Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World Bikes

She maybe lucky - he could make her pedal while he rides the back.

Flooded in Bath - generous delivery service!

Just what I needed on my bike - a little extra fridge space. Amazing what people can carry on a bike!

When it's gotta get there, it's gotta get there.

Just one to show a beautiful photo, the bike is incidental, the graffiti is great!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Glorious fall colors

We have just had a spectacular and glorious fall color display. The peak was yesterday and the day before. It is amazing to me, how the colors can slowly build up, and then, so suddenly, every tree is riotous in color. The leaves begin to fade the very next day. It was a perfect season for it this year. We've had plenty of rainy days lately, which I understand helps the color, and now, when the color is peaking, it has been blue skies and cool weather. I took a few pictures of the dogs, on part of our usual run path, but they are VERY bad pictures. Phone camera - you know. They are here anyway, just so you can take a look. You can even judge the rapid progression of the colors from these photos. They were shot from almost the same spot. The first one, with Klinger only, was shot 4 or 5 days ago. The second one, with Klinger and Sara, was shot today. Yesterday the colors were even brighter than today.

Hope you are having a great fall season.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bringing it all back home

Closing up one loose thread -- we still had stuff in storage in Memphis, ten years after we left. So I finally brought it home. Flew down on Wednesday, stayed the night with Fred and Judy - had a MARVELOUS time talking with them. Their son Peter was there, also, and doing well. Thursday morning we got an early start - but a bit later than planned, forgot a key, and had to backtrack a bit.

Sean picked me up at Fred and Judy's, and we were out of the truck rental place by half-past 8. The storage unit was 5 minutes away, and we were loading before 9. It was just Sean and myself, but we got the loading done by just after noon.

I found a Mexican restaurant, got 2 burritos to go. Went to a grocery and got a twelve pack of Lipton tea drinks, and a couple other items, and I was off. I covered 550 miles that day (Thursday), which put me in Wytheville, VA. I had said I was only hoping to clear TN by end-of-day on Thursday, so that was better.

My initial predictions were that a best possible case was 2 days driving - but the distance is about 1300 miles, so the time for driving would be about 26 hours. Tough to do in 2 days, so I was predicting 3-4. I had also figured I might sleep in the truck, but the truck cab didn't have a bench seat, so that idea was a no-go.

But, late on Thursday, I was still doing well, and not tired. Fatigue, for me, usually manifests in my eyes. They will want to close when I'm too tired. I was fine, with very little fatigue, but it got late, and I figured a good sleep was better than trying to go straight thru.

As I turned off the truck, the engine alert light came on. I figured screw that for the night - and called in the morning. Since it was only the "check engine" light - the renter said to continue, and not worry, unless the truck showed performance problems - which it hadn't.

Voom, Friday, and I was on the road by 8. It was hot out. Traffic was moderate all the way so far, and continued so. Some brief backups when I got to the WashDC, NYC areas. I stayed inland, not going thru NYC. Cost 100 miles, but saved at least 2 hours.

By evening, I was thinking I might be close by "quitting time", whenever that was. Energy levels maintained, tho, with some generous help from the Starbucks factor. By late evening, I was looking at arriving in Harvard around midnight.

Which is what I did. Got here shortly after midnight, maybe half past. Dogs were glad to see me. Sprocket the cat was too. We parked the truck, and went inside.

I was too wired from driving - couldn't sleep, and I had an interesting book to read: "Who Fears Death". So I quit reading, and slept, about 3 AM.

1325 miles (approx)
22 hours driving, 7 hours parked (doesn't count overnite)
Average moving mph = 60.1
Avg Mpg = 10.9
Avg gas $$per gallon = 2.57

That was easy! [Lucky, lucky me!]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Facebook security

Most of you know computer security is something I follow a bit. Here's my little bit to encourage a little FUD about Facebook - this describes a scam that takes advantage of Facebook's working patterns. Like the sergeant on Hill Street Blues says: Be careful out there folks.

PhacePhish: New Facebook Attack gives a One-Two Punch

Le Tour - on Resonance FM London, Bicycle Thieves, etc

Resonance FM in London has a nice little bicycle related broadcast that gets podcast as well. They did a nice little post-Tour commentary show - and covered a new play out in London. The play is titled "Bicycle Thieves" and it is roughly inspired by the famous 1940's Italian classic movie, "The Bicycle Thief".
Go to Looking back at Le Tour and ahead to ‘Bicycle Thieves’>

Sunday, July 18, 2010

So where does Contador stand?

