Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The Napa Earthquake held the local TV News Cycle through the end of the Late Sunday Night News. It's dialed back Monday morning, however the clean-up will take weeks and the recovery years. I saw photos of the Trefethen Winery, it looks like a total loss. Monday's Noon News is reporting sixteen structures are red-tagged, meaning they are unfit for habitation. The 4PM News says there's nearly 50 red-tagged structures.

Trefethen Winery

Many wineries are reporting big losses of bottled wines and wine in the barrel.

Closer to home, Kirk Vallus messaged me via Facebook: "Spoke with Richard tonight, good news, went up to the Ranch today and not a stone had moved in the ruins..... That is a good thing...."

Richard owns quite a bit of the historic Napa Soda Springs Resort in Soda Canyon on the flanks of Atlas Peak. Richard's place has ruins of some of the original buildings that date to the 1860's, and many of the named mineral springs still flow. Soda Canyon is on the east side of the Napa Valley, well above the destruction of old downtown Napa.

Today drone images of downtown Napa's damages were posted to YouTube:

My heart goes out to the People of Napa...lots of work ahead...

It's certainly stunning footage, and drones are all the rage lately, but it's another Information Age connection that caught my fancy today: Jawbone UP

What's Jawbone? What's UP? I'd never heard of them before I saw this tweet this morning: "Wearable tech maker @jawbone says 93% of its users woke up at 3:20AM during earthquake"

I read the linked blog, perused Jawbone's UP website, and my blood's running a little colder now. It turns out I do know what Jawbone is...they are makers of the Bluetooth ear pieces that make mobile phones "hands-free", and they make Bluetooth speaker systems to stream your phone or iPod music to.

Jawbone UP is an "Activity Tracker", favored by people who want their entire lives and beings digitized for use by Mobile Apps and computers. A bracelet interfaces with your phone and records many channels of data including heart rate, physical exertion, time at rest or sleeping. Once saved and accessed the data is your to "Share" on social media, or embellish your daily diary or exercise planning. UP tracks your activity, diet and sleep. UP's website touts:
  • Healthy Food Score
  • Simple Water Logging
  • Popular Restaurant Menus
  • Enhanced Calorie Tracking
I wonder how long before the NSA is selling this personal intel to Insurance Companies to finance yet another covert (read Unconstitutional) surveillance program (or worse). Facebook is snoopy enough! At least there you must first chose to report your thoughts, activities, and post photos of your meals at the newest trendy restaurants!

I removed the Facebook App from my smartphone 3-4 weeks ago, when the latest Facebook "Feature" seemed too invasive for my sensibilities.

Being awakened by earthquake tremors is one thing...plugging in my vital signs to the cloud would keep me up all night!  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Again With the "No Rest For The Wicked" Deal

I was awakened by the shaking at 0320 Sunday morning. I don't know if I thought it or said it out loud: "Wow, this is a good one!" I was expecting to be awakened at 0430, I'd set my alarm clock so I could watch the Belgian Grand Prix LIVE from Spa-Francorchamps.

I didn't even need to "rub the sleep outta my eyes" I was wide awake! I hit the internet running, and in under a minute, I had the USGS Quake Sheet up informing me of the (then) Magnitude 6.1 quake four miles south of Napa, CA.

At the Ancestral Digs, the local TV News outlets were wall-to-wall in under a half hour, while the local 24/7 News Radio Station was taking calls while their reporters got to the scene.

Twitter was on it like white on rice. I tweeted the quake at 0323...three minutes after it shook.

I heard from Chico Dupré in mere moments. He didn't feel it, though it was felt up to 400 miles from the epicenter...Carson City, Nevada...on the far side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range!

The radio had harrowing stories of damage and shaking, and this kept me in rapt attention until the TV Newsfeeds began. There were fires...why is it always trailer parks? Tornadoes love 'em it seems...

At 4:30AM, I changed the channel to the Formula One Pre-Race Show. The three weeks of "Summer Break" were over and the racing would resume in just under 30 minutes!

I switched up my Twitter Feed to a Formula One List...of course it was sprinkling in Pit Lane! Spa-Francorchamps is high in Belgium's Ardennes Forest, it's the longest track on the F1 calendar and it often rains up there...sometimes it'll rain on one end of the circuit while there's bright sunshine at the other end. It always makes for dramatic racing, and I expected nothing less than Broadway-Worthy Drama!

I wasn't disappointed! The rain never was a factor...it was the human side of F1 that provided the drama. The two Team AMG Mercedes teammates were on the front row. Together they have the top two spots in the Drivers' Championship.

The lights went out, the Mercs sped towards Turn One and it was ON! Points-leader and Pole-Sitter Nico Rosberg was bested by teammate Lewis Hamilton, with my guy, Red Bull Racing's Sebastion Vettel right in the mix. On lap two, Nico made his way outside Lewis and they touched! Nico's front wing clipped Lewis' rear tyre and all hell broke loose. Lewis' tyre went flat, and part of Nico's wing went flying. 

