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Bo knows baseball?

Wednesday,  07/01/09  10:30 PM

I am delighted to report that tonight I successfully watched baseball with Bo, our new baby guinea pig.  We watched a great pitchers duel as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies 1-0; this was their last game without Manny, a 50-game span during which they went 29-21 and retained the best record in baseball.  Great pitching will trump great hitting every time. 

Bo knows baseball?
me and Bo watching baseball

Little Bo seemed to enjoy the game, making chirps at appropriate moments and even sampling a wheat thin or two (he does not appear to like cheese however.)  He cannot replace Smokey, our beloved previous pig, who demonstrated a great understanding of the game, but he is doing his best as a relief pig.  He is amazingly cute and his cuddly demeanor is perfect for sports-watching.  We are of course both anticipating the Tour de France [which starts Saturday] with great interest.

 

Wednesday,  07/01/09  10:47 PM

A rather lazy day in which I accomplished little but enjoyed every minute.  I am coding (!) on something really cool (!!) which I will tell you about if you want (!!!) but didn't make much progress; a blind alley consumed most of my day.  I did the world's slowest version of my Hidden Valley ride, and then watched baseball (with Bo!).

The high point of the day was having dinner with all of my kids; Nicole is back from being stationed in Sicily, living in San Diego, and drove up for the night.  It has been over a year since the six of us were in one place together.  Really nice.

Reggie JacksonManny Ramirez models the latest in baggy baseball clothesAn important side note to watching baseball: Shirley points out that baseball uniforms have evolved to be ridiculously baggy and ugly (Manny Ramirez, right, would be exhibit A).  At one time uniforms were tight and better looking (Reggie Jackson, left, exemplifies "proper" fit).  This goes beyond the usual socks and stirrups which we all liked for traditional reasons, into tight bottoms and close-fitting tops which [some of us] like for other reasons [apparently ;].  And aesthetic considerations aside, one would think - as with basketball shorts - that tight-fitting apparel would facilitate athletic performance.  What's next, baggy cycling kits in the Tour de France?

Speaking of the TDF, stage one in Monaco is Saturday.  It is a 15.5km individual time trial.  I think Levi Leipheimer is a favorite for this, the course looks a lot like the Solvang TT he's won three years in a row as part of the Tour of California.  He's a quiet guy, forgotten a little as a favorite on a team with Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador and Andreas Kloden.  So watch out!  My other rooting favorite is George Hincapie.  I think the real favorite though is Fabian Cancellara, who is the world's best on a "short" ITT course.

Alice Huisman with Bill Joy and a model of his yachtInteresting article in Fortune the other day about Huisman Yachts, the Dutch firm which builds the coolest fanciest yachts for the richest weirdest people.  (You might remember they were features in Michael Lewis' The New New Thing, building a megayacht for Jim Clark.)  That's Alice Huisman at right, current CEO and daughter of Wolter, the firm's iconic founder, with client Bill Joy and a model of his yacht.  I'm going to add "having a Huisman custom-built yacht" to my life list :)

Alfa Romeo yacht - wow...The amazing 100' racing yacht Alfa Romeo.  Wow.  N.B. Sailing Anarchy posted pictures by my friend Peter Drasnin, who was fortunate enough to be on the water watching her sail with his dad.  Double wow.

Excellent news: LogMeIn’s Strong IPO Keeps VC Hot-Streak Alive.  "LogMeIn is the fourth venture-backed company to put in a strong debut in the U.S. this year.  All of them have happened in the past six weeks, at a time when venture capitalists desperately need some liquidity.  The three previous venture-deals - from software maker SolarWinds Inc., online reservations site OpenTable Inc., and software maker Medidata Solutions Inc. - all showed double-digit percentage gains on their first day of trading."  You could hardly say the IPO market has recovered, but there are signs of life.

 

idiocracy revisited

Thursday,  07/02/09  09:57 PM

 

from the most-excellent xkcd
except everything you just said was wrong

 

Thursday,  07/02/09  10:29 PM

Ah... not a great day.  Rather unproductive - still struggling with a dead end on a coding project - and didn't ride, and had a  homeowner's association meeting tonight.  And ate too much.  Etc.  I believe I need some Jumilla.  But first...

Instapundit notes the press are desperately seeking silving linings.  "The actual news has gotten worse, but the coverage of it has changed in tone.  Today, reporters are eagerly looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.  A year ago, and for a long time before that, they couldn't wait to get into the tunnel."  Of course, "reporters" have long ago stopped reporting.

unemployment rates: real vs predictedPowerline adds some detail: a miserable failure, and published the graph at right.  Unemployment isn't the only measure of the recovery plan's success, but it is pretty important.  I think the plan is actually icing companies that would otherwise hire....

TDF news: Alexander Vinokourov wants to rejoin Astana.  Unbelievable, and yet... he founded that team, recruited the sponsors, and was its leader for two years.  He has to take responsibility for his doping positive during the 2007 tour, but he's served his two years, [I guess] is now clean, and could come back.  How weird would it be to see Lance and Vino side-by-side in Astana kit?  Back in 2007 you would have bet millions against that ever happening :)

Delft University's Nuon solor carWired's Autopia reports Solar Racing Champs Roll Out New Car.  "Delft University is the Brawn GP of solar-car racing, an outfit so singularly successful that it has won the World Solar Challenge four times in a row.  The Dutch team is back with its newest car, Nuna 5, and has its sights set on a fifth title when the checkered flag drops later this year."  Totally cool design in both an aesthetic and functional sense...

Bugatti Veyron convertibleAnd at the other end of the spectrum, Wired reviews the Bugatti Veyron convertible, a car for the ages.  Not only gas powered, but generating over 1,000 horsepower to go 250mph.  Beautiful.  My favorite part of their review is this: Wired: best car in the world.  Tired: no cupholder.

I have a question: why is everyone so obsessed with whether Apple will allow porn in iPhone apps?  Like every smartphone, the iPhone has a browser, and like every browser, it can access thousands of porn sites all over the Internet.  This ship has sailed.  Do we really have to worry about it anymore?

ZooBorn: baby wildebeestZooBorn of the day: a baby wildebeest.

 

Jumilla sunset

Thursday,  07/02/09  10:45 PM

 

Jumilla sunset

(please click to enbiggen for maximum effect)

 

 

Happy Birthday, USA!

Saturday,  07/04/09  07:40 AM

Independence Day!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.)

TDF 09 stage 1: Fabian Cancellara blows away the field!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

Me and Meg accept the 3rd place trophy for the 'Round the Island raceYay, 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....

Sarah Palin resignsSeveral 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.

Planck space telescope: coolest object in space :)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: little pygmy hippoZooBorn of the day: a little pygmy hippo!  More proof, if any were needed, that baby anythings are cute...

 

summer

Saturday,  07/04/09  10:57 PM

beach drinkI 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 :)

 

Hobie 16 waiting for fun...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 :)

 

Alinghi's new catamaranA 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?

 

TDF stage 2 / flat: Cavendish! a classic field sprint

Sunday,  07/05/09  11:53 AM

TDF 09 stage 2: Cavendish takes the sprintTo no one's surprise today's TDF stage 2 from Monaco to Brignoles ended in a bunch sprint, and to no one's surprise it was won by Mark Cavendish.  It was almost too easy, George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw each taking their turn leading Cavendish to the front.  Tyler Farrar gamely hung on to Mark's wheel for second, but had no chance to come around to challenge. 

The rest of the stage was pretty boring, if picturesque, with no change in the GC.  If Cavendish makes it to Paris he already seems like a lock to win the green jersey.

We're enjoying the HD pictures Versus are providing this year; it sure makes those wide helicopter shots of the French countryside more appealing.  But could I please ask, now that we have so much screen real estate, would it be possible to give us a little more information on-screen?  Seems like an accurate representation of the relative positions of the breakaway and peloton should be possible, right?  Not to mention things like temperature, distance traveled, vertical distance climbed, etc.  The technology in the team cars is way ahead of the technology in the announcer's booths.  Admittedly a quibble as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are on their game as usual (and fortunately Craig Hummer is less annoying than usual).  Should be a great tour.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Sunday,  07/05/09  11:11 PM

Wow, that just felt like a really long weekend.  I guess that's because I actually took all three days "off".  Actually spent time, you know, not working; played with my boat, hung out with friends, watched the Tour, went sailing, BBQed with my family, and sat by the pool reading.  (Julian Comstock via Kindle, if you must know, so far, so great.)  I pay for it starting tomorrow with a couple of busy weeks sandwiching the Death Ride next Saturday, whew.  But in the meantime...

Winding Road issue #47I haven't mentioned for a little while, but I continue to enjoy Winding Road, an online-only car magazine.  In the latest issue they not only review the best Aston ever (a subject near and dear to my heart :), they also test drive the Tesla Roadster and compare it to a Lotus Elite.  (Verdict: Wow.)  A great read, especially considering the price ($0).

According to FuturePundit, the 1999 "peak oil" study has proven quite accurate in the ten years since it was published.  Prices are rising, and production is down.  Hmmm...

Meanwhile Chris Anderson says Tech is too cheap to meter.  Well maybe.  Reading Julian Comstock (which takes place in a future that resembles the 1900s due to the end of abundant oil), the combination of a recession and peak oil is not cause for celebration.  I think Chris might be trying too hard (per the Law of Significance).

So new browsers like Firefox 3.5 support the <video> tag from HTML5, which means in theory they could play video without any support from plug-ins or "local" codecs.  Great, so which codec do they support?  Well...  here we run afoul of the various patents which encumber any usable codec.  And here we have another exhibit in a long list of cases where patents do not spur innovation, and do not help technology move forward.  Remember: copyrights=good, patents=bad.  Got it?

Have you ever known someone who was a lightning rod for anything bad that could happen?  Well my friend Mark is like that, and recently he caught quite a bolt; check out this article in the LATimes about how he was saddled with a $10,000 phony phone bill from Verizon.  It ended well but Whew.

cool table designsHere's quite a collection of unusual and innovative table designs...  wow, some people stop at the Zs, but not these...


"island beach"I'm adding this picture to my "summer" collection...  tentatively called Maresia.  I think I can smell the sun tan lotion and salt air from here :)

 

TDF stage 3 / flat?: Cavendish! Columbia blows the field apart in echelons, Cancellara keeps yellow, Lance gains

Monday,  07/06/09  11:12 PM

TDF 09 stage 3 - Columbia sees an opening and goes full gas into the crosswindIf you ever want to watch an exciting bike race, check out today's TDF stage 3, a "sprint" stage from Marseille to La Grande-Mott, this year's flattest stage.  On paper it looked to be as exciting as watching paint dry, one of those 200K rides where the peloton tour the countryside for four hours before half a dozen guys execute a wild 30 second sprint to decide the victory.  And that did all happen - the four hour tour and the 30 second sprint - but in between there were fireworks.  Like the man said, that's why they play the game.

So with about 45K left to ride, the Columbia team had come to the front to chase down a four-man break, in order to give Mark Cavendish another shot at a sprint win.  The road turned a corner and suddenly there was a strong crosswind, and Columbia gave full gas en mas, blowing away the peloton and taking about fifteen other riders with them.  The new 25-man break swallowed the old four-man break, pulled away, and eventually built a 40 second lead while the peloton desperately tried to chase.  Making the jump into the lead group were yellow-jersey-wearer Fabian Cancellara, the only Saxo rider to do so, as well as wiley Lance Armstrong and a couple of his Astana teammates.  Mark Cavendish did win the eventual sprint finish, his second in two days, but the big news was the 40 seconds Cancellara and Armstrong were able to put into the other contenders.  This left Cancellara in yellow - by 33s over Tony Martin of Columbia - and moved Lance up into third, 40s back and ahead of all the other GC contenders.  Savor that for a moment...  wow.

This adds some extra spice to tomorrow's team time trial, which was already pretty tasty.  If Astana are able to get 40s on Saxobank - not an unrealistic possibility - and are able to get 7s on Columbia - a very realistic possibility - that would put Lance in yellow.  Savor that for a moment...

There is of course all kinds of speculation that this was somehow setup, that Lance deliberately isolated Alberto Contador (and his other Astana teammates like Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden) in order to seize the team's leadership.  But watching it all play out it couldn't have been premeditated; it just happened too fast.  One second you had a normal chase of a break, and the next you had a pell-mell scramble to grab onto the wheels of Columbia as they blasted into the crosswind.  I think Cancellara and Lance were just being smart - riding near the front to stay out of trouble - and their wisdom in doing so was rewarded.

It is a long way to Paris and ultimately those 40s might not matter.  But then again they might... I love it.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Monday,  07/06/09  11:22 PM

Reentered the real world today, with todo lists and conference calls and emails to read and reviews to write and presentations to make and ... I made it, whew.  Even escaped for a ride through Hidden Valley, did it in 1:20 which is one of my best times ever, nice after four days of not riding.  The day started early as we watched the amazing TDF stage, and that buzz sort of stayed with me.  Although I discovered that I've managed to push away a friend, not sure how, and that is bothering me...

...meanwhile, back in the blogosphere, it's all happening...

FREE by Chris AndersonFred Wilson with more of the Anderson vs. Gladwell "Free" debate.  "The Internet allows an entrepreneur to enter a market with a free offering because the costs of doing so are not astronomical.  And most entrepreneurs who take this approach will maintain an attractive free offering of their basic service forever.  But that doesn't mean that everything they offer will be free.  That's the whole point of freemium.  Free gets you to a place where you can ask to get paid.  But if you don't start with free on the Internet, most companies will never get paid."  Boldface mine.  Sometimes this kind of advice is worth what you pay for it, but sometimes more... :)

In this debate heard a great anecdote.  A researcher asked a bunch of people which they’d prefer, chocolate kisses priced at 1¢ or kisses priced at 15¢.  Most people chose the 15¢ kisses, despite the fact that they cost 15X as much.  Next he cut the price on both kinds of kisses, and asked another bunch of people which they’d prefer, chocolate kisses which were free, or kisses priced at 14¢.  Most people chose the free kisses.  Tap, tap… crash.

the Alinghi catamaran, all 90' x 90' of it...Valencia Sailing has more pictures of Alinghi's new 90' x 90' catamaran.  Amazing.  I think I'll call it the Alinghimaran, not to be confused with Oracle's Trizilla.

So the oldest known Christian Bible is being posted online.  Unsurprisingly (to me anyway) the 1,600-year-old text doesn't match the one you'll find in churches today.  "The New Testament books are in a different order, and include numerous handwritten corrections - some made as much as 800 years after the texts were written, according to scholars who worked on the project of putting the Bible online.  The changes range from the alteration of a single letter to the insertion of whole sentences.  And some familiar - very important - passages are missing, including verses dealing with the resurrection of Jesus, they said."  A living text indeed; I wonder what those who agonize over every turn of phrase in today's bible can make of this?

Michael Arrington warns us to prepare for iPod video.  So be it.  You can easily see where smartphones (and iPods) will replace all low-end still and video cameras.  It is happening in realtime...

... and where will you store that video?  Well Amazon has a 1TB drive for < $100.

the awesome Boot Hill hot rodHere we have an amazing Hot Rod auction.  Amazing indeed.  Truly I remember assembling Revell models of these sorts of cars as a kid - never dreaming that they actually existed.  How cool is that?

Okay, quick; what's the "most American" car, judged by the country of origin of all of its parts?  If you guessed the Toyota Camry, you are right.  Now you know what to say when your Camry is ridiculed by your Impala-driving neighbor.  This also has implications for those who think the demise of the U.S. auto industry occured because of U.S. labor costs.

New Zealand's Ruapehu Crater LakePicture of the day, New Zealand's Ruapehu Crater Lake.  (Please click to enbiggen.)  Honestly every time I see these beautiful pictures from New Zealand I think "man, I must go there".  And the beauty is so varied...

 

TDF stage 4 / TTT: Astana rolls! Cancellara keeps yellow over Lance (by 0:00)

Tuesday,  07/07/09  09:08 AM

TDF 09 stage 4 - Astana steamrolls team time trial - but Lance misses yellow by 0:00Un-be-lievable.  Did you watch today's TTT?  Astana steamrolled the field, winning by 18s over Garmin, and putting 40s into Saxobank.  For those of you keeping score at home, 40s was the exact margin that Fabian Cancellara had on GC over Lance Armstrong, which means they are now tied, and tie goes to the incumbent.  So Cancellara keeps his yellow jersey, and Lance is in second, 0:00 behind.  The Astana victory means the rest of the top five are all Astana too, with Alberto Contador in third, 0:19 back, followed by Andreas Kloden at 0:23 and Levi Leipheimer at 0:31.  Talk about total domination.

(How cool would it have been for Lance to be in Yellow?  Well, it would have been cool.  But as he said, "that's cycling".  It does give him a little added incentive when the Tour reaches the Pyrenees on the weekend :)

It was quite a technical course, and the day was marked by a number of crashes; at one point the entire Bbox team overcooked a corner and flew off the course.  Garmin had an interesting strategy; they shed four riders over the early part of the course, finishing with the minimum of five (their best TT men).  It obviously worked out as they finished a strong second and picked up time for their GC men Christian Vande Velde and David Millar.  Columbia looked a bit tired and finished a disappointing fifth, reversing the gains Kim Kirchen and Mick Rogers made in yesterday's amazing "echelon" finish and pushing Tony Martin down out of the top five.  Others who lost time included Cadel Evans, who's Silence-Lotto team finished 2:35 back, Denis Menchov, with Rabobank finishing 2:20 behind, and Carlos Sastre, as Cervelo dropped 1:37.  Those three are basically out of it now. 

The next couple of days are relatively flat and likely to end in bunch sprints, which means Cancellara is likely to keep his yellow until Friday (barring some time bonuses at sprint points or something like that).  Friday's stage is a killer with a mountaintop finish on the HC Arcalis; that will be the end of Cancellara's run and it will be quite interesting, perhaps Contador will attack at the end to try to take yellow away from Lance...  Really when you look at GC, you have to say one of the Astanas are going to win.  The question is which one?