By now it should be obvious I've thought Contador will win all along. But, today he and Scheck are playing games with each other, and they can both do the mountain goat thing better than anybody else - except each other. Given the way that both are on a different level from everyone else, and I wouldn't be surprised if both have also found a way to micro-dose and not get caught. It might be just a little tiny bit too good to be true. On the other hand, Alberto demonstrated this superior ability to climb and accelerate in the mountains a long time ago. So, we'll assume not, since it won't make any real difference to us.

It did make a difference to the guys in 3rd and 4th, tho. They actually managed to take advantage of the cat-and-mouse being played by Alberto and Andy and gain back 10 or 15 seconds. That isn't much, as they are about 2 and a half minutes behind, but it puts an extraordinary effort a little bit closer to their reach.

After today, I'm less confident that Alberto will win - it could be very close.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Le Tour - the first sorting is done

Ok folks! And there we go, the first sorting at Le Tour is done! Some not-so-surprises, and a couple of surprises. The first surprise was how highly Cadel was placed, but now that has sorted itself out. The second big surprise, but not such a big surprise, was Lance. In the last two years, he's shown himself to be riding "on the rivet" - at or right on his limits. Now he's suffered some very bad luck - in two critical stages. Part of that is almost certainly because he's been riding at his limit. Just go back over Tour history, and pay attention to how many times the #2 or #3 at the moment suffers a significant crash. There is just a fraction of one's energy that has gone over from paying attention to hazards to just staying with the pace. But it also could be just dumb luck. He had a good run - even last year he was showing some of that good luck when that tactical break went in his favor. So now he is way back, and any chance of him getting back to the yellow jersey would be so slim that the odds are likely a million to one.

What is really magnificent about Lance's ride this year is that he is showing us he is a true champion and a gentleman. He is riding well, strongly, and intelligently. I believe it enhances his status to keep riding - even when he is beyond winning. He is still one of the strongest men in the peloton.

Cadel is almost certainly gone, as well. Wiggins, too. They will be riding for top ten finishes now. Levi - originally not on the board, since he was riding for Lance - is now the top ten hope for Radioshack. Vino has shown his strength, and it is mighty, but not enough. At the end of the Alps - the Tour's "first stretch" - we have Schleck and Contador, with Schleck by a nose. We still have two more stretches to sort things - the Pyrenees, where Contador has been saying the Tour will be won - and the final time trial.

Things could change for another surprise, but don't count on it. Basso, Leipheimer, etc are in a battle for third on the podium in Paris. One and two will be Schleck and Contador. I give my odds to Contador, but he is not unbeatable, and Schleck has looked very much like he can beat Contador. I don't think Contador can beat Andy in the mountains, like he can everyone else. They were very evenly matched in the Alps this year, and last year, too. But all he needs are a few seconds to tie things up. Then he can beat him in the time trial. We will see.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The dreaded cobbles - Day 3 of Le Tour

Wow, the first days of this year's Tour have been carnage. The publicity and ever-increasing fan base have not done the Tour good in this way. The riders are ever more serious, right from the start, the radio contact with the team director keeps guys in the front when they otherwise wouldn't be. So nerves are on edge, everybody is still fresh, and strong, and trying hard. Trying to fit close to 200 riders in front on some of these roads is like trying to put a white horse in a sock - doesn't work. Yesterday, on the Col de Stackeau we got the "Stackeau Massacre". Bad road conditions (unforeseen conditions), complicated by bad weather, and riders were going down "in the clear". Thor got an advantage for the green jersey on Sunday, when Cav and Tyler crashed out - and that lead may be insurmountable. So long as Thor manages to stay upright, anyway. That is unusual. Since I'm a Cav fan, I also consider it unfortunate!

Today, on the cobbles, the crashes were less devastating, and we were treated to a fine day of real racing. Some of the top contenders, like Van deVelde, are already out (Christain VdV is out because of the crashes yesterday). Frank Schleck, Andy's brother and right hand man, crashed today, and may not continue. So the cobbles did what they were supposed to do - sort out the crowd a bit, and change the overall results. It was a great race today, tho, and very typical of races over the cobbles - where large pelotons simply do not work well.

So, now we should have a few "quiet" days, and the sprinters will get a little chance. On stage 7, or maybe it was 8, we have a few more cobble sections, but no one seems to expect them to change the results as much as today.

