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Archive: October 17, 2019

 

Archive: October 17, 2018

 

Archive: October 17, 2017

 

Archive: October 17, 2016

 

Archive: October 17, 2015

 

Archive: October 13, 2014

 

Archive: October 17, 2013

 

Archive: October 17, 2012

 

Archive: October 15, 2011

no joy in Baker

Saturday,  10/15/11  11:20 AM

Saturday midnight, Stovepipe Wells. Wondering if I'm going to make it.Well, I didn't make it.  No shame, but I am disappointed.

Sunday night at 9:30, having left Baker and on the road to Kelso, I stopped riding and got in the van.  After having born pain in my feet for two days, it suddenly became unbearable.  I wasn't so much as decision as an acknowledgement; I was again unable to finish the Furnace Creek 508.

This picture was taken Saturday midnight in Stovepipe Wells, icing my feet as I had about ten times during the day.  Wondering if I was going to make it.

If you're a friend or frequent reader you know, I rode this race in 2009 and made it 300 miles. This year I made it 400 miles. That feels like progress, but in one sense this the race is binary; you either go 508 miles and finish or you don't.  And I didn't finish then and I didn't finish now. The reasons were very different but the high-level result is the same. And yet it doesn't feel the same at all.

Here's a profile of the race course; the red lines are the time stations which delimit the race stages, the blue arrow shows how far I made it in 2009, and the green arrow shows how far I made it this year.

no joy in Baker, after 400 miles...

In 2009 I got off to a flying start and cruised into Death Valley four hours ahead of schedule.  Then the winds started to howl and my head blew up and I just couldn't take it.  After resting for a bit in Furnace Creek I struggled in the dark for a while before abandoning in Badwater.  Almost immediately I wished I'd kept trying, and in the two years since I've promised myself there would be a next time, and when there was I wouldn't stop. 

Death Valley: just me and my crew and 200 miles to go...This year I got off to a terrible start, lost my GPS unit and fifteen minutes searching for it three miles into the ride, and had my feet start hurting almost immediately.  By California City I was in serious pain, and switched bikes, pedals, shoes, and everything else to deal with it.  Icing my feet in a cooler seemed to be the only thing that worked, and that only for short periods of time.  I made it Randsburg, iced, made it to Trona, iced, made it through Panamint Valley, iced, and then vowed to summit Townes Pass.  I climbed it - in fine style, if I may say - and then descended down into Death Valley.  Yay; after more ice and a longish rest, onward into day two! 

But day two brought more pain, lots more ice, and lots of lost time while icing.  By the time I reached Shoshone I was running out of time and wearing down.  I vowed to reach Baker, and did.  From there I had 10 hours left to ride, with 120 miles and 7,000' of climbing.  Just barely doable.  I took off for Kelso, and suddenly I couldn't do it anymore.  The exhaustion and strain brought down my threshold of pain to the point where I couldn't continue.  Boo.

I will make a longer post with many of the great pictures which were taken but I must not end this one without thanking my amazing crew, Mitch Albo, Mark Elliot, and Gene Smith.  I also have to tell you about my new bike which was incredible, and about the van, which worked out perfectly, and so many other things ... please stay tuned!

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2010

the world's smallest elephant

Friday,  10/01/10  05:55 PM



The picture above shows the world's smallest elephant; a rather oddly shaped cell in a cluster of other cells imaged from a pap smear at 1/4 micron per pixel.  The elephant cell is about 4 microns across :) which is 4/1,000,000th of a meter.

 
 

Archive: October 12, 2009

Monday,  10/12/09  09:01 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olivia Newton-JohnDid you know where HTML and hypertext came from?  Xanadu, of course...

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

starry night

Monday,  10/12/09  10:10 PM




Starry Night

Van Gogh was awesome!

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


 
 

Archive: October 17, 2008

loudest bands?

