Raiders Straight Talk: A quarter-century of memories at the Coliseum

first_imgOAKLAND — With a quarter of a century of Raiders home football coming to a conclusion Sunday, the number that comes after 252 is zero.I’ve covered 252 Raiders games at the Coliseum since 1995. There were 48 exhibition games of which I remember almost nothing, expunged immediately from my brain as being the pointless exercises they were. Five postseason games, of which the Raiders won four. And 198 regular-season games, of which the Raiders won 94 and lost 104, with No. 199 coming up Sunday …last_img

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CNBC Vignette

first_imgInvestors dream of a business destination which combines their ideals: the stability of a developed nation, the opportunity of a vibrant emerging market, and a climate that fosters growth. Click arrow to play video.last_img

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The Depot — Geocache of the Week

first_imgDifficulty:1Terrain:2 Location:Massachusetts, United StatesN 42° 16.245 W 071° 15.006 Letterbox HybridGC31DEby Chooch “Miniature” is all relative.If you’re wondering how many model train sets are hidden in the forests of Massachusetts, we can confidently say: probably just one. At least, this is the only one we’ve heard of that’s worth booking the very next flight to Boston for.“The Depot” is one of those geocaches that will surprise and delight geocachers and muggles, the young and the less-young, and locals and visitors alike—although according to the creator, the “official” target population of the model railway is 11-year-olds.We’re not going to spend too much time describing it here—best to simply take in the photos and hear from the creator, username Chooch, himself.The main railway line is about 120 feet long.Chooch says the railway was already in place before the geocache listing was created. In fact, the project started out with just a seed of an idea. “Some twelve years ago I thought it would be neat if I could make my own trail which would connect with woods roads and walking paths into the town forest which abuts our property. In the process of working on the trail I came across a small brook which seemed to cry out for a little dam that would create a small waterfall. Of course there would need to be a bench nearby so that one could sit and listen to the waterfall.”One thing led to another (and another), until eventually the spot had a whole table and sitting area. Perfect, Chooch says, for hosting “four people for cocktails.”Rails wind snake-like through the woods.The inspiration for the model railway came from a train set his daughter placed under her Christmas Tree a few months later. Chooch thought a track of the same proportions would do well outside…and he knew just which outside that would be.“Because of natural elevation changes at the site the obvious construction technique would be to build a trestle to run between the sitting area and the waterfall, which was about 80 feet.” This he did, and added in a few loops and stations along the way. The site came to be known as “Martini Junction”, and a little while later it was listed as a Letterbox Hybrid geocache.The train cars themselves are safely stored in a locked station.Very official signage.Chooch says the train station has been witness to some special moments over the years.“One afternoon, when starting out on our regular walk in the forest, my wife and I noticed what appeared to be a pink ribbon hanging on a tree. Not paying much attention to it we turned to follow the path which leads to the railway. Almost immediately we saw, hanging from a tree limb, the letter ‘R’ neatly cut from foam core, about 12” high and covered in pink paper. Somewhat surprised at this discovery I turned back to find that the pink ribbon, from this vantage was now the letter ‘P’. Puzzled, we continued and soon came upon another letter, this time an ‘O’, and still a little further along the letter ‘M’. Finally as we approached the sitting area there’s a “question mark” hanging from a branch and we saw a young man sitting alone with a bouquet of spring flowers with a rose in the center all wrapped up as a gift.”Chooch and his wife introduced themselves and asked about the tree letters. “He tells us that a young woman is on her way and that he plans to invite her to the prom. Well. I was pretty impressed with all his effort and told him that if things didn’t work out he could take me to the prom.”Chooch with the choo-choos.Luckily, things did work out—at least in the short term that was the Prom. “We ran the train through its paces for them and as they were leaving, I asked the young man what he planned to do with the pink letters. He said he was giving them to the young lady. I noted that he probably didn’t need the ‘question mark’ any more and he was gracious enough to leave it with me. It’s since been added to a growing collection of memorabilia which include thank you notes and numerous drawings of the railroad made by young children who have come on field trips. It was so nice being witness to what seemed to be a little old-fashioned event and to see young people acting like young people.”Without perspective, the tracks could *almost* be life-size.The cache has been found 866 times and garnered 361 favorite points. Parts of the site have expanded without Chooch’s help, as people add objects to create vignettes of their own.Chooch approves of the additions. “Since the railway has reached the limit of its expansion potential the vignettes afford the chance to add to the scene from time to time. A recent addition has been a string of miniature telephone poles sans any wires. This presents as a ‘wireless’ network and even provides a local hot spot.”Chooch is a retired design engineer and built the railway himself, but he isn’t too effusive about how it was constructed. In a previously published article, he wrote, “I realize as I put these words to paper that this story is pretty light on technical details. In truth there is not very much technology involved here. In fact I guess it’s more of a love story and as such may not even be appropriate for the pages of Garden Railways.”But geocaching is all about love, we said, so it’s perfect for here.Martini Junction from the air.Mammoth crossing.Full steam ahead!Chooch, left, demonstrates the railway for a visitor.JiggitySquibs mark their 2000th find at The Depot.A side view of the stations, with the picnic area / cocktail bar in the background.A young geocacher testing out the waterfall and waterwheel.How big is this lookout tower really?A vignette depicting the railway maker himself.Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedDown, down, down into the underground – Below Above, The Fallen Monarch (GC2GAMT) – Geocache of the WeekApril 3, 2013In “Community”I hope you’re not afraid of the dark. — Antuna Underground (GC2B3BY) — Geocache of the Week Video EditionOctober 2, 2013In “Geocaching with Kids”We’ve Got Urban Geocaching on Lock — QuadLockLog (GC330KJ) — Geocache of the WeekAugust 7, 2013In “Community”last_img read more

