Saturday, August 15, 2009

Commute Friday 08/14/2009

No cycle commute. Pretty hot in my unairconditioned home last night and I just didn't sleep so swell. So I used the extra hour in the morning I'd use to commute to sleep. Then I drove. The other reason to drive was I knew my pals at Hiwatha Cyclery had a part they procured for me. Its a tool to help separate the "Quick Link" on a chain. Most chains don't require you to open a link using a press tool, but have a link that in theory you can break apart with ordinary tools or even your fingers. Yet once they get a little dirty it just doesn't work that way. I have tried to spray cleaning them with WD-40 (it ain't a lubricant, but it cleans reasonably okay), but I can't break the link on my Bleriot. I think it really got worse when I rode in the rain last Friday. Nothing like a little surface rust to make things tighter. At any rate Jim at HC let me know there is a nifty tool from those fine local folks at Park Tool which makes opening that link much easier.

Commute Thursday 08/13/2009

Pretty hot day. I didn't need any arm warmers or leg warmers in the morning. It ws nice and mildlly warm on the way in.

It was warm on the way home. But I was prepared and I've acclimated. I had plenty of water and didn't even really think about stopping at any of the three Dairy Queen's on my commute route.

I did get pretty angry at the plus sized woman in the Mercury SUV (like a Ford Escapee) parked the middle of the cross walk near the DQ by the intersection of Hwy 49 and Hwy 96. She was busy shoveling down a Blizzard and was clueless to her vehicle position. Then she topped it off by briefly letting off her brake and stomping on it again while I was passing. Nothing like a vehicle lurching toward you briefly to piss me off. So I let her verbally have it. I think it was "Jackass". When the light was green she came after me yelling four letter terms and showing her ability to count to one. Gratefully I didn't catch her at the next light to escalate nor see where she lived along the route.

I did imagine Yehuda style retribution using four ball bearings as I rode the uneventful rest of the ride home.

Commute Tuesday 08/11/2009

Uneventful cycle commute. Time is still around 2:10 for the round trip. I think its going to take a lot of riding to get under the 2:05 or two hour for a round trip.

Okay, I lied it wasn't uneventful. I got up early (don't ask) and got on the bike by 4:30 AM. I made it to Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown at six bells to meet some friends for breakfast. One pal made it and it was a good thing too. I was so sleepy packing things up, I forgot my cash or my checkbook. So thanks to TM, I got a short stack of the venerable blueberry walnut whole wheat pancakes. Otherwise known as two WW Wally Blues. Or blue Wallies. I get confused at that hour.

Round trip time was close to 2:30 with the extra mileage. Still don't know what is wrong with the odometer. I've even adjusted the thing to the right setting using measured rollout with me on the saddle. (that was the tires sighing "Oy!")

The ride to work and the ride home was uneventful. Okay except for the redneck in the black Chevy pickup who decided that my taking a lane offended him. There was two lanes and little traffic so he was harrassing me for no reason other than his own angst toward white guys (okay he was white too), guys on bicycles, humans, or people having fun. Hope he survives that heart attack.

Commute Monday 08/10/2009

No cycling today. I'm picking up a bicycle from a friend. I'll put a new saddle and rear rack for her. If I find I have the right battery for it, I'll fix her cycle computer for her too. So I drove the elephant to pick her bike up.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Commute Friday 08/07/2009

Today's weather forecast, rain. Rain. And more rain.

We need it. We are in drought.

I did ride to work on a bicycle. Most of the trip it merely sprinkled. About Roseville it began to rain harder and when I came across a bus shelter I used it to get out the poncho and then rode the rest of the way that way. I could have used an overhang on a couple of buildings, but waited the less than a mile to use the free shelter without annoying people in a building to keep from getting wet.

Rain slows you down. So timing was slower, but not painfully so. Since it was darkish, I ran the hub generator light. That too slows me down a little. Ride in was one hour and 10 minutes. Cool beans as far as I'm concerned. Ride overall was 2:25, but the wind was worse on the way home although I sufferecd through no actual rain, just ridiculous levels of humidity.

I saw two very miserable cyclist in the hard rain going the opposite way. I was passed climbing a steep but short hill. He was on a light weight and non-fendered bicycle. No racks either. No lights. And I think he was a little younger. So I've got all kinds of excuses to be dropped in the dust. He also had no rain gear, but it was long before it began to rain hard.

I like riding in the rain. It's hard to get out and do it, but it is fun once you get out there. Its cool and quiet. No where near as awful as most think it must be. Besides it makes you feel like SuperMan. Yay me!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Commute Thursday 08/06/2009


Seriously. Still have soreness in my back area, but otherwise I'm liking this.

When you ride a bike to work, you feel so dang smug. Okay I still believe my poop stinks, but still.

There is nothing like infinite gas mileage to improve your carbon footprint. Take that Prius owners.

Legs are feeling okay. Doesn't feel like I'm going to have a heart attack. I've still got my same old same old numbness in my hands and fingers, but it's no worse than it has ever been. I keep shaking them out, changing positions, and they quickly come back to life. Actually I don't wait for them to get very numb, I do something before that point.

And yeah, had the one close call already. Nitwit on a cell phone in a black SUV didn't quite look ahead before he made a left turn where I was. At least he slowed down and didn't hit me. Just pissed me off momentarily. The crazy flight or fight and baby I'd like to fight him for the drive with cell phone a going. I better get back to praying that oil runs out before he dies so he can suffer. He surely was much younger and I'm trying not to think that I'm saving the foolish planet oil for dorks like him to waste later. Bah, oil bug.

Update: Round trip time was just under 2:14 or two hours and fourteen minutes. This is improvement. I felt pretty good on the way home, not terribly tired or sore. It was a very nice ride and I just enjoyed it.