Friday,  10/17/08  07:47 AM

So last night I had a late long drive home - yes, I am still enjoying my little Dash, by the way, and it took me on a new route which didn't make any sense but only cost an extra 10 minutes - and I was really tired and struggling to stay awake.  So I stopped a few times to get a Diet Coke, and I played LOUD MUSIC.  My ears are still ringing, but I got home safely :)

Which leads to me ask the question - what bands sound the best loud?  I had a great time randomly scanning my collection of 10,000 old rock songs to figure this out.  Here's my short list of finalists, in ascending order of loudness:

  • Europe.  Seriously loud vocals laid over driving guitar.  I recommend the Final Countdown, and Ready or Not.
  • Rush.  Oh yeah.  Red Sector A will keep you awake.
  • Black Sabbath.  An oldie but goodie, pioneers of basting rock.  Heaven and Hell is exhibit A.
  • Deep Purple.  One of my favorite bands from way back.  Smoke on the Water has to make the list, but Highway Star is on top.  Solid wall of sound.
  • Van Halen.  Of course, they must be on the list, for Jamie's Cryin if not Panama.  Maxwell Jump is pretty good loud, too.  In fact there is no Van Halen song which ins't great at volume.
  • Threshold.  Had to get a prog rock band on the list, right?  Try Critical Mass for 13+ minutes of loudness.
  • ZZTop.  Imagine those boys swaying in unison, as you reach for the volume knob playing Under Pressure.
  • Metallica.  Listen to Unforgiven or Enter Sandman at volume, and you'll find the secret to the world.
  • Def Leppard.  Does their music sound great loud or what?  The ultimate is Foolin', but I have to call out Rock of Ages for the classic "gunter gleiben glauten globen" beginning.

Styx - the Grand IllusionAnd out of all of this, my choice for the loudest band (the band whose music sounds best loud)... is...

  • Styx.  Really there is no content - Miss America, Lady, Too Much Time on My Hands, Man in the Wilderness...  it all sounds fantastic at full volume.  If you ever need to stay awake late at night, and you're fortunate to have a powerful stereo, Styx it is.  And my very favorite really loud song is Castle Walls.  Blam!

Your ears may disagree.  Please, let me know what you think :)

 

 
 

Archive: October 17, 2007

 

Archive: October+15,+2006

Ole votes

Sunday,  10/15/06  03:38 PM

I spent this afternoon voting, in the comfort of my [home] office, with football playing in the background.  Picture me browsing to websites, reading the Official Voter Information Guide and the candidates' statements in the Sample Ballot, and actually spending time thinking about the issues.  Weird, isn't it?

I know, most people don't do this, most people have never heard of most of the candidates and don't trouble to inform themselves, most people don't understand the issues they're voting about.  So be it, our system is not perfect.

Anyway, here are my votes in case you wanted to know...

California State positions

  • Governor - Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Lieutenant Governor - Tom McClintock
  • Secretary of State - Bruce McPherson.  Tough call over Debra Bowen, even though she's way liberal.
  • Controller - Tony Strickland.  An uninformed decision but I like his website.
  • Treasurer - Claude Parrish.  This is a vote against Bill Lockyer.
  • Attorney General - Chuck Poochigian.  A vote against Jerry Brown.
  • Insurance Commissioner - Steve Poizner.  A vote against Cruz Bustamante.
  • Member, State Board of Equalization, 2nd district - Bill Leonard.  Doesn't like the parcel tax (prop 88), neither do I.
  • State Assembly, 37th district - Audra Strickland.  I agree with her positions on virtually every issue.

Federal positions

  • Senator - Dick Mountjoy.  I like him, plus a vote against Dianne Feinstein, who I voted for originally but who has disappointed me over and over and moved to the left while in office.
  • Representative, 24th district - Elton Gallegly.  He's been a great representative for a red district in a blue state.

Judicial positions

  • Joyce Kennard - Yes.
  • Carol Corrigan - Yes.
  • Robert Mallano - Yes.
  • Frances Rothschild - Yes.
  • Roger Boren - Yes.
  • Victoria Chavez - No.  A thousand times no.  No on her dad, too, except he's not on the ballot.
  • Patti Kitching - Yes.
  • Richard Alrich - Yes.
  • Norman Epstein - Yes.  Liberal but smart.
  • Thomas Willhite - Yes.
  • Nora Manella - Yes.
  • Steven Suzukawa - Yes.
  • Richard Mosk - No.  On the Christopher Commission and Iran - United States Claims Tribunal.  Not real world.
  • Sandy Kriegler - Yes.
  • Arthur Gilbert - Yes.  Has a blog :)
  • Dennis Perluss - Yes.  A Davis appointee but surprisingly rational anyway.
  • Fred Woods - Yes.  Solid citizen.
  • Laurie Zelon - No.  She and Madeleine Flier are flaming liberals, both appointed by Davis.
  • Candace Cooper - No.  Not enough on the web about her considering how long she's been on the court (appointed by Davis in 2001).
  • Madeleine Flier - No.  See Laurie Zelon above.