There was good racing up and down the track, the rain stayed away and the race was decided on the merits, not the luck of the draw (as is so often the case with wet races)

It was all over but the post-race chatter when I plugged back into the earthquake coverage...which I quickly grew weary of. I turned it down, reset my alarm for 8AM and shut my eyes...baseball pre-game chatter would start at 0800, and my San Francisco Giants are in a pennant race with the Los Angeles Dodgers!

More later...No Spoilers...You're Welcome!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

California Halibut Fishing On San Francisco Bay

We launched the F/V SturgeUrge from Richmond into a bit more Southerly wind than forecast about 9AM.

We turned the corner and headed south towards Southampton. It didn't take long for the lump to get to us. SturgeUrge was really working hard to make way, so we turned tail and headed towards Red Rock.

For some reason...maybe the week's worth of hot days and nights' toll on my sleep schedule...made everything seem like pulling teeth today...

The first three sets of our Dodger/Hoochie/Frozen Herring rigs totally got gongered and came back looking like macrame plant hangers. My apologies to the SturgeUrge as my 'Cranky Pants' must have been 'riding-up' cause I was whining in stereophonic Wall-Of-Sound-style.

You know what they say: "Three's A Charm"... after the third untangle/rebuild/redeploy, *Bang* FishOn!

I felt the head shakes and pumped her up a little fast...then she saw the boat and turned tail and ran...fast! For a minute I was almost convinced I'd hung a Mud Marlin, but the fight was up and down only, no crazy bat ray antics. A couple more ups and downs and SturgeUrge did a perfect net job!

Before the net even came over the rail that fish went ballistic! Think rolling surgeon next to the boat! There went a brand spankin' new $8 sinker! The fish wrapped itself up in the net like a mummy!

That was it for the day. Fish came about 2/3 of the way towards Red Rock on a line from Paradise Pier to Red Rock, just west of the channel...about an hour before the bottom of the small ebb.

We trolled the mark for a couple more hours before switching to drifting to give SturgeUrge a break and to make lunch...I was afraid the top slice of Jewish Rye might blow off the pastrami sammiches I was building.

We haven't had a drift halibut all year, but trolling has been golden so far...we've been sticking to halibut tides exclusively.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Unseen Things

A lot of things I like are happening this week: Sochi Olympics' second week, NASCAR is ramping up to the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Formula One teams are testing in Bahrain, and another cold front is approaching the Northern California Coast.

Unfortunately, there's lots of stuff happening that I wish I wasn't seeing...Venezuela and the Ukraine are aflame as their citizens are protesting in the streets against  their respective tyrannical rulers. Many are dead in Kiev, and blood is beginning to flow in Caracas...

NASCAR kicks off their season with their Super Bowl, the Daytona 500. The teams have been at the Daytona International Speedway for a week, practicing, qualifying, racing an All-Star race, the Sprint Unlimited, and running the Twin Qualifiers to decide the running order for The 500. The front row is locked in during qualifying...the two fastest runs take the Pole Position, and the other front row slot.

NASCAR is pretty tame stuff as motorsports go...I do love the Daytona 500 though, it means that Formula One is coming over the horizon, and that Spring is just weeks away. Still, there are surprises from Daytona. Long time readers will remember the weird Red Flag during the 2012 500.

Jet Dryer spewing flaming fuel after Juan Pablo Montoya sideswiped it under caution!

This week, the Sprint Unlimited provided another head shaker...

That's the Chevy SS Pace Car on fire...during the race! Everyone got out OK, a back-up Pace Car took care of things, but it was really weird to see the Pace Car towed behind the Pit Wall by a wrecker!

NASCAR has a new aero package for their Restrictor Plate Races (Daytona and Taladega) this season, and it's the best they've had in many years! The draft looks like the draft form the Golden Years, long trains of cars nose to tail are gone, as are the two-by-two pairings for the last few years. I think they finally got it right!

During Thursday's second 125 mile qualifier, they had "The Big One'" on the final lap when Jimmy Johnson's number 48 Chevy ran out of fuel causing a huge melee...one unlucky racer ran into a spinning car, turned sideways at 185 mph, lifting off the track and did a 360° barrel-roll, landed upright, blasted through the infield grass, and finally drove, under control into the pits! The onboard footage was awesome...good television!

I've mostly forsaken the TV coverage of the Olympics in favor of streaming the events LIVE. Seeing every racer from the first bib number to the last is storytelling in it's most visceral form.