What a tour, and this is only the first week!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Tuesday,  07/07/09  10:31 PM

Today began wonderfully, with the awesome TDF TTT, but I quickly descended into funk for some reason and could not recover; had a reasonably productive day of work, a nice hard ride, and a nice dinner, but nothing helped.  Some days are yellow, some are blue, on different days, I'm different too*

*obscure wisdom from Dr. Suess

Tonight I encountered a sad little scene, not sure why but it struck me.  I'm staying at a nice hotel in Carlsbad which has a "great room", a gathering place for guests, and it includes a TV and DVD player and toys and various other sources of entertainment, including an old bookcase filled with old books.  There they are, hundreds of little worlds - novels, nonfiction, mystery, romance, adventure, science fiction - sitting lonely, waiting to be appreciated.  For some reason it caught my eye, and I wondered: Who anymore has the time, the patience, the inclination to grab a book, sit down, and start reading?  If pressed I would say reading beachside or poolside or just in my living room is one of my favorite things, yet I do it rarely; most of my reading is done in bed, on my way to sleep, or as accompaniment to dinner when I'm traveling alone.  I don't know why but I find that quite sad.

Onward!

Sarah Palin says she is not a quitter.  This, right after she resigned as governor of Alaska with over a year left on her term.  I believe she is descending into farce.  The sooner she leaves the public stage the better.

Meg Whitman, rumored to be running for governor of California: "We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem of epic proportions."  Indeed.  Unfortunately the governor has little power over that spending...

Michael Jackson's funeralAccording to MSN, 50% more people watched Michael Jackson's funeral today than watched Barack Obama's inauguration.  And now tell me again that we're not descending into Idiocracy?

Sean Bonner: Remember when CNN actually covered news?  Ouch.

Richard Feynman: why trains stay on their tracksRichard Feynman explains how trains stay on their tracks.  It isn't what you think.  Can I just say that I love Richard Feynman?  Wow, what a wonderful fantastic intellect...

I'm linking this just 'cause I love the headline: In space, no one can hear you blog.  "A new way of communicating with the International Space Station could lead to space's very own Internet."  I can't let you do that, Dave.

Sandia Labs' SunCatcher - like a Magritte painting?I'm linking this just 'cause I love the picture: Sandia Labs' new SunCatcher power system resembles Magritte painting.  Aka, 'this is not a sky'.

Oh goody: Technorati to unveil Twitterrati tomorrow.  The world waits with bated breath.  I on the other hand, yawn.

You could definitely see this coming: the Chrome OS, a Linux distro that does little besides running the Chrome browser.  Will there even be a Windows 8?

blue green illusion - they are the same color!Optical illusion of the day / week / month / year; yes, the "blue" and the "green" in this picture are actually the same exact color.  It seems impossible, and yet...  Photoshop confirms the truth.  This illusion comes about because there are pink stripes in the "blue" and orange stripes in the "green".  Wow.  [ via Kottke ]

 

TDF stage 5 / flat - Voeckler wins as break stays away! / Cancellara keeps yellow

Wednesday,  07/08/09  11:32 PM

TDF 09 stage 5 - Highroad and Garmin chase in the wind, but can't catch the breakToday we had the feel-good story of the Tour (so far :), as Thomas Voeckler led a break which was out all day and stayed away, winning by seven seconds in front of the field after staying out for 180K in a rolling stage from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan.  Voeckler is a popular favorite ever since he unexpectedly wore the yellow jersey for a week in 2004, a gamey attacker who never quits.  It is always great when the break is able to stay out - today, because the peloton played games with itself in the wind - and also great to have a French athlete win a stage.

The six-man break formed early, at 20K, and hung in front of the peloton all day (not even by that much, max eight minutes), but as sprinter's teams including Highroad and Garmin (pictured) tried to close the gap the winds broke the peloton into echelons.  Everyone was attentive because of the gap which opened in stage 3, so there was a lot of back and forth which disrupted the chase.  Voeckler attacked the break at the end and stayed away.  Most of the peloton probably didn't care, although it kept sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar from having a chance to compete for the win.  Cavendish did win a bunch sprint for third, adding to his green-jersey-leading points total.

Tomorrow's stage should be interesting; it takes place on mostly flat roads in the East of Spain, from Girona to Barcelona, but the finish is uphill and there could be potential for attacks at the very end.  Armstrong only needs a fraction of a second to take yellow away from Cancellara; who knows what could happen?

It is always great when a break succeeds; it is fun to watch the underdogs win, and it encourages everyone to be in the next break.  Every rider can feel "hey, that could have been me!"

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

being me

Wednesday,  07/08/09  11:39 PM

through the looking glass... passively?Allow me to digress for a little personal philosophy.  Some of you know me outside my blog, but in case you don't, I'm not usually passive :) 

When confronted with an issue, my usual approach is to diagnose the problem, devise a solution, and push for implementing it immediately.  As concerns are raised, I either address them or modify my solution to accommodate them, but try to keep things moving forward.  This approach can be felt by others to be, er, "aggressive", and they may end up feeling resentful or like they were not fully consulted.

So I've had a "situation" and I decided to propose a solution but softpedal from there, allowing others to amplify it and help address the concerns.  I hoped this would lead to a good solution with everyone feeling consulted and bought in, and all concerns addressed.  I also thought letting time pass would air out concerns and help people feel more comfortable with the solution.

The result was not good.  Although there was support for my proposed solution, others did not amplify it nor help address the concerns.  I raised some concerns myself, both because they were legitimate and in the spirit of trying to objectively evaluate the solution, and this came across as a lack of commitment to the solution on my part.  The time which passed was interpreted as a lack of resolve.  I ended up looking bad and feeling worse.

So much for that.  Not so much 'no more Mr. nice guy', as 'no more Mr. someone else'.  I have decided to be myself.  Back to direct mode.  Maybe it won't work, but at least it will feel right.  Stay tuned - fXf!

 

7 .. 8 .. 9

Wednesday,  07/08/09  11:51 PM

Yesterday started great and ended in a funk.  Today started in a funk, descended into serious badness, but got better at the end.  Whew.

Did you mark the moment?  Today we reached 12:34:56 on 7/8/9.  Tell your grandkids :)

Not surprisingly, Venture Capital fund raising plunges in first half.  It is a trailing indicator of the availability of exists, the IPO market and the M&A market.  Those will have to improve first, and the funds will follow.

the Alinghimaran as seen from the bottom as it is helicoptered into the waterQuite an amazing picture: a bottom view of the Alinghimaran, as it is helicoptered into the water.

A rather optimistic take: how nanopayments finally came of age.  The idea being that social networks like Facebook somehow provide an infrastructure for micropayments that didn't exist before.  The fundamental problem is that authentication, fraud, settlement friction, etc. impose a certain cost on each transaction, and that is more than the value of a typical micropayment.

More nano: I like this: Feynman's Path to nanotech, from the Foresight Institute.  His 1959 talk, "plenty of room at the bottom", remains seminal in the field.  What an amazing, influential guy.

File this under 'unclear on the concept': printed blog publication fails.  It might have worked on the Kindle :)

Related: Chris Anderson's FREE is Free - online.

Weird/good information: rear lights, flashing or solid?  I always have a flashing taillight on my bike, on the theory that it makes me more visible.  But perhaps (according to this article) being more visible is not a good thing; apparently it can attract drunk drivers to you.  Wow.

ZooBorn: baby SerowZooBorn of the day: A baby Serow.  Yes of course there's such a thing as a Serow, and here's what they look like :)

 

TDF stage 6 / flat - Hushovd cranks in the rain! / Cancellara keeps yellow

Thursday,  07/09/09  09:43 AM

TDF 09 stage 6 - Thor Hushovd cranks uphill in the rain to winA wild and wooly stage in the rain today; the uphill finish at the end into Barcelona disrupted what might otherwise have been a routine field sprint, and Thor Hushovd was able to prevail.  I felt bad for David Millar who was in the early break, attacked out of it, led almost to the finish, but was swept up with less than 1K to go and blown out the back.  It happens.

Others who suffered on the day included Denis Menchov, who is not having a good tour and now finds himself pretty much out of the running, quite a disappointment for the erstwhile favorite (and my own rooting pick, as I always root for Rabobank as the "Dutch" team :)  Yeah, he could recover with a great attack in the mountains, but that would be unlikely.  Nearly the same with Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans, two other pre-race favorites who find themselves minutes in arrears with only six stages in the books.

Well there is a  l o n g  way to go yet, and much could happen.  In particular tomorrow we have the first mountain stage, an HC climb up to Arcalis in the Pyrenees which could really do some sorting out.  Should be excellent, particularly if there's a battle between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Thursday,  07/09/09  10:54 PM

Being me (cont): I was myself, and it worked.  I am still digging out of the hole I'd dug, but it feels much better.

I had a long day at work - many meetings, many things to consider, and then drove home, stopping in Dana Point for my "usual" ride down the coast; I am "topping up" for the Death Ride Saturday (dum dum dum).  And now I'm blogging while watching the tour; the last few days I've been monitoring the tour via live feeds online.  Wow, HD is cool :)

Excellent: Mayo Clinic gets $28M cancer grant, from the NCI.

gridlock!Stuck in traffic less?  Thank the economy.  I've always said the best way to solve gridlock was to raise the gas tax.

dumpster diving :)Dumpster Diving - literally.  Wow, I love it!

Dave Winer: the Java Wars, continued.  Hits the nails on their heads: "So yesterday Google announced The Chrome OS, which is hailed by the industry press as a surprise middle-of-the-night attack against their arch-rival, Microsoft.  Before yesterday's announcement: 1. Chrome ran on Linux. 2. Linux was an operating system. 3. Linux ran on netbooks.  However, most people want XP on their netbook, not Linux. That was true yesterday and it's still true today."

Bram Cohen: Someone at the Mozilla Foundation needs to be fired.  On the generation of "truly" random numbers... which apparently greatly affects Firefox startup time.

ZooBorn: baby PorcupineZooBorn of the day: a baby Porcupine.  OMG, is it cute or what?

 

TDF stage 7 / climb - Contador attacks! But Feillu wins and Nocentini takes yellow...

Friday,  07/10/09  11:08 AM

rookie Brice Feillu attacks out of the break to win the stageQuite the wild stage today, eh?  As the tour climbed into Andorra, with a mountaintop finish on the HC climb up to Arcalis ski station...  A day-long break of eight riders managed to contribute a rookie winner - Brice Feillu (pic at left) - who persevered wonderfully to pull away from his group - and a new yellow-jersey-wearer - Rinaldo Nocentini, who managed to save his time over the Astana favorites.  Most of the GC leaders finished together in a peloton led by Astana, but Alberto Contador attacked with 1K to go, putting 21s on everyone including teammate Lance Armstrong.  Alberto is left 6s out of yellow, with Lance 2s back of that, and Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden remain right there too.

The big story will be "Alberto attacks Lance"; one might ask, why, but then again Alberto would say why not.  He is clearly the strongest climber in the race, it was an HC mountaintop, he had a chance to put time into all the GC contenders (the three closest being teammates) and so he took it.  It was wonderful watching him blow up the mountain.  And it will certainly make for great theater as the Tour continues... including tomorrow's stage, also in the Pyrenees.  Should be interesting!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Death Rider

Sunday,  07/12/09  02:22 AM

Whew.  Yesterday I rode the Death Ride up in Markleeville, South of Lake Tahoe.  It was impossible.  It didn’t snow so I can’t say it was worse than the Eastern Sierra Double, and I didn’t get lost in the dark and add 40 miles, so I can’t say it was worse than the Heartbreak Double, but it was brutal.  Hotter and much windier than last year, and had a rainstorm on the final climb like last year (although it did not hail).  I was toast and barely finished.  However I did and I’m proud of myself; I think about 3,000 riders started, and about 1,000 finished all five passes :)


129 miles, 5 passes, 15,000' of climbing

-plus-


heat and wind on the 8%+ climb up to Monitor Pass

-plus-


a rainstorm on the 12 mile climb up to Carson Pass

-equals-


one Death Rider who was pretty happy to finish and sign the ride poster

how many passes did I climb today?

Well now it's over and I can rest and recuperate and brag about it.  The best part :)

 

the church of OVRO

Sunday,  07/12/09  02:51 PM

Way back in the dawn of time when I was an undergraduate at Caltech, I worked in the radio astronomy department on a project called VLBI, very long baseline interferometery.  Essentially this project took signals from radio telescopes all over the Earth and combined them, using phase differences between the arrival of radio waves from a given source to determine the physical configuration of the source.  One of the key sites used in this project was OVRO, the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, which is located just North of Big Pine, California.

You can see the huge OVRO radio dishes when you're driving on highway 395, in the distances against the hills to the East, and tens or probably hundreds of times I've thought to myself "I should go check them out", as I'm driving to go skiing in Mammoth, or visit Lake Tahoe, or go cycling in Markleeville.  And so it was that this morning I stopped, and checked it out.

Wow.

First, the installation practices security by obscurity; you have to travel through some little backroads to get there, but there are no fences or gates, just one warning sign. 

Second, the dishes are HUGE.  You can't imagine how big until you're next to them.

Third, it was cool to note that all the dishes are inline, mounted on giant railroad tracks, so that the distance between them can be minutely controlled to capture different wavelengths as if they were part of one telescope.

And finally, there is an amazing majesty to these huge telescopes, calmly viewing the universe as it existed billions of years ago. 

It literally brought tears to my eyes, standing there all alone.  Kind of a religious experience on a Sunday morning.  In the church of OVRO.

 

the Land of the Ancients

Sunday,  07/12/09  04:09 PM

Completing my rather eventful weekend, after a visit to the church of OVRO, I drove into the White Mountains to view the Bristlecone Pine Forest, which contains the oldest living things on Earth.

Many of these trees are 3,000 years old, and one, named Methusulah, is 4,700 years old.  These trees grow very slowly in dry chalky soil above 10,000'.

They are thick and gnarled and amazing and beautiful.  I could easily imagine them slowly considering me, like the Ents in Lord of the Rings, carrying on a conversation with each other with a time constant too slow for me to detect.

As you view this picture, imaging being alone in the mountains with the wind whistling through the trees to complete the scene, with an amazing view across the Owens Valley into the Eastern Sierras.  It is a special place.

There is a nice "Discovery Trail" you can hike that takes you into the groves so you can meet your elders.  Highly recommended...

 

TDF stage 8 / climb - Sanchez survives to win, Nocentini holds yellow

Sunday,  07/12/09  06:35 PM

TDF 09 stage 8 - Hushovd captures green!Sorry I know I'm late with this post, I was otherwise occupied yesterday :)  Yesterday's TDF stage from Andorra to Saint Girons featured some high mountains, but they were far enough from the finish that most observers expected a break to succeed rather than GC action.  And so it was that Luis Leon Sanchez won out of a four-man break that led the peloton across the hills all day.

There was some infighting among the contenders, with Cadel Evans taking off early and immediately being reeled in, but the mountain action was mostly quiet.  Probably the best move was Thor Hushovd's, shown at right, who took off in an early break to grab enough sprint points to take the green jersey away from Mark Cavendish.  He should be able to hold it through the mountains until Tuesday.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Sunday,  07/12/09  08:22 PM

Getting caught up after a busy long weekend that included the Death Ride and visits to the church of OVRO and the Land of the Ancients...

JibJab: he's come to save the dayJibJab: He's come to save the day.  They have the technology on these videos down, don't they?

Lance's new bike!I'm in between watching yesterday's and today's stages of the Tour de France; check out Lance Armstrong's new bike... wow, that's beautiful.

Hey, guess what?  Yeah, it's the all-star break.  Almost time for me to start paying attention to baseball.  What's that?  The Dodgers have the best record in baseball?  Wow, who knew?  How cool is that...

why are we so fat?Elizabeth Kolbert asks Why are we so fat?  A book review of The Evolution of Obesity, in which the evolution is discussed as much as the book.  My answer to the question is: Unnatural Selection, of course...

Related: as nation gains, size 14 becomes size 10.  Now that's what I call moving the goal posts!  (Unfortunately the same thing is happening with other metrics which are more important, like college entrance exam test scores...)

And the Economist weighs in with Battle of the bulge.

This makes me happy: Joe Satriani, live, Surfing with the Alien.  [ Thank you LGF! ]

Did you know?  Swearing makes you feel less pain.  I'm tempted to test this!

Last week in a business setting I countered a PDA, that is, a Poor Duplicate Acronym, in which you repurpose an acronym already in use with a less obvious meaning...

Marc Cantor's MacroMind LogoDave Winer: Marc Cantor leaves California.  Good luck, Marc!  (Love that old MacroMind logo :)

So it turns out honest people are not tempted into dishonesty.  I just have to wonder, how do we know?  Maybe they are tempted, but they're lying about it :)  Seriously I don't think honesty is so binary; there is a spectrum where some people are more dishonest than others, but everyone would be willing to lie about something...

ZooBorn: baby penguinZooBorn of the day: a baby penguin.  What a cute little guy...

 

TDF stage 9 / climb -Fedrigo takes the break, Tourmelet neutralized

Sunday,  07/12/09  11:22 PM

TDF stage 9 - peloton out for a Sunday cruise up the Col du TourmeletHow to you turn a Pyranean stage with two huge climbs into a boring race?  Just add 70km of downhill/flat to the finish, as the Tour organizers did on today's stage from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes.  The Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmelet have both seen some great battles in tours past, but today the peloton rode as if out for a Sunday ride, letting a break succeed and otherwise doing very little.  There were some teams that took an interest in closing down the break at the end, but they left it too late and Pierrick Fedrigo was able to stay out and win.

Tomorrow is a rest day (for me from this weekend, as well as for the peloton for the first week), and then next week we have a few flat sprint stages before hitting the alps.  Let's hope some racing takes place in those mountains!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Monday,  07/13/09  10:31 PM

Yikes, I crashed hard into reality this morning, after an unreal long and cool weekend.  Work, bills, house maintenance, friends, kids, wife, all need and deserve attention :)  And meanwhile, it all continues to happen...

Palm Pre with its Achilles heel: the batteryI am almost ready to try my Palm Pre again.  The waiting lists at the Sprint stores have dissipated, and it is now possible for me to do a hardware exchange and test my [hopeful] theory that my particular Pre suffered from worse battery life than most.  I have been reading that battery life is considered an issue for the Pre, which sucks; the power users who are the Pre's natural market are going to demand that they be able to use their device all day without charging.  I do see where companies have begun offering more powerful batteries; that might be worth trying... as always please stay tuned.

