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Posts Tagged ‘Ben’s Biz Blog’

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Posted by graywacke on October 3, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2056; A Landing A Day blog post number 474.

 Dan –  Oh my.  It finally happened.  It took a 5/5 string, but my Score has finally dipped below 150 thanks to this landing in a long-time USer . . . ID; 48/56; 6/10; 2; 149.9.

 I think I’m going to dedicate an entire post to the issue of breaking 150, but first things first.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My closer-in map shows that I landed near the city of Idaho Falls (through which flows the Snake River):

 landing 2

Rainfall runoff from my landing takes a circuitous route to the Snake:  I landed in the watershed of Willow Ck (my 26th stream with “Willow” in its name and the 14th “Willow Creek”); on to Sand Ck (my 29th stream with “Sand” or “Sandy” in its name and the 9th “Sand Creek”); on to of all things a river, the Blackfoot R (2nd hit); finally to the Snake (73rd hit); to the Columbia (146th hit). 

 Note:  I didn’t talk about streams with “Black” in it, because it was my second landing there.  I only talk about stream names when it’s the first time for a particular watershed.  That’s just the kind of guy I am . . .

 My GE shot shows that I landed in a large irrigation circle:

 ge 1

Backing out considerably, it looks like I landed in an upland area, where agriculture is not as successful (read profitable) as the lowland areas (closer to the Snake), likely due to poorer, dryer soils.  Down closer to the Snake, there are more likely rich floodplain soils (good for growing potatoes, no doubt).

 ge 2

This, about Idaho Falls, from Wiki:

In 1891 the town voted to change its name to Idaho Falls, in reference to the rapids that existed below the bridge. Some years later, the construction of a retaining wall for a hydroelectric power plant enhanced the rapids into falls. In 1969 the largest irrigation canal in the world, the Great Feeder, began diverting water from the Snake River and aided in converting tens of thousands of acres of desert into green farmland in the vicinity of Idaho Falls.

 The above provides even more of an explanation for the fertility of the area near the Snake vs. the drier area where I landed.

Here’s a picture (from Wiki) of the “Idaho Falls,” with a Mormon Temple in the background.  Oh yea, I forgot to say that Mormons founded the town that that this part of Idaho is very Mormon . . .

wiki idaho falls

I couldn’t find much of significant interest about Idaho Falls.  I also checked out “Ucon,” (a bizarrely unique town name), but couldn’t find anything about it.  Any locals out there know the story behind the name?

Back to Idaho Falls, I did notice that there’s a minor league baseball team there – the Idaho Falls Chukars.  And what’s a Chukar, pray tell?  Well, it turns out a Chukar is a very cool bird, native to Idaho.  Here’s a picture, from the Idaho Fish & Game commission:

 chukar--michael-woodruff idaho fish and game

Speaking of the Chukars, it’s time for me to check my son Ben’s MLB.com blog, to see what he has to say about the Chukars.  As you may know, Ben writes about Minor League Baseball, and his blog (Ben’s Biz Blog) takes a light-hearted look at the business of Minor League Baseball.  Ben’s blog about the Chukars features (what else?) potatoes.  Click HERE, and you can read all about the Chukars big “Potato Night” promotion. 

What particularly caught my eye was the following excerpt (Ben’s words in black print):

 The first pitch was, of course, a potato:


Moonlighting catcher Ivor Hodgson apparently decided to stash a potato in his back pocket, perhaps in a bid to later replicate the infamous Bresnahan Potato Incident:


Hmmm.  The Bresnahan Potato Incident?  What’s that?  Well, Ben referred his readers to The Baseball Requilary (BaseballRequilary.org).  Here’s an excerpt from their site, explaining the incident:

In October of 2000, the Baseball Reliquary acquired for its permanent collections what is believed to be the actual potato thrown by former minor league catcher Dave Bresnahan in one of the classic stunts in baseball history.

In August of 1987, Bresnahan, then a 25-year-old second-string catcher with the Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Bills of the Class-AA Eastern League, decided to liven up a meaningless late-season home game.  Before the game, Bresnahan peeled and sculpted a potato in the shape of a baseball.

Behind the plate in the fifth inning, with the potato concealed in his mitt and a runner on third base, he threw the potato wildly past his third baseman, hoping the runner would think he made an errant pick-off throw. The play worked to perfection. The runner at third trotted home, and Bresnahan tagged him out with the baseball.

