Saturday, July 14, 2012

Blowin' In The Wind

Thank God! Those "triple digit temperatures" from mid-week are just a memory. I'm reminded of them when I walk by a mirror and see my bright redneck! I missed a few spots with the sunscreen spray...fortunately it's only colorful...not painful.

I'm pretty much religious about safety glasses, ear plugs, sunscreen and sports helmets...

I was chatting this morning with a new Facebook friend who lives in the California foothills, the Robbers Fire is burning some seven miles southwest of her place, as the crow flies. I watched some reports on the fire on Friday night's local 11 O'clock News. Evacuations and road closures were in effect, and a few hundred homes are threatened.

This morning, I made a point of watching the Trainwreck News stream for a Robbers Fire Update. There's good news! Though humidity is still very, very low, the temperature trending down for the next several days. Plus the wind direction has turned away from inhabited areas and the smoke is blowing away from the foothill towns now. The CalFire website has the latest details on the firefight...The Devil you say...I hope it's not an omen...the Robbers Fire is Incident #666!

I took a look the the Reno AFD. There's some of the Monsoonal moisture scudding up the eastern side of the Sierras, and afternoon thunderstorms and those troublesome outflow winds are likely south of Interstate 80. Fortunately these aren't widespread enough to meet Red Flag Warning criteria.

It occurs to me that a Wildland Fire Toolbox would come in handy going forward. I'll work on that and post it here so my Foothill and Sierra Nevada friends can keep tabs on wildfires near them or their friends.

When I'm a the DaveCave and there's a wildfire nearby I fire up my Police Scanner. Unless the fire is in my neighborhood, you can't hear the fire crews on the air, but you hear dispatch, the aircraft and their controllers, and the remaining Fire Lookouts. During Fire Season listening to the Forest Service's 8AM Radio Report is very instructional and includes a detailed Fire Weather Forecast for the area.

It still goes without saying, let's be fire safe out there!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lazy Friday

I'm slacking for the second night in a row...all that sun and salt air on San Francisco Bay can take it out of a man!

There's too many distractions this month, that's for sure...

The Tour de France has moved into the mountains, and as always the Alps didn't disappoint! NBCSN's LIVE TV coverage started at 3:30AM on the West Coast, and I found some European LIVE streams online. Many are even in English! My fantasy TdF team is cellar dwelling again...

The video blogs about Sunday's British Grand Prix have posted. More new bits for most of the cars, and a fantastic race on the track...a dry track after record rains for the rest of the F1 weekend. I find it totally amazing how little wings at the front of the sidepods, and the shape of the bodywork can help steer the open, up-firing exhaust down to the car's floor, between the rear tires, and out through the diffuser to increase rear downforce.

I looked at the USS Iowa's Facebook Page, and it's a treasure trove! Lots of interesting comments from Opening Weekend Visitors as well as Iowa Veterans. From my tradesman's point of view, USS Iowa Volunteer, Acting USS Iowa Electrician and Gunners Mate, James Baca's comments are most appreciated! There's a link to a good LA Times Story on the battlewagon posted there too.

I'll be making the trip south to visit Iowa once the new decks are finished, and more of the ship is open to tours...another year or two. The Pacific Battleship Center says that 95% of the ship will be on display by 2015

As you can see, I'm awash in my Sea of Joy...but I'm more than a little concerned about Fire Season, especially in the West. It's cooled off plenty since SturgeUrge and I baked out on San Francisco Bay Wednesday...a good thing for the firefighters battling the Robbers Fire between Foresthill and Colfax.

Even with temps trending downward for the coming week, winds are up let's be careful out there everybody!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Rest For the Wicked

Not really a topical title, but it's all I've got this morning with a "Tired" nod to it. After a long hot day on San Francisco Bay, I couldn't forestall sleep long enough to pen my daily screed before sleep took me in it's heavenly embrace.

Halibut fishing stunk Wednesday...we had one raked bait with the telltale halibut teethmarks...

Spending the day boating on San Francisco Bay was awesome! We launched the F/V SturgeUrge from Richmond into calm winds and warm temperatures. Surprisingly, the only fog to be seen was south along the Golden Gate Bridge/Bay Bridge/Berkeley Pier corridor.

The forecast was for increasing winds as the Big Valley was forecast to endure the "hottest day of the year" Aside from the record tout, this is the standard forecast from May to October for San Francisco Bay, and it's a good halibut forecast in that the afternoon winds facilitate the last drift of the day, back to Richmond from the central Bay.

