Critical Section

Archive: March 9, 2016

<<< March 8, 2016


March 10, 2016 >>>

Iditarod: through the heart of Alaska, taking 24s...

Wednesday,  03/09/16  08:11 AM

mushing into Nikolai... perfect racing conditionsGood morning and welcome to Iditarod central!

We've reached the "middle" of the race, day 3, and despite the great mushing conditions there has been a gradual decanting.  You can now see the teams which are in it to win - probably about 20 left - and those which are in it to finish - everyone else.

[left - mushing into Nikolai]


Wade Mars coming into Nikolai ... where he is taking his "24"At this point it becomes a little tough to see who's where because of the 24-hour rests.  Everyone has to take a 24-hour rest at a checkpoint, and some mushers do it "early" at Nikolai or McGrath, many/most do it at Takotna, and some do it "late" at Ophir or even Cripple.  A lot of strategy in this, and it makes the teams hard to compare.

[right - Wade Mars into Nikolai, taking his "24"]


Aliy Zirkle into NikolaiThe strongest teams seem to be defending champion Dallas Seavey (late 24), his four-time champion father, Mitch Seavey (middle 24), Wade Mars (early 24), Noah Burmeister, who is driving his brother Aaron's team this year, Brent Sass, Nicholas Petit, Aliy Zirkle, and the other "usual suspects".  No surprises so far.

[left - Aliy Zirkle + team into Nikolai]


the dogyard in NikolaiAlso complicating efforts to figure out what's going on: many mushers take breaks outside the checkpoints, which is nice and quiet for their team (and for them), and which hides the amount of rest they've already had.  In a few days those rests will tell, and some teams will be going 12mph while others go 8mph.

[right - the dogyard in Nikolai, open for business]


Lance Mackey leaving Nikolai (at high speed!)Another interesting development is that many teams now have a "caboose", a little sled behind the main sled which allows the musher to rest dogs.  For years mushers have rested dogs on their sled (up to 2), now they can rest two more in the caboose.  Dallas Seavey is a practitioner, you can see his sled setup in the picture at left.

[Dallas Seavey and team leaving Nikolai ... at high speed]


Mitch Seavey's team taking a break in NikolaiTeams like Mitch Seavey's shown at right which have been running some doges while resting others are probably [a little] slower but [a lot] fresher than team which are running all their dogs.  This is hard to see now - it looks like the team is just running more and resting less - but it will definitely show up later.

[right - team Mitch Seavey taking a break]


Dallas Seavey accepts the award for the first musher to reach McGrathThe Iditarod is an important part of the traditions in central Alaska; the little towns along the route each celebrate the race coming through in their own way.  Many have special awards for the first or last musher to come through.

[left - Dallas Seavey accepts the award for the first musher to reach McGrath]


Noah Burmeister quietly mushing along into McGrathAccording to the reports the trail is in great shape, with plenty of snow covering the ground, but not too much fresh snow to make breaking the trail necessary.  And not too much ice - so far...

[right - Noah Burmeister quietly mushing along into McGrath]


Aliy Zirkle and team flying into TakotnaOnward ... after tomorrow all the teams will be through or well into their 24s, and I'll probably have to start posting twice a day to take in all the action.

[left - Aliy Zirkle + team flying into Takotna]


[The pictures are from the amazing Sebastian Schnuelle, a successful musher in his own right who is following and blogging the race, and taking a bunch of great pictures.  Be sure to follow him on the Iditarod website.]

Below is the situation at 7:49 this morning (Alaska time) ... please click to enbiggen.  You can see some of the leading teams have left Ophir and are headed up to Cripple, where they'll take their 24.  Others have stopped in Ophir, still others have stopped in McGrath or Nikolai, and there are plenty of others along the trail.  Quite a story yet to be told in the days ahead...

Iditarod 3/9/16 at 7:49 AST - click to enbiggen
(click to enbiggen amazingly)

[All Iditarod 2016 posts]



the Iditarod race flow tracker!

