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Furnace Creek 508, here I come!

Thursday,  10/01/09  11:00 PM

I am delighted to report that in addition to my experienced crew captain Joani, I have now added Greg to my team, and yay I can ride!  Whew.  And OMG, now what?  All week I have not allowed myself to get excited, because I was not sure I'd be able to ride.  Now suddenly I'm going to do it, and I'm excited and scared and worried all at once.

If you're new here, I'm talking about the Furnace Creek 508.  A 508 mile cycling race through Death Valley, in which you have 48 hours to finish.  For some it truly is a race, but for me, it is an adventure.  If I finish, I win.

Well first things first, make the [long] list of things I'll need to bring, read as much as possible, eat, drink, make a plan, and then... go for it!  It is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved...  and infinitely better to have raced and dropped out, than never to have ridden.  Although it might not feel that way on Saturday night.

You might wonder, if you're doing one of these long rides, what do you do?  It is amazingly not-boring.  There are always things to see - you see a lot on a bike at 18mph that you miss in a car at 70mph.  And you can think - cycling is great for thinking.  And you can listen to music!  I will certainly be Powered by Chickenfoot!

So I start at 0700 on Saturday, checkpoint one is California City, checkpoint two is Trona, and by Saturday night I should be climbing the incredible Townes Pass into Death Valley.  Check point three is - ta da - Furnace Creek, where I should be in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  At that point I plan to sleep, get about 3-4 hours.  Then it is up the Salsberry grade to Shoshone, checkpoint four, and then Baker checkpoint five.  That should be mid-afternoon Sunday.  Then the endless climb up to Kelso, checkpoint six, descend through the desert to Amboy, checkpoint seven, into the evening.  And the final false flat to Twentynine Palms, and the finish, late late Sunday night aka early Monday.

Please keep your fXf!
You may follow my progress here...

See you Monday night, same blog channel :)


no joy in Badwater

Monday,  10/05/09  02:59 PM

Well, I didn't make it.  No shame, but I am disappointed.

Sunday morning at 7:30am, as I was fighting a 30mph headwind in Badwater, after having battled it all night, I dropped out of the Furnace Creek 508.  I was about 20 miles from the base of the Salsberry grade, which meant another four hours of spinning in 1st gear at 5mph, and I couldn't handle it.  I might have been up for it physically, but my head gave out.  I began looking for reasons to stop instead of reasons to continue.

I was very nervous when the ride began, very conscious that I had never done anything like this before, and very aware of everyone's advice to take it easy.  I did.  The first leg to California City featured some climbing and some headwinds, but it was steady on, and I felt good.  It sure is wonderful having a support vehicle right there with bottles and food and everything.  The second leg to Trona featured a little more climbing, and some tailwinds (yay!), and again it was steady on, and I felt really good.  The third leg from Trona to Furnace Creek had three distinct parts:

In the first, through the Panamint Valley, I was flying with a beautiful tailwind.  We were well ahead of schedule, I was feeling strong, and ready for the climb up to Townes Pass.  At the turn to start the climb we passed the 200 mile mark, and I was amazed; I had done 200 miles in 12 hours elapsed, my best ever, and that was taking it easy!

The second part was the climb up Townes, and the descent down the back.  The climb was nasty, with a crosswind / headwind / tailwind / wind.  About 13 miles at about 8%, but the wind was the main factor; a couple of times I blew into the shoulder.  I started cramping a little, because I stopped drinking, because I needed both hands on the bars just to keep my bike on the road.  But I made it!  And felt great, because "it was all downhill from there".  Riight.  The descent down the back to Stovepipe Wells was awesome, a beautiful full moon lit up the valley, and although there was some crosswind it was smooth sailing.  We hit Stovepipe about four hours ahead of schedule, and I still felt great.

The third part was when reality set in.  It is just 25 miles from Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek, a flat road, good surface, should have taken about 1 1/2 hours.  But it was directly into the teeth of a stiff headwind.  On that flat road I was averaging 5-6mph, I must tell you it was harder than the climb up to Townes Pass.  It took me four hours to reach Furnace Creek, and I was exhausted.  We had planned to sleep there and we did, hoping the wind would die down.

So then leg four.  I woke up, ate a little, and was pleased to note the wind had [apparently] settled down.  We took off for Badwater, and bam! the wind hit again.  Big time headwind, 30mph gusts, blowing sand, tumbleweeds, you name it.  It was 40 miles from Furnace Creek to Salsberry grade, and at 5mph that was going to take me eight hours.  What seemed on paper to be a mild little cruise through Death Valley became a nightmare.  After four hours we reached Badwater, my head exploded, and I couldn't take it anymore.  Maybe next year I'll be mentally ready.

I want to thank my most excellent crew captain, Joani, who did an amazing job of supporting me, she was a veteran of two previous 508s, and her experience and calm demeanor were perfect.  I also want to thank Greg, the other half of my stellar crew, for his yeoman work.  In addition to filling bottles and reading maps he also took a bunch of pictures which I have yet to edit; stay tuned for those...

So this year there was no joy in Badwater.  But wait 'till next year!


weekend of October 2

Monday,  10/05/09  07:42 PM

Still in recovery mode from a long tiring (and somewhat depressing) weekend...

Tagline of the day, courtesy of my colleague Martin: "there is no Q5".

Onward into Q4, as the Ole filter makes a pass...

Well this is important work: a unified theory of Superman's powers.  Which is a good excuse (if any were needed) to post Ramsey's outstanding tribute cartoon memorializing Christopher Reeve... 

Interesting: Top ten houseplants for controller indoor air pollution.  #1 is the Feston Rose, pictured at right: "This houseplant not only purifies the air in your house but also leaves a beautiful aroma". 

Susanna Breslin interviews Tucker Max.  "If you want a relationship, make sure you are someone who someone else would want to date."  Tucker Max comes across a lot more reasonably than I would have expected...  his reputation is far more outrageous. 

As the Angles get ready to play the Red Sox this week; the NYTimes has a nice profile of my Westlake Village neighbor Mike Scioscia, the LA Manager...  I've been a Scioscia fan ever since he was a great catcher for the Dodgers. 

This is awesome: Cirque du Soleil founder is first clown in space.  "Cirque du Soleil's founder, who will soon rocket into space, went from pauper to circus mogul by turning a troupe of ragtag street performers in 1984 into a global entertainment empire.  At 0714 GMT Wednesday, Canadian Guy Laliberte will celebrate his recent 50th birthday by becoming the seventh space tourist to rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station for a 12-day 'poetic, social mission'."  Cool. 