Conditions are a huge part of the Sochi2014 story, you can see and hear the conditions change when you see the whole event. The PrimeTime Package barely qualifies as a 'Highlight Reel', much less storytelling. I will watch the NBC package tonight on Women's SkierCross to see how they handle the mid-qualifying delay while some clouds blew through the middle of the course, causing local whiteout conditions, and holding up the proceedings for 10-15 minutes.

Who knew that Iran sent a Giant Slalom racer to Sochi? Did NBC show their run?

The Formula One circus is in Bahrain testing. No TV, no LIVE Stream...Still there is an information stream or two online. BBC Radio is doing a LIVE Text stream, as are several Grand Prix magazines and websites. These are informative and can be dramatic. Most of these chat-like streams include comments or tweets from fans.

Most compelling is Twitter of course, F1 Teams, drivers, F1 journalists all tweet every interesting tidbit of on-track info-tainment...in RealTime.

As the preeminent technological racing series on Planet Earth, it amazes me that F1 doesn't have an internet streaming service for sale like Major League Baseball's MLB.TV.

This gem  gives you every MLB game, from every team, across every device including your Big Screen HDTV LIVE with your choice of home or visitor audio for $129/year. Every single game is available, except in local blackout areas (generally within a team's 'FanSphere')

All games are available On Demand all season, again with choice of broadcasters...worth every penny to rabid baseball fans.

I'd happily plunk down $130/year for the Formula One equivalent!

That's all for today, the San Francisco Giants are streaming LIVE from Spring Training at 10AM PST Here If you can't stream the full screen version, clear your browser's cache.

Play Ball!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Warm And Fuzzy

The weatherman says we might get some drizzle overnight tonight...we'll take whatever we can get! They say the wet will hold off until the Chinese New Years Parade is over, but the truth is most of this system is trending north of the Bay Area...

Friday morning felt like Spring had sprung...I didn't get out, though the temps were Spring-like, instead I spent a very generous morning LIVE streaming the San Francisco Giants #SFGLive. They were streaming from Scottsdale, AZ where Pitchers & Catchers were reporting for Spring Training. #SFGLive went a little over Four Hours! The Giants' Opening day is 44 days away.

I didn't watch much Olympic coverage, opting to luxuriate in all things Giants' Baseball. The webcast featured interviews with new and returning players and coaches, Giants beat writers, even groundskeepers. They threw in some studio features on Giants' Promotions for the coming season...everything from Bobbleheads to R2D2 stocking caps!

Hunter Pence Bobblehead Wed April 9th, giveaway

STAR WARS Day Sunday August 31st giveaway

You know Spring Training is almost magic to baseball fans...during spring training reality doesn't carry as much weight as dreams. During Spring Training, every baseball fan's team is going to the World Series!

Sure reality is still reality...players will make the team...or not. Some will be surprises, some will fall to injury, but overall Spring Training is like Springtime, a time for renewal and rebirth.  3rd Baseman Pablo 'Kung Fu Panda' Sandoval played Winter Ball in Venezuela, and worked really hard losing around 40 pounds. Back-up catcher Héctor Sánchez lost 20 or so pounds too...that will help his endurance when he starts behind the plate.

Everyone's champing at the bit to get going, lots of position players are in camp already too. Groundhog Day is behind us and baseball season is just six weeks away. That'll take care of that pesky Seasonal Affective Disorder!

As I write tonight, I'm listening to Baseball Talk on KNBR 680AM...more specifically I'm listening to Marty Lurie do his first show of Spring Training. Marty's Twitter handle is @baseballmarty Marty loves baseball, and the Giants...he has Reverence for baseball. He does KNBR's SF Giants pre- and post-game shows on weekends, and he's their Super-Substitute, sittin' in whenever they need him during baseball season. There is a LIVE Stream, and you can tune in KNBR on your smartphone with the iHeartRadio App.

As a Talk Radio listener for 35+ years, I hate SportsTalk...on talk radio, sports is like religion...nobody is persuading anybody...they're just spewing their 'doxies, and there's no genuine discussion. Marty's shows are different...yeah there's still SportsTalk Dolts that make it past the CallScreener, but for the most part it's compelling listening. Thanks Marty.

I'm off to watch some Olympics with the sound off...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Under My Radar

Sochi2014 is a week old today, and it's been fascinating to be sure. It's no wonder a lot of news that matters to me has been overlooked in the day to day of the Winter Games.

I've been streaming most of the events I care about, and not watching the NBC Broadcasts that much, except as Family-Time entertainment for the Marquee Events. We still love the American Figure Skating Pair that skates to the James Bond theme music.

Watching the LIVE Stream, you see every racer in the downhill...all 50 bibs. NBC showed All the Americans and the Gold, Silver, and Bronze runs...and every crash...these events are much more interesting viewed as they happen, in order, in full. Sochi's balmy weather and the venues' deterioration are a story that NBC barely acknowledges, but tells itself when viewed start-to-finish.

