Saturday, June 30, 2007

Happy Canada Day

I am waving a small Canadian flag near my desk... Tough to be away from home today, especially with memories like this pic: this is the Parliament in Ottawa, with fireworks behind, over the Ottawa River, which flows betwixt anglophone Ontario and francophone Quebec. The symbolism is profound. If the defining historical struggle in the US is uniting black and white, ours is surely uniting the English and French.

Random... One time, when I lived in Kentucky, I was at a party. An older man heard that I was from Canada and thanked me/Canada for our help in the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980. In brief, an ambassador, Ken Taylor, hid some Americans for many weeks in his official residence.

Here is a recent story about the great escape, in Wired magazine. The story is more about the CIA's plan to get the hostages out of the embassy, but it has this quote....

The Yankees said it, not me, so it's not bragging (?). Quoteth:

CIA cover stories are generally designed to be mundane and unlikely to attract attention. That's how Mendez's plan started out. He would use Canadian documentation for the Americans, because of the common language and similar culture — and, well, everybody loves Canadians.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hello Laura, Soccer Star

dear Laura, (my cousin back on Prince Edward Island)

Congratulations on your big night in the first soccer game of the season.

A goal and an assist! Woo-hoo! That is fantastic!

The action photos are great... (click here)

Keep up the good work and have fun

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Perspective, Again

There was a triathlon near Columbia, MO, yesterday. A young man in his 20s drowned during the swim. (Story is here).

He was close to the shore. I wonder if he had a heart condition. Though truly tragic, I don't think that this reflects a danger of triathlons.

He was not in the StL Tri club. I didn't know him nor does anyone in the club, based on the website posting. But it sure puts things in perspective.

So, too, does this: when the racers/organizers realized a guy went under, all of the swimmers stopped and formed a human chain to find him. The race was completely set aside until he was in the care of the medical team, as it should be.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Revisiting Rowdy

More tidbits of the car.....
  • I continue to wave at Miatas. The drivers find this odd, since they don't know why I'm waving.
  • It is nice to have working AC, backup lights, and some confidence that I won't "cook the engine" at stoplights.

  • DQR = Dependability, Quality, and Reliability. Though possibly redundant, this is Honda's mantra and I'm sold. The build quality is awesome and the engineering is genius. For example, the shifter comes out of the dash (Euro-style) which gives a ton of room for stuff down where it used to be. It is a bit weird though since my car looks like it is very happy to see you.
  • Between the seats there is a sliding panel which reveals 2 cup holders. But _that_ thing slides as well for another cubbyhole: double-secret hiding spot for a wallet etc.
  • It is so easy to get in and out! The car is a low-rider hatchback and yet feels like a minivan compared to the Miata.
  • The seats are fantastic. Great support with little wings at the edges. They are mostly cloth with suede leather edges, and red stitching which is a motif throughout the interior.
  • As I get used to the shifter, I drive much more aggressively now. It'll hum along when it wants to. Though that Subaru is still the rocket ship.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

World Gas Prices

From Wired magazine: recent gas prices around the world. For those who know my dad, this is like a belated father's day gift.

Price per US gallon, US dollars:

$6.65 London
$6.53 Paris
$5.62 Rome
$3.57 Sydney
$3.28 Toronto
$2.69 Chicago
$2.44 Bejing
$2.32 Buenos Aires
$1.19 Bagdad
$0.86 Cairo

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Team Effort

Our hero grimaces. "Damn bugs," he mutters and spits.

He is in the tri-position, cutting through the air at 18 mph, forming a triangle on his trusty steed, out in the open fields of St Peters, MO. So far, so good: he has maintained his lead over the dreaded Jim G during the swim, and had a relatively good T1. Despite awakening at 5:45 am, his legs feel energized. It is 8 am. The sun beats down on a long stream of cyclists, who have emerged from the long winter to celebrate the first tri of the summer. Our hero looks ahead to the turn-around point, halfway of the 20 mile bike. No sight of his nefarious arch-rival since the swim.

Parched, he pulls the water bottle up to his lips. Zounds! In an instant, the bottle slips and falls to the ground. He stops to retrieve it and notices the mileage indicator on his bike: 666 miles.

Not good: evil is in the air. Our hero's nostrils flare at the sense of danger.

Soon, at the halfway point, he glances backwards: Double zounds! The insidious Jim G has closed the gap, and is merely a few lengths back, seemingly appearing out of nowhere!

