Saturday, July 7, 2012

Slowing Flowing Waters

I just put Friday's blog "Ebb and Flow" to bed and grabbed a quick shower before the first power nap on tonight's agenda...I looked at Twitter before closing my eyes and I saw all the teams at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix tweeting about the torrential rains coming down. The LIVE stream of FP1 is scheduled to begin in under two hours...just damn...

I went to WeatherUnderground and typed in Silverstone, United Kingdom. Double damn! Chance of rain today is 80% (FP1, FP2), Saturday 70% (FP3, Qualifying), and Sunday British GP) 40% I read a tweet that said pit out is below the water table...who knows if the F1 TV cameraman even knows what a water table is..or where Silverstone's is!

Silverstone Circuit is built on a former RAF Airfield where huge Wellington bombers launched their night bombing raids on Europe and Germany during WWII. Wide and fast, with long straightaways, the average speed in F1 configuration is 215kph(133.594mph). A lap is 3.660 miles, and 65% of each lap is run at full throttle...unless it's wet or raining...

Friday Evening Update:
Well, both Practice sessions were wet...the big news was 80K British race fans totally clogged the motorways leading to Silverstone and many never got to the track...including some GP2 drivers who missed their practice sessions while mired in traffic. I turns out the soggy grass parking lots were the problem...such a big problem that organizers have asked 20K fans not to come to Practice and Qualifying Saturday!

Silverstone says the record rainfall has made the parking lots impassable, hence the request of the 20K parking pass/ticket holders who will have nowhere to park Saturday.

Early tweets from the track at 8:45AM Silverstone time say it's not raining...yet. The forecast pretty much promises rain on Saturday, but less so for Sunday's Grand Prix. There's nothing like a Formula One race that starts wet and finishes on a drying's the most thrilling racing possible.

Saturday 3AM Update:
Free Practice 3 is finished, all of it run in the dry. Teams were radioing their drivers on track saying "Light rain will be here in __ minutes...some rain will be here soon...the end of the never came before the LIVE stream ended. The skies were definitely threatening however, so everyone expects wet qualifying...good more uncertainty for race day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ebb and Flow

I'm a little verklempt this evening, my Giants broke my heart in the 9th at Washington DC. Call it the bottom of the tide...

I finally triumphed over biology and got my power nap in before I woke up at 5AM and watched the LIVE broadcast of the Tour de France's Stage 5 from Saint-Quentin, France.

It turns out I should have fallen back to sleep with 3km to go because once again I had to watch a Team CorduroyPlanet sprinter hit the pavement at high speed.

Yesterday it was World Champion Mark Cavendish who was lucky to escape with only road rash and torn clothing. Seeing Cav sitting on the pavement with his helmet all cracked up, and his jersey in shreds, you could see his disappointment as his goal of winning the green Sprinter's Jersey vanished into the sodden French atmosphere.

I expect Cavendish will not make it to the final stage in Paris...he'll say screw it, and save his body and mind for the London Olympics.

Today Team Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar was knocked to the pavement near the end of the stage. Bloodied, he picked himself up again and soldiered home, dead last, 4:07 behind the winner's bunch.

Farrar had to be restrained after the stage as he was marching towards the team bus of the rider who knocked him to the ground. I understand his frustration...Tyler has been knocked off his mount three days in a row. I'd want to give the latest guy with sharp elbows a piece of my mind too...and maybe poke him in the chest with my finger while I was at it.

Today's Stage 6 is the last pure "Sprinter's Stage" until that final stage on the Champs-Élysées in two weeks time. Tyler Farrar has Olympic aspirations too, so I expect he'll bail in enough time to fully recover for London 2012. Such is the ebb and flow of pro cycling's Grand Tours...

Mayors To Your Battle Stations!
There's USS Iowa news from Independence Day, it too is the bottom of the tide as it turns out.

The bigwigs of the city of Los Angeles hosted Iowa bigwigs for the dedication of the USS Iowa Museum at San Pedro in Los Angeles Harbor. Unfortunately, Iowa's Governor Branstad choked on a piece of carrot and was sent to the hospital at the insistence of his hosts. Branstad protested, but made the trip to the hospital. He was fine, just as he claimed before the trip to the big building full of Doctors, nurses and sick people...

