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happy July

Tuesday,  07/01/08  11:04 PM

Happy July everyone, and welcome to summer and the second half of 2008.  Should be a wild ride; we have gas prices rising, a housing bubble bursting, uneven economic news, unrest in the Middle East (as always, sadly), and a presidential election featuring the clearest choice we've had for a long time.  May we live in interesting times indeed...

Meanwhile I am turning 50, perhaps starting the second half of my life.

Interestingly, tonight I sort of revisited my youth: I played racquetball with my friend and colleague Chris Lee.  There was a time when I played every day, but that time was 20 years ago; it required a deep architectural dig in my garage to unearth my racquet.  Anyway it was really fun, I found I remembered the game, I just couldn't play it anymore :)  Rust never sleeps.  (Good exercise regardless.)  Anyway we're planning to play again, so maybe it will come back to me...

Glenn Reynolds warns us to get ready for the Obama pivot: "In February, 2007, when Barack Obama declared that he was running for President, violence in Iraq had reached apocalyptic levels, and he based his candidacy, in part, on a bold promise to begin a rapid withdrawal of American forces upon taking office.  But in the year and a half since then two improbable, though not unforeseeable, events have occurred: Obama has won the Democratic nomination, and Iraq, despite myriad crises, has begun to stabilize. With the general election four months away, Obama’s rhetoric on the topic now seems outdated and out of touch, and the nominee-apparent may have a political problem concerning the very issue that did so much to bring him this far."

In considering this, and Obama's likely pivot, consider Blackfive's point: Why McCain's captivity matters.  His takeaway: "Obama is a feather blowing in the political breeze.  McCain is a rock."

Jason Kottke revisits an Onion classic: Someone should do something about all the problems.  I love it.

Michael RasmussenGood news / bad news for Michael Rasmussen.  You will remember he was leading last year's Tour de France and would have won, but he was fired from the Rabobank team in the middle of the race, ostensibly for lying to them.  So now he's been suspended for two years by the Monaco cycling association, but he's won his wrongful termination lawsuit against Rabobank.

Ottmar Liebert quotes George Bernard Shaw: "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."  He goes on to note that "If you have a CD and I have a CD and we exchange these CDs then you and I will still each have one CD.  But if you have an MP3 and I have an MP3 and we exchange these MP3s, then each of us will have two MP3s.  And therein lies the problem nobody has figured out yet."  Indeed.  What's interesting is that in the case of ideas, this is a good thing, but in the case of MP3s it is considered a problem.

Did you see this?  Our Governator announced Tesla will be building their new sedan in California, spurred by a sales tax waiver on zero-emission vehicles.  Good work.

Rob Hopkins on Sex and the City and Handbag Insanity.  Did you know you could rent expensive handbags?  Me, neither.  Still I'm not surprised, you can rent just about anything these days.  [ via John Robb ]

So the average age of TV viewers is now 50.  Wow.  I told Shirley, and she said "of course, the kids are all watching YouTube".  Tap tap, crash.

The LATimes is cutting 250 jobs, including 150 news jobs.  The LATimes still exists?

 

the big bang

Wednesday,  07/02/08  10:46 PM

Yay, theNew Yorker has published a fabulous collection of Independence Day covers.

"the big bang"

Check 'em out...

 

New Yorker covers

Wednesday,  07/02/08  11:43 PM

In the public interest (and by way of indulging my fetish for New Yorker covers), here are links to all the covers I've posted in the past:

The Big City (4/12/04) - a compendium of 72 of the magazine's best covers...
Never Forget (10/18/04)
Autumn Chores (10/25/04)
Song of Spring (6/1/05)
Party of One (7/04/04) - not included in the Big Bang gallery below (!)
Tour de Force (7/30/05)
New Beginning (1/30/06)
The Ascent of Man (5/14/07)
Bigger than Baseball (5/17/07)
Stalking (2/03/08)
The Big Bang (7/3/08) - a gallery of sixteen fourth of July covers

My absolute favorite is this one, seems appropriate with the Tour starting this weekend:

Tour de Force

 

happy birthday, USA

Thursday,  07/03/08  07:41 PM

Happy Birthday, USA!  And hope y'all have a great fourth of July weekend hanging out with friends and family.  I am planning in sailing in the Westlake 'Round the Island race tomorrow (you may remember, the island has a low bridge, which requires capsizing to pass under... stay tuned for pictures) and otherwise having a mellow weekend.

In the last couple of weeks I've started about ten posts with a "happy..." title.  Wonder what that means?  Could mean I am happy, or could mean I'm trying to be happy...  who knows.  The psychology of blogging is a young field with more questions than answers :)

I'm starting to think seriously know about the Death Ride next weekend.  I've been studying the route carefully; this is going to be a trial, no question.  We have five mountain passes each over 8,000' and each with at least an 8 mile climb; the last climb to Carson Pass is over 15 miles.  Whoa.  Does it make sense to say, "should be fun"?  It should be!

Death Ride profile

(click to enbiggen)

I have to bag a bit further on Obama, really I am deciding I do not like him and will not vote for him no matter what.  In fact he's starting to scare me.  I agree with Eric Raymond, at first I was a bit infatuated with him, but the more I learn, the more I don't like.

Here's what I mean: Obama willing to 'refine' Iraq withdrawal plan.  This guy has no backbone, he doesn't stand for anything.  Run a poll and he'll change his mind.  Run another and he'll drop a "lifelong friend" and move on to another.  Sigh.

Instapundit called it (in fact, he gave it a name, the 'Obama pivot').  Follow the link for a bunch more, including this clarification.

[ Update: now he denies saying he'll refine his plan.  I can't even keep track anymore, can you?  It raises the interesting question, since I disagree with many of his original positions (such as immediate surrender withdrawal in Iraq), should we root for him to change his mind, or root for him to be a man of principle?  The latter I think.  Yes. ]

Among all the fires burning at the moment in California - and there are many - the most threatening is the "gap fire" North of Santa Barbara.  Doc Searles is blogging all about it, and even has (gasp!) a map of the affected area.  It is hot and windy here at the moment, which of course does not help.  Whew.

Oberlin collegeFrom Inhabitat: Oberlin college is setting a sustainable example in Ohio.  Not only green but beautiful...

Radio controlled B-29 with X-1I came across this rather cool video of a large radio controlled B-29 model which launches an X-1 model, which then performs acrobatics complete with smoke.  Rather awesome.

Pete Mortensen thinks Macs are about to get interesting again.  I thought with the announcement of the iPhone we already had our new Mac model?  He might be right, but it seems like the action has moved from desktops to laptops, and now from laptops to smartphones...

More positive PR for Wall*E: "Better than better than good".  Man, I have to see it!

Moo.com: we're a printing company where every one is different.  As in, you make fifty business cards and they are all different!  How cool...  I should make cards with digital slide fields on them!  [ via TechCrunch ]

Unbelievable: Penn and Teller say Recycling is Bullsh*t.  Watch and see if you don't agree.  Turns out maybe you can fool all of the people all the time - or at least for a long time.  Wow.

 

'Round the Island again

Friday,  07/04/08  10:08 PM

Today I celebrated the Fourth as I usually do - by competing in Westlake Yacht Club's 'Round the Island race.  Westlake has a big island in the middle of it, connected to the mainland via a low bridge; once a year there's a race all the way around the island, and competitors have to capsize their boats and swim them under the bridge.  Here's the scene:

sailing under the bridge!

I successfully navigated the carnage and passed along the shoreline; a technique which worked well enough to get me fourth overall.  (There are all kinds of boats competing and they start in reverse order of speed; sailing a Laser I was in the fastest kind of boat, so I started 25 minutes after the little sabots, and didn't quite quite catch all of them.)  Here I am righting my Laser after passing under the bridge:

Ole under the bridge, along the shoreline

However the day's big news was the Megan and her friend Madison competed too!  They sailed a sabot together, all the way around the island, capsized and swam it under the bridge, and finished third among their sabot peers.  I am so proud of them, they were really amazing.  Here a shot of the two of them before the start:

Megan and Madison sailing - before the Round the Island start

So a great time was had by all.  I was talking to my friend Peter Drasnin, who together with me has been sailing in this race since we were kids; we figured out we've raced in about thirty of these.  What a wonderful tradition...

And I have to say in closing, Happy Birthday Uncle Sam and thanks to all the men and women in our military (especially my daughter Nicole who is in the Navy, stationed in Sicily); if it wasn't for you all we'd have much bigger problems than sailing under low bridges :)

 

 

Saturday,  07/05/08  01:46 PM

So, how about a mid-day Saturday post?  I want to make a pass on the blogosphere and this seems like as good a time as any.  I spent the morning watching the Tour de France (yay, July, time to watch the Phil and Paul show again :), and plan to do a little ride of my own later this afternoon.  Mood good.

Alejandro ValverdeSpeaking of the Tour, Alejandro Valverde got off to a great start, winning the first stage in fine fashion with a late charge up the climb to the finish, and took the first yellow jersey.  He definitely has the talent to win, but does he have the stamina?  In past grand tours he has faded toward the end.  Stay tuned - we'll see!