Alfa Romeo - fast and cool - the companionway ladder looks like an Alfa grillThe Amazing Alfa Romeo yacht smashed the Long Beach to Hawaii Transpac race record; taking a full day off the previous record of six days.  Wow.  Not only is the boat fast, it is really cool; check out these pictures of the interior, styled to look like an Alfa Romeo...  I particularly like the way the companionway ladder looks like an Alfa grill; that is way cool.

Wouldn't it be fun to have enough money and time to worry about stuff like this?

the new Jaguar XJ styled like the XFSo apparently this is what the new Jaguar XJ is going to look like; updated to have a strong family resemblance to the XF.  I like it.  The XF is a head-turner, and the XJ is a great driving car; combining them together might be great.  Good for Tata, their effect on the Jaguar brand is already quite positive.  (Also I see where they are canceling the low end X-type; another good move.  Cannot dilute the brand.)

My company's Dilbert moment; today our HR team published a handout: "The 30 most common mistakes managers make".  Thirty!  Because there are so many common mistakes.  But the best part was this: it was too large to email.

John Gruber on Anil Dash's comments on Google's Microsoft Moment.  "It makes no sense to me why Chrome OS isn’t based on Android. Maybe there’s a good answer to this, but Google hasn’t given it."  Clearly this is one of those things where there are two teams not talking to each other, and maybe even competing...

Windows 95 under Parallels on jailbroken iPhoneSpeaking of operating systems, check this out: Windows 95 running on an iPhone.  No that isn't a typo.  These guys took a jailbroken iPhone, installed Parallels, and then booted Windows 95.  It is pretty much a dancing bear - it takes ten minutes just to boot - but how cool is that?

ZooBorn: baby OkapisZooBorn of the day: a little baby Okapis.  (A relative of the giraffe family...)

Have a great day!

 

TDF stage 10 / flat - another Cavendish sprint win, ho hum

Tuesday,  07/14/09  10:49 AM

TDF stage 10 - Cavendish wins another sprint ahead of Thor HushovdAnd so after a rest day the Tour crosses relatively flat land for a few days, and so Mark Cavendish and his Columbia train took another victory, his fourth.  Except for the sprint at the end, the rest of the 194.5km leg from Limoges to Issoudun was pretty ho hum, even without radios.  Tomorrow looks to be more of the same... some are saying the finish is too tricky for a brute force sprint, but I think Mark will prevail...

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Tuesday,  07/14/09  11:06 PM

A few quick notes after a long day, long night, and too much good wine...  ZZZzzz...

Westlake Village - a small-town vibe around every cornerI liked this little article in the LATimes about Westlake Village.  "A master-planned community centered on a man-made lake, Conejo Valley's Westlake Village backs up to the scrub-topped hills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Family friendly to the max, main thoroughfares here are broad avenues with roomy bike lanes where the sporty life is found around every curve."  That's why we live here!

SpaceX launches satellite into orbit!BIG NEWS!  SpaceX have successfully placed a satellite into orbit (click image at right for video).  Wow.  Congratulations to them; this is one small launch for SpaceX, on huge step for commercial spaceflight.  And just two days before the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 (our first manned flight to the moon)!

Have you been following the Sotomayer confirmation hearings?  I haven't really; I regard them as a formality, she's going to be confirmed, and really these hearings are just an opportunity for senators to transmit hot air, but apparently she has been rewriting history a bit: Sotomayer's nose grows longer.  I don't know why it is so controversial that people with different backgrounds judge differently because of that... although I'm glad to see her asserting the importance of law over opinion.  Personally I'm in favor of conservative judges, where "conservative" in this context means they interpret law rather than make it...

Interesting: the WSJ reports Bankers are suddenly smitten with small IPOs.

An important analysis: Why France still makes the world's best wines.  Personally I think the premise here is flawed; France make great wines, no question, but so do California, Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile, etc. - there is no "best".  I had a Gainey Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills, California tonight, and I would put it against the finest Burgundies.

Henry Blodget thinks Bing will bomb.  "The heart of Microsoft's problem here: Search isn't broken.  The reason almost 70% of folks use Google is that most folks like Google and most folks are used to Google."  I think that's right, and I'm actually surprised it is only 70%.  I am an early adopter and try every new search engine, but unless I had a compelling reason to switch I'd still use Google for everyday work.

Speaking of massive market share: Apple press release trumpets 1.5B app downloads in first year.  "'The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality,' said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. 'With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.'"  Yep, the network effect is fully under way.  Congratulations to Apple, the iPhone is to smartphones as the iPod was to MP3 players.

awesome OLED clock changes from dark/light to light/darkCheck out this awesome clock, using OLED technology.  I want one!

ZooBorn: a little Koala hitches a rideZooBorn of the day: a little Koala hitches a ride.  Unlike some species pretty much all Koalas are cute, but you have to admit the little ones are cuter :)

 

TDF stage 11 / flat - (yawn) another Cavendish sprint win! etc.

Wednesday,  07/15/09  11:30 AM

Mark Cavendish blasts through finish ahead of Tyler Farrar and Thor HushovdWell so much for those who said Mark Cavendish wouldn't win today because the finish was uphill; maybe the stage from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau looked tough to others, but it didn't to him, as he blasted through the finish ahead of Tyler Farrar.  (Although as Velonews notes, behind the scenes, it is harder than it looks.)

Meanwhile I thought this was interesting: Bernard Hinault says the only way to beat Astana is to attack.  I know what you're thinking, "he would say that", but he's right; nobody is going to beat Astana by sitting in the peloton waiting for something good to happen.  Maybe not tomorrow, which is a rolling flattish stage that seems made for a breakaway, but Friday back in the Alps the Saxos and Cadel and Menchov and Sastre must try something, right?  And who knows, maybe Bradley Wiggins will be the joker in the pack.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Wednesday,  07/15/09  10:40 PM

Making a filter pass after a great day.  Today Aperio celebrated it's 10th birthday (10! how cool is that!) and we had a nice BBQ and speeches and a little performance from the Frozen Sextions, our house band (who are BTW really good).  It was also a productive day, and I swapped a team dinner for a bike ride.  I will have to get back in the saddle soon :) meanwhile...

BNO news!This is way cool: Breaking News Online, how one 19-year old is shaking up online media.  A classic Christensenian attack from below...

And in the same vein, Dave Winer is rebooting the RSS cloud.  "In the early days of RSS, we had the idea that instantaneous updates would be the next step.  That was 2001.  It took a little longer than we thought, but now with 'realtime' as the Next Big Thing, it's time to reboot all that lovely stuff."  As well as RSS works, you would have to say the polling aspect is not a strong point.  Some kind of interrupt scheme would be great.

C'etait un Rendez vous aka Paris at 120mph!Jason Kottke: what fast looks like.  I've seen the classic C'etait un Rendez vous before, but I never tire of it; a Mercedes 450SEL flying through Paris in the early morning at 120mph, 9 minutes' worth in one take.  Whew.  (The sound is wonderful too...)  There are some other great examples here of what fast looks like; Mark Cavendish is not included :)

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince; seemingly qualitatively better than the predecessorsIt seems the about-to-be-released sixth Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince is getting rave reviews, with everyone laying stress that it is qualitatively different from the others which came before.  I loved the books and the first few movies, but have sort of lost interest, guess it's time to get back into it...

Om Malik: Meet Google, your phone company.  Hello, I've been expecting you...  welcome!

From the WSJ's Daily Startup: Any liquidity is good liquidity.  I found this interesting:

Entrepreneurs shouldn’t focus on the valuation when negotiating a funding deal, says Jeff Bussgang of Flybridge Capital Partners. The more important factor is what his firm calls the “promote,” which is the founding team’s ownership percentage multiplied by the post-money valuation. “It represents the $ value in the ownership that the founding team is carrying forward after the financing is done,” writes Bussgang, who neatly describes the significance of this calculation….

I love this: TheScientist asks "are trees evolving to start fires?"  Roll that around in your brain a little... you could see where it might be a good strategy.  Evolution is smarter than you are :)

FREE is Free - on the Kindle!FREE is now Free - on the Kindle!  Yay, downloading it *now*.

Awesome!  Microsoft is posting seven lectures by Richard Feynman online.  If you have never heard him speak, check these out; he is amazing.

ZooBorn: tiny TapirZooBorn of the day: a tiny Tapir.  Whoa.

 

TDF stage 12 / flat - Sorenson wins in a solo break! / Jerseys unchanged...

Thursday,  07/16/09  12:43 PM

Rinaldo Nocentini in yellow, but tomorrow will likely be his last day...And so guess what?  Yeah, Mark Cavendish did not winNicki Sorensen pulled away from a seven-man break on the 212km 12th stage from Tonnerre to Vittel, the last relatively flat day before the Tour returns to the mountains Friday. 

The jerseys were unchanged, but I hope Rinaldo Nocentini enjoys wearing yellow tomorrow, because I fear it will be his last day, as tomorrow the Tour heads into the Vosges, where danger awaits.  I expect a lot of attacking tomorrow, as the GC men realize it is on now, and they have to do something to prevent an Astana parade to the podium.  It should be exciting!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Thursday,  07/16/09  10:42 PM

A pretty mellow day of work, capped by a great ride down the coast from Carlsbad to Del Mar, and a nice dinner with a colleague.  I was strong today; must be the combined effects of the long hard ride on Saturday and some time off.  Sure is fun riding when you can float up the hills :)  I expect it will all be back to normal tomorrow, however...

Apollo 11 liftoffForty years ago today, Apollo 11 blasted off taking men to the moon for the first time.  It was an incredible accomplishment, especially given the archaic technology available in 1969.  See if you can watch the linked video without getting chills.  It was way cool.

We the People Stimulus PackageThis is awesome, you must watch it: We the People Stimulus Package.  Tea Party, anyone?

Stephen Baker of BusinessWeek on how to remake BusinessWeek.  "This last 5% consumes a sizeable effort and expense.  The question the next (or current) owner of BusinessWeek is going to have to grapple with is whether such attention to detail is worth it, or, alternatively, whether there's another way to achieve the same goal."  Perhaps sadly, readers no longer appear to value that 5% very much.  In the wake of McGraw Hill announcing it might be up for sale... very interesting.

Microsoft seeks imaging industry input... regarding their HealthVault product.  And boy, are they going to get input from me!

Meanwhile, looks like the rumored Microsoft - Yahoo deal is down to the short strokes.  So be it.  I'm sure the nature of the deal will be quite different under Carol Bartz.

The Palm "Mojo" SDK is open to the world.  Will the world care?  Let's hope so!

Finally: conversation with a friend, today: "Remember when MTV used to be music videos?  Yeah!  And remember when CNN used to be news?"  :)

 

Round the Island, revisited

Thursday,  07/16/09  11:46 PM

As previously reported, a couple weekends ago on July 4 Meg and I sailed in the Westlake Yacht Club's annual Round the Island race.  So the other day I received this awesome picture, taken just after we successfully raised the mast after lowering it to go under the bridge.  I'm reattaching the boom and this was taken just before said boom knocked me into the water :) 

Meg and I successfully navigate under the bridge in the Round the Island Race

Anyway it is a great picture to commemorate a great weekend.  Enjoy!

 

TDF stage 12 - Leipheimer out with broken wrist

Friday,  07/17/09  06:53 AM

TDF 09 - stange 12 - Levi Leipheimer broke his wrist in a crashMan, this sucks... Levi Leipheimer was involved in a crash in yesterday's stage 12; initially it looked like he was okay, he got up and finished, but later it turned out he'd broken his wrist and had to withdraw from the tour.  Reminds me of the injury George Hincapie sustained a few years ago in the Tour of California...  anyway this really sucks, Levi is such a great guy, and Lance and Alberto are really going to miss him in the alps.  Not to mention he was sitting fourth on GC. 

It will make today's stage even more interesting... they're riding even as I type.  This does change the dynamic; it makes Astana a little more vulnerable, and may motivate some of the other teams to attack.  Stay tuned.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

TDF stage 13 / climb? - Haussler wins big, GC unchanged, Hushovd green, Pellizotti spotted

Friday,  07/17/09  08:46 AM

TDF09 stage 13 - Heinrich Haussler crosses the finish after a great solo victory, well ahead of the fieldHeinrich Haussler attacked from an early break and stayed out all day for a wire-to-wire win in today's 99km TDF stage from Colmar to Besançon.  He was 105 in GC and unbothered by the peloton, who rode as a clump with little action, despite five catagorized climbs and rain.  In other action Thor Hushovd grabbed sprint points to take the green jersey back; he might not be able to beat Mark Cavendish in a raw sprint, but he's wiley, and Franco Pellizotti took the KOM jersey from Igor Martinez by launching out and scooping up points on each climb.

I am confused by the strategy of would-be GC contenders like Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Andy Schleck, and Christian Vande Velde.  They need to pick up minutes on Lance and Alberto somewhere, today would have been a good chance.  Everyone is waiting for everyone else, and meanwhile AG2R holds yellow and Astana is in the catbird seat.  Verrry interrresting...

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Zac is back

Friday,  07/17/09  10:45 PM

Zac Sunderland - youngest to sail around the world alone!Just wanted to recognize the incredible achievement of my fellow Westlake Yacht Club member Zac Sunderland, who yesterday became, at 17, the youngest sailor ever to circumnavigate the globe alone.  He sailed his 36-foot Islander into Marina Del Rey yesterday after a 13 month voyage, greeted by an avalanche of media and friends, including a sizable contingent from our yacht club. 

Sunderland, whose voyage spanned three oceans, five seas and twice led him across the equator, once spent 60 hours without sleeping, while trying to fix broken rigging in 15-foot seas and gale-force winds.

"I think society puts young people in a box - people 15, 16, 17 - and does not expect them to do much but go to high school and play football and stuff like that," Sunderland said. "This just shows they can do a lot more with some strong ambition and desire.  My [advice] is to get out there and do your thing with all you got."

(Thanks for my friend Franklin for the pictures below...)


Zac sails into Marina Del Rey with quite an armada


The press outnumbered family and friends :)


WLYC Commodore Michael Broggie marks the moment

 

TDF stage 14 / flat - Ivanov attacks break to win, Hincapie narrowly misses yellow

Saturday,  07/18/09  10:31 AM

TDF09 stage 14 - George Hincapie was in virtual yellow all day, before Astana (!) and Garmin (!) reeled him back...Weird doings on the road in France, as a day-long break of twelve riders stayed away on the [last] flat stage from Colmar to Besançon.  Sergei Ivanov attacked the break with 5km to go for the win, but more interestingly the leader on GC in the break was George Hincapie, who missed taking over yellow by 5 seconds.  Astana spent a great deal of time all day pulling back the break - why? - and Garmin spent a lot of time at the end pulling hard - why? - and their efforts combined to keep estwhile friend Hincapie from taking over the lead from Rinaldo Nocentini.  It is tough to explain why Astana or Garmin would care, but apparently they did, to my chagrin and that of cycling fans everywhere.  How great would it have been to see George wear yellow one more time?

Anyway that's that for the sprint stages until the final day in Paris; Farrar never did get a chance to try Cavendish one more time, and Thor Hushovd actually increased his lead in the points competition by winning the sprint of the peloton.  Now we head into the Alps all week, where the Tour will really be decided; I am very much looking forward to tomorrow's stage.  Velonews thinks Evans still has a chance, and tomorrow will be crucial, and we'll see what Levi Leipheimer's departure means to Astana.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Saturday,  07/18/09  10:46 AM

Saturday morning blogging, pre-BBQ; it's going to be a hot one.  Back for the weekend in between a busy week at work, and another one coming up.  I am pleased to report that being me has apparently paid off and I've achieved a nice resolution to my "situation".  Whew.  I'm still a bit under a cloud but time heals all.

I've tweaked my Twitter / Facebook interface a bit to implement my own URL shortener.  You probably don't care, but Twitter automatically shortens any URL longer than 30 characters; they used to use TinyURL but now they use bit.ly.  Well it doesn't matter what they use, I didn't want my links to redirect through anything else, so now I make intermediate links which are shorter than 30 characters and which always redirect through my site.  Hopefully it will "just work" and you won't care :)

Walter Cronkite: the most trusted man in AmericaSad: Walter Cronkite has died, the "most trusted man in America".  Impossible to imagine any of today's "news" anchors receiving the same respect and adulation, isn't it?  He must have been horrified by what TV News has become.  And that's the way it was...

Want an example?  John Gruber anoints CNN Jackasses of the Week for their incredible coverage of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing; they actually lead with a story about whether the whole thing was a hoax.  I wonder who their audience is, eh?  Idiocracy indeed.

Philip Greenspun considers the California fiscal crisis.  "The reasonable question to ask is not 'How did they run out of cash?' but 'How was this ever supposed to work?'"  A question many of us are asking, unfortunately...

Steve Chapman writes some statements are inherently unbelievable.  "Such as: 'I am an official of the government of Nigeria, and I would like to deposit $60 million in your bank account.'  Or: 'I'm Barry Bonds, and I thought it was flaxseed oil.'  And this new one: 'I'm Barack Obama, and I favor more competition in health insurance.'"  Obamacare is descending into farce, going the way of Clintoncare.  If they do pass this bill, we'll all be asking "how was this ever supposed to work?"

Josh Newman reports great success: "As planned, I am now thirty, in Paris with Jess, and drinking Cognac in our hotel bar."  Congratulations!  May 40 and 50 work equally well (as 60 and 70 and 80 and ...)

Brenda Lyons turns 40: Ahhh OK

1984, Kindle edition. Be careful or big brother might delete it!There's this weird story making the rounds, I first heard it from my Mom: Apparently Amazon are actually deleting copies of 1984 from customers' Kindles.  Seems the distributor didn't have the right to sell it electronically, but they did anyway and Amazon corrected the situation by deleting the books people had already bought, and then refunded their money.  Amazing that they had the capability to do that (don't turn on Whispernet!) and that they had the stupidity to use the capability, as the backlash is predictably severe

And of course one must comment how great is it that the book involved in 1984?

Mosaic JellyfishPicture of the day: A mosaic jellyfish, courtesy of National Geographic.