An umpire retrieved the potato and awarded the runner home for Bresnahan’s deception. The following day, Bresnahan was fined by his manager and then released by the Bills’ parent club, the Cleveland Indians, for what they perceived as an affront to the integrity of the game.

It turns out that Dave became quite the celebrity.  As for the potato, it was retrieved by the umpire, who then tossed it in the trash.  A teenage boy retrieved it, and preserved in a jar of alcohol.  Many years later, the now-attorney owner of the potato offered it to Cooperstown, who turned up their noses at the offering.  He then offered it to the Reliquary, who gladly received it.  Here’s a picture of the potato (from the Reliquary site):

 potatoBy the way, a “reliquary” is defined as a religious container for sacred relics.  The Baseball Reliquary is a quirky museum of some of baseball’s sacred relics (that don’t quite make it to Cooperstown).  It’s in Los Angeles County.  Here’s what Wiki has to say about it:

The Baseball Reliquary (founded in 1996) is a nonprofit, educational organization “dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities.” The Reliquary organizes and presents artistic and historical exhibitions relating to baseball.

Back to Ben’s blog, something else that caught my fancy:

Finally, TWO HOURS worth of potato-themed music was played over the PA. Prior to the promotion, I suggested to [media relations direct John ] Hadden that the following song be incorporated. He assured me that it was.

Ben is referring to Weird Al Yankovich’s “Addicted to Spuds.”  I laughed out loud when I saw the You Tube video.  I’ll present two versions, first a live version, and then the album version, with the words posted (which I recommend).

Here’s the live version:


 And the album version, with words:


 I’ll close with a Panoramio picture of the Snake River near Idaho Falls, by IdahoDon:


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Kannapolis, North Carolina

Posted by graywacke on July 19, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much an every-third-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2036; A Landing A Day blog post number 454.

Dan –  Staying within striking distance of 150 with this USer landing in . . . NC; 35/36; 4/10; 2; 150.6.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 3

My close-in landing map shows that I landed right in the city of Kannapolis:

 landing 1

Kannopolis isn’t far from Charlotte.  Here’s an expanded landing map:

 landing 2

Back to Kannopolis, here’s a very close-in Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that I landed right along the front edge of a house in a neighborhood!

 ge 1

You can only imagine my excitement, when I clicked on the StreetView tool (hoping that McLain Road, next to my landing, had coverage).  Come on, come on . . . drat!  No StreetView near my landing.  Here’s an expanded GE view, with the StreetView coverage in blue:

 lack of streetview coverage

Oh, well.

 I landed near an unnamed tributary of Cold Creek.  This tributary (which probably has a local name that I just couldn’t find) runs under a road near my landing.  Here’s a StreetView shot:

 ge sv creek s little texas rd

The tributary continues on to flow into Lake Concord (see landing map – it’s the nearby unnamed lake).  See Center Grove Road?   Here’s a StreetView shot looking northwest from the bridge over the lake:

 ge sv lake concorn centergrove rd

Anyway, the tributary flows into Cold Creek, which flows into a new river (for me), the Rocky, which flows to the Pee Dee (9th hit).

 As you know, I keep track of all things landing, especially related to the watersheds.  OK, here we go:  1)  The Rocky is my 1122nd river; 2) This was my 35th stream or river named Rock or Rocky; 3) Cold Water Creek was my 6th stream or river with the word “Cold” in it; 4) Cold Water Creek was also my 28th “Blank Water” stream, with Cold Water joining such dignitaries as Sweetwater, Saltwater, Freshwater, Bitterwater, Stillwater, Clearwater, Whitewater, Redwater, Blackwater, Highwater, Fallingwater, Runningwater, and (my all-time favorites), Badwater and Stinkingwater.

 So, what about Kannapolis?  Undoubtedly, its main claim to fame is that it’s the hometown of the Earnhardt clan of NASCAR fame.  Grandfather Ralph, father Dale Sr. and grandson Dale Jr. 

 Dale Jr. is quite famous & well known in his own right (and quite the NASCAR driver and entrepreneur).  But his late father Dale Sr. is the really famous one.  From Wiki:

Considered one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Earnhardt won a total of 76 races over the course of his career, including one Daytona 500 victory in 1998. He earned 7 NASCAR Winston Cup Championships, which is tied for the most all time with Richard Petty. His aggressive driving style earned him the nickname “The Intimidator”.