Apropos: MSNBC has picture stories from space, for September 2009.  Wow.  The one at right is [appropriately] entitled "dance of the galaxies".  I absolutely cannot get enough of space pictures :) 

Congratulations to Rio de Janeiro, the IOC's choice to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.  The first South American city chosen, it seems very appropriate, reflecting Brazil's increasing economic importance.  I visited Brazil just about a year ago, and was struck by the sheer size of the country.  It should be a most-excellent party! 

This headline on CNN shows how ignorant US media are of Brazil:  We beat the big cities.  With a population of 6M, Rio de Janeiro is over twice as large as Chicago.

Weird Twitter story of the weekend: Why does it matter that Twitter is supplanting RSS?  I'm not sure why it matters, but I am sure that in no way is Twitter supplanting RSS, any more than it is supplanting email.  I guess if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  This blog post would lose something if it were only 140 characters long, don't you think?  [ via Eric Wiesen

Palm announces more openness for the Pre: it is now possible for applications developers to distribute their Pre apps via the web, without Palm involved.  That seems like a tremendous advantage over Apple.  It won't [by itself] overcome the 

Mark Pilgrim delivers a wonderful fisking: Translation from MS-Speak to English of Tony Ross' Distributed Extensibility Submission.  Even if you don't understand the subject, like me, you can appreciate the acid humor. 

Popsci: ISS Could Get its Own Electron Beam Fabrication 3D Printer.  How cool is that? 

Slashdot reports GE Developing 1TB Holographic Disc.  That's good, and the rumored backward compatibility with DVDs is better.  But physical media for storing data is really on the way out, right?



BMW watches

Tuesday,  10/06/09  10:35 PM

The other day I received the latest issue - a beautiful nice glossy one - of BMW Magazine.

Well of course it is a thinly disguised sales brochure for BMW cars.  But what I found interesting is the other advertising; luxury products targeted at the obviously wealthy demographic of BMW owners.  Some of the coolest watches and jewelry I've ever seen, from manufacturers I've never heard of (yes, the magazine is German, and so are the majority of the advertisers). 

Herewith, a sample...


not so fast

Tuesday,  10/06/09  10:53 PM

The New Yorker has a fascinating story by Jill Lepore: Not So Fast.  "Scientific management started as a way to work.  How did it become a way of life?"

Ordering people around, which used to be just a way to get things done, was elevated to a science in October of 1910, when Louis Brandeis, a fifty-three-year-old lawyer from Boston, held a meeting at an apartment in New York with a bunch of experts who, at Brandeis’s urging, decided to call what they were experts at “scientific management.”

I think the larger question answers the smaller one: "How did work become a way of life?"


week of October 5, redux

Saturday,  10/10/09  11:09 AM

A long and productive week, whew, made it; spent the week in Vista working, with a lot going on, and then visiting a customer in Sacramento.  I am *still* recovering from the 508, too.  And preparing for the Oaks Christian homecoming dance tonight; we are hosting a pre-dance photo shoot, and a post-dance party.

But first, it's all happening:

Dan Miller: The U.S. is losing its sense of humor.  I fear he is right.  And I've always felt a sense of humor was a leading indicator of intelligence... 

This isn't funny: Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.  Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize has been a joke for quite a while (Yasser Arafat?!) but giving it to President Obama before he's done anything definitely takes the cake. 

Hard to disagree: This just reinforces my ongoing impression that we've been living out a satire for the past year or two.

Powerline: A mixed blessing for the President.  At most.  I actually think he is becoming a laughingstock, in record time.  His presidency is going to be known for amazing incompetence amid incredible hubris.

Comment of the day: Clearly, reality has jumped the shark.  Yep.

Remember the infamous RIP Good Times powerpoint from Sequoia?  This is the one year anniversary of the all-CEO meeting at which it was unveiled...  things haven't gone great since, but you could say they over-estimated the economic turmoil.  And yet maybe not; raising capital is borderline impossible, and any business which didn't carefully conserve cash is in big trouble. 

Philip Greenspun: Attitudes toward Minimum Wage.  I've found the same thing; no matter how little economic sense it makes, or how cleanly you make that point, plenty of people think Minimum Wage is a good thing, and will not change their minds.  Kind of like the way they think Universal Health care is a right... 

More on the Palm "open development" announcements from Ars Technica.  Again I'd have to say this will help them vs. Apple, but it won't overcome the relative sizes of the installed base.  On the other hand, more applications will help increase the size of the installed base, so this could snowball.  A good move in any case. 

Speaking of Apple not being open: Big bother: DVD Jon has Steve Jobs in a twist.  "If there was any doubt that DVD Jon was Apple chief executive Steve Jobs's No.1 nemesis, it evaporated this week when the renowned Norwegian hacker released his competitor to the iTunes Music Store."  Includes a link a remake of the classic Apple '1984' ad, featuring Steve Jobs as big brother. 

CNN: Massive new ring discovered around Saturn.  Whoa. 

Google: A Web Browser Is Not A Computer, Not A Search Engine, And Not A Ham Sandwich.  Okay, so you built the best web browser.  Now what?  Most people don't even know there is such a thing :) 

eZine Latitude 38 has a cool stylized version of Trizilla on the cover.  Excellent!  [ thanks, Marc ] 

BTW as you know I really want to get a ride on BMW Oracle's trimaran, aka 'Trizilla'.  So much so, that I tried emailing my entire LinkedIn network to see if anyone knew a friend of a friend who might be able to help.  So far, nada.  Oh, well... 

Time to start thinking about baseball: Let the playoffs begin!  In the NL I pick the Dodgers over the Cardinals (of course), the Phillies over the Rockies, and the Dodgers to go to the Series.  In the AL I've got the Angels over the Red Sox (of course), the Yankees over the Twins, and, um, the Yankees over the Angels (regretfully).  So that makes for a Dodgers / Yankees World Series, and what could be better than that?  Stay tuned! 

Photosketch.  You draw a sketch, you label the parts, and poof! a completed picture, with your sketch used as a template.  How cool is that? 

TTAC reviews the Tesla roadster.  Although they were critics [of Tesla the company] for a long time, now that they've had a chance to drive one [Tesla the car], they're fans.  "Time and time again, when I’d mash the Tesla’s accelerator, I couldn’t help but curse. As in, “holy *&@!, this is incredible”."  I want to drive one too :) 

Wow, Walt Mossberg says Windows 7 is as good as Mac OS X.  That's pretty amazing...  (I don't think it is true, but it is amazing that Walt says it is.)  This should cause a collective blogospheric tooth gnash! 

Courtesy of Gerard Vanderleun: Musical Stairs.  How excellent! 

Wrapping up, the ZooBorn of the week: a baby pygmy hippo!



inside coffee (Wired 10/09)

Saturday,  10/10/09  11:28 AM

Ah, the smell of coffee in the morning, smells like...  victory!

