Friday, June 30, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Quarterfinal Predictions

Now it really gets serious, gang. The World Cup 2006 quarterfinals. Seven nations have won at least one World Cup. Six of them qualified for this finals. All six are playing in the quarterfinals. It doesn't get much better than this. Here now are my predictions for the round of 8.

Germany versus Argentina. Why does the first match of the quarters have to be the best match? This is the first time these two teams have met in the finals since the title game in 1990, and this match has all the makings of a classic. Klose was the difference in Germany's win over Sweden, setting up both of Podolski's goals. It was something special. Riquelme and Crespa will have their hands full. Germany in a close one, 1-0.

Italy versus Ukraine. Ukraine have had the easier road to the last eight, playing unspectacular soccer. Shevchenko needs to raise his game. Italy need to show some consistency. I'll take Italy, 0-0 after regulation, winning on penalty kicks.

England versus Portugal. Sure England have had troubles on offense, but their defense has allowed all of two goals the entire tournament. Their defense will be the key over an equally ineffectual Portugal offense. England 1, Portugal 0.

Brazil versus France. The rematch of the 1998 final promises to equal the Germany/Agentina match for action and drama. The Brazilian offense seems to have silenced their critics while the French are coming off a gritty performance against Spain. Brazil gets through, 3-2 after extra time.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Git Yer Giddyap On!

JackKnife, by Ed Mell, a sculpture in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Meet Patton

And now, in response to popular outcry from friends everywhere, we bring to you the latest addition to our family, Patton. We adopted him from the local animal shelter about a week ago. We wouldn't had known about him except for a kind acquintance who let us know there was a litter that had been born there. We completed and passed an application process and now he is ours. Best we can tell, he is a retriever mix; part golden, part labrador, maybe some collie.

For more pictures of Patton, just click on the photo, and that will take you to flickr, where you can view the rest.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sky Wagon

After World War II, thousands of former military pilots created a huge demand for general aviation aircraft. The industry responded with a vision of the airplane as a common mode of travel. An example of airplane as automobile was the Aeronca Chief. In this beautifully restored example from the late 1940s, you will find an instrument panel closely resembling that of an auto, right down to the jeweled gauge faces and heater controls. Alas, the industry vision of a plane in every garage fell well short of reality as long term demand fell off and the interstate system made it more cost effective to drive to your destination.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bitterly Disappointing

I suppose I could have arranged for the flight home from Phoenix last night, but I've never cottoned well to the notion of arriving at my house at 1:30 in the morning. So I knew I would be missing the critical third game for the United States in the World Cup today against Ghana. Sure the U.S. would have to do some unusual things, like win in Europe for the first time, and actually score a goal in this tournament on their own. But this was the most talented U.S. side ever, right? If this team couldn't do it, who could?

We were in the air, and it was around 45 minutes after the game started, and the pilot came on the intercom and announced the score as Ghana 2, U.S. 0. (This was actually incorrect, the halftime score was 2-1). I felt a moment of anguish and disgust. I was glad I wasn't actually watching the game. With that result, it wouldn't matter what Italy did against the Czech Republic.

As soon as I landed in Minneapolis, I found a television to confirm the bad news. What was worse, they were showing replays of the foul in the penalty area by Oguchi Onyewu that led to the go ahead penalty kick for Ghana. Now, gentle readers, I am a soccer referee by avocation, and I will defend referees to the death. And this referee was Markus Merk of Germany, truly one of the best in the world. But this call was so scandalously bad as to be almost profane. I am certain Herr Merk had some explaining to do to the match inspector during his debriefing. To me, Onyewu had position, played the ball (not the player) and it was more a case of the player running into him and selling a call. Honestly, I would not have made that call in a under-17 youth match.

Be that as it may, the United States had 45 minutes to right the ship, and they could not. Regardless of how fair the penalty call was, a champion overcomes obstacles, and this team was not up to task. So it ended at 2-1, with Italy beating the Czech Republic, the result the U.S. needed in the other match. So now the postmortems begin. So what about the coach? As much as he's boosted the program the last eight years, Bruce Arena pulled a Steve Sampson in the finals. He took a team with attacking talent and took out the talent. The team overall played tentatively and without confidence. The talents of Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson were wasted. Demarcus Beasley was misused, and his performance showed it. Casey Keller was uneven. And on and on and on. There was so much promise to this team, the team that won CONCACAF, and the last Gold Cup, that to see it fall flat is frustrating to say the least. Or maybe they were overrated after all. Expect Arena to be given the accolades he deserves, then quietly moved along.

