Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Art of the Bluff

I've blogged extensively about the Tri Rivalry between my nefarious arch-rival, Jim G.

However, there is a sub-contest to the Rivalry: the track sprints. I think I've lamented this last year when we couldn't compete together (and I was crazy fast).

2003 was our first combat: the preferred battlefield is the 400 metre run. This is one lap around a high-school track: approx. 1/4 mile.

And to be far, the nefarious Jim G has owned me on it. He was a middle-distance sprinter in high school and it shows. In 2003, I pulled out an intense 70 second result (try it). He ran 66 seconds. We all thought he would expire: he still claims it was his hardest run in his life. Absolute kudos.

I'm not sure if we ran head-to-head until this year but I have tried to break 70 seconds. In 2004, I ran 72. I think I have run once since then but the time is lost to history.

Fast-forward to this year. The track at the ritzy Clayton high school. Neither our hero nor the nefarious Jim G feel particularly stout.

In fact, we start the Lowball Sweepstakes. When warming up, Jim G claimed he ran a glacial 88 seconds a week before. I maintain that is absurd, but tell him that I'm shooting for a stumblin' 80 seconds.

The bluffs have begun. And both of us are secretly hoping the other is telling the truth. And secretly optimistic that we can do better, because, as I have discovered, it is much easier to think about running than to actually run. In my mind, somehow, some way, I might even breach the mythical 70.

And so, the nefarious Jim G joined his age group, in heat 3, way before my heat #8. He started hot out of the blocks, huffin' and puffin', and lumbered down the back stretch. I watched intently, urging the clock to speed up. I felt good as he turned for home, but as always, there is an illusion: these runners are charging down the home stretch. His time: 72 seconds.

Yes. He matched my 'quick' time from 2004. His bluff has been exposed as a fraud. A psychological tactic geared to mess me up.

In all honesty, it did mess me up. I was stunned, shocked, and saddened, and I had 4 heats to dwell on it before I could do anything.

As my heat prepared, I steeled my nerve. "Let's do this thing," said our hero.

As the horn went off, I started out strong and in the first turn I hit 4th gear. In truth, I would never hit 5th. Too much food and debauchery since February. A hero trades his passion for glory. As I came around the home stretch, wheezing, I could see the clock mock me: 68, 69, 70.

I finished at 77 seconds. Maybe, just maybe, 76. No bluff here.

It was a total rout. Kudos to my arch-rival. As always on the track, he dominates.


ps. We both finished last in our heats.

pps. Note this entire theme is distinct from the tri action. Separate events, separate streaks.

I *heart* my old PC

I love the new Mac. It is very cool and highly stable. It was a trusted companion on a recent tech talk, my first, in my new era of employment. But it is a laptop.

I'm writing this on my PC which needed some work at the shop. It is still slow, and it is still Windows, but it feels like my right arm.

This is because I am neurologically wired to my split keyboard and my big mofo speakers that date back to 1997.

I can't explain it. Perhaps it is re-connecting to my old songs on iTunes (I'm sure of it), and being able to type at 90 wpm again: I feel like my old dog just came back after days away.


ps. Buy a Mac, though. Seriously. It will be my new right-arm one day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My New Favourite Show

Lately I have been watching Top Gear on BBC America.

It is hilarious! Primarily a show for gear-heads and car enthusiasts, it has 3 guys who are very funny and incredibly warm.

They often go off on strange adventures: e.g. who can cross London, in morning traffic, the quickest: someone on a bicycle, a boat (on the Thames), or an SUV?

Bonus: there is The Stig, a talented race-car driver who never talks and never reveals the face behind his/her helmet. In the London episode, s/he takes public transit.

Check it out.... I'm compiling episodes for some people back home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday Night's AllRight For Blogging

It has been way too long so I pulled another bar stunt over on the tech blog, with help from my wingwoman Tanya. (click here Ed's note: in a rare cameo, Tanya is in the last photo with her friend)

I gave a talk recently on Gant. As usual, it is a techie subject that is not often discussed in blues bars in St Louis.

My favourite part in doing this, aside from the (hopeful) barrage of hits, is seeing the finished post. A lot of work goes into it.

Often, I smile to myself, or even laugh. And I think:

Maybe, just maybe, everything's going to be ok.


Stealth Attack

I got home pretty late on Saturday night. My neighbour was roaring at his (new?) GF on the phone. It wasn't enough to call the cops or even complain, but it irritates me.

As I write this at 9 pm on Sunday evening, the dog is on the roof. Things are much better in that regard, but when I even hear that dog now for a moment, I brace myself for confrontation.