Community positions

  • Community College District - Cheryl Heitmann.  Seems to be doing a good job.
  • Conejo Valley School District - Mike Dunn, Pat Phelps, Tim Stephens.  Based mostly on statements in voter guides.
  • Thousand Oaks City Council - Dennis Gillette, John Diguiseppe, Bob Wilson.  I like the current council, our city is in great shape.  I'm voting incumbents.
  • Conejo Recreation and Parks - Joe Gibson, Susan Holt, Mike Berger.  Based on voter guide.

We interrupt my vote for a rant.  Why oh why do we have voter information published in Spanish?  There is one official language in California, and it isn't Spanish.  I'm Dutch, why don't we publish voter information in Dutch?  There must be people from hundreds of countries speaking thousands of languages living in California; why not publish voter information in every used language?  It doesn't make sense.  People who can't speak English or comprehend written English should not vote.  Simple as that.  Okay, now back to voting...

State propositions

  • 1A - No.  I think gas taxes probably should be used for transportation improvements, but I don't like earmarked taxes.  Let the Governor and Legislature have flexibility to reallocate when necessary.
  • 1B - Yes.  $20B bond issue for state and local transportation improvements.  Although there's an argument that we shouldn't use bonds for this stuff ("borrowing against the future") the fact is that these investments are needed and we can't fund them out of tax revenue, and shouldn't choke economic growth by raising taxes.  So...
  • 1C - No.  $3B bond issue for housing and development programs.  Unlike 1B, It isn't clear that these investments really are investments, or whether they're needed.
  • 1D - No.  $10B bond issue for school infrastructure.  Unlike 1B, I don't think school infrastructure is a one-time upgrade; rather, this is ongoing maintenance and investments needed, and should be funded from tax revenues.
  • 1E - Yes.  $4B bond issue for flood management projects.  This feels like 1B to me, so I'm for it.

Note: 1A through 1E are generally being promoted as a package, supported by [among many others] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I have chosen to vote for them a la carte...  despite all being bond issues they have less to do with each other than supporters of the package claim.

  • 83 - No.  Increased punishments and restrictions on sex offenders.  If I thought this would help prevent sexual abuse I'd vote for it, but I don't, so this would be just more money thrown away on bad people.
  • 84 - No.  $5.4B bond issue for water quality and flood control.  I might not understand this well enough to make the right decision, but it feels to me like a special interest thing which isn't really needed.
  • 85 - No.  Makes it more difficult for minors to get an abortion.  I think anyone who is pregnant and doesn't want a baby should get an abortion, especially minors who are less likely to care for the kid.
  • 86 - No.  Excise tax on cigarettes.  I don't like "sin taxes" and this one especially doesn't seem to make sense.  Seems to have special interest language in it, too, to protect hospitals from antitrust laws.
  • 87 - No.  $4B tax hike to fund alternative energy [sic].  I am a big fan of alternative entropy but I don't think government subsidy is the way to get there.  Instead let's remove government barriers to private enterprise solutions.  Anyway this kind of tax is a waste of money.
  • 88 - No.  This is the infamous parcel tax.  Although this is a way to carve back on Prop 13, which was a big mistake, we should change Prop 13, not enact new taxes in different configurations to work around it.  Also, it isn't progressive (that is, doesn't scale to the value of the parcel), which seems unfair.  Backed by Reed Hastings (Netflix) and John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins).
  • 89 - No.  Public campaign funding.  I don't think candidates' campaigns are a good use of public funds, sorry, even though I understand and somewhat accept the argument that in the absence of public funding, rich candidates have an advantage.  I think they do anyway (!), and people should raise money for their campaigns based on merit.
  • 90 - No.  An anti-Kelo attempt to restrict public seizure of private property.  I am sympathetic to the intent of this proposition, but unfortunately it goes too far by requiring government to compensate property owners for actions which change the value of their property, as well as actions which seize the property.  This could trigger a rash of lawsuits and restrict governments from conducting business.  ("You didn't put the new school next door to my property, so it is now less valuable!")

Thanks for your attention!

