30 September 2013

I love this game!

I love the ePostal matches now championed by True Blue Sam because to quote the line..."it's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."  Each month we get a new course of fire from a new host.   From Golf, to Darts,to Culinary art.  It's always something different.

Mrs TBS serves up a nice dish for October.  Who DOESN'T like Pizza?  
ToDoList->addItem (print_targets);

I can't wait to get out and shoot the match.

My apologies to ePostal hosts... I aim to keep the left column link current but I frequently fail.  My Bad.

PS.. SandCastle Scrolls is on deck for the November match.  I only hope to come up with a concept as worthy as Mrs TBS'.  Billll has offered some worthy targets I would be proud to sponsor.  But I haven't decided yet.

25 September 2013

Oracle Team USA retains the America's Cup

Photo Courtesy Oracle Team USA
From down 8:1 with ETNZ only needing one win to clench, OTUSA won 8 straight to retain the cup!


ETNZ, See you again in 2016!

22 September 2013

America's Cup Update

Wow this has gotten exciting...

A lot has happened since posting Thursday.  The score then was 8-2 with Team New Zealand at match point while USA needed 7 wins.  One more win and the Kiwi's take the cup home.

Friday weather broke to fluky low wind conditions.  I always hated sailing in low wind conditions because it's a waiting game rather than a sailing game.

And an interesting thing happened.  New Zealand lead race 13 from the start.  However race rules call for a 40 minute time limit.  If neither boat has crossed the line when the time limit expires, the race is abandoned.  The Kiwis came up about a mile short.   Oracle Team USA then came back to win the rerun 13th race.  The cup remains on shore for another day.

A cold front came through Saturday which threw the weather patterns out of normal.  The wind direction never came from the correct zone and the time limits put off racing for another day.  Normally the race course would be adjusted to the prevailing wind and that forces the course well out of range of shore viewing.  However the SFBay course is specifically designed to provide a spectator friendly arena in normal wind conditions.  

Races 14 & 15 were held Sunday and OTUSA won both.  So the score is now 8-5*.  USA has to win all the remaining four races while New Zealand only has to win one.

Dang!  Hollywood couldn't script this.  Though quoting the SCSon, if it were a Disney movie you'd know the outcome.

Score now 8-5.  OTUSA needs to win all 4 remaining races, ETNZ only needs to win 1.

* Looking purely at race wins the score is 8-7.  However OTUSA was penalized 2 race wins for some infraction during the previous series leading up to the America's cup.  I don't fully understand the situation leading up to the two race penalty, but I'm more interested in whether the two point penalty has an effect on the results.

Last week it looked like it wouldn't be an issue.  But today we are a lot closer to the ruling making the difference.

20 September 2013

America's Cup Racing

I started a post several weeks ago which would have been more timely, but the moment hasn't past.  Yet.  Though the moment is imminent.

Many of my formative years were spent racing sailboats on the San Francisco Bay.  There are many bucket list races in sailing but the ultimate is The America's Cup.  The superlatives surrounding are an unending list of cliche's.   Oldest trophy, longest winning streak etc.  Back then (late '70's) we dreamt of seeing America's cup racing on the San Franciso Bay.   And it's finally here.

You see the SFBay is a very different sailing arena than the any where else in the world.  The tidal/wind dynamics set up an entirely different sailing environment from the norm.  A lot of sailing the bay boils down to "keeping the boat in the water*.

Past AC races were held 10 miles offshore where maybe a boat would give you a "front" row seat and the action was akin to watching  grass grow.      Boats started sporting on board cameras and mics on the skippers in the late 70's/early 80's which helped a lot...  Though it probably gave some producers some heartburn as I recall a particular race hearing "what the f**k was that" over the air from a certain captain following a blown tack.

This is the first time races have been held in view of shore view and in "boats" exciting to watch.  Last time there was a sailing event designed as a spectator sport was the St. Francis Laser Slalom**.  These AC races are a couple orders of magnitude beyond.

