Saturday, June 23, 2012

Harmonic Convergence

Whew, what a gem of a ballgame last night! SF Giants ace, Tim Lincecum allowed the first six batters he faced to reach base in the 1st inning. With the Oakland As leading 3-0 in the 1st and the based loaded with no outs and the count 2 balls and no strikes, Lincecum dug deep and threw his first change-up of the game. The pitch wasn't in the strike zone, but Brandon Moss swang at it anyway...Lincecum struck him out swinging...and the next two batters as well.

Lincecum pitched six innings, allowed six hits and three earned runs, walked four and struck out eight using 105 pitches. He was dealing as they say in baseball...the old Tim Lincecum was back, pitching like the two-time Cy Young Award winner he is. He was one pitch away from oblivion there in the first facing the seventh batter, instead he reconnected with himself after two months of highly visible, painful struggles where the Giants lost each of the nine games that Lincecum started. Not the All-Star caliber player the club is used to.

The Giants got a run back in the 3rd, and went into the 9th still down 3-1 and scored four to win it!

All in all, a very cinematic literature material even, though if you wrote a screenplay play by play from the box score, you could never get the movie made because the story is too unbelievable to sell movie tickets!

I was pumped and entertained and had no problem staying up late to watch P3 Formula One Practice streamed LIVE from Valencia, Spain.

The Valencia Street Circuit is just hosting it's fifth Grand Prix this weekend. The track winds through the waterfront of Valencia and the America's Cup Village, where Silicon Valley's Larry Ellison won the Cup and the right to defend it on San Francisco Bay.

Two things about's the third stop of the European Swing of the F1 season. The European Swing is when the teams bring most of their newest development bits and pieces to the track. Formula One is as much about engineering developments as it is about racing daring-do by handsome race car drivers. The engineering in and outs fascinate me to no end.

Every season, the F1 Governing Body writes new Sporting Regulations, that conspire to slow the cars down, make them safer, and less expensive to campaign, and every season the engineers devise solutions to regain the things the Sporting Regs take away.

This year most of this development is focused on regaining downforce at the rear of the cars that was lost with the demise of the Exhaust-Blown Diffusers. This season, the airflow through the diffusers must be lured from the mandated up-firing open air exhaust, over the bodywork and floor, and directed under the rear diffuser to induce downforce at the back of the car...this is like modern day's been a slow, deliberate slog from mid-March until today over seven Grand Prix weekends.

It's been a real horse race if you'll forgive the different drivers have won the seven races, and only one team has two wins. Watching three rounds of practice and qualifying, I'm saying it's still 50/50 that we'll see an eighth new winner Sunday...there's still two teams, Sauber and Lotus that are fast enough to win, but haven't yet.

Did I say that it's been like musical chairs so far as each team in turn developed their car to the front? In Saturday's qualifying the ten fastest cars are all within 8/10s of a second for a 1:38 lap?

My favorite racer, defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany is my 50/50 outlier this week. Vettel is on the pole for the third straight year at Valencia, and he won the last two races here. His team Red Bull Racing has had quite the time chasing pace so far this year after two seasons of near total dominance. It seems that the Red Bull's blown diffuser was the best of the breed, so they had more than the other teams to regain after the rule changes. I say it's 50/50 for the Vettel hat trick.

The other thing I love specifically about the Valencia Circuit is the colors. The edges of the racing surface are painted just that turquoise of a sandy tropical paradise where warm, clear seas lap upon white sand beaches. The walls around the circuit are a complimentary blue, and the curbs are red and yellow stripes instead of the usual red and white "candy cane" look. Taken together, it's all tropical sunshine, warm trade winds and spicy food for the eye.

Here in the States, the America's Cup World Series is in Newport, Rhode Island. Racing the AC45 catamarans. The ACWS is the development series for America's Cup teams and sailors that's run in preparation for 2013's America's Cup Regatta on San Francisco Bay...this will be a feast for the eye too, though for sheer speed not so much for color.

Team OracleUSA will be trialing their new 72ft AC racer on San Francisco Bay beginning in August this summer...that will be something to see!

There's just a week 'till the start of Le Tour de France...but that's a whole other story...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Maintain Radio Silence

After staying up writing most of the night, I slept through the big event on the Internet this morning...Twitter was down for more than an hour...the longest outage since November 2011.

Lots of Twitter users were freaking out because many were waiting for the Supreme Court rulings to come out. The two most anticipated rulings in several years, ObamaCare and Arizona's Immigration Law didn't debut Thursday after all.