I have to say parenthetically, I am so glad I have a "real" Tivo now.  I can't believe I ever thought a Moxi was good enough.  It found and recorded the Tour automatically of course, but the real thing is the UI; a simple bleep bleep and you're watching, then simple bleeps to move forward and back, skip commercials, pause, etc.  Really great.

Also related; Google now lets you see the Tour de France with a street view!  How cool is that... pretty soon they'll have live video from one of the bikes :)

LGF reports on 1,200 soldiers who've reenlisted to mark July Fourth.  Thank you all!

Huh, apparently Intuition can be explained.  It seems like that should be true, but I can't explain why I think so :)

"stars and a stripe" - supernova remnantHere's a pretty awesome picture of the day: a thin section of a supernova, entitled "stars and a stripe".  Beautiful and amazing.  [ via LGF ]

Slashdot notes Cassini's Primary Mission Ends, Two-year Extension Begins.  How cool is that?  Our unmanned space programs seem to be consistently exceeding expectations...  certainly the photos and scientific information we've received from Cassini and its Huygens probe have been incredible.

 

 

 

more full text feeds (Sailing Anarchy)

Saturday,  07/05/08  05:34 PM

Flushed with my recent success at creating some full text feeds (for Cycling News, Instapundit, and Powerline), I just finished a more ambitious project, and now have a full text feed for Sailing Anarchy.  Yay!

In case you don't know, Sailing Anarchy is a longtime blog run by Scott Tempesta which covers all kinds of sailing and sailboat racing news, with (as you might expect from the title) a rather humorous and irreverent air.  It is a great website, but it doesn't have an RSS feed at all.  I really don't read it all that often because I actually have to visit the site and figure out what's new; yes, I am that spoiled by reading news through my feed reader.

So this site presented a particular challenge, because it has two home pages.  Items are first posted on the first [main] page, where they do not have permalinks nor archive pages, and then migrate to the second page, where they get permalinks and archives.  So the full task was to combine the two pages in one feed and make it possible to link all the items, including especially the ones on the first page.  I began by slicing and dicing the two pages in order to create a full text feed; so far, so good.  Then I invented my own permalink indices for all items, with a mapping back to the location of the item on the site.  As items appear on page one they are assigned an index, and this is preserved for each item as it migrates to page two, and ages into archives only.  Each item links to a new CGI I created on w-uh.com.  If the item has an archive page, the linked page redirects to the site's archive.  If the item doesn't yet have an archive page (still lives on the first home page), then the linked page synthesizes an archive page from the home page.  Pretty complicated and probably overkill, but it works (!) and now I have full text feeds for one of my favorite blogs :)

 

 

workaholic in stealth mode

Sunday,  07/06/08  11:32 AM

Many of you know me outside of my blog, some of you for a very long time (!), and others of you know me pretty well from reading my blog these past 5+ years, so you know: I am a workaholic.  I basically work all the time, morning 'till evening, seven days a week, except when working is interrupted by something else like my family, cycling, sailing, etc.  Leisure time means I work on stuff I want to work on, rather than on stuff I have to work on.  (Blogging has alternated between one or the other category :)  If I take a vacation, it is either to go riding or sailing or (gasp!) hang out with my family, but it is also a chance for some concentrated time working on stuff I want to work on; yes, it is a bit sad, but it is what it is.  Shed no tears for me.

stealth mode tee-shirt: "If you can read this, I'm not in stealth mode"And all this has been public, I'm a workaholic, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed, and everyone can know.  I've even been a bit proud of it, I guess.  My colleagues expect to get immediate email responses any hour of the day or night, and I've been known to check in code deep after midnight, in the middle of the nightly build.  My friends and family expect me to be in my office on the computer 24x7.  In the end it is what you accomplish that matters, not how, but at least I've been trying.

Except that... lately, like in the past six months, and especially lately, like in the past couple of weeks, I've been feeling a bit different about all this; I am still a workaholic, but no longer want to appear to be one.  This has manifested itself in a weird way, I spend some amount of time working in stealth mode.  In this mode I read email but don't reply to it; or if I do, I cache the replies in my drafts folder, and release them the next morning.  I code in the middle of the night, but don't check it in until the next day.  I write long strategy missives and review other people's code, and conduct project reviews, but I do them while the sun is shining (or if the moon is out, I wait until the sun is shinning to share). 

As this is being typed it is mid-day Sunday, and I have just written two project reviews and replied to a bunch of email, and completed a coding project.  It is all sitting on my computer, cached, and will all be released tomorrow.  I honestly do feel a bit embarrassed and ashamed, I no longer want people to know I work on Sunday!  Weird, huh?  (I guess if I really didn't want people to know, I wouldn't blog about it, but I'm more interested in exploring how I feel than I am in going with the feeling...)

The introspection that comes with this is a bit fascinating.  Obviously being a workaholic is part of my self-image, so maybe this feeling is my inner self is judging my outer self?  Although my inner self knows the inner truth; it can see my drafts folder even if nobody else can.  Strange...  stay tuned for more.  Oh yeah, and I'm going sailing this afternoon with my kids, and planning a ride after that.  As far as you know :)

 

 

Sunday,  07/06/08  10:45 PM

Re-emerging from stealth mode :)  Good day spent watching the tour, sailing, and cycling, wrapped by eating Shirley's pizza.  Can't get much better than that!  Hope your weekend was as enjoyable...

Samizdata asks Latest attack on John McCain: The worst 'Economist' article of all time?  I share the concern; not this article in particular, but that the formerly rather objective Economist is drifting to the left, and drifting into partisanship.  Sad, really.  [ via Instapundit ]

Meanwhile McCain campaign calls Obama's words into question.  "Sen. John McCain's campaign said Sunday that Barack Obama's remarks on Iraq 'have left a significant question as to exactly what he intends.'"  Boy, no kidding.  It has to trouble Obama's many backers that he doesn't seem to take a firm position on anything...

Eric Raymond notes an inconvenient fact: "Comes word from Iraq that the Maliki government has just shipped to Canada 550 tons of yellowcake uranium that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled."  I continue to believe Hussein represented a huge threat to the U.S., and removing him forcibly from power has kept us safe.  You shouldn't compare what's happened in Iraq to the world as it was on 9/10/01, you should compare it to what might have happened instead.

Thor HushovdSo Thor Hushovd won stage 2 of Le Tour; a nice uphill sprint showcasing his power.  He was a favorite for the green jersey already and this was a nice start to his campaign.  Another sprint stage tomorrow.

Ottmar Liebert with some interesting ideas on Ideas (and Music).  The key problem is that information is fundamentally sharable.  Any attempts to limit this (via DRM) inevitably fail.  True, only a small percentage of users are "hackers", but a much larger percentage can use the fruits of that small percentage's labor.  The good news is that people will [apparently] pay for a good user experience.  Apple's iTunes Music Store has succeeded despite "free" competition.

floating balls at the BMW museumThis is pretty awesome - a floating ball display at the BMW museum.  Technology in service of art.

flying Moths...Sailing Anarchy links a rather awesome video of Moths training for the World's in Weymouth, England.  These little boats have hydrofoils on their centerboards and rudders, and spend most of their time above the water.  (The soundtrack is pretty cool, too.)  [ this is the first fruit of my full text feed labor - I'm lovin' it! ]

 

 

 

Monday,  07/07/08  10:39 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass...

California Route 33 on the front of the LATimesYou won't believe this but I'll tell you anyway.  On Friday I'll be driving up to Markleeville in the middle of the California Sierras, getting ready for the Death Ride on Saturday, and I've decided I'm going to get there on California Route 33.  This is a little known highway which runs North-South, roughly paralleling the much better known I-5 and California 99.  I want to visit the San Andreas Fault, and thought it would be interesting to take "the road less traveled".  Okay, so today I'm at a deli, and I walk by the newspaper stands (which I usually ignore), and on the front page of the LATimes, big as life, is an article about Route 33!  What are the odds of that?

Buttons and BoasI have to put in a plug for ButtonsAndBoas.com, featuring unique handmade baby gifts.  This site was just opened by Tiffany MacTavish, a great friend and former nanny, and she's such a wonderful person anything she does is bound to be great.  If you are at all interested in baby stuff, check it out (but you might want to wear shades :)...

This morning I sat down early to watch stage 3 of Le Tour and said to Shirley, "this is going to be a boring stage".  All the signs were that it would be a long ride through the flats, followed by a bunch sprint.  Wrong.  Instead there was a four-man breakaway which succeeded, several crashes, and the peloton split into three pieces near the end, resulting in substantial time lost for some of the GC contenders including (boo!) Denis Menchov.  First time tour participant Will Frischkorn of Slipstream Garmin-Chipotle broke away at mile zero and stayed out all day, nearly winning the stage and ending up in third on GC.  You just never know, which is why we watch :)

Did you catch Sunday's Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?  Many people think it was the best tennis match ever.  Daniel Seidel has an interesting analysis of how Nadal was able to win.  Simplifying, he played better defense...

olympics in greenland - China's algae problemSailing Anarchy notes the Olympics in Greenland.  Not good.  There just doesn't seem to be any way the Chinese are going to be able to run a regatta in these waters.

Eric Raymond: how to save the music industry.  An interesting possibility, wonder what Ottmar Liebert thinks of it?

