Friday, June 25, 2010

Bayamon, Puerto Rico: The Showjumping Stadium at Central American & Carribean Games

The main reason for my visit to Puerto Rico was to survey the equestrian venue at Julio Monagas Park in Bayamon. Skunkware is doing the timing & scoring for all timed events, i.e. the 3-Day X-C, the 3-Day showjumping, and all the showjumping.

Puerto Rico has received record rains over the past month. Note the massive amounts of mud ringing the main showjumping arena. This tractor is spreading more sand for the jumping surface.

Puddles in the sand arena. There is still a massive amount of painting, grading, and pretty-ing up on the punch list. Note the lights. The showjumping classes will all be held in the late afternoons, as the Puerto Rican climate is too hot, and therefore too hard on the horses, to hold classes in the heat of the day. Just in case the classes run late, the lights will kick in.

The water jump for the 3-Day X-C needs some work....but it suffers from no shortage of water.

The ROC has, very shrewdly, designed the 3-Day X-C course so that it both starts and finishes in the showjumping ring. GREAT IDEA, from the standpoint of spectator seating, timing, scoreboards, sponsorship signage, hospitality, and about a zillion other things. Would be nice if some other events I know (which shall remain nameless) would design their venues this cleverly.

No shortage of electrical power.

The main warmup ring, immediately adjacent to the main sand ring. The In-Gate to the main arena is visible on the far right.

This is the pre-warmup ring, which is up on a bluff, so it drains extremely well. Even so, there are still a few puddles from the record rains.

New Velodrome in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

I helped out my friend The Fred by doing a site check at his timing venue for the Mayaguez 2010 Central American Games, the new Aguadilla velodrome.

Nice logo on the infield.
Not much on the infield yet. All the commissaires, timing & scoring, competitor, and race secretary areas will be in temporary facilities.

Antolino Velez of the Mayaguez 2010 Organizing Committee points out electrical access.

When asking for directions, I was told "you can't miss it - it is right at the airport".

Uh...yeah. You think?

View from the grandstands.

Plywood construction.

This tunnel is the only way in and out of the 'drome. It was flooded when we arrived, but the powerful pumping system cleared it out in 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

My taste in music, which consists mostly of soul and R&B, belies my background as an Ivy League East-Coast preppie.

Another symptom of my East-Coast Ivy League-ness is my habit of listening to NPR most of the day and half the night.

A few weeks ago, these two affectations intersected. I was listening to the NPR podcast Fresh Air, and the interviewees were Sharon Jones and Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann) of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The two were nothing short of sensational.

Sharon Jones is about 5 feet tall, and is a former prison guard at Queen's notorious Riker's Island (note - the Riker's Island prison is within sight of the US Open stadium). The Dap Kings band should be famous, as they were more or less Amy Winehouse's backing band for a couple of years (during the Back to Black tour), but somehow fame has eluded them. I had seen them backing Winehouse, and had no idea who they were at the time.

NPR currently has a Podcast posted of a S.J.a.t.D.K.'s concert. I am listening to it right now, and it is infinitely, funkily superb. Highly recommended.

concert link

interview link

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

University of Nebraska Swimming Stadium Has a Cool New Toy

Signco technicians working on the electronics

A few module connections still need to be tweaked, but it's pretty much up and running.

My part of the play is interfacing their existing swimming and diving controllers with the new wall. That part is done. Running time on an 8-lane script.

Closeup of the LEDs.

Split script - Diving on the left, swimming on the right.
Diving script.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spruce Meadows' Unusual Dual Slalom

Spruce Meadows holds an unusual, if not unique, dual slalom class. It's very cool to watch, even for a jaded old fart like me.

In past years the class has included a lot of confusion, because neither the riders nor the judges are accustomed to dealing with two competitors at once. Figuring out who had won, after calculating all the faults and so forth, was complicated.

This year, I wrote software to collect the timing data off of two completely separate timing & judging systems, drive the TV graphics as well as the video walls, calculate the winner, and put a big green checkmark on the video wall as well as a twirling Spruce Meadows logo over the winner's name on the TV graphics. Worked great. The fans loved it. The judges loved it even more, as it made their jobs a lot easier.

The course.

The course map.

This traffic light controls the start.

Two horses staged at the start.

Riders competing head-to-head. The crowd goes wild.
The big green checkmark means WE'VE GOT A WINNER!!!!

Here's a video of a matchup that was won by 0.02 seconds. Sorry for the crappy camerawork.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Lost in all the kerfuffle surrounding Bruce Springsteen's presence here at Spruce Meadows for The National is the fact that his daughter, Jessica, is one hell of a good showjumper. World class, in fact. That was news to me, but I saw her jump today in the International Ring, and she's the real deal.

She jumped two horses today in the ATCO Midstream Cup, Iscariot and Vornado van den Hoendrick. On Iscariot she downed a rail plus a time fault, but on Vornado van den Hoendrick she scored a clear round, thus earning the right to compete in the Jumpoff. She rode clear in the jumpoff too, and finished third, on time.

The ATCO Midstream Cup had some of the best showjumpers in the world competing, so Jessica getting 3rd is a big deal. She's only 18, so do not be surprised to see her in the World Championships or even the Olympics, representing the USA, at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Jessica attacks a jump aboard Iscariote in the ATCO Midstream Cup.

Jessica's result aboard Iscariot on the color video wall, CHINA3.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Springstein's here.

Evidently his daughter is an accomplished showjumper, so he brought her up to Spruce Meadows this week for some of the competitions.

I didn't see him, but people are going batshit. 4 local news stations showed up with cameras to get some footage of little Bruce 2.0 jumping this morning in the CN Junior Classic on one of the outside rings. After she jumped, they all immediately packed up and hit the road. I'm sure the other competitors felt great about that.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Creative Lawn Mowing

The International Arena at Spruce Meadows is the most famous stadium in showjumping. It's the Centre Court, Wimbledon, of equestrian sports. One of its most distinctive features are the grass mounds in the Northeast and Southwest corners. The mounds are sometimes used to stage start gates, sometimes as finish gates, and sometimes simply as terrain features.

Today I finally learned how they keep the grass so nicely groomed.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

American Airlines Breaks Bikes

I sympathize with this guy.

But.....on the other hand, anybody who travels with their $2,000 bike in a cardboard box is asking for trouble. Spend the money to buy a hard case. There are at least 10 different styles that are adequate.

I've got THREE cases. One of them is a Trico Ironcase, which is the best one I've tried: