Thursday, September 28, 2006


Literally it means "Burnball"... and that's what you do. You burn the runners caught between the bases by throwing the ball to the "burner" who catches the ball, stands on the "burn plate" and yells "BURN!" But here's the catch... you're not "out". You go back to first base and try again. I use hula hoops for bases and put them in a sqare about 25 yards apart. There can be as many people as you have on your team on first base too. And there is no pitcher. You pick up a bat, any bat really. .. and I give my students a choice of 4 different bats; a regular baseball bat, a cricket flat bat, a tennis raquet or a wooden paddle. The Swedes say to use a tennis ball, but we use a racketball... it goes father when hit into the wind. When it's your turn to hit, and everyone on your team gets a turn, you stand in between 1st and 4th base (not called home plate) and hit the ball anywhere you want as long as it goes in between 1st and 4th base. You get three tries to hit the ball with whichever bat you choose, but after three misses just pick the ball up and throw it and run as if you hit it... just don't be the idiot who misses the ball on purpose 3 times in order to take advantage of the throw it rule. After the ball is hit you go to first base and decide, 'can I make it to 2nd base before the defense can throw the ball to the burner?' If you don't think you can make it, stay where you are. If you run and get burned the defense scores a point for every runner caught not on a base... and all that are burned go back to first. You don't ever have to run either. You could pitch a tent on first base if you want, but that would be lame. The object of the game is to get as many runners all the way around to 4th base without getting burned. Anyone who hits the ball and runs all 4 bases gets 4 points in addition to however many runners also make it to 4th base. Oh, please don't stop on 4th base. Keep running after you step on it to prevent a pile up. And the burner needs to roll the ball to the next batsmen to prevent stupid injuries or drama.
The defense can also score points by catching a fly ball with both hands (1 point), right hand (2 points), left hand (3 points)... and if you are willing to risk big humiliation - catch it between your legs for 5 points and the admiration of all who saw you risk the family jewels. Even after you catch a fly ball throw it to the burner to prevent the runners from advancing. And if the burner doens't say "BURN!" and rolls the ball to the next hitter, technically the runners can advance... I think one base is fair. Hard core middle school students think they can run all the way to 4th base. After everyone hits, switch sides. The batting order stays the same once it is established in the beginning of the game. It makes sense to have your best hitters go last to clean off the bases, so to speak. If you're a smart burner you'll keep the ball, give it to your first batter and let them hit before the defense can set up... this really keeps the game moving. No one says you can't start right away.
It is easier to understand with a drawing and stick figures on a white board and having situations explained like John Madden explaining an NFL game, but I think the explaination above gives you a good picture... it's quite fun actually and all but one group of apathetic 8th graders loves it. I just don't like the down time waiting in line for your turn to hit so I put out a box of resistance bands for students to work with when they are just standing around... they may as well pump their little muscles so they are not flabby like marshmellows.
Any Questions?

Monday, September 04, 2006

All Things Swedish

Brånnboll - Swedish baseball... Have you ever heard of it? All the kids is Sweden play this modified baseball and my students in Redwood City are about to learn. They asked me to bring them a present... the were expecting candy, I brought them a new game.
This section All Things Swedish is a work in progress. Soon I'll have an audio clip explaining how to play the game. But for now...

We have stuff, they have stuff... shrimp, frogs bumble bees, boats, bridges, crabs, sailing regattas, food in a tube, they lose hub caps, shoes... I mean they have the same stuff we have in the U.S. but in Sweden there are a few things that you just have to marvel at... like gas prices - roughly $8 a gallon... next time you complain about $3 think again.

They have regattas, but they trailor their boats in and from other countries as well, often hundreds of miles for one week of sailing. The Swedes love the Danes and the Danes love the Germans.... wait, that's not right. Ok, it's a love/hate relationship. They love to hate each other, but respect each other because of their fine taste in sailboats.

At the end of this walkway in Stockholm is an elevator... they call them a "Hiss".
This one costs 10 krone just to go down, next time I'm taking the stairs.

Disposable BBQs are an awesome invention for a country filled with responsible citizens. If this were allowed in the U.S. we'd have forest fires in every back yard from San Diego to Banger.
The trick is using them on a ROCK!!! NOT ON THE GRASS!!!

And now... How to recycle a can in Sweden: (video/quicktime Object)

This church in Malmø was built in the 1200's.
We have churches, but they have only been corupting our better judgement for a couple hundred years, here they have been asking for money for many centuries. This one asks for 150 krone just to look around inside.

They have windmills old and new... this one is old.

I don't know what this means, but it is on every store in Sweden. I welcome your comments on this one.

The Twisting Torso building in Malmø is an archetectual marvel. As it rises it rotates a full 90 degrees.

This view of Stockholm helps me sleep at night. If I have a bad sailboat race, I flash back to this evening with Kester, Lisa, Charolette, Oscar and Drunk Rob w/ the fancy white shoes and I drift off nicely into slumberland.

A fountain in Stockholm... somehow this one is cooler than all of ours here in the U.S.

They have grasshoppers too!

The wheat and barely fields north of Stockholm are magnifigant in August... the sweet aroma fills the air and frees the mind. The E.U., however, pays farmers in Sweden not to grow anything... So there are a lot of farmers with nothing to do, but still getting paid... I'm in the wrong business.

They have cows too, but theirs are blonde.

A modern windmill. Everyone I asked could care less if the spinning blades killed any birds, some thought that was a bonus. They did agree that wind power was a great idea... as long as it wasn't in their back yard. And, if you are sailing and there are windmills near by, they are great at helping you predict shifts.

Had I known they had skateparks I would have brought my board. I saw evidence of a thriving skateboard community all over Sweden. The landscape archetects must be skaters because there were so many skateable cement storefront surfaces. Plus, I really enjoyed their graffiti... it was way more artistic than most of ours... I wished I had taken more pictures of it.