 

 

 

Tuesday,  07/08/08  11:02 PM

Well, today was not a good day.  This morning I heard one of my colleagues had lost his sister-in-law to leukemia, at 33.  Wow.  In fact he linked this movie about her; it is really rather poignant in that the movie positions her as a survivor, but she ultimately lost her battle.  That's the thing about cancer; it can strike anyone anywhere at any time, one minute you're rolling along living your life, and the next everything changes.  Anyway it spun me into kind of a retrospective mood which even a wonderful ride in the Del Dios hills above Lake Hodges didn't quite dissipate.  It is with me still, you have been warned...

The other day I noted Eric Raymond's ideas for saving the music industry, and wondered about Ottmar Liebert's reaction; net net he thinks the assumptions are incorrect and "doesn't like anything about the proposal".  Here's his key observation:

"It looks quite possible that as a culture we will lose something I find very valuable, and that is professional musicians and professional photographers, people who live and breath their art 24/7.  Instead we will have amateurs piling loops from garbage band on top of one another - sorry, I mean garage band of course - and believing that they are making music.  Society will be poorer for it."

I totally agree and fear this also. There are so many skills which are no longer valued in today’s society, I wonder if we are becoming less civilized…

Want to read about a real asshole?  Check this out.  I first read about this on the Conejo Valley Cycling email list; a clear case of road rage where a driver used his car as a weapon to attack cyclists.  And the guy is a doctor!  They should lock him up and throw away the key...

Ann Althouse: Obama echoes the phrase that made me turn against Kerry.  The phrase: "you're not listening".  I agree, it does seem condescending, and I also agree that Obama is increasingly reminding me of Kerry.  How could the Democrats choose two such horrible candidates two elections in a row?  Seems like they failed to learn from the last election entirely.

Powerline discusses how voters see McCain and Obama.  Note this well: "If John McCain quits paying lip service to the global warming myth and runs as the candidate who wants to expand our access to energy, he will win rather easily in November."  As I noted in the 2004 election, it is more important to focus on the right question (war then, economy now) than it is to have the right answer.

Meanwhile Instapundit notes the worst congress ever.  9% approval rating?  Wow, that sucks.

red wine!The Telegraph reports Red Wine could help prevent breast cancer.  I love it; drinking red wine seems to have medicinal as well as psychological benefits; I can add this to the long list of reasons I already have for doing so :)

Lively avatarGoogle launches Lively, a virtual world to compete against Second Life.  I find it interesting that 100% of the time when you read about virtual worlds, they show cute girl avatars.  That says a lot about the attraction of these worlds, I think...

Mary Jo Foley notes Microsoft on Vista: the time of worry is over.  Seems like maybe the time of head in the sand continues.  Honestly has there ever been such a product train wreck, in the whole [brief] history of computing?  Don't answer that, I'm sure there has been, but man this is rough.  As a customer I wish they would say "the time of worry has started", that would be less worrying...

Are you amazed and depressed by the bloat of Adobe Reader?  Yeah, me too.  So check out Foxit Reader, a free alternative.  Much smaller and faster, with more functionality and best of all no annoying nags to upgrade!  [ via Brad Feld ]

 

more solitude

Wednesday,  07/09/08  11:07 PM

 

 

solitude

"more solitude"

 

 

(the sun setting in the Santa Monica mountains )

 

 

 

Wednesday,  07/09/08  11:36 PM

I am working on something cool.  I am not talking about what it is.  It is fun.  I like working in stealth mode.

But I must say, I am still bummed from yesterday.  This overall feeling of mortality and sadness has stayed with me.  Normally a nice long ride would cure this, and fortunately I have one planned for Saturday, but unfortunately it is called The Death Ride.  Spooky.

BTW I came across Driven Up, a documentary about the Death Ride.  Cool.

oily speculationWriting in the New Yorker, James Surowiecki engages in Oily Speculations.  "The difficulty for Congress, of course, is that none of the problems that have driven up the price of oil lend themselves to a quick fix, and most, like the boom in global demand and the inaccessibility of certain oil fields, aren’t under our control at all. That’s what makes speculators a perfect target: by going after them, Congress can demonstrate to voters that it understands their pain, and at the same time avoid doing anything that might require real sacrifice from Americans."  A pretty nice overview of the situation with regard to gas prices, oil speculation, and congress.

Powerline notes Obama's latest flip-flop (on FISA).  This is really an amazing, it seems he just gets up in the morning and rewrites his blank slate based on what he thinks people want to hear that day.

Meghan O'Rourke notes Anne of Green Gables turns 100.  Wow.  I loved reading this book with Megan, we both really enjoyed it (and both really though Anne reminded us of Megan).  Amazing to think what a stir this book caused 100 years ago.  Now it is just a great story.

Saturn the ringed giantLGF notes the Ringed Giant, and talks about the Cassini-Huygens mission, which has wildly exceeded expectations.  "'We've had a wonderful mission and a very eventful one in terms of the scientific discoveries we've made, and yet an uneventful one when it comes to the spacecraft behaving so well,' said Bob Mitchell, Cassini program manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California."  JPL's record with spacecraft is so much better than NASA's...

Here is the ESA's Cassini-Huygens page; they're a co-contractor on the project.  I guess we give them credit, too.  They have a lot of cool imagery on their website...

 

 

 

Thursday,  07/10/08  11:17 PM

Isn't Vin Scully just the best?  Watched a Dodger game tonight - slowly getting back into being a baseball fan :) - and man, it was great.  Isn't is amazing how much a good commentator adds to a sport, Chick Hearn for basketball and Phil Liggett for cycling come to mind...

Riccardo RiccoCongratulations to Riccardo Riccol, who won today's Tour de France stage; the first real climb.  It was a great uphill sprint to edge Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans.  Kim Kirchen and Denis Menchov were also in the hunt; basically the who's who of this year's tour.

Tomorrow is iPhone 3G day, and today the Apple iPhone App store opened.  Jason Kottke notes the most popular so far: Twitterific (insider echo chamber), Remote (use your iPhone as a remote control for your Mac or AppleTV), and various eBooks.

Wow, now we have 1.5TB disk drives.  Just a year ago 500GB was "big".  Does that mean we'll have 5TB drives in another year?  Probably!

Here's a list of 20 things gadget zone thinks should be in Windows 7.  So they're completely wrong; Windows 7 doesn't need any new features, it needs to be fast.  If it was just faster than Windows XP, it would be a huge success.  Maybe they could fix paging, or improve filesystem access, or networking.  Anyway that's what I think; the reason Vista is a flop is because it is so slow, not because of features it has or doesn't have.

 

Death Rider! (da da dum)

Sunday,  07/13/08  01:09 PM

Well, I did it (yay me), and it ended up being really fun.  I must tell you with all the double centuries and everything I've done, this was the hardest ride by far.  I'm talking about the Death Ride, 129 miles, 15,000' of climbing, five passes over 8,000' high.  It took me ten hours, which means I spent about eight hours riding uphill at altitude.  And the whole time I was passing people, I actually feel like I did really well.  Wow.

This story really began on Friday, as I drove from my house in Westlake Village to Walker, which is just south of Lake Topaz, where I was spending the night.  You may recall I had decided to drive up Route 33 and visit the San Andreas Fault, and ended up driving on a dirt road across the Carrizo Plain to Soda Lake.  It was amazingly beautiful, a land untouched by man, I highly recommend it.  However just there, miles from nowhere, I had a flat tire.  I mounted my token spare in 105o heat and took off for Bakersfield to find a new tire.  Two hours and about thirty phone calls later, I managed to locate a 285/35 ZR19 (a weird size, basically a racing tire) and two hours after that I was on the road again.  The whole incident cost me six hours and I couldn't recover, limping into Walker at 1 AM.  And I had to get up at 4 AM to get to the ride.  Yawn.  Coffee was definitely a performance enhancing drug.

As for the ride itself, the route profile pretty much tells the story:

the Death Ride profile

Death Ride profile
(click to enbiggen)

You start in Markleeville, about 5:30AM, and begin by climbing up to the Monitor Pass (8,314') from the West, about 8 miles at 7%.  We did this as the sun was coming up, really spooky.  After cruising across a beautiful high meadow, you descend down down down to Lake Topaz, the "low point" (about 5,000'), while admiring the beauty of the Antelope Valley (and thinking about the fact that you have to climb all the way back up!)  Then you turn around and climb the Monitor Pass from the East, about 10 miles at 8%.  The sun was blazing already, and this part of the ride is unsheltered.  By the time you reach the summit your legs are nicely toasted, and you are only 1/3 of the way into the ride! 

Death Ride map

Death Ride map
(click to enbiggen)

After descending down to Markleeville, you keep going along the Noble Valley and climb Ebbetts Pass, the high point of the ride (8,730'), an 8 mile climb at 7% which features a sweet 12% grade for the last two miles.  Whew!  The scenery along this climb is incredible, if you can lift your head and look around.  Then you head down into Hermit Valley - more beautiful High Sierra terrain - turn around, and climb Ebbetts again from the West, this time only about 6 miles at 7%.  That's over 10,000' of climbing, and you're only 70 miles into the ride!  After the flying descent down Ebbetts into the Noble Valley you pass through Markleeville (where a nice big crowd applauds your progress), and then ride a false flat North to Woodfords.  Finally you head West up the Carson Pass (8,580'), a long 15 mile climb which starts at 7% and ends over 8% at the top, possibly admiring Red Lake before reaching the summit.  At which point you celebrate (yay!) and sign the ride poster...

the Death Ride finish!