Wednesday,  03/09/16  11:01 AM

Hi Iditarodians ... I am excited to announce the Iditarod race flow tracker!

For years I have tried to find a "better" way to watch the Iditarod, the ongoing ebb and flow of teams across nine days of racing.  And here is my modest effort to do so:

Iditarod flow tracker - click to launch!
(please click to launch!)

This tracker shows a realtime graph of the top mushers*, where they are (y-axis) at each point in time (x-axis), and how fast they are going (slope).  The Iditarod checkpoints are shown along the right, and Alaska time is along the bottom.  The graph extends "up" and "right" over time, as the race unfolds.

With this view, you can learn a lot by watching :)  Rests are shown as horizontal lines (many but not all at checkpoints).  A team's speed is shown by the slope of their line, and the length shows how long they've run between rests.

I'm going to keep playing with this through the next week - your comments are eagerly solicited - but even now in baby form I think it's pretty cool.

* by default the graph shows the top 15 mushers + teams.  The starting position and number of mushers can be changed in the fields at the top.  You can also "clip" the graph by entering a mile number.  This has the effect of zooming into the upper right corner, where the action is!

[All Iditarod 2016 posts]



(not) too busy

Wednesday,  03/09/16  11:10 PM

(not) too busyGreetings, blog public, how is everyone "out there"?  I've decided it officially feels like 2016 now, the new year is no longer the new year, and we're well into the meat of it.  (Just in case you wanted to know.)  I've been too busy coding on various projects to take a breath and step back and get perspective.  Maybe I'll do that.  But in the meantime...  I'll just blog.

So, even NPR agrees that Obamacare has failed.  The question now is what do we do about it.  This Genie cannot go back into the bottle, so we must move forward to make the program work.

Ann Althouse thinks it's time Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, before the Florida primary where he will take voters away from Ted Cruz, and perhaps give Donald Trump another victory: "It seems obvious to me that if Rubio is interested in stopping Trump, he should get out before Florida and allow as many of his votes as possible to go to Cruz. He should endorse Cruz now. It's the one thing he can do, and since it is so clear, if he fails to do it, he's responsible for Trump's getting the nomination."  I doubt very much he will do this, but it's a great point.

behind the curtain: Blue Origin's headquartersThis is excellent: Behind the curtain, Ars goes inside Blue Origin's secretive rocket factory.  Interesting that Blue Origin are now "coming out" and going public.

Blue Origin are often cast as a "rival" to SpaceX, but I think both companies are on the same side, of finding a commercially viable path into space.  They're going about it differently and are at different points in their development, but I see their efforts as complimentary.

Interesting point: Chris Nuttall, author of Ark Royal, notes that space science fiction usually envisions the military in space as being like the Navy, rather than the Air Force.  (His own books, for example!)  He ponders what it might look like with Air Forces in space...

Dos Equis exiles the Most Interesting Man in the World to MarsThis is classic: Dos Equis exiles Most Interesting Man in the World to Mars.  A perfect end to a great campaign!

It's interesting to think about ... what makes someone interesting?  I think it has to do with unexpectedness.

Mark Suster on falling valuations and LA's tech scene.  I've never met Mark but he just seems like a great guy.  I would love to have Upfront back a company I was involved with, and Mark is the biggest reason.  And yes, "By any definition we've been in a funding bubble for years... with a massive increase of supply of capital undoubtedly valuations go up and you end up with overfunding."

Aston Martin DB11 ... beautiful! (too bad it isn't electric)Too bad it isn't electric :) ... The Aston Martin DB11 arrives with 600 horsepower, stunning design.  Yes it does.

News you can use: Apple's software SVP says quitting multitasking apps not necessary, won't offer improved battery life.  I've been telling my friends this for years, but they didn't believe me.  Maybe they'll believe him...

Use a pun, go to jail: The curse of people who can't stop making puns.  Clearly, they should be punished!



Return to the archive.

this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained