Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I stood up, but the rolling sensation had already stopped, and the quake was reduced to minor shaking. A few things on shelves rattled; I went over to a bookcase and grabbed a Hard Rock Cafe hurricane glass that was about to topple off. This shaking continued for about 15 seconds, and then it was all over.
The earthquake was on the Calaveras Fault and registered a 5.6. The last big quake in the Bay Area, the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, was a 6.9. Certainly it was the biggest one I've ever experienced since moving here in 1997 (the year I was away in Spokane, there were no quakes of any significant magnitude). Now, it could be that this quake released a lot of stress on the Calaveras Fault, which will prevent a larger quake on that fault for a time (or, alternately, it could be a precursor to a worse one). Everyone's biggest fear is that it will undoubtedly cause stress changes along the Hayward Fault, which is predicted to go at any time. And it's predicted to be a big one, possibly rivalling the 1906 earthquake. Clock's ticking ... a hundred years have passed ... we're definitely due.
But it certainly reminded us to update our earthquake kits (we gave some of our emergency stuff away when we moved out of the area), to bolt bookcases to the walls, and to get art putty under loose glasses or items that can topple and break. At least we have renter's insurance that includes earthquake coverage on our household items. But coverage is so expensive here for anyone who owns a house, a good many folks can't afford it. It's a sad fact that those who need it most have to pony up obscene amounts of money to get any coverage at all because the insurance companies don't want to offer reasonably priced insurance for a castrophe that WILL HAPPEN at some point. So the rates are insane; people can't buy coverage and live praying that the big disaster won't happen. If it does, who will help them? FEMA? Uhhhh ... yeah, right.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Now, back to the promised post about Breeder's Cup. Holy cow, what a day!
I got to Bay Meadows (walked there as planned), arriving around 9am. I placed a win bet on Indian Blessing, as planned, and then did a quick $8 Pick 4. I singled Indian Blessing in the first leg; in the second leg, I went with War Pass and Tale of Ekati; in the third leg, I chose Nashoba's Key and decided to add in Lahudood because of that horse's connections (same owner-trainer combination as last year's Horse of the Year and Classic Winner, Invasor); and in the last leg, I picked Smokey Stover and Midnight Lute.
Indian Blessing won, and then War Pass won.
Then came the third (the fillies and mares) and it was tough to see Nashoba's Key get passed. But, she hung in there and held on for 4th. Fortunately for me (AND, get this, for my partner, we'd both put her in a dime superfecta box!) We both hit it. It's a $2.40 bet which paid out $118.00. So I couldn't be that glum about Nashoba's Key, and my Pick 4 was alive to the last leg.
Smokey Stover didn't handle that nasty mudpit of a track at all, and Midnight Lute won. Then, the "INQUIRY" light starting flashing, and my heart sank. But then it was okay! The bone of contention didn't involve the winning horse, so my Pick 4 was safe. My partner and I ran down to the bar to see our favorite bartender, M, who watched the boards with us to see the payout. (I had already bought a Bloody Mary earlier with a $20 and then had her keep the change since I'd hit that little superfecta. It's a karma thang, don'tcha know?)
The payout on that $8 bet was $1,032.
Great! Wonderful! But to collect, I had to go home to get my social security card, because that's enough that the track has to report the win to the IRS. Boo. Hiss.
The rest of the day was one grand thing after another. We must've given away over $200 in tips just to our pals--J who seats us, J at Will Call, R in the paddock, and more love for M in the bar.
Betting continued to go well: I was alive once again to the Pick 4 when the Classic came up. (Two of the horses I'd singled the night before Breeder's Cup came in 2nd--Excellent Art and Hystericalady, so I was glad I'd chosen some alternates), but English Channel won like the chamption he is. For the Classic, I'd chosen three horses: Lawyer Ron, Street Sense, and Hard Spun. I was rooting quite loudly for Hard Spun as he went right to the front as he always does and was drawing away from the field on the turn, chugging right along in that slop. Then up came Curlin! Arrgh! Blew my Pick 4, but it was an awesome display of athleticism that I couldn't complain about. Losing to Curlin is nothing to regret, and I'm sure that muscular boy will get 2007 Horse of the Year.