While driving in the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt died of a basilar skull fracture in a last-lap crash.  He has been inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Check out my closer-in landing map again, and look just south of my landing.  See Dale Earnhardt Blvd?

Of course, the Boulevard isn’t the only Dale Earnhardt tribute in town.  There’s a minor league baseball team with an Earnhardt connection, as explained by Wiki:

The Intimidators franchise moved to Kannapolis in 1995 from Spartanburg, South Carolina, where they had been a Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Debate raged in the Kannapolis area over what to name the team, with team officials finally decided to call the team the Piedmont Phillies for the 1995 season.

[Bad choice, in my opinion. Nothing wrong with the “Phillies” part of it, but Piedmont?  I don’t think so.  I’ll have a little more to say about Piedmont later.]

A name-the-team contest in the fall of 1995 drew thousands of entries, and team officials settled on the Kannapolis Boll Weevils as the team’s new name, indicative of Kannapolis’ history as a textile mill town (Kannapolis natives are even called “lintheads”).

[Boll Weevils is an improvement over Piedmont, I think.  More about boll weevils in a bit.  But I really love “lintheads.”  Too bad they didn’t name the team The Lintheads!]

After the 2000 season (when NASCAR racing legend Dale Earnhardt purchased a share in the team’s ownership), the name was changed to the Kannapolis Intimidators, in honor of Earnhardt’s legendary nickname (and the team switch affiliation from the Phillies to theWhite Sox).

Earnhardt, who drove the #3 car in NASCAR, was killed in an accident at the Daytona 500 in February 2001.   The team officially retired jersey number 3 on May 15, 2002, in memory of their former co-owner.

As some of my readers are aware (and as I have mentioned once before when I landed near Fitzgerald GA, in Ben Hill County), my son Ben Hill is a writer for MLB.com, covering minor league baseball.  He writes a light-hearted blog, “Ben’s Biz Blog” that emphasizes the business of running a Minor League franchise, covering items like whacky promotions, team logos and new stadiums.  Ben goes on frequent road trips, visiting Minor League ballparks all around the country, which he, of course, writes about.  Just Google Ben’s Biz Blog to find his site (or click HERE).

Anyway, I searched his blog for Kannapolis, and sure enough, Ben has covered the team on numerous occasions.

And, the big story on Action News. . . er, Ben’s Biz Blog . . . is Daniel Wagner and the bat attack.  One might think (this being baseball and all) that the “bat” would be of the hardwood variety designed for hitting baseballs.  But no . . .

Ben was visiting the Winston-Salem Dash, when he saw the following scoreboard announcement of the next batter, one Daniel Wagner:

ben scoreboard bat

Now, I’ll proceed to Ben’s story, from his blog:

Yes, [Wagner] was attacked by a bat and somehow lived to tell the tale. During our interview yesterday I couldn’t resist asking about this incident, and what follows is a Ben’s Biz Blog exclusive:

Said Wagner:

I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in Kannapolis; I was playing second base and Sally [Tyler Saladino] was at shortstop. There were all these bats swooping down and flying around, and I looked over at Sally, like “Do you see these bats? They’re getting really close!”

ben  crimescene3

Scene of the Crime

Two or three pitches later, two bats landed on the second base side of the pitcher’s mound. I said to Sally, “Dude, they’re right there!” He was just laughing. So then Ryan Buch threw a pitch, and as soon as it popped in the catcher’s mitt both bats take off and start flying right at me. I thought one of them was going to hit me in the face, but I dodged it. I forget who the runner on second base was, but I turned to him and asked “Did you see that?”

He just said “Bro, there’s one on your leg!”

ben the perp

The Perpetrator?

And it was! It was clamped on my leg, so I swiped it off with my glove and it ended up on the ground opening and closing its mouth at me. I could see the fangs. It was super-creepy, worse than a spider or a rat, just nasty. I took off running, and that’s when I think the fans noticed what was happening.  A lot of them were laughing, and from then on sometimes people would call me ‘Batman.’ It was just wild. 

I think I do have a [bat] phobia now, those things creep me out. Of all the strange things that I’ve seen happen on a baseball field, having a bat land on me was obviously number one.