This is Lars... he's cool. He helped me roll my sails into their tube for transport. I had to give the hat. He's boat bum in the making. He hangs around the marina all summer messing around with boats and helping out where he can.

These car ferries are all over and the high taxes they pay suppliment them so they are free and run often enough to count on them, unlike MUNI or BART.

This rock is called, "The Butt". Can't imagine why.

Swedish horses.

They have great sunsets too, but they have them much later in the day... say, 10:30 pm.

They have kings, we don't. We all moved here to not have them. We ended up with Bush. I almost got into a fight with guy talking politics... I was agreeing with him about our fearless leader and he was ready to brawl... I had to excuse myself... quickly. There are 3 things we are never to bring up in conversation; money, religion and politics... in Sweden these are open targets.

They have robbers also. Read Robban the Robber for more information.

They play guitar and the accordian too. They sing more than we do and that bums me out. I wish we sang more here.

They have big hair hair despite their parents wishes.

They have mother daughter bonding moments.
Sorry about the "red eye" Ingrid... it's the best picture I have of you.

They force a smile when need be. Diplomacy is a virtue cherished by the Swedes... no confrontation at any cost.

But this opening up umbrellas indoors is bad luck. I guess this bad luck for opening up an umbrella indoors doesn't apply to Swedes.

They have guys who play guitar and sing... soon I'll have an audio clip of this guy doing a Swedish version of jungle book and Bob Marley.

They build bridges and fast too. This one was built in less than a year. We have an earthquake in 1989 and they are still fixing stuff around here.

They eat unshelled shrimp on their boats. It's fun too. You shell it, throw the carcass overboard and munch the meat, repeat.

They play with their food and sing songs at the same time!

Box wine is big, especially with the sailing crowd. This one we called, The Elk". We also sampled the boar, the giraffe and the lion.
This was taco night at Bjorn and Elisabeth's house.

They have bumblebees. But they have this other cute name for them. Somebody tell me the Swedish word for bumble bee!!
I forgot it.

Their Bouys are... bigger.

I found this plant interesting only because it reminds me of fireweed in Alaska. When the flower tops out and finishes blooming, it means summer is over. It's kind of the depression flower... it keeps reminding those who look at it the end of good weather is near.

They have small frogs (groda in Swedish)

And they have big frogs....

And sometimes they run over their frogs with their volvos or saabs.

We lose shoes, they lose cloggs.

When they lose a hub cap and someone finds it, they are nice enough to hang it up in plain view in case the victim returns.

They have moles.

They take 4 rocks to elevate the grill and throw the coals under it.

They also have... crabs. oh that sounds bad.

Folkboat Aluminum Mast Controversy

I had the opportunity to mess around with the class legal aluminum mast of Arne Olson's boat Stratavarious. I had heard a lot about them, but the this was the first one I'd seen. I had to see how stiff they really were. This is a picture with no rake. After stepping this mast one thing stuck out... it's as heavy as a wood mast. It's been over engineered to be equal in weight and performance with the traditional wood, but with one awesome redeeming feature... no varnish. You can bang this thing around without fear of hurting it.

This a picture with as much backstay as I could put on.
My thoughts are this; if your sails are cut right, this is plenty enough back stay to deal with the wind we have here in SF.

I'm trying to come up with a reason not to get one now.

Another benefit is no mast organizer is needed, everything bolts to the mast.

At Marstrand, half the boats had aluminum masts, even more had at least just the aluminum boom. Arne has kept records of wood vs. aluminum performance results for all regattas in which aluminum masts have been used. The data indicates there is no advantage in having an aluminum mast. So, having one doesn't create an arms race as long as they are all made the same way. I have the contact information for the Swedish manufacturer:

Per Skoglund

19,393 kr complete mast
3,716 kr boom
3,290 kr standing rigging
886 kr running rigging (main/jib)
delivery time 2-3 weeks. They have made over 50 masts at this point. The Danes think they are too stiff, but they will always complane about something.

Just What Do You Do With A Bucket Full Of Crabs?

So, you're at a family reunion in Sweden down in a marina...
All the kids are running around catching crabs all day.

Meet Nick Brown - This is Bjorn's sister Lota's youngest son and expert crab catcher. He also excels at jib trimmer on the Sco-merican race team. In competition he proved his talents by helping the team win their only interfamily sailboat race. The young Scotish lad teamed up with the American and formed the syndicate Scomerica. They proved to be an excellent team, giving no hope of victory to the other teams...
and no we were not over early at the start, we heard no gun, so we continued on to victory.

As you can see they have been collecting crabs all day... it became a quite heated competition.

My guess is they had well over 50 total by the end of the day. Now the question is posed again:
Just what do you do with a grip of crabs?


Bjorn is a nut. And his nuttiness just keeps on coming, he doesn't stop and it just gets funnier and funnier.
Bjorn gathered everyone from the family reunion party and employed the help of Eric (nike sweatshirt) and Lisa Brown(w/the prao elev sign that means student in training), these are Bjorn's sister Lota's other two kids. So everyone gathers around and a competition is born. First, you divide the group into heats... about 5 people per race. Those first 5 people put 5 krone into the bucket Lisa is holding and then...

You put down three ropes that make rings and put numbers on the backs of the crabs.

Hold them down without crushing them...

Then let them go! The first crab to run out of the ring wins that round. The 25 krone is given to the winner, but after all the semi-final winners are established, all the winners put their krone in the bucket for a winner takes all final:

This year's winner: Mr. Brown from Scotland!

Just hours before the competition he had flown in... little did he know he would be the crab race champion. Congratulations!
(sorry, no picture available)