At Bay Meadows itself, I won on a longshot named Welfare Cadillac and then an acquaintance of ours, Monty Armi, who owns several horses trained by Billy Morey, told us that if his horse won the next race, we could accompany him to the winner's circle to be in the owner and trainer's photo. That's always a hoot. He'd told us about his horse, Stephen Bruce, a couple weeks ago and said he'd had his race and was all set to win the next one. And true to his word, that horse killed the field. There was no catching him. Even Russell Baze was laughing afterwards with Monty Armi about there being no chance of catching him (Baze was on the horse that came in second).
The last awesome thing that happened was that there was a raffle going on, I believe, to benefit retired horses (or maybe it was retired jockeys), so we picked up a picture of Lost in the Fog that Russell Baze had signed along with 20 tickets, and my partner won the raffle! It was for a $100 gift certificate to the Saddle Shop in San Mateo, so we'll have to go gear up.
It was a great day. Of course, the only drawback was the one thing about horse racing that gets me down: George Washington broke down in the Classic. Such a shame. At least they put him right to sleep; he had shattered his leg that badly. The irony is that his owners were Barbaro's owners. The second irony is that they had taken him out of retirement to race again when he didn't work out as a stud. The Jacksons must be feeling a bit jinxed right now.
Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
UPDATE: Guess I'm not sticking to it! A reader emails a quick correction: Roy and Gretchen Jackson bred George Washington but weren't the owners. Aiden O'Brien was the trainer for owner Mrs. John Magnier. The horse also didn't break his leg; he actually broke both sesimoids - which are in the fetlock joint. She notes that it's a shame this turf horse wasn't scratched from an off, dirt track. On this, I'm sure we all agree.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
I will still stand by two picks I made days ago: Smokey Stover and Nashoba's Key. I feel pretty good about Smokey's love of mud, and I'll root for a Carla Gaines horse any day in a field of fillies and mares.
So here goes, picking winners only (not a Pick 6):
Juvey Fillies: Indian Blessing
Juvenile: Tale of Ekati
FIlly and Mare Turf: Nashoba's Key
Sprint: Smokey Stover
Mile: Excellent Art
Distaff: Hystericalady or Lear's Princess
Turf: Dylan Thomas or English Channel
Classic: All! Just kidding. If I had to choose one ... I can't. Street Sense, and in that mud? Hard Spun.
I wasn't kidding about random dime superfectas. Pick two favorites and two longshots and box 'em for a dime for each race, folks. It's a mere $2.40 bet. If it hits, it'll pay for your day. Good luck, y'all.
In the Filly & Mare Sprint, Coa took Dream Rush right to the front, and La Traviata was tracking her closely. When she shook that horse loose and sprinted ahead well ahead of the turn, my heart sank. The pace was too blistering fast, esp. in that mud, and sure enough, all the frontrunners tanked in the stretch.
The Juvey Turf also resulted in a bit of an upset, although my late call of Achill Island was still not a winner because he came in second. D'oh!
And the Dirt Mile (Mud Mile?) probably will be the end of the line for Discreet Cat. Third time wasn't a charm and that horse has never returned to his winning form. Still, he managed third, but Corinthian gave a very strung out field a total butt-whuppin' (for an awesome video of him spanking the others in the slop, click here). Wanderin Boy dueled with Discreet Cat for third and lost by a head. Note that I'd picked Discreet Cat with Lewis Michael, followed by Wandering Boy or Corinthian. Alas, the 6 horse, Gottcha Gold, hung in there for second. But if he hadn't done that, and if Lewis Michael had been up there, and if I'd boxed them all, then ... then ... haha, but it doesn't work that way, does it?
Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow. Fortunately, I'd wagered only $12 on the day, so it's no big deal. Perhaps tomorrow I'd do better to do dime superfectas and just pick numbers. Because of the upsets today, there's also a Pick 6 carryover at Monmouth, so tomorrow's Pick 6 will be much like a state lottery with better odds.
You could do a Filly Sprint/Sprint double, so I picked Dream Rush and my hometown fave, Smokey Stover.
And you could do a Mile/Turf Mile double, so I picked Discreet Cat or Lewis Michael with Excellent Art.