For the record, a fear of bats is officially known as “chiroptophobia.” That would be a mighty strange reason to have to go on the disabled list, but fortunately Wagner has been able to persevere. I thank him for sharing his story.

I would love to be able to provide additional animal attack tales from the Minor League trenches, as well as strange stories in general. If you’ve got something to share, well, you know where to find me.

 Ben also blogged about the roll-out of a new Intimadators logo:


Here’s what he had to say:

Players will only sport the logo during what the team refers to as “Dale Earnhardt-related occasions”. But given Earnhardt’s legendary status among NASCAR’s huge legion of fans, this is a mark that should resonate far outside of the local market.

Here, Earnhardt’s son Kerry (himself a race car driver) models the new look:


As promised (threatened?), here’s a little about the piedmont (which is technically known by geologists as a physiographic province).  Here’s a map, showing the extent of the Piedmont:


Basically, the Piedmont is a geologic region between the low-lying coastal plain and the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s a hodge-podge geologically speaking, but is dominated by two geologic features:

 (1)  the highly-weathered remains of ancient mountain ranges (with rocks between 500 million and a billion years old), and

 (2) much younger rocks composed of sediments that were deposited in basins formed as the ancestral Atlantic Ocean was opening up (a mere 250 million years ago). 

 For the record, I live in and amongst the NJ version of Piedmont rocks, type (2).  Anyway, Piedmont was a bad name for an airline (the precursor to U.S. Airways) and it’s a bad name for a North Carolina baseball team. 

 OK, I can’t resist this little factoid.  As you can imagine, there must be spots in the Piedmont where the really old rocks butt up against the much younger rocks.  Well, just 20 or so miles northwest of where I live in NJ, along the Delaware River in PA is a very cool spot.  You stand along the river road (Route 611), with your back to the river.  To the right, you see a large outcropping of gray rocks, (Cambrian-aged dolomites, about 600 million years old).  In front of you is a small valley, which runs along a fault.  To the left is a large outcropping of red rocks (Triassic-aged), about 250 million years old.  The fault represents a time gap of 350 million years!

 Here’s a map from the PA Geologic survey, showing the location of the fault that separates the two rock formations:

 border fault

The green stuff is Triassic; the purple is Cambrian.  The fault (known as the Monroe Border Fault) moved pretty much vertically more than 5 miles!  Here’s a geologic cross-section, showing the rocks near the fault.  The Triassic side of the fault moved downward as the Triassic sediments were deposited:

 border fault x-section

Erosion (that great equalizer), acting through millions of years, made the topography pretty much the same on either side of the fault.  

Enough Piedmont geology!  Moving right along to Boll Weevils.  From Wiki:


The boll weevil is a small beetle that feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.  Beginning in1978, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the U.S. allowed full-scale cultivation to resume in many regions.

 A peculiar name for a baseball team, but I like it!

 Moving right along . . . here’s a shot of the old-school Gem Theater in downtown Kannapolis (Panoramio photo by Kevin Childress):

 pano kevin childress

I’ll close with a photo of the warmly human Dale Earnhardt statue right in town (GE Panoramio, by jtdancy):

pano jtdancy


 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Fitzgerald, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on August 25, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (then every-other-day blog and now a two-or-three-times a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Oh boy.  All the way up to 3/10 (for the first time in 15 landings) with a landing in the solid SE . . . GA; 33/37; 3/10; 20; 155.7.  Here’s my landing map:

Here’s a broader view:

I landed in the Sturgeon Ck watershed; on to the Ocmulgee R (2nd hit); to the Altamaha (6th hit).  I have to suppose that at least at one time, there were sturgeon in Sturgeon Creek.  Here’s a picture of a couple of sturgeon.  I don’t know where this was shot, but I certainly assume it was not from Sturgeon Creek or the Ocmulgee river:

Big fish, eh?  Anyway, it turns out that years ago there were, in fact, sturgeon in the Ocmulgee River.  From the Altamaha River Keeper website:

State and Federal agencies are embarked on an effort to restore fish spawning migrations on the Altamaha River and its tributaries. As part of this effort, the focus is on the Ocmulgee River and diadromous fish (fish that live part of their lives in salt water and part of their lives in fresh water, including sturgeon).

