this Tweet from Truckee's local newspaper: @SierraSun_News "Donner Summit visitor center to close after Labor Day"

The story explained why the Big Bend Visitor Center was closed Monday. I was considering hanging around until Friday to visit the exhibits, but the article says the display items are already in storage pending relocation. Thanks Sierra Sun!

This gives me pause. American progress has always been moving forward, sometimes at breakneck speed. The touchstones of our history get passed by and forgotten in no time. Sometimes our history gets trampled underfoot.

Big Bend up near Donner Summit is emblematic of this, and a little walking around the area tells quite a tale. America's Western Migration came right through these parts...The Emigrant Trail, The Dutch Flat-Donner Pass Wagon Road, The Transcontinental Railroad, The Lincoln Highway, US Highway 40, Interstate 80 all came through this valley, some remain, some just vestigially remain. Thank God for folks like Norm Sayler and his Donner Summit Historical Society! Much of this history has been lost...or misplaced until enthusiasts like Sayler find it, catalog it, put it on display, and announce it's existence.

I-80 overpass above US Hwy 40. The original dirt Lincoln Highway (once the Dutch Flat-Donner Pass Wagon Road) is obscured by the forest, as is the transcontinental railroad, now the Union Pacific, above them all.
Fun fact: Norm told me that the first four Central Pacific Railroad locomotives came to Donner Summit by wagon, over the Dutch Flat-Donner Pass Road, and were assembled on the mountain.

My own search for the original Lincoln Highway bits in my neighborhoods, have shown me what a huge task shepherding history's bits and pieces is. Take today, September 1st...72 years ago today, Hitler's Wehrmacht invaded Poland beginning World War Two. Lots of eyewitnesses to the World's last major upheaval are passing away without telling their stories. What a tragedy.

I worry about the history we're making today...not just that we're building today on the ruins of our history, but I worry about the records of our new history. Some would say: "Are you kidding? There's millions of people all over the world blogging every mundane little bit of meaningless trivia...a historian's delight!

This is a fact. Billions of digital photos are posted online daily, a treasure trove of historical long as the files survive, and the software to open the files survive. Technology moves at history's pace raised by orders of magnitude. Blogs are just files and software too.

As far as I know, there is no Internet Curator husbanding all our files...The last two music albums I'd like to buy are not available on CD, only as digital downloads...obscure artists?'s a dead bluesman, Junior Kimbrough who's "First Recordings" is available from Amazon on vinyl, or for download at iTunes. The other artist is "Utopian Riot" an up and coming Metal band from Las Vegas.

iTunes and Amazon will sell you Utopian Riot's new album "Utopian Riot" as a digital file.

Digital Files...the Ultimate Ephemeral Artifact...this is going to take some thinking through...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life Is Funny Sometimes

I don't remember who said it first..."Life is what happens while you're making other plans"...

The quote is usually attributed to John Lennon, but I heard it from Ruth Gordon in the 1971 movie "Harold and Maude" a couple of years before Lennon uttered it on the Dick Cavett Show. Honestly, it sounds like something Mark Twain would have rattled off back in the day...

I've been hanging in the DaveCave for the better part of the last week...ostensibly to work on my pickup, which needs a new distributor. I need the truck on the road so I can haul the lumber and other materials to finish my maintenance around the Ancestral Digs, and to finish the improvements to the Ancestral Diggins' gardens.

One small problem...I haven't turned a wrench yet!

It turns out that doing a little mental  housekeeping was more important in the greater scheme of things than getting my fingernails dirty, and the pickup road-ready just yet.

I didn't realize that I was coping with the emotional bends until I returned to my Fortress Of Solitude and let my hair down a little, so to speak.

The Dog Days' misfortunes of my San Francisco Giants have eked their way into my delicate psyche...allowing me to self-deceive myself...running my psyche into the emotional cite the currently favored political meme...

Taking my malaise by the horns, I did absolutely nothing for five days, save some TV viewing of my favored Niche Sports, and lazing about the DaveCave much to the consternation of Mr & Mrs Landlord, who are desperate for me to move the pickup outta the garage to enable their summer update plans.

Somewhere in those five days, I regained my station keeping resolve, and remembered to not allow other peoples' problems to rule my life, psyche, or plans.