The only problem with the Breeder's Cup going on all day is that they commence tomorrow at the crack of dawn! Okay, not the crack of dawn, but let's just say even Bay Meadows is opening its doors at 7:30am. I don't think the first Breeder's Cup race is until 9:30 or thereabouts, but I'll probably get up early, have breakfast, and walk to the track (it's about a half hour on foot). This way I can get in a little exercise and meet up with my partner later (she has to be at work truly at the crack of dawn).
They're having a fun giveaway at Bay Meadows tomorrow, a drawing for a big screen TV (not that I really need one, but still). You select a horse to win the Classic and throw your entry form in the box. At 1:30, they'll draw from the box and keep drawing until they've got an entry for each horse in the field. If your entry is selected and your horse wins the Classic, you get the TV. So for this, you don't want to be picking Curlin or Lawyer Ron or Street Sense because everyone else under the sun will. I'm thinking I'll go with Tiago since he does have a little shot.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Filly and Mare Sprint: I like Dream Rush to win, followed by La Traviata, followed by Oprah Winney. (How can you NOT like Oprah Winney, LOL?)
Juvenile Turf: The Leopard is a live longshot that could win in an otherwise pretty much wide-open race. Tom Battaglia is backing this horse as well. Much might also depend on the condition of the turf; it has been raining out there and so the turf might be a bit too soft. I believe one race today might've been moved to the main track altogether.
Dirt Mile: Discreet Cat and Michael Lewis, in any order, with Wanderin Boy or Corinthian in third.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
As for the Classic, the plot thickens (click here for today's Daily Racing Form article on the draw). Lawyer Ron, the morning line favorite, has drawn the rail, but he's a stalker. Not the best spot for him. Street Sense, on the other hand, is in post 2, so you can be sure Calvin "Bo-Rail" will take him right to the rail, save ground, and do his usual "get outta my way, I'm flying past you now" in the stretch. Hard Spun's the number 8, and he always goes to the lead, so Lawyer Ron will probably track him.
Tiago has post nine, so watch out. There's your closer. My guts are telling me he'll hit the board.
Curlin is a bit of an anomaly in that he can be placed anywhere and win. I still remember on Derby day watching that little guy, the most inexperienced horse in the field, get bumped around like crazy and still have enough heart to finish third. My partner and I both said, "Watch out for him in the Preakness!" I did hit the trifecta that day. But that one was a no brainer.
There's Awesome Gem and Any Given Saturday to consider, but I'm tempted to toss out George Washington just because that horse is a nutcase.
I still haven't looked at past performances yet, but my partner is taking the afternoon off tomorrow and we are going to Bay Meadows to sit in our box, relax, have a few beers, and get to know each other again. (She's been working a lot of hours lately.) I was thinking about hauling along a stack of student essays since I have two batches right now, but eh. Why spoil a nice afternoon on fretting over comma splices? So perhaps we'll do some Breeder's Cup 'cappin together.
For the non-horse racing folks who check this blog, sorry. This week it's all about the ponies. Any more the Breeder's Cup is more exciting than Derby Day, much as one hates to say it.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Smokey Stover in the Sprint: he's our hometown boy! He's stabled ten minutes away at Bay Meadows. He did a great work last Saturday with Russell Baze in the irons, 5 furlongs in .58 seconds and some change. I don't think he'll be the chalk either, so he should fetch somewhat decent odds; I'm hoping 3-1 or something like that.
Nashoba's Key in the Filly and Mare Turf or Distaff: she's one of Carla Gaines' horses (Southern Cal trainer) and the filly is undefeated. She a four year-old who started racing just this January. Out of seven races, four of which (I think) were graded stakes, she's won them all. She beat Citronnade and, for a filly, is amazingly consistent. (She may be up against another local horse, Hystericalady, but I'll have to bet against Jerry Hollendorfer in that case.)
English Channel in the Breeder's Cup Turf: how can you NOT bet that horse?!
As for the Classic, holy cow. It's anybody's race! Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, Tiago, Lawyer Ron, the list goes on. In fact the first four could be an easy "Kentucky Derby based" superfecta. It could happen, although I'll probably look for at least one older horse to be in there. Hmmm.
More on this later ...