A theory, for you to disregard completely: the best tasting foods are on the very edge of rotting.  Our taste buds naturally evolved to detect bad food, so they are hyper sensitive to spoilage, and foods which are somewhat spoiled and yet not trigger the strongest taste sensations.  Consider cheese for example, or wine.  So it doesn't surprise me at all that the wonderfully-named putrescine is a key ingredient of coffee.



Sunday,  10/11/09  05:53 PM

So last night was the Oaks Christian School's homecoming; we hosted 20 count 'em 20 16- and 17- year old girls in a pre-dance photo shoot, and 50+ could not even count 'em girls and boys in a post-dance par-tay, and a great time was had by all.  The house survived, we have recovered, and all in all it was a wonderful experience.  It was so much fun we might never do it again.  But then again, we might :)

wow, just wow
Alexis is fourth from left in purple

the posse assembles, pre-dance

the girls decided no guys in the limo
just fine with the parents :)


not driving while texting (New Yorker)

Sunday,  10/11/09  08:40 PM

Man, I love it
by all means let's make building ships in bottles while driving illegal


Monday,  10/12/09  09:01 PM

Well it was a nice weekend, resting and relaxing (if you can count hosting fifty sixteen year olds relaxing :), but it's Monday night and I have a maximally busy week ahead.  In fact, I have a maximally busy two weeks ahead, bisected by the Solvang Double next Saturday, and this following the 508 last weekend and a busy last week.  Whew.  Anyway it's all good, although blogging may be intermittent...

Speaking of the 508; I was looking at the race stats; less than half of the solo competitors finished.  I'm still disappointed that I couldn't make it, but I was in good company.  They say it was the hardest 508 ever, because of the wind.  Wow, what a great year to be a rookie.  Well next year I'm going to finish no matter what.

If you think the Nobel Peace Prize is as preposterous as I do (and believe me, it was preposterous long before it was awarded to Barack Obama for doing nothing; take the fact that it was awarded to Yasser Arafat for being a terrorist, for example) then you will enjoy this: for the Nobel Peace Prize, a better idea.  (The punch line, courtesy of an article in Time Magazine; it should have gone to nuclear weapons.  Which makes sense when you think about it.)  My own vote would be for the Seawolf submarine, for sheer coolness. 

Another great comment: Obama fails to win Nobel Prize in Economics.  Which if you think about it, he's affected world economics a lot more than world peace...

And check this out: Decline is a Choice.  In which the point is made that by screwing up the U.S. Economy, President Obama may have unwittingly contributed significantly to a decline in world peace.  Let's hope not, but it is a cogent argument.

Oh, and the health care reform bill isn't such a good idea either: "PWC concluded that the cost of health insurance for the average family will rise by $4,000 by 2019, as compared with doing nothing."  I must tell you, this administration is even less competent than I feared.  Yikes.

Did you know where HTML and hypertext came from?  Xanadu, of course... 

And when we mention Xanadu, we run a gratuitous picture of Olivia Newton-John, because, well, that's what we do.

And so this fireplace has been named the most beautiful object.  Well it is pretty cool, but I don't know how it compares to a Seawolf submarine... and I do know how it compares to Olivia Newton-John :) 

Live in the Vast Plane: "Why is it that laptops and the internet have been around for a generation and yet the infrastructure we live in still doesn’t support them?  I’m talking primarily about travel... it’s bizarre to be in an airport and see business travelers scanning the scene hungrily - not for food, but for electrical sockets."  This is so true.  It's true inside airplanes, too; give me WiFi and power, please.  (Give me Virgin America every time, for this very reason.) 

The Dyson "bladeless fan"; the picture at right shows the blades.  What a crock.  It might be a nice fan, but it is not bladeless.  I know, I know, everyone loves their vacuum cleaners too, but I think Dyson is better at marketing than engineering... 

Here we have bullet impacts in slow motion.  R e a l l y  slow motion.  As in 1M frames per second, how cool is that?  Very cool.  [ via kottke

And finally, since this is Columbus Day, here's our sailing picture of the day...  [ via the horse's mouth


starry night

Monday,  10/12/09  10:10 PM

Starry Night

Van Gogh was awesome!

this was NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, how cool is that?


week of October 12, redux

Sunday,  10/18/09  09:56 AM

WOW what a week.  Man.  I was on the go go go all week, including a board meeting Thursday, flying to Scottsdale on Friday for a day to attend the Academy of Health Sciences' CMO Forum (that was cool, must tell you), and riding the Solvang Autumn Double yesterday (barely made it, but I did, yay).

And so we have a lot to catch up on, pull up a chair, grab a cold one, and let's make a filter pass...

I mostly stay away from online video, and totally stay away from Pajamas' Media political videos, but this one caught my eye: Bill Whittle says throw the bums out.  "We already pay farmers not to farm.  Why can't we pay legislators not to legislate?"  [ via Instapundit

Obama's favorite words: Let me be clear.  Okay, okay; we'll let you.

Eliot Spitzer in Slate: How to stop the U.S. Commerce Department.  "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce - the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington - has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform …"  I completely agree with Spitzer.  His morals might be messed up, but his policies are dead-on.  

This TOTALLY PISSES ME OFF: Racism on campus.  "According to the data, not all races are considered equal in the college admissions game.  Of students applying to private colleges in 1997, African-American applicants with SAT scores of 1150 had the same chances of being accepted as white applicants with 1460s and Asian applicants with perfect 1600s."  This is so blatant it is unbelievable.  If we really want to end racism, this would be a great place to start; let's make college admissions colorblind

Meeting with the Bobs?  Gmail will now make sure you contact the right one :)  Not only a useful feature but the allusion to Office Space is excellent. 

While traveling Friday it occurred to me that within one year the Kindle has become de facto.  I take mine everywhere; it is "my book", and I'm always reading from it, but I don't even think about it as a cool thing anymore.  When I first got it all sorts of people asked me about it, and now they already know what it is and nobody says anything.  You see them all over the place.  Etc. etc.  After all these years and all the talk, Amazon has changed reading.  And it happened poof! just like that. 

Exactly the way the iPod changed listening to music.  Wow, what a decade of change!

Oh, and Apple has announced in-App purchasing from within free apps.  This is huge; it means a developer can give away a teaser app which leads to the purchase of the real one. 

With all the success of Apple's App Store, it is easy to forget there is a pretty sizeable "black market" of jailbroken iPhone apps out there, too.  Some of them do stuff you can only do from a jailbroken app, such as running in the background, and others are just "unacceptable" to Apple, for whatever reason.  (And in some cases, developers just find it easier to publish through Cydia than through Apple :)  Anyway I just installed 3.1.2 on my iPod Touch, and just re-jailbreaked using Blackra1n, and it was cool.  And BTW you do not need any technical expertise to do this; you run the application and 30 seconds later you are done. 