I decided to block out my Giants' woes, and take a different tack on the National Pastime. I took in a Triple-A game in Reno. The SF Giants' AAA Farm Team, the Fresno Grizzlies were in town for a four game series against the Reno Aces, the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks (who are beating the pants off the Giants in  the NL West as we speak)

Aces' Ballpark in Downtown Reno's Freight House District
I wanted to get a look at the Giants' prospects Brandon Crawford and Emanuel Burris, both of whom have been up to San Francisco and sent back down to the minors. Regular readers may remember my blog about Crawford's first Major League Hit, a Grand Slam in Milwaukee. To this day I still believe it was a miracle from above.

Everything about going to that game enforced my belief in Human Nature. I bought mt ticket online, and printed it on the DaveCave's EPSON R280 printer. I did some errands before game time, and parked right across the street from Aces' Ballpark, the barely three year old home of the Reno Aces.

Did I mention that my seat was In The Front Row!? yes, Section 103 Row 1 Seat 14 was right on the field, less than 30 ft from the third base line, adjacent to the left field edge of the infield dirt. This was a great seat, much closer to the action than my Dad's longtime seats at Candlestick Park that were also front row box seats on the left field side of the infield.

A beautiful night in downtown Reno's Aces' Ballpark
Believe me, I paid attention to each and every pitch...I was lethally close to the action. About a half a dozen foul balls sailed over my seat through the nine innings, one I would have jumped up for had I brought a mitt...bare handing that one was out of the was smoked, and landed two sections past us!

The Grizzlies lost, the Reno Aces clinched a playoff spot, and I headed home rejuvenated, even though I heard the bad news of yet another Giants loss on the radio.

Back at the DaveCave, I blogged about the game on CorduroyPlanet's Tumblr Page, and listened to some radio podcasts before falling asleep around 4AM.

I woke up at 0830 and drifted in and out until 11:30 when I got up, made the French Roast and a Vine Ripe BLT for breakfast. After ignoring the noon -1AM NewsBlock, and monitoring the 1-2PM business news, I headed up Old Hwy 40 to Soda Springs to post a letter and to do a little Lincoln Highway exploring...

When I came over the summit Wednesday afternoon, I noticed a new storefront HQ of the Donner Summit Historical Society in the old Soda Springs Hotel building. The storefront had been Soda Springs' espresso store for several seasons before going legit. The place had a Lincoln Highway sign in the window.

I passed the DSHS shop, hit the Post Office and headed west on Old Hwy 40 in search of Lincoln Highway touchstones. I motored past all four houses on the Lincoln Highway that I've lived in over the years, and all the way west to Cisco Grove where some Lincoln Highway associated buildings still stand. My digital point & shoot recorded the whole shebang. I spent a couple of hours stopping to photograph vestiges of the old road before stopping at the DSHS storefront for a look-see. BajaBabe suggested that I stop by the US Forest Service's Big Bend visitor's center...I did, but they were already on off season hours.

Cisco Grove's Lincoln Hwy Era Forest Gift Shops
I walked in to the cluttered, library cum museum space and announced to nobody in particular: Hello!

I heard a hello from the very back of the rooms, and walked towards the voice. There sat Norm Sayler at a computer on the cluttered desk. Norm was one of the first Donner Summit Denizens I met when I first started to frequent the Summit back in the late 70s. At that time, Norm was the Owner/General Manager of Donner Ski Ranch, and Donner Spitz Snow Removal and Backhoe.

Today, Norm is the Donner Summit Historical Society...lock, stock, and barrel. I quizzed Norm about the Lincoln Highway's Donner Summit history, about the concrete bridges I'd just photographed along Old Hwy 40, and wondered aloud how Mount Lincoln atop the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort got it's name.

3:19PM Monday
Norm is a walking, talking Donner Summit History-Bot. He knew that the bridges weren't part of the Lincoln Highway, but dated to the Late-20s advent of US Hwy 40...I'd asked if they were WPA-Era construction because they were built before the advent of plywood.

Norm opined that Mt Lincoln's name dates to the Transcontinental Railroad Days...It was President Lincoln's baby the Coast to Coast R/R...Norm knew that nearby Mt Judah was named for the visionary R/R engineer who surveyed that Trans-Sierra Route and lobbied Congress for the Transcontinental Rail Road. Judah, who died before the Transcontinental railroad was even authorized by Congress, wasn't honored until 1937 when the peak standing above Donner Summit was named in his honor.