... and then descend all the way back to Markleeville.  And this year for added coolness, it rained on the descent; I was frozen and soaked by the time the ride ended, even though earlier I had baked in the sun.  I really felt bad for all the people behind me, many of whom had to climb up to Carson in the rain.

{ BTW I took a bunch of pictures in case you're interested... }

Now that I've done it, I have to say it was really fun!  Can't wait to do it again next year :)

Update: There are two important things I left out, need to add them for posterity...  first, the SAG for this ride was great.  Thank you thank you to the organizers for running a fantastic ride.  Everything from the start organization to the closed roads to the good food and plentiful water (and V8!) to the sticker people and clipboard people was great.  Second, this was the first time I've ever participated in a ride where iPods were prohibited.  No music!  Ten hours riding without my sound track...  It was weird at first but I got used to it, still, that was probably my least favorite thing.  I'm used to Joe Satriani powering me up those 12% climbs :)

 

Sunday,  07/13/08  10:37 PM

Visiting the world after returning from an other-worldly experience...

... and I've finally shed that weird / bad feeling I was dragging around last week ...

On the my breast cancer blog: I hate cancer.  "Today, former Press Secretary Tony Snow died after living with colon cancer for three years. Yesterday, Olympic swimmer Eric Shanteau announced that he’s been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Journalist Leroy Sievers has cancer. North Carolina State University Women’s basketball coach Kay Yow has cancer. Patrick Swayze has cancer. These are the well-known folks, those in the public spotlight. Imagine how long the list gets when you take into account everyday people like you and me, like my neighbor and friend, who passed away just a few days ago after a short battle with metastatic breast cancer."  I hate it, too.

New Yorker cover of Barack and Michele ObamaThere's quite a stir caused by the latest New Yorker cover, depicting Barack and Michele Obama.  Intended as "satire", it shows an AK-47-toting Michele bumping fists with a Muslim Barack, in the oval office, while an American flag burns in the fireplace.  Instapundit has a lot of discussion, Powerline analyzes ("If Obama loses, the conventional wisdom will be that it was because sleazy rightwingers portrayed him as a Muslim terrorist sympathizer"), and so too does Ann Althouse ("I have to say that I think the cover is a hilarious spoof of the fears and lies about Obama"), while Dave Winer applauds ("I don't think there's any doubt that this cartoon cover is one of the icons of our times").  I like the cover, but I'm not sure I agree everyone will think it is satire; I can imagine some pretty angry New Yorker readers...

Boeing blimpDid you see this?  Boeing is making a blimp that can lift 40 tons!  Wow.  That's more than twice as much as the biggest helicopters.

While I was out, Mark Cavendish won another sprint stage in the Tour de France, and Ricardo Ricco won another mountain stage (the first "real" one).  Interesting that in today's stage neither of the two category 1 climbs were as tough as all five of the passes in the Death Ride...

The newest Kuiper belt planetoid has been officially named Makemake.  "The object was referred to by the team of discoverers by the codename Easterbunny, and the name Makemake comes from the creation deity of Easter Island."  I am not making this up.

Here we have the Periodic Table of the Elements YouTube Channel.  A short video for each element in the periodic table.  Very cool...

The Moth sailboat class are having their world championships in Weymouth, England; check out this picture of a start:

Moths starting

Awesome!

 

 

Monday,  07/14/08  09:40 PM

I had one of those days where you make a todo list, and you start doing stuff and crossing things off the list, but somehow at the end of the day the list is longer than when you started.  How does that happen?  Well anyway I do have the list, somehow putting something on a todo list makes it feel like you're dealing with it, even if that's all you do.  Busy week ahead, too; I have a million meetings and a board meeting coming up.

But in the meantime, let's make a filter pass, shall we...

I see where I have officially won the California Triple Crown, by completing at least three double centuries this year.  Actually I've completed five, so I've also qualified for the 1,000 mile club.  Yay, me.

The Scientist notes Heart surgery pioneer dies: "Michael E. DeBakey, heart surgeon, inventor, teacher, and research advocate, died late last Friday, July 11th, at the age of 99.  DeBakey was 'the greatest surgeon of the twentieth century,' his colleague George Noon said in a statement from Methodist Hospital in Houston, where he spent most of his career.  During his 70 years as a surgeon, DeBakey performed over 60,000 heart surgeries at the Methodist Hospital and served as President, and later, Chancellor of the Baylor School of Medicine."  Dr. DeBakey was one of those few medical professionals whose work became public; in the early days of heart transplants he was practically a household name.

Cadel Evans in yellow!Congratulations to Cadel Evans, who after hovering near the top of the leaderboard for this entire Tour de France has finally made it into yellow, on a great climbing stage to Hautacam.  He would seem to be the favorite to end up there, too, especially since Alejandro Valverde and Damiano Cunego took themselves out of contention today.  It was a great stage that beautifully illustrated team tactics, as Jens Voight and Fabian Cancellara of CDC destroyed several competitors on behalf of Frank Schleck and Carlos Sastre.  My favorite remains Denis Menchov; go oranje!

last.fm for iPhoneCultOfMac reports Last.fm for iPhone Launches, Rocks.  "This is the true future of radio, and it’s finally on the right platform."  I'm going to have to try this...  in theory a "smart" application that learns what you like and automatically points you to new music would be great, although I've never seen this theory successfully put into practice.  So far my iPod's random play is the best :)

Mary-Jo Foley asks, Again, why does Microsoft want Yahoo?  She experiments with some answers ("One reason, in spite of CEO Steve Ballmer’s claim that Microsoft’s Live Search effort is going great guns on its own, obviously is Microsoft can’t grow its consumer search share beyond 10 percent or so") but ultimately this does remain a mystery.  Perhaps it is that they need to do something, and this is a thing they can do.

Related, ArsTechnica examines How Microsoft can turn the negative Vista PR tide.  I think the way to fix Vista PR is to fix Vista; they should prepare a service pack which makes it [a lot] smaller and [a lot] faster.  Not easy to do, of course.

Jason Kottke: Mamihlapinatapai, the most succinct word.  "It describes a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start."  Wow, that could be useful :)

 

 

Wednesday,  07/16/08  10:39 PM

On the road again...  Goin' places that I've never been, seein' things that I may never see again...

Tonight I had a board dinner - it was fun but exhausting...  this might be a short post :)

offshore drilling areasIf you're pondering what we can do about high oil prices and foreign dependency, consider this chart...  it explains quite a lot, doesn't it?  [ via Powerline ]

Can I just say, I am really loving my full-text Powerline and Instapundit feeds.  Man, what a difference.

Kurt Vonnegut's rules for writing [ via Ann Althouse ]:

1. Find a subject you care about

2. Do not ramble, though

3. Keep it simple

4. Have guts to cut

5. Sound like yourself

6. Say what you mean

7. Pity the readers

Good advice for blogging, and I'll try to follow it, except that I have no pity on you...

Tasmanian DevilThis is pretty interesting: Evolution races cancer to save Tasmanian Devils.  "Their numbers decimated by a virulent and contagious form of cancer, endangered Tasmanian devils are breeding at ever-younger ages.  Since it was first reported in 1996, devil facial tumor disease has wiped out more than half of the ferocious marsupials.  The cancer is invariably fatal and typically kills the devils between two and three years of age, their traditional sexual primes.  The species could be extinct within a few decades."  I love it; not that Tasmanian Devils are getting cancer, of course, but that such a clear demonstration of natural selection exists.  This kind of situation also helps answer the question, "why do we live as long as we do"...  evolution forces each species to find the best compromise.

Monday I noted last.fm for the iPhone, meanwhile TechCrunch reports Pandora is the iPhone's killer app.  "It’s a free, mobile, digital radio station that only plays music you like and lets you skip the stuff you don’t. And it rocks."  Looks like I'll have to check this one out, too.  I'm not sure if the killer app for a phone will turn out to be a music application, but it does seem cool!

Well I guess the post wasn't that short after all...  good night!

 

 

peaceful easy feeling

Thursday,  07/17/08  11:25 PM

So I’m still on the road - in Irvine, CA - and I’m feeling happy so I thought I’d share :)  So...

We had a good board meeting today – I had a strategic initiative for which I wanted mindshare, and after a productive discussion was able to make good progress.  After work I drove up here – was treated like a king by the Irvine Marriott people – and took a great ride up the coast to Bolsa Chica.   On the way back I had a tailwind and flew down along the beach; I love that feeling where you seem to be stationary while the Earth is spinning beneath your tires.   A quick shower and then on to Il Fornio for an admirable strip steak, rare, with a nice Oregon Pinot.   (Yes, I confess, I am a carnivore.)   I had a cute waitress who flirted shamelessly, and comped me a tiramisu for dessert.   Paired with an ’80 Grahams port it was wonderful.   (Yes, I confess to a tragic weakness for vintage port.)   Overall a fantastic meal experience.

So here I am, typing up notes from the day, feeling rather pleased with myself, and thought I’d share the feeling.  I hope YOUR day was as good!