Superawesome: The Evolution of the International Space Station.  I've always made fun of the ISS, like, why did we do it, but this graphic makes clear why we did it; we had to learn how to build a big thing out of little things out in space.  Seeing this, you realize this is exactly how we're going to make really big things out there, and someday, we will make really big things out there :)  BTW yes it has now been eleven years since the ISS launched, and remember, it was put out there by Russia

As the Yankees make their way inexorably toward the World Series, Jockbeat asks "who's the real Mr. October?"  Reggie Jackson vs. Alex Rodriguez, in which we discover all it takes is one great game. 

Jeff Atwood on the state of solid state drives.  I am sure my next laptop is going to have a solid state drive, for speed if not for the low power drain.  The new technology for storage has arrived, finally.  In fact this is probably going to drive my purchase of a new laptop; my old one has an ATA interface, and all the SSD drives require SATA... 

This is by far the coolest folding bike I've ever seen; the first one cool enough that I'd consider riding it.  (Although no clue how well it rides, of course.)  Check out the way those wheels fold up! 

Gerard Vanderleun is the co-author of a new book about the Rolling Stones: Let it Bleed.  I've come late to the Stones as a big fan; I never didn't like them, but I didn't really think they were awesome until I saw Shine a Light

This is pretty funny: Cake Wrecks.  The picture at right shows what can happen if you leave a picture for the baker on a jump drive :) 

Picture of the week: whale circling a massive school of fish.  Wow. 

Rogers Cadenhead notes Readers have never paid for the news: "The real issue here is that online ads aren't generating the kind of revenue that other ads did for decades, so it's an extremely rough time for the industry.  But placing the blame on readers for being cheapskates is extremely misguided. We've always gotten the news at a price much lower than the cost of reporting it."  Just like Music and Books, this industry has been changed forever by technology, and there is no turning back the clock. 

Cory Doctorow provides a helpful checklist: why your idea to save journalism won't work.  #1 is "your plan fails to account for: reader's unwillingness to pay for just news". 

Oh, and here's another thing which is changing: Amazon introduces same day delivery.  Wow.  Same day.  One of the unappreciated reasons the iPod took over music and the Kindle is taking over books is the instant gratification.  If Amazon can do this with physical objects, they'll really have something. 

This is pretty cool (and pretty unique); Daring Fireball notes Sublime Text, a new text processor for Windows.  "A new Windows text editor with clever original features and a graceful UI.  Never thought I’d write those words.  I’m particularly intrigued by the 'minimap' - a zoomed-out view of the entire file.Almost makes me want to try it.  But...  why? 

The amazing Onion shoots, scores: God introduces new Bird.  "THE HEAVENS—In what is being described by advance marketing materials as 'the first divine creation in more than 6,000 years,' God Almighty, Our Lord Most High, introduced a brand-new species of bird into existence Monday."  I love it. 

ZooBorn of the week: a baby Oryx.  Awww...



Best photomicrographs of the past 35 years

Sunday,  10/18/09  10:52 AM

The best photomicrographs of the last 35 years.



the Reich stuff

Sunday,  10/18/09  02:25 PM

Robert Reich speaks the inconvenient (and politically incorrect) truth:

  • A solution in Iraq is going to be tough.
  • Treating more sick people will mean younger people will pay more.
  • It’s too expensive to treat older people at the end of their life “so we’re going to let you die”.
  • If we use government to control costs there will be “less innovation” in medical technology and you should not expect to live much longer than your parents.
  • Global warming can only be tackled by a carbon tax which is going to cost you a lot of money.
  • We’re going to have to pay teachers more for quality education - costing you more - but we have to be willing to fire the turkeys despite the unions.
  • Anyone who does an unskilled, repetitive job will lose it in the near future to outsourcing or automation. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
  • A minimum wage doesn’t help as much as an earned income tax credit.
  • Helping people at the bottom earn more is going to cost higher income people more money.
  • Medicare will bankrupt the nation unless something is done and will impoverish the youth.
  • The best way to ameliorate global poverty is to do away with farm subsidies.

Who among us, in all honesty, can deny that any of these things are true?  Okay, maybe these aren't "nice", but if we're going to solve our problems, we're going to have to acknowledge them, even if they're aren't "nice".  Robert Reich has gone from "someone I'm aware of" to "someone I like and respect" with one speech.


space tracks

Sunday,  10/18/09  04:55 PM

This outstandingly cool infographic map from National Geographic illustrates each of the space missions we've undertaken:

(click to enbiggen)

Our moon has been the most popular destination - no surprise - but did you know Venus has seen more spaceflights than Mars?  Nah, me either.  My favorite missions have been the ones to Jupiter and Staturn, and their amazing ecosystem of moons, led by Cassini / Huygens (which of course included Titan).

Interesting to contemplate: someday there will be a map like this for nearby stars we have visited; how long do you think it will take?


double quintuple double

Sunday,  10/18/09  05:09 PM

Yesterday I rode the Solvang Autumn Double, giving me five count 'em one two three four five double centuries for the year.  And so this was the second year in a row I joined the California Triple Crown Thousand Mile club, having ridden at least 1,000 miles worth of double centuries in one year.  Yay me!

This ride was *not* easy, although I have to admit after riding the 508 a couple of weeks ago, I took it kind of lightly.  My biggest problem was "cycling hotfoot"; for some reason (I think worn out shoes) my feet become sore and my toes go numb on these long rides.  It has kind of happened before, and happened pretty majorly in the 508, but it was a huge problem for me yesterday.  I kept stopping and taking off my shoes and massaging my toes; needless to say, I did not post the best time.  However I did finish and overall it was a good ride.

Some pictures:

early morning peloton
yes that is David Goggins at the right

first climb of the day, of many; so far, so good

incredible beauty and solitude amid the slumbering vines
I think this is some of that Santa Maria Pinot, warming up before being picked

climbing Perfumo Canyon (whew!)
an incredible view with Morro Bay's famous rock in the background

Guadalupe and heading for home
the reflective tape on my bike says "I rode the 508" :)

big smile as the end is near
another year with 1,000+ miles in double centuries

A couple of really cool things happened.  First, as a 508 rider you become known by your totem, and several people recognized me and called be "Rocky", and I found I had a bunch of new friends in the ultra peloton.  That was really nice.  I had a nice chat with "Butterfly" (Andi Ramer) and she introduced me to "King Cobra" (David Goggins).  Maybe you've heard of David; he's a Marine and ultra-marathon runner, and does a lot of fund raising for the children of servicemen and women killed in combat.  He's also an amazing athlete, and finished about fifteenth in the 508.  So I discovered while talking with him that he has an Atrial Septal Defect, a little hole between the two upper chambers of his heart, just like my daughter Megan had before it was surgically repaired.  We had a nice conversation about that (before he dropped me on the first climb :)

Later in the ride I paced through a flat section with a couple on a tandem.  So I don't know if you know, but tandems are really fast in the flat; they do suffer on climbs, but can really power along.  Drafting behind them at 35mph through the grapes was quite amazing, knowing that if I ever lost contact I'd never be able to get back on.

