Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm From The Government And I'm Here To Help You....

This is a great thing, something I figr'd would never happen. It is obvious that Maui is the most perfect microcosmic test environment in the US for biofuels, but I doubted anyone would ever take advantage of that fact.

1. There are tens of thousands of acres of sugar being grown here on an ongoing basis, 100% of which is grown at a financial loss. MC&S grows sugar at a loss in order to retain its water rights so that they can develop their massive land holdings "someday", but of course now is not the time, since the housing market is so bad.

2. Two of the biggest problems with biofuels do not exist here: (1) There is no such thing as cold weather (2) On an island with a circumference of 160 miles, there is no such thing as delays getting refined biofuels from factory to consumer. One tanker truck could conceivably deliver to every gas station on the island in one 24-hr day.

3. There is already a wildly successful biofuels program in place here, a private venture owned by singer Willie Nelson and local businessmen Bob & Kelly King. About 10 years ago, they built a plant to refine cooking grease into biodiesel. Today they operate at a profit, sell biodiesel for about $1 a gallon less than petroleum diesel, and they refine every single drop of cooking grease produced on the island. Not one drop goes into the (limited) landfills here.

Since the island imports all of its energy except for the 15%-20% of its electricity generated by the massive Kaheawa Wind Farm, Maui has some of the highest energy costs in the US. Yet Maui has almost unlimited wind, unlimited sun, great soil for growing things, and a huge and robust growing infrastructure. There is no reason why the island can't be completely energy-independent within 4 or 5 years.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hot Shots from NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge

Sprint Rent-A-Slut With a T-Shirt Cannon

Kevin Harvick's wife drove the car since she's quite a few pounds lighter than Kevin, so his crew put her name on the roof.

The Boys in their aloha shirt Skunkware uniforms.

Andrew doing graphics for SPEED.

Another rent-a-slut with a t-shirt cannon. A word to the not call a woman a "rent-a-slut" when she is holding a loaded weapon.

Trampass tries to keep the teams from cheating.

"BACK! BACK 6 INCHES! THAT'S WHY THEY CALL IT THE START LINE" says Trampass to Jamie McMurray's crew chief

That's more like it, says Top Cop Trampass.

Another rent-a-slut, more t-shirts

Trampass tightening up the crew chief of the 27 Menard Chevrolet

Friday, May 13, 2011

Good News For All Of Us....

Texans pointing out they suck. They know they suck. And especially....George W. Bush sucks.

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the rest of the Lunatic Windbag Chorus are falling on hard times as listeners tune them out.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Thomas Dolby and Mark Knopfler

I've been a huge Mark Knopfler fan since I heard the debut Dire Straits album in college. I've seen him, both solo and with Dire Straits, several times, and have tons of his music recorded in various forms.

The other day I was listening to the NPR podcast "Fresh Air" while out skateboarding, and Thomas Dolby was featured. I've never really liked Dolby's music, it's a bit gimmicky for me, but it was easier to keep listening than to stop and fast-forward the podcast, so I kept listening.

The Dolby interview turned out to be very interesting indeed. Dolby has totally changed his approach to music since his early, gimmicky, "Blinded Me With Science" sound. These days, he opines, anybody with a $1.99 iPod app has access to better synthesizers than he bought for half a million dollars way back when, so after not making any new CDs for 20 or 25 years he is coming out with a new work called "Oceania" which features something very few CDs today have - good songwriting craft, real musicianship, and very few tracks. As the podcast wound down, one of the Oceania songs was played, and it was outstanding. I made a note to check it out.

Oceania has not been released yet, but an EP has, and I got a copy. If the record is anything like the EP, I will definitely buy it.

I checked out Dolby's web site, and there is a terrific video of his visit to Mark Knopfler's personal studio in London to have Knopfler record a guitar track for the Oceania song "17 Hills". Dolby plays back about a dozen tracks Knopfler laid down, and then demonstrates how he weaved snippets of the various guitar licks into the track he actually used.

Fascinating stuff, and a real treat for Mark Knopfler fans like me. Check out "17 Hills Dissected, Part 2 of 3"

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Panic vs Choking......and Tape Measures

Panic and choking are not the same thing. In fact, they are diametric opposites. A person who is panicking simply goes blank. His brain stops processing, he can't think of even the most basic instructions or commands. A person who is choking suffers from a runaway brain, flooded with so many contradictory messages it starts to seize up like a thirsty man trying to drink from a fire hose.

Being a former professional athlete and a sports fan, there's nothing I respect more than somebody who neither chokes nor panics under pressure. There is nothing more difficult, nothing more difficult to train for, than the buzzer-beater.

