The Kentucky Derby

May 2, 2015

Today is a special family day.  In Seattle the Opening of Boating Season (33 CFR 100.1304).  At our home, the Opening of Mint Julep Season.  In perfect coordination with the Kentucky Derby.

Just like I choose teams in March Madness (what’s my connection with the college, tempered by the seed), I chose horses by their names.  And I read the NYT analysis this morning…the NYT really has staff that handicap horse racing?  My greatest success was in 2012 with “I’ll Have Another”.  And so today I am challenged.  My $24 “dollars” for four WPS bets:

Carpe Diem.  Brings strong memory of the best commencement speech I’ve heard, Sherman Alexie at UW in 2003.  8-1.

Frosted.  This is how bad the set of names are this year.  But in honor of my colleague Bruce Frost and my joy in watching David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon (the frost-bitten Dick), Frosted will have to do.  15-1.

Bolo.  Lee Silver, a favorite Caltech professor always looked sharp in his bolo tie.  And a woman trainer.  30-1

A Baffert Horse.  The two favorites.  American Pharaoh is out, let my people go.  Dortmund?  Oh well.  3-1.


TSA and the Buddha

June 13, 2010

As we passed through airport security at Bob Hope Airport (aka Burbank, BUR) this morning, I was greeted just beyond the metal detector by a glove-clad, TSA supervisor who informed me (and I must say this wasn’t recorded and I think I captured its content faithfully, but so it only counts as my best recollection):

I’m going to need to apply an unusual random protocol.  May I rub your belly?

What the heck.  Sure.  I wanted to be on the plane.  All above the belt.  He rubbed my belly.  Took two seconds.  He thanked me nicely.

But now Tobae and I are having a debate.  (Debate might not be the right word, but it is best I not appear to be irritable).  Was I profiled for the paunch over my belt?

I never quite got up the nerve to ask my seat neighbor on the flight whether he received similar treatment.  If he didn’t, profiling is surely ruled out, for he could have blown up the plane and more.


June 3, 2010

Memories of Ken Griffey, Jr., The Kid.  Back-to-back home runs with his father in 1990.  The remarkable 1995 season.  Saving baseball in Seattle.  Breaking our hearts in 2000.  And his return, in 2007 still with the Reds and then with his signing in 2009 to end his career here.  These and others will quickly displace the sour taste of this odd, last season, seemingly with a clubhouse not infected with his visible joy for the game.

And so my memories of 1995.  Griffey played only 72 games, out with injuries.  His batting average that year was his lowest as a player in Seattle (of course, until his return in 2009).  Not surprisingly, the Mariners struggled mightily and were 13 games back on August 2.  8-1/2 out on my birthday August 29 (Thank you for reinforcing my precision recall!).   But for me, 1995 was a busy summer of research, the year of our research cruises for “Mixing Zephyrs“.  25 days in late May into mid-June and 14 more the latter half of September.  My attention as the Mariners steadily rallied was more on being ready to sail on September 15 fully prepared to capitalize on a very interesting result from the earlier leg: tidal triggering of flow perturbations.  But underneath, knowing that as we sailed we were just 5 games out.

At this point I’ll borrow a piece of writing I did in 1997, again while at sea in September in the midst of our second run at the playoffs.  This appeared in a web-based logbook on September 16, 1997 (they were not yet called blogs!)

Baseball Blues For a basefall fan, there is no worse time to be at sea than September. The pennant races are tight and after faithfully following games, scores and standings, we are now cut off from newspapers, television, and KJR Sports Radio 950. We get word from friends of most Mariners scores, less often the Angels score, and with increasing frequency, happily, a magic number. But all the substance and subtlety has been lost…who pitched? who’s injured? how many HR does Junior have? who will we be playing come playoff time? why did Lou bring in the right hander with 2 outs in the 7th and the tying run on 1st?

Likewise, once we sailed in 1995 we barely knew what was going on other than that we were winning and steadily: 4 back, 3 back, 3 back, 2 back, 1 back and then on September 20, tied for first.

My colleague Marv Lilley and I were going wild.  With the standings tied we had to have playoff tickets.  And we knew our wives were not going to be much help; in fact, mine would be no help!  But after a ~$100 phone call (calling from sea at that time was $10/minute) the administrator of our department stepped up for us and we secured rights to four strips of tickets, way out in left field at the Kingdome, a couple of rows from the top of the section.  All we needed was to actually keep winning.  By the time we stepped off the ship, up 3, then slipping to finish tied at the end of the regular season.  Monday, October 2, one game playoff, Randy Johnson phenomenal, AL West Champions.

No need for me to recount the baseball side of the Yankees series.  Marv’s family and my family alternated nights, with Marv substituting for Tobae on my nights.  (Tobae finally did go to one game in the ALCS and I believe I heard her cheer.)  My best memory was after Game 2 waiting at 3rd and Jackson for a bus back to UW.  Marv was astounded by the fascination of Daniel and Mark (then 7 and 6) with the parking meters.  We are such a rural family that they had never seen one!

