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 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'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 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 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 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...