Sunday, October 30, 2005

Noodly Appendage, Hon.


According to Are you effing kidding me, this sign is in Hampden. The image is lifted from bosconet.

More on the Noodly Master.

Bike Ride Report - Fall Foliage Populaire

Yesterday I rode the DC Randonneurs' 161k Fall Foliage Populaire. 6900' of climb. Several 15% grades according to DeLorme. Temps in the 30s and 40s. Headwinds. It was great!

When the sun rose over the Super 8 in Middletown VA, it was pretty darn cold, but no frost.

I slept in the Big OE, around the corner in the parking lot of some sort of educational facility. Despite the cold, I was pretty cozy in the Element. In fact, I overslept, and didn't wake up until 7:10. I had to get dressed and over to the Super 8 before check-in ended at 7:30. I just made it, but I was 20 minutes late getting on the road.

This was a great route. It went up Fort Valley, then over Edinburg Gap (a brutal climb). Then it goes in a loop south in the Shenandoah valley to Mount Jackson and back north again. You climb over Little North Mountain through Fetzer Gap (brutal climb) and then down the other side to the microscopic town of Zepp. This is in some very obscure valley in the west side of the top of Virginia. The terrain is pretty rough, with lots of short, steep climbs. Here is the control in the valley of obscurity, the Star Market in the town of Star Tannery, VA.

The fall colors were not so great around here, but were pretty nice in Fort Valley, when I was on a mission and not taking any pictures.

Here's the map, plotted with my Garmin GPS and uploaded into DeLorme Topo USA. Click to make it bigger. The Garmin reported 7800' of climb vs. 6900' for the heart rate monitor. This took 7:30 pedaling, and was 101 miles. Way cool. Way hard.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who says recumbents can't climb? State Line Century.

It was brutal. 100 miles. 8100 feet of climb.

It was a DC Randonneurs' training ride. The "State Line Century". Starting in Frederick, it went up Catoctin Hollow road, and then over the mountain on MD 77. Here's the intersection. This was one of the easier climbs.

Then it was along the mountain to Cascade MD, and a totally gratuitous climb up to High Rock . The plan was to go to the top of Quirauk Mountain, but the nice "US Police" with the assault rifles turned everyone back. There are antennas up there. Some Googling turns up this link, which may suggest what the issue is that requires the presence of assault rifles.

Here is a picture from the top of High Rock, looking north.

I hauled the bike up to the rock, to discover my camera batteries were dead! That's after a 3 mile climb up a grade of 8-10%! A super nice guy up there enjoying the view with his girlfriend gave me some new batteries and took my picture. I am totally greatful.

Lunch was in State Line, PA, north of Hagerstown, at mile 54. It was pretty easy going to Cavetown, MD, but then there is a big climb over South Mountain. And finally, the crusher, at mile 88, the incredible Crow Rock Road, which has about a half mile that is over 10% with a little bit around 15%, and then another similar stretch on Highland School Road. This puts you on top of the mountain overlooking Frederick.

I was not speedy on this ride. I was under 3 mph up the 15% grades. The whole thing took 8 1/2 hours pedaling, for an average speed of 11.5 mph.

I did get to test out some new gear. I splurged on a new Patagonia Figure 4 soft shell, which was fantastic. The temperature varied from the 40s to about 70, and with all the climbing you sweat a lot and then have the cold wind on the downhill. The new shell, with a Patagonia fleece pullover and base layer underneath, wicked all the sweat away, and I was pretty much warm and dry the whole way.

I've also just bought a GPS Mapping Device. Garmin e-Trex Vista C. It has an altimeter. I figured out how to transfer the track to Delorme TopoUSA, which makes much nicer maps than the Garmin USA Topo map. The GPS thing was dead accurate on time and distance when compared with my trip computer. I think I messed up the altitude calibration when I started, so the climb recorded by the GPS was way off (2000' high) compared with the trip computer, which measured 8100'. Another rider measured 8300'. This was a great ride, fabulous scenery, but good grief that's a lot of climbing. I barely made it in before dark.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Invitation to Naughtyness - Custom US Postal Stamps

I see on the Yahoo home page that you can order official US Post Office stamps with the picture of your choice on them.