I have considered retaliation. I've wanted to point my guitar amp toward his apt and seriously crank some white-boy blues into his world. Unfortunately, he truly has the high ground in this war, and I am powerless to launch a counterstrike.

However, I had been playing with the idea of simply knocking on his door at 9 am in the morning. In his universe, this would be fairly disruptive. But I haven't had the guts to do it. Plus things have been better.

But today, I have a new idea that is deliciously demonic: a dog-whistle. Not one to train dogs or scare them. I bear no malice toward the dog and do not want to see it harmed. I just want something that would get the dog to bark. That could be highly entertaining.

I'm adding it to the "when needed" file in the war chest.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

War of Attrition

The Surprise

Optical scanner. Check. Infra-red radar. Check. Sonar detection. Clear.

All is well. Our hero is 8 miles into the bike leg of the RecPlex triathlon, and the nefarious Jim G is out of range. Given a 30 second offset, CC remained ahead during the swim and transition #1. Now, nothing but the sound of pedals and wind.

Then, out of nowhere: "hello Michael".

Zounds! The villainous arch-rival has slipped under the radar, and pulls up alongside our hero. A stealth attack! In no time, the nefarious Jim G is ahead by several bike lengths -- and pulls away.

Miles later, our hero is still stunned. He begins to draft blog titles in his head: Black Sabbath! Sunday Bloody Sunday!

However, there is hope: like last year, the dynamic duo will face a set of hills at the end of the bike. Last year, Blackbird famously transformed into an anti-Gravitron device and led our hero to victory in a head-to-head battle.

But this year, Jim G leads by 1/4 mile. It is a grim gamble. CC grits his teeth as his untrained leg muscles quiver with exertion. Blackbird moans, seemingly in need of servicing after last weekend's rainy ride.

The Counter Assault

With 3 miles to go, the triatheletic titans begin to ascend the hills. CC notices that, far ahead, Jim G stands up out of the saddle: fatigue! He re-doubles his effort, downshifting into an easier gear.

After 2 hills, our hero is much closer but still not even. By the last, winding hill, he finally pulls within mere lengths.

With a mile to go, he pulls along flush with the arch villain.

"Hello, James".

The Transition

The two racers glide in simultaneously to Transition #2. The plan is to devour another carb gel and re-apply sunscreen. Mutual friends cheer and yell to both of us: "you're going to lose it in transition! C'mon!".

"You know, they're right. This could be it right here.", thinks our hero. Abandoning the battle plan, he bolts from the area with nary a drink nor replenishment. It is a desperate stratagem, but he does leave T2 before Jim.

The run is exhausting. Without proper bike training, our hero's legs are jello. The heat is 80+ F and seems unbearable. At every station, 2 cups of water are used: one to drink and one to pour over the body. Memories of Mattoon are haunting. (Ed's note: Mattoon was the ER visit in Aug 2007).

The Finish

For the last half of the 4+ mile run, our hero did not run for victory: it was classic "not to lose". Though out front, he could not concentrate on his own race, but instead looked back often, in terror, awaiting the inevitable push by his rival. It could yet be a Black Sabbath.

Finally, amazingly, CC staggers to the finish line! So Jim G cannot beat him outright, but recall that our hero was given a 30 second offset. The nefarious forces could yet win a time victory!

Indifferently, the clock ticked and tocked. 10 seconds. 20. 30 seconds! Soon enough, but all too late, Jim G stumbles across the line.

CC has won by a mere 2 minutes: approximately the length of time required to ingest a carb gel and apply sunscreen.

The streak has bent, but remains unbroken.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bad Moon Rising for Jim G

I phoned home tonight and talked to Dad. We were talking about gas prices when I mentioned that the nefarious Jim G is trying to sell his Ford F150 truck, a clear sign that gas prices are affecting behaviour down here.

Then, per tradition, I called the nefarious Jim G to wish him well in the triathlon tomorrow. He told me he had just sold his truck moments before in a fast cash deal.

Then it hit me: "hey Jim, how are you going to take your bike to the race?"

A pregnant pause on the other end of the line. Then mild profanity. Then, on my side of the line, uproarious laughter.

This is going to be excellent. Last I heard, his plan is to borrow a vehicle from the in-laws. Late on a Saturday night..... Perfect-o.

A Brief History of The Rivalry

Sunday will be the next installment of the ongoing battle between our hero and the nefarious Jim G. Here is a brief history, in part for new readers, and in part as documentation:

The Beginning

It started in 2001 with a 100 meter street race. I won. In 4 years, there have been countless running contests. The results have been lost to history but the memories are great. Let's say that we split those races 50-50.