 

Thursday,  07/17/08  11:41 PM

Powerline notes the AP is beginning to notice: "You know Barack Obama's campaign is getting into trouble when even the Associated Press notices that it has become something of a joke".  It is hard to believe now, given what I know and how I feel, that I ever contemplated supporting Obama.  I've gone from hoping he might win to fearing he might win.

Of course, he is the first Presidential candidate you're not allowed to mock.  Fortunately he has become his own parody.  (Oops, did I just, er, mock him?  Nooo...)

John Derbyshire wonders How many members of the Obama family does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

His own words are mocking him too; check out this devastating Versionista comparison showing his changes in position!  (ArsTechnica has more on the evolution of Obama's website...  changes we can believe in?)

Michael Yon: Success in Iraq.  "I would go so far as to say that ... a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended."  If Michael thinks the war is over and we have won, that's pretty authoritative.  Also of interest, he points out the news from Afghanistan is much worse.

This sucks: Ricardo Ricco tests positive for EPO, Sanier-Duval leaves Tour de France.  Man, cycling did not need this.  Ricco was a great young rider, and Sanier-Duval have been the revelation of the Tour, with climbers like Piepoli, Cobo, and De La Fuenta in addition to Ricco.  This sucks.

Little noted in all the iPhone hoopla, Apple passes Acer to become third-largest PC vendor.  (Cue the dum dum sound from Jaws...)

Are demographics destiny?  John Gruber thinks the iPhone will be Apple's main platform four years from now...

Chinese restaurant: "translate server error"This is too funny: a Chinese restaurant named Translate Server Error.  This has to be a joke, right?  Right?  (Anyone out there know enough Chinese to translate the real name?)

Steven Den Beste: After all these years, I still get fan mail about U.S.S.Clueless.  I must confess, after all these years I am still a fan.  He was great.

 

 

 

 

Awareness...

Saturday,  07/19/08  10:27 AM

Ever since Aperio began, we've had two main challenges.  The first is obvious for any young business, we've had to build products and provide services to meet the needs of our customers.  And over the past seven years we've done our best, and have grown significantly as a result.  But the second is less obvious but equally important, we've had to create awareness of digital pathology and its benefits.

Scanscope Over the past year, and especially in the past few months, the general awareness of digital pathology (and Aperio) really seems to have grown.  It has gone from a niche subject in a corner of pathology to a primary area of discussion; most pathologists now feel that digital pathology is the future of their field.  Evidence for this comes from all sides, and it is nice to see Aperio covered in major business press like NBR.  But it is perhaps even more significant to see grass roots mentions like Dr.Yang's MedBlog, in China, or Dr. Bhargava's MedSpin, in India.  And more and more we are seeing hospitals purchase digital pathology systems and feature them as new technology, such as this mention on Rhode Island's Hospital website.

An effort like this is never done, but it is gratifying to see this kind of progress.  Slowly but surely digital pathology is becoming mainstream, joining digital radiology as a major medical imaging modality.  Very cool.

 

 

Saturday,  07/19/08  11:10 AM

A quiet weekend, no plans, maybe do a little cycling, a little coding, a little hanging out...

Wall-E and M-OWe saw Wall-E last night, I guess about the last people to do so; it was great.  I can't wait to see it again.  The story was great, but honestly this did take animation to a new level... the expressiveness of motion as a million things go on all at once was almost overwhelming.  I wanted to slow things down just to see it all!  (I loved little M-O, pictured at right...)

Oscar Freire in green!The Tour de France will be won this weekend, as the big guns fight it out in the Alps.  VeloNews had an interesting conversation with Matt White, DS of the Garmin-Chipotle team who's GC contender Christian Vandevelde remains a surprising third, less than a minute back of leader Cadel Evans.  The last few days have featured flat stages and congrats to Mark Cavendish who won his fourth of the tour yesterday; green jersey leader Oscar Freire won today's.  (Freire is a worthy sprint leader, but my favorite thing about him being in green is the clash with Rabobank's orange and purple kit :)  Tomorrow's alpine stage will really sort things out, but right now you'd say Evans, Frank Schleck, Vandevelde, and [my favorite] Denis Menchov have a chance.  Bernard Kohn and Carlos Sastre are both still in there, but I can't see either of them winning given the time trial on the penultimate day.  Kim Kirchen has an outside chance too, but he's already two minutes back.  It should be great!

Wired: Julia Allison coverJust got the latest issue of Wired, the "how to" issue; on the cover, someone named Julia Allison who illustrates "how to make yourself famous".  So I've never heard of Julia, but apparently she is well known in some blogging circles, and promotes herself incessently online.  So be it.  But after skimming the article about her I found a sidebar called "five ways to be like Julia"; the last way seems the most pertinent: be a hot woman with an exhibitionist streak.  Er, that's not new guys, that's about the oldest thing going...

(I have to say, sadly, that yes Wired is slipping; after Conde Naste bought them I was worried this might happen, and it has.)

 

 

 

friends like this

Saturday,  07/19/08  12:20 PM

So I had a pretty empty weekend, no plans at all...

Mount WhitneyEmail received from my friend Mark Elliot:

Ole,
I'm sure you have some critical ride but I thought I'd ask... Want to climb Whitney on Sunday?   ... Leave late Saturday back on Sunday...

Wow.  Guess I'm climbing Mount Whitney...

 

 

how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?

Monday,  07/21/08  08:40 PM

Well, I did it.  I climbed Mt. Whitney yesterday, and I have the pictures (and the overall soreness!) to prove it.  I actually had no idea how hard it was going to be, or how dangerous; in fact, before this I had little comprehension of the difference between hiking Mt. Whitney (basically, walking up the trail) and climbing Mt. Whitney (actually, er, climbing, as in hanging from rocks with 100' of nothing below you).


hang in there, dude!

My friend Mark Elliot and I climbed up the "moutaineer's route" to the summit, and then descended the trail back to the Whitney Portal; overall it took us about sixteen hours.  I would not recommend trying to do this in one day, but we did it :)

Our day started at oh-dark-hundred in Lone Pine (actually, about 5:00AM); the peak of Mt. Whitney was barely visible in the darkness, framed by the moon.


moon over Whitney; that slight purple dot is over "the notch"
Whitney Portal (base) = 8,325'

After a big breakfast (!) and driving up to the portal, we began the hike around 0700; as we climbed up, the views back down the valley to the East were amazing.


not in Kansas anymore

After about two hours (and some rather, um, interesting climbing up "the ledges") we reached Lower Boy Scout Lake.


Lower Boy Scout Lake, Keeler Needles (and Mt. Whitney) in the distance
10,155'

The beauty of these high meadows is incredible.


wildflowers abound...


... as do waterfalls

After some serious climbing - and about 3 1/2 hours after starting out - we reached Upper Boy Scout Lake.  Here the foliage turns to rock, and the mountains really begin.


at Upper Boy Scout Lake, so far, so good
11,145'


Lone Pine is now way off in the distance

At this point the weather began looking iffy, and we weren't sure if we could make it to the top.  Fingers crossed, and much scrambling over the talus ensued.


mist shrouds the Sierra crown; Keeler Needles at left, Mt. Whitney at right

Finally, five hours after starting, we reach Iceberg Lake.  Now the serious fun began, and man I must tell you, looking up at those peaks is intimidating!


Mt. Whitney beckons...
some objects are further than they appear


Iceberg Lake panorama
(click to enlarge)
12,600'

We stopped here for lunch, taking in the scenery while refueling.  Fortunately we were not affected by the altitude; although people frequently camp here you are warned about altitude sickness.  We also met some of the locals...


A marmot checks us out; I can has cheeseburger?

Then onward; about 2,000' left, much of it seemingly straight up (!).  Now the difference between hiking and climbing really became apparent.  Making things even more fun, the East chute was filled with some icy snow.  Whoa.


looking up the East chute to "the notch"; note ice

Still we proceeded slowly and methodically, and made it to the notch.  After 6 1/2 hours, we are nearly there.  The views in every direction are unbelievable, and you must try not to think about the exposure.


yay, made it to the notch!  so far, so good...
14,100'


the view to the West - you can see for miles and miles and miles and...

Now there was a little matter of climbing the North face to the summit.  This is considered a "class 3" climb, but whatever you call it, this is serious.  It just doesn't do to think about falling.


the North face, just 300' to go - straight up

Fortunately Mark is an experienced climber, and a solid guide.  We took our time and he roped us through a particularly tricky section, entering the face.  I must say in retrospect this was the best part of the climb; methodically working our way from hold to hold.  There were some really cool sections, including a 'chimney' to wedge through near the top, and it was really fun.  I really like rock climbing, who knew?


Mark, in the route

That picture of me at the top of this post was taken by Mark, about halfway up the North face.  Woo hoo.  So after a very concentrated hour, we made it!  Eight hours after starting out, and 6,000' higher.


and you may ask yourself, "how did I get here"?
once in a lifetime
(same as it ever was)


2,000' straight down to Iceberg Lake

The feeling of vertical dimensionality you get, standing at the highest point in the U.S, looking down in every direction is hard to explain.  Of course I've looked out an airplane window, but this is pretty different.  The volumes of air are apparent, and the Earth looks curved.


maximum verticality


altimeter check
Mt. Whitney = 14,496'

After gazing for a while and eating and drinking, we took off back down the Whitney Trail; 11 miles of switchbacks.  The trail begins by heading South behind the Keeler Needles and Mt. Muir, before joining the Muir Trail at the "Trail Crest".


peeking down between the Keeler Needles


at the Muir Trail Crest; looking East...