Across the country, on New York City's Coney Island, svelte Californian, Joey Chestnut ate 68 "Hot Dogs and Buns" to win the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 6th year in a row. NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg made a speech congratulating the winners, then wondered aloud: "Who wrote this s**t?" The video is on YouTube, bottom feeders.

I found this just a little ironic. Mayor Bloomberg has been making a name for himself as NYC's Nanny Mayor, legislating against salty, fattening, and sugary foods in the Big Apple... to see him praise Joey Chestnut for gobbling down 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, while crusading to outlaw soda pop to-go in cups larger than 16oz, seems to this observer of the passing scene, as capital H hypocrisy...low tide indeed...

British Grand Prix Weekend Begins
On tap overnight? Formula One's Free Practice One from Silverstone streams LIVE at 2AM PDT...gotta nap in shifts to get it all in LIVE...good night!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Unclear On the Concept

Boy, did I ever screw up my Independence Day Festivities!

Just a simple man with a simple plan...go to be early, wake up early at 5AM, watch the Tour de France LIVE, then segue seamlessly into the Giants at Washington DC Nationals game at 8:30AM what could go wrong?

Well for starters I took the ever popular unplanned evening nap, so I closed my eyes closer to 3AM than 2AM... Still, the trusty alarm roused me at the appointed hour, and I logged in and cozied up to the NBC-SportsNet TdF broadcast, and chatted with LiveUpdateGuy and the gang at RedKitePrayer online.

Everyone was having such a good time, fans were checking in from all over the States, the airport in Moscow, Sweden, and Australia to name a few. Independence Day greetings all around...and say...this is a boring bike race...

Actually boring is good during the Tour's first week which is always contested on relatively flat, narrow roads in Northern France...being the first week, and the only week that favors the sprinters, the peloton is always nervous, and bad things can and do happen.

Throw in a sudden downpour and danger begins lurking on every white line and around every corner...

The day's stage, about half of which ran along the Normandy coastline was just stunningly beautiful to behold on my little HDTV. Jeez, all eye candy all the time. I just love those slow, loving helicopter shots of ancient palaces, monasteries and fortresses, not to mention the quaint ancient villages where all the roofs are the same color! Throw in those tall chalk-white cliffs above dark narrow beaches, and I'm thoroughly entertained and sated.

Unfortunately, I drifted off to sleep just after the peloton turned inland, and before the skies opened up and doused the final kilometers causing the afore mentioned crash-fest. Team CorduroyPlanet's two sprinters were involved in the big crash within 3km of the finish. None the worse for wear, Cavendish and Farrar didn't score any points. Three other riders weren't so lucky in their crashes and had to retire. One broken tibia,a possible concussion, and a third retired from what I don't remember...I hate when that happens...

Then I woke up an my Giants were down 7-4 in the 8th...I'd been sleeping for another three hours...there was to be no joy in Mudville...of course the Dodgers won too, so the Giants trail by a half a game now.

I gotta get this program together...two more weeks of le Tour, and there's Formula One too...

Oops...I just heard LiveUpdateGuy's page make a testing noise! Good night!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Final USS Iowa Update: A Tale of Two Cities

Uh-oh someone put bees in my bonnet on my day off...come to think of it, the SF Giants have the day off too...

I happened to glance at the "dead tree edition" of the Contra Costa Times on the kitchen table this morning, and a story on the SS Red Oak Victory caught my eye.

Actually the story is more about politics than the historic Victory Ship. Though not directly laid out in the story, this looks like a hissy-fit from a Richmond City Councilman named Corky Booze (you can't make this stuff up, Folks!) who was out maneuvered by another Councilman named Butt (see what I mean?) Fellow Councilman Jeff Ritterman, quoted from the Times story:

"Corky just wants to attack (Councilman) Tom Butt."
Butt, who has a reputation for pushing for restoration and preservation of historic landmarks in the city, has been at odds with Booze over several issues, most recently Butt's successful bid to steer port security grant funds to a building near the Red Oak.

My fantasy is the "steer[ed] port security grant funds" cited are going to preserve the Streamline Moderne Style General Warehouse building that's the most architecturally significant structure near the Red Oak Victory...on a historic par with the "Whirley Crane" that stands between the ship and the warehouse.

