Saturday, April 21, 2012


"Nobody multitasks like Americans", I heard myself say Friday evening at our table in our favorite local Chinese restaurant. Our waiter was taking our orders, as we were catching up with our dining companions...and being Americans, we somehow had our just-off-the-boat waiter's head spinning.

He's going to make a fine American it turns out...he has patience...these days you need lots of patience in America.

As always, dinner was great! Yan's chefs know their way around a wok. They have a special way with vegetables...the Garlic Asparagus and Dry Cooked Beans especially stand out.

We dined at 6PM, right in the middle of the Giants' game from New York City, which is why I found myself multitasking later at 1AM Saturday morning, and why I'm writing today's CorduroyPlanet more than 12 hours later than I usually post it.

After we finished dinner and settled the check, I grabbed the car and pulled it to Yan's front door, with the game on the radio. Pulling onto the main drag, Kruk & Kuip announced that the Giants had just come back to tie it in the 10th inning. So much for after dinner conversation.

The Giants won it, thanks to their new bullpen/closer by committee. Ball Game!

So at 12:30, CSNBA replayed the game. I'd watched the first four innings before we left for dinner, and wanted to see how the G-Men got in and out of trouble during dinner...

Small 1AM, LIVE all the way from Bahrain's Sakhir Circuit, SpeedTV was streaming Formula One's Practice 3

This is how I ended up multitasking in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Protests in Bahrain have neither subsided, nor ramped up since F1 arrived in the Island Kingdom.

I'd watched both P1 and P2 Friday morning, and today's images were very different. The air looked exactly like Shanghai's polluted air last weekend...gray and dark.

I tweeted some questions to SpeedTV's Pit Reporter Will Buxton and to the Pirelli Tyre PR Team who were actively tweeting news from trackside:

@WillBuxton How's that sandy air at Sakhir, Will? It looks like Shanghai Smog. Can you feel it on your skin? Is it playin' hell w/ grip?

@Pirelli_Media  What's the forecast for winds at Sakhir? There's enough sand in the air now that it looks like Shanghai Smog ?

 It was the residual dust from morning sand storms that swept across the desert island that is Bahrain. As each practice I watched went on, what looked like a groove of tire rubber was laid down on the track, only to disappear by the beginning of the next session.

It turns out that the groove was not in fact rubbering in per se, but the cars were blowing the sand dust off the track, only to have the winds blow in a new coating of dust before the next track session.

@WillBuxton replied: "Yeah its pretty heavy air today. Sandstorms this morning. Will be playing havoc out there."

@Pirelli_Media replied too, much more personally by Twitter DM (Direct Message): "Winds are hard to forecast but it looks like the sand will clear by lunch time."

All the while, the Giants replay was passing by on the TV. I tore myself away from the cars on the dusty track and watched every pitch of the Giants' turnaround and win, before watching the waning minutes of P3.

When F1 wrapped up, I was just an hour and a half from Qualifying, and wide awake...thanks adrenaline! I made a snack and set about reading up on P3 minutia and set the DVR to watch Qualifying lest I fall asleep before the pole was decided...

Well, I made it to Q1, but zonked out midway through Q2...

I watched all three rounds of Qualifying this afternoon...after the Giants came from behind to tie the Mets and lose it all in the 9th inning!

NYC Weatherfolks say Sunday's Giants-Mets game should be rained out, oddly the  forecast for Bahrain's Sakir Circuit says 40% chance of rain for Sunday morning's (our time) Grand Prix.

Yes, I'm setting the DVR, and no I don't think it'll rain. Wind and dust are something else all together...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Meet Bruce Lee

Ahhhh, baseball. I'm lucky to be a San Francisco Giants Dad raised me to love the Giants and 49ers, and hate the LA Dodgers and LA Rams. To this day I root against the Dodgers, but have only pity in my heart for the Rams. The poor Rams have been the St Louis Rams since 1995, but the all-knowing NFL left the Rams in the NFC Western Conference, presumably to preserve the rivalry between the Rams and Niners.

I guess they didn't ask the fans of either team for an opinion because this rivalry isn't between the teams, it's between the Cities! LA and San Francisco flat don't like each other. Niners/Rams games used to be Events...Wars even. Today they're just an annoyance. To quote Gertrude Stein: "There's no there there"

The Rams are the only team in the NFC West that are in the East...Thanks NFL...

But I digress (Someday I'll say that standing behind the lectern onstage infront of many people) Back to the Giants...

I was watching the Post Game Wrap the other night, where announcers Kruk & Kuip, Jon Miller and Dave Flemming wrap-up the game and wax poetic about the players of the game who made special contributions. In the background, the camera showed the usual post-game cloud of seagulls wheeling above the field and stands of AT&T Park.

The gulls show up like clockwork around the 7th-8th inning and fly around making a mess of things while waiting for their post game smörgåsbord of leftover garlic fries, popcorn and peanut leavins. We're talkin' hundreds of small problem...or mess...

As the broadcast crew was wrapping things up, I heard a sound and the gulls skedaddled! Krukow, not missing a beat said the distressed bird sounds scared the gulls away. 

The birds did seem to exit the field, but were still flying around just outside the park. I can't help but wonder how long before the gulls wise up and return emboldened...

Not to be outwitted by flocks of bird-brained diners, the Giants have been working on the problem. They had discussions with a falconer, but decided the price would be too high...maybe a radio controlled model airplane disguised as a hawk...

Enter Bruce Lee...a yearling red tail hawk showed up at the park and started dining on the park's pigeon population. He's a hit in the local alternative press.

The Giants are researching red tail nesting habits, planning to install the perfect nesting platform to entice Bruce Lee to make his home at the park.