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Hunting Energy Efficiency in Southeast Australia

first_imgIt is winter in Australia, and so it is a good time for Peter Reefman, a builder based in the southeastern state of Victoria, to show off the energy efficiency of his recently completed three-bedroom home in the town of Portland.Through his company, Energised Homes, Reefman has been trying to push the performance level of his homes up while keeping their cost competitive and their contemporary appearance in line with prevailing market preferences. His new house, which he both lives in and uses as a demonstration home, earned an 8.1-star rating under Australia’s Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), which uses an assessment scale of zero (the worst) to 10 (the best) and factors in the layout of the home; the construction of its roof, walls, windows, and floors; the orientation of windows and shading relative to the sun’s path and local breezes; and the degree to which these features suit the local climate. As Australia’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency puts it, the interior comfort of a home with a 10-star rating would require “no artificial heating and cooling.”Borrowing a strategyReefman told the ABC Western Victoria news service that it took a while for him to incorporate solar orientation – a critical component of Passivhaus construction – into his own approach to homebuilding, but once he did, he says, he was immediately impressed by the results. The exterior of the house features generous window space on the north-facing wall, a few small windows on the south wall, very limited window space on the home’s west side.Reefman installed a polished concrete floor on the first floor of the house, and wood flooring (now covered with wool carpet and rubber tiles) on the second floor. A heat pump helps warm the house in winter. Reefman estimates that heating and cooling costs combined will come in under $19 (U.S.) a year.Other features of the house include a reflective metal roof, a rainwater harvesting system with a total 9,900-liter capacity, and the use of recycled concrete in the driveway, salvaged wood for the screen fence at the front of the building, and used brick for the facing on the garage exterior.On the roof, Reefman installed a solar hot-water system and 1.4 kW solar power array, which he estimates will trim the home’s annual energy costs by about $1,500 below those for a conventionally constructed home of comparable size.last_img read more

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How ARods 3000 Hits Stack Up

Hot Takedown: How Big Is A-Rod’s Asterisk?Subscribe to our sports podcast on iTunes. Late last week, New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez added another milestone to what has been a renaissance of a 2015 season, joining the venerated 3,000-hit club with a home run against Detroit’s Justin Verlander. The accomplishment prompted much debate over whether A-Rod had tarnished the club with his history of using performance-enhancing drugs — and even whether such numbers can be meaningfully compared across different eras of baseball.Call me naive, but when it comes to cross-era comparisons, I don’t think we have to give up the ball and head for the locker room. We can’t necessarily account for who used PEDs and who didn’t, but sabermetrics does have a long history of adjusting player stats for the environments in which they were produced. For instance, here’s a look at how easy it was to compare how many hits per plate appearance were made in the major leagues each season going back to 1901:(The metric is indexed so that 100 represents the average hits-per-plate-appearance rate since 1901.)By this accounting, Rodriguez’s hit total hasn’t been especially inflated by the era in which he played, relative to the entirety of MLB history. Early in his career, hits were easier to come by than the historical average, but a recent string of offensively suppressed seasons have brought A-Rod’s career hitting environment metric down to an almost perfectly average index of 100.3.Of course, we can also adjust for schedule length — normalizing shorter seasons to 162 games — and park factors, both of which do cut into A-Rod’s raw hit count. Among members of the 3,000-hit club, only seven played in more favorable stadiums for hitters than Rodriguez has in his career, and only Derek Jeter and Lou Brock get less of a boost for playing fewer than 162 games per season than A-Rod does. (The schedule adjustment pro-rates Rodriguez’s hits upward by a mere 0.7 percent.)After all of the adjustments are made for era, park and schedule, A-Rod loses 48 hits from his actual total. That’s not the most of any player — Coors Field lifer Todd Helton gets docked more than 356 hits — but it is enough to make A-Rod the only player currently in the 3,000-hit club who would not be a member under the adjusted hits metric. While he will probably hit his way into the adjusted club, too, before very long, the 48 hits he loses under the adjustments is the third most of any actual 3,000-hit club member, most of whom gained hits in the adjustment process.So the critics are right, to a certain extent: Rodriguez has benefited from favorable conditions to join an elite statistical club. But the degree to which his numbers were inflated because of his era has been negligible — with the shortfall mainly owing to differences in park factors and schedule lengths — and he’s only 45 “adjusted hits” shy of 3,000 even after his numbers are tweaked.There’s plenty of room to debate about how much to handicap Rodriguez’s numbers for his performance-enhancing drug use. But putting that aside, Rodriguez has outhit his peers practically as much as many other fellow 3,000-hit club member. read more

