Archive: July 4, 2009

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Happy Birthday, USA!

Saturday,  07/04/09  07:40 AM

Good morning all and Happy Birthday to our country, born a mere 233 years ago.  We may have challenges (as always!) but we have by far the best country on Earth, the haven of democracy and free enterprise, and the protector of freedom and liberty for all men everywhere.  And fortunately we still have lots of great men and women willing to work hard to keep it that way.

I'm really fortunate; my biggest challenge today is sailing with Megan in the Westlake Yacht Club's annual 'Round the Island race, held each year on the Fourth of July, in which a bunch of disparate sailboats race to be first around Westlake Island.  The island is joined to the mainland by a low bridge, under which you must pass, either by capsizing your boat or taking down your mast.  Meg and I are racing our C-15, which besides being the fastest boat on the lake also is one of the largest and most complicated, with one of the tallest masts, and featuring a veritable rat's nest of control lines.  We have rigged tackle to lower the mast and raise it again, but whether it will work in the heat of battle remains to be seen...

After that we have a family BBQ on tap, with much eating and drinking.  Oh, and before everything we have watching the first stage of the Tour de France!  Stay tuned for a full report on everything...

I hope you have a fantastic day yourself, and encourage you to take a minute and think about what a great country we have...  Happy Birthday, USA!


TDF stage 1 / ITT: Cancellara dominates! Astana's big four stay close...

Saturday,  07/04/09  10:39 PM

(I'm going to try something new this year: separate posts for my TDF thoughts.  That way if you care you can find them, and if you don't you can skip them :)  As always your feedback is solicited.  I won't give a stage recap so much as my thoughts; if you want to find out what happened the TDF website is a great source, as of course is Velonews.)

Today's stage 1 was a 15.5km ITT in Monaco.  Fabian Cancellara amazed everyone including me by blowing away the field by 18 seconds.  He's the best TTer in the world, but with a pretty steep climb I thought this ITT would favor a climber like Levi Leipheimer or Alberto Contador or Cadel Evans.  A big story was Lance Armstrong who finished a strong 10th, perhaps disappointing himself and those who thought he might be able to win, but actually an amazing performance considering he is 37 and took three years off from pro cycling.  Unfortunately for Lance three of his own teammates were faster, including Contador, who finished a strong second, thereby establishing himself as the favorite overall, Andreas Kloden, who finished fourth and reminded everyone "oh year he's pretty good too", and Levi who finished sixth.  Biggest dud was Denis Menchov, my overall rooting favorite (go Rabobank!) who dug himself quite a hole already by losing 1:30 to his GC competition.

Watching the aerial views of Monaco and Monte Carlo, I was amazed as always by the amount of wealth on display.  The yacht harbor alone was stunning.  The Cote d'Azur is amazing.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


Saturday,  07/04/09  10:55 PM

Yay, us; Megan and I successfully sailed around Westlake Island today and finished third in the 'Round the Island race.  We dropped our mast easily, cleanly passed under the low bridge, and raised it again, no problem.  Unfortunately I got the jib halyard wrapped around the main clew while refastening the outhaul and fell overboard in the course of trying to fix it (!), so despite not capsizing I ended up wet anyhow.  It was a hot day and the whole thing passed away in smiles, although I did manage to lose my spiffy Livestrong Oakley shades in the process.  I *hope* someone got pictures and will post if so.  Our biggest problem was fluky wind on the weather leg which prevented us from using our superior boat speed to forge a lead.  Still, third isn't bad, and once more I'm really proud of Meg who is becoming quite an accomplished little sailor.

Later we ate vast amounts of BBQ steak and drank vast amounts of Jumilla, so overall it was a great day. 

And now for a brief pass with the Ole filter....

Several of you have asked what I think about Sarah Palin's resignation, and honestly I don't know what to think.  A sitting governor who resigns can't be considered a good thing.  Perhaps there is scandal to follow, or perhaps she decided all the attacks on her family were too much, but on balance we don't know enough to judge.  I discount the idea that she did it to run for President; maybe she does (or did) want to run, but resigning doesn't seem like a good tactic toward that goal.  We'll all have to stay tuned for more. 

BTW although I liked her as a pick to be McCain's running mate, I did like her, rather than her ideology, and overall she didn't grow on me; I'd have to say I wouldn't be thrilled with her as a presidential candidate.

My friend Gary posts about Palin in Suncadia; notable as much for the fact that he's posted (yay) as for what he has to say.  Subscribed! 

Glenn Reynolds on fireworks' safety: "'Leave it to the trained professionals' is one of the cancerous mantras of our age, and there's a big difference between setting off your own fireworks and sitting passively while others do it for you - the difference, if I may say so, between having sex and watching porn."  Cancerous mantra...  I agree. 

This is a cool headline: Planck achieves ultra-cold state.  "Europe's Planck observatory has reached its operating temperature, making it the coldest object in space.  The observatory's detectors have been chilled to a staggering minus 273.05C - just a tenth of a degree above what scientists term 'absolute zero.'"  How cool is that?  [ via Slashdot: coolest spacecraft ever

Kind of a sad wistful note: Compuserve shuts down.  I was on Compuserve a million years ago, 70740,55, how quaint to have octal numbers as userids.  (Yes, I did have a seven digit id, and yes, I am that old.)  Believe it or not, Compuserve began as all text, and it was dialup and separate from the Internet; in fact it was big news when you could get to the Internet via Compuserve, which was the first way in which I did it (running Gopher searches!) 

ZooBorn of the day: a little pygmy hippo!  More proof, if any were needed, that baby anythings are cute... 



Saturday,  07/04/09  10:57 PM

I came across this picture somewhere and I like it, so I thought I'd post it.  I don't know who it is or where it was taken, but somehow it just epitomizes "summer".  Girl in bikini, tropical drink, chaise lounge, beach, ocean, sun; it's all there but just kind of hinted at...  the feeling is great though.  I can mentally put myself into this picture very easily :) 


Another picture with a nice feeling is this one, of a Hobie 16 sitting on a beach, waiting for fun...  this has a quiet relaxed quality to it, like that boat is always going to be there, ready whenever for a nice sail off to the horizon.  I can mentally put myself into this picture very easily, too, and that sawgrass is wonderful :) 


A little bit less relaxed: the announcement of Alinghi's new America's Cup "yacht"; looks like a 90' Hobie Cat.  It will presumably race against Oracle's Trizilla, in a match which can only be described as bizarre.  Still, can I get a ride, please? 


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