The "boats" are high tech machines topping 50 MPH under wind power.  Back in the day the rule specified keel displacement boats.  Current rules allow not only catamarans, but hydrofoils!   72 foot "hull" length (as if that matters now that hydrofoils are allowed) with 130 foot vertical wings for power.

Look Ma, no hulls!  We are flying!
Back then day we'd spend about 3 hours grinding around the "city front" course.  These boats fly around a similar course in the 30 minute range. 

The score as of now is 8-2 New Zealand with the first to 9 takes home the cup.  NZ only needs one more win to take home some extra luggage while Oracle Team USA needs another 7 wins to retain the cup.

Oracle Team USA struggled at the beginning of the cup but have rallied recently with several recent wins.  Odds are on NZ to take it home, but Team USA is running strong with a win today to keep the cup on home shores another day.

Anyway  you slice it, the races are exciting and available to all.  The races are broadcast live on NBCSports (DirecTV channel 220, check your local cable listings).  Also a couple hours delayed on youtube, look for the America's cup channel.   There you will find all races archived.
Hint check out race 10 where there were more lead changes than any other AC race in history.

* The bay creates a chop of short period and steep waves.  It's a combination of the tides and wind.  We once won a race having learned to keep the boat in the water.  I could show you but I don't think I could put it in words.....  

** St Francis Laser slalom  was a simple race...  Two racers would each tack up around four bouys then across to jibe downwind around the opposite pair of four bouys, tack back up the same four marks, then jibe around the original four upwind markers.  First to finish wins.

Each heat race only takes a couple minutes and there are endless crashes providing much spectator amusement.   Catch is the Laser is an unstable boat made stable by the skill of the skipper.   Add in waaaay too much wind and you have a good time in a can.

They had a couple open slots one year I was on site and at hand due to a youth sailing conference the week leading up to the event.  I was invited to participate (as in how would you like to participate in our "wrestle with alligators" event"). I declined and still 45 years hence do not regret this decision.

14 September 2013

Friends of NRA Sporting Clays tourney

Our good friends at Great Satan Inc passed along a flyer announcing a Friends of NRA "100 bangs for freedom"(pdf link) Sporting Clays tournament local enough to make with only minor travel requirements.

We are happy FoNRA supporters and we have been practicing the scattergun weekly since his end of season performance at Sparta IL.  So this event seemed a win-win.

Our squad was a diverse crew of three juniors, your humble host and a high mileage unit "Russ" shooting a mega buck Kreighoff*.  He shoots several thousand rounds and many competitions each year.  I told the SCQueen "I want to retire and be him!"

I started off badly with an 0-fer on our first stage.  Everyone else did better.

The interesting thing about sporting clays is the variety.  Each scenario is different.  And the course length also varies.  The state match the SCSon competed at least March only used 10 stations so each station gave 5 presentations of the same target pairs.   Contrast that with today we had 15 stations so we only got to see the same pairs three or four times.

I started the day shooting a semi-auto shotgun.  It's the same one I've shot  the past seven weeks without a hiccup.  Today it failed to cycle first the 2nd stage, and twice in a row on the third.  I disassembled and wiped it down with oil last night and maybe that was a mistake.

The SCQueen put the gun in timeout** while I shared the over/under with the SCSon for the rest of the event.   I've shot the O/U*** before but I normally shoot the semi-auto.  So the first O/U shot today was "different".  When it didn't cycle, I thought something might have gone wrong.  By then the 2nd bird was aloft so I got back down on the gun and broke the clay.

One stage was king of interesting... it was an AB on report (2nd bird launches when the first shot is fired).  A was a high inbound while B was a high L to R crossing.  Frequently pieces of the broken inbound A bird would land in the immediate vicinity of the firing platform.   The "Incoming" warning call was heard more than a couple times.  I felt for one shooter who had a large piece of broken clay land literally at his feet as he engaged the B bird.  (I think he broke both birds).