Tri #1 RecPlex Oct 2005
Winner: JimG
Headline: CC uses a hybrid road bike, Butterscotch, and tries to will himself to victory. Jim G schools him on the importance of bike technology with an easy win.

Tri #2 RecPlex June 2006
Winner: JimG
Headline: Enter Blackbird: a pure road-racing bike. Blackbird's inaugural event, brought in under stealth with Jim G being completely unaware. Amazingly, Jim G still won. A crushing defeat which left our hero dismayed for weeks. A major turning point, CC would later vow to never lose again in head-to-head competition.

Tri #3 Lake St Louis Sept 2006
Winner: CC
Headline: Redemption. CC overcomes a 20-minute headstart (due to age offsets) to beat JimG outright. One of his greatest accomplishments in sport.

Tri #4 RecPlex Oct 2006
Winner: CC
Headline: CC ties the series 2-2 with a straight-forward victory.

Tri #5 RecPlex June 2007
Winner: CC
Headline: Domination. CC breaks the magical 2-hour limit and records his personal best for the course. Blackbird shines in a head-to-head uphill tactical battle.

In the fall of 2007, Jim G was off at the Chicago Marathon, a wretchedly hot race. And so the series is 3-2 in favour of CC. Going into tomorrow, neither Jim G nor I are particularly fit. After a frenetic February, I had a lame March and April and basically gained weight. I have run recently and have biked 75 miles in a week, but I don't feel good going into this.

We'll see. Wish me luck.... Swim time is 7:45 am which should make for a pleasant bike and run (regarding heat).


ps. As always, I'm grateful for The Rivalry and for Jim G's friendship. We have both elevated our fitness to great heights. That said, he is going down tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hockey Night in Canada Theme

There is a major controversy up North about the theme music to Hockey Night in Canada. Here's a cool article (click here).

I didn't know that it was written in 1968. I thought it went back further. This is kind of like finding out the Maple Leaf wasn't our flag until 1965. (Believe me, that was a mind-bender).

I don't think there is any parallel to the HNiC in the US. Monday Night Football is a tradition and has a great theme, but I don't think Amercians would freak out if NBC bought the rights from ABC and used it.

The article profiles the woman who composed the tune and described the opening notes: dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt. That's it right there. Just reading those words popped the song into my head.

Very cool....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The CBC is my homepage on the new Mac.

Here is a great collection of iconic Canadian photos on the CBC site.

I could blog paragraphs about most of them, particularly the hockey ones, but the real eye catcher for me is #7.

I think I've blogged on this one before. Trudeau was walking in a procession with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace. Then he drops back, and unbeknownst to her, does a pirouette as a ham for the cameras.

This is crazy for a world leader in the Queen's presence.

And massively influential for me. Like Kennedy in the US, Trudeau's policies and performance as PM are overshadowed by his personality and vision for Canada (particularly bilingualism, which helped shape me as a person, and federalism which has been our Big Debate forever, but particularly since 1980).

I'm delighted to have found this picture!

Monday, June 09, 2008

O Canada and Your Efficient Passport Office

Woo-hoo! My passport has arrived... I'm good for another 5 years.

It took about 3 weeks. My application was executed meticulously.

Here are some things I learned, as a recap for the Canucks:
  • Your guarantor may be a family member. My father was mine. The only restriction is that they must have a valid 5-year passport.
  • Passport Canada's website and/or phone service has good information, including processing times. They said 4 weeks for me. I called them upon receipt and one woman said "call us near 6/13 to see how it's going". It arrived today on 6/9.
  • Resident Canadians should definitely look into the express service which is even faster.
  • Obviously, triple-check the list they give you to make sure everything is in order. That said, I think my eye colour was different on my app versus my driver's license (hazel versus green). Ah well... what's a hue among compatriots!
Happy day... In other news, I called Geico, the insurance for the guy that hit my car. They were very courteous and are getting me hooked up with a repair shop and rental: the works. The timing is not ideal (June is crazy busy) but not much we can do.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blackbird's Meanstreak

Our hero glides across the parking lot like an eagle in the sky, stalled in flight, circling effortlessly. Despite only having a mere 30 miles this season on his trusted steed, Blackbird, the two have recombined into the inorganic union of man and machine.

It is the warm-up for the venerable Tour de Cure: a large bike ride to raise funds for diabetes. Children stop our hero and ask to ride Blackbird. With a kind-hearted shrug, CC explains that he is clipped in at the pedals and has no rides to offer. Other kids simply marvel and applaud.

Then, suddenly, the heavens open: zounds! Torrents of rain. Blackbird has never seen rain before; it is unclear how the beast will fare in the elements. Is he a prima donna? A warrior?

