Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pic(k) of the Week: This way, in red.

This way, in red

In 1869, the Stone Mountain Granite Company built a railroad spur to serve granite and quartz quarries at the foot of monadnock Stone Mountain, thirteen miles east of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Now, still in operation but as a tourist attraction, the Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad extends 3.88 miles (of standard gauge of 4 ft 8 1⁄2 inches), encircling the base of the mountain.

This way, in red: a rail switch along the track. Photo taken 26 March 2017.

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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Pic(k) of the Week: Painting the Box

Painting the box (05)

Here is a photo I took, on 12 May 2016, before an Atlanta Braves baseball game at Turner Field, in Atlanta, Georgia. Ballpark employees were measuring and chalking the lines of the batters' boxes at home plate, and dusting and sweeping the clay surface clean and smooth.

According to MLB rules (Major League Baseball), there are two batter's boxes (right-handed and left), one on each side of home plate. Each is four feet wide and six feet long, centered lengthwise at the center of home plate, with the inside line of each set six inches from the near edge of home plate.

Baseball and COVID-19

In 2020, Major League Baseball dealt with the global coronavirus pandemic by shortening its 162-game season to 60 games, postponing its start until July (rather than its planned start at the end of March), adopting a few temporary rules changes, and prohibiting fan attendance (except during the Championship Series and World Series, in October). Fake crowd noise was added to game broadcasts. As a result, MLB, as a whole, lost more than six billion dollars in revenue, versus 2019.

This year, with U.S. partial vaccinations already having reached 38.1% of the eligible population, baseball fans could hope for a continuing return to near normality. The league reset to a full 162-game schedule, albeit with only a limited number of fans in the stands (the exact restrictions up to each individual ballpark).

Then COVID-19 struck: four positive tests and multiple exposures forced the cancellation of Opening Day at Nationals Ballpark in Washington, D.C. and the postponement of a three-game series between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets.

Not so for the Braves, who, unafflicted (so far) by the disease, played and lost their opener to the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Georgia, baseball, and the inalienable right of Americans to vote

This year, the Braves were also to have hosted baseball's All-Star Game. However, in response to the Georgia state government's recent adoption of draconian voting restrictions, MLB took that honor from the team.
Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.

Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.
Rob Manfred
Commissioner, MLB
2 April 2021.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Pic(k) of the Week: Beware the mercaptans!

Beware the mercaptans!

Alfresco may be beautiful but beware the mercaptans. Beer lovers don't allow their beers to get 'skunked.'

About beer, hops, sunlight, and mercaptans (aka thiols):
Certain compounds in hops are light-sensitive and when exposed to strong light a photo-oxidation reaction takes place, creating the intensely flavor-active compound 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (MBT), one of the most powerful flavor substances known to man. Commonly referred to as 'skunky,' the pungent odor resembles that of the famously malodorous defense spray deployed by skunks.
The Oxford Companion to Beer: Oxford University Press, 2012.

To ward off the stank, keep beer out of direct sunlight or fluorescent light. Cans (and kegs) are best for that and brown glass is ok. But green glass? In sunlight, it's nearly worthless (e.g., that 'Dutch' beer) and clear glass (or plastic) is merely a vessel for liquid skunk (e.g., almost every 'craft' beer patio). Yummy...not.

Light-struck vs. oxidized

PS. Light-struck 'skunkiness' is NOT the same off-flavor (or biochemical mechanism) as that in a beer left warm. Beer exposed to heat (and over time, such as an old beer) will oxidize. The beer will develop malodors such as cardboard (!) and sherry and quickly lose its hop aroma. This can happen to any beer left warm, whether in direct sunlight or not, whether in a can, in brown glass, or in a keg.

By the way, when a beer is pasteurized, it is deliberately exposed to high heat over a short period of time. Draw your own conclusion.

A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits).
No scores; only descriptions.

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Pic(k) of the Week: Cecilia's wetlands

Cecilia's wetlands

Marshlands of Cecilia Creek (or more prosaically, East Fork Middle Branch Shoal Creek), in Seminary Wood.

Photo taken in Legacy Park, within the boundaries of the City of Decatur, in the state of Georgia, USA.


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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Pic(k) of the Week: Bird perched on branch over pond

Bird perched on branch in pond

She came.
She saw.
She flew 
Away. 

A North American tyrant flycatcher (tyrannidae) poses, perched on a branch jutting over Postal Pond, in Legacy Park, Decatur, Georgia, USA.

I took this photo on 31 October 2020, when this lady and many other birds were preparing to (or already) flying further south to winter. Five months later, many are returning (or flying through) in anticipation of the imminent return of Northern Hemisphere spring. (This year, the vernal equinox will occur on Saturday, 20 March 2021.)

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