Now we know you are not allowed to send obscene material through the mail. But what if the stamp was obscene? What if you had a custom stamp made with, let's say, a picture of your penis?

Do you think that anyone checks the submitted photos? How closely do you think they check? What is the most obnoxious thing that you could slip by?

What would happen if you tried to get non-obscene images put on the stamp that were obnoxious and political? Say, like this one:

Or let's say you photoshopped up a picture of George W. Bush lighting a cross with some Klansmen.

Or George W. Bush dressed as a Nazi.

Or George W. Bush abusing some prisoners in Iraq.

I see a lot of work for the ACLU in the near future. I wonder what the USPS was thinking.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Squirrel 1 Monkey the Whippet 0

Monkey the Naughty Boy almost caught a squirrel this morning.There has been a natural selection type effect at work for the last couple years. He hasn't come close to a squirrel for many months. But today, there was a squirrel way out in the open, far from any tree. Monkey was right on it. He charged the squirrel, but he didn't over commit himself, he slowed down when he got close so he could see which way the squirrel was going to run.

The squirrel feinted, and then broke for the tree. It had no chance. Monkey was on top of it about five feet from the tree.

The squirrel stopped! Monkey ran right over the squirrel, and SMACK into the tree! He bounced off the tree, and tumbled in the grass. The squirrel bolted up the tree to safety.

Monkey limped around a little bit, but the only injury was to his pride, as you can see in the picture. If you look close, you will see his wrists have grass stains.

eBay Success! No more Altima

The Al-TEE-ma is gone, bought by a guy named Farhad for $3101.

Farhad was super nice. We dropped the car off for him at a gas station where he appears to work on Annapolis Road by the city line. He seemed delighted with the Altima-it seems he had exactly the same car, down to the replacement battery and the dinged-up bumpers and 97000 miles, and his was totalled a couple weeks ago. He couldn't believe his luck to find an identical car on eBay. He was so happy, I felt bad about saying unkind things about the car in the description. I hope it runs forever for him.

He apologized for not coming by to look at it after the Ravens game Sunday, he said he was out on the bay and "we started getting hit by rocks". Debra and I were appalled that somebody was throwing rocks at him. He explained he meant the rockfish were biting. I gave him good eBay feedback.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bike Ride Report - DC Randonneurs Spinning Wheels 161k Populaire

Yesterday I rode the DC Randonneurs Spinning Wheels Populaire. It was 100 miles. I felt good at the end, even though there were monstrous climbs and headwinds.

It started in Thurmont. As usual, I drove out Friday night and slept in the back on the Element with the bike.

Away we go, just before 8:00 am.

The route heads north from Thurmont to Sabillasville on MD 550. This road follows a creek up into the mountains. There were a pair of ravens croaking at us along the way, and a dead fox on the side of the road. I didn't know there were ravens this far east, although I've seen them at Snicker's Gap in Virginia before.

In Pennsylvania, it's all rural, old towns. We went over this covered bridge south of Fairfield.

I stopped at the Round Barn. Inside it is a country gift shop with lots of preserves and gew-gaws.

Out back, there is a porta-potty, next to the goat shed.

Here's the map with elevation. The second half was pretty easy, but there was a monster climb about 30 miles in where I had to visit grandma.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Libertarians for Liquor Licenses

The "yet another politics quiz" was annoying because it has so many questions and was slow. In the end I liked it though because it asks how you voted for president in 2004 and plots that on this same chart:

I didn't vote for Bush or Kerry.

I don't think all the questions made a lot of sense. I was torn between strongly agree and strongly disagree on some of them.