Our hero, already drenched, heads for the meager shelter of a tree, hoping that its vast canopy of leaves will somehow provide cover. In the chaos, our hero comes to a full stop: while still clipped in.

Time stands still. This is a decisive moment. In 2 years and 1000 miles, Blackbird has never dumped his rider. And yet now, frozen in time, they are truly stalled. What will happen? Can our hero mash the pedals and propel them forward? Can he miracuously flick out of the constraints in time? Will Blackbird, as he has so often before, simply will his way out of another jam?

The answer is an emphatic editorial from the earnest equine: be gone. With a stern throw of his graceful neck, Blackbird offers no quarter. Our hero plummets to the left, crashing against the asphalt in a full body slam. Children hide behind their mothers' skirt and point. Many yards away, an owl hoots an ominous warning.

A hero has fallen. The dynamic duo are divided.

It is an inauspicious beginning to the season.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fender Bender Redux

There is nothing quite like coming home on a Friday night and having one's car rear-ended at a traffic light. *sigh*

This time was more serious to the car and less serious to me. The guy winged my driver side bumper. I _did_ lift my foot off the brake, out of gear, but he admitted that he picked up his cell and simultaneously hit the gas. Great.

This time, I listened to counsel from the previous comments: called the cops, took his info, etc. Interestingly, he had a Michigan driver's license, a car from Washington state, and no insurance card. He swore that he was insured, but the cop had no choice but to write him a citation.

Anyway, this one will get fixed. The funny thing is that the nick from the first accident will probably be fixed as well, since they'll probably replace the back bumper entirely.

A pain in the watoot though. I have stuff to do. Ah well, no injuries.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tour de Crue

If I had time, I would try to find a pic of Jess and her mates with the heads of the hair band Motley Crue super-imposed. The Tour de Crue coming to a bike trail near you!

For reader donors, a million thank yous for your kind generosity. I am kicking butt towards my goal. In fact, I am schooling many of the others on the team (click here), thanks to your support.

In other news, Blackbird has finally been set up for the season. It has been a long time coming due to (a) unprecedented, daily deluges of rain and (b) a precipitous decline in service from my former bike shop.

CC has now re-doubled his endorsement for the original bikeshop: Maplewood Bicycle.

The irony is that it may well rain on Saturday, and I'm not riding Blackbird for 16 miles in the rain. This means that my hybrid bike, Butterscotch, may yet ride again! That will be interesting since I haven't been on it in 2 years.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hockey Overdose

Wow, well that was a dandy. I just watched Game 5 go into 3 OTs... (Mercifully, the time zone worked to my advantage)

If Detroit scored, they would win the Stanley Cup. But they did not.

There were some sketchy penalties in Pittsburgh's favour (it is pretty clear that the NHL wants more games, eh?) but the refs seemed to try to even it up. Certainly the last penalty against Detroit was blatant.

Down here, NBC seemed to do it up right with almost no commercials except at the intermissions.


ps. Here is some hockey trivia for you. In the mid 1980s, Edmonton was dominant in the NHL. In general politics in the late 80s, Newfoundland, on the far east coast, went to a different timezone from the Atlantic timezone. From what I remember, there was debate as to whether or not the Newfies should be an hour later, or, strangely, a 1/2 hour later from the Atlantic. The main argument against an hour later was that the playoff games from Edmonton would be on unbearably late.

Today, Newfoundland is 1/2 hour later than the Atlantic timezone.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Neighbours Part 3

Our hero lives Apt C (apartment CC was not available). Above him, the new nefarious nemesis of neighbouring negativity lives in Apt B. I probably have not mentioned that his buddy lives above him in Apt A. This has not been noteworthy as I have no quarrel with Apt A. It has been only an indirect problem as they have thrown mutual parties and generally just spur each other on.

Well. The dude in Apt A has left. The "chaos bloc" has been neutralized.

I met the new tenants in Apt A last night. A young woman and her beau. Within minutes, they asked me, unsolicited, if I could hear our man in Apt B. I felt vindicated. Though undoubtedly we suffer different experiences (due to the setup of the building), we are both suffering.

And so, though said umbrage, we have forged solidarity. In hushed tones, I encouraged my new compadre to fully voice any concerns to the office HQ. Later, I wrote out a manifesto on some paper. We agreed that upon greeting one another in the parking lot, we would make a gesture that basically shows our united front and also interrogates the other on how things are going.

Basically, we are in a gang.

And it is a hoot. Our own secret symbols and everything!

I don't know how much longer we'll have our friend in Apt B, but he is going down.