The Twittershpere has been all wound up anyway, due to the Fast & Furious hearings in Congress, so equal parts of Snark, Seriousness, and Conspiracy Theory were on display...something for everyone...

I realized in the aftermath, just how much I've come to rely on Twitter for Real Time News. It's way faster than my beloved radio, even...

Fail Whale, MIA
Missing in action this time around, the Twitter "Fail Whale" was nowhere to be seen during the outage.

In the days before the crash, I found a few more History Tweeters, and made a mental note to share them here.

I find it curious that we are in the midst of the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, our second victory over the British, and yet if it weren't for Twitter, I wouldn't have known of it because of the omission of it by the Mainstream News Media.

Thanks to @warof1812online, I'm privy to an ongoing stream of history tidbits from 200 years ago. Another cool thing about this tweeter is they've alerted me to several other History Tweeters by retweeting them, so they show up in my Twitter Timeline.

One of these new-to-me accounts is really a gem. @navalhistorian has been tweeting details of The Battle of the Philippine Sea the past few days, including the story of "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" from 70 years ago.

Twitter being a Social Network is all about connections...think branches on a tree, and these seem to multiply if you're curious. With every new account that you follow, oftentimes they will lead you to other accounts with a similar outlook or interest, and then you can follow them too.

My new history "follows" are stacking up:

devoted to the famous British Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes
The Naval History and Heritage Command is the official history program of the United States Navy
 Military Historian & author who works in Television: visiting & interpreting battlefields all over the world. Working on a big World War One archaeology dig in Flanders.
May Hill began to keep a Diary, and write poetry, not long after the outbreak of the Second World War. Son in the RAF: 'Waiting for news'

So  today is "Follow Friday" on Twitter. This is a convention that organically started on Twitter where many tweeters tweet  a list of accounts to follow, fronted by the hashtag: #FF

Hashtags make searching Twitter easy, and I play #FF most Fridays. I tweet my list of History Tweeters, Astronomy and Spaceflight Tweeters, San Francisco Giants Accounts, Sierra Weather Accounts and Skiing Tweeters.

Because I keep finding new History Tweeters, it's going to take more than one History #FF from here on out, and I'll probably need a fourth Giants #FF about Happy Warriors...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where Did My Day Go?

Jeez, where did my night go!

I got caught up I guess...some ersatz housekeeping...well some real vacuuming, and some computer housekeeping...

I was at it early, thorough vacuuming in the living room before the housekeeper came. We've been at war with blood-sucking fleas for better than two weeks...we've dusted the whole house with Food Grade Diatomacious Earth, and left it in the carpets for a whole two weeks. The stuff is insidious however, I can see how it would worm it's way between the flea's exoskeleton segments, and cut to the quick. It's just chalk if you get down to the chemical level, so it's organic...

No really...DE, diatomacious earth is made from millions of microscopic diatom skeletons...dead plankton actually. They mine the stuff somewhere...mostly for filter media used in swimming pool filters. The pool filter DE is too coarse for the flea genocide business, and the food grade designation is real, the super-fine stuff is used for "polishing" liquids, wines and beer, and many more beverages I'm sure.

Wednesday's vacuum job was the Home Stretch...I spent a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon dusting and vacuuming the Den, the hallway, and my room...I have an Industrial dusting method that's much more satisfying (and way less back breaking) than the old faithful rag and Pledge routine.

My method takes a little more set-up than grabbing a bottle of Pledge and the rag bag, but in the end it's just too much fun not to do it.

I open all the curtains all the way. I put a large fan up against the window screens and turn 'em on Max. Then I run 50ft of air hose from the compressor in the garage, tipped with an air nozzle. With the air in one hand, and a horsehair bench broom in the other, let the games begin. I even use a Mini Maglite with a bite appliance in my mouth to shine a light on every mote of my quarry.

So, I swept and blasted away and vacuumed and blasted some more for a couple of hours before grabbing some leftovers for dinner and settled in to watch the Giants game from SoCal.

Not the Dodgers, the "Los Angeles" Angels, who broke our hearts in the 2002 World Series. Dang if they didn't take two of three to keep our hearts hurting...still the Dodgers did manage to pace us so we didn't lose that much. It's a long season with almost 100 regular season games still to play. Even though we lost two of three, the Giants are 3rd in batting average in the National League for the past two weeks. The team is coming together nicely.