Are you like me, did you ask yourself "you mean National Geographic still exists"?  Yes, apparently :)

It's getting crowded in space, as thirteen people were on the International Space Station at once, during a crew transition.  Wonder if they had to bring their own chairs?  Seriously that is amazing; the ISS is often treated as a bit of a joke, an expensive and wasteful sideshow to true space exploration, but the technology developed and validated for it is quite amazing.

SpaceX launch of communications satellite into Earth orbitSpaceX have released a series of incredible photos from their successful launch on July 14, in which a Falcon 1 rocket placed a Malaysian communications satellite into orbit.  The event itself was pretty momentous, but the pictures are cool too...  check 'em out!

My favorite post of this summer has to be Summer.  Those pictures of the girl beachside with a drink and that Hobie Cat just define "summer" somehow.  Have a great summer weekend!

 

Pre tending

Saturday,  07/18/09  01:22 PM

Palm Pre - to be or not to be my phone? That is the question, to be answered soon...Okay, the news you've all been waiting for: I am back on a Palm Pre.  I just went to my Sprint store where the very nice people gladly exchange my old could-not-hold-a-charge-at-all Pre for a brand new one.  Coolly, the new Pre auto-synced with Palm exactly back to where my old one was, including applications, Exchange sync setup, background graphics, etc.  So I am now back to Pre-tending.  I am excited but also I am going to be merciless with it on battery life; this is binary, either the 'phone can last long enough to be useful for me or if cannot; I'm not going to run around worrying about battery life all day.  fXf and stay tuned!

 

TDF stage 15 / climb! - Contador asserts himself, takes yellow

Sunday,  07/19/09  02:55 PM

TDF09 stage 15 - Contador attacks on the mountaintop finish to win and take yellowToday we had the second real selection in the Tour (the first was the team time trial nearly two weeks ago), perhaps the decisive one, as Alberto Contador attacked on the mountaintop finish of the Alpine stage from Pontarlier to Verbier and put over a minute into everyone, taking the yellow jersey and showing the field who's boss (right).  Andy Schleck hung in there gamely to finish second, and Bradley Wiggins put in a great ride to finish third.  Lance Armstrong remains in second overall but really couldn't stay with the fastest guys on the final climb, as Andreas Kloden guided him in.

TDF09 stage 15 - Armstrong hung in gamely but didn't have the power to stay with the leadersAt this point you'd have to say the Tour is Alberto's to lose, just as you might have said going in... there are three more climbing stages and an ITT, none of which should scare him.  His closest pursuers are Lance (left), who might be able to make something happen in the ITT but doesn't seem to pose a threat on the climbs, Wiggins, who is a real surprise and a threat for the podium, 1:46 back, and Andy Schleck, who can't TT with Alberto and who needs to pick up 2:26.  At this point we can rule out Carlos Sastre, 3:52, who hung in there with the leaders but couldn't pick up time, Christian Vande Velde, 3:59, who had a disappointing day and lost a little, and Cadel Evans, 4:27, who like Sastre needs to do more than just ride with the leaders to make something happen.

Couple of things I want to note: as I thought about George Hincapie's ride yesterday (which left him a mere 5 seconds out of yellow) and listened to all the interviews, it seems to me that Astana screwed up.  They really wanted George to be in yellow, but they underestimated the closing speed of the peloton and cut it too close.  If they'd have let the break get two more minutes it would have worked nicely; George would have been in yellow and Highroad would have had to share the pacemaking today, which would have been good.  So with all the talk of Garmin pushing the pace at the end and all, I really think Astana messed it up.  But Shirley made a great point: "if George would have ridden a little harder, he would have taken it".  In the end nobody gives you the yellow jersey, you have to take it for yourself.  As Alberto did today.

The other thing is that watching today play out, it seems so obvious [now] that this was going to happen.  In the Tour the teams matter, the tactics matter, the weather matters, etc., but in the end the best climber wins.  Alberto was always the best climber, and he was always going to win.  (You can remind me I wrote this after he bonks or screws up the ITT :)  Anyway tomorrow we have a rest day, Tuesday and Wednesday more climbing, Thursday the ITT, Friday a stage for a break as the peloton rests a bit (!), and then Saturday the final showdown finishing at the top of Mont Ventoux.

[Update: At the Tour there are always great little stories within the big story.  Consider Simon Spilak, who finished last on Friday's rain-soaked stage to Colmar and was eliminated on time – but was allowed back in because the race referee decided that he'd been hampered by having to ride on opened roads and cope with traffic.  So today he got into the break, stayed up there all day, attacked, and was first to reach the final climb.  He was ultimately swallowed up and finished seven minutes back, but was voted most aggressive rider of the day.  Imagine how he feels tonight.  I love it!]

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Sunday,  07/19/09  10:29 PM

A great weekend of doing nothing, except that having a bunch of friends over yesterday for a BBQ wasn't nothing :)  Ate and drank too much and sat by the pool too much, and read, and didn't get anywhere near my bike (which is a little guilt inducing) and didn't get near my computer much either (also guilt inducing).  So be it, I have a busy week ahead and will spend plenty of time on both bike and computer...

Saturn V rocket graphicApollo 11 blastoffThe LATimes on Apollo (tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing): 'One small step for man,' one massive rocket project for engineers.  "The result of their work was the mammoth Saturn V, the largest and most powerful launch vehicle of its time. It was as tall as a 40-story building, with engines that gulped swimming pools worth of fuel every second. Producing 7.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, Saturn V was so powerful that during a test at Cape Canaveral, it rained ceiling tiles on the head of CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, watching from four miles away."  And that's the way it was.

Jeff Atwood wonders whether Software Engineering is dead.  Nope.

This is hilarious: God, Guns, Guts, and CNN's Idiot Reporters.  In which a red car dealer explains his "free AK-47 with a new vehicle" promotion to a blue reporter.  Watch it for yourself :)  [ via Instapundit ]

Interesting: Facebook vs LinkedIn: Creating good PR for yourself.  "Did you know that employers today have free access to an online database filled with photos and personal information about their job applicants?  Yeah, it’s called Google – maybe you’ve heard of it?"  I do worry about what colleagues, customers, partners, and other business associates might read on my blog, but...  [ Recommended by Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn :) ]

Dave Winer is trying to make RSS behave like Twitter.  So be it.  I often don't get Dave at first, and sometimes don't get him at all.  I'll keep trying :)

FREE for my Kindle, for FreeSo I ordered FREE for my Kindle, and it was indeed free, and it did indeed appear magically on my home page, and I did indeed start reading it.  Although it suffers from Chris Anderson's desperate attempts to extract significance from observation, there is definitely something new happening in the world of pricing, and he does a nice job of teeing it up.  In the end companies and people still want to make money, and so there has to be a way for value to get generated, so I don't think YouTube is qualitatively different from Gillette razors.  But I've barely started reading the book, so I'll give it a chance.  Stay tuned.

Apropos: The RIAA says DRM is dead.

ZooBorn: baby TakinZooBorn of the weekend: A baby Takin.  <Insert your pun here>

 

Monday,  07/20/09  10:54 PM

Whew, tired.  Great day.  Great, great day.  Many good things happened; interesting things at Aperio, positioning ourselves to keep growing (we seem to be weathering the economic storms, whew), nice ride tonight in which I rode all the way around MCAS Miramar (fka NAS Miramar, scene of Top Gun), and wonderful dinner with my [oldest] daughter Nicole, who is back from Sicily and in the process of returning to civilian life after a seven year tour in the Navy.

...and the Ole filter makes a pass...

Palm Pre - and so how IS the battery life?Pre-report: I am pleased to report that I was able to use my [new] Pre all day today without recharging the battery, from 0500 until just now.  I used the heck out of it too; phone calls, email, texting, even used the GPS when my car's GPS got confused.  So far so good.

blue diamond jets practicing off MCAS MiramarWhile riding past Miramar I was treated to a ton of fighter plane traffic, like giant wasps taking off and landing and buzzing through the air like paper being torn loudly.  Apparently they are practicing for the Miramar Air Show in October.  Anyway it made for some great spectating while riding.

Betanews asks: Could Popfly's pop up be game over for Microsoft?  "1) The Bill Gates era really is over.  2) The closure is yet another sign that Microsoft doesn't really get social media.  3) Microsoft is more aggressively trying to protect and to extend its existing Office-Windows-Windows Server applications stack."  All of which seems true.

Scoble: All the hype in the world (why PR isn't enough).  Twitter is his example :)

learning to love the roundabout...Slate: American drivers should learn to love the roundabout.  Indeed.  Watching the Tour de France has reminded me how cool they are :)

The Big Money: Kindle under fire.  "From disappearing books to pricing wars, e-readers are having a tough time."  Weell... yeah I get the point, but the bottom line on the Kindle for me is that my XX-year old Mom loves hers as much as I do mine.  They have found a ready market.  And despite their best efforts to screw it up (deleting 1984 was impressively ham-fisted) they are going to win.  [ via Marc, thanks ]

Just like... Apple's secret weapon (your mom).

This is pretty cool: Johns Hopkins Medical School is planning to offer an informatics degree.  Wow, what a transformation in the field of medicine, right?

the Alinghimaran sails!And finally... it sails!  The Alinghimaran in action.  Whoa.  Not quite as beautiful or majestic as Trizilla, in my humble opinion, but perhaps faster.  More here too...

 

TDF stage 16 / climb - Astarloza attacks to win / jerseys unchanged after battle

Tuesday,  07/21/09  10:51 PM

(refraining from descriptive titles until a couple of days later, for you Tivoers out there...)

TDF 09 stage 16 - Bradley Wiggins leads Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Lance ArmstrongAnd so after a rest day we had a day of fireworks in the Tour, with two massive climbs between Martigny and Bourg-Saint-Maurice that resulted in a further selection.  Mikel Astarloza won with a daring last minute break, but the real battle took place among the GC men behind him.  The Schleck brothers attacked, Contador and Kloden followed, and for a while there was a split between the contenders, with Lance Armstrong powering across the gap.  Ultimately the leaders came back together but some of the pretenders gave up more time, like poor Cadel Evans.  You could really see who was "on the rivet" and who wasn't; Bradley Wiggins looked really strong (pic at left), as did Contador, Andy Schleck, and Kloden, Lance showed a flash of his old power crossing the gap, and Frank Schleck, Vincenzo Nibali, and Christian Vande Velde were able to match the pace.  Also up there today was Kim Kirchen, who looks to be getting stronger.

Tomorrow is a maniacal stage with five massive climbs (the "queen" stage), but I don't look for any further selections until the TT on Thursday.  That's really the only and best chance for Lance or Bradley Wiggins to take time from Contador.  And/or for Kloden to move up into a podium spot.  There will be more attacking tomorrow because the Schlecks really can only gain on a climb, and perhaps one or more of the leaders will fall by the wayside; we'll see.

On a sad note poor Jens Voigt pulled out in the early break, fell back to power Saxo up the first climb, and then crashed heavily on the descent.  I sure hope he's okay, and it is sad to see him out of the tour.

TDF 09 stage 7 - Fabian Cancellara descends madly through the motorcadeOne more note: check out this video of Fabian Cancellara descending on stage 7; this was while he was still in yellow, after he'd flatted, and with the peloton charging down the hill.  Wild bike handling skills on display as he weaves through the motorcycles and team cars at 60+kph :)

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Tuesday,  07/21/09  10:55 PM

Still tired.  I seem unable to sleep enough, and then spend the whole day tiring myself out further :)  Busy day of meetings as our company absorbs our growth plans, and then a hard 30-miler with my friend and colleague Craig.  And then dinner and too much wine (Mahi Mahi and Sauvignon Blanc if you must know).

Pre battery life - seems to be fine now, whewPre-report: Battery life A-OK.  Lovin' it.  I always say "precelebration is the root of all failure", so I don't mean to Pre-celebrate :) but so far so good.

Sounds-like-an-Onion-headline of the day: Entire moon added to Google Earth.  Pretty amazing technology, that we even have these data.

Ben Rometsch: Google Wave, first impressions.  I don't "get" Google Wave [yet]; it seems to be a super-email, sort of a wiki-ish attempt to share information.  I distrust things like this which aren't simple enough to explain, but I'll keep trying because there seems to be a there here.  Stay tuned...

Something I continue to believe doesn't have a there here is Twitter, and I see where Trent Reznor agrees...  Raise your hands, how many of you find Twitter useful?  See, there's no there...

Powerpoint comedy :)Hilarious: the Bio-Comedian.  ( Powerpoint comedy :)

News you can use: is it safer to drive drunk or on the phone?  I so fear that using a phone while driving is going to be made illegal; granted, it may be [somewhat] dangerous, but so are a lot of things and it really isn't the government's job to protect us from ourselves.

Jeff Atwood makes a great point: nobody hates software more than software developers.  I, too, dread it when something I buy comes with a software CD.  Invariably the software sucks and it breaks your machine.  Not sure whether to blame Windows for this or software developers in general, but it is so...

Cellscope, the cellphone microscopeWow, this is cool: Cellscope, the cellphone microscope.  Now with a UV-upgrade.  People sometimes ask me about this technology, wondering if it will be an "attack from below" on high-end diagnostic equipment like that made by Aperio.  Not sure.  The performance gap is still large.

Alex Payne: Fever and the future of feed readers.  "Today, at least in the web-tech echo chamber, feed reading is quickly falling out of fashion. Too many sites producing too many feeds of dubious quality means information overload, and a creeping sense of obligation to keep up with a torrent of questionably relevant content."  I'm not sure I agree with that; sure, there are a lot of bad feeds, but a lot of good ones too.  Just stick with me :)  Anyway the main point is Fever, a new feed reader, which filters feeds based on keywords etc., and in theory at least can extract information from data...

 

TDF stage 17 / climb - the Schlecks win, Contador and Hushovd solidify yellow and green

Wednesday,  07/22/09  09:13 PM

TDF 09 stage 17 - route profile - five categorized climbs - ouchWow, what a race!  Today's TDF stage 17 from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand had everthing, courage, strength, attacks, cracks, great teamwork, and solo moves.  In the end Frank Schleck won with Alberto Contador and his brother Andy Schleck right on his wheel, solidifying Alberto's hold on the yellow jersey.  After all the carnage the Schlecks took over 2nd and 3rd on GC (2:26 and 3:25),  pushing Lance Armstrong down to 4th (3:55), Andreas Kloden to 5th (4:44), and Bradley Wiggins to 6th (4:53).

TDF 09 stage 17 - Thor Hushovd leads over the first three climbs to take maximum points in the sprintsThere were some great sub-plots; Thor Hushovd secured his green jersey with a heroic ride across the Alps, leading alone for most of the race to take maximum points at the two sprint locations.  If you look at the profile above you can see this means he led across three catagorized climbs, wow, how about that.  When I first started watching this morning I couldn't believe Thor was leading.  I guess that puts paid to all the talk about how he doesn't really deserve to be in green because Cavendish was relegated in stage 14.

And Franco Pellizotti secured his polka dot jersey by taking points on all his rivals over the first three climbs; at this point it seems like he has it in the bag, with "only" Saturday's stage to Mont Ventoux left in the KOM competition.

TDF 09 stage 17 - the Schlecks celebrate as Frank Wins and Andy gains time on everyone except Alberto ContadorAlthough Alberto ended up increasing his lead in yellow, perhaps insurmountably, you have to say he again screwed up team tactics.  On the final climb he was riding comfortably in the shadow of the Schlecks accompanied by teammate Kloden, with Armstrong tailing Wiggins in a group about 1:30 behind, and he launched an attack.  No good reason for this, all he had to do was finish with the Schlecks (which happened anyway), but the result was he dropped Andreas and put time into Armstrong, who did follow team tactics by hanging onto Wiggins until the end.  He ended up hurting his own teammates without gaining anything - a typical rookie move.  Still you have to hand it to him, he is now clearly the strongest rider in the race.

Tomorrow is the final ITT - look for Armstrong, Kloden, and Wiggins to gain significant time on the Schlecks, we'll see whether it will be enough to move them up.  At this point Alberto's lead seems safe, and he's a pretty fair TTer himself these days...

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Wednesday,  07/22/09  09:35 PM

Greetings to you from my now-usual spot, the bar at the Dana Point Charthouse, where I am enjoying a Pinot Noir after a blazing attempt on my "Kessel Run" from the harbor here down to Camp Pendleton.  (For the record, no, I didn't hit 20mph; too much wind and not enough strength left after a week of not-enough-sleep.)  It has been a really busy week at work, and I am happy to be heading home so I can get some work done :)

... and so I can watch the Tour in HD ...

Pre-celebration: the battery life seems just fine to go with the overall coolnessPre-celebration, day three: still working just fine, with enough battery left for blogging :)  Seriously it is now apparent that my previous bad experience with battery life was confined to a bad specimen, and while the battery life may not be excellent, it is good enough for day-in-day-out use.  Meanwhile everything else about the phone is excellent; I love the screen, I love the form factor (smaller and cooler and rounder than my Centro), I love the keyboard, and I love the WebOS UI.  You guys can all have your iPhones and the 65,000 games in the Apple App store, I'm really happy.

I'm not just being flip, by the way, I'm making a real point.  The Pre comes with a great phone app, threaded messaging, a nice web browser, great camera, MP3 and video players, Google Maps, GPS navigation, Office doc display, etc.  I'm sure there is additional functionality "out there" which would be nice to have, but really, out of the box nothing is missing, Sprint gives you a fully functional smartphone.

Michael Totten: What the West Bank really looks like.  Sounds much nicer than we are sometimes led to believe; it isn't a war zone.  [ via Instapundit ]

Contender start - beauty in [fast] motionSailing Anarchy has an awesome picture of a Contender start.  I've always loved these boats, not only are they fast and fun, they're beautiful...

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium - 2 million gallons of water and some amazingly huge fishJason Kottke links this amazing video of the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan, which holds 1,981,290 gallons of water.  Please click through, wow, how beautiful.  (Why is it that watching fish swim is so peaceful?)

In the same vein as my classic The Tyranny of Email, Paul Graham notes Manager's Schedule, Maker's Schedule.  While I agree with the central theme, I would observe that it isn't so binary; there are manager's who make, and maker's who manage, and their schedules tend to be blended, too...