This week features the "best halibut tides of the year" as long as we're speaking in superlatives...a long incoming tide in the morning, in line with the prevailing winds, and a barely there afternoon tide swing. Halibut are ambush hunters, so-called "sight feeders", so small tide swings favor halibut by not stirring up the silt and lowering underwater visibility.

All of the halibut "conventional wisdom" goes out the window when the wind don't blow, and that was our problem Wednesday...we even trolled in an attempt to put our baits in front of a willing flatty or such luck...and SturgeUrge is just "against trolling" in his DNA.

This has been a tough halibut season to figure out. There's been precious little in the way of halibut catch reports posted to my online fishing club. The scarce reports did begin on time, mid-March but these were all "skunk reports", that is all the details, but zero halibut taken. This too is par for the course for the early season.

Halibut season usually "turns on" mid-May, but the halibut reports didn't come. I attributed this dearth to the hot salmon bite since the salmon opener in mid-April. Since then, the salmon fishing has been limit-style fishing daily, with the size of the fish going up weekly. Conclusion? Halibut fishing is enjoying "lowered effort" in Fish and Game parlance...translated into plain English, nobody's halibut fishing because salmon fishing is as good as it's been in a decade!

The F/V SturgeUrge is a high-sided, deep-vee aluminum skiff of the bottom rung of Golden Gate Seaworthiness, discretion being the better part of honor, we've been unable to get out after the king salmon bonanza. SturgeUrge's boat is Pacific Ocean ready, but not through the Golden Gate. Bodega Bay, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay or Monterey launches all suit the boat, but these are long tows and the weather has been an issue for Bodega Bay.

We've been trying to get a Bodega Bay/Tomales Bay salmon/halibut/dungeness crab trip in since early June. It's been frustrating, the place didn't get the nickname "Blowdega" for nothing. Stiff NW winds and big swell have defined Bodega's waters for six weeks plus. Compounding our frustration, the only two day period when the winds laid down was the NASCAR weekend at Sears Point Raceway, which put a world-class traffic jam exactly in the middle of the Bodega tow that would catch us coming and going, adding an hour each way to our travel time.

SturgeUrge and I had plenty of time to muse about the halibut situation while said halibut weren't lighting up the festivities...we rehashed all the data, the fishing effort redirected to offshore pursuits, and how for three years running the tables were turned so halibut were hunted mercilessly when salmon seasons were closed to all angling. We averaged one halibut a trip one of those seasons ourselves!

There's one data point that sticks out for me...there have been reports of halibut catches outside of the Bay, usually a post salmon limit catch, by anglers trying to extend their day a little after "early limits". I wondered if this year's weak winter and snowpack have sent too little sweet water out of the Golden Gate to call in the halibut. I may have something there...or it could be that so far we've yet to have a perfect drift...where winds and tides combine to make a perfectly lifelike presentation to the wary halibut.

As SturgeUrge and I sped east across the Bay to set up for the last long drift over Southampton Shoal, we caught a glimpse of a harbor porpoise, only the second or third time we've seen the resurging  little marine mammal. The harbor porpoise's return to the Bay is further proof that the Bay cleanup is paying dividends.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweatin' to The Oldies

Nope, not exercise! Pappa don't preach...and you won't find Richard Simmons anywhere near here! It's after 2:12AM. It got hot today here in the Inland Valley, but as always my room didn't start smokin' until 7:30PM when the Sun starts sinking in the west and all those photons and infrared waves sneak beneath the redwood boughs and do their magic on the front walls and windows.

Once the Sun slips behind the hills, we open the drapes and windows up front and the sliding glass doors on the back of the house and fire up the fans...I never had a chance to look at a thermometer today so I can't know how hot it was, but when I was out in it, it wasn't oppressive.

Even at Mom's Church Social it was nice and cool...thanks to the brand new central air conditioning that just came online! Two luncheons ago the HVAC guys were installing the system, and I don't remember the early May soiree either way temp-wise.

So I should be sleeping...the alarm's getting me up at 6:30AM...after a month of trying, SturgeUrge and I are halibut hunting in the morning...once the sweat on my forehead dries, I'm jumping in the shower and closing the peepers for what's becoming customary this month...about three hours.

I actually got a full night's sleep last was a "Rest Day" on the Tour de France, and there's another ten days until the next Grand Prix, though I'll be happy to lose some more sleep for the next two weeks...the Tour has been fantastic so far! With most of the favorites sidelined, the 99th Tour de France is wide open in every way. New stars are being born before our very eyes.