...and looking West... Wow!

At that point the trail heads down and East, along a different valley to the one we climbed up.  The views back along the ridge toward the peaks were incredible; it was hard to believe we had been standing "up there" just two hours ago.


the Sierra crown: Mt. Muir, the Keeler Needles, and Mt. Whitney

The path down the remainder of the valley was long but amazingly beautiful in the fading light...


High Sierra beauty  


...still ticking, but winding down...

Six hours later, we were back at the car; no problem :)  So, eight hours of hiking climbing up 6,000' vertical feet to the highest point in the U.S., followed by eight hours of descending back down through some of the most beautiful High Sierra scenery imaginable.  Quite a day. 

And I may ask myself, how did I get here?

 

 

Monday,  07/21/08  09:30 PM

Okay, Whitney survived, mind cleared, and it is back to work, although without my voice, which somehow left me during the course of yesterday and has been replaced by a chorus of frogs.  Fortunately I was able to get stuff done anyway.  Meanwhile the world hasn't stopped spinning, let's take a look...

Charles Krauthammer: The Audacity of Vanity.  He nails it; the main reason I am recoiling from Obama.

A similar theme at the National Review: The Tautology of Hope.  ("Beliefs we can believe in..." :)

And the Onion outdo themselves: 'Time' Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece.  "Hailed by media critics as the fluffiest, most toothless, and softest-hitting coverage of the presidential candidate to date, a story in this week's Time magazine is being called the definitive Barack Obama puff piece."  Amid heavy competition, we might add...

Michael Barone thinks McCain should revisit 1976.

Think things are bad in our economy?  Well you might be right, but consider poor Zimbabwe, where $1B won't buy a loaf of bread.  I believe Monopoly money is more valuable.  That's what happens when the government raises incompetence to new heights ( or I should say, lowers it to new depths).  Wow.

I watched yesterday's Tour de France stage tonight (being otherwise occupied yesterday :), it was great!  A real shootout on the final climb, with an early breakaway staying clear, an unknown nearly winning (Danny Pate of the U.S.), plenty of spills in the rain (Oscar Periero fell over a guardrail 12' onto the pavement below, breaking his arm; later about 20 riders in two separate clumps hit the pavement at a turnabout, and on the final climb Denis Menchov fell while attacking, recovered, and ended up attacking again), and a dogfight among the leaders which closed up the standings so that six men are now within 40 seconds of the lead!  Speaking of Menchov, he looked strong...  stronger than Evans and Sastre.  Today was a rest day, but tomorrow there are more alpine fireworks, it should be excellent!

Was it really thirty-nine years ago the first men landed on the moon?  Yes it was.  Wow.  That was definitely one giant step for mankind.

Pete Worden, director of NASA, says "we're going back, and this time we're going to stay".  Cool!

William Tucker in WSJ: Let's have some love for nuclear power.  "All over the world, nuclear power is making a comeback.  British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just commissioned eight new reactors, and says there's 'no upper limit' to the number Britain will build in the future.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged her country's program to phase out 17 nuclear reactors by 2020, saying it will be impossible to deal with climate change without them. China and India are building nuclear power plants; France and Russia, both of whom have embraced the technology, are fiercely competing to sell them the hardware.  And just last month John McCain called for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030.  Barack Obama is less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, but he seems to be moving toward tacit approval."  Excellent!  This is really our only chance.

lego Stephen HawkingAwesome! - here we have a lego Stephen Hawking...

HP: 17 boxes for 32 pages of paperThis is pretty funny: HP shatters excessive packaging world record.  Seventeen nested boxes to ship 32 pages of paper.  That's pretty good, it might put the record out of reach.  Reminds me of the time IBM mailed me a big shipping crate containing only a smaller shipping crate.  But HP has topped that...

Well, looks like it is now possible to unlock / jailbreak your 2.0 iPhone or iPod Touch.  With the 2.0 software and the Apple App Store there is less reason to do so, but less is not none; some of the apps you can run jailbroken do things you can't do otherwise, such as continue to play music after switching to another app.  I might have to check this out :)

the North Sails VW TouregHere we have the North Sails VW Toureg.  I am not making this up.
[ via Sailing Anarchy ]

AppleWatch wonders what is Apple's mystery product?  "During Apple's fiscal third-quarter conference call this afternoon, CFO Peter Oppenheimer warned of falling margins for the next quarter and fiscal 2009. He gave three reasons, but one really stood out: a future product transition that 'I can't discuss today.'"  Huh...

Why does race matter for women?  GNXP reports "women care much more about the race of a potential mate than men do".  Huh...

 

Tuesday,  07/22/08  11:01 PM

Worked from home today, as whatever affected my voice Sunday has begun to affect the rest of me today.  Crud, I do not want to be sick!  Courage...  Meanwhile there's a ton going on at my office, my home, and my world...

Speaking of courage, several of you emailed to comment on the danger in climbing Whitney.  Well, yeah.  As I reported, if I'd known what I was in for, I probably wouldn't have done it...  I must say it did feel safer than some of the mountain biking I've done, where due to the dynamic nature the danger feels a bit more uncontrolled than it does on a climb.  I'd pick the Porcupine Ridge ride in Moab, Utah, as the most dangerous thing I've done.  Whew!

Dave Winer: We won in Iraq a long time ago.  "Remember when our troops marched into Baghdad, took the place over, drove Saddam into a hole and arrested or killed the government.  Then we disbanded their army.  When you go to war that's what victory looks like.  Then came the occupation.  There is no such thing as winning an occupation.  You either continue to occupy or withdraw.  It's semantic nonsense to apply the verb 'win' to the noun 'occupation.'"  Well, yeah.

Cyril Dessel wins stage 16!A fascinating TDF stage today, with two huge HC climbs and a downhill finish.  There were two packs over the top of the last climb, a lead group which splintered down the descent, and which fought over the stage victory (Cyril Dessel [pic at right] prevailed), and the group containing the leaders, which also fragmented downhill, wreaking some havoc; most of the leaders stayed in contact with each other, but my favorite Denis Menchov lost about 30 seconds, which could be crucial, and Christian Vandevelde sadly lost over two minutes and appears to have fallen out of contention.  Tomorrow's stage will decide the Tour, I think; three big climbs culminating with an uphill finish on l'Alpe d'Huez.  Of those left you'd have to pick Cadel Evans as the favorite, given his time trialing ability; Menchov will have to attack to have a chance.  I must say, this has been a great tour....

Madison's thought bubbleIn the LATimes' photo contest: Madison's thought bubble...  Madison happens to be my daughter Megan's best friend :)

Robert Scoble: Why tech blogging has failed you...  stick with me, my friends and readers, I will not fail you :)

Halley Suitt: It's the Team, stupid.  Besides making a good point (!) I love it that she's posting again.  Yay!

don't trip!Don't trip!  Glenn Reynolds catches a dynamic sign in action :)

This is pretty cool: The September 2008 cover of Esquire will feature an e-ink cover.  A collector's item to be savored, for sure.  [ via Kottke ]

Font conference.  If you think this is funny, you might be a nerd (I was ROFL)!

 

 

 

Sastre rocks!

Wednesday,  07/23/08  11:02 PM

Carlos SastreCongratulations to Carlos Sastre, who won today's "queen stage" of the Tour de France, attacking at the base of the legendary l'Alpe d'Huez and putting over 2 minutes into his rivals.  He is now the proud owner of the leader's maillot jaune, by a healthy 1:24 over second place Frank Schleck, with Bernard Kohl third at 1:33, and Cadel Evans at 1:34.  It remains to be seen whether Sastre leads by enough to survive Saturday's individual time trial, but after today he deserves the win.

I've always liked Carlos but I must admit I didn't think he was going to win this year; I felt if anyone could challenge favorite Evans it would be Denis Menchov.  But on today's final climb, with the chips on the line, Carlos totally came through, while Denis attacked but faded, barely hanging on to end up in fifth, a full 2:39 behind.  Of the other contenders, Kohl was there at the finish but couldn't attack, and overall surprise Christian Vandevelde treaded water, staying in the lead pack but not threatening to take time from anyone.  The Schleck brothers rode well and basically supported their teammate once Sastre's attack was launched.

It was a great stage of a great Tour, dramatic and exciting.  Before the fireworks on the final climb we had Stefan Schumacher leading over the first two climbs, just as he did yesterday (!), and the CSC lieutenants like Stuart O'Grady and Fabian Cancellara really ground out a punishing pace, reducing the peloton to just the elite riders and isolating the leaders from their teammates.  On the final climb only CSC had several riders left up front, and this made the difference.

Next we have two sprint stages - watch for Robbie McEwen to take a win now that Mark Cavendish has retired to train for the Olympics, and Oscar Freire to defend his green jersey - and then the final time trial Saturday.  Stay tuned!

 

 

Wednesday,  07/23/08  11:15 PM

Still buzzed from watching today's Tour stage.  Whew.  I happened to accompany it with a nice Tempranillo; perfect for watching Sastre's attack :)  Onward, let's see what's happening...