Yesterday I noted the Cellscope; today HealthImaging asks Can docs accurately diagnose CAD on an iPhone?  "Although this evaluative technique is investigational in the U.S., as it is pending FDA clearance, LaBounty suggested that this proof-of-concept showed that a mobile handheld device may be useful in the diagnosis of CAD."  I think it is inevitable that someday soon smartphones will be used for medical imaging.

ZooBorn: tiny Tufted deerZooBorn of the day: a tiny Tufted deer.  Aww...

 

northern lights

Wednesday,  07/22/09  11:42 PM

Northern Lights

...received from my Mom...
enjoy!

 

TDF stage 18 / ITT - Contador wins (wow!), Andy, Lance, Bradley, Andreas left for GC

Thursday,  07/23/09  11:30 AM

TDF 09 stage 18 - Contador wins ITT to confirm dominance over tourOkay, we're going to have to admit it now: Alberto Contador is the best rider in the world.  He won the individual time trial around Lake Annecy today, edging Fabian Cancellara by four seconds and asserting his dominance.  As expected the Schleck brothers lost time, but Andy held on to 2nd overall, now 4:11 back, while Lance Armstrong moved up to 3rd (5:25), Bradley Wiggins to 4th (5:36), and Andreas Kloden to 5th (5:38).  The race is now for second, and really with only the mountain stage up to Mont Ventoux left to shuffle GC Andy looks pretty safe, so the real race is now for third.  After Cancellara posted his time I didn't think there was any way anyone could touch him, and nobody could until Contador.  He's not only a great climber, he's a great TTer, beating the best in the world on a classic (pretty flat) TT course.

I'm going to confess, I was pretty disappointed with today's results.  First, I don't like Alberto.  Okay, okay, he's a great rider, but that doesn't mean I have to like him.  That business with him attacking Kloden yesterday was bad, just like him attacking Lance in Andorra was bad.  Second, I do like Cancellara, and was rooting for him to win.  Third, I do like Lance, and was rooting for him to win, or at least to do really well.  He did pick up time on the Schlecks but the Lance of old would not have finished 16th in an ITT.  Overall it was kind of a boring and disappointing day...

... and so tomorrow's transitional stage is likely to feature a break while the GC rests in anticipation of the fireworks Saturday.  It would have been a great stage for Jens Voigt (who sadly crashed out of the Tour with a broken cheekbone); I'm going to pick one of the GC guys who hasn't really done anything to get in the break and win; someone like Cadel Evans or Denis Menchov or David Millar.  We'll see...

In other cycling news, Lance announced he's forming a new team next year with Radio Shack and Livestrong as sponsors; presumably Johan Bruyneel will be the DS.  You could guess Levi Leipheimer will join him, but Alberto will not :)

Rasmussen climbing ahead of Contador in the 2007 TourAnd finally this is GREAT news: UCI won't oppose Rasmussen's return.  Yay, we might get the chicken back!  Keep in mind, he's the one guy who has proven he can climb with Contador (remember his battles in the '07 Tour, see pic at right); it will be interesting to see where he lands...

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Thursday,  07/23/09  10:21 PM

Yay I'm back home.  Man, did I enjoy being back home.  I have been on the road again too long, and under too much stress, and not sleeping enough.  Can't wait to sleep tonight!  But first, this...

the Governator announces budget cutsHere we have the Governor of California announcing budget cuts.  Wow.  I'm glad he's cutting spending - we don't have the money - but not sure this indicates the required level of seriousness.  Well, I guess he is who he is :)

Powerline wonders if Obamacare won't end up being Obama's Waterloo.  "Metaphors aside, the Democrats' 'never let a crisis go to waste' strategy appears to be crumbling. Americans are steadily turning against the Democrats' health care plan, even though hardly anyone knows what is actually in it."  I find that among my friends even those who are big Obama fans are not fans of the health care plans he's proposed, and the same seems true among legislators.

Jeff Bezos apologizes for the 1984 Kindle debacle: "Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles."  So I guess that means maybe it won't happen again?

Pre-celebration: WebOS update 1.1 is out, and it is goodMore Pre-celebration: WebOS update 1.1 was released today, and I applied it, and it was good.  Everyone is reporting the bit about restoring compatibility with iTunes, but there are a lot of other nice features in this release, including an improvement to email formatting which I really appreciate.

PayPal - the new world currency (then, and now, now)Wow, John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, says PayPal will be bigger than eBay.com within 4-6 years.  I happen to believe that, and I'm impressed that he does too, because he can help make it happen.  Back in the day at PayPal we wore "the new world currency" tee-shirts, and we believed it; after the acquisition by eBay it seemed for a while that PayPal might be relegated to "just" auction settlement, which despite being a big opportunity is massively smaller than the total opportunity for online payments worldwide.  Cool.

Oh, and PayPal just announced a new developer program which features an API for payments that doesn't require payees to visit the PayPal site.  That is going to be very big.  A great move, this paves the way for PayPal to replace credit cards online.

Scott Loftesness notes some stunning numbers:

  • Amazon.com reported quarterly revenues up 14%
  • Apple reporting quarterly revenues UP 12% - amazingly good!
  • PayPal reported 11% revenue growth on a 12% increase in payment volume
  • The New York Times Company reporting advertising revenues OFF 32% - a very big, ugly number!
  • Microsoft reporting its first ever annual DECLINE in revenue - capped by a 17% decline in quarterly revenues year over year - UGLY indeed.

It is a new world.  The Microsoft numbers were especially interesting; I guess they couldn't survive the Vista debacle forever, and people are just not buying new versions of Office.

John Gruber is starting to feel bad for Rob Enderle; "'I’m expecting some really good news in terms of outlook for [Microsoft],' Enderle told CNBC"  Hah.

Peak Performance: POV video climbing Pike's Peak at high speedWired Autopia: Racing flat out for the clouds.  Which includes an amazing POV video taken while climbing Pike's Peak.  I love the moment where he passes the 20mph sign at 100+mph.  COOL!

Google rocks: did you mean recursion?

 

TDF stage 19 / flatish - Cavendish wins sprint after Rabo chases down break; jerseys unchanged

Friday,  07/24/09  11:09 AM

TDF 09 stage 19 - Rabobank drive the peloton onward, preventing a breakWell today was kind of a weird day in the Tour de France, wasn't it?  Everyone expected a break to succeed on the mostly flat stage between Bourgoi-Jallieu and Aubenas, but someone forgot to tell Rabobank, who kept the peloton close all afternoon, even when there was a twenty-man break.  Of course the break did not include a Rabo, and they fancied perhaps Oscar Freire could win an uphill sprint to the finish.

So what happened?  The field came together for a bunch sprint, and Mark Cavendish won his fifth stage of this year's tour, barely beating arch-rivals Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar.  Freire was never in the mix.  You start a bike race, you just never know what will happen.  Anyway it did make what would otherwise have been a rather routine transitional stage more interesting.  At one point we had Cadel Evans in the break - that would have been cool - and at another point world champion Alessandro Bellan attacked, so everyone got to show their colors.

A side note: your may remember Lance ruffled feathers when he called the 2008 Tour de France a "joke".  Later he apologized, saying that was "not correct".  But Andrew Hood looked at last year's Tour top ten, and where they are now, and really Lance was correct.  None of last year's top ten are contending, and only Christian Vande Velde (4th) and Frank Schleck (5th) are in the top ten this year.

Tomorrow is of course the BIG day, the mountaintop finish on Mont Ventoux that we've all been waiting for... you'd have to say Alberto Contador has the yellow jersey safely bagged, but Andy Schleck is less secure in second, and Lance Armstrong will really have to work to defend third.  It should be excellent, please stay tuned...

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Pre-celebration

Friday,  07/24/09  03:25 PM

Precelebration is the root of all failure - Ole

Pre-celebration: phone is wonderful, battery life is acceptable, life is goodSo it has now been one week since I switched back to the Palm Pre as my everyday cellphone, and I am ready to declare victory.  I really like the phone in all ways - the screen is beautiful, the form factor is excellent (small and curvy, fits perfectly in a pants pocket), it has a real keyboard, the WebOS is cool, easy to use, and multitasks effortlessly, the applications are great, WiFi works, Bluetooth works, GPS works, camera works, etc. 

You will remember my previous experiment with the Pre ended in failure.  I was hopeful that my particular unit was defective, and so it has proven; while I can't say the Pre has amazing battery life, it is certainly good enough, by which I mean I can get up early in the morning and use the phone all day long without having to charge it.  At this point there is no thought in my head about switching back.  I was also pleased to receive the WebOS 1.1 update yesterday, which not only brought some pleasant enhancements to the various apps but also indicates Palm are not resting on their laurels, but will continue to enhance the software.

Pre w TouchstoneI also like the Pre accessories, the fact that it can be charged right off USB (so my laptop is my phone charger), and the Touchstone magneto-inductive charging "cradle" is really cool (with the included Clock application, it makes a great desk ornament :)  I'm thrilled with my Plantronics Pro Bluetooth headset; I realize the credit for that goes to Plantronics, not Palm, but the Pre supports Bluetooth well, in fact it has a nice feature I didn't know I wanted: the ability to switch easily between my car's Parrot kit or my headset while driving.

The Achilles heel of the Pre is said to be the Palm App Catalog, which presently has only a small number of third-party applications.  But this is only by comparison with Apple's App Store for the iPhone, which is of course a roaring success; on the whole the fact that there is an open SDK available for the Pre is a big plus.  Heck, I could even create my own apps for my own phone, how cool is that?

 

TDF stage 20 / climb - Garate conquers Ventoux, Contador and Armstrong stay with the Schlecks

Saturday,  07/25/09  01:42 PM

TDF 09 stage 20 - Juan Manual Garate wins up Mont Ventoux after riding in a break all day!Woo hoo, Mont VentouxJuan Manual Garate won after riding in a break all day from Montelimar to the summit of Mont Ventoux.  Chapeau!  An incredible performance, edging Tony Martin at the finish (another survivor from the break) and salvaging glory for Rabobank, who otherwise have had a pretty lousy Tour.  (Taken together with the team's aggressive chase yesterday Rabo have awakened at last, and who knows Oscar Freire could win tomorrow!)

TDF 09 stage 20 - Andy Schleck continuously attacked to try to help his brother Frank onto the podium, marked closely each time by Alberto ContadorAmong the GC men the expected fireworks took place on the final 21km climb @ 7.5%; Andy Schleck rode a wonderful race, continuously attacking in the hope that his brother Frank could follow and Lance Armstrong, Bradley Wiggins, and Andreas Kloden could not, thereby pulling Frank onto the podium.  On each acceleration Andy was closely marked by leader Alberto Contador, who ended up fourth and secured his second overall Tour de France victory.  Lance hung on beautifully, but Wiggins and Kloden were eventually dropped, with the result that Frank finished fifth.  It was team tactics at their finest, witnessed by an estimated crowd of 500,000 people lining the entire climb.  At times it seemed the riders were floating through a sea of people.  (Isn't is amazing that as close as the spectators get to the action - and as aggressive as some of them are, waving flags and running alongside the race - that seldom is a cycle race actually affected by their presence?)

TDF 09 stage 20 - Tony Martin hung in there for second, pacing Garate all the way from the breakOther heroes on a heroic day included Franco Pellizotti, who did the spotted King of the Mountains jersey proud by attacking at the end, nearly bridging to the leaders, and Vincenzo Nibali, second in the white jersey competition for best young rider (behind Andy Schleck), who hung on gamely and at one point was actually in virtual third place, following the wheel of Contador as he marked Andy Schleck during an attack.  Martin also deserves mention for staying up front with Garate, at times looking like a zombie as his eyes rolled into his head while his legs kept the pace.

In the end Mont Ventoux provided great entertainment but didn't shuffle the standings much; last week in the Alps and particularly Thursday's time trial pretty much set the order of finish overall.  But it was amazing; of all the great climbs in France the one I really want to do someday is Mont Ventoux.  (Well I guess I want to do l'Alpe d'Huez too, and Galibier, and Courchevel, and Columbiere, and Tourmelet, and Pla d'Aday, and ... :)  Shirley and I watched A Good Year last night, coincidentally, and visiting Provence seems indicated!

TDF 09 stage 20 - Lance attacks Mont Ventoux in 2000[Update: came across this clip on YouTube of Lance attacking and passing Marco Pantani on Mont Ventoux in the 2000 TdF.  You'd have to say he has indeed slowed a bit, wow.  That was one of the more impressive attacks I've seen, clearly on par with anything Contador has done.  We'll have to see whether Lance can ever return to that form...]

And so ends a great Tour!  And actually it isn't over yet, because tomorrow's parade to Paris does end with eight laps of that incredible stadium on the Champs-Elyees, and a probable final sprint showdown between Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, and Tyler Farrar.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Saturday Evening Post

Saturday,  07/25/09  05:30 PM

Saturday Evening Post.  (Wow, good name for a magazine.) 

bouquet of seventeen rosesI am REALLY HAPPY today.  Let me count the ways.  First, tomorrow is the seventeenth anniversary of my marriage to Shirley.  We're celebrating tonight with a fantabulous dinner and I will shortly retreat into the caves for a '97 Cabernet as accompaniment.  Second, still buzzing from that great TdF stage this morning up Mont Ventoux.  I know it is just a bunch of guys riding bikes in France, but pro cycling is the coolest sport ever, what can I say, and for a Rabo rider to win, and Lance to be on the podium, well, it was excellent.  Third, I was able to get something really knarly and technical to work today, I've been back-burnering it for days weeks while I paid attention to other stuff. C-15 NAs revisited: planning on a dead run (a framed version was used for Megan's 2nd place trophy)And fourth, I have this really cool trophy sitting in my office which Megan won when we sailed the C-15 North Americans together.  The trophy is a framed picture of us sailing together, planing on a dead run (as at right; click to enbiggen).  I keep looking at it and it brings a smile to my face (and a tear to my eye); I bought / built that boat in the summer of 1979, when I was nineteen, little knowing that thirty years later I'd be sailing it with my 12-year-old daughter.  How cool is that?

Hydonora Africana flower - not only looks strange, but smells like feces to attract dung beetlesHere we have the strangest plants on Earth.  Quite a collection.  The adaptations are even more amazing than those found among animals; after looking through these you have to conclude that evolution is even more creative than Dr. Suess!

SpaceX launch!Rand Simberg: A Space Program For The Rest of Us .  "Let us finally abandon our race with the Soviet Union, the race we won four decades ago against an adversary two decades vanquished and vanished.  We don’t need to remake Apollo; we need to open up the new space frontier the way the old American frontier was opened.  Let us unleash private enterprise and create not just jobs but true wealth."  Amen brother.  I know SpaceX would agree :)  [ via Instapundit ]

Tron Legacy trailerThis looks amazing: the trailer for Tron Legacy.  Yay, another cool movie to watch!  Cannot wait...

Well that's it for a Saturday Evening Post; hope this finds y'all well and see you tomorrow...

 

TDF stage 21 / parade + sprint - Cavendish blows field away! + Contador triumphs + wrapup

Sunday,  07/26/09  05:19 PM

TDF 09 stage 21 - Columbia drives the peloton to the finish, setting up Cavendish for the winAnd so the 2009 Tour de France came down to the final day, the parade to Paris, starting this year in Montereau-Fault-Yonne and ending in the traditional eight laps of the Champs-Elyees.  And there was a breakaway of seven riders, and they hung on gamely for seven laps before being devoured by the hungry peloton, led [of course] by Columbia Highroad to get Mark Cavendish to the line in a sprint.  And there were several attempts to take over marshalling the peloton to the line, including a notable effort by Garmin Slipstream on behalf of Tyler Farrar.  And Thor Hushovd hung in there too, looking for his chance, as did Oscar Freire (both previous winners of the green jersey and the final days' sprint).  And in the end none of it mattered; George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw did their usual amazing leadouts, and Cavendish won going away.  It was impressive and amazing, as Phil Liggett commentated no photo finish was needed because nobody else was even in the photo.

TDF 09 stage 21 - the final podium, Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Lance ArmstrongAs expected none of the jerseys changed hands, so Alberto Contador won his second Tour, congratulations to him, and Franco Pellizotti won King of the Mountains, congratulations to him (and may I say, the red and white polka dots look magnificant with Liquigas' green and blue :), and Thor Hushovd won the green jersey by preserving his gap over Cavendish, and Andy Schleck was the best young rider in the white jersey.  And in fact Andy finished second overall, a terrific result for him, and we will see him again you can be sure.  And notably Lance Armstrong, the grand old man himself, finished third and hence mounted the podium for the eighth time in his career, alongside his teammate Contador.  You can't say he was thrilled - everyone knew he was going for victory - but you can't say he was disappointed either; third at 37 after a three year vacation is pretty darn cool.

[Update: reflecting on this Tour, and on Contador's victory, few are giving Johan Bruyneel much credit.  But man, he won his ninth Tour today as D.S., with his second guy, on his third team.  And it could not have been easy to manage the competing egos and ambitions of Alberto and Lance, on one team, with Levi and Kloden thrown in for good measure.  Pretty impressive.  I know what he told the team before the Tour started: we might as well win.  And they did :]

TDF 09 stage 21 - Lance Armstrong shows off his cool "butterfly bike"; he'll be back next year with a new teamI'm always a little sad at the end of each Tour - now Shirley and I won't have to get up early and sit and watch guys in tight shorts riding around France every morning - but I'm more excited about next year; Lance is forming a new team (that's him with his cool "butterfly bike" at right), Contador will be back with a new team (which one, we wonder?), maybe we'll have Alexander Vinokourov back with Astana, maybe we'll have Michael Rasmussen back.  And the race is in better shape than it has been for a long time, there were zero doping controversies this year, how nice was that?  (Although it must be noted that erstwhile competitors Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso were not in the Tour this year in penance for past indiscretions.)

TDF 09 stage 21 - the commentators were great: Craig Hummer, Bob Roll, Paul Sherwen, Phil LiggettFinally I have to note I really enjoyed the commentary, as always and perhaps more than in other years; Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were at the top of their game, Bob Roll added his expertise (he really does know the most about cycling), and Craig Hummer did much better than last year, meshing better with the others and missing fewer opportunities to keep quiet.  So until next year, Vive Le Tour!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Sunday,  07/26/09  07:49 PM

Alice Robinson Regatta at WLYC; Meg in foreground w striped bikiniA very nice day, capping a very nice weekend, as Meg and I sailed in WLYC's Alice Robinson Regatta, and gave a decent account of ourselves despite sailing with a boat full of water (rookie move: left the drain plug out...).  The picture at left shows all the competitors; that is Meg in the foreground w striped bikini...