It's a long it should be!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Geeks Are Gonna Geek

The nexus of a real, live, historic battleship and the latest, greatest modern computer simulated war games is a hot topic this week in the online geek universe.

Gizmodo, the geek's hangout of the Gawker Empire, gave some love to the planned computer game stations to enjoy precious space aboard the USS Iowa museum in San Pedro.

I'm on thin ice here...having never played any PC-based simulated war fact I never played many video games either. I can count on one hand the number of times I played Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pong, Pac-Man and Ms Pac-Man combined.

The only game I ever played enough to record a score worth displaying was called Kick. A standup video game featuring a clown riding a unicycle that catches falling balloons on his pointy hat, and kicking the balloons that aren't caught back up to be caught for a score. Oh, and every once in a while an old cartoon-style bomb falls in lieu of a balloon...these have to be avoided...or, ***GAME OVER***

But that was one ski season long ago...the season before I first climbed into a grooming machine which I found to be much more compelling than the video game machine.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Blast Again

While watching Matt Cain's perfect game with the San Francisco Giants the other night, I wished my Dad was still here to watch it too...he would have eaten it up! I miss him, especially when it comes to our team, the San Francisco Giants.

Last year, my Father's Day Blast said it all:

Father's Day Blast
I'm not a father, I'm still a son, though my Dad's been gone for a few years now.

It's mid morning on Father's Day and I'm just now writing today's blog. On the docket for today are some To-Do List items that totally are Dad-Centric.

I'm still working on Dad's Roses. Fighting Rose Black Spot Fungus, and installing automated irrigation. Dad didn't really grow his green thumb until I was out of the house and making my own way. I always get a chuckle at how soon after I moved out Dad began to eliminate the lawns around the Ancestral Digs. Back when my precious "free time" was spent mowing those lawns, and I wasn't smart enough to suggest that the lawns be downsized. Who knew teenagers didn't know everything?

After lunch I have to call back to the Port of Sonoma Bait Shop for some intel on the new boat ramp we want to launch the FV SturgeUrge from Monday. The San Pablo Bay sturgeon are on the chew, and we'd like to get in on that action. Then I'll put all the pieces together on the extra fuel tank for the FV SturgeUrge. After lunch, I'll watch game three of the Bay Bridge Series with my SF Giants vs the Oakland A's

All these thing I owe to love of fishing and baseball, my handyman talents, green thumbs...all of it. Though our paths through these passions were totally divergent, at the times when I'm lucky enough to indulge these passions, I know it's with my Dad's blessings and nurturing that I'm out there pursuing happiness via these things he gave me.

You know, SturgeUrge and I are a little slow on the uptake this season San Francisco Bay Fishing-wise. When we do get on the Bay to chase the tasty California Halibut, the waters we ply in search of our tasty quarry are the very same waters that my Dad spent many afternoons deck-handing on a commercial salmon fishing boat.

Back in the late 30's Dad would ditch high school after lunch and crew for a salmon long liner on San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. His job was to cut up big sardines for bait, hook the chunks, and feed the baited hooks over the side as the skipper slowly motored north from the Tiburon Peninsula up into San Pablo Bay off China Camp. When the whole mile or so of long line was set, the two of them would eat lunch and then motor back to the beginning of the line and retrieve it with any salmon who fell for their ruse. I guess they made two sets before they called it a day.

Seventy years later Dad's son is out fishing on the same waters, though I've yet to hook a salmon in those waters! Commercial salmon fishing is outlawed inside the Bay now, and has been my whole life. Halibut are still fished commercially by a few die hard trollers on the Bay.

Sport fishing is still alive and well on the Bay thankfully, and every time I'm out there I marvel on how successful our cleanup of the Bay has been. When I was a kid, fishing off the Berkeley Pier with my Dad and SisterSweetly, the Bay was an open sewer...literally...we never kept a fish for the it's called "Catch and Release", back in the day it was "Good Hygiene"

Today after 40+ years of environmentally sound stewardship, San Francisco Bay is a lot more like a Wildlife Reserve than a cesspool. I'm always amazed by the sweet smell and the abundance of life. In the past few years, Harbor Porpoises have been returning to the bay waters in numbers large enough to study.

In his way my Dad helped clean up the Bay. Dad was a civil engineer. His company designed many of the sewage treatment plants around San Francisco Bay that cleaned up the sewage that used to flow untreated into the Bay.

Thanks Dad! Happy Father's Day!