As the two cyclists bear down, Jim approaches, inexorably. He pulls his water bottle and good-naturedly tries to spray our hero. They smile. They chat.

But the subtext is clear: game on.

With his spinning-class training over the winter, Jim G pulls into the lead. Our hero grunts and tries to stay close, but not so close as to incur a drafting penalty. They cycle this way for over 7 miles, each rider giving no quarter to the other.

Finally, with 2 miles to go in the bike, our hero pulls alongside of the villain. They chat again. Father's Day. Sunny. Pleasantries abound, but the time is getting near....

They approach a hill: a long grade that stretches for 1/4 mile. Our hero's legs are already burning. A strong runner, he will probably win that leg of the event, but the time to make hay is now. A triathlete can never concede a leg, and certainly not the bike, where the high velocity equates to bigtime distance, compared to the run.

Our hero grimaces once more, and then, miraculously, the calvary arrives... A new player awakens and joins the fray.

Blackbird! More commonly known as one half of a semi-organic velocitizer, our hero's trusty steed seems to shed weight as they ascend the slope. The team transforms from a velocity vehicle to an anti-gravitron device! In virtually no time, the dreaded Jim G and his evil, unnamed steed fall back. At the halfway part of the grade, he is dozens of lengths back. Our hero peddles furiously -- almost impotently -- in a super-easy gear but he and Blackbird pull up the grade as though on a rope-pull at a ski slope. At the top, a long descent, and then a curve. At the end of the curve, the villain is no longer in sight!

Blackbird and our hero quickly dispatch the rest of the bike leg. With a friendly pat to his glorious steed, he transitions at T2 and dashes off for the run. With the heat beating down, and having suffered a major psychological blow, Jim G has no chance. 40 minutes and 5 grueling miles later, CC crosses the finish line in triumph.

CC/Blackbird 1 Jim G 0

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Blog tag for Dad

In the spirit of blog tag, and the post for Mom, here are 5 things about my Dad.

1. He's as honest as they get. Not just in terms of money etc, but intellectual honesty, which I define as prioritizing truth over ego. If my Dad doesn't know the answer, he'll tell you. He also sees both sides of an issue as a true philosopher does.

2. There's not many answers that he doesn't know. He has spent a lifetime reading and learning about how stuff works: mechanical (his trade), electronics, you name it. As we grew up, Dad was always in a nearby room working on something. Fictional TV bores him.

3. Dad doesn't sit around much. In 30+ years or so, he has given blood 200+ times, volunteered for 25+ years for the fire department (a huge commitment -- imagine getting up at 3 am to dig out your driveway of snow, so you can go rescue someone's house), has been an elder in our church, and lately as been a civic leader, making it to deputy mayor of our town.

4. Here's one that may surprise even Island readers. When I was 6, two friends told my dad that I had stolen a little toy car. I don't remember getting a chance to testify but I do remember having my hide tanned right there and then, in front of the other boys. There is no greater humiliation. Years later, I understood and am grateful. I would (will?) do the same. "Time outs" didn't exist back then, and even now they don't build character.

5. He once bought an antique swather (kinda like this one) for $150. No one knows why.

Happy Father's Day to Charlie and all the Dads!

Blackbird, meet Rowdy

Well, the new car has been "interesting" from a tri perspective.

A hatch/trunk rack won't work due to the spoiler.

A trailer hitch can't be installed due to the body work (it has a factory sport kit that is very popular with the younger set).

So your cyberscriber had to get handy: pop off the front tire and throw Blackbird in the back. This wasn't as easy as it sounds. I'm still trying to figure out if I put the front tire back on correctly.... A minor detail, considering I have a triathlon tomorrow.

Keen readers will note that there is a pillow in the back. This is to prop up the bike.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If you want something done.....

... give it to a busy person. Indeed.

When I finished The 2nd Article, I put everything into neutral. I've worked out twice in June! Gah.... Now after a lot of celebratory food, fun times with friends, etc, I find myself feeling "un-fit" before the RecPlex Smackdown on Sunday.

(Well... my tech blog is going well, but aside from that, I have been unproductive and slacking).