By the way, I am not one of those people who say to everyone: "you should vote!"  Instead, if you don't know what you're voting about, don't vote!  If you know the people and understand the issues, and we disagree, so be it.  But if you don't know the people and don't understand the issues, then please don't dilute my vote with yours.

 
 

Archive: October 17, 2005

 

Archive: October 17, 2004

Sunday,  10/17/04  11:14 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass...

Mount Graham binocular telescopeThe University of Arizona's Mount Graham binocular telescope has been dedicated, in New Mexico.  "The LBT, largest of three telescopes in the Mount Graham International Observatory complex, will be used to explore never-seen things like planets the size of Jupiter in solar systems 20 to 30 light-years away.  The end result will be images about 10 times as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, enhanced by a technology called adaptive optics to adjust and correct for the Earth's atmospheric turbulence."  Excellent!

Interesting; looks like Gmail is starting to use Yahoo's Domain Keys to "sign" all sent email.  This proposed standard would give email servers an unambiguous way to verify email actually comes from the domain it says it does.  If widely adopted, this would be an important step forward to eliminating spam and phishing.  Google appears to be the first large email sender to use Domain Keys; even Yahoo themselves are not yet using it...

Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, "believes the virus causing AIDS was a deliberately created biological agent unleashed on Africans."  This is a woman who was trained as a biologist.  Words fail me.

Congratulations to all the folks at WorthWhile Magazine; they've shippedSubscribed! (in the old, paper arriving in the mail sense; I've been subscribed in the new, RSS feed sense, for quite some time :)

square bacteriaUh, square bacteria?  Apparently :)  "The microbe is also extremely tolerant of magnesium chloride.  According to (University of Groningen scientist Henk) Bolhuis, this makes it a model organism for studying what life might be like in extraterrestrial corners of the solar system, such as the magnesium-rich brines on Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede."  [ via David Pescovitz ]

Anil Dash notes eBay is no longer accepting signons via Microsoft's Passport.  It came in like a hailstorm, but went out with nary a whimper.  [ via Joi Ito ]

You would have to be a nerd to think this is cool, but then if you're reading this, there's a nonzero chance you're a nerd.  Tit for Tat has been defeated in a Prisoner Dilemma competition!  This has profound implications for philosophy in general, and the theory of Evolutionary Stable Strategies in particular.  What's cool is that the new winner is a cooperative strategy between two agents!  So, if two agents are better than one, how about "n"?  Maybe this is why we live in cities?  Who knows :)

Hey, I've got a new blog for you: Joe Kraus' Bnoopy.  Joe was a founder of Excite and has some great stories about "the old days" of the 'net.  See especially Persistence Pays, Part 1, Persistence Pays, Part 2, and Moons Over My Hammy.  Great stuff.

Netscape logoNetscape has turned 10!  Do you remember those early days when every week brought a new beta, with amazing new features?  I do, I would download those 10MB installers all night on my 14.4K modem, and then excitedly try it to see what was new.  Boy, those were the days.  In a very real sense, the start of a revolution.

Dungeons & Dragons has turned 30!  I remember playing D&D with graph paper when I was at college...  and making my own icosahedral die :)

Finally, Matt Webb has come to a compromise with the leopard.  You'll just have to read it...

 
 

Archive: October 17, 2003

Friday,  10/17/03  09:25 AM

world series logoNow you have to feel sorry for Boston fans, eh?  Great game last night, but the un-loveable Yankees triumphed in the end.  For me, Florida - New York is the least appealing matchup of all the original possibilities, I don't even know who to root for.  I guess I'll get more work done next week...

By the way, is it just me or is the ESPN website getting less and less usable?  Not only is it chock full of ads (including - arg! - pop-unders), but all the crap makes it very slow.  And the content is going downhill, too.  I always thought of ESPN as one of the really nice sites on the web, but I'm changing my mind...

[ Later: Dave Winer: Well, the Cubs lost and the Red Sox lost.  Why didn't we see that coming? ]

iTunes for WindowsSo - Hell Froze Over.  That's how Steve Jobs introduced Apple's iTunes for Windows yesterday, in his inimitable fashion.  Of course I immediately downloaded and installed it (I'm listening to Acoustic Alchemy in iTunes right now), and it looks and works exactly like the Mac version.  Interesting and nice.  In this CNet clip from the announcement Steve emphasizes "this is no baby version of iTunes, it is the best jukebox for Windows, and maybe the best Windows app ever".  No, he isn't given to hyperbole, is he?  So now virtually the entire desktop universe has a usable legal paid download alternative to file-sharing.  It will be interesting to watch the numbers.