The climb up Perfumo Canyon was really something; I found myself literally zig-zagging back and forth across the road to keep moving, I don't think I've done that on a ride before.  Must have been at least 15% for a couple of miles.  At the top we were rewarded with an amazing view of the coast including Morro Bay rock, before heading South back toward Solvang.

And so ends (I think) another year of ultracycling; it is possible I'll do another this year, but I have no current plans.  Take some time to relax and watch sports (and work and travel!), and then it's on to next year!


Monday,  10/19/09  06:31 PM

Another long week ahead; Thursday and Friday I'm attending and presenting before an FDA hearing on digital pathology.  It was fun just hanging out and relaxing yesterday, and today it was kind of back to normal work which was fun (even got in some coding...).  Still this might be the last post until the weekend, so savor it!

FuturePundit asks Does the tragedy of the commons apply to reproduction?  You bet your ass it does.  This is the whole problem behind Unnatural Selection.  His discussion is sound but he misses something important; in the reproduction game of life, "profit" is measured by the number of genes that make it into the next generation... 

Watching Saturday's Angel game against the Yankees, I was struck once again by the skill of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on Fox; I love Vin Scully, but they might be the best announcing tandem on TV.  In the fifth inning Tim repeatedly called Burnett's pitches before he made them, and even predicted which ones would work and which ones wouldn't.  It was pretty amazing. 

Watching the Dodgers against the Phillies, I have to sadly conclude they are not going to win this series.  It's not just that they got blown out, they just don't seem to have "it", whatever it is...

Another baseball note: I used to think Eric Gagne had the best reliever entry song, back when he was with the Dodgers they'd play Guns 'n' Roses' Welcome to the Jungle when he came into the game, but I have to give the award to Mariano Rivera, for whom they play Metallica's Enter Sandman.  Which is perfect.  Enter night, exit light :)

Check out this incredible picture of sand dunes on Mars.  Wow.  That's just about all I can say, the resolution is amazing.  [ thanks, Chris ] 

Congratulations to TidBITS!  On their 1,000th issue...  wow, that's amazing.  I can remember getting TidBITS as a text email way back when I had a Mac SE.  Come to think of it, I *still* have that Mac SE, and I'm still getting TidBITS.  Anyway congratulations to Adam and Tonya and their staff. 

Wow, who ordered that?*  A giant ribbon discovered at the edge of the solar system.  "Although the ribbon looks bright in the IBEX map, it does not glow in any conventional sense.  The ribbon is not a source of light, but rather a source of particles--energetic neutral atoms or ENAs."  Any structure at all on this scale is spooky, and hard to explain... 

* as famously uttered by physicist I.I.Rabi when the muon was discovered.

I haven't played an "adventure" game for a long time, not since Myst Revelation I think, but after reading Ars Technica's review of Machinarium I bought and downloaded it on the spot.  It just looks so cool.  Anyway, like I have time to play a game, but stay tuned; I am looking forward to it :) 

BTW this is another instance of the "instant gratification" effect; buying a game online and downloading it vs ordering the DVD.

Boy Genius heralds the arrival of Motorola's Druid, the Android-based smartphone which is poised to make a big splash on Verizon.  It looks really cool I must say; for one thing, it has a real keyboard.  It will compete squarely against the iPhone and the Pre. 

A delightful TSA comic, courtesy of Adam Curry.  Nobody who flies doesn't think the TSA's security procedures are a joke.  I had an expired driver's license in my pocket for six months, and they never noticed. 

John Gruber discusses the Wolfram Alpha iPhone app, which is causing a stir because it costs $50.  "I haven’t bought it, but I’m glad they’ve set the price high.  There’s widespread consensus that the current race-to-the-bottom in App Store pricing discourages the development of deep, significant applications.  If all anyone is buying are quick-hit apps, then all anyone will make are quick-hit apps.  We can’t have it both ways, folks."  It certainly warms the cockles of would-be-developers' hearts... like mine :) 

Fake Steve on Microsoft: Why the Borg's copycat business model no longer works.  "How is it that everything about Microsoft's business is backward looking?  This is the real problem they have now.  They're fighting wars that are already over.  They're investing huge energy into defending things they already control, like Windows."  It is amazing how they've become technically irrelevant, and so quickly. 

This is interesting: Microsoft moving Visual Studio toward the cloud.  There is no application I can think of less likely to work well as a web application as a development IDE.  I will be watching this with great interest... and skepticism. 

[ Update: at first I thought this meant VS itself was becoming a web app, but upon rereading I realize VS is being enhanced to support development of web apps, which makes a lot more sense. ]

And the ZooBorn of the weekend is...  the world's smallest rabbit.  OMG.



2009 cycling scoreboard

Monday,  10/19/09  08:07 PM

Last weekend I completed my fifth double century of the year, but it was also my eleventh ultra century (rides of more than 100 miles).  Yes, sorry but I have to keep score:

ride datedistance climbing  riding

PCH Rando 200K


124 mi



Solvang Double


200 mi



triple crown 1/5

Mulholland Challenge


109 mi



grand slam 1/4, KOM 1/3

Breathless Agony


114 mi



KOM 2/3

Heartbreak Double


202 mi



triple crown 2/5, grand slam 2/4, KOM 3/3

Eastern Sierra Double


200 mi



triple crown 3/5, grand slam 3/4

Grand Tour Double


200 mi



triple crown 4/5

Death Ride


129 mi




Cool Breeze 200K


128 mi



Furnace Creek 508


508 mi



(DNF'ed at about 300 mi)

Solvang Autumn Double


200 mi



triple crown 5/5, grand slam 4/4

Who's counting?  Me :)

And I'm keeping score in another way too; here's what my top tube looks like now:

(click to enbiggen)

Wonder what it will look like next year?


Wednesday,  10/21/09  11:03 AM

Blogging from Virgin America flight 108 high above Arizona.  Have I mentioned how great this is?  I am on my way to an FDA panel meeting to discuss regulation of whole-slide imaging for pathology, and I am really excited about it.  This is it; the culmination of years of hard work and development and study designs and customer advocacy, where the field of digital pathology moves into clinical diagnosis.  A real inflection point!

But meanwhile, it's all happening...

Quick, how big is Antarctica?  Check out this picture of the U.S. superimposed over it... 