I told Norm my story of visiting Utah's Promontory Summit in 1964, and how I didn't realize until I spent some time on Donner Summit how that field trip had sown the seeds of my lust for history. Norm likes my idea for a Lincoln Highway Centennial Bicycle Grand Tour, and my AMGEN ToC Stage from Placerville to Donner Summit.

We spent better than an hour catching up before I said adieu, and headed back down to Truckee, where I put Mr Landlord at ease before making pizza and watching my Giants lose to the lowly Chicago Cubs...

Still I'm buoyed by this week's events...that distributor will go in tomorrow, and I'll head back to the Ancestral Digs 'till I come back up for Reno Air Races Week mid-September.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Information Overload?

From my comfy perch in the safety of my Fortress of Solitude a continent away from the Hurricane-Ravaged Eastern Seaboard, I can say I weathered the storm none the worse for wear. Even Twitter has an OFF Button.  As is the nature of the 24/7 CableNews Machine, a story like H.Irene is tailor-made for their operations.

For a while Saturday afternoon I had the tube tuned to All-Irene-All the Time, but I let it run in the background more than actually watching events unfold. I didn't see any reporters swept off their feet, but I did find it a little funny/disconcerting when the soaked talking heads on the streets during a hurricane's approach, admonished viewers to stay off the streets because a "still dangerous Cat 1 Hurricane Irene" is bearing down on the Jersey Shore and New York City.

Better to keep one's mouth shut and appear the fool, than to open one's trap and leave no doubt...

I had to unfollow WeatherUnderground's twitter feed before the first pitch of the Giants vs Astros game. Whoever they had sitting in Silicon Valley tweeting every tiny morsel of Irene Info, clearly had been hard into the Energy drinks and caffeine since Irene earned her name! A touch typist, they were blazing along at 120+ WPM, and burying all my SF Giants tweeters...after this morning's Belgian Grand Prix, I looked in on @wunderground again, and they have yet to take a breath it seems...@wunderground still OFF.

The Giants game was great! (at least as measured by their diminished performance of the last month or so) With two starting pitchers, and our lights-out set up man, and our closer on the Disabled List, the Giants called up a hot prospect from Double-A affiliate the Richmond,VA Flying Squirrels, LHP Eric Surkamp.

The 6'-4" Surkamp looked a little amped in the 1st inning, but settled down to pitch and went an impressive 6 innings, for 1 R, 6 H, 4 K, 3 BB. with a 1.50 ERA. Welcome to the Big Leagues, Eric!

The Giants battled to a tie before winning in the 10th 2-1, walk-off style! The Park was sold out again, and boy was the crowd ever into the game...good to see after weeks of less than scintillating play from the injury ravaged World Champs.

Here in the DaveCave, I haven't found the magic key to get my DVR to play nice with the CableCo's new digital regime...I've been setting my alarm clock instead of setting the machine to watch those 0430 Formula One practice sessions and qualifying rounds.

Sunday morning I forgot to set the alarm for the 0430 pre-race, but woke up as the cars screamed away from the start. Spa-Francorchamps was all it could be and more!

For once this season, the weather only played an indirect role in the weekend's outcome. All the free practices were "damp" sessions, which is to say rainy as hell. Saturday's qualifying was conducted on a "drying" track, so the fastest laps were the last laps of the day.

Sebastian Vettle's tires showed some blistering after his pole winning lap, and tire degradation was an issue all through Sunday's GP. Race Day dawned dry for the only day of the weekend, and the teams "wetter" setups played a role in the outcome of the race.

What a race! Passing for the lead, on the track, blinding speeds, and renewed pace from Team Red Bull and Team Mercedes were breathtaking! There's two more races today, but I can't imagine that these contests will hold a candle to Spa-Francorchamps.

Oh, I'll watch the IndyCars from Sears Point and the MotoGP motorcycles from Indy, but save for the officiating controversies this season, IndyCar has been near-fatally boring this year.

The Road Course at Indianapolis was repaved this year, but rider injuries and mechanical developement have kept a lid on the pinnacle of motorcycle road racing this year.

Lastly, in Spain, the Vuelta a España continues. After starting Saturday's stage 8, Team Garmin-Cervélo/Team CorduroyPlanet's sprinter Tyler Farrar abandoned after 35KM, due to his injuries from the finish line sprint crash Friday. Tyler hopes to contest the World Championships in Copenhagen on September 25th. One tough man that Tyler.