With Sochi twelve hours ahead, I'm losing a little sleep in my quest to enjoy these Games...

California's reservoirs got a shot in the arm from a nice Pineapple Express. Folsom Lake near Sacramento caught 23.8ft and gained 102,870 acre feet of water. Salmon and steelhead are grateful...

A week after NorCal's Big Gulp, record high temps have been matched or recorded in Reno, Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe. Our poor TV weatherfolks are bored already, and the forecasters and TV weather people are starting to act like shell-shocked walking wounded again.

Forecast Model Ensembles are coming into agreement on another system for Saturday night/Sunday, but it's tracking north of Interstate 80. Both Noon News shows I caught today said snow on the passes...just what the Resorts and Mountain Businesses don't need...another Holiday Weekend Rain-Out. If precedent holds, the crowds will avoid the mountains...and the 'storm' will miss wide north...This pattern is three winters old now...

Sadly, the last big International Sporting Event, the 34th America's Cup Regatta has been getting some ink...the Organizers and San Francisco's Powers-that-be are scrapping over the next regatta, scheduled for 2017. As you can imagine, it's all about money and outsized egos.

Larry Ellison, tech giant Oracle's Top Dog, and winner of the 'Old Mug' with his ORACLE Team USA syndicate is making noises about taking his ball and going home...which is his newly purchased Hawaiian Island, Lanai. Organizers are looking at San Diego and Newport, Rhode Island as well as Hawaii...

Even the design of the regatta and the challenger's feeder regatta are being argued, though I hope it's just Ellison trying for a negotiating advantage. It would be a shame if the Organizers artificially kept the Challenger Fleet small. When SturgeUrge and I went to the first Louis Vuitton Cup race between Italy's LunaRosa and Sweden's Artemis, the Aquatic Park Jetty was packed with European tourists...the majority Swedes.

The Regatta was so incredible, set against the breathtaking San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin County shores, the Organizers would be fools to go anywhere different. Contesting the next Cup in some other venue without the television eye-candy quotient, would be suicide for potential sponsors. Anyone who watched the excellent TV coverage from San Francisco Bay would be channel surfing before the first tack.

Last year's America's Cup Regatta was so hotly contested that it took me weeks to get my breath back...Sudden Death races for ORACLEteamUSA...two a day, for the final week of racing...what a spectacle! It would be criminal to lose it.

To be fair to The City, it should cost less next time around...no new venues are required, in fact the city and National Park Service could make enough cash to offset their costs just by selling access to the Aquatic Park Jetty, where SturgeUrge and I watched the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup. At $5/head, they could bag an easy $2000/day!

There's baseball news too! SF Giants' Pitchers & Catchers report to Spring Training today! The club is streaming live from Scottsdale at 9AM PST If you can't see the full screen stream, clear your browser's cache.

Ugghhh... @NWSReno just tweeted:  Very windy on Saturday with more snow expected for the on Saturday night into Sunday.

Not what the resorts want to see going into Presidents' Day Weekend...The math is hard. The resorts have lost half of the Christmas Holidays, most are at best half open, the 49ers copped another two weekends...it's gotta be pretty grim in the accounting department...

Hey! On the bright side, Squaw's KT22 opens Friday!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sochi2014 Overview

Taking the high view at Sochi2014 is a CameraDrone. I caught a glimpse of it during the Women's SlopeStyle competition. You could see the drone following the skiers down the course. I didn't see any of the drone's footage on NBC's broadcast.

I searched my favorite Geek websites for CameraDrone info...to no avail...I Ixquick-ed it and found one story: 'Drone in Sochi shooting live Olympic TV, not terrorists, as sneaky machines find new uses' Talk about a loaded headline...

The AP article says Olympic Broadcasting Services is running the drones...kinda. It sounds like British Company Heliguy might actually be handling the flying/filming, though the exact details were omitted in the AP story.

After 24 hours, this one AP story has been published dozens of times by large and small news outlets...from 24/7 cable heavyweights like FoxNews, to small local affiliates...let's see if these amazing little fliers get any more ink...I did suss that the CameraDrones are at the SlopeStyle and Ski Jumping venues.

I've noticed more than a little inaccuracy in some of the Sochi tech stories I've read. The numbers in the 'Stockpiled Snow' articles have been epically...let's say...flexible, and I expect misunderstood. For example the first story said there was one year's-worth of snow stockpiled...700K cubic meters, or 928K cubic yards. Another story claimed none of the stockpile was utilized yet, then went on to say 25K cubic feet is ready at hand?

Another story I cited said two year's-worth of Sochi snow had been stockpiled. Math is hard...I'm guessing there may be language barrier issues contributing to the confusion too...

It's amazing the facts that fall out on the floor while you're looking for Sochi info! Browsing through Olympic Broadcasting Services' website, I found out that Swiss World Cup Alpine Ski racer, Bernhard Russi is the architect of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort where Sochi2014's Alpine events are held.