Belkin iPod voice recorderIn addition to compatibility with Windows, new features for the iTunes Music Store include more songs, now up to 400,000, audio books, gift certificates, and celebrity playlists.  Nice.  There's also a little voice recorder add-on for iPods, and a media reader.

[ Later: Wow, just learned something new which was under-reported but potentially really important.  iTMS has an "allowance" feature, which let's parents give their kids money for buying music without giving them free-reign on the credit card.  I'm going to use this immediatelyExcellent! ]

Online coverage of this announcement has been heavy, as you might expect, and quite positive, with even stick-in-the-mud Salon proclaiming Steve Jobs leads Microsoft users to the promised land.

And for once, David Coursey makes a good point; Apple is still behind Windows as a "media hub", because they don't do [TV] video.  You have to believe that's going to change, right?

Meanwhile Matthew Fordahl reviews Napster 2.0, which is still in beta, and finds it "buggy".  Ouch.  I think they missed it by that much.

A Minnesota court has ruled Vonage is an "information service" rather than a "telecommunications service".  "Legal experts said the decision offers an early win for VoIP in what's sure to be a drawn-out legal battle with state regulators and local phone carriers worried about losing market share to a new brand of competitor."  Fascinating.

The BBC has a funny article which includes the top 10 data disasters.  #1 is "laptop shot in anger".  I haven't done that - yet - but I have done #6, "red wine spilt on laptop over dinner", and almost done #10, "laptop left on car roof as owner drives off".

Red Herring on DVRs for the Masses.  "Five years ago, if you had to pick the technology most likely to change the face of television, the hard disk drive would probably not have made your Top 10 list."  It would have made mine.  And the future trend: "In coming years, both Sony and Microsoft say they plan to make DVRs standard in their video game systems."  Kind of like BroadQ is doing now...

Sun continues to fade.  Yesterday they announced a net loss of $286M, on top of their 10th consecutive quarter with declining revenue.  They're rapidly becoming irrelevant - I debated whether it was worth even mentioning them in this post.

In Debbie Does Bittorrent, Tim Bray reports his experiments which this cool technology.  The bottom line, despite the cool technology, content is still king.

 

The Joy of Craftsmanship

Friday,  10/17/03  09:20 PM

Shimano dura ace cassetteThis morning I took my road bike to a local shop to have the derailleur adjusted.  (This is the thingie in the back that shifts gears.)  There was a young kid working there, clean cut, wearing a uniform, listening to Pearl Jam.  He said "nice bike" and after I explained my symptoms, "no problem".  Now I know adjusting a Shimano Dura Ace derailleur is not "no problem" (there are nine thin sprockets very close together, and if it isn't totally dialed in at least one of the gears will miss), but I figured he knew what he was doing.

Later on I picked up the bike.  The kid had decided to change the shift cable, and said everything was now okay.  So be it, the cable was a little worn.  Then I went for a ride.  Or rather, I tried to go for a ride.  The gears were messed up beyond belief.  Much worse than they had been.  Unrideable without damaging the chain and probably the cassette, too.  Sigh.

I took the bike back to the shop.  Instead of the kid, there was an old guy there in the back, kind of portly, wearing dirty clothes under a shop apron, listening to Mexican mariachi music.  I told my story.  He shook his head gently and put my bike in the stand.  Instead of looking at the alignment, he bent his head next to the gears and listened, while gently turning the adjustment screws.  After five minutes he was done.

I'd brought my shoes and helmet so I could take a test ride at the shop.  In the first ten seconds I knew the gears were dialed in perfectly.  Every one shifted with a sweet "click" followed by perfect silence.  That old guy had nailed it.

Kestrel road bikeI just love real craftsmanship.  It goes beyond mere doing things right, it extends into art.  It is a combination of skill and experience, driven by the desire to do a thing as well as it can be done.  This guy who could adjust a derailleur just by listening to it was a real craftsman.  When I went back to the shop to tell him how delighted I was, we both shared the joy of his work.

I'm really going to enjoy going for a ride tomorrow.

 
 

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