The following is a faster simpler political quiz:


Try the simpler quiz

So, do you think libertarians support the idea of a liquor license?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yet another politics quiz to rate yourself

I found it on another blog. Here's my result:

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(71% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Libertarian




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Intelligent design?

Harold Hill, the Music Man, decides he's got to create a moral crisis in River City, so he sings:

"Well, either you're closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge or you are not aware of the calibur of disaster indacated by the presence of a pool table in your community."

From the "family values crowd, who've taken a break from rescuing the institution of marriage from gays, while invading Terri Schiavo's husband's right make decisions for his wife, we get the quest to teach "intelligent design" in the public schools.

It's not teaching religion, we're told. No, we're just going to tell children that all the puzzle pieces of nature fit together so well that this harmony must have resulted from "intelligent design." Sounds pretty nice. It's not God creating the world, it's just "intelligent design." Has a nice ring to it.

To me, the greatest evidence against "intelligent design" is that God created people who really think they can just slip this by the rest of us, without us figuring out that there can be no "intelligent design" without an "intelligent designer." And that gets us back to what this really is, an effort to teach religion to public school students. Put a new label on a bottle of wine, and it still tastes the same.

More to the point of the "intelligence" behind the people who "designed" this creationism pitch is the assumption that there is some reason we, as a society, must teach religion to public school students. How ironic is it that the people who profess the power of God the loudest have no faith in his abiltiy to reach us, unless taxpayer dollars are used to broadcast his message.

And while we're on the subject, can someone explain why we need the 10 Commandments or Manger scenes on public property? I'm looking for the "intelligent design" behind installing a several ton statue of the Commandmnents in the Alabama courthouse? Was there a single criminal who saw it, slapped his forehead, and exclaimed "if only I'd known there was a commandment against murder or theft!"

Truth be told, the "design" behind these faith based initiatives is to earn God's favor. On judgment day, the "intelligents" would have us believe, we've got a better shot at salvation because the dollars we sent to televangelists say "in God we trust." Or maybe the divine will be more likely to "bless" us while we are alive, because we make our children pledge that we are "one nation under God."

Why I will probably not make it the promised land designed by these intelligent so called Christians is because my God is not so easily fooled. He knows what's in my heart and my soul, and he judges me by my deeds - and not by how many times I see Mel Gibson's movie. And he's not really fond of people who have God Bless our Troops stikers on their car, since "not killing people" is one of his commandments. So is turning the other cheek. He sent a someone named Jesus Christ to tell us all this. Faith means more than just head nodding. It means taking a punch, with the "faith" that God's not happy when you fight back.

My hope is that one day the spell of these religious music men will wear off, and the "faithful" will read the Bible they've heard so often thumped. Not only will they discovery that their emperors have no clothes, but God's truly "intelligent design" will be made known to them - we can all live in peace. - we just chose not to.


JIM

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hot Car on eBay!

I've put Debra's old Altima (we pronounce it Ael-TEE-ma) up for auction on eBay.

Check it out. I hope the description does it justice.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bike Ride Report - Seagull Century

I rode the Seagull Century yesterday. I didn't see one seagull. I think they drowned. By the time I was done, I was about drowned too.

It rained continuously non-stop the whole time. There were stiff headwinds the whole way, too.
It wasn't at all cold, though, it was mid seventies, kind of balmy. It was like swimming.

Here is the Element section of the parking lot. Debra's in front, and another guy with a blue one in the back.

The guy with the blue one says he didn't sleep in it. But for me, the Element gets more like home every week.

I was going to camp at the Salvation Army with Debra and some of our friends, but they bagged it due to the weather forecast. So it was just me camping in the Seagull parking lot in the cozy Big OE.

Crisis! Before I even started, I discovered my front brake lever was cracked! Where it clamps on the handlebar. It was flopping around all over.

Luckily for me, the repair stand was already set up at 7:30, and the guy in charge made a quick dash back to the store to get me a new brake lever.