Tuscany for our anniversary: three filets (and a '97 Staglin Cab!)Shirley and I celebrated our 17th anniversary last night at Tuscany Restaurant, our local favorite, and enjoyed a tremendous selection of three petit filet mignons paired with three sauces, accompanied by a '97 Staglin Cabernet.  She looked amazing (if I may say), and the food was equally awesome, to make for an exceptionally great meal.  Onward to the next seventeen years!

Associated Press goes to war with search engines and blogs.  Wow, how stupid can they be?  Don't answer that, we know already.  As Instapundit notes: yeah, that's a smart business plan.  (From his comments: "Next up, Agatha Christie sues the Dewey Decimal System" :)

Victor David Hanson imagines how Obama's first six months might have gone: the path not taken.  We can already characterize him as a one-term President, don't you think?  The bloom is definitely off that rose...

Obama approval rating on 7/24/09Powerline notes: Obama's decline continues.  Check out the Rasmussen survey results at right, wow.  He's into Bush territory already.

"customed Zorb" - who knew?Spam of the day: customed Zorb.  Who knew there was such a thing as a Zorb?  Now you do, too :)

Yesterday's TDF stage 20 revisited: I came across a clip of Lance Armstrong attacking ferociously on Mont Ventoux in 2000.  Check that out to see the difference between Lance then and now...

Another TDF note: I realized Johan Bruyneel deserves massive credit.  Nine TDF wins, with two riders on three teams.  Pretty impressive.

Lancewood tree - adapts to prevent [extinct] Moas from eating it...This is really cool: Science reports New Zealand tree stuck in evolutionary time warp.  "A eucalyptus-like tree that grows in New Zealand is still defending itself from a giant bird that died out about 500 years ago.  The lancewood tree changes its appearance twice in its lifetime--an adaptation, a new study suggests, that prevented it from being eaten by flightless moas."  Evolution is slow but sure, it will catch up.  Via Slashdot, where a commentator noted: "from the tree's standpoint, the adaptation is working; it hasn't been eaten by a Moa for 500 years" :)

DIY wearable computer - imaging cameras linked to Google linked to a heads' up display...This is way cool: a DIY wearable computer.  I believe this is the future; imagine cameras attached to your glasses acquiring realtime imagery of your surroundings, relaying to Google searches, and displaying the results on a heads' up display inside the glasses.  You know this is going to happen, the only question is how soon.  Personally I can't wait!

ZooBorn: baby Red PandaZooBorn of the day: a baby Red Panda.

 


Tour de France 2009

Following are all Tour de France 2009 posts, in ascending chronological order...

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.)

TDF 09 stage 1: Fabian Cancellara blows away the field!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 ]


TDF stage 2 / flat: Cavendish! a classic field sprint

Sunday,  07/05/09  11:53 AM

TDF 09 stage 2: Cavendish takes the sprintTo no one's surprise today's TDF stage 2 from Monaco to Brignoles ended in a bunch sprint, and to no one's surprise it was won by Mark Cavendish.  It was almost too easy, George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw each taking their turn leading Cavendish to the front.  Tyler Farrar gamely hung on to Mark's wheel for second, but had no chance to come around to challenge. 

The rest of the stage was pretty boring, if picturesque, with no change in the GC.  If Cavendish makes it to Paris he already seems like a lock to win the green jersey.

We're enjoying the HD pictures Versus are providing this year; it sure makes those wide helicopter shots of the French countryside more appealing.  But could I please ask, now that we have so much screen real estate, would it be possible to give us a little more information on-screen?  Seems like an accurate representation of the relative positions of the breakaway and peloton should be possible, right?  Not to mention things like temperature, distance traveled, vertical distance climbed, etc.  The technology in the team cars is way ahead of the technology in the announcer's booths.  Admittedly a quibble as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are on their game as usual (and fortunately Craig Hummer is less annoying than usual).  Should be a great tour.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 3 / flat?: Cavendish! Columbia blows the field apart in echelons, Cancellara keeps yellow, Lance gains

Monday,  07/06/09  11:12 PM

TDF 09 stage 3 - Columbia sees an opening and goes full gas into the crosswindIf you ever want to watch an exciting bike race, check out today's TDF stage 3, a "sprint" stage from Marseille to La Grande-Mott, this year's flattest stage.  On paper it looked to be as exciting as watching paint dry, one of those 200K rides where the peloton tour the countryside for four hours before half a dozen guys execute a wild 30 second sprint to decide the victory.  And that did all happen - the four hour tour and the 30 second sprint - but in between there were fireworks.  Like the man said, that's why they play the game.

So with about 45K left to ride, the Columbia team had come to the front to chase down a four-man break, in order to give Mark Cavendish another shot at a sprint win.  The road turned a corner and suddenly there was a strong crosswind, and Columbia gave full gas en mas, blowing away the peloton and taking about fifteen other riders with them.  The new 25-man break swallowed the old four-man break, pulled away, and eventually built a 40 second lead while the peloton desperately tried to chase.  Making the jump into the lead group were yellow-jersey-wearer Fabian Cancellara, the only Saxo rider to do so, as well as wiley Lance Armstrong and a couple of his Astana teammates.  Mark Cavendish did win the eventual sprint finish, his second in two days, but the big news was the 40 seconds Cancellara and Armstrong were able to put into the other contenders.  This left Cancellara in yellow - by 33s over Tony Martin of Columbia - and moved Lance up into third, 40s back and ahead of all the other GC contenders.  Savor that for a moment...  wow.

This adds some extra spice to tomorrow's team time trial, which was already pretty tasty.  If Astana are able to get 40s on Saxobank - not an unrealistic possibility - and are able to get 7s on Columbia - a very realistic possibility - that would put Lance in yellow.  Savor that for a moment...

There is of course all kinds of speculation that this was somehow setup, that Lance deliberately isolated Alberto Contador (and his other Astana teammates like Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden) in order to seize the team's leadership.  But watching it all play out it couldn't have been premeditated; it just happened too fast.  One second you had a normal chase of a break, and the next you had a pell-mell scramble to grab onto the wheels of Columbia as they blasted into the crosswind.  I think Cancellara and Lance were just being smart - riding near the front to stay out of trouble - and their wisdom in doing so was rewarded.

It is a long way to Paris and ultimately those 40s might not matter.  But then again they might... I love it.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 4 / TTT: Astana rolls! Cancellara keeps yellow over Lance (by 0:00)

Tuesday,  07/07/09  09:08 AM

TDF 09 stage 4 - Astana steamrolls team time trial - but Lance misses yellow by 0:00Un-be-lievable.  Did you watch today's TTT?  Astana steamrolled the field, winning by 18s over Garmin, and putting 40s into Saxobank.  For those of you keeping score at home, 40s was the exact margin that Fabian Cancellara had on GC over Lance Armstrong, which means they are now tied, and tie goes to the incumbent.  So Cancellara keeps his yellow jersey, and Lance is in second, 0:00 behind.  The Astana victory means the rest of the top five are all Astana too, with Alberto Contador in third, 0:19 back, followed by Andreas Kloden at 0:23 and Levi Leipheimer at 0:31.  Talk about total domination.

(How cool would it have been for Lance to be in Yellow?  Well, it would have been cool.  But as he said, "that's cycling".  It does give him a little added incentive when the Tour reaches the Pyrenees on the weekend :)

It was quite a technical course, and the day was marked by a number of crashes; at one point the entire Bbox team overcooked a corner and flew off the course.  Garmin had an interesting strategy; they shed four riders over the early part of the course, finishing with the minimum of five (their best TT men).  It obviously worked out as they finished a strong second and picked up time for their GC men Christian Vande Velde and David Millar.  Columbia looked a bit tired and finished a disappointing fifth, reversing the gains Kim Kirchen and Mick Rogers made in yesterday's amazing "echelon" finish and pushing Tony Martin down out of the top five.  Others who lost time included Cadel Evans, who's Silence-Lotto team finished 2:35 back, Denis Menchov, with Rabobank finishing 2:20 behind, and Carlos Sastre, as Cervelo dropped 1:37.  Those three are basically out of it now. 

The next couple of days are relatively flat and likely to end in bunch sprints, which means Cancellara is likely to keep his yellow until Friday (barring some time bonuses at sprint points or something like that).  Friday's stage is a killer with a mountaintop finish on the HC Arcalis; that will be the end of Cancellara's run and it will be quite interesting, perhaps Contador will attack at the end to try to take yellow away from Lance...  Really when you look at GC, you have to say one of the Astanas are going to win.  The question is which one?

What a tour, and this is only the first week!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 5 / flat - Voeckler wins as break stays away! / Cancellara keeps yellow

Wednesday,  07/08/09  11:32 PM

TDF 09 stage 5 - Highroad and Garmin chase in the wind, but can't catch the breakToday we had the feel-good story of the Tour (so far :), as Thomas Voeckler led a break which was out all day and stayed away, winning by seven seconds in front of the field after staying out for 180K in a rolling stage from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan.  Voeckler is a popular favorite ever since he unexpectedly wore the yellow jersey for a week in 2004, a gamey attacker who never quits.  It is always great when the break is able to stay out - today, because the peloton played games with itself in the wind - and also great to have a French athlete win a stage.

The six-man break formed early, at 20K, and hung in front of the peloton all day (not even by that much, max eight minutes), but as sprinter's teams including Highroad and Garmin (pictured) tried to close the gap the winds broke the peloton into echelons.  Everyone was attentive because of the gap which opened in stage 3, so there was a lot of back and forth which disrupted the chase.  Voeckler attacked the break at the end and stayed away.  Most of the peloton probably didn't care, although it kept sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar from having a chance to compete for the win.  Cavendish did win a bunch sprint for third, adding to his green-jersey-leading points total.

Tomorrow's stage should be interesting; it takes place on mostly flat roads in the East of Spain, from Girona to Barcelona, but the finish is uphill and there could be potential for attacks at the very end.  Armstrong only needs a fraction of a second to take yellow away from Cancellara; who knows what could happen?

It is always great when a break succeeds; it is fun to watch the underdogs win, and it encourages everyone to be in the next break.  Every rider can feel "hey, that could have been me!"

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 6 / flat - Hushovd cranks in the rain! / Cancellara keeps yellow

Thursday,  07/09/09  09:43 AM

TDF 09 stage 6 - Thor Hushovd cranks uphill in the rain to winA wild and wooly stage in the rain today; the uphill finish at the end into Barcelona disrupted what might otherwise have been a routine field sprint, and Thor Hushovd was able to prevail.  I felt bad for David Millar who was in the early break, attacked out of it, led almost to the finish, but was swept up with less than 1K to go and blown out the back.  It happens.

Others who suffered on the day included Denis Menchov, who is not having a good tour and now finds himself pretty much out of the running, quite a disappointment for the erstwhile favorite (and my own rooting pick, as I always root for Rabobank as the "Dutch" team :)  Yeah, he could recover with a great attack in the mountains, but that would be unlikely.  Nearly the same with Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans, two other pre-race favorites who find themselves minutes in arrears with only six stages in the books.

Well there is a  l o n g  way to go yet, and much could happen.  In particular tomorrow we have the first mountain stage, an HC climb up to Arcalis in the Pyrenees which could really do some sorting out.  Should be excellent, particularly if there's a battle between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 7 / climb - Contador attacks! But Feillu wins and Nocentini takes yellow...

Friday,  07/10/09  11:08 AM

rookie Brice Feillu attacks out of the break to win the stageQuite the wild stage today, eh?  As the tour climbed into Andorra, with a mountaintop finish on the HC climb up to Arcalis ski station...  A day-long break of eight riders managed to contribute a rookie winner - Brice Feillu (pic at left) - who persevered wonderfully to pull away from his group - and a new yellow-jersey-wearer - Rinaldo Nocentini, who managed to save his time over the Astana favorites.  Most of the GC leaders finished together in a peloton led by Astana, but Alberto Contador attacked with 1K to go, putting 21s on everyone including teammate Lance Armstrong.  Alberto is left 6s out of yellow, with Lance 2s back of that, and Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden remain right there too.

The big story will be "Alberto attacks Lance"; one might ask, why, but then again Alberto would say why not.  He is clearly the strongest climber in the race, it was an HC mountaintop, he had a chance to put time into all the GC contenders (the three closest being teammates) and so he took it.  It was wonderful watching him blow up the mountain.  And it will certainly make for great theater as the Tour continues... including tomorrow's stage, also in the Pyrenees.  Should be interesting!

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TDF stage 8 / climb - Sanchez survives to win, Nocentini holds yellow

Sunday,  07/12/09  06:35 PM

TDF 09 stage 8 - Hushovd captures green!Sorry I know I'm late with this post, I was otherwise occupied yesterday :)  Yesterday's TDF stage from Andorra to Saint Girons featured some high mountains, but they were far enough from the finish that most observers expected a break to succeed rather than GC action.  And so it was that Luis Leon Sanchez won out of a four-man break that led the peloton across the hills all day.

There was some infighting among the contenders, with Cadel Evans taking off early and immediately being reeled in, but the mountain action was mostly quiet.  Probably the best move was Thor Hushovd's, shown at right, who took off in an early break to grab enough sprint points to take the green jersey away from Mark Cavendish.  He should be able to hold it through the mountains until Tuesday.

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TDF stage 9 / climb -Fedrigo takes the break, Tourmelet neutralized

Sunday,  07/12/09  11:22 PM

TDF stage 9 - peloton out for a Sunday cruise up the Col du TourmeletHow to you turn a Pyranean stage with two huge climbs into a boring race?  Just add 70km of downhill/flat to the finish, as the Tour organizers did on today's stage from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes.  The Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmelet have both seen some great battles in tours past, but today the peloton rode as if out for a Sunday ride, letting a break succeed and otherwise doing very little.  There were some teams that took an interest in closing down the break at the end, but they left it too late and Pierrick Fedrigo was able to stay out and win.

Tomorrow is a rest day (for me from this weekend, as well as for the peloton for the first week), and then next week we have a few flat sprint stages before hitting the alps.  Let's hope some racing takes place in those mountains!

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TDF stage 10 / flat - another Cavendish sprint win, ho hum

Tuesday,  07/14/09  10:49 AM

TDF stage 10 - Cavendish wins another sprint ahead of Thor HushovdAnd so after a rest day the Tour crosses relatively flat land for a few days, and so Mark Cavendish and his Columbia train took another victory, his fourth.  Except for the sprint at the end, the rest of the 194.5km leg from Limoges to Issoudun was pretty ho hum, even without radios.  Tomorrow looks to be more of the same... some are saying the finish is too tricky for a brute force sprint, but I think Mark will prevail...

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TDF stage 11 / flat - (yawn) another Cavendish sprint win! etc.

Wednesday,  07/15/09  11:30 AM

Mark Cavendish blasts through finish ahead of Tyler Farrar and Thor HushovdWell so much for those who said Mark Cavendish wouldn't win today because the finish was uphill; maybe the stage from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau looked tough to others, but it didn't to him, as he blasted through the finish ahead of Tyler Farrar.  (Although as Velonews notes, behind the scenes, it is harder than it looks.)

Meanwhile I thought this was interesting: Bernard Hinault says the only way to beat Astana is to attack.  I know what you're thinking, "he would say that", but he's right; nobody is going to beat Astana by sitting in the peloton waiting for something good to happen.  Maybe not tomorrow, which is a rolling flattish stage that seems made for a breakaway, but Friday back in the Alps the Saxos and Cadel and Menchov and Sastre must try something, right?  And who knows, maybe Bradley Wiggins will be the joker in the pack.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 12 / flat - Sorenson wins in a solo break! / Jerseys unchanged...

Thursday,  07/16/09  12:43 PM

Rinaldo Nocentini in yellow, but tomorrow will likely be his last day...And so guess what?  Yeah, Mark Cavendish did not winNicki Sorensen pulled away from a seven-man break on the 212km 12th stage from Tonnerre to Vittel, the last relatively flat day before the Tour returns to the mountains Friday. 

The jerseys were unchanged, but I hope Rinaldo Nocentini enjoys wearing yellow tomorrow, because I fear it will be his last day, as tomorrow the Tour heads into the Vosges, where danger awaits.  I expect a lot of attacking tomorrow, as the GC men realize it is on now, and they have to do something to prevent an Astana parade to the podium.  It should be exciting!

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TDF stage 12 - Leipheimer out with broken wrist

Friday,  07/17/09  06:53 AM

TDF 09 - stange 12 - Levi Leipheimer broke his wrist in a crashMan, this sucks... Levi Leipheimer was involved in a crash in yesterday's stage 12; initially it looked like he was okay, he got up and finished, but later it turned out he'd broken his wrist and had to withdraw from the tour.  Reminds me of the injury George Hincapie sustained a few years ago in the Tour of California...  anyway this really sucks, Levi is such a great guy, and Lance and Alberto are really going to miss him in the alps.  Not to mention he was sitting fourth on GC. 

It will make today's stage even more interesting... they're riding even as I type.  This does change the dynamic; it makes Astana a little more vulnerable, and may motivate some of the other teams to attack.  Stay tuned.

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TDF stage 13 / climb? - Haussler wins big, GC unchanged, Hushovd green, Pellizotti spotted

Friday,  07/17/09  08:46 AM

TDF09 stage 13 - Heinrich Haussler crosses the finish after a great solo victory, well ahead of the fieldHeinrich Haussler attacked from an early break and stayed out all day for a wire-to-wire win in today's 99km TDF stage from Colmar to Besançon.  He was 105 in GC and unbothered by the peloton, who rode as a clump with little action, despite five catagorized climbs and rain.  In other action Thor Hushovd grabbed sprint points to take the green jersey back; he might not be able to beat Mark Cavendish in a raw sprint, but he's wiley, and Franco Pellizotti took the KOM jersey from Igor Martinez by launching out and scooping up points on each climb.

I am confused by the strategy of would-be GC contenders like Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Andy Schleck, and Christian Vande Velde.  They need to pick up minutes on Lance and Alberto somewhere, today would have been a good chance.  Everyone is waiting for everyone else, and meanwhile AG2R holds yellow and Astana is in the catbird seat.  Verrry interrresting...