Ann Althouse notes we are losing our religion, as U.S. belief in global warming is cooling.  Like nuclear energy, carbon emissions are a political football and most people respond based on opinion rather than fact.  I believe global warming is a problem and is also way overstated as a problem. 

News you can use: how to shoot an anvil 200' into the air.  Do not try this at home, especially if you live in my neighborhood :)  In addition to loving the idea of blasting an anvil into the air, I was struck that the practitioners of this sport look exactly like what you would expect. 

Well it didn't have the hype of the Kindle, but Barnes and Noble have announced the Nook, a Kindle competitor.  It uses a similar E-ink display, but has a color touch screen.  In terms of business model it is similar to Kindle, with a tweak that allows people to "lend books" to their friends.  I think this validates the Kindle more than competes against it. 

BTW I noticed B&N's website is considerably slower than Amazon's; a minor note, but I'm telling you website speed is important.  It is no accident that Google's website is faster than Bing's, for example.

Apple stock hits all time high.  John Gruber goes out on a limb and predicts AAPL's market cap will surpass MSFT's by year-end 2010.  And notes that Apple has enough cash on hand to buy every share of Dell.  It is amazing that everyone gave up on Apple, and they have succeeded by creating new markets for music players and smartphones, instead of by growing within the desktop computer market. 

Picture of the day: the thinker.  The very definition of a silverback. 

ZooBorn of the day: a baby white rhino.  (NB "white" rhino designates a species, not a color.)



Noah cuts back

Wednesday,  10/21/09  12:50 PM

sometimes you can only cut so far
might have been better to leave out half the species instead :)


Saturday,  10/24/09  09:45 AM

Well I am back, whew!  The FDA panel dicussion was amazing; an informative and productive discussion between a who's who of pathology about the regulation of digital pathology technology.  I'll post more about it on my Aperio blog; stay tuned.  And so now I am back home with two days of relaxation and sports watching ahead, possibly mixed with a little riding and maybe even some blogging...

Obamacare: Making someone else pay.  That's it in a nutshell, right?  If we're not going to require that people pay for themselves, then someone else must pay for them.  It is socialism, pure and simple, and as Margaret Thatcher famously observed, "the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money". 

An investigation of President Obama's apparent thin skin...  From ex-President Bush: "Why watch the nightly news when you are the nightly news?"

Man, this is masssively cool: the NASA iPhone app.  I just downloaded and installed it (on my iPod Touch), and am happily looking at all these great pictures from the Mars Exploration Rovers, Cassini, you name it.  I just wish they had an application like this for the PC; it would be even cooler with a big monitor... 

Hey, there's a Twitter client called Twee for the Palm Pre!  This is good news, not because I will ever use it (I won't, I am not a Twitter-er), but because it signals the mainstreaming of the Pre. 

Is it just me, or is the Internet really  s l o w  today?  Just me?  I figure there must be some kind of blockage in the pipes...  maybe some new news about Michael Jackson has been released? 

Predator of the day: A Nile Crocodile.  Look out... 

...especially if you're much smaller, like our ZooBorn of the day: a Mongoose pup.



roadless village

Saturday,  10/24/09  10:02 AM

A roadless village in Holland called Giethoorn

beautiful and peaceful; looks like a great place for coding
(but not good for cycling)


world upsidedown

Sunday,  10/25/09  09:29 AM

(click to enbiggen)

this is really cool
kind of like looking at faces upsidedown
you see things much differently


RockRabbit's 508

Sunday,  10/25/09  11:13 AM

Want to know what it was like, riding in the Furnace Creek 508 through Death Valley, in the teeth of a 30mph headwind, in the middle of the night?  Check out this amazing picture of RockRabbit, this is exactly what it was like:

RockRabbit had a camera mounted on the dash of his support vehicle which took a picture every fifteen seconds, which was combined at 10fps into an amazing movie of the entire ride.  Incredible, I love it.  I relived every second of my 30+ hours :)


Monday,  10/26/09  10:26 PM

Somewhat back to normal around here; although it is yet another busy week; I'm in Vista today and tomorrow, then flying to back to Washington Wednesday for a two-hour meeting on Thursday.  Yeah.  I did get in a little ride tonight (yay) and a little coding earlier today (yay) so that's why I say back to normal. 

And of course, it's ALL happening...

Amazon have introduced a new way to identify yourself online: Amazon PayPhrase.  The idea being, you enter a phrase instead of hard-to-remember numbers like your credit card number and expiration date (and CCV code), and the phrase is linked to your account.  Unfortunately you also have to enter a PIN, which takes away from the elegance of this approach.  We'll see if this gets any traction; it's an interesting idea, but probably won't get them much traction against PayPal. 

The Utah Department of Transportion have been experimenting with an 80mph speed limit, and have not found any safety issues.  Excellent.  The California Highway Patrol have been doing an unofficial experiment on route 73 between Newport Beach and Mission Viejo, as the average speed of traffic there seems to be about 80mph as well... 

Wow, check this out: have an HP 24" monitor on sale for $185, with free shipping.  If you needed any further evidence how Moore's Law has affected monitors, here you go.  This same monitor probably would have cost $5,000 five years ago, and would have been completely unavailable at any price ten years ago.  This is one of the external factors (disk storage being another) which has driven the adoption of digital pathology... 

Bye bye Geocities...  Yahoo have officially stopped the site as of today.  Cory Doctorow notes XKCD's eye-watering tribute.  I never had a Geocities page, but it was MySpace before MySpace, and Facebook before Facebook.  BTW Yahoo! bought Geocities for $3.5B in 1999.  Hard to say it was a good deal; the half-life of Internet properties seems to be about five years... 

I loved reading about this; the same article mentions @Home's purchase of Excite.  Remember them?  The analyst's take was that Yahoo! needed to do this to compete against Excite, AltaVista (remember them?) and Infoseek (remember them?) and AOL (remember them?  okay, okay, I do too...)  Not a mention of Google, of course!

So where do you stand on instant replay for sports?  In general I'm in favor, and I like the college football system where there's a separate official upstairs who reviews "everything".  That whole challenge thing in pro football makes for a little theater, but the net is that it wastes time and doesn't really correct all the bad calls.  Yesterday I watched Iowa play Nebraska, and for some reason it just turned into a flag bowl, with penalties on every play and reviews on every other play.  Maybe the teams were just that undisciplined and maybe there were just a lot of close plays, but it sure made for bad watching. 

The place where instant reply would do the most good - and where it is least likely to be adopted - is calling balls and strikes in baseball.  Everyone knows umpires aren't consistent, even within one game, let alone between empires or games, and yet there doesn't seem much energy around replacing umpires with computers.  I don't think it would be a good thing myself.

