Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hidden Costs of Can't Go Home Again

I grew up in what I'm am just realizing now (funny how that works), a kid's paradise. I had animals, property to run around on (and work on which I hated then of course), and an orange grove.

It's gone now. Gone the way of most orchards and the property now hosts Yorba Linda McMansions, which I peek at with Google Satellite views in Google Maps and Google Earth. I truly and very literally can't go home again - it's a weird feeling that many folks share. Yorba Linda now remains as the one place in the world that I absolutely won't go.

And that's fine, but fate has a funny way of twisting the knife just a bit.

Facebook means that I don't have to feel guilty about not attending class reunions. I'm now in far better touch with some of my old pals on a regular basis than any reunion could have done, and this is pretty trippy in that "my world's are colliding" sort of sense I must say.

No, the weird knife bit is that in Yorba Linda of all places, a dog training center with a great reputation has been established. Well that's fine we have world class training here too, but they have taken to hosting classes/seminars from very well known trainers and behaviorists. Trainers that don't come to California that often. So I occasionally get these emails about So-and-So's only California appearance in Yorba Linda. Yeeegh (it's a Tom Lehrer sound that I don't know how to spell.)

Fortunately I have been spared by property values. The sale of my parent's property is funding their retirement. This means that property values all, but guarantee that there won't be any herding facilites founded there and it's not very likely a large agility trial place will appear either. (They have training, but it's not where you would have a trial.) But who knows.

In the meantime I still have to wait for these star trainers to get back to the Bay Area (they do come from time to time). Or I suppose I could go to them even though that's more money. I do make suggestions to the organizers, but there's always something that holds them back.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Look Carefully at my Sponsor's Skis

Sometimes when I finally notice something it seems so screamingly obvious, I wonder how I've been missing it for years.

It was actually a snowboarder who pointed this out to me. I'd been noticing that the snowboarders always seemed to be holding their boards up after a run while they waited for their score - particularly showing the underside. Then I noticed that one of the boarders was making a real obvious point about showing the name on the board to the camera. Then I noticed it again and again and again and wow, I'm slow, but they must be doing this deliberately. They are no doubt sponsored by the board manufacturer they're riding for and this just has to be part of the deal.

Then I saw the skiers. The very first thing they do when they finish a run is take at least one ski off and carry it vertically. Now when you're a tired skier this is likely one of the least likely things you're about to naturally do. Sure enough, every single skier took one or both skis off and held them up so the brand name was visible. They make it look so smooth, but it's so strangely affected. "Can you see my sponsor's skis that they gave me?" Here let me hold them up, so you can get a better look.

This is so dramatically different from the days when skiers were required to be amateurs and a skier could not be photographed with their ski brand showing. Funny how there really isn't a middle ground, we skipped from no photographs to always being photographed. Funny how it's mostly focused on skis and snowboards. It's not like runners are required to take their shoes off and hold them up. Now that would be ridiculous, but who knows maybe that's in the future.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Traveling the World to Compete with the Same Folks Again

So I'm noticing this Olympics that I pretty much know most of the big names in skiing and snowboarding, and if you tune in even just a little in between Olympics you will recognize names. Last year I wound up at Northstar and the weather was pretty miserable, so the only thing fun to do was go watch the snowboarding competition. And tonight's snowboarding competition was pretty much a replay of that competition. The Australian Tora Bright (who must never go home) won and Kelly Clark did very well, and one of the Tahoe locals Elena Hight placed. (I don't remember if Hanna Teter or Gretchen Bleiler were there).

This brings home in a way how small the world can get if you specialize enough. In Calif. in dog agility circles we joke that we travel 100s of miles and we see the same faces, and of course we can't help, but wonder why we bothered to go anywhere (but if you go far enough the faces do change and that's what makes it fun). I'm sure that occurs to the elite athletes as well. Their versions are even more extreme since they have sponsors and competing is their job as opposed to those of us with a moderately expensive obsession where we have to work so we can afford to do it. They really are always seeing the same people again and again, vs. the rest of us who recognize a percentage of the people we see, but by no means all of them.

I do love how in both skiing and snowboarding that the top women all know each other and seem to have this agreement about trading off who wins what.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How Many Keys on the Keyring?

One excellent way to start a religious, superstition-laid argument is to ask how many keys should be on a automotive keyring - the idea was that if there was too much weight on it that the ignition switch could wear out.

Well, pretty much a whole bunch of things we once knew about cars is now outdated. The fastest way to stop a car with anti-lock brakes is not to carefully feather the brakes, but instead stomp on the pedal. High octane gas is not better for your car if it wasn't designed for it (though that said, the higher detergent that is often in expensive gas might help). And taking a lot of time to warm the non-carburated fuel injected engine doesn't usually make a whole lot of difference in how the car runs and is pretty much only good when the car is in the snow and you want some heat. So with that in mind, I figured that the whole idea that having too many keys on your keyring is going to wear out your ignition is likely hokum these days. Google searching is inconclusive. Even the lackies at Car Talk hedged and said well 10 keys is probably ok, but it you're a janitor you might consider separating the car keys out.

So with no solid information I cheerfully ignored the key adage and I would have continued to ignore it, until something completely unrelated to the health of one's ignition switch convinced me it was a good idea to separate them out.

At a shopping center near me there was a car jacking. Now that gave me considerable pause. Mostly because of the headlines if that happened to anyone with dogs in crates in the car. Most of these dog owners would rather be shot than let someone take their dogs, but once that scary scenario dissipated I was left with another one. If your keys are one one ring and you don't have a quick release, do you think that Criminal X is going to wait around while you take your car key off your ring? This is what unrealistic comedies are made of. So not only does your car get stolen, but they have your house and other keys and they have your registration which contains: your address.

Yikes. That more that any silly debate made me separate the car keys out from the other keys.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Your Car is Not a Television

Less so these days, but something that I still see is people locking/arming their car by pointing the keypad at the car, and of course the car (usually) dutifully responds, just like pointing the remote at the TV. But the thing is your car is not a television. TVs have infrared sensors that detect the signals from the remote. Your car has no such sensors and imagine how crazy it would make you if it did. Just think of the drama in your living room when something blocks that IR sensor, now out in the wilds of the average parking lot. Thanks I'll pass.

Car arming systems use a different technology that is not based on direction. You do no need to point it at the car. I remember in the 80s how much a friend enjoyed setting his car alarm by just reaching in his pocket. Except for the funny walk, there was no relationship to the car beeping and what he was doing. With work, he would have gotten subtly points.

Try it sometime. have the fob in your hand, but don't point it at the car when you press the lock button. It should work the same. The cool thing about this is that if you're in your house and you can't remember if you locked the car (I don't use the auto lock), then you can press the button from inside your house and if the car is within range it should respond. You don't need to open the door and do elaborate aiming gymnastics. I know Hollywood has gotten a lot of mileage out of this misconception (someone aims their remote at their new car and life), but it's been bogus for a long time.