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
But then things turned ridiculous. Jaime managed to take a tumble down my ladder of esteem. This is because she and Peih-Gee decided to throw the immunity challenge. Why? 'Cause they figure they're set to at least make it to the merge, and the more original Zhan Hu players there are left, the better. They deliberately threw the challenge so they could eliminate one of their new tribemates. I think this is colossally unsportsmanlike, aside from the fact that they sucked trying to pull off their huge ruse. Instead of pretending to figure out the puzzle, they just sort of stood there and giggled. Jeff Probst looked entirely unamused.
Thus, Aaron got booted first. You'd think James because of his beefiness, but the rationale was that Aaron, as the former "leader" of Fei Long, probably had made more alliances and posed the greater long-term threat. But unless something in the game changes, we can expect that James will be kicked off next week.
Doesn't make for interesting television, so I'm sure the Survivor puppet masters will throw another twist or two into the next episode to try and nip this strategy in the bud.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
DONALD TRUMP is unimpressed with the current batch of Hollywood heartthrobs and heartbreakers, insisting GEORGE CLOONEY is "short" and ANGELINA JOLIE is "no great beauty". The billionaire, 61, insists his position as proprietor of the Miss USA pageant makes him an authority on who is hot and who is not. Trump tells talk show host Larry King, "One of the perceptions I had of George Clooney was he was this big, strong guy. And he was very little when I met him." He adds of Jolie, "Angelina Jolie is sort of amazing because everyone thinks she's like this great beauty. And I'm not saying she's an unattractive woman, but she's not beauty, by any stretch of the imagination. "I really understand beauty. And I will tell you, she's not - I do own Miss. Universe. I do own Miss USA. I mean I own a lot of different things. I do understand beauty, and she's not."Where do I begin? Dang, y'all, I'm a dyke and I wouldn't kick Clooney out of bed! But here's Trump stuck on the man's height. Tsk, tsk. Tain't height that makes might. As for Angelina Jolie not being a beauty, I suppose Trump means she's not a bleached-blonde bimbo who'd do his bidding.
What's more hilarious is that he apparently thinks he OWNS beauty, as if his money and purchase of pageants have given him the authority to define the word. Mr. Trump (don'tcha love his name? It sounds like he's an elephant blowing his trunk-bugle), that's the great thing about real beauty. It's ineffable. It's like being a great jazz musician; the music's either in your soul or it's not, and it changes with every person. It's certainly not something you can purchase (half of silicone Hollywood has tried and proven that doesn't work). Beauty is more about how the inner and outer qualities of a person combine to make others feel. Beauty can't be bought--it's priceless.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"In an interview on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon, Mrs. Cheney said that in the course of researching her husband's genealogy for her new book, "Blue Skies, No Fences," she discovered that the two public figures share an ancestor eight generations ago."Jeebus, I hope this doesn't get the "Obama's not Black enough crowd" up in arms again.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I've blogged about this horse before, when she was up against a field of boys but got scratched by the track vet just before the race. She's an awesome girl, and today she met (granted) a small field of fillies and mares. Still, Somethinaboutlaura's chief rival was no weakling by any means, Victorina, whose connections alone make you stand up and take notice (Greg Gilchrist and Harry Aleo, both of whom were at the track today, Aleo in his trademark white cowboy hat) saddling their filly.) If you don't know, Gilchrist-Aleo owned/trained Lost in the Fog, and are presently running Smokey Stover, a contender in the Breeder's Cup Sprint this year. These two place their horses well. It's hard to bet against them.
So ... I convinced my workout partner, T, to take us to the track to see this race, since my partner was working, because I just love Somethinaboutlaura (a Hollendorfer trained horse), who seems to own the track at Bay Meadows. I found it interesting that Russell Baze hopped off Laura to hop on Victorina, and I figured those two would get into a mighty duel. That's the kind of thing you need to see in front of you, hearing those thundering hooves, if you can. Simulcast or TVG don't cut it.
Well, those two girls didn't duel after all. Somethinaboutlaura wired the field, dueling briefly with the 6 horse. Baze shot up at the end to try and overtake her in the final furlong, but it was no contest. She kicked Victorina's butt anyway. Sheer athleticism won the race, not strategy.
Still, I figured it would wind up being those two at the end, and the odds were something like 4-5 and 6-5, hardly worth an exacta box, so the trick was picking the third horse. I landed on the Miyadi/Campos trainer-jockey combo. Miyadi usually won't run a horse unless it has a chance; he tends to use apprentice jockeys for the weight break. Campos wins quite a bit. At 36-1, it was a good risk to complete the trifecta.