Russi is a two-time Olympic Medalist, one Downhill Gold from Sapporo1972, and a Downhill Silver from Innsbruck1976 where he lost by 0.33 second to Austria's Franz Klammer after Klammer's legendary run starting 15th, the last of the top seeds. This Downhill was the Gold Standard, shown during every Winter Games broadcast until NBC bought the current Olympic Television Rights in 1988. Klammer's daring run, and ABCsports' Frank Gifford and Bob Beatti's play-by-play are legendary.

Russi designed Rosa Khutor, but he didn't choose the site. Much has been said about Sochi's Sub-Tropical climate, however it's not the Southernmost Winter Olympics site. The title goes to Nagano, Japan site of the 1998 Winter Games.

Top 5:
Nagano is at 36° 28" N In order are Nagano, Squaw Valley1960 at 39° 11" N, Salt Lake City2002 at 40° 45" N, Sochi2014 at 43° 35" N, and Sarajevo1984 at 43° 52"

NOAA's Climate.gov says Sochi is one of the warmest winter games host sites ever.

Wednesday AM Update:
This morning I found a story that says: Balmy Temps Force Sochi2014 to Use Stockpiled Snow. Krasnaya Polyana is the region where the Rosa Khutor Resort's Alpine Events are contested.

The article is more of an overview...none of the specifics I'm into were addressed. It would be nice to know which courses got the transfusions of banked snow.

I finally found a decent Weather Page for Rosa Khutor: Krasnodar, Russia (URKK) Not a forecast that bodes well...temps forecast to stay above freezing through Sunday, with a 60% chance of rain Sunday, High temps in the mid-50's...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sochi2014 It's All Downhill From Here

The Winter Games are heating up. The Men's Downhill is in the books, as is the Men's Snowboard Half-Pipe. America's Favorite Sons, Bode Miller and Shaun White misstepped in their attempts to step up to the top of the podium.

Conditions at Rosa Khutor look pretty tough on the competitors...every Alpine Event I've watched (save the Men's Downhill) has been contested in what you call 'Spring Snow'...Bode Miller lead the time sheets on two of three sunny Downhill Training Sessions, only to face the infamous 'flat light' on race day.

I just streamed the Half-Pipe, Qualifying, Semi-Finals and Finals...the pipe looked a little soft, save for the walls...they even sent a pack of skiers down the gut of the pipe midway through the Finals to sideslip the 'mashed potatoes'

Aside from the American Bobsledder who made a sensation on the web when he got locked in the shower room, broke out through the locked door, and tweeted a photo of the breached door, getting stuck in an elevator (no destructive escape this time around), for the most part the Snark from Sochi has been reduced to a softening mylar birthday balloon a week on...there are, medals being won and lost after all!

Well...there is the @SochiProblems Twitter account that has a third more followers the the Official @Sochi2014 verified account... Not all Snark from Sochi is dead, it's just been on the 'Down Low' for a day or two now...

@MagnifeyeRoads's man in Sochi, Truckee's own Jonathan Sass takes requests!

That's how it got started, I emailed him, and he blogged the photos two days later!

I don't remember if it was during the SlopeStyle or the Women's Combined Downhill coverage, but for a fleeting moment I saw a Bombardier MP Groomer with a Troop Carrier body on the back, parked on the side of a trail! It was still the original Bombardier Yellow, all waxed and shiny, too... It looked great considering that it was probably 10+ years old.

Seeing this snowcat was the genesis of my photo request. I was curious whether Sochi made a deal with Prinoth/Leitner or Pisten-Bully for a fleet of machines, and if they did, was there special Olympic Livery like Bombardier showed on the Salt Lake2002 machines?

Jonathan's photos showed a nice array of groomers. It doesn't look like what I think of as a 'Fleet' however. To me a fleet is all of a single manufacturer, and of a single tractor model. This keeps the parts inventory at the cat shop down to a dull roar...

My Mountain has had a mixed fleet from time to time over the years, and more down shifts and over-crowded parts rooms are the price you pay.

Photo: Jonathan Sass 2014

Pisten-Bully PB400

Photo: Jonathan Sass 2014

Prinoth BisonX parked next to an Everest Winchcat

Everyone who's into Sochi2014 should follow Jonathan's Magnifeye at the Olympics Blog, and while you're all at it, please follow CorduroyPlanet's Tumblr as well...thank you very much!

Going forward, I suspect there'll be more grousing about Sochi2014's Sub-Tropical climate. The forecast has Highs in the low 50°F's and Lows in the high 30°F's for the rest of the week. Tuesday's Women's Downhill Training was cancelled due to the balmy weather.  Women's Combined looked really juicy Monday as well. The early Downhill didn't look too bad, but the afternoon Slalom portion looked ridiculous!