We have some time differences, which may, or may not, be major. Typical of this stage of the Tour, several riders who are in the top now we won't expect to see much of after the mountains. Cancellara is one of these - but what a marvelous strong man he is growing to be. He has poise, and status in the peloton, along with some color in his character, and the ability to speak with the public. The ability to speak is something we often don't find in the strong men - think of Cadel Evans, or Wiggins. Even Cav - who can be charming - seems to suffer from Mike Tyson like lapses in public judgement.

But, for now, out of the top contenders for yellow in Paris, we have Cadel Evans in top position. Andy Schleck is half a minute behind, but that time difference he should be able to pick up over Evans when we hit the Alps. At one minute back, we see Vino and Contador. I don't really count Vino in it for the end, but he could surprise us. Contador is next, and should be able to easily pull in the small time between himself and Evans in the mountains. If Andy, however, can stick to Contador's tail, this could get tough. Menchov, Kreuziger, Lance, Martin, and Rogers are two minutes back. They might find someplace to make up time - they probably won't, but we can't count Lance out yet. Basso and Sastre are two and a half minutes back, same reasoning as Lance. The probably won't find a way to get back up, but they still can. It is certainly still a race, and all of these results could get turned on their head by a lucky - or unlucky - day in the Pyrennees!

Friday, July 2, 2010

We have got a RACE!

O folks! We have got a RACE! Check out these headlines:

Cervélo suspends Florencio on eve of Tour de France
Evans confident as Tour redemption bid begins
Cav: "I'm physically great, but I don't know exactly how good until I start the race"
Contador confident Astana can lead him to Tour glory
Tour de France favorites train on the cobbles
Wiggins takes Tour de France prologue gamble

Ta ta ta ta ta ta: "The Heat is ON" ta tata, tata, tata.

If you want to check out the stories, head on over to:


Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Tour Time!

Ok, folks - it is officially here - Tour season! The 97th Tour de France is beginning!

Cycling News: 2010 top Tour contenders

And what a race we have ready for you this year. It has been a hot, hot year for races, with Lance and Contador on their own individual teams, Basso and Vinokourov back after drug suspensions, and much more. Cancellara outrode Boonen early this year, in a Classics complete upset, the Giro was a tightly fought thrill-a-minute revelation from start to finish, the Tour of California had the strongest field ever, and a tightly fought finish (but not so many unexpected wins as the Giro). It has been an EXCITING year for racing.

And now, Contador and Lance are ready to do battle. And what a battle it will be! In the first 3 days, we have cobbles. In the early season, during the Spring "Classics", we often see accidents and upsets caused by the cobbles. They aren't usually included in the Tour. The cobble sections could see upsetting results that will change the whole face of this 97th Tour. I have no doubt that some teams are looking to put the hurt on, and maybe even score some underdog times that will put somebody in yellow for a long stretch - a la Voeckler in 2004. Back then Voeckler spent ten days in yellow, gained in an early breakaway that made it to the end with a 20 minute lead over the peloton. He had so much time it was considered possible that he might actually be able to hold a lead and win. This year we had a similar underdog adventure in the Giro - David Arroyo, a lieutenant, albeit a strong one, but still normally just a lieutenant, took the lead with an early stage breakaway, with a big time gap over the favorites. He managed to hold on to enough of that lead for a 2nd place finish, with Basso alone overcoming in the final days. The cobbles could be telling. We probably won't see the winner "made" there, but we might well see top ranked riders lose the race there. Lance will certainly be looking to take an advantage here over Contador.

The Alps come early this year, and probably won't be decisive. The Alps come too early, and the real action will be in the Pyrenees, late in the race. Several of the top contenders have said exactly this. If Contador makes it to the Alps without losing a big chunk of time, he will be the big favorite to win this year.

There will still be opportunity and excitement. Just like last year, when Lance gained so much time on one stage, weather can step in and change the face of the race. Lance has shown he is good at anticipating this stuff, and that his team has the best tactical wisdom around in Bruyneel and the team riders.

In the Pyrenees we will expect the race to be made. Here is where Alberto rules. This is where he is looking to win the race.

Then, in the penultimate stage, we have a big time trial. This will be a last opportunity, should the placings still be close. Contador has proven himself strong in the TT, and Lance is not the master here that he used to be. But, this is July, and the Tour de France. There are several other riders who will be in the mix, and perhaps some unexpected ones coming up. See my link, above, for some of the favorites.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ukraine: opinions on government evolution

A dim, acerbic opinion of the current government in the Ukraine, with side comments on the status of Russia. Validates my last post.
Is Ukrainian democracy really dead?

