Saturday, June 16, 2012

USS Iowa, Meet Online Wargaming

Our Big Stick got some ink and electrons from Forbes Friday:

"World of Battleships Publisher Blends History With Online Gaming Aboard USS Iowa"

So far in my life I've resisted computer gaming, but I may have to take a look at World of Battleships...

America's "Battleship of Presidents" can use all the love she attracts...

Weird With a Beard

San Francisco is busy as a bee this week...

The Hanger1 blimp has been in town for a couple of weeks now providing gorgeous beauty shots for the Giants broadcasts. Thursday afternoon they had great footage of the Team Oracle USA AC45 catamarans zipping across the Bay. There's plenty for them to keep a camera on this weekend, even with the Giants on the road. 

The United States Open Golf Tournament is in town for the weekend at the Olympic Club.

The San Francisco Giants just finished a six game home stand that featured Matt Cain's Perfect Game.

Team Oracle USA, defending America's Cup Champions are sailing their 45 ft AC45 racers on the Bay and treating local luminaries to an afternoon on the water. Giants manager Bruce Bochy went for a sail with skipper Russel Coutts the morning of Cain's perfecto.

The 12 story tall Wingsails for Team Oracle's AC72 America's Cup racers arrived in San Francisco this week. The Team Oracle USA's AC72s will be testing on San Francisco Bay beginning this August...that's gonna be some spectacle! These boats are predicted to go 46 knots...that's 52.9mph in new money.

OK here's where it gets weird...Today's celebrity guest on the Oracle AC45?

90s Pop/Rap Megastar, MC Hammer (He of the infamous parachute pants) "U Can't Touch This"

Not to take anything away from's just that I've always associated him with Oakland, not The City. For all the talk about progressive/liberal San Francisco, when it comes to Oakland, The City clings to it's chauvinism, and has at least since Gertrude Stein quipped of Oakland: "There's no there, there"

This season the halibut are taking their own sweet time to migrate into San Francisco Bay, so halibut fishing season should be in full swing when the big catamarans come out to play!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Here Comes History

My world has been heavy with history for a month. The last week of May was wall to wall battleship. The USS Iowa's transit through San Francisco Bay made for a peak experience for SturgeUrge and I as we followed the big battlewagon from Richmond to Angel Island on an uncommonly calm afternoon.

Astronomically it was a couple of good weeks with the Annular Eclipse and the Transit of Venus.

I marked the 70th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Midway in this space.

Last week we marked the 68th year since Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches. D-Day the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany's reign of terror.

History was made in space when private contractor SpaceX successfully sent a cargo ship named Dragon to the International Space Station, docked, and a few days later, undocked, reentered and slashed down safely in the Pacific off the Baja California coast.

The 96th Indianapolis 500 and the 70th Monaco Grand Prix marked motorsports milestones, and this week I watched Matt Cain pitch his Perfect Game.

Looking ahead, Truckee will be hosting some history the first week of July, when two of the original Tuskegee Airmen will be feted at a dinner kicking off the Truckee Tahoe AirFair & Family Festival.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black aviation unit in the Army Air Corps during WWII. The heavily decorated all black 322nd Fighter Group is told in the George Lucas 2012 film "Red Tails"

All this excitement has me plumb tuckered out...perhaps this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans will recharge my batteries...

Thursday, June 14, 2012


It's almost 2AM, and I'm wide awake...adrenaline will do that to a man. I was lucky enough to witness something very, very rare Wednesday evening.

I watched the Giants game as I do most games. The Giants are playing very enjoyable ball these past few weeks as the team's injured players return from the Disabled List, and get back into their respective grooves. The Giants outfield is as good as any in the Majors...the Giants' young infielders are getting their feet under themselves in the field, and they're starting to produce from the batter's box too.

With the exception of the Giants ace pitcher Tim Lincecum, who's been bedeviled with mysterious control problems, the Giants' starting pitchers have been shouldering the load as the team jells. Tonight it was Matt Cain on the mound against the Houston Astros.

Cain struck out the Astros' leadoff batter, and retired the side in order. Giants LF Melky Cabrera, fresh from three days off to heal a strained hamstring, knocked a two run homer into the bleachers in the 1st. Giant lead 2-0 going into the 2nd inning.

The Giants scored in each of the first five innings, Matt Cain retired the Astros in order each time the Giants took the field.

The crowd in the sold-out AT&T Park was festive to say the least, once they began to realize that Cain was well on his way to a No-Hitter, somehow they turned up the intensity a little more. It was totally a "playoff atmosphere"

It was intense at home too...the normally boisterous social networks turned it down once it looked like Cain had the No-No's a thing in baseball, you don't talk about a no hitter if one is happening...don't jinx it.

In the seventh inning, Astros' Jason Schafer crushed a Matt Cain fastball into the gap in right center, coming from right field Gregor Blanco ran to the gap and made a diving catch on the warning track, and held onto the ball for the out. The catch looked impossible when the ball was hit, and still looked impossible when Blanco, in a dead run layed out to make the catch in mid air...think "The Catch", Willie Mays' famous over the shoulder basket catch in the Polo Grounds during the Game 1 of the 1954 World Series vs the Cleveland Indians...only horizontal!