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TDF stage 14 / flat - Ivanov attacks break to win, Hincapie narrowly misses yellow

Saturday,  07/18/09  10:31 AM

TDF09 stage 14 - George Hincapie was in virtual yellow all day, before Astana (!) and Garmin (!) reeled him back...Weird doings on the road in France, as a day-long break of twelve riders stayed away on the [last] flat stage from Colmar to Besançon.  Sergei Ivanov attacked the break with 5km to go for the win, but more interestingly the leader on GC in the break was George Hincapie, who missed taking over yellow by 5 seconds.  Astana spent a great deal of time all day pulling back the break - why? - and Garmin spent a lot of time at the end pulling hard - why? - and their efforts combined to keep estwhile friend Hincapie from taking over the lead from Rinaldo Nocentini.  It is tough to explain why Astana or Garmin would care, but apparently they did, to my chagrin and that of cycling fans everywhere.  How great would it have been to see George wear yellow one more time?

Anyway that's that for the sprint stages until the final day in Paris; Farrar never did get a chance to try Cavendish one more time, and Thor Hushovd actually increased his lead in the points competition by winning the sprint of the peloton.  Now we head into the Alps all week, where the Tour will really be decided; I am very much looking forward to tomorrow's stage.  Velonews thinks Evans still has a chance, and tomorrow will be crucial, and we'll see what Levi Leipheimer's departure means to Astana.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 15 / climb! - Contador asserts himself, takes yellow

Sunday,  07/19/09  02:55 PM

TDF09 stage 15 - Contador attacks on the mountaintop finish to win and take yellowToday we had the second real selection in the Tour (the first was the team time trial nearly two weeks ago), perhaps the decisive one, as Alberto Contador attacked on the mountaintop finish of the Alpine stage from Pontarlier to Verbier and put over a minute into everyone, taking the yellow jersey and showing the field who's boss (right).  Andy Schleck hung in there gamely to finish second, and Bradley Wiggins put in a great ride to finish third.  Lance Armstrong remains in second overall but really couldn't stay with the fastest guys on the final climb, as Andreas Kloden guided him in.

TDF09 stage 15 - Armstrong hung in gamely but didn't have the power to stay with the leadersAt this point you'd have to say the Tour is Alberto's to lose, just as you might have said going in... there are three more climbing stages and an ITT, none of which should scare him.  His closest pursuers are Lance (left), who might be able to make something happen in the ITT but doesn't seem to pose a threat on the climbs, Wiggins, who is a real surprise and a threat for the podium, 1:46 back, and Andy Schleck, who can't TT with Alberto and who needs to pick up 2:26.  At this point we can rule out Carlos Sastre, 3:52, who hung in there with the leaders but couldn't pick up time, Christian Vande Velde, 3:59, who had a disappointing day and lost a little, and Cadel Evans, 4:27, who like Sastre needs to do more than just ride with the leaders to make something happen.

Couple of things I want to note: as I thought about George Hincapie's ride yesterday (which left him a mere 5 seconds out of yellow) and listened to all the interviews, it seems to me that Astana screwed up.  They really wanted George to be in yellow, but they underestimated the closing speed of the peloton and cut it too close.  If they'd have let the break get two more minutes it would have worked nicely; George would have been in yellow and Highroad would have had to share the pacemaking today, which would have been good.  So with all the talk of Garmin pushing the pace at the end and all, I really think Astana messed it up.  But Shirley made a great point: "if George would have ridden a little harder, he would have taken it".  In the end nobody gives you the yellow jersey, you have to take it for yourself.  As Alberto did today.

The other thing is that watching today play out, it seems so obvious [now] that this was going to happen.  In the Tour the teams matter, the tactics matter, the weather matters, etc., but in the end the best climber wins.  Alberto was always the best climber, and he was always going to win.  (You can remind me I wrote this after he bonks or screws up the ITT :)  Anyway tomorrow we have a rest day, Tuesday and Wednesday more climbing, Thursday the ITT, Friday a stage for a break as the peloton rests a bit (!), and then Saturday the final showdown finishing at the top of Mont Ventoux.

[Update: At the Tour there are always great little stories within the big story.  Consider Simon Spilak, who finished last on Friday's rain-soaked stage to Colmar and was eliminated on time – but was allowed back in because the race referee decided that he'd been hampered by having to ride on opened roads and cope with traffic.  So today he got into the break, stayed up there all day, attacked, and was first to reach the final climb.  He was ultimately swallowed up and finished seven minutes back, but was voted most aggressive rider of the day.  Imagine how he feels tonight.  I love it!]

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TDF stage 16 / climb - Astarloza attacks to win / jerseys unchanged after battle

Tuesday,  07/21/09  10:51 PM

(refraining from descriptive titles until a couple of days later, for you Tivoers out there...)

TDF 09 stage 16 - Bradley Wiggins leads Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Lance ArmstrongAnd so after a rest day we had a day of fireworks in the Tour, with two massive climbs between Martigny and Bourg-Saint-Maurice that resulted in a further selection.  Mikel Astarloza won with a daring last minute break, but the real battle took place among the GC men behind him.  The Schleck brothers attacked, Contador and Kloden followed, and for a while there was a split between the contenders, with Lance Armstrong powering across the gap.  Ultimately the leaders came back together but some of the pretenders gave up more time, like poor Cadel Evans.  You could really see who was "on the rivet" and who wasn't; Bradley Wiggins looked really strong (pic at left), as did Contador, Andy Schleck, and Kloden, Lance showed a flash of his old power crossing the gap, and Frank Schleck, Vincenzo Nibali, and Christian Vande Velde were able to match the pace.  Also up there today was Kim Kirchen, who looks to be getting stronger.

Tomorrow is a maniacal stage with five massive climbs (the "queen" stage), but I don't look for any further selections until the TT on Thursday.  That's really the only and best chance for Lance or Bradley Wiggins to take time from Contador.  And/or for Kloden to move up into a podium spot.  There will be more attacking tomorrow because the Schlecks really can only gain on a climb, and perhaps one or more of the leaders will fall by the wayside; we'll see.

On a sad note poor Jens Voigt pulled out in the early break, fell back to power Saxo up the first climb, and then crashed heavily on the descent.  I sure hope he's okay, and it is sad to see him out of the tour.

TDF 09 stage 7 - Fabian Cancellara descends madly through the motorcadeOne more note: check out this video of Fabian Cancellara descending on stage 7; this was while he was still in yellow, after he'd flatted, and with the peloton charging down the hill.  Wild bike handling skills on display as he weaves through the motorcycles and team cars at 60+kph :)

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TDF stage 17 / climb - the Schlecks win, Contador and Hushovd solidify yellow and green

Wednesday,  07/22/09  09:13 PM

TDF 09 stage 17 - route profile - five categorized climbs - ouchWow, what a race!  Today's TDF stage 17 from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand had everthing, courage, strength, attacks, cracks, great teamwork, and solo moves.  In the end Frank Schleck won with Alberto Contador and his brother Andy Schleck right on his wheel, solidifying Alberto's hold on the yellow jersey.  After all the carnage the Schlecks took over 2nd and 3rd on GC (2:26 and 3:25),  pushing Lance Armstrong down to 4th (3:55), Andreas Kloden to 5th (4:44), and Bradley Wiggins to 6th (4:53).

TDF 09 stage 17 - Thor Hushovd leads over the first three climbs to take maximum points in the sprintsThere were some great sub-plots; Thor Hushovd secured his green jersey with a heroic ride across the Alps, leading alone for most of the race to take maximum points at the two sprint locations.  If you look at the profile above you can see this means he led across three catagorized climbs, wow, how about that.  When I first started watching this morning I couldn't believe Thor was leading.  I guess that puts paid to all the talk about how he doesn't really deserve to be in green because Cavendish was relegated in stage 14.

And Franco Pellizotti secured his polka dot jersey by taking points on all his rivals over the first three climbs; at this point it seems like he has it in the bag, with "only" Saturday's stage to Mont Ventoux left in the KOM competition.

TDF 09 stage 17 - the Schlecks celebrate as Frank Wins and Andy gains time on everyone except Alberto ContadorAlthough Alberto ended up increasing his lead in yellow, perhaps insurmountably, you have to say he again screwed up team tactics.  On the final climb he was riding comfortably in the shadow of the Schlecks accompanied by teammate Kloden, with Armstrong tailing Wiggins in a group about 1:30 behind, and he launched an attack.  No good reason for this, all he had to do was finish with the Schlecks (which happened anyway), but the result was he dropped Andreas and put time into Armstrong, who did follow team tactics by hanging onto Wiggins until the end.  He ended up hurting his own teammates without gaining anything - a typical rookie move.  Still you have to hand it to him, he is now clearly the strongest rider in the race.

Tomorrow is the final ITT - look for Armstrong, Kloden, and Wiggins to gain significant time on the Schlecks, we'll see whether it will be enough to move them up.  At this point Alberto's lead seems safe, and he's a pretty fair TTer himself these days...

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TDF stage 18 / ITT - Contador wins (wow!), Andy, Lance, Bradley, Andreas left for GC

Thursday,  07/23/09  11:30 AM

TDF 09 stage 18 - Contador wins ITT to confirm dominance over tourOkay, we're going to have to admit it now: Alberto Contador is the best rider in the world.  He won the individual time trial around Lake Annecy today, edging Fabian Cancellara by four seconds and asserting his dominance.  As expected the Schleck brothers lost time, but Andy held on to 2nd overall, now 4:11 back, while Lance Armstrong moved up to 3rd (5:25), Bradley Wiggins to 4th (5:36), and Andreas Kloden to 5th (5:38).  The race is now for second, and really with only the mountain stage up to Mont Ventoux left to shuffle GC Andy looks pretty safe, so the real race is now for third.  After Cancellara posted his time I didn't think there was any way anyone could touch him, and nobody could until Contador.  He's not only a great climber, he's a great TTer, beating the best in the world on a classic (pretty flat) TT course.

I'm going to confess, I was pretty disappointed with today's results.  First, I don't like Alberto.  Okay, okay, he's a great rider, but that doesn't mean I have to like him.  That business with him attacking Kloden yesterday was bad, just like him attacking Lance in Andorra was bad.  Second, I do like Cancellara, and was rooting for him to win.  Third, I do like Lance, and was rooting for him to win, or at least to do really well.  He did pick up time on the Schlecks but the Lance of old would not have finished 16th in an ITT.  Overall it was kind of a boring and disappointing day...

... and so tomorrow's transitional stage is likely to feature a break while the GC rests in anticipation of the fireworks Saturday.  It would have been a great stage for Jens Voigt (who sadly crashed out of the Tour with a broken cheekbone); I'm going to pick one of the GC guys who hasn't really done anything to get in the break and win; someone like Cadel Evans or Denis Menchov or David Millar.  We'll see...

In other cycling news, Lance announced he's forming a new team next year with Radio Shack and Livestrong as sponsors; presumably Johan Bruyneel will be the DS.  You could guess Levi Leipheimer will join him, but Alberto will not :)

Rasmussen climbing ahead of Contador in the 2007 TourAnd finally this is GREAT news: UCI won't oppose Rasmussen's return.  Yay, we might get the chicken back!  Keep in mind, he's the one guy who has proven he can climb with Contador (remember his battles in the '07 Tour, see pic at right); it will be interesting to see where he lands...

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TDF stage 19 / flatish - Cavendish wins sprint after Rabo chases down break; jerseys unchanged

Friday,  07/24/09  11:09 AM

TDF 09 stage 19 - Rabobank drive the peloton onward, preventing a breakWell today was kind of a weird day in the Tour de France, wasn't it?  Everyone expected a break to succeed on the mostly flat stage between Bourgoi-Jallieu and Aubenas, but someone forgot to tell Rabobank, who kept the peloton close all afternoon, even when there was a twenty-man break.  Of course the break did not include a Rabo, and they fancied perhaps Oscar Freire could win an uphill sprint to the finish.

So what happened?  The field came together for a bunch sprint, and Mark Cavendish won his fifth stage of this year's tour, barely beating arch-rivals Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar.  Freire was never in the mix.  You start a bike race, you just never know what will happen.  Anyway it did make what would otherwise have been a rather routine transitional stage more interesting.  At one point we had Cadel Evans in the break - that would have been cool - and at another point world champion Alessandro Bellan attacked, so everyone got to show their colors.

A side note: your may remember Lance ruffled feathers when he called the 2008 Tour de France a "joke".  Later he apologized, saying that was "not correct".  But Andrew Hood looked at last year's Tour top ten, and where they are now, and really Lance was correct.  None of last year's top ten are contending, and only Christian Vande Velde (4th) and Frank Schleck (5th) are in the top ten this year.

Tomorrow is of course the BIG day, the mountaintop finish on Mont Ventoux that we've all been waiting for... you'd have to say Alberto Contador has the yellow jersey safely bagged, but Andy Schleck is less secure in second, and Lance Armstrong will really have to work to defend third.  It should be excellent, please stay tuned...

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TDF stage 20 / climb - Garate conquers Ventoux, Contador and Armstrong stay with the Schlecks

Saturday,  07/25/09  01:42 PM

TDF 09 stage 20 - Juan Manual Garate wins up Mont Ventoux after riding in a break all day!Woo hoo, Mont VentouxJuan Manual Garate won after riding in a break all day from Montelimar to the summit of Mont Ventoux.  Chapeau!  An incredible performance, edging Tony Martin at the finish (another survivor from the break) and salvaging glory for Rabobank, who otherwise have had a pretty lousy Tour.  (Taken together with the team's aggressive chase yesterday Rabo have awakened at last, and who knows Oscar Freire could win tomorrow!)

TDF 09 stage 20 - Andy Schleck continuously attacked to try to help his brother Frank onto the podium, marked closely each time by Alberto ContadorAmong the GC men the expected fireworks took place on the final 21km climb @ 7.5%; Andy Schleck rode a wonderful race, continuously attacking in the hope that his brother Frank could follow and Lance Armstrong, Bradley Wiggins, and Andreas Kloden could not, thereby pulling Frank onto the podium.  On each acceleration Andy was closely marked by leader Alberto Contador, who ended up fourth and secured his second overall Tour de France victory.  Lance hung on beautifully, but Wiggins and Kloden were eventually dropped, with the result that Frank finished fifth.  It was team tactics at their finest, witnessed by an estimated crowd of 500,000 people lining the entire climb.  At times it seemed the riders were floating through a sea of people.  (Isn't is amazing that as close as the spectators get to the action - and as aggressive as some of them are, waving flags and running alongside the race - that seldom is a cycle race actually affected by their presence?)

TDF 09 stage 20 - Tony Martin hung in there for second, pacing Garate all the way from the breakOther heroes on a heroic day included Franco Pellizotti, who did the spotted King of the Mountains jersey proud by attacking at the end, nearly bridging to the leaders, and Vincenzo Nibali, second in the white jersey competition for best young rider (behind Andy Schleck), who hung on gamely and at one point was actually in virtual third place, following the wheel of Contador as he marked Andy Schleck during an attack.  Martin also deserves mention for staying up front with Garate, at times looking like a zombie as his eyes rolled into his head while his legs kept the pace.

In the end Mont Ventoux provided great entertainment but didn't shuffle the standings much; last week in the Alps and particularly Thursday's time trial pretty much set the order of finish overall.  But it was amazing; of all the great climbs in France the one I really want to do someday is Mont Ventoux.  (Well I guess I want to do l'Alpe d'Huez too, and Galibier, and Courchevel, and Columbiere, and Tourmelet, and Pla d'Aday, and ... :)  Shirley and I watched A Good Year last night, coincidentally, and visiting Provence seems indicated!

TDF 09 stage 20 - Lance attacks Mont Ventoux in 2000[Update: came across this clip on YouTube of Lance attacking and passing Marco Pantani on Mont Ventoux in the 2000 TdF.  You'd have to say he has indeed slowed a bit, wow.  That was one of the more impressive attacks I've seen, clearly on par with anything Contador has done.  We'll have to see whether Lance can ever return to that form...]

And so ends a great Tour!  And actually it isn't over yet, because tomorrow's parade to Paris does end with eight laps of that incredible stadium on the Champs-Elyees, and a probable final sprint showdown between Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, and Tyler Farrar.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 21 / parade + sprint - Cavendish blows field away! + Contador triumphs + wrapup

Sunday,  07/26/09  05:19 PM

TDF 09 stage 21 - Columbia drives the peloton to the finish, setting up Cavendish for the winAnd so the 2009 Tour de France came down to the final day, the parade to Paris, starting this year in Montereau-Fault-Yonne and ending in the traditional eight laps of the Champs-Elyees.  And there was a breakaway of seven riders, and they hung on gamely for seven laps before being devoured by the hungry peloton, led [of course] by Columbia Highroad to get Mark Cavendish to the line in a sprint.  And there were several attempts to take over marshalling the peloton to the line, including a notable effort by Garmin Slipstream on behalf of Tyler Farrar.  And Thor Hushovd hung in there too, looking for his chance, as did Oscar Freire (both previous winners of the green jersey and the final days' sprint).  And in the end none of it mattered; George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw did their usual amazing leadouts, and Cavendish won going away.  It was impressive and amazing, as Phil Liggett commentated no photo finish was needed because nobody else was even in the photo.

TDF 09 stage 21 - the final podium, Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Lance ArmstrongAs expected none of the jerseys changed hands, so Alberto Contador won his second Tour, congratulations to him, and Franco Pellizotti won King of the Mountains, congratulations to him (and may I say, the red and white polka dots look magnificant with Liquigas' green and blue :), and Thor Hushovd won the green jersey by preserving his gap over Cavendish, and Andy Schleck was the best young rider in the white jersey.  And in fact Andy finished second overall, a terrific result for him, and we will see him again you can be sure.  And notably Lance Armstrong, the grand old man himself, finished third and hence mounted the podium for the eighth time in his career, alongside his teammate Contador.  You can't say he was thrilled - everyone knew he was going for victory - but you can't say he was disappointed either; third at 37 after a three year vacation is pretty darn cool.