MedPediaTechCrunch reports MedPedia is Wikifying the medical search space.  "MedPedia is a new project, currently in development, that will offer an online collaborative medical encyclopedia for use by the general public. In order to keep the content accurate and up-to-date, content editors and creators have to have an MD or a PhD. Several highly-esteemed medical colleges will be contributing content to MedPedia, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and University of Michigan Medical School. Medpedia is also receiving support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and many other government research groups. The content from these organizations will then be edited by MedPedia’s community of medical professionals."  Excellent, should be a great resource.

AEG, organizers of the Tour of California, have announced the 2009 route.  No Balcom Canyon next year (!), but there are 800 miles covered over nine days, with the final stage down in San Diego!  Should be cool...

Ottmar LiebertOttmar Liebert is playing the Canyon Club on Sept 13!  Yay.  I am so there.

remote controlled Wall-EDisney is offering a remote control Wall-E.  Of course they are!  I'm guessing Wall-E tied-in toys will be the hit of the Christmas season...

Rumor has it that Apple is preparing a "Macbook Touch"; a laptop without a keyboard, featuring a touch screen (aka a tablet :)  Could be, could be...  although I must say, for me lack of a keyboard would be a complete show stopper.  Apparently not for everyone though, just look at the iPhone's success...

 

 

Thursday,  07/24/08  09:55 PM

A quiet day today...  spent much of it coding and testing, and documenting...  followed by an easy ride, and then dinner with friends.  Feeling calm and sleepy :)

Today I received a fax from my car dealer, and it was in color!  I had no idea there was such a thing as color fax, let alone that my fax machine (which is also an inkjet printer) was capable of receiving them.  So be it, what a great time to be alive :)

ein bullslingerAs regular readers know, I am an enthusiastic subscriber to New Yorker magazine, despite disagreeing with their strongly left-leading politics.  I often find the leaders amusing for the blatant political bias.  In the most recent issue (featuring the now-already-famous cover of Michele and Barack Obama in the oval office), Henrik Hertzberg goes incredibly far out of his way trying to paper over Obama's flip-flops.  It is actually quite funny.  I especially liked this: "Obama, it turns out, is a politician.  In this respect he resembles the forty-three Presidents he hopes to succeed."  And the article wraps up with this summary: "Flip-flops are preferable to cement shoes, especially in summertime.Flip-flops: change you can believe in!

What I find interesting is that this election is becoming a referendum on Barack Obama.  You would think it would be all about George Bush, and that Obama would win because too many Americans don't like Bush, but that is not what is happening.  In fact as I think about it, Kerry snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 2004 in exactly the same way, he allowed the election to became a referendum on him.

Ann Althouse: Joe Klein's scurrilous meltdown.  Seems Klein and Hertzberg are cut from the same cloth.

Meanwhile Powerline reports: McCain closes the gap.

So Microsoft has been showing users a new operating system called 'Mojave', and it is getting rave reviews.  Turns out Mojave is really just Vista in disguise.  The point is that Vista's PR is so poor that people dislike it without even knowing what it is.  However Microsoft is missing the real point, which is that people don't dislike Vista because of its features, or lack thereof; people dislike Vista because it is too slow, and requires too much machine resource.  Mojave would presumably suffer from the same ills, were it to be released :)  Those poor guys, they just don't get it.  All Windows 7 has to do to succeed is to be faster than XP.  That's all.

I just want to note for all you bloggers and would-be bloggers: nothing is more boring than blogging about blogging.  When someone says they're traveling or whatever and "posting will be light", who cares?  Either post, or do not.  (There is no try!)

 

 

Friday,  07/25/08  10:28 PM

Yes, here it is, a rare Friday night post.  What can I say, there's a lot happening...  (among other things, I seem to have my voice back, or at least a hoarse imitation of it; the frog chorus has retired :)

Powerline: McCain hits hard.  "Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. ... In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory."  Ouch.  All the more forceful for being true.

In other news, McCain veers off script, talks about his cancer battle.  This was at the Livestrong Summit, hosted by Lance Armstrong.  It is possible that under McCain the government would do more about funding cancer research, but then again the federal government is really not the best way to pay for this work anyway.

Of course Obama has been in Europe, but Jennifer Rubin thinks the media missed the big story.  They would :)

Marcus BurghardtSylvain ChavanalYesterday and today we had two rather boring stages in the Tour de France; both had two-man breakaways succeeding, ending up in track-like duels for the line.  Marcus Burghardt won yesterday (left), giving Team Columbia their fifth stage of the tour (!), and perennial breakaway participant Sylvain Chavenal won today (right).   The last five minutes of each stage were fun to watch, the preceding three hours, not so much.  I don't understand the mindset of the teams who didn't have riders in the break; didn't they want a stage?  Well anyway tomorrow we have the exciting final individual time trial, which will decide the overall winner.  Carlos Sastre has to preserve a 1:34 lead over Cadel Evans, and I think he's going to do it; this is entirely reminiscent of last year, when Alberto Contator had a similar lead over Evans, and rode the time trial of his life to win the Tour.  Stay tuned, we'll see!

Mount PalomarMy prayers have been answered: the 2009 Tour of California route has been announced, and the last stage finishes on the top of Mount Palomar!  I am so there...  I cannot wait.  I've ridden Palomar any number of times; the South Slope ascends 3,500' in 8 miles at 8%, with 21 switchbacks, just like l'Alpe d'Huez.  It will be wonderful to see a pro peloton fly up it.  I can't wait!

CNN reports on Dave Schweidenback's Pedals for Progress, a program to sell second-hand bikes in third-world countries.  "Since 1991, Schweidenback's nonprofit Pedals for Progress has collected and shipped more than 115,000 used bicycles to 32 developing countries worldwide."  That is so very cool.

Randy PauschSadly, Randy Pausch has died, the Carnegie Mellon professor famous for his "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer.  My friend Nick has given me CDs of the book, but I haven't listed to it yet; I will.  The many eulogies all seem to share the same theme, that we all die, but Randy Pausch truly lived.  Excellent sentiment.

Want to know what's wrong with public education?  Ventura County Star: City votes to allocate funds to schools' technology program.  "For the second year in row, Westlake Village will provide more than $70,000 from city funds to help local public schools use technology."  So I live in Westlake Village, and I'm pleased that our local schools will have this funding, but this is not right.  The state should have enough money to pay for this program statewide, so every kid has access, not just the ones in rich communities like mine where the city supplements the state.  And the money should come from all of us, we all have a stake in educating all kids.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a big corporation designed a stop sign?  Now you don't have to wonder any more :)  All the funnier for being painfully true.  [ via Kottke ]

 

 

vive le Tour

Saturday,  07/26/08  10:05 AM

Carlos Sastre in yellow!Well a great Tour de France wrapped up this morning; I'm really happy with the way the TT ended up.  After his masterful attack on l'Alpe d'Huez Sastre deserved to win, Evans' solid performance was worthy of second (but no more), and Kohl was the surprise of the tour, finishing third and winning the king of the mountains competition.  Menchov finished fourth - he made too many mistakes to do better, unfortunately - and Christian Vandevelde finished an amazing fifth overall.  Excellent, with some great racing interspersed.

Stefan SchumacherIt is remarkable how much motivation affects time trial performances; when the yellow jersey is at stake ordinary riders become extraordinary, as Sastre showed and Contador last year.  Oh and by the way congratulations to Stefan Schumacher who won today, after also winning the first time trial, handily beating Fabian Cancellara.  I picked him to win this morning (really) even though he was barely mentioned by the commentators on Versus.

Tomorrow we have the parade to Paris, with nothing at stake, really, except a win in the final sprint; I think Oscar Freire's green jersey is pretty safe barring weirdness.  I'm always kind of sad at the end of a Tour, it means I have to go back to a normal schedule without three hours of TV watching to do :)

It has been a nice Tour, despite the absence of Team Astana and three of the world's top riders (Contador, Kloden, and Leipheimer); lots of competition and excitement, and plenty of uncertainty.  In the years when Lance was winning Tours were cool but rather lacking in suspense; by the time the final time trial rolled around the only question was who would finish second.  This was different and better.

 

 

Megan Wins!

Sunday,  07/27/08  11:41 PM

Some parental chest-beating... today Megan sailed in her first C-15 regatta, and won!  I was a very proud crew, along with Megan’s friend Madison who was on the trapeze.  Meg has been sailing sabots all summer and made the transition to the bigger C-15 easily, even yelling at her dad to sheet the jib faster coming out of tacks.  Can’t wait to get her out in the ocean!

Of note: this is "It's the Water"'s 29th season of winning races; the old lady can still show some leg...

To the victors go the smiles :)

And once again we see that There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats...

 

 

Sunday,  07/27/08  11:52 PM

Great day today, watched the final parade of Le Tour this morning (congratulations again to Carlos Sastre, and Oscar Friere, and to today's victor Gert Steegmans), and then crewed for Meg in her first C-15 race, which she won, and tonight ended with a nice dinner with friends.  Oh, and it was a beautiful day, too.  Can't get much better than that!