The final scores were none too surprising.

Russ scored 86/100
Elder junior scored 67
SCSon scored 66
Your humble host scored 50
and the younger 20 gauge**** shooting junior scored forty something.

Here's the SCSon's take on the day.

* Kreighoff does very nice shotguns for serious shooters.  We visited with them at Sparta earlier in the year and IIRC the least expensive gun on the wall clocked in at about $18K.  I want to be in that league!  But I am a long way from there today.

** took it back to the car.

*** Said O/U was a birthday present for me...  However the SCSon normally claims it first so I rarely get to shoot it,  leaving me with the semi-auto.  #firstworldproblems

**** Larger bore means more shot in the air and better chances to break the bird.  The SCSon was waffling between 12/20 gauge early this year.  In two rounds of trap he scored 19/25 with the 12 gauge and 9/25 with the 20.  He hasn't looked back.

12 September 2013

Refrigerator repair

The main 'fridge here at the SandCastle developed a rather serious problem a few weeks ago - the ice dispenser failed.

Now to many this would seem like a minor inconsequential inconvenience.  After all, most of us had to open the freezer door to get ice.  Heck most of us had to manually refill ice cube trays.  However the SandCastle is in the heart of the Sonoran desert and we use a lot of ice.   The dispenser gives ice without opening the door and that saves energy and $$$.  The automatic ice maker + in door dispenser may well be the ultimate luxury appliance 'round these parts.  Right up there with the Garage Door opener!  I smile every time I hear the ice dump into the storage bucket!  So this is a big deal.

First guess was a blown fuse or bad relay.  Heck, fuses are designed to blow in order to save the rest of the circuit.  I used to have a large note on my tool box "CHECK THE FUSE FIRST" because of all the time I wasted troubleshooting only to find a blown fuse.  But we haven't been able to find an electrical schematic.  Usually there is one somewhere on the inside of the unit but we came up empty pulling off the back cover.  If there is a fuse in the circuit, we haven't found it.

We first checked the auger motor.  Pulled it off (four screws) and one electrical plug.    From there we were able to determine which conductors ran the motor.  Checking for power to the motor at the connector we had none.  Ok, the fault is probably further upstream.  For sake of completeness we put 120VAC to the motor and it ran easily.  Reassembled that and move on.

Rung out the front panel switches.. all check out ok too..  And finally got to the microswitch controlling the dispenser.  It also checked ok.  But in the process of getting this far, I noticed the lever that activates the dispenser switch wasn't reaching all the way to activate the switch.

The problem isn't electrical, it's mechanical!  The lever that activates the switch was misaligned.  We reassembled everything and now it works.
Side story... back in my college days I caught a nail riding home from school and blew a tire.  I was about midway through the tube repair when my roommate came home in his 3 piece suit from his internship at a certain tri-lettered high tech giant.

Him: "What are you doing?"
Me: "blew a tire... gotta patch the tube."
Him: (bewildered) "You can do that?  You don't have to pay someone to fix that for you?"
Me: "um no...  you see they sell this kit for a couple bucks."

Patching a bicycle tire was unheard of in his world.  That was something beyond the basic ability of normal people... you need special equipment and have to pay others to do it for you.  To me it was as normal as mowing the lawn.

Total dollar cost to fix the fridge: $0.  Total time to fix: about 2 hours.  Best Benefit: The SandCastle Son did a lot of the work and got his hands dirty in the process.   The couple hours hands on troubleshooting even doing simple disassembly/reassembly will hopefully translate into $$$ saved for him down the road.  That and that I wore insulating gloves while hotwiring the auger motor directly to the ac outlet.

BTW, the hardest part of this repair was not the electrical circuit.  It was the mechanical problems of disconnecting electrical connectors.  Each electrical connector has mechanical locks that we had to figure out how to release.

I hope he takes away the "you can fix it" lesson.  That and check the fuse first!