Another thing caught my eye while streaming the Women's SlopeStyle Skiing last night, it was a CameraDrone following the action! I didn't see any DroneCam footage on NBC's LIVE stream, I'll look for it on Tuesday night's big broadcast.

There's plenty of Sochi2014 still to be contested, Stay tuned!



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rainy Day

We're finally getting a decent Winter Storm. Over an inch of rain so far at the Ancestral Digs, with more on the way. Trans-Sierra highways are snarled with chain control slowdowns and accident-caused back-ups.

This is what Winter is supposed to be! It's how I remember real winters were before our dry spell began back in 2011/2012.

Saturday's Six O'Clock News is full of North Bay flooding, Bay Area traffic at a standstill, and even some mud and rock slides! It's like déjà vu all over again!'

The snow levels are forecast to rise above Pass Level overnight before gradually falling Sunday. The Pineapple Express will provide the wide open spigot through Sunday late.

It's not a 'Drought Buster', but it's a help...one Bay Area TV weatheman quipped: 'It's a 'Drought Denter'...I'll take it. Here's how Sacramento's NWS Forecast Office put it:

I'll drink to that...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sochi2014 Outta This World

Sochi2014 Organizers stockpiled Two Year's worth of snow in the woods above the event slopes under thermal blankets.

BBC Buisness interviewed the artificial/stockpiled snow contractor, Snow Secure. It's an interesting listen.

Closing the circle next week at Sochi, Olympic Medals awarded on February 15th will include pieces of the Chelyabinsk Meteor that slammed into Russia's Southern Urals last year on February 15th.

This big rock hit during my hookey playing from this blog, but it held my rapt attention at the time.

For my money it had everything...Astronomy, Russian Dash-Cams, viral video...what's not to like?

PBS's NOVA did a show this fall on hunting the pieces of the space rock. 'Meteor Strike' can be streamed free online.

These things always remind me of Easter Egg Hunts. Remember the California Foothills meteor that hit in 2012? The Chelyabinsk Meteor Hunters did not employ a Zeppelin like NASA did in the Foothills Meteor Hunt.

Thursday night I watched some Sochi2014...Men's Snowboard SlopeStyle the new-to-the-Olympics event. I agree with 2-Time Snowboard Half-Pipe Gold Medalist Shawn White, that course is a little Extreme...or Dangerous as White called it. White, who got banged-up during SlopeStyle practice this week, withdrew from the SlopeStyle event to focus on the Half-Pipe.

I think I saw some Grooming Machines parked off the adjacent trail to the SlopeStyle Course...I'll keep an eye peeled...


A different kind of Sochi2014 Up & Down...

6'-9" Hockey Player Zdeno Chara towers over 4'-11" Skater Kristen Moore-Towers

I'm in town all week, Folks!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Hits Just Keep Coming!

Sochi2014 is turning into just plain SnarkTastic Fun!

In today's busy world it never ceases to amaze me how fast the Scolds and 'Debby Downers' can get their panties in a bunch! We can thank/blame SocialMedia for that.

With so many wordsmiths tweeting #SochiProblems, and Network TV's magazine and chat shows featuring the snark, is any wonder the Killjoys have fired up their TwitterMachines to exact their pound of flesh...

It's all in good fun...unless you're 'sense of humor challenged'...

Just in time to stir the pot, Breitbart Sports covers the media's 'Goody Bags' from the Sochi Hosts...

Still amazed that the Russian Olympic Organizers would site their games at a sub-tropical seaside resort where Russians holiday to escape their bone-chilling winters, I found this fascinating story about Sochi 'Snow Hoarding' Good plan, Russkis!

The authors needs a spot of Snowmaking 101. Snowmaking machines do make snow...but nothing resembling 'powder'...still stockpiling nearly a million cubic yards of snow 'just in case', is a good plan. Should Mother Nature forsake Sochi, the groomers could move the stash onto the courses and work them over until they're ready to race on. I've got news for the authors...powder is the last thing ski racers want on the racecourse! To a competitor, they want the hardest sheet of ice they can get!

Snow stockpiling can't cost that much...I'm still musing over the $51 Billion spent on Sochi...

Even if the Sochi Organizers paid Roscosmos to fly their Olympic Torch to the International Space Station and spacewalk it for the cameras, that would run, what...$10-$20 Million tops? A drop in the 51 Billion Dollar Bucket...

I wonder if 'The Russian Judge' is gonna be a thing this time around?

Oh jeeze...Never a dull moment when it comes to Sochi2014, there's another kerfuffle. I don't remember this kind of outcry when the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition hits the news stands...every...single...year. You know what? The female Russian athletes don't look a bit like 70s East German Lady Olympians any more. I've got your progress right heah!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Freestyle Schadenfreude

I do love me some Olympics, especially Winter Olympics, and the Sochi 2014 Olympics TV coverage starts tonight in The States.