[Update: reflecting on this Tour, and on Contador's victory, few are giving Johan Bruyneel much credit.  But man, he won his ninth Tour today as D.S., with his second guy, on his third team.  And it could not have been easy to manage the competing egos and ambitions of Alberto and Lance, on one team, with Levi and Kloden thrown in for good measure.  Pretty impressive.  I know what he told the team before the Tour started: we might as well win.  And they did :]

TDF 09 stage 21 - Lance Armstrong shows off his cool "butterfly bike"; he'll be back next year with a new teamI'm always a little sad at the end of each Tour - now Shirley and I won't have to get up early and sit and watch guys in tight shorts riding around France every morning - but I'm more excited about next year; Lance is forming a new team (that's him with his cool "butterfly bike" at right), Contador will be back with a new team (which one, we wonder?), maybe we'll have Alexander Vinokourov back with Astana, maybe we'll have Michael Rasmussen back.  And the race is in better shape than it has been for a long time, there were zero doping controversies this year, how nice was that?  (Although it must be noted that erstwhile competitors Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso were not in the Tour this year in penance for past indiscretions.)

TDF 09 stage 21 - the commentators were great: Craig Hummer, Bob Roll, Paul Sherwen, Phil LiggettFinally I have to note I really enjoyed the commentary, as always and perhaps more than in other years; Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were at the top of their game, Bob Roll added his expertise (he really does know the most about cycling), and Craig Hummer did much better than last year, meshing better with the others and missing fewer opportunities to keep quiet.  So until next year, Vive Le Tour!

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TDF redux

Monday,  07/27/09  09:09 PM

TDF 09 - goodbye until next year!One more Tour post (if you're sick of these, you can say "yay", and if you're a tour fan you can join me in saying "boo" :).  A few little day after observations and links:

  • How great was it that all the news was the cyclists and the races, and no doping?  It was great.
  • To nobody's surprise Alberto and Lance are sparring already.  It should be a great showdown next year.  And where will Alberto land?  Perhaps, as Lance has suggested, he will discover there is no "I" in team :)
  • Nice to see Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish have buried the hatchet.  Mark is going to learn from this experience, and will be competing for the green next year you can be sure.  He won Milan San Remo remember, he is not "just" a sprinter.  Thor did show us all he isn't either.
  • Welcome back!  Michael Rasmussen finishes second upon his return from a two year suspension.  Excellent, I want to see him back in the Tour.  We need someone who can climb with Contador.
  • Welcome back II!  Robbie McEwen finishes second upon his return from injury.  Excellent, I want to see him back in the Tour, too.  We need someone who can sprint with Cavendish.
  • George Hincapie did break his collarbone in stage 17; he declined to have it X-rayed so he could finish.  Think cyclists aren't tough?  Wow.
  • Finally, this was really cool, as Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme credited Lance Armstrong for adding interest to this year's race.  Lance won more friends in France finishing third than he ever did by winning.

And so now it is wait 'till next year!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


 

TDF redux

Monday,  07/27/09  09:09 PM

TDF 09 - goodbye until next year!One more Tour post (if you're sick of these, you can say "yay", and if you're a tour fan you can join me in saying "boo" :).  A few little day after observations and links:

  • How great was it that all the news was the cyclists and the races, and no doping?  It was great.
  • To nobody's surprise Alberto and Lance are sparring already.  It should be a great showdown next year.  And where will Alberto land?  Perhaps, as Lance has suggested, he will discover there is no "I" in team :)
  • Nice to see Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish have buried the hatchet.  Mark is going to learn from this experience, and will be competing for the green next year you can be sure.  He won Milan San Remo remember, he is not "just" a sprinter.  Thor did show us all he isn't either.
  • Welcome back!  Michael Rasmussen finishes second upon his return from a two year suspension.  Excellent, I want to see him back in the Tour.  We need someone who can climb with Contador.
  • Welcome back II!  Robbie McEwen finishes second upon his return from injury.  Excellent, I want to see him back in the Tour, too.  We need someone who can sprint with Cavendish.
  • George Hincapie did break his collarbone in stage 17; he declined to have it X-rayed so he could finish.  Think cyclists aren't tough?  Wow.
  • Finally, this was really cool, as Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme credited Lance Armstrong for adding interest to this year's race.  Lance won more friends in France finishing third than he ever did by winning.

And so now it is wait 'till next year!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]

 

Monday,  07/27/09  09:58 PM

iTunes rocksA busy day of work work work after a wonderful weekend of messing around.  I guess that's just the way it goes.  I made a major [re]discovery today: I love working to music.  I periodically fall out of the habit of working with music in the background (I think when I'm spending lots of time on the 'phone) and then when I try it again I'm like "wow, I love working to music" :)

Palm Pre side viewMade a new coolular discovery about the Pre today: it feels very comfortable in the hand holding it against your head while talking.  Because I use my Plantronics Bluetooth headset all the time I really hadn't done this, but I let the battery in the headset run down and had to use the phone itself, and with the keyboard slid out the back of the phone gives your fingers a nice ledge to rest on...

itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny: shopping for bikiniAn important subject: Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny (shopping for bikinis), from this week's New Yorker.  I particularly like this definition: a bikini is any swimsuit which can fit through a wedding ring.

Recently saw an email from CNet extolling the virtues of Netflix downloads.  Yeah, but... now that I have Netflix downloads on my Tivo, I never ever use them.  Know why?  Because you have to wait for the whole movie to download before you can watch it.  Meanwhile my AppleTV is just one remote control away and has the same movies at the same prices, and they stream.  No contest.

Speaking of Netflix and contests, the Netflix $1M contest is over!  And we have two winners!  Both of which have improved Netflix's suggestion effectiveness by over 10%.  So either way their customers will win.

Josh Newman's Next Chapter: "Earlier today, I updated my bio (both above, and on the about page) to reflect my having turned 30... and changed the front-page quote to the Wall St. Journal's 'an Internet elder statesmen'."  Good grief!  He turns 30 and he's over the hill?  Elder statesman?  Wow… what’s next, blog posts that begin with "I remember when…"?

[Update: Josh responds: "I was going to ask you what it was like to hunt for woolly mammoths"]

Current first class 44¢ stamps: The Simpsons!I remember when... stamps were 10¢.  Really.  Do you know what they are now?  (Many people don't, like me; I had to look it up because I never buy stamps anymore, and the price changes constantly.)  And so now the USPS are thinking of raising rates from 44¢ to 50¢.  "The more they raise the price of stamps, the lower their volume.  This union driven worker model is too pricey for a declining market."  D'ya think?

BTW in case you didn't know this is not a joke; the current first class stamps really do feature The Simpsons.  Once again Real Life is stranger than The Onion.

Apropos: Scott "Dilbert" Adams on the Extra Legal age.  "Our laws recognize a number of legal ages for various activities.  You need to be 16-years old to get a driver's license, 18-years old to enlist in the armed forces, and 21-years old to drink.  I think we need to extend that concept.  Once you reach the age of 80, a new set of legal rights should kick in."  80?  How about new rights at 50?  Like the right to start posts with "I remember when" :)

Red red wine - boosts a woman's sexual desire?Important work: The Telegraph reports on research that shows red wine increases women's sexual desire.  I have been conducting experiments of my own in this area that suggest the same :)

{I must note that this is being posted to The Who's Teenage Wasteland.  Probably should switch to UB40's Red Red Wine :}

 

 

Hamlet's duplex (New Yorker, 7/27/09)

Tuesday,  07/28/09  11:06 PM

 

Hamlet's Duplex

I love it

Alternate label for the door on the right: "SS" :)

 

Tuesday,  07/28/09  11:08 PM

Up early, long drive, back to back to back meetings, nice hard ride, nice dinner w nice wine, and now sleepyness setting in...

Back to blogging to music.  Now by Def Leppard.  I suspect it helps.

Andrew Breitbart notes The President's Accidental Gift on Race.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Presumed guilt is indeed the order of our politically correct days...

See the power of this fully operational blogosphere: Gates Revises Tax Return Based On Blog Post.  Glenn Reynold's headline of the year, so far :)

Urbanscreen's amazing 3D projection on the side of a buildingMust see to believe: Video: life-altering 3D projection gets splashed on German building.  As Neo would say, Whoa.

Time-lapse videos of Disneyland's construction back in 1954More video to watch: time-lapse videos chronicling the construction of Disneyland.  Really cool.  Yeah, this was back in 1954.  No Wooly Mammoths in any of the pictures though :)

TechCrunch note:  Best. Comment. Ever.  "AT&T: You can’t handle the iPhone with Google Voice!"  It is pretty great.  And yes you have to click through to read it :)

From the Ole doesn't get Twitter file: The new Twitter homepage.  So now it looks like a search engine.  What, searching across everyone's random Tweets is suddenly going to make them more interesting?

the ultimate flying machine: the Icon A5The ultimate flying machine?  The Icon A5.  "Power comes from a 100-horsepower Rotax engine, and the A5 needs 750 feet for takeoff and landing.  It has a top speed of 120 mph and a range of 300 nautical miles.  There’s room for two people and 60 pounds of luggage.  Wingspan is 34 feet.  Icon has put a lot of research into making the A5 appealing to non pilots.  The cockpit has been simplified so it looks less like an airliner and more like a car."  Looks fully awesome, I can't wait to drive fly one.  I wonder if it uses paddle shifters :)

ZooBorn: baby TapirZooBorn of the day: a baby Tapir.

 

the Kessel Run

Wednesday,  07/29/09  11:19 PM

Regular readers know that one of my favorite rides is from Dana Point Harbor to Camp Pendleton and back, a loop of 40 miles along the beach which I have whimsically christened "The Kessel Run".  I have ridden it in under two hours, but not yet in twelve parsecs :)

One of the many charms of this ride is the beauty of the harbor and beachfront in the fading light.  Here's what the harbor looks like at 6:30, as seen from The Charthouse perched high above:

Kessel Run: Dana Point Harbor at 6:30PM
(click to enbiggen)

And here's the same view, sun down and lights twinkling into the distance, 2 1/2 hours later, at 9:00:

Kessel Run: Dana Point Harbor 9:00PM

Not pictured, the maresia (salt air smell from the sea), the eerie stillness, the taste of a rare steak and a nice Pinot :)

 

Wednesday,  07/29/09  11:36 PM

Whew, another long day with many meetings and no coding (although I did see a demo of a really cool new analytics graphing capability which made me long for the days when I coded such things :).  I did get in a great ride along the beach, and had a nice dinner with a colleague, but you don't care about any of that, you care about...

AP's Protect / Point / Pay scheme, in which HTML becomes DRMed - notThis diagram perfectly explains the Associated Press' new DRM scheme...  ha!  Man they are even dumber than the RIAA and the MPAA if they think we can't strip tags out of HTML.

And so it happened: Microsoft and Yahoo made a deal for search, in which Microsoft's Bing will be Yahoo's search engine.  (Bingoo!)  I guess this makes sense, sort of; take the best technology and the best distribution you can and try to fight Google.  At least they have deep pockets.  I have tried Bing and found it unremarkable, not horrible but not compellingly better than Google.

PS the markets didn't think much of this deal, but time will tell...

PS2 YHOO shareholders transfer $2.9B to MSFT shareholders.  Bet they're happy about that :(

Dutch floating appartment complexSo you know how The Netherlands has lots of really low land, and how they battle the ocean and tides with dykes and dams?  Well here's a new solution: a floating apartment complex!  I am not making this up...

For those of you [like me] suffering from Tour withdrawals: Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso headline strong Vuelta field.  Personally I am rooting for Cadel Evans.  He had such a crappy Tour, he is going to come back with a vengeance!  (or not :)  Oh and Alejandro Valverde will be in the mix.  The weird rumor of the year is that Alexander Vinokourov will be riding - for Astana!  Well it is him team after all; everyone forgets that Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong were riding in the Tour for a team from Kazakstan... explain that to a time traveler from five years ago.

Vol Libre - CGI film from 1980 using fractalsA cool CGI movie... Vol Libre from 1980.  Yeah, the stone ages of computer-generated film, in which the use of fractals to simulate terrain was considered amazing.  Pretty cool.  I like the anecdote that the Boeing engineer who made this film was offered a job at Lucasfilm on the spot.

ZooBorn: a baby KoalaZooBorn of the day: a baby Koala.  The rule is, you can run as many Koala pictures as you want; they are all amazingly great.

... see you tomorrow!

 

Thursday,  07/30/09  10:42 PM

Back home, yay, with so much to do and yet it was a nice productive day back, actually did a "local" ride for the first time in, well, a long time, and had a nice dinner here at home with my girls.  And watched the TDF stage 16 which was cool because of the "Lance attack" in the middle... and enjoyed the summer, which has been absolutely delightful - definitely cooler so far...

Stephen Marche in Esquire: "Nobody wants to hear it, but this fact is too important to ignore: So far, the first African-American presidency has been one of the worst ever for African-Americans."  I have to disagree.  He makes a compelling case but ignores the most important fact, the ceiling has been broken.  Race has become less important, and that's what really matters...

John McCardell thinks we should eliminate a minimum drinking age; I agree.  "The way our society addresses this problem has been about as effective as a parachute that opens on the second bounce. Clearly, state laws mandating a minimum drinking age of 21 haven't eliminated drinking by young adults - they've simply driven it underground, where life and health are at greater risk."  Prohibition never works.

Open Table app for PreI see where there is an Open Table app for the Pre.  Now that is useful, I love Open Table.  They already have a web interface, but the app uses the Pre's GPS to know exactly where you are and find restaurants close by - exactly what I need.  Yay, Pre apps are coming!

Oh, and there is an unofficial Google Voice app for the Pre, too.  I must try this, a good excuse for signing up for Google Voice.  Stay tuned for that!

PS Apple is definitely not looking good on the Google Voice app thing.  I believe they went a little too far, and the ramifications are going to surprise them.  That walled garden thing has a way of coming back on you...

Kerry Tribe's H.M. - an art installation based on a man who could only remember 20 secondsAn art installation based on H.M., remarkable: Kerry Tribe's H.M.  "What made the piece so remarkable was that it played back on two 16mm projectors, the film being delayed by exactly 20 seconds from one to the other."  Wow, how cool is that?  Cannot wait to see it... stay tuned!

Michael Arrington rethinks the news: The New New York Times.  "The New New York Times, or NNYT, would have a writing staff of say 50 people. These are among the best journalists in the world, and let’s say they wanted to pay themselves $200,000/year, a top salary for a reporter of that stature."  I'm afraid Michael falls into the trap all journalists have to fear, thinking that writing matters.  The business model of media is not based on good journalism, anymore anyway, if it ever was...  sadly I guess.

electric airplane: the electraflyer CHere we have an electric airplane with room for two, the Electraflyer C.  Yay, I want one!  (and you know you do too...)  How cool would that be... what a great time to be alive.

untying the knot: a video showing the best divorce everEverybody is linking this excellent divorce video, and so I will too, because it is excellent...  and how cool is this, the record company which owns the rights to the song, Chris Brown's Forever, is linking to the video instead of filing take down notices.

Good question: Where are the alien space probes?  I've been wondering that myself.  I've looked, and I've looked, and I've looked...  nowhere to be found!  Of course there is always the possibility that they're right in front of our noses, and we just don't know what we're looking at...

 

Friday,  07/31/09  04:08 PM

Tough day today; started with one of my biggest and best customers being unhappy, which caused me to spend most of the day figuring out what to do about it (both now and going forward), and had much else to do besides...  ended up being a productive day, but not a good day, if that makes sense.  I need a weekend!

Adirondack chairs on the beach - what could be better?(Fortunately I have one right here, coming up :)

What is it about Adirondack chairs that makes them so cool?  Just the sight of a pair of them on the beach, as at right, lowers my blood pressure.  We have a couple on the deck outside our bedroom overlooking the back yard and golf course, and I'm going to be sitting right there tomorrow morning, enjoying my morning coffee...

(Meanwhile, it's all happening...)

So yesterday we were talking about Apple's decision to pull the Google Voice app from their App Store (or maybe it was AT&T's decision?); now Michael Arrington has decided to quit the iPhone, and the FCC have opened an inquiry.  Huh.  Looks like maybe this will have ramifications...

Would you have guessed?  The collective optimization of individual driving routes by drivers using realtime traffic maps slows everyone down.  Interesting.  I wonder if there is a corresponding market effect?  [ via Kottke ]

Alex Wellen, author of "Lovesick"Lovesick.  Looks like a great book, might have to Kindle it (yes of course "Kindle is a verb, just as "Amazon"...).  Check out this interview by Dr. Helen (Instapundit's wife) of author Alex Wellen.

To nobody's surprise, Alberto Contador turns down Astana's offer to renew his contract.  I was surprised to read the offer was $4M Euros per year, wow, that's pretty good money for riding a bike :)

Huh, so eBay is in a dispute with the founders of Skype over licensing their core technology, and it might shut down Skype altogether?  I find that amazing.  I agree with John Gruber: eBay paid $2.6 billion for Skype, but that didn’t include the licensing rights to the core technology?  That seems... dumb.

blue rat: turns out blue food coloring un-paralyzes ratsWow who knew?  Blue food coloring un-paralyzes rats.
Not to mention, makes them look really cute :)

More Gruber: Microsoft's Long Slow Decline.  "I’m not arguing that Microsoft will collapse. They’re too big, too established for that to happen. I simply think that their results this quarter were not an aberration, but rather the first fiscal evidence of a long, slow decline that began several years ago."  That seems right to me...

Ian Betteridge: Daring Fireball is wrong about Microsoft's weakness.  "Windows 7 isn’t a mediocrity. It’s good. It’s not going to get Mac users to switch, but it is going to stop a lot of Windows users from switching. And, more importantly from Microsoft’s perspective, something that will persuade the legions of their most important customers - IT managers - that it’s time to move on from Windows XP."  I agree with Ian - Win7 will staunch the bleeding - but I don't think it rebut's John's point - Microsoft is on a long, slow decline.

PS it's much more about the Internet and Google than about Apple and the battle for the desktop.

Oshkosh air show: White Knight TwoOshkosh air show: Airbus A380Photo essay: the big air show in Oshkosh.  Maximally cool, including White Knight Two (at left) and be sure to check out the massive amazing Airbus A380 dwarfing a C-130 (at right).

Off to the backyard I go, bottle and Kindle in hand... see ya!

 
 

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