What a lifesaver. I had the (lousy) breakfast in the Salisbury U. dining hall, and was underway just before 8:30. I wasn't in a big hurry, I was naively hoping that maybe the rain would let up if I waited a bit. Right.

Here's the scene at the first rest stop, at Pokomoke State Park. This was just over 20 miles in.

At about 65 miles, you get to Asseteague State Park, on the beach, where the wild ponies frolic. I saw one, he was standing by the entrance bedraggled and sullen looking. I didn't take a picture. This is the rest stop, where people throw their bikes on the ground and hide under the tent and eat a banana.

I always find a fence to lean my bike against.

I took a little break and walked to the top of the dune. Pretty rough surf today. The wind is blowning about 25 mph from the southeast.

This dude is cheating. He's missing the special experience of riding into the stiff wind with the rain coming down hard and stinging through your rain jacket.

I pretty much hammered the whole thing. I have a dream that someday I will ride a century in less than 5 hours. That dream was not for this day. It took me 5:23 rolling, and just under six hours on the clock. Average speed 18.5 mph.

Which was exactly the same time as last year. Last year was the Reynolds Weld Lab Dual 26 T-Bone. This year was the Cobrabikes Royale. The conditions were considerably worse this year, so maybe I am showing some improvement.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fast fights?

Has anyone ever sold a war claiming "man, this is going to go on for years"? Seems like every time someone elects to go to war there's that "it'll be over by Christmas" pledge.

Althougth they didn't have Christmas back then as a war ending benchmark, the Athenians promised a quick victory over the Spartans. More than 30 years later, the Athenians lost their ass.

In August of 1914, the so called great powers, now that the holiday had been invented, promised that it would be over by Christmas. Four years and millions of dead later, the world lay in ruin.

We were supposed to get in and out of Vietnam right away. Ten years later, we get out, three years later the cause 50,000 Americans gave their life for - protecting South Vietnam from Communism, was lost.

How long was Kosovo promised to last? Last time I checked, we're still in Bosnia.

Now we go into Iraq. Whatever happened to those chickenhawks who told us it would be over in six months and we'd pay for it all with oil money? The Bristih initiated a Mesopotamian campaign in 1914, where they invaded Iraq. Five years later, and over 30,000 casualties, they finally conquered the country. As for lasting impact of the ultimate sacrifice of those dead and wounded, the Iraqui house has never been in order. It still isn't.

There was a pro war "support the troops and their mission" rally last weekend in Washington. Speaker after speaker spoke of the "ultimate sacrifice" made by our troops, and the need to finish the mission - honor that sacrifice.

"Mission accomplished" is more than a propaganda baner on ship - it's got to me an idenfiable, realistic goal - worth the most precious resource we have - American lives.

Do people really think that, at some point in the very near future, Iraq will become a stable democracy, say like Iowa, where everyone just gets along.

Democracies are forged, not imposed. A successful democracy, with a diverse population, requires that people trade their differences, foregoing revenge for past wrongs, for the blessings of peace and liberty. To those supporters of the "mission" - does it really look like the Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite factions, who've been at odds for centuries in Iraq, are ready to eat such humble pie? Or, like two combatants in a domestic disturbance, are they just waitin for the cops to leave?

When the epilogue of this war is written eighty years from now, I hope and pray the American blood staining the sands of Iraq will bear better fruit than their British predicessors'.

How many times can we turn our heads - in favor of a cartoonistic notion that we can remake in just a short time an Iraq that dates back to Mesopotamia - and pretend that we just don't see what's really going on?

The answer is blowing in the wind.

JIM

A Picture Share!

A camera phone post from Boston

Monday, September 26, 2005

Evil House of Spirits 6?

This morning I came out to find a flat tire on Debra's brand new Element!

It looks like a screw became embedded in the tire. The smudge around the screw suggests that the Element was driven for awhile with the screw before the tire became flat.