The Sochi Buzz has slowly been ramping-up over the past six-or-so weeks. I haven't written about it because until the hordes of Athletes, Western Sportswriters, and TV Talking Heads began to arrive in Sochi, most of the stories were political in nature.

All the Sochi coverage before this week was in the  'Is Sochi Safe From Terrorism?' vein...not exactly my cuppa tea...I remember the 1972 Munich Massacre vividly to this day...not a pretty picture.

Putin's Russia does have regional enemies, and they're using terrorism to bloody effect in Stalingrad (now called Volograd) in October 2013 and December 2013. Enough said.

This week the Sochi News is the comedy flip-side of the dark worries that went before.

As with all things human of late, social media have carried the ball to hilarious effect.

This morning, ABC's Good Morning America did a story on @SochiProblems the snarky new Twitter account that tweets all things #SochiFail

Russia's spent uphill of $51 Billion to build the seaside Olympic Village and Alpine venues...but they're running just a little behind. Hotels without running water, missing finishing touches, WiFi network Phishing MalWare, even streets missing manhole covers!

Toilet Humor abounds in Sochi it seems...

I've been ice fishing many times...but never considered the indoor angling opportunities cited in this Sochi Bathroom Plaque!

Long time readers will remember my recommendation of @MagnifyRoads the local that tweets all of CalTrans' I-80 electronic signboards every time their message changes. I've written that these messages are more useful than a weather app in telling me what I need to know about the weather on My Mountain in Real Time.

Magnifeye's proprietor is in Sochi as a volunteer, and has a Tumblr Blog you can follow for the latest. Today's entry mentions his three foot fall into an open manhole!

@MagnifeyeRoads' Jonathan Sass

Somehow in the run-up to Sochi2014, I missed the fact that Sochi is a resort built on the shores of the Black Sea! Wikipedia says Sochi has a Sub-Tropical climate!? Wow, think 'Lake Effect Snow' on steroids!

I found an online story about avalanche control above Rosa Khutor, the Alpine resort where Sochi's Alpine events will be held. Rosa Khutor lies 25 miles from the Black Sea Shore, where 3+ foot snowfall in a day is not uncommon...hence the linked story that features  explosives in a Non-Terrorism context.

Sochi2014 is on NBC-TV in The States, and Sochi is 12 hours ahead of the West Coast of America, so most of NBC's Broadcast coverage will be Tape-Delayed.

With SocialMedia saturation, it's going to be hard to avoid spoilers...thankfully, NBC is streaming everything that happens in Sochi LIVE online.

I for one am ready to settle in and watch The Games...Best of luck to Sochi2014, the athletes and Organizers!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Take 2

More photos...less than a thousand words:

Word from several sources is that the model runs are coming together for a Pattern Change about the end of the month!

The Sacramento NWS Office seems to be leading the charge...as they would. I think of them as the Chamber of Commerce of Forecast Offices...Cheerleaders even...

There is a pretty robust system on the horizon, even Bryan Allegretto, OpenSnow.com's Tahoe Snow Forecaster, the forecaster I trust the most long range-wise is a believer...so far.

Bryan has been the only standout these past two atypical winters when it comes to 1 week+ forecasts, always calling the inevitable fizzled forecasts from the rest. Always later and less than the NWS forecasts. In the main, Bryan nailed all the changes AND the timing.

BA is like oil on troubled waters to me...

Lastly, here's the Reno Office weighing in...in Chamber of Commerce-style I'd say!

This isn't usually the style of the Reno guys...they're the most conservative of the four NWS Forecast Offices that I keep tabs on.

I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt...I can't imagine how bored they must be. How can you blame them for getting excited at a glimpse of hope?

I must confess, I haven't been reading their (or any other Office's) Area Forecast Discussions since the Blocking High settled in before Thanksgiving...I'll quote Bob Dylan: "You don't need a weatherman know which way the wind blows"

So can I stop feeling guilty and look forward to putting the garden hoses away?

Fingers crossed...there's still a couple of wildfires in California that haven't been 100% contained...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Worth A Thousand Words

It looks like the frigid weather in the Plains and Northeast will last through Groundhog Day, February 2nd:

East Coast sentiment

Forecast models don't offer any relief...

 Weatherman Mark Finan a week ago
The forecast map though Groundhog Day:

Temperature Anomaly thru 1st week of February

The Culprit:

Big Picture
The 'Blocking High' that's keeping every drop of precipitation away...entrenched.

There are active wildfires in California today, and officials continue to warn of High Fire Danger.

Warm temps keep bears from hibernating. Photo at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort

Let's be careful out there...and keep our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Irony or Scary

Happy New Year!

It'll be the Year of the Horse come Chinese New Year, this January 31st.