The Ocmulgee, like other Altamaha tributaries, once had huge annual migrations of diadromous fish that moved up to spawn as far upriver as the Alcovy and Yellow Rivers. Native Americans and early settlers depended on the large migrations of fish for food, and there were large fisheries until over-fishing and construction of dams nearly eliminated the fish runs by the late 19th century. Since then, the fish, the fisheries, and the people that survived on them have largely been forgotten.

Here’s a shot of the Ocmulgee just north of my landing:

Here’s my GE shot, showing a rural, generally wooded area:

The peninsula in the lake looks intriguingly landscaped.  Here’s a close-up:

There might be some nice properties here in the lake!  Here’s a StreetView shot of the dirt road that heads down towards my landing (my landing would be down the road and to the left):

Before moving along to Fitzgerald, check out the name of the County I in which I landed:

Pretty cool, eh, Dan?  For those of you who don’t know me, I have a son Ben (and our last name is Hill).  Here’s a picture of Ben, from his blog “Ben’s Biz Blog,” which is a light-hearted look at the business end of Minor League Baseball (Ben is a writer for MLB.com).

Here’s another shot, where Ben’s with some goofy Minor League mascot:

Click here to go to Ben’s blog.

Here’s some info about Ben Hill County and the other Ben Hill:

Here’s a picture of the other Ben Hill.  I doubt we’re related . . .

Moving along to Fitzgerald.  From Wiki:

Fitzgerald is the County Seat of Ben Hill County, Georgia.  The population was 8,758 at the 2000 census.  It was created in 1895, as a community for Civil War veterans by Indianapolis newspaper editor Philander H. Fitzgerald, a former drummer boy in the Union army.  The citizens of Fitzgerald, pledging unity with their former enemies, named streets after leaders of both armies.

I just checked it out.  In fact, the north-south streets in town are named after both Union & Confederate generals.  Here’s just the west side of town, which features Confederate generals (Hill, Bragg, Gordon, Longstreet, Jackson, Johnston & Lee):

And here’s the east side of town, featuring Union generals (Sheridan, Thomas, Logan & Meade).  Although not labeled, the street west of Sheridan is Sherman, who was honored in spite of his infamous “March to the Sea” through Georgia . . .

Also of interest, Monitor St. (named after the northern ironclad ship) flanks the northern Generals’ streets, and Merrimac St. (named after the southern ironclad ship) flanks the southern Generals streets. Back to Wiki:

The town is located less than 15 miles from the site of the capture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865.

In recent years, the unofficial, and sometimes controversial mascot of the city has become the Red Junglefowl, a wild chicken native to the Indian subcontinent. In the late 1960s, a small number were released into the woods surrounding the city and have thrived to this day.

Red Junglefowl, eh?  From Wiki:

The Red Junglefowl is a tropical member of the Pheasant family, and is widely believed to be a direct ancestor of the domestic chicken. It was first raised in captivity at least several thousand years ago in the Indian subcontinent, and the domesticated form has been used all around the world as a very productive food source for both meat and eggs.

Here’s a picture of an absolutely splendid Red Junglefowl (from India):

Here’s a picture of the Georgia variety right in Fitzgerald:

Since I landed so close to the location of Jefferson Davis’ surrender, I thought I’d check it out.  From Wiki:

In April 3, 1865, with Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate Cabinet.   He issued his last official proclamation as president of the Confederacy, and then went south to Greensboro, North Carolina.  Circa April 12, he received Robert E. Lee’s letter announcing surrender.

After Lee’s surrender, there was a public meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana, at which many speakers urged that the war still continue. Historian John D. Winters in The Civil War in Louisiana (1963) writes that plans were developed for the Davis government to flee to Havana, Cuba.  There, the leaders would regroup and head to the still Confederate-controlled Trans-Mississippi area by way of the Rio Grande.  None of these plans developed [obviously!].

President Jefferson Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865, in Washington, Georgia, and the Confederate government was officially dissolved.  He was captured on May 10, 1865, at Irwinville [just southwest of Fitzgerald]. In the confusion, Davis put his wife’s overcoat over his shoulders and attempted to flee the Union soldiers, leading to caricatures of him being captured disguised as a woman. After being captured he was held as a prisoner for two years in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

I’ll close with this sunset shot of Fitzgerald:

That’ll do it. . .



© 2010 A Landing A Day

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