This will be a nice distraction for times when I'm not fully invested in the action (or lack of) on the field.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bahrain: The Plot Thickens

As I expected, things aren't as rosy in Bahrain as apologists for the ruling Royals have been saying in the lead-up to Sunday's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

Wednesday night, a car carrying four members of the Force India F1 Team became caught in traffic stemming from an anti-government demonstration, when several Molotov Cocktails landed in their vicinity and burst into flames. No one was injured, but a couple of team members have left the Kingdom.

Tensions Rise in Bahrain after F1 Team Car Incident.

Force India Driver Nico Hulkenburg speaks about the incident.

Force India vows to race in Bahrain.

SpeedTV's Bob Varsha opines on events in Bahrain.

Several Top F1 racers are terse and tight-lipped about the potential risks of being in Bahrain.

Protesters vow to stage a large demonstration outside Bahrain International Circuit Sunday

Free Practice One runs Friday morning at 12AM PDT

More updates as events dictate. Stay tuned!

Everything Old is New Again Phobos/Grunt Edition

You've gotta hand it to the Roscosmos Space Agency, they've got stick-to-it-ness down to a science.

After a long absence, @PhG_Reentry tweeted a link to the story of the announcement that Roscosmos is going to try Phobos/Grunt 2! No timetable was given, but they're going to do it again only more so.

Hats of to the Russians and their Space Program!

Should the unthinkable happen...when the time comes, I'll launch Phobos/GruntWatch 2

To better days then!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Bleat Goes On

Wow, what a race in Shanghai! Lots of passing, though the host broadcasters managed to miss most of the action following the leader who was more than 20 seconds ahead of the second place runner.

Giants baseball was up and down over the weekend, but they got their four runs and beat the Phillies 4-2 Tuesday night, and Santiago Casilla notched his first save Post-Wilson. Buster Posey even stole 3rd base. Things seem to be returning to normal.

On the other side of the world, Formula One folks are trickling into Bahrain. A few drivers flew directly from Shanghai to Bahrain.

I found a Formula One journalist on Twitter who was on the same plane as the early arrivals. @ianparkesf1 has been the best conduit to what's happening on the ground in Bahrain that I've found. @ianparkesf1 has been tweeting LIVE from Bahraini demonstrations for two days and counting.

If you're curious about what's happening in the Island Kingdom just read @ianparkesf1 's Twitter Profile. His dispassionate reporting and photos tell the story. So far the demonstrations are standard Middle East fare...police with megaphones, protesters with Molotov Cocktails (Petrol Bombs) at ready, bonfires in the middle of the streets and rock throwing, with police responding via tear gas once the Molotov Cocktails fly.

@ianparkesf1 's overview of Bahrain...scroll down past the betting come-ons. Here's @ianparkesf1 Demonstration Story

Telling isn't it that the pictures show the protests are far from the glittering, modern glass and steel wonderland of the Capital's downtown. These streets could be in Bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan by the looks of them.

Like I said, I have a bad feeling about this.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Today's High

...Came hours after the Low.

I was out doing errands when I heard the bad news: SF Giants closer Brian Wilson has "Structural issues" with his throwing elbow and tendons.

We all saw it Thursday at Denver. Wilson appeared to hurt himself in the 9th when on 32 pitches he loaded the bases, allowing three hits and a walk before recording the 4-2 save. Wilson told Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Giants head trainer Dave Groeschner that he was OK, though he lost some velocity on his fastball. At the time the story was he rolled his ankle.

A Friday night MRI showed the "structural issues" and 2nd and 3rd opinions will be sought. Worse case scenario is "Tommy John" surgery on the elbow and the loss of the season to recover and rehab. Wilson had the same procedure in college.

Wilson is the Spiritual Leader not only of the Bullpen, but the clubhouse and whole team as well...he sets the mood, motivates the team when they're down, the whole shebang when it comes to team morale.

So the storm clouds were hovering over the Giants Saturday evening when Barry Zito got the start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Zito has been another emotional storm cloud for Giants fans. Deemed under-performing and overpaid by Giants Fans, management even sat him during the 2010 playoffs and World Series . Zito spent most of 2011 on the Disabled List rehabbing and remaking himself in Triple-A Fresno. Barry now 33, totally rebuilt his pitching motion, remaking himself in the process.

In what surely is a baseball miracle, Zito had his second quality start of the season. (Zito's first start stopped a four game slide by the Giants and began what is now 4 wins in 5 games.) Zito pitched 7 strong innings and left the game tied 3-3 for the Giants bullpen.

The Giants loaded the bases in the 9th and won on a Melky Cabrera grounder to 3rd and a throwing error to home that allowed the winning run to score.

The Giants extended their record of 4+ runs/game to 8 games. Last year the Giants lost so many games by one run, and were the least productive offense in the Majors. The Giants are hitting this season! Saturday they survived three Giants errors and won it in the 9th.

The Giants are back, now playing .500 ball. Bochy will play the closer question "by committee" for the time being...same as last season when Wilson's troubles began. Wilson goes on the DL and Ryan Vogelsong comes up from his rehab and starts today's final Pirates game. Vogy's return gives the Giants a five man rotation, with a strong bullpen. Santiago Casilla is the new sheriff in town so to speak. He tallied six saves in 2011.

So, the dark clouds morphed into the warm and fuzzies again...whew...

The Chinese Grand Prix was a keeper too! Great racing all through the field, no rain, no Safety Car.  No Spoilers here either! The race replays at 12:30PM PDT on SpeedTV

Giants vs Pirates at AT&T Park today at 1:05PM, and IndyCar takes to the streets of Long Beach at 12:30PM PDT on NBC Sports Net.

Sunny day ahead! Fingers crossed!