Buh-bye 2013 the "Driest Calendar Year On Record" in central California and the Sierra Nevadas...

There was no avoiding it this morning...my Social Sites were lit up with records and warnings:

Red Flag Warnings are up for most of the Bay Area hills:

This afternoon, more High Temperature Records fall, @NWSBayArea: "Record High Temperature at #Oakland Airport! High so far today of 70 degrees - breaks previous record of 69 from 2009. #cawx  #recordsetting

Meanwhile up in the Sierras, the Forest Service is doing control burns in forests that should have several inches (if not several feet!) of snow on the ground!

Reno's News/Talk station posted to Facebook:
"Prescribed Burns Underway -- U.S. Forest Service fuels management crews will continue prescribed fire operations off of Bunker Drive near Tahoe City and on Luther Pass near South Lake Tahoe through January 18, weather and conditions permitting. 
Smoke from prescribed burns may continue for several days after the initial ignition. Forest Service staff will post road signs around the areas affected by the prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line at 530-543-2600, #6."

I know I said it was gonna be another dry winter...but that doesn't mean I like it...that it doesn't fill me with dread...

I'm not liking these odds...I hate when I have to do extra mental health housekeeping...

We'll have to do some outdoorsy stuff while the weather's too nice...between off-season watering at the Ancestral Digs. usually watering the Diggins is all over by NFL Playoff time.

Thank God for the San Francisco 49ers and their quarterback #7, Colin Kaepernick from UNR (University of Nevada Reno) because baseball seems very, very far away.

BajaBabe called me 'pensive' in an email last week. I didn't reply to disabuse her of the notion because I thought she was nuts...and because I don't like to be a jerk...but I found myself taking refuge in the 10 DVD set of "Ken Burns' Baseball" from PBS ever since...

I gotta admit that wildfires in January and Red Flag Warnings in January after "Driest Calendar Year On Record", have me more than a little worried.

Let's call me scared...a little...worry is nothing but a waste of imagination, and I'm fairly frugal...being a "Glass Half-Full Guy"

Let's keep our fingers crossed, be Fire Safe, and "Hey, let's be careful out there"...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Making Lemonade

When life gives you lemons...

As a 'Glass-Half-Full' guy it did me good to find another 'Glass-Half-Full' Guy who's actually celebrating the low intensity start to Winter 13/14.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Outdoor scribe Tom Stienstra writes: "Drought has it's outdoors recreation benefits"

Mmmm...camping near Monterey and taking a Dungeness Crab/Sanddab Combo partyboat trip would help take the edge off...

Pacific Sanddab

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Don't Shoot!

...Me, I'm just the messenger!

I've tried twice since early November to scratch out this blog...Most years I do my prognostication blog in mid-October, this year it's like if I don't put my thoughts to paper, maybe the worst won't happen...I dunno...My first attempt was November 2nd.

I titled it Hindsight is 20/20:
"How'd that Halloween thing work out for ya, Boreal?

Well...to quote Agent 86..."Missed it by that much!" Boreal opened at noon on October 32nd according to their website. I looked at their webcam around 4PM that November 1st afternoon and things looked pretty threadbare...

Saturday their website was touting: "Snowmaking continues" they'll reopen when conditions allow.

According to the Reno NWS Forecast Office's AFD, snowmaking temps will arrive overnight. Alas the moisture tied to toe cold front is hanging north of the I-80 Corridor, so none of Mother Nature's Finest will accumulate. However, good cold temps will hang around for a day or two, though warming is forecast into the weekend..."

Boreal did get open and stay open, though not wall-to-wall yet...

I couldn't get to the point...I tried again on November 18th:

Here We Go...Maybe...
One forecast is saying record year!

However, that's This "winter, the mountain lodging industry in the western U.S. is in a position to post record-breaking numbers according to the most recent data released by DestiMetrics." as reported by Ski Area Management Magazine...

Tuesday CalFire announced they were extending staffing in San Mateo County to deal with the very dry fire conditions.

Here in January, wildfires are 'still a thing' in tinder-dry California...it's scary.

OK, now it's 2014 and I'm at it again. It reached almost 70°F here at the Ancestral Digs, with frosty nights. Up on the Sierra Crest, temperature inversions have played havoc with air quality and overnight temps and humidity keep snowmakers from plying their trade.

As 2013 wrapped up, all the NWS Forecast Offices that I follow on Facebook made a flurry of posts with photos and graphs chronicling the super-dry year's end.

The Sacramento NWS Office posted this on December 26th
I have a bad feeling about this...

The Blocking High...'it's like déjà vu all over again'

The same big picture as the past two winters. I won't cite all the alphabet soup of ocean oscillations...it's too painful...too real.

How can I sugar-coat it...I'm seeing a third dry winter in a row...something I haven't seen in 33 years of living Central Sierra Nevada weather.