In my lifetime, the king of this has, until this week, been Michael Jordan. The guy was just impervious to pressure. There is a huge difference between somebody like Carmelo Anthony, who has every shot in the book and (a few that aren't) and Michael Jordan, who has the same talent but can execute all of them, any of them, when an entire season, or an entire career, is on the line.

Probably THE classic choke was Jana Novotna vs Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon Final in 1993. Jana Novotna was KILLING Graf in the final set, and she simply fell to pieces. It was like watching a huge train wreck in slow motion. It was agonizing to watch.

Other than Jordan, the ten sportsmen who pop into my head (in no particular order) who have exhibited the greatest cool under fire in my lifetime are:

Alain Prost (aka The Professor). 4-time Formula One World Driving Champion.

Valentino Rossi
(aka The Doctor). 7-time MotoGP (Formula One motorbike) Champion.

Rod Laver (aka The Rockhamption Rocket) 2 tennis "Grand Slams" despite being banned from Grand Slam tennis for 6 of his peak years.

Lindsey Vonn 3-time Alpine World Cup Overall Champion. Her Gold Medal DH run at the Vancouver Olympics on a rapidly slushifying course, which was running 2 seconds slower than when leader Julia Mancuso skied, might be the ballsiest thing I've ever seen on snow.

Roger Federer 16 Slam titles.

Pete Sampras 14 Slam titles.

Franz Klammer 4-time Hahnenkamm Downhill Champion. His Gold Medal DH run at Patscherkofel in the 1976 Olympics was the ballsiest thing I'd ever seen on snow until Vonn at Vancouver. Check it out on YouTube sometime. Astonishing.

Chauncey Billups (aka Mr Big Shot). Point guard, currently with The NY Knicks.

Tiger Woods Say what you want about his recent problems, the guy was, for almost 15 seasons, simply impervious to pressure.

Jimmie Johnson 5-time NASCAR season champion in a sport where any technical advantage is, by definition, eliminated by NASCAR.

There are a lot more who certainly are in this same league, such as Willis Reed and Juan Manuel Fangio, but they were before my time.

This morning, I read this article by Bob Woodward in The Washington Post.

If the last few paragraphs of this article is true, then as of this week, in my opinion, there's a New Sheriff In Town. The coolest cat of all time. This guy is more impervious to pressure than Michael Jordan. This guy is Mr. Spock, with a suntan. His name? His name is Barack Obama, and he's President of the United States.

And I quote.....

"In the White House Situation Room on Sunday night, the president and his national security team watched a soundless video feed of the raid.

When bin Laden’s corpse was laid out, one of the Navy SEALs was asked to stretch out next to it to compare heights. The SEAL was 6 feet tall. The body was several inches taller.

After the information was relayed to Obama, he turned to his advisers and said: 'We donated a $60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure?' "

Obama staked his entire presidency on this raid. The odds of success were, by all credible accounts, about 50/50. He knew, as a President who had never served in the military, that a failure would define his presidency and possibly lose him the next election. And at the height of all this, instead of losing his temper at a snag, he cracks wise?

This Obama fella may have a future if he keeps this up. The guy is cool.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Reliable As The Weather in Hawai'i

People always think I'm kidding when I tell them it snows regularly in Hawaii. It does in fact snow regularly up at the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea (altitude 15,000 feet, give or take)....however not usually at my house (3,450 ft above sea level).

Today I was swimming at the Pukalani Pool (altitude 1,500 ft give or take), the air temp was about 80 degrees and the sky was partly cloudy. I was zoned out to the tunes on my SwimP3 player and had done about 2 km. As I went into a flip turn, I felt something bang against my legs. I stopped and there was a lifeguard standing over me. "Yo brah, we closin' da pool, dare's lightnin' & thundah".

This is a common ploy. There's a rule at the County pools - when the lifeguards hear thunder or see lightning, they are required to get everyone out of the pool and close the pool deck for 30 minutes. This is very convenient for, say, when they want to go out to the baseball field and smoke a quick joint, or hit Starbucks across the street. I looked up and was surprised to find there actually were some black clouds around, and even some thunder, which is extremely unusual. Hailing from Florida, where a day without lightning and thunder is unusual, lightning is so unusual in Hawaii that it usually makes the newspaper.

I packed up my crap and drove home.

Ten minutes after I got home, a wicked hailstorm started up. A hailstorm as vicious as any I saw in the 20-odd years I lived in Florida.

I even have the photos and the video to prove it.

This Is One Crazy-Ass Frog

I love skiing as much as the next maniac, but JEEBUS!

A Frog, of course.