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Iditarod: the 24s are over, let the racing begin!

Thursday,  03/10/16  08:30 AM

Martin Buser's lead dog Fiddle takes a well deserved restGood morning Iditarodians ... it's been an interesting race so far, right?  Although no big surprises, either in the field or with the trail.  Most of the leaders have now taken or are now taking their "24" - the 24-hour rest they must take somewhere along the route - and that signals the start of the real race. 

[right: Martin Buser's lead dog Fiddle takes a well deserved rest]

Defending champion Dallas Seavey was leading the race by a pretty wide margin, and mushed all the way to Cripple before taking his 24.  His father Mitch, himself a four-time champion, opted for the book move and took his in Takotna.  Other leaders are or were resting in McGrath.  And another ex-champion Jeff King looks like he's headed through Cripple, and going all the way to Ruby before resting his team.  Different strategies ... which one will win?


 

Iditaflow on 3/10/15 at 7:30 AKSTI'm loving my little Iditaflow tracker, it makes visualizing and pondering all these permutations much easier.  If you haven't already, please check it out.  (And for those of you who have, thanks for the nice feedback :)  I'm pondering a change to analyze rest/run cycles, and maybe even project when a musher would reach Nome.  Stay tuned!

[left: Iditaflow on 3/10/16 at 7:30 AKST... please click to enbiggen!]


 

Mitch Seavey's sled (showing "caboose")Meanwhile here are some more great pictures from the trail, courtesy of erstwhile mushing champion and now official Iditarod blogger Sebastian Schnuelle...

Here's an interesting analysis of the runtime and rest schedules of the leading mushers so far.  By carrying dogs and allowing them to rest, teams can run further and rest less, but their speed will be less, too.

[right: Mitch Seavey's sled, showing the "caboose" where dogs can rest while the team continues running.]

 


 

Welcome to McGrathWelcome to McGrath!  I love this poster... to the small villages along the Iditarod route this race is a big deal, and in fact it's a big deal all throughout Alaska too.


 

DeeDee Jonrowe and her team in their signature pinkHere's a great shot of my favorite (and many others') DeeDee Jonrowe, flying along the team with her team in their signature pink.  DeeDee isn't quite up with the leaders this year - currently, she's in about 45th place - but let's hope she makes a late surge and moves up. 

 

The race isn't even halfway yet and it's hard to judge positions; a well rested team can make up a lot of ground on a tired team along the ice at the end.

 


 

Kelly Maizner's team coming into OphirHere's Kelly Maixner's team, coming into Ophir; Kelly is always a strong contender but looks especially good this year. 

 

He has a more traditional sled setup and runs a more traditional rest/run schedule, but it's working just fine so far.  There's a reason the conventional wisdom is called wisdom :)


 

Brent Sass flying into CrippleAnd here's a beautiful shot of Brent Sass and his team, flying into Cripple.  The dark coats and lime green booties are an especially effective combination in the dusk, don't you think?  Brent was tapped to be among the contenders this year and he his, posting some of the fastest point-to-point times.

 


 

Here's a shot of the race situation as of this morning.  You can see Jeff King way out ahead, having bypassed McGrath, Takotna, Ophir, and Cripple; he's obviously planning to run all the way to Ruby and take his 24 there.  Meanwhile Dallas Seavey is in the middle of his 24 at Cripple, and there's a big pile of mushers at Ophir too.  Onward!

 

Iditarod 3/10/16 at 7:20 AKST - please click to enbiggen!

(please click to enbiggen amazingly)

 

[All Iditarod 2016 posts]

 

Thursday,  03/10/16  11:20 PM

Have you ever had a day when you were looking forward to working on something, but you had a bunch of meetings and calls and other things which were more urgent to do first?  And you fought your way through all that, and then finally started working on the thing, but then discovered it was harder and less elegant than you thought?  And you ended up all disappointed and frustrated?  Well I just did :(  Maybe I can blog my way out of it...

Amazon AirThis is pretty interesting: Amazon leases planes to take greater control of shipping and delivery costs.  I was just emailing with my longtime reader and commentator Marc Cote about this...  he noted:

 "I was speaking with someone about it; they could not believe Amazon would do that. I said that obviously Amazon/Bezos thinks like I do, I usually believe that with the right knowledge it is easier, cheaper, and more effective to own a process than not. And Amazon is definitely large enough to own this process. UPS and Fed-Ex are going to feel this one in their wallets a little further down the line."

I think he's right.  It’s kind of weird because the conventional wisdom is that a company does something in-house if they have a competitive advantage in doing so, and outsources the things other people do better. For most companies “things other people do better” is a big category and they stay focused. But Amazon seem to take on anything and do it well.

I can remember not so long ago it was funny to think that an online book and movie site would create their own hosting infrastructure. Why not just outsource to someone else? But they have now become the people who do it better, and the whole world is hosted on Amazon. Who knows maybe they will end up in the freight business, would not be surprised if they are better and cheaper than UPS and FedEx.  In the meantime, we all get cheaper and faster shipping!

Walmart closing storesMeanwhile: Walmart's customers are too broke to shop.  This article describes a "perfect storm" for America's largest retailer, in which revenue is flat due to lower customer spending, and pricing is held down by online competition like Amazon.  Other negative factors include rising minimum wages.  I'm kind of worried about this, Walmart is a bellwether for a big part of our economy.

The follow on effect of this is bad for poor areas; people can't spend as much, Walmart has to raise wages so they hire fewer people, so those people can't spend as much, and Walmart closes stores in those areas, so those people lose a big local store with lots of stuff at bargain prices.  One of the most insidious examples where government "help" hurts the very people they're trying to help.

I meant to share this before, this seems like a perfect time:

minimum wave ... the worst idea to help the poor, ever

I find that minimum wage is a perfect litmus test for whether I can have a conversation with someone about the economy.  If they don't understand that a minimum wage law hurts poor people, then it will be hopeless.

Speaking of really bad ideas, Microsoft starts testing advertising inside Windows 10.  Add that to the long list of reasons not to upgrade from Windows 7.  Honestly I don't know what these people think.

Department of recursion: The link above is to Forbes' website, which now features a lockout if you are running an ad blocker.  (Add that the list of reasons not to visit Forbes website.)

containers, VMs, and DockerHere's something you might find interesting: A nice introduction to containers, VMs, and Docker.  Just in case you, like me, were wondering what all the fuss is about.

I have been working with a client who are using Docker, and I must tell you so far I'm underwhelmed.  The theoretical ease-of-use and performance benefits seems to be swallowed up by the complexity, especially when it comes to device support and networking.  Onward.

Van Gogh flower paradeAnd here's something cooler than the other side of a pillow: A flower parade in the Netherlands featuring floats inspired by Van Gogh.  Some people have too much time on their hands, and I am so very glad they do!

 

 

 
 

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