Volunteer cars parked at the SS Red Oak Victory
Every time I've been down to the Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park to see the SS Red Oak Victory, I could count the visitors to the ship on one way can the Non-Profit Organization that cares for her pay the city $10K/month! 

Back Side, General Warehouse, Kaiser Shipyard No. 3
There's a photo album of the General Warehouse on my Flickr Page.

Meanwhile in San Pedro:
Bigwigs from the city of Los Angeles will join with Iowa's Governor, Iowa's United States Senator Harkin, Representatives and USS Iowa Veterans at the USS Iowa Museum, to celebrate Independence Day on The 4th of July before the USS Iowa museum opens to the public on Saturday July 7th, 2012.

I'm thinking the City of Richmond could do a little promoting of the Red Oak Victory like LA Mayor Villagairosa gives Iowa, and maybe toot the horn for the Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park while they're at it...say on those special holidays that honor the men and women who built those ships that helped win the War and preserved our way of life? How about honoring Memorial Day...4th of July, and  Veteran's Day for starters...then maybe they'll see the wisdom and tip the city's hat to VE Day, VJ Day, D-Day...

OK, enough Politics. Forgive's some little things that you can do to help both ships. 

Richmond residents, please attend the Richmond City Council meeting on July 10th, and let the City Council know that the SS Red Oak Victory is a valued attraction at the Park and should enjoy continued favor from the City as a partner in Richmond's revitalization.

7PM Tuesday July 10, 2012
Council Chambers, City Hall
440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA

Visit their Websites:
USS Iowa
SS Red Oak Victory

Like Them on Facebook:
USS Iowa
SS Red Oak Victory

While you're at it, please like CorduroyPlanet on Facebook, too! 

Thank you all! Happy Independence Day, and lets be careful out there...Be Fire Safe!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cycles Again

Like a scene from STAR WARS, there was a disturbance in the Force this weekend. In the midst of the much reported and tweeted Mid-Atlantic Heat Wave, a huge Derecho caused widespread power outages across several eastern states taking down internet servers, which in turn made several internet services unavailable for several hours.

Instagram the popular photo sharing site, Pinterest, and mighty Netflix all were down for several hours. Now I don't use any of these sights directly, but I did notice the absence of Instagram when several "TwitPics" wouldn't display on Twitter.

Saturday afternoon I saw @ExJon tweet:
"El Niños & Derechos are doing the damage American storms won't do."

Though snarky like I like it, the tweet made me wonder what the state of ENSO was, as I haven't kept track since my ski season ended way back in February. I went to the Climate Prediction Center's 90 Day Outlook Discussion, and waddya know? A weak El Niño is trying to build in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. Curiously, the Central Pacific is still trending cold like a La Niña...a yin and yang thing I don't remember seeing before.

The Outlook Discussion's High Points:



Alas, it looks likely that the Central Rockies are in for a "Long Hot Summer" while Florida floods...steady as she goes, I guess...

Bicycles Again

It happened to me again today...that Facebook moment when you and a "friend" who you knew in real life, but haven't seen in over 35 years discover that you've both grown an esoteric interest in common.

This time it's my favorite niche sport spectacle, the Tour de France.

FormerlyLittleRichard, not the Rock n' Roll Icon, but my college buddy's little brother, who I vaguely remember grew up to play Linebacker on the football team, and I already share a love of the San Francisco Giants baseball and Formula One racing.

When I posted a link to my "Over and Out" blog Saturday, FormerlyLittleRichard commented:

"I had no idea you were a fellow TDF-head. And similar to how Formula One's Pirelli tires have evened the field, where astonishingly Pastor Maldonado can also win against the likes of Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Schumi, Button and Kimi, the lack of top winners in this years TDF should make it very interesting. No matter how impressive it is to watch a Schumacher in his prime, or Lance, or Jordan in the early 90's or the 49ers of old... Close competition IMHO, is a good thing!"