ZooBorn of the day: a Harpy Eagle chick.  I will spare you the usual comment about being a sucker for cute chicks...  

...have a great week! 


Virgin blogging

Wednesday,  10/28/09  04:21 PM

Ah yes your friendly neighborhood blogger is coming to you from 35,000', courtesy of Virgin America, as I make my way to Washington DC.  This WiFi + power + snacks + sufficient room equation means flying to the East Coast is five hours of productive work, instead of five hours wasted.  Of course, it could be argued that blogging is not productive work :)

GazoPa search using Harpy Eagle chick as predicateGazoPa search using me in a bicycle helmet as predicateWow am I going to be using this: GazoPa, "similar image search".  I selected my ZooBorn of the day from Monday, the Harpy Eagle chick, and got a reasonably similar collection of animal pictures...  Then I tried using a picture of me, wearing a cycling helmet, and got a reasonably similar collection of people standing outside, including some on bikes.  Not bad, not bad at all...  not only fun to play with, but could be quite useful.  While blogging! 

Oh and yeah, there is a Firefox plug-in for GazoPa (of course), so you can right-click any image and use it as the predicate for a search.  How cool is that?

I'm sitting here thinking, how astonishingly cool is it that I can do this at 35,000', and that the tools with which I can do it are FREE.  Say you built GazoPa, you had the idea for "similar image search", and you figured out how to spider websites and compare images and present results and do all that; at no time are you thinking "I'll charge people $x to use this".  Your only thought as far as a business model is "I'll give this away FREE and make money on advertising".  That's the default expectation online.  Weird and wonderful. 

Important news!  Trizilla aka BOR90 aka BMW Oracle Racing team with the awesome giant trimaran now have a blog.  Subscribed! 

McSweeney's anticipates Halloween: It's decorative gourd season, motherf**kers.  You bet your ass it is. 

Wow, cool!  Chicken finds a new Roost, Rasmussen says he's found a European team.  Cannot wait to see him back in the peloton again; someone has to challenge Alberto Contador on those mountaintop finishes, right?  And he's proven he can do it... 

This is classic: Arnold gives California legislature the finger.  I'd love to believe he did this himself, but more likely it was a staffer; still, you have to figure he knew about it and didn't object.  Classic. 

Brad Feld on scaling businesses: add another zero.  A metric-free measure, as in "for this business, what will it take to add another zero".  I like it. 

Speaking of adding another zero, consider the University of Phoenix.  Forget state schools and the Ivy League, they are the 800lb gorilla of higher education, with 443,000 students.  Wow.  What a great model, they are the Wal-Mart of college education, and you have to think this is crucial for our economy as more and more people are pushed out of unskilled jobs by outsourcing and automation...  [ via Instapundit

This looks pretty sweet: Google GPS Navigation app for Android.  You have to figure dedicated GPS units are toast.  I've loved my Sprint Nav app on the Palm Pre, it has completely replaced the use of my [really expensive] car's navigation system. 

BTW, interesting how "app" has instantly entered common parlance.  We needed a word like this, "program" and "application" just didn't do it, and now we have one.  Thanks, Apple :)

And so the latest 'iPhone killer" is out, the Motorola Druid, and Billshrink have a helpful comparison...  It is useful to compare "capabilities", but there are two things this analysis misses; first, "the experience", which is a combination of the hardware design, software UI, speed, bugs (or lack thereof), etc.  I don't think the iPhone can be "killed" without a great experience.  The second thing of course is the platform; the network effect of applications available on the iPhone is going to be nearly impossible for anyone to overcome.  The only mitigating factor is that these phones pretty much do everything you want out of the box anyway - assuming you use them as phones, rather than as handheld computers... 

Mark Sigal: there is an unfortunate tendency to confuse delivering a bunch of chicken parts with producing an actual live, breathing chicken.  I love it. 

Speaking of Android leads us to observe the strategy of new Motorola chief appears poised to take off.

Daring Fireball on the iPhone platform: "You know who thinks the iPhone 3GS stinks?  Steve Jobs.  No one is working harder on an 'iPhone 3GS killer' than Apple."  Dead on. 

This is so excellent: Artist turns Swiss village into optical illusion.  What would make someone think of this?  And what would make them think they could actually do it? 

... onward to Washington, see you there!



the Reich stuff, revisited

Wednesday,  10/28/09  04:47 PM

Revisiting the Reich stuff...  I reread this post which lists a number of "inconvenient truths", and realized there was one statement in his list with which I disagree:

  • Helping people at the bottom earn more is going to cost higher income people more money.

This might be true but isn't necessarily true.  It depends on how you help them; this is a "give them fish" vs. "teach them fishing" argument.  If you educate low-income people and otherwise make them more productive, they can make more money without costing high-income people anything, in fact, it can be a "rising tide lifts all boats" situation.  Of course if you simply pay them more without raising their productivity, then the statement is true, which is why minimum wage laws are so dumb.  And also why union-imposed pay scales are dumb.  Etc.

This combines nicely with another statement on his list which is true:

  • Anyone who does an unskilled, repetitive job will lose it in the near future to outsourcing or automation.  And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

There's definitely nothing you can do about the "losing the job" part; unskilled, repetitive jobs will be replaced by outsourcing or automation.  But there is something you can do about it in the sense of helping the people who've lost their jobs; you can teach them to perform skilled, unrepetitive jobs, which won't be replaced by automation (could be replaced by outsourcing though) and which would make them more productive.

Which means we should all celebrate the University of Phoenix :)


defending Vaccines

Wednesday,  10/28/09  05:02 PM

One of the incredible success stories of modern technology is the development of vaccines; creating a benign version of a disease which stimulates the body's antibody formation, thereby immunizing it against the real virulent form of the disease.  Yet incredibly there are some people who don't think we need them, and/or think they're more dangerous than the diseases they protect us against.  These people are wrong.  Wired Magazine helpfully provides the antidote to ignorance...



Washington and Tallula

Thursday,  10/29/09  11:12 PM

More Virgin blogging: I'm on my way *back* from a one-day visit to Washington DC for a NEMA WG6 meeting.  It was a great trip featuring a couple of wonderful meals, a visit to the Capital Mall, and (last but most importantly) a productive meeting to get Whole Slide Imaging for Pathology incorporated into DICOM.  Right now I am bouncing around in the sky trying to blog...  yes I have WiFi and power and snacks and room but no I cannot work while the plane is all over the sky!