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Can The Sharks Win The Stanley Cup With Historically Bad Goaltending

2017-18Capitals59.858.3 2018-19Sharks40.2%50.0% 2011-12Kings60.585.0 2008-09Penguins50.043.5 Despite losing on home ice on Monday, the San Jose Sharks are three wins away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history. For a franchise that has been consistently disappointing in the NHL playoffs, a Stanley Cup would provide some much needed redemption. The Sharks lifting the Cup would also be strange by playoff hockey standards: Teams generally don’t succeed in hockey’s second season with subpar goaltending.There’s little doubt about San Jose’s offensive prowess — the Sharks have scored the second-most goals in the playoffs, and they tied for the second-most goals in the regular season — but deficiencies on the defensive side of the puck, and especially between the pipes, have been a recurring problem. The San Jose goaltending tandem of starter Martin Jones and backup Aaron Dell was abysmal during the regular season, leading the team to a dead-last ranking in save percentage (.889). To be fair, Jones has been better in the postseason, but he is by no means the playoffs’ hot goalie. His playoff save percentage is .905 — an improvement over his regular-season mark of .896 to be sure, but hardly the stuff of world-beaters.There is a certain mystique attached to the premise of the hot goalie in the NHL playoffs. Save percentage accounts for a higher proportion of a team’s success than any other factor, so it follows that quality postseason goaltending is compulsory if a team wants to win the Stanley Cup in June. The narrative — that these hot playoff goalies appear from the ether — is sexy, but the reality is that most of them build a solid-to-excellent body of work during the regular season and carry that solid-to-excellent form into the postseason.As such, it’s rare to see a team win the Stanley Cup after enduring a regular season of poor goalie play. Since the lockout, only the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes and the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks won the title with below-average goaltending during the regular season. Even then, Carolina goaltenders finished close to the middle of the pack in 2005-06 — but just six teams in 2009-10 got worse regular-season save-percentage performances from their goaltenders than the Hawks did.All this leaves the San Jose Sharks in something of a historical bind. Since the league began recording the stat in 1959-60, no Stanley Cup-winning team has finished last in regular-season save percentage — not even when the league consisted of only six teams. The Sharks are just the third team in the 14 seasons since the lockout to qualify for the playoffs after finishing in the save percentage basement. And not since 1992-93 — an era of the NHL during which it was somewhat unclear whether teams actually put goalies in front of the net — has the eventual Stanley Cup winner posted a worse regular-season save percentage than this season’s Sharks.But wait, it gets even worse! No team since the 2007-08 season, when this data was first collected, has won the Stanley Cup posting a regular-season quality start percentage1Quality start percentage was developed by Hockey Abstract’s Robert Vollman to determine whether a goalie gave his team a reasonable chance to win a game. A goalie must post a league-average save percentage or better to record a quality start. If a goalie faces 20 or fewer shots in a game, he can earn a quality start with a save percentage of .885. worse than 50 percent. Jones and Dell combined for a quality start percentage of just 40 percent. Is San Jose’s pitiful netminding a portent of impending heartbreak, or could the Sharks be the team that overcomes the odds? 2016-17Penguins51.264.0 2015-16Penguins61.062.5 SeasonTeamRegular Season QS%Playoffs QS% San Jose’s goaltending may not be Cup worthyHow the Sharks goaltending compares to previous Stanley Cup winners based on quality start percentage (QS%),* 2007-08 to 2017-18 2014-15Blackhawks68.360.9 2013-14Kings59.853.8 2010-11Bruins69.568.0 2012-13Blackhawks64.682.6 2009-10Blackhawks51.250.0 * Share of quality starts relative to total games started. A quality start is recorded when a goalie posts at least a league-average save percentage in a game. If a goalie faces 20 or fewer shots in a game, a save percentage of .885 or higher earns him a quality start.Source: Hockey-Reference.com 2007-08Red Wings56.159.1 That 2009-10 Blackhawks team might offer a decent blueprint for the Sharks. Chicago goalie Antti Niemi wasn’t that playoffs’ hot goalie, but he didn’t have to be — the Blackhawks simply scored more goals than any other team en route to their first Stanley Cup win in nearly half a century. As luck would have it, Jones is posting numbers that closely mimic those posted by Niemi in 2009-10. (Niemi posted a save percentage of .910 and a quality start percentage of 50 percent in 2009-10; Jones is currently posting a save percentage of .905 and a quality start percentage of 50 percent.) The only difference is that Niemi and partner Cristobal Huet were merely pretty awful during the regular season, and not historically awful like Jones and Dell.Perhaps the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers are a better analog. They qualified for the playoffs in spite of some downright lousy regular-season goaltending by a quartet of journeymen and career backups, and they advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final because one of those goalies got hot. Could the same be happening in San Jose?If Jones is able to hold on to his newfound mediocrity, the Sharks might have a puncher’s chance to upset six decades of history. Otherwise, the Sharks will remain what they’ve always been: minnows in apex predator’s clothes. read more

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