That's when I knew Cain would not only get the no-hitter, but the Perfect Game as well. The crowd was off the hook from then on. The TV announcers were being swept along with the building tension. Everyone in the yard was standing from the bottom for the 7th, until the final out of Cain's masterpiece. In the 9th, the TV cameras caught Matt's wife Chelsea standing with some other Giants' wives as Matt hurled for his last three outs.

In the aftermath, the dugout reporter interviewing Cain told him he was the first pitcher in 135 years of Giants history to throw the perfect game. "Wow" Cain excitedly replied. Chelsea Cain made it down to the field as the interview was wrapping up, and a big hug and a kiss sealed the deal. The post game show ran about two hours...not the usual 20-25 minutes.

It was a big deal, I feel so lucky to have seen it! It's been four hours since the game ended and Twitter and the baseball side of Facebook are still crackling with energy. #MattCain is trending worldwide on Twitter and the baseball bloggers are all posting their stories. ESPN has a good one.

Only 22 perfect games have been pitched since baseball began in the 1870s Cain's Perfect Game featured the most pitches 125, and the highest score 10-0. The high pitch count came from Cain's 14 strikeouts, tying Sandy Koufax who did it with 113 pitches against the Chicago Cubs in 1965.

I watched the ground crew dig up Home Plate and the pitching rubber from the mound...destination Cooperstown, and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I think this occasion will be the catalyst that sets the Giants chemistry into motion. I'm thinkin' contending come September...Go Giants, Well done Matt, and thanks a ton!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I was out for a meal twice in two days. Monday evening the family visited the new-to-us Asian restaurant in our little town, and Tuesday I took Mom to her monthly Church Luncheon.

Monday we had a great meal at our local organic Chinese food restaurant with a sushi bar, and we had a great time too!

We've had take-out a couple of times and finally made an appearance for an early (6PM) table. Good first impression we strode towards our booth, we passed a small table in the dining area that was piled high with fresh green beans and pea pods...the wait staff would work on the prep between orbits around the dining room.

As a matter of fact, along one side of the restaurant several small tables were piled high with cartons of produce. The rest of the tables were nearly full of customers. Rambunctious for an early  Monday night, I was already having a good time.

We ordered a sushi plate and a seafood salad for openers, water all around, Sister K ordered a glass of chardonnay, and I ordered a Sapporo. "Large or small?" asked our waiter, "Small" I replied.

Our waiter was back with our ice came in pint sleeves, like ale in a brewpub, our wine, soda and Sapporo followed a minute later. We asked for more time to pore over the menu.

A different server brought a seaweed salad, confusion erupted...then the sushi plate arrived. The salad was the traditional seaweed with a toasted sesame oil dressing, sprinkled with sesame seeds and dried chili flakes...delicious. The sushi was divine, nigiri style maguro, hamachi, sake (salmon), hirami (halibut) , and tai (red snapper). Our waiter returned and Sister K asked about the seafood salad...the noise level was medium-high, so the mistake was easily made.

About now, I tipped the last of my Sapporo into my mouth...just as the owner flew by and placed another 12oz Sapporo in front of me and said "On the house" Great cheer all around the table...a minute later he was back, this time with an appetizer/desert plate..."on the house"...a half dozen tempura shrimp and four pieces of baklava. Not two minutes later, the second server was back with the seafood salad. More tempura shrimp on a bed of spring mix with a delicate honey mustard vinaigrette.

Our entrees arrived...mushu pork and cashew chicken. Everything was delicious...I don't give marks off for flour tortillas instead of true mushu pancakes...hey, it's two for Engrish...the owner was back...this time with a 22oz Tsingtao...more laughter all around...I poured half a glass, and foisted the rest off on my brother-in-law...I was driving after all!

We were slowing down and filling up now...but the owner was still doing his best dervish impression...before we asked for the check, he was back with two grocery bags of fresh, organic produce (you take this home, on the house), and another plate of baby salad greens with more of the honey mustard dressing, "on the house", and an "Easter basket" presentation of fortune cookies!

As we trundled out, the owner handed my brother-in-law and I yet another 12oz Tsingtao each! Even though we left a tip "to-remember-us-by", I felt like a cat burglar making off with a pillowcase full of the family jewels!

Dinners for the rest of the week will feature mango chicken with sesame rice...and Caesar salads!

The contrast between Monday evening's to-do at the organic Asian joynt, and the brunch at Mom's church wasn't the eye-opener you'd expect. This month's theme was Flag Day (which comes up Thursday 6/14). We arrived later than usual, and there was almost nobody there.

The regulars all straggled in a bit later than usual, but we had a full house. Tossed green salad, wedges of seedless watermelon, a nice potato salad (Mom said it was like Indiana potato salad), and grilled chicken breast, with a strawberry shortcake style desert.

Though not exactly rambunctious by Monday night's standards, everyone had a good time, the laughter level was medium-high, and I'm sure everyone else went home and went down for a nap too.

After my good nap, I watched a great Giants game! Two home runs by youngsters helped propel the Giants to a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros. 22 year old LHP Madison Bumgarner launched one way up into the left field bleachers to tie the game 1-1 in the 3rd. It was his first major league knock.

He had quite the start as well, 7.2 IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB,12K.

All in all a very enjoyable, satisfying game.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

USS Iowa Moves Again

Iowa arrives at her new home in San Pedro

NBC4 TV was there