So on the flight into Washington yesterday I started reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (on my Kindle of course) which starts with the main character flying into Washington and ruminating on the Washington Monument...  an ancient Masonic symbol of *power*.  And so I had to drive over there to see it.  And I did :)

Tonight I had dinner at Tallula in Arlington; highly recommended!  (thank you, Open Table)  Man what a meal; rare Venison with yellow beets, spectacular, with a smokey Argentinean Malbec, and finished off with the cheese plate of the world, Nancy's Camembert, Pecorino, Epoisses, and Salem Bleu, accompanied by wild honey.  Oh my.  And yes I did almost miss my flight and yes I did have to abandon my rental car in front of Dulles terminal.  But it was worth it! 

Awesome: where the meltdown started.  [ via Powerline

Daring Fireball notes a legendarily bad call by John Dvorak, who's made quite a few over the years: "The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter).  Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need.  It, unfortunately, leaves the 'why' out of the equation - as in 'why would I want this?'  The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a 'mouse'.  There is no evidence that people want to use these things.  I don’t want one of these new fangled devices."  Wow, breathtakingly wrong. 

Kottke discusses one-handed computing with the iPhone: "The easy single-handed operation of the iPhone is not one of its obvious selling points but is one of those little features that grows on you and becomes nearly indispensable."  That's weird because I would have thought the virtual keyboard would be virtually unusable without two hands.  Huh. 

Want to know the size of a cell compared to other objects?  Check out this great zoomable demonstration.  Wow, really brings home just how small 10 microns really is... 

Trizilla aka BMW Oracle 90 is back in the water, back sailing, and this video shows just exactly how cool it really is :)  Wow.  Yes, yes, yes I *still* want to sail on it and no, no, no I am no closer than I ever was... 

ZooBorns of the day: little Tasmanian Devils :) 


living at home (New Yorker)

Thursday,  10/29/09  11:43 PM

reminds me, there's no place like


the Stonehouse

Saturday,  10/31/09  12:41 PM

So I'm back!  Got back from Washington DC yesterday, worked furiously (coding!), and then we took off for Montecito to celebrate Shirley's birthday with our good friends Kevin and Cynthia. 

heading out to dinner: Shirley, Megan, Ole

We had dinner at the Stonehouse at San Ysidero Ranch, and I must tell you it was one of the best dinners we've ever had.  I would put that place right up there with the French Laundry.  The atmosphere was amazing, from the softly lit olive trees lining the long drive up the hill, to the Stonehouse itself - an old farmhouse, perfectly decorated, to the beautiful gardens and misty views of Montecito.  And the service was impeccable.  And the food!  Shirley had a perfect Filet Mignon, I had perfect lamb, and we paired it with a pair of Mayacamus Cabernets which I must tell you were pretty close to perfect.  We have always liked Mayacamus - it is well regarded, but underrated - and boy was it fantastic.  Oh and thanks Cynthia for the wonderful cake.  A pretty excellent evening all around.

Mayacamus Cabernet
oh yeah this is the good stuff

the Stonehouse
highly recommended
we will be back :)

We spent the night, drove back this morning, and are now in full preparation for Halloween.  I do think I will squeeze in a little bike ride...


touring the lakes

Saturday,  10/31/09  04:05 PM

Got a chance to do a nice little ride, touring the local lakes as it turned out... and working in a couple of stiff climbs.

Westlake Lake, filled with ducks as usual

After a nice ride around Westlake, I climbed Decker Canyon, whew...  bringing me to the top of Mulholland...

Mulholland, at the top of Decker Canyon

And then down and around to Encinal Canyon, another stiff climb, whew...

top of Encinal Canyon, leading back to Mulholland

Then back across Mulholland and back down Decker, passing lovely little Lake Eleanor...

Lake Eleanor, also filled with ducks (as always)

And then finally a little detour into Sherwood, and passing Lake Sherwood...

Lake Sherwood, placid and [yes] filled with ducks

And finally back up Westlake and home!  A great little loop, 30 miles, with about 3,000' of climbing.  Perfect for pre-Halloween.  And now, this:


Saturday,  10/31/09  04:51 PM

A quick blogging pass before trick or treating...  (and I must say, it is kind of weird that the time hasn't changed yet, usually it gets dark around 6:00 and that when we go out, but tonight it is going to be around 7:00, huh.)

The Economist notes Falling Fertility.  "As industrialisation swept through what is now the developed world, fertility fell sharply, first in France, then in Britain, then throughout Europe and America.  When people got richer, families got smaller; and as families got smaller, people got richer."  The problem is that richer isn't better from a genetic standpoint.  As strange conundrum... 

Philip Greenspun comments: Health Insurance is a basic human right.  This is such a weird concept to me.  Clearly if we provide health benefits to people who cannot otherwise afford them, then we are talking about socialism; those who have pay for those who have not.  It is a sort of forced altruism, and this never works.  The solution has to be for society to reduce the cost of healthcare to the point where everyone - or at least almost everyone - can afford it.  This cannot be done by government intervention, it can only be done by letting the markets work.  BTW this isn't a moral issue, it is an economic issue. 

To see why this is so, try substituting something else for health care, like car ownership, as in "car ownership is a basic human right".  Okay, so that means those of us who can afford cars have to pay for those who can't.  We will actually have less money for cars as a result, and will probably not be able to afford as nice a car, just so the poorer members of our society can have one.  Does this make sense?  How about taxing everyone and then having the government give everyone cars?  Well that isn't going to work either, is it...  The best solution is to let Ford and Toyota and Tata flourish, so that they can provide low cost cars.

So, you want to be a VC, eh?  Prepare yourself for a wild ride, as this infographic from Fortune shows...  I will say that despite the tough times and uncertain future, the VC industry is not going to die; those who think so are unfamiliar with the tenacity and appetite for risk found in that group :) 

The Motorola Druid is out, and Engadget has a review.  The verdict: really nice.  Of course they compare it to an iPhone, and in some ways it is lacking in comparison, but it is a legitimate competitor.  Considering that it is on Verizon, the largest cell carrier, and that Verizon customers can't buy iPhones, I'm sure it will be successful.  Count me among those who didn't think the Android platform was going to matter, and count me among those who were wrong. 

So it is the first weekend of November.  Shopping Season!  Yep I have officially seen Christmas decorations and heard Christmas music, and the retail march is on...  I wonder how this year will stack up for retailers?  Probably a bit better than last year, but I don't think we'll be "back to normal".  Too many people are out of work, and too many others are worried about their future. 

Wow, the world's biggest ocean liner is also the ugliest.  "The Oasis of the Sea is five times larger than the Titanic, the $1.5 billion ship has seven neighborhoods, an ice rink, a small golf course and a 750-seat outdoor amphitheater.  It has 2,700 cabins and can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members."  Looks like a floating appartment building to me, with all the charm that implies...  [ via the horse's mouth

ZooBorn of the weekend: Ripley, the Barking Owl chick.  Wins "best facial expression" hands down :)  And also appears to be blogging... 


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