So now we're in for another four years of dismissive patronizing by snarky sports talking heads. "Oh there's no reason to watch the World Cup" they'll say. But just like everything else they're wrong at, they'll miss the mark here. The true sports fan will watch anything involving a ball (and some things that don't). The true soccer fan does more than root for his country's team. The World Cup is live drama, with stories developing right before our eyes. Let's not forget that the Czech Republic was ranked second in the world rankings, and they're going home, too. Ghana has captured the imagination of the world in the last week and a half. Germany, Brazil, and Argentina look exceptionally strong heading into the round of sixteen.

"Soccer will never be a major sport in this country" they'll say, as though victims of a vast worldwide conspiracy. Well, of course it won't, any wise follower of the sport in this country will tell you. "It's boring!" I always laugh at that one. Baseball, which I enjoy greatly, can be massively boring, but that doesn't seem to hurt it. Enjoy soccer for what it is. That's what we do. And watch it grow on you. It all starts again in two years, when the qualifying process begins one more time for the next world cup. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of this World Cup.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Whither Puck?

This Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Orange, CA closed some time ago. I know if I were WP, I would have wanted all of the signage taken down and emblems removed. Kind of embarrassing, don't you think?

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Flying Onward

It's with a great deal of pride, excitement, happiness and pleasure that I announce that I have completed my first solo flight in my flight training. A cool but humid evening after the rains earlier in the day. The sun peering through the clouds and haze. Towering cumulus in the distance. And just me and the plane. It was awesome! Read the full account over at Rich's Quest For Flight, and thanks to all who have wished me luck along the way. There's still quite a way to go, but we're past a significant milestone. And I'm loving (almost) every minute of it.
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Cadillac Heaven

If you had said that the hood ornament shown was from a Cadillac, you were correct. Very few makes of automobile enjoyed leadership in styling as Cadillac did from the 1930s all the way through the 1960s. The lion's share of the credit belonged to one Harley J. Earl, who made his mark with General Motors first at the LaSalle division.

Before Mr. Earl, the major automobile producers offered cars engineered for low ownership cost, with little consideration given to style. Luxury cars had been an assemblage of coach, chassis and engine by custom shops. Earl's Art & Color Studios changed all of that, bringing highly styled luxury automobiles to greater numbers of owners than before.

Perhaps Earl's most famous contribution to postwar auto design was the evolution of the tail fin. Originally created to mimic the split tail of the P-38 Lightning, the fin, and several other design elements, eventually became so outrageous as to evoke sexual connotations. But look closely at the Cadillacs from this era. One feature blends into the next. Every style cue compliments every other. Take one away, and it affects the total look. They were truly total designs.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Podcast #3

Part 1

this is an audio post - click to play

Part 2

this is an audio post - click to play

This turned out to be two posts since I didn't quite squeeze everything into the first.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006


An automobile hood ornament from a bygone era. Can you name the manufacturer?

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Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup On The Road

I had to fly to Los Angeles today, and I knew I'd need to get to a television as soon as I got off the plane. Looking back, I needn't have worried, since the USA failed to show up for their match against the Czech Republic, losing 3-0. They were beaten up, down and sideways, and while Czech has a fine squad, the USA did well enough beating themselves. I'll be home for the match Saturday against Italy, maybe they'll get it together by then.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Train Station

Jefferson City, Missouri.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sunset Over The Ohio

Huntington, West Virginia.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

First Game Of The Year

Time to load up the cooler and the grill and some chairs and head to the park. And what a beautiful day it was for a baseball game. The Brewers hadn't been doing well leading into Sunday's game against the Washington Nationals, but hey, they can't lose eight in a row, right?

So we get there and unpack the truck. Cooler, chairs, buns and rolls. Wait a second. Where's the regulator for the grill?

Stadium food, AGAIN!

So we sat in the lot for a while, soaking in some sun, and eating chips and grapes.

We splurged a little for better seats this time. Behind the plate and below the press box. It was a perfect day for baseball indeed. Only problem was the Brewers lost ugly again, dropping their eighth straight to the Nationals, 8-4.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

A Far Cry From The Old Rubber Band Airplane

This one's been making the rounds of the internet, thanks in part to YouTube. This particular link is from Dvorak Uncensored which, despite the name, is PG at worst. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Dvorak Uncensored >> Dance, Little Airplane, Dance! Amazing, Just Amazing!

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Natural Arches

Albany, Georgia. June, 2005.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wall O' Fish

A school of sardines swimming against the current in the toroidal tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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