Ironically, though, this next link may hold notes of optimism - get to the last paragraphs, starting with "The Vienna probe's findings come amid signs that Moscow is itself keen to curb impunity for killers of human rights defenders and opposition activists in North Caucasus, said by the EU to be a major factor in growing instability in the region . . .". More at: Russian hardman ordered hit in heart of EU, probe alleges We need signs that a rule of law is going to become dominant in the sphere of Russian influence. Concern over the killings of dissenters is a step in that direction.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Russian trends - some articles of interest

It's been a long time since I've written again. I can't say I know why, other than I just didn't have the feeling to write. My apologies.

On the other hand, I've had a lot of thoughts to say. Some have been politically controversial, or at least, if I post them, you will see me blasting somebody politically. I don't like political conversations, as I've been the victim of them ever since I was first able to participate. I use the word "victim" intentionally, since it usually seems to me that those who enjoy participating in political "discussions" are quite a bit like the barroom thug who sits at the bar, ready to take advantage of anyone foolish enough to challenge them to an arm-wrestling contest. You have entered their domain, and picked their contest of choice. You have been suckered, and yet you come off as the instigator. I usually end up feeling like I've been suckered into endless circular arguments that I cannot win, and I only look like the foolish target.

Today, though, I'm going to point you to some articles I've recently run across about Russia. In my thinking, they illuminate the current political climate/course in Russia.

I'll start with the Muscovite's Code - if there is any humor to be found here, it is on this topic. A quick intro is at
with a tongue-in-cheek counterpoint here
So, we have a growing nationalist sentiment, combining with some "anti-" ethnic/racial sentiments. Nothing new here, just things we all have in some form. It's what happens as a result that matters, yes? What is important to me is the growth of this side of things.

Speaking of growth in political "areas":
It appears to be a strengthening of political crony-ism, and a move against representative government. My first thought is that some of my friends out there will believe I am speaking negatively about this. For you, please stick with me for a little longer.

Economics is much in the news lately. Here we have, in my opinion, a balanced view of the current situation for Russia
In the middle of this article, you will also find the reason why the pendulum will not swing too far back: "Russia is no longer isolated - its elites and upper middle class know the world outside of Russia through travel and the Internet". And, you will see, if you read this article, a willingness to speak openly about the current economic conditions.

Wrap it up with international politics

What I see here, quite clearly, is a swing of the pendulum. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the pendulum swung to the opposite side of the spectrum. As would be expected. Now it is swinging back. But, just like a pendulum, political situations rarely swing all the way back to the original spot. External energy must be applied to keep the pendulum swinging. What I see here is confirmation that nationalism, and racist, attitudes continue to grow (although it seems slowly) in Russia. I also see that government continues, slowly, to reform itself along more oligarchic, and less democratic lines. Next, I also see that, while the "Housing Depression" has also impacted Russia, there is still economic strength in that area.

In the middle of the economic article, you will also find the reason why the pendulum will not swing too far back: "Russia is no longer isolated - its elites and upper middle class know the world outside of Russia through travel and the Internet". And, you will see, if you read this article, a willingness to speak openly about the current economic conditions. The very fact that this article is possible, and that the author makes the assumptions, asides, and conclusions that he does, speaks for long-term optimism about Russia economic and political climate.

And, lastly, we have a frank examination of Russia vis-a-vis other area governments/countries. This is a very good examination of Russia's options in Kyrgyzstan. It is also applicable to relations with Georgia. Both have been under Russian power since well before the Soviet came to be. They are immediate neighbors, and have much weaker economies than their larger neighbor to the north.

I see some trends I don't like, and that I mistrust, but, overall, I think we have good reason for long run optimism in Russia. There is still an economic vigor, and a political freedom, that was not there in the Soviet era, and enough people like trend, that, with a little luck, and some work, these negative trends will just be the swinging of the pendulum hitting its reverse end.

The change in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet is not through. It may have only just begun.

I don't know how long the referenced articles will be posted. I've saved copies for my records if you should read this and can not get to the articles.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Haitian police - a new start?

Hey - it's been a long time since I felt like writing, or had time for it. However, all I think about lately is political. There is so much going on, and it just burns me up - so maybe I'll expend some of that energy to put it down here.

First on this list is this:

The Haitian police showing savvy and spunk. I wrote an email to Obama, expressing my hope that our guys on the ground were doing their very best to coordinate and work with these guys. If the situation on the ground there is typical of almost every life situation I've ever seen, they are not. It never ceases to amaze me how simple efforts that could pay off never get used. Let's hope, tho. Of course, the possibility also exists that this news reporter is giving us some very slanted viewpoints. Still, let's hope for the best.