Closing this post by returning to the cruise calendar.  ALVIN Dive 3000 occurred on September 20, the day the Mariners tied up the standings.  My “Apollo 13” experience, Dive 3004, was on September 24.  Lost to Oakland, up 2.  It must have been the baseball euphoria that got me back in ALVIN for Dive 3005, when we captured the chemical evidence that substantiated our temperature data…zephyrs were mixing, but not at all in the way we had imagined.  Once the ALCS was over, and baseball buzz subsided, I reflected on my Apollo 13 day…and not happy over the complacency around safety, I haven’t been in ALVIN since.

Thanks Junior!

Don’t Trust ‘Em

December 26, 2009

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll on global climate illustrates the politicization of science in the United States:

Scientists themselves also come in for more negative assessments in the poll, with four in 10 Americans now saying that they place little or no trust in what scientists have to say about the environment [emphasis added]. That’s up significantly in recent years. About 58 percent of Republicans now put little or no faith in scientists on the subject, double the number saying so in April 2007. Over this time frame, distrust among independents bumped up from 24 to 40 percent, while Democrats changed only marginally. Among seniors, the number of skeptics more than doubled, to 51 percent. … [M]ore than six in 10 Americans see a lot of disagreement among scientists on the issue of global warming. That’s the view of nearly eight in 10 Republicans and about two-thirds of independents. A smaller majority of Democrats, 55 percent, see general agreement among the scientific community.

Indeed, as a scientist I have no traction with my Republican mother-in-law.  She revels in how I am taken out of context in her favorite climate skeptic book.  Makes no difference that I can explain how.  Her own son, a nuclear physicist at Oak Ridge, gets no traction as well (and he had the enjoyment of climate bashing over the holidays).  She is a very smart and accomplished woman, holding a Ph.D in economics.  She must be doing something right…re-elected the mayor the sixth largest city in Georgia with 84% of the vote (three opponents splitting the rest).  But wouldn’t it be simpler for her to explain why our economy cannot afford to stop carbon emissions, which may well be true, rather than accepting Republican mantra that the practice of science is flawed.  (Or perhaps I’ve misjudged and her views are aligned not with Repuplicans but with other seniors?)

No wonder I fear for our new College of the Environment at UW, nearly all of its units rooted in the natural sciences.  Are we now instantly less credibile?  Perhaps the only saving grace is that we are located in a blue state.

My Blogging Universe

October 10, 2009

My friend Ron Irving’s blog was highlighted in the official UW communication vehicle, University Week.  Ron writes (or may have said but it seems like it wrote):

Q: Who is your intended audience?

A: I didn’t anticipate having any audience initially, except maybe for my immediate family. The blog really was just a forum for writing. And the audience remains small. Some family members. Friends. Friends of friends. Friends of friends of friends. My sister, who has lived in Paris since 1980, reads it, and what’s interesting about that is that it has shrunk the distance between us in unexpected ways, as she now knows a lot about what floats around in my head, topics we have never talked about.

Russ McDuff, the director of the School of Oceanography, reads it, and through him, so too do his sister and her partner in Santa Cruz. I’ve never met them, but in turn I now read their blogs, so we have become blog pals. I occasionally get comments from total strangers, like someone who responded minutes after I wrote about Bill Russell.

Getting back to the initial question, I have no specific intended audience. Family, friends, and whoever else cares to read what I have to say.

So Ron pointed the article out for me, me in turn to Robin and Leslie, and much to my surprise and delight I learn that Leslie has been working on arranging a get together of all of us the next time they visit Seattle.  And then out of the blue I ran into Ron and Gail yesterday evening for the first time in several months.  An inspiration to keep up my end of my blogiverse.  (Which seems to be as a word that describes the universe of blogs; it should be the universe of the blogs of my friends).

Saying Goodbye

September 7, 2009

I’m sitting at the kitchen counter, the lights dimmed, and Tobae already in bed.  I’ve been outside with Boomer who is in wonderful spirits, but whose hindquarters just aren’t working for her.  After a good night’s rest she will bark as we awake and seem energetic, but most of the day she builds strength for her next trip outdoors.  We’ll be saying goodbye soon.

She is Mark and Daniel’s dog, joining us 13 years ago when they were not yet 10.  She was a rescue dog, the one that sat on command as the family walked through the pound.  Smart dog!  The vet thought she was certainly one, perhaps two, so now close to 15.  For her size…85 pound…a very old dog. Unknown breed, but kind, gentle, protective.

She loved the mountains.  Our packs and boots, but especially her own pack was a signal it was time to go.  She was Tobae’s animate GPS, always able to retrace the route.

And so we listen to the happy barking yet watch sadly as her body fails her.  And adjust for we have a few more days with her and we are very sad.