Thankfully, a modest swim and moderate run tonight... I feel better *whew*. After a few days of slackitude, I feel like I've forgotten how to swim/bike/run.

ps. We received our start times for the tri. This tri has everyone starting in single file, swimming "in serpentine" through the pool. In our group, I'm first with Jim G starting 15 seconds behind. His neighbour, Ember, starts back a bit further. She will mow us down in the pool: she typically swims the 500 m two minutes faster than Jim G and I. I caught her on the run last fall though.

pps. It will be tempting to try and stay ahead of Jim for the entire tri, but I wonder if there is some gamemanship potential by letting him get ahead of me in the pool..... Interesting. The thought is to take it easy so that I am always just within reach, and let him burn out during the swim.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Two out of Three Ain't Enough

This past weekend, I think I was home for about 12 hours... A lot of catch-up to do.

First, I have been quiet but ultra-keen readers will know:
  • In July 06 I bought bets for the Cards to win the World Series and for the Colts to win the Superbowl.
  • I bought three tickets.
The 3rd ticket was for Ottawa to win the Stanley Cup. Suffice it to say that it was the most charmed of the 3 bets and came this close to making me the Sports Picker of All Time.

No, the final series wasn't really close but Ottawa finished in the middle of their conference. I picked them in July 2006....

Ah well.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fast Facts

  • My article (for work) is done! *whew* It cost me 2 full, gorgeous weekends and several week nights, but it was a true learning experience.
  • I have to thank Bill G and Microsoft: I have left my computer running for 3+ weeks, to try and avoid the dreaded boot problem. It has been running like a champ. Because of the article, it was _vital_ that it stay running. Merci.
  • No fluke: I ran 5 miles as warm-up and then another miracle mile: 6:00 minutes. C'est vraiment bon.
  • Game off: the track series (with the dreaded Jim G) was moved to another high school, so we are missing all of the track events. This is tragic. However, the triathlon is still on.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Special 'Tour de Cure'

I ran into (almost literally) Miss Jess on the bike trail tonight.

She is gearing up for the Tour De Cure (see here), a charity bike ride for Diabetes.

I have made a donation at a level that gets names put on her team's shirts. It is a memorial for my Uncle Nick and my cousin Gail.

Nick had diabetes late in life, and lost both legs to it. He was a true character and put a lot of sunlight into my first few months in Ontario where I went to grad school. Though he had plenty of reasons to be dour, he could cheer a room like nobody's business.

Gail, his daughter, passed away from breast cancer. She was one of the sweetest people I have ever met.

They are survived by my beloved Aunt Millie and her daughter Karen. Karen is truly warm and generous. Aunt Millie worked hard as a waitress until she was 60+. She would get up at 5 am to catch the bus, and upon returning home, could tell a routine story about a customer and have you crying from laughing so hard. She is the best.

Good luck, Jess!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC)

Mercifully, I get to see game 3 of the hockey playoffs tonight. On a Saturday night, no less! (HNIC has been a tradition on Saturday night since the 1920s on radio and 1950s on TV. HNIC broadcasters are legendary. Here, it was NBC and not CBC, but no complaints.)

Having lived in Ottawa for 2 years, and it being the capital of the Motherland, I was looking forward to the game and of course the national anthems.

The opening anthems may have been the best I have ever seen. A portly, gray-haired military guy with an operatic voice belted out the US anthem. Visitors first, per tradition.

And then the Canadian version. My my... I didn't tear up but it was close.

The first part was in English; the 2nd in French. And then he held the microphone up and, in a premediated move by the arena, allowed the fans to sing the last part of the anthem.

It was electric, even way down here in the midwest USA.

It has been a long, long time since I have felt so alone and yet so connected.

ps. My only hope is that it goes onto YouTube, as I didn't think to record it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Joyeux Juin!

Here's wishing everyone a Happy June.... and a special shout out:

Word up, Avondale, PEI! Good luck...


The Car Revisited

Here are some tidbits on the car, so far:
  • A Civic is not high on the luxury list, but an unexpected twist is that it _feels_ luxurious compared to the old ride. An Infiniti would have totally been wasted on me.
  • It's easy to get in and out of. It smells nice. Very pleasant experience.
  • I have learned that this generation of Civic Si's are not highly regarded in the "import tuner"/racer community. But I don't care.
  • That is worth repeating: this thing has a rubbery shifter, and a ponderous feel in the corners. But I don't care! It's great.
  • I recently saw in a movie trailer that "you don't pick a car: it picks you". That describes last Saturday pretty well. It just won me over.
  • I don't like Honda's aesthetic at all but Rowdy just looked cool to me. But I _do_ respect Honda's engineering and build quality. Top notch.
  • Times have changed: the entry level ride at Honda is now the "Fit", not the Civic.