I was right, and it paid $9.50 on the dollar, not a bad bet. I wish I'd put more than $2 down. But that's what I get for being cheap. :-)
Friday, October 12, 2007
From the Associated Press:
For years, former Vice President Al Gore and a host of climate scientists were belittled and, worst of all, ignored for their message about how dire global warming is. On Friday, they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their warnings about what Gore calls "a planetary emergency."And if one more person calls the man a hypocrite for living in an electricity-sucking mansion, I challenge that person to look up "carbon credits" and see how the Gores are more than making up for any energy they use.
Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists. This scientific panel has explained the dry details of global warming in thousands of pages of footnoted reports every six years or so since 1990.
Gore, fresh from a near miss at winning the U.S. presidency in 2000, translated the numbers and jargon-laden reports into something people could understand. He made a slide show and went Hollywood. His documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won two Academy Awards and has been credited with changing the debate in America about global warming. For Gore it was all about the message.
But not for the reason you may think.
The Chronicle either has a pro-lifer writing headline copy, or one setting type/doing PageMaker or however that's done nowadays, or somebody just plain sabotaged 'em (or was drinking on the job). In any case, look out! The Religious Right's going to pick this one up and gleefully rub it in that HALF, yes, HALF of all abortions are unsafe! So anyone who dares to claim that abortion actually saves more lives when they're safe and legal is JUST WRONG!!!
Well, I read the fine print. It turns out (10 paragraphs in) that the article explained that half of the abortions in the entire WORLD are unsafe, which is because the majority of abortions--35 million--are performed in the developing world. Nearly 97% of the unsafe abortions are committed in poor countries, where, of course, access to a legal, safe abortion is virtually nonexistent.
Additionally, the study found that women in countries where abortion is illegal are just as likely to have an abortion in countries where it is legal.
So here's the bottom line: outlawing abortion doesn't stop abortion. Allowing abortion doesn't "encourage" women to go ahead and have one. But, if a woman chooses to have an abortion, many, many, many fewer die or damage themselves when there's access to a legal, safe procedure.
Better still, in my opinion: Make birth control free. And educate, educate, educate.
Here's a link to the article. Note that the headline has now been changed.
Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.He predicts there'll be no exit strategy for Iraq because U.S. military bases will be installed there permanently.
Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years.
At present, I like Frosti, Jaime, Amanda, and Todd for the Final Four.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
But I think he's wrong about Courtney. She needs to seriously eat--she DOES look anorexic; did from the first day. Now she's just skin and bones. She is not going to last much longer and is a genuine liability in their challenges.
Of course, at this point, I'm still rooting for the other team since they're the underdog (I like Jaime and Frosti). I think Dave is rather losing it; how'd ya like his "psy-ops" by getting naked for the reward challenge? Didn't seem to work so well, though, as the guys on the opposing team had no problem grabbing him in all his grand nekkidity and throwing him in the water. It was awesome that the women carried the show, heaving even hefty ole Mullet Lady, Denise, into the sea.
Denise kinda reminds me of Sue Hawk. On any other day, you'd swear she was a lesbian. But she's been married to some guy for 16 years. Go figure. Even gaydar's not foolproof.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I always wonder why it is, really, that we're in Iraq, when we never did much about Bosnia, or are doing about Darfur, and now Burma. Last night I just finished watching Ken Burns' "The War," and was reminded, as our soldiers were reminded when they liberated the death camps, that at least part of the reason that war was necessary was that the Nazis were systematically exterminating all the Jews in Europe. That's a crime against humankind. What's happening or happened in Burma, Darfur, or Bosnia is not that much different--I hope to God our looking the other way is not because there's nothing there we want a hand of control on, such as oil fields.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Ah, c'mon, wouldn't YOU rather hang out with Bo Derek?! Actually I feel a little sorry for Guiliani because the Religious Right (the one-issue voting block) won't vote for him if he gets the Republican nomination because he's pro-choice. Seems Rachel Maddow had a point: the right-wing fundies are gonna ruin the election for the Republicans. But, it serves 'em right for allying with 'em in the first place.