FormerlyLittleRichard and I traded comments and I asked: "gotta TdF Fantasy Team Richard?". "I don't, u have a site for that?" he replied. I linked him to the one that still was enrolling (this all happened an hour or two after the Prologue wrapped up in Liège, Belgium)

It occurred to me that I was remiss in not doing a blog covering online resources to follow the "Grande Boucle" at home this July, so here we go:

On Television here in the States, the Tour is broadcast LIVE for the last couple of hours of each stage. Several replays are shown throughout the day, with a polished, primetime Recap each evening. NBC Sports Network carries the daily LIVE broadcasts and evening wrap-up shows, while NBC will offer Weekend Recap Shows and air stages 7 and 8 LIVE Saturday July 7, and Sunday July 8, at 5AM PDT. NBC Sports Network, the Cable Network Formerly Known as Versus, has their TdF TV Schedule Online. NBC and NBC Sports Network will combine for 295 total hours of broadcast coverage.

TdF Online There's plenty of ways to follow the Tour LIVE online, my favorite is Live Update Guy's LIVE coverage. LUG is Charles Pelkey, who I knew from VeloNews Magazine. Over his 17 years at VeloNews, he served as technical editor, news editor, online editor and senior web editor. LUG's page features a WebChat style play-by-play scroll enhanced with maps, profiles and photos as it happens. Charles has a strong cadre of regulars who make new fans feel accepted, while adding texture, context and laughs to the events as they unfold.

VeloNews has their own LIVE Tour Coverage, though I've yet to avail myself of their product. The VeloNews reporting and analysis is always first rate, and there are rider blogs, photos, schedules, and forums for serious buffs, to curious novice fans.

Though I've never seen a paper copy of CyclingNews, (hey I don't even know if there is a dead tree edition) It's a worthy competitor to VeloNews, they offer another view with stage previews and reports, analysis, rider blogs, photos, and schedules. Their LIVE coverage is called "As It Happened"

Because the Tour races in the Central European Summer Time Zone, The World Clock website is a handy way to keep aligned with the Tour's events...which brings me to...

Twitter I opened my Twitter account back when Lance Armstrong was trying his "Comeback" after already winning the Tour seven times. Lance was an early tweeter, using it to speak directly to his fans across the world without the sometimes combative continental cycling press coloring coverage of his exploits. Many of Armstrong's first tweets of the day began, "Doping Control is here to take our blood...before the coffee's made..."

Most TdF riders and Teams are on Twitter, to make a good list could take all weekend. If you are on Twitter the best way to find who to follow would be to search some #Hashtags. #TdF would be the first one to search, then #TdF12, then search the team names, rider's names, even the start and finish town names. @VeloNews and @CyclingNews are other places to start, you'll find plenty of search terms there, and then look at their Follows and who's is Following them.

Be warned however, if you aren't getting up before the roosters to watch LIVE, and TiVo-ing the daily stages, or waiting for the Evening Recaps, then Twitter will be just a stream of Spoilers!

Here's a brief list of my Suggested Twitter Follows:

@vaughters Jonathan Vaughters, directeur sportif of Team Garmin-Sharp, says: "I've dedicated my life to professional cycling, anti-doping, and aggravating people with no sense of humor." Easily the most erudite Tour Tweeter, you'll enjoy some wine talk when their guys celebrate back at the hotel as well...

@MarkCavendish the cocky iconoclastic @TeamSky sprinter from the Isle of Man tags his account with: "Professional cyclist from the Isle of Man. Fast sprinter, faster talker. Disclaimer: May cause offense." Cavendish is brutally honest, cheeky and a new Dad.

@PhilLiggett NBCSN's Cycling Anchor I don't know how many Tours he's done...every one I've watched!

@PaulSherwen is Phil Liggett's broadcast partner, their banter is as comfortable as that favorite T-shirt your wife wishes you'd toss out.

@bobkeroll Bob Roll "Bobke" the colorful analyst who rode the TdF back in the LeMond era, not as chatty on twitter as on the NBCSN coverage.

@CorduroyPlanet I'm always tweeting during @SFGiants games, and I tweet a link to my latest blog most days, but I'm not "live tweeting" the TdF, just call me "Spoiler-Free"

The entry window for Tour de France Fantasy Racing has closed now that the race is underway, so I won't muddy the waters with any links. Next June I'll do my Tour de France Preview Blog, complete with Fantasy Game Links and more.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the three week spectacle on the back roads of France (and Belgium)!