I drove the Element to work Friday morining, and from there to Virginia to do a bike ride. I drove 60 miles back to home on Saturday afternoon. Then Debra drove it to the grocery on Sunday afternoon.

Maybe one of us ran over the screw. Or maybe somebody screwed the screw into the tire on Saturday night so that it would eventually puncture the tire after we started driving.

It's probably just a coincidence that I testified to the liquor board about the House of Spirits Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bike Ride Report - DC Randonneurs Fall 200k

I rode a 200k Brevet yesterday in Virginia. It had 6860 feet of climb. I kicked butt, but it looks like the butt-kicking went the other way right after I finished.


The privacy curtains for Debra's new Element arrived this week. Here is the camp scene before bed the night before. I just parked on the street by the start point.

This is Ron, another recumbent rider and T-Bone owner, who did the ride. Ron and I often exchange e-mails. This is the first time we've met. Ron kept flying by me at insane speeds on all the downhills. This is right before the ride started, at 7:00 am. It was overcast so it wasn't very light out yet.

Uh-oh, there everyone goes! Enough chit-chat!

I was on a mission during the ride, and didn't take any pictures. However, Ron did, and he e-mailed me this one to put on the blog:


It was a gray, overcast day, about 70 degrees out. The scenery was excellent as always. Starting in Warrenton, VA, we crossed the Blue Ridge on 55, then rode along the Shenandoah River, then west through historic towns. On top of the ridge, we turned north into West Virginia for a bit. Then it was back down over the Shenandoah, and up a long climb over Snicker's Gap to Bluemont. The return was through giant horse farm estates with stone fences around The Plains. Coming back into Warrenton, we had to go through some short, steep valleys. One last attempt to make your legs fall off. It took me 8:30, average rolling speed was 15.9 mph.

I rode the Cobrabikes Royale, it was flawless, and climbs like a mountain goat.

The map with elevation is over on my web site.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dem O's (that's zero's)

Every now and then, I hear rumblings that the Orioles might leave. You ask me, they've already left. The Orioles who won world series, the Orioles of Palmer, Stone, Boog, the Robisons - Brooks and Fank. Simon & Garfunkel asked "where did you go Joe Damagio" I'm asking "where did you go Earl Weaver?"

It seems like that coffee commercial, somenone secretly replaced the team. Can we get Fox Mulder to look into how a team can lead the American League East, arguably the toughest division in baseball for the first half of the season, and now they can't win at Tampa Bay. And to rub salt in the wound, they lose so many games to the Yankees, that the Bronx Bombers have now replaced Boston as the first place in the division.

You can blame free agency, for assembling so called teams that are nothing more than aggregations of superstar egomaniac non-team players. You c an blame the owner, who not only signs players, ingnoring the baseball scouts hired to scout talent, but agreed to a team 45 minutes South of here, as long as he, the owner, was garanteed money. With another major league franchise so close, are we ever really going to have the large media market needed to bring in the bucks needed to sign top players - or are we destined to become the Milwaukee Brewers of the AL East?

According to the birding crowd, the true Baltimore Oriole, the orange and black bird, is now extinct. Somehow, while none of us were watching, it faded away into obscurity, and then ceased to exist. This baseball season is a wake up call that the team that bears their name is proving the addage that "birds of a feather flock together."

JIM

Testimony from a recent convert



I've seen the light. I can't believe it's taken so long.

Flying Spaghetti Monster

I believe. Check it out.

Evil House of Spirits 5 - GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY

Today was the liquor board hearing. The liquor board voted 2-1 that the EHOS had sold booze to an intoxicated person. They have to pay $125 in court costs, and their choice of a $900 fine or a 9 day closure. They had to pay for a lawyer, too.