This year's sensation is 22 year old Slovak, Peter Sagan who's exploded into the Pro Peloton this year. Sagan won the first four stages of the AMGEN Tour of California this May, on his way to five stage wins in the ToC!

Fast forward to the French countryside, Sagan's won three of nine stages in the Tour's first week despite hitting the pavement at least once. Each time Sagan has crossed the finish line first, he's made an outrageous victory gesture, variously called the Chicken Dance (or chicken wing flap)...he pantomimed a jogger's arm swings which he said was his "Forrest Gump" as he couldn't stifle his joyous laughter, and lastly he did his "Angry Hulk" flex (from the Marvel Comics' Incredible Hulk franchise) crossing the line and keeping the sprinter's Green Jersey. Young Sagan is a whirlwind of happy, happy, joy, joy...and it's a shot in the arm for the staid old Grande Boucle!

What a great race the British Grand Prix turned out to be...but that's a story for a night I don't have to obey bedtime!

WooHoo! best Halibut Tides of the Year! Good morning!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hydraulic Convergence

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again some other day...

That's the #1 rhyme from Great Britain this weekend...

It's raining buckets on jolly old England, and even record rainfall hasn't dampened British F1 fans fervor for their Grand Prix. I looked up the weather for Sunday...of course there's a "Local Severe Alert" for most of the country...

Description, Rain: Further periods of heavy and sometimes thundery rain are expected on Sunday.
Cities affected: Nottingham, United Kingdom; Barkston Heath RAF, United Kingdom; Humberside, United Kingdom; Waddington, United Kingdom; Cranwell, United Kingdom; Donna Nook, United Kingdom; Coningsby, United Kingdom; Wainfleet, United Kingdom; East Midlands, United Kingdom; Cottesmore, United Kingdom; Holbeach, United Kingdom

I like that term "thundery rain"...I hear it in a Cockney accent.

With all the rain on the English Countryside, I was struck by the photo I featured in Friday's blog, "Slowing Flowing Waters" It's the one with the two fans carrying their cooler down a muddy path in rain gear and wearing Brockabrellas.

Brockabrellas? Yes, those wearable umbrella hats are named for their inventor, Lou Brock. That Lou Brock! The Baseball Hall Of Famer, who played for the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals. Brock is now a coach with the St Louis Cards, and is most recognized as a base stealer, who broke Ty Cobb's career total with 938 stolen bases during his 19 year Major League stint. Oakland A's heist-meister Rickey Henderson later surpassed Brock's record with 1406 stolen bags in his 25 year career.

I thought about Brock and his Brockabrella while watching the Giants at Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon, when a cloudburst drenched the field and sent the crowd scurrying for cover...just the exact situation that Brock pitched the Brockabrella for.

I adhered to my nap plan Friday Night/Saturday Morning and watched P3 streamed LIVE from Silverstone in the UK, run in the dry at 2AM my time, copped a quick nap, and tuned in to SpeedTV for Qualifying at 5AM

I was doin' fine right up until that moment six minutes and 19 seconds from the end of Q2, when FIA race director Charlie Whiting wisely red-flagged the session. I fell back asleep somewhere during the hour and 25 minute rain delay. I woke back up to the awful sound of infomercials, not singing F1 race worries, I'm going to catch the replay tonight.

I switched channels and tuned in the Tour de France. Saturday's Stage 7 was the first Tour stage ever shown LIVE on American Network television. I want to say I've been watching the TdF on TV since 1989, but back in the day it was on cable TV. ESPN, then ESPN2, then Versus which became NBC Sports Network recently.

NBC itself aired today's Stage 7, and will air Sunday's Stage 8 starting at 5AM PDT. Again NBC will show a very generous four hours of LIVE racing.

Stage 7 was a nice difficult "Medium Mountain" stage, without most of the crash drama of Stages 2-6. Friday's "Metz Massacre" forced some more retirements, most notably up and coming Canadian star and winner in May of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, Ryder Hesjedal. Fortunately for Hesjedal, his injuries aren't structural, he'll be mended in time for London 2012, but with the form he brought to the Tour we'll always wonder if he could have won the rare Double, winning the Giro and the Tour in the same summer.

All in all the first week claimed 13 riders, many with broken bones and the worst with broken ribs and a damaged spleen and kidney...that's hard pavement at speed...even in kilometers per...