A friend who sails and reads my blog came up to me this morning and said, "first the death ride, then climbing Whitney, and now racing a C-15 with two 11-year-olds".  Hard to say which was more demanding :)

Last night Shirley and I celebrated our sixteenth anniversary (yay!) with a wonderful dinner at Tuscany, our favorite restaurant here in Westlake Village.  A nice gazpatcho accompanied by a crisp Viognier, followed by an amazing trio of filets, rare, each prepared with a different sauce and vegetable, and a perfect '95 Cask 23 which we'd been saving for a special occasion.  Wrapped up with a chocolate hazelnut torte and a '60 Croft port.  Wow.

Quote of the day: "The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money" --Margaret Thatcher.  [ via Instapundit ]

From the inimitable Scrappleface: McCain backs timeline to get Obama out of Iraq.  I love it!

This is so bogus: California to ban trans fats at restaurants.  WTF?  Since when is it the government's job to protect us from trans fats, (or anything else for that matter)?  Talk about a nanny state, what a waste of taxpayer money.  This is even worse than the ban on driving while holding a cellphone to your ear.  Meanwhile our public education sucks.  Help!

cutest momentGerard Vanderleun: cutest moment in the history of the world.  Pretty hard to argue :)

Aptera Typ-1 electric carFuturePundit notes Aptera typ-1 electric car nears production.  Looks cool, but of course "nears production" is pretty different from "is in production".  And it is projected to have only a 120 mile range.

And so we have a new entry in the search engine sweepstakes: Cuil.  I've been trying it (changed Firefox to use it as my default search engine) and I have to say, it's pretty cuil.  Overall I'm not sure it is better than Google, and I'm not sure it is sufficiently different either, but time will tell.  The key feature seems to be "grouping by category", which I must admit would be really useful if it works.   TechCrunch has more.

 

 

lazyweb: Firefox Z-order?

Monday,  07/28/08  09:55 AM

Dear Lazyweb:

I have a new problem on my laptop: when I click a link, the new Firefox window opens behind the window which opened it.  I have the latest Win XP patches and Firefox 3.0.1...  This does not happen with IE, which makes me think it is Firefox and not Windows; I think this started with the Firefox 3.0 -> 3.0.1 update.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Ole

 

 

Monday,  07/28/08  09:17 PM

It was so very weird to wake up this morning without a Tour stage to watch...  I'm sure you all felt the same.  Every year at the end of July, the same withdrawal symptoms occur...  well I guess it is time to get geared up for the Olympics!  I started with a sort of general malaise ("I feel like going to the beach or sleeping") but ended up getting a reasonable amount of stuff done.  Every day can't be like yesterday; onward!

Paul HammSpeaking of the Olympics, did you see the sad news about Paul Hamm?  "U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm will not be going to the Beijing Olympics and defending his all-around title.  Hamm announced on Monday he was withdrawing from the U.S. team because his broken right hand was not sufficiently healthy enough for him to compete."  The three-time Olympic medallist was one of my favorite athletes, for his attitude as well as his skill, and the way he's withdrawn to allow someone else to take his place is a great example why.  He will be missed.

Velonews points out that it has been a magical year for Spanish sports; they won Euro 2008 (soccer), Rafael Nadal won Wimbledon (tennis), and now Carlos Sastre won the Tour (cycling).  Let's see if they carry that momentum to Bejing!

An interesting point of view: Cancer's Big Pink Problem.  "The silent killer of pancreatic cancer needs attention too... It’s sad that cancer research and support has to be a zero-sum game, but it is.  Every dollar into the pockets of Susan G. Komen [breast cancer] means that research isn’t being done into other cancers – other cancers that have far higher mortality rates."  The same could be said for prostate cancer...

Mark Cuban: how to jumpstart the economy.  "If we really want to stimulate job creation in this country, take the same approach to small business with 25 or fewer employees that we take to Internet taxes.  Outlaw them.  No taxes of any kind on small businesses with 25 or fewer employees.  No employer payroll tax.  No state or local taxes.  No taxes on earnings.  Nada.  The business owners will pay income taxes on their personal income they pay themselves, but not corporate earnings."  Amen!  [ via Brad Feld ]

something cool on TV...This is pretty cool and weird; finally there's something good on TV.  [ via Blogging.LA ]

Virgin Galactic EVEVirgin Galactic rolls out EVE, the mothership for SpaceShipTwo.  Looks beautiful and given their track record, I'm sure it will work; space tourism at its finest.  (Are you like me?  After watching Wall-E, I now pronounce Eve as "Eevah".)

So what is more exciting than Virgin Galactic?  Why SpaceX, of course!  While VG is trying to launch tourists "into space", SpaceX are trying to launch satellites into orbit, a far more demanding application.  The have a launch window coming up Aug 1-5, stay tuned!

Tenemos - on its sideCaption contest!  (click to enbiggen)  Note the sponsor :)

Summers vindicated (again).  "Consistent with many earlier studies (JSTOR), what this study found was that the ratio of male to female variance in ability was positive and significant, in other words we can expect that there will be more math geniuses and more dullards, among males than among females."  Viva la difference!  [ via GNXP ]

ZDNet reports on gaping holes in RealPlayer.  My first reaction was "RealPlayer is still around?"

 

 

Tuesday,  07/29/08  11:01 PM

Busy day today; my Tuesdays in Vista are always busy!  In fact the last four weeks my Tuesdays have spilled into Wednesday, there just isn't enough time in one day anymore.  (For those who don't know what this is about; I live 140 miles from my office, so I only go down there once or twice a week, typically on Tuesdays, and then those tend to be my "meeting days".)

Lake HodgesI did wrap up the day with a nice 36 mile ride with a couple of colleagues, Craig and Richard; we went through Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove, then down Del Dios Highway by Lake Hodges, then back through a really ritzy part of Rancho Santa Fe (did you know, there is a gas station in Rancho Sante Fe which sells 100-octane gas, specifically for Ferraris and Lamborghinis?).

Chino Hills 6.4 quakeSo I'll ask: Did you feel it?  Man I did.  Whew.  And the three biggish aftershocks were good for a bit of adrenaline also.  I think ever since the Sylmar quake of 1971 (which I experienced at age 12), I am a not-calm-in-a-quake person.

An interesting post about cancer: Vincible.  "You receive the devastating diagnosis of cancer, the elusive, silent invader. Then you 'battle it.' You 'fight' for your life. You 'wage war' against the malignant cells. You and your oncologist draw up a 'strategy' to 'beat' the disease. And if you’re unlucky and you 'lose the battle to cancer,' at least you will have 'battled' cancer 'bravely.'"  I accept the point, but would counter: first, battling is mentally more satisfying than tamely accepting one's fate, and second, as far as "lucky", many studies have shown that a positive mental attitude correlates strongly with survival, so you can make your own luck.

fluidscope mini-microscopePretty amazing: Wired reports Mini-Microscope could lead to cell-sorting implants.  Boy, those guys at Caltech are always working on something cool, eh?  :)

Falcon 1 vertical: ready for takeoff!SpaceX status: Kimbal Musk (Elon's brother) reports Falcon 1 is vertical and posts a time-lapse picture.  The launch window opens in two days; digits perpendicular!

Related: Popular Mechanics: What Virgin's WhiteKnight means to the future of space.  [ via Instapundit, who also posted several related links... ]

Razib discusses David Brooks: Missing the Pink Elephant in the Room.  U.S. demographics have changed, and hence U.S. culture has changed, and yes this has had an impact on many things.  This isn't getting better, either; just look at the differential birth rates...

Good news on Altzheimer's?  We'll see.  I'm so from Missouri on this stuff, it is too easy to get pre-excited before rigorous studies have been performed...

Buick LaCrosseMaserati QuattroporteSo, does a Maserati Quattroporte really look like a Buick LaCrosse?  I don't see it myself, but I post, you decide :)

 

 

 

Thursday,  07/31/08  12:20 AM

Received in a spam message: "'I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.' -W(illiam) Somerset Maugham."  That's great.

sponsoring recklessnessIn the New Yorker, James Surowiecki discusses Sponsoring Recklessness, a nice explanatory treastise on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and why and how they've gone adrift.  I learned a lot and agree with his analysis, even if I disagree with his conclusion (that they should both be nationalized).

Ottmar Leibert hopes maybe it is not going to take decades...  before we look at overpopulation.  Perhaps the green movement will lead us there, as nothing is worse for the environment than too many people.  Except perhaps too many dumber people.

Jason Kottke quotes Merlin Mann: "Some days, the web feels like 5 people trying to make something; 5k people turning it into a list; and 500MM people saying, FAIL."  Indeed.

Wired reports on the Lagoons of Titan: "Earthlings might be scrambling to find liquid hydrocarbons buried in our planet, but Saturn's moon Titan has plenty to spare.  Scientists say that a dark, smooth surface feature spotted on the moon last year is definitely a lake filled primarily with liquid ethane, a simple hydrocarbon."  Awesome!  I can't wait to go there :)

Zimbabwe $100B noteHere we have Zimbabwe currency on eBay; Z$100B notes are going for AU$87.  Perhaps Zimbabwe should give up on running a country - that isn't going too well anyway - and simply print paper to sell on eBay?  Pretty embarrasing, if you think about it, but then so is so much about the situation there...

 

 

gone beachin'

Thursday,  07/31/08  12:54 AM

W'all are going on vacation in Montecito with friends through the weekend...  behave, have fun, and see you Sunday!

 

 
 

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