Unbelievably, one of the board members found the material on this blog unconvincing. Or maybe he believed the testimony of the EHOS that I kick old men, sic my dog on children, and run over people with my car. I am the problem. As to Mr. Cleveland, he is a nice old man, unfortunately homeless, and they bring him sandwiches and glasses of lemonade as any charitable person would.

After the verdict was read, we received a lecture on how we all have to get along and not escalate this conflict. I received a lecture on how they have a right to run their business.

I found the whole experience to be very stressful and unpleasant.

Apparently, the EHOS guys thought the part about getting along better in the future only applies to me. As soon as we left the hearing room, they were immediately in my face, especially this guy:
He said if I didn't take his picture down in three days, he would sue me. I guess he's embarrassed to have a picture of himself standing in front of his family's store making an obscene gesture posted on the Internet. I have to admit I was mistaken in yesterday's post about which guy from the EHOS called the police in a lame attempt to get me to take his picture down.

Since they all started yelling at me while we were waiting for the elevators, I ducked into the stairwell and took the stairs.

When I went to walk the dog, they were all in my face again when I tried to cross the street by their store. I said nothing and kept walking.

I hope this all cools down. It will be great if Mr. Cleveland never reappears and the EHOS guys ignore me as I intend to ignore them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Evil House of Spirits 4

Two police officers came to visit me tonight. They were called by this guy, who complained that I had taken his picture and put it on the web without his permission.

I said, that is in fact the case. It's not against the law. The policeman said he was pretty sure it was against the law, and the guy was unhappy about it.

I said, I'm sure the guy is unhappy, but that is because his family liquor store is getting hauled before the liquor board tomorrow for selling alcohol to drunks, and this is his final attempt at intimidation so I don't testify.

I told the police officer that I would be glad to take the picture down if I was breaking a law. He called back to his supervisor, and determined that it is not against the law.

I should hope not. It's called the right of free speech. This is America. By exercising my right of free speech concerning liquor stores selling alcohol to drunks who then pass out on the sidewalk, I am helping law enforcement and making my community a better place.

The police were nice. One of them had taken the complaint when Debra was a victim of identity theft a couple months ago, and he did a great job then. He asked what happened with the identity theft case: the perpetrator is in jail in part due to his good work.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bike Ride Report - Backroads Century



I rode a century today. Yesterday, too. Here I am at the end of today's ride. Don't I look fresh and perky?

Today's century was the Potomoc Pedalers Historic Back Roads Century. 100 Miles of scenic country roads and rolling hills in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia and West Virginia. I measured 3500 feet of climb.

What was cool is I got to test out Debra's brand new car! She just got it yesterday.

Here is what's cool about the Element. This century started in Berryville, VA, which is 100 miles from home. You have to register between 7 and 9. So that would mean getting up pretty darn early to drive out there from Baltimore.

But with the Element, you can drive out the night before and sleep in the car. With your bike!

I woke up about 7:00 am because of all the people slamming car doors around me. I went over and registered, and had a Frappechino and a Luna Bar for breakfast. By 8:15 I was ready to roll, and very well rested.

This is the new bike, a Cobrabikes Royale carbon fiber recumbent. I've been messing with it for months to make it road-ready. Yesterday was a 100 mile ride shakedown ride on the Eastern Shore, which is very flat. But today was the big test. Lots of hills. The Royale did great. I averaged 16 mph, and I only had to do a couple minor adjustments on the road.

They had nice rest stops. This is the Burwell Morgan Mill, built in 1785. It was grinding corn today when I was there.

The rest area was behind the mll. In addition to the usual bananas, Gatorade, and peanut butter sandwiches, they were giving away salted boiled potatos. My potato was delicious. The people working the rest stop were very funny. They suggested lots of things we could do with a potato.

Another rest stop was at White Post Restorations, in White Post, VA. I just assumed they restored houses, but it's cars they restore. They were having a mini car show with about 20 antique street rods and other cars. Bluegrass music was playing in the background. (Yes, Gabe, that's a 442 on the left.)