The Lord works in mysterious ways: Throughout history, humans have been tested with an endless succession of hazardous phenomena such as lightning storms, locust swarms, giant fire-breathing lizards, etc. To avert such catastrophes, we puny creatures have in the past offered tokens and rituals like virgin sacrifice, arks of gold, rain dances, and rosaries.
Meanwhile, here in postindustrial America, we protect ourselves a little differently. By strategically pitting various natural disasters against each other in furious sporting skirmishes, we try to stave off calamities of biblical proportion. In this spirit, the San Jose Earthquakes soccer club attempts a double whammy on Mother Nature, taking on the Chicago Fire in a fierce battle of the elements for the sake of mankind. Though strained by a series of key injuries and defections (including a healthy cross section of their fan base), the Quakes remain undefeated. Cheer on team favorite Jeff Agoos, rookie standout Todd Dunivant, and the San Jose squad at 1 p.m. at Spartan Stadium, 1257 South 10th St. (at East Humboldt), San Jose. Admission is $12-45; call 421-8497 or visit www.sjearthquakes.com.
-- Kevin Chanel
Shooting in the Park
We're not sure exactly who they are -- retired rangers? birders of the first degree? naturalists on a bender? -- but the members of the Neighborhood Park Council have only one thing on their minds: to make our public recreational spaces better and more accessible. So they have devised a scheme called "Nature in the City." Once a month, experts in various fields (entomology, gardening, and landscape illustration, for example) guide walks through different parks. Today, enjoy "Nature Photography," a free stroll through McLaren Park with wildlife photographer Jenny Jonak. Start at 10 a.m. at the benches across the street from McLaren Park Amphitheater (off John F. Shelley Drive). Call 621-3260 or visit www.sfneighborhoodparks.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Learn how to row, row, row your boat
Navigating the waters can require some initiative, but aspiring scullers have no excuse to put off plying the oar during National Learn to Row Day, when clubs across the country make it as easy as possible to take up the sport. On Saturday, all you have to do is show up at a participating location, and seasoned paddlers will be on hand to teach the basics of the low-impact, total-body workout. Practice on an ergometer (an exercise machine used to simulate rowing on land), or take a spin out on a boat. Groups in Foster City, Marin County, and Oakland will hold instructional programs. The North Bay Rowing Club in Petaluma, for example, will offer sessions in which landlubbers can pick up beginning techniques for just $25. Prices and events vary at each club; call (800) 314-4ROW or visit www.usrowing.org.
-- Lisa Hom