Saturday, February 28, 2009

Disc Golf Rules!

Earlier this month while at the Scouts "Roundtable" meeting, an innocuous flier was on the table near the entrance.  It called to me though... stirring a spirit from the way back days:  "Free Disc Golf Clinic", sponsored by the Youth Disc Golf Association (YDGA).  I knew then that the boys needed to experience the coolness of disc golf (AKA "frisbee golf" to the unitiated!).

I sent the message out to Pack 621 and announced it at our monthly meeting.  Still... only 4 boys accepted the challenge - the rest will come to learn what they missed!  LOL.  The course we were to play was in San Marcos, and I found it it was fairly recent - only about 18 months old. 

The YDGA folks, as well as members of the San Diego Aces, a competitive disc golf team, were as friendly as they could be.  Cold water, plenty of discs, and an approach to teaching the kids that was genuine, fun and informative. 

After just 20 minutes of rules, practice, and Q&A, the boys trudged off towards Hole #1, a 150 footer with a ditch just to one side of the hole.  I was proud of Ethan and his friends, open and eager to learn.

Discs for disc golf come in a wide variety of weights and aerobatic properties.  There are discs for driving, mid-range, putting, for flying around trees, and more. 

A couple of the instructors had bags holding a dozen or more specialized discs.  Here's a picture of a full-on kit.

After the boys were on the 4th tee or so, several parents went out with one of the instructors who was quite skilled and taught us the ropes as well.  He had a wicked drive and a throwing technique on one hole where the disc literally knife-edged it's way between two trees to drop within a few yards of the chains.

Oh, so a little about the "chains":  The holes are actually posts with a tulip-shaped series of hanging chains that do a decent job of trapping the discs when hit properly.  Or, in many cases, they can be tricky little chains of denial, swatting away even the most skilled players' flying putters.

The boys seemed to love the whole experience, recounting different holes and shots over a sub sandwich later.  I think this is a fire that can be stoked...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wind Chill Factor ZERO

"!$#@%!%#$^%$#!! Damn it's bloody cold," I mutter, easing the throttle of my F800GS on and accelerating up from Buckwheat Manor. Clear, but cool.

Today it's the carpool lane for me, which means a quick blast down Hwy 56 East to a super tight right-hander on to the entrance ramp to the Hwy 15 carpool lanes.

I don't like that spooky, paint-slick right-hander at all, and I think every time I lean into it that it's an engineering abomination - a royal screw-up by somebody who had a chance to make it right. See... it's narrow, tight, and of course one of those faceless, ubiquitous, crazy retaining walls is staring me in the face daring me to smack it all the way through the curve. Hey, don't get me wrong: I ain't actually complaining, I just don't like the darned things trapping me into their narrow tunnels... not to mention the coffin cars that back up at the non-carpool entrance ramp, making me (yes, FORCING me!) to lane split to get to the fast track.

But, back to the cold stuff. The commute to Nik Software is on a super-slab that traverses many canyons. Yet even though the concrete ribbon looks rather smooth and flat, there are definite dips through the canyons where the temperature can easily drop 5-12 degrees (according to my onboard thermometer).

And hoo boy can you feel it! One minute you're trucking along at 75mph and reading 68 degrees, and the next few moments you're in the 50's or even lower. I do like the sensation of the off and on coldness - keeps ya alert - but at times have wondered what the heck the actual "wind chill corrected" temperature might be on the commute.

So, I set off to find a wind chill chart to get some data. The Nat'l Weather Service even has a calculator that makes sussing out a wind-corrected temperature easy.

Speeds on the super-slab range from 50mph to an easy loping 90mph (especially if there's a Porsche hot-footing it by!). I plugged in 49 degrees (the highest this calculator would go) and 80mph, which yielded a 36 degree wind chill.

Yikes! At that temperature, frostbite is not supposed to occur for at least 30 minutes; therefore a 20 minute commute should be fine and dandy!

The bike has heated grips, and with last weeks service appointment is now outfitted with a direct-to-the-battery, fused 15-amp socket. That's powerful enough to drive a mini-air compressor or - more to the point - electric clothing. Now that should make future commutes nice and toasty IF I can scrape up the cash to pick up an electric vest! Until then, I'll suffer through (but enjoy) the cold "dips" on the commute.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The 2009 Pinewood Derby Rocked!

This year's edition of the Pack 621 Pinewood Derby was super-fun. I had missed the 2008 running due to a poorly-timed business trip so I was extra-anxious to enjoy every single moment. Capably led by Sharlene Forbes and a host of volunteers, we dialed in the cars and practiced on a Friday night, then raced Saturday morning.

I was probably as excited as Ethan - his car looked excellent and I was hopeful of a solid performance (by both of us).

A former dad in the Pack has some pull at the excellent LDS church up the road - they have a basketball gym that can easily accommodate our crowd of 50-60 parents, boys and siblings.

Sharlene was able to secure a well-built track and an electric timer (key to eliminating ALL controversy). And, being a statistician, she arranged a sequence of "heat" races to determine the top 4 racers who would compete to represent our Pack at the upcoming Scout Fair in April at Qualcomm Stadium.

Racing action at its finest - wow, look at that photo-finish!

Along the way, two "belt loop" stations were set-up (music and heritage) and a free snacks table was available. Thanks to Jeanette Candelaria and June Ludwick for manning those stations!

Emotions ranged from pride to delirium

Chris Claborne, the Camera Ninja, once again proved his mad warrior skills behind the lens. The pictures you see on this post are his with full credit - if you are looking for an excellent portrait and fun-loving location photographer at a reasonable price, look no further than Mr. Claborne.

Pit row was awash in last minute fixes and graphite powder lubricant. My hot glue gun was a hit. The natives were restless! Fun stuff.

But not too restless to enjoy the Parent races and the sibling/guest races. It should be noted that the Parent races pitted cars that had virtually no restrictions on them.

Clearly the fastest in the group was that chunk of wood with a 1lb of lead on it entered by Ryan Omer. LOL. At the speed it was traveling, every crash into the foam at the end of the track took its toll. Still, it prevailed. I had to take consolation in my "Electric Gravitas" racer which I think earned serious style points!

In the end, racing action was intense, emotions ran high, and each of the 4 final contestants ran on each lane of the track one time - thereby eliminating any advantage a cock-eyed lane might provide.

In the end, a Webelos 2 boy who will be bridging to Boy Scouts in about 3 weeks came away with top honors - hearty congrats, Juan! Keep that car safe and we'll be cheering you on in April!

Congratulations Juan - do us proud!