Commute Tuesday 08/04/2009

So soon? Durn right.

Not recovering that well since the last one. Still a little sore, especially my back. Odd.

I was a wee bit faster though. I had some tail wind in the morning so I think I might have done it in 75 minutes or so. The wind was in the same direction all day.

So I paid dearly on the way home and was seriously beat by teh time I got home. Oh so tired of riding by the time I coasted up to the garage door. Only to hear Sparky bark with anxiety. "Let me out!!!". Sigh.

Just the same my afterage round trip is about 70 minutes. Improvement baby. That's where it's at. Now if I can just push myself away from the snack table I'd be a whale of better off. Pun seriously intended.

Commute Friday 07/31/2009

For the first time in two years, I rode my bicycle to work. Instead of a car.

Why so little riding? Lots of things that don't really matter (here).

My odometer is all hosed up on my Bleriot so I averaged something like 25 MPH which is not correct by a long shot. Maybe dividing by two isn't even correct. I shudder to think.

Bottom line? Oy, am I out of shape.

It took me close to an hour and a half to get about 16 miles to work. I know its not terrible, but there was a time when day after day I did this same route in 49 minutes. Not 82 or whatever it was. But it won't get better if I sit on my butt and whine. I just need to do it more.

Odd thing, my back is sore after I got home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Defending the Indefensible

Cheney and Rove want to defend the indefensible. They feel that what was learned by torture was worthwhile.

This is false. The same information that was learned from tortured prisoners, was learned from sources without torture.

They defend the use of torture from the US Armed Forces lessons from the program where troops were subjected to torture to help them resist it in the field in event of capture. Troops were water boarded a few times, as I know at least two former soldiers that were treated to such. They weren't water boarded six times a day as one of the prisoners was. The key element that is missing is knowing when and how much. The second element is knowing who is doing the act.

One memo suggests that sleep deprivation of up to weeks leads to no harm and alleges support based on a quoted university researcher. That researcher has stepped forward to note his dismay at the misuse and abuse of his work. After even a few days of sleep deprivation in conjunction with the threat of repeated interrogation leads to only gibberish. Once the subject reaches the point of the inability to concentrate, the information becomes useless. This point will be reached earlier with the pressure or stress of interrogation.

When given the opportunity to participate, the FBI chose to opt out of the information by torture. They felt their methods of non-torture were superior through years of experience with suspects in all areas of crime. The CIA was specialists in espionage, the gathering of information without the subject's knowledge. The Bush administration chose to let the CIA lead, because they favored and supported the torture of prisoners.

Torture was used in the hope to find the crucial link between Hussein and Al-Quada. There was none, but they eventually got the prisoners to admit this. They could never find other support for the conjecture. Because it didn't exist. The two were were based on two waring factions of the Muslim religion. They didn't understand the culture enough to know that their cooperation was highly unlikely.

Their defense of torture has changed many times. When discovered while Bush, Cheney and Rove were in operation, it was blamed on a few bad apples at Abu Ghaib. They prosecuted a few to show they meant business.

Later Bush himself denied torture was being used. We now know from released records that it was based on the flawed (see above on sleep deprivation) legal documents that declared specific methods as "not torture." Specific details in those documents were exceeded (like water boarding an average of 6 times a day for 30 days) invalidating its application. It wasn't a few bad apples unless you specify the trio leading the country at that time.

Last now, Cheney wants the release of only two specific memorandum to show the extent of what we learned from these unethical methods. This is the "end justifies the means" argument. It only rarely works. At this time we still haven't isolated or captured Osama Bin Laden, so all the torture implemented failed. Much of what was learned was only valuable in a political sense to a man who's deathly afraid of virtually everything.

I'm speaking to you Dick Cheney. Undisclosed location. You are the most paranoid person to ever have been a heartbeat away from the Presidency. You are the one man in our great history that has no defense.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Compare and Contrast

The New York Times has an article today about Harry Truman and his activities after he was no longer President. It provides the background for a book that is being released that follows the President and his wife Bess on a 19 day trip. A vacation if you will, by car, alone.

How alone? In those days a former President didn't receive a pension. They didn't get an office staff. They didn't even get Secret Service protection. Remember this was before JFK and the fated day in Dallas.

So the trip is Harry, Bess, and a car. And considering their income, it was a trip we'd all understand today. It was a trip of frugality. The stayed at the homes of friends. They accepted free dinners and lodging when offered. Yet they didn't go looking for publicity nor have anyone in advance preparing those free items.

It all comes down to this, the former President wanted to be a regular guy. A citizen. Not in the spotlight. Not attracting attention. Not offering commentary on the new commander in chief Eisenhower. He simply wanted to do what many of us enjoy doing during the nice days of the summer. They drove the east coast, they stayed in New York, and they enjoyed themselves.

Compare and contrast this to our former VP Cheney. Weeks out of office and he can't shut up. He can't help himself. He's got to plant the seed that should anything happen around the world, its the Obama Presidency's fault. Forgetting that he was in power when 9/11 happened and their administration was unable to prevent it.

Cheney needs protection for himself. From himself. In the article noted above, a gas station owner wanted Truman to needle one of the shop's mechanics that was a staunch Republican. Truman refused, even in jest, claiming it was too hot to give anyone "hell."

This is a side not well documented in history. Truman wasn't a spitfire every second of his life. Yes, he had his moments, God love him. Yet he also had true compassion. I sense no compassion in either Bush or Cheney. They can fake it, but they just don't seem to have humility in their souls. Bush couldn't even think of a mistake when quizzed in a press conference. When every human knows they are fallible, Bush couldn't think of one. He just couldn't admit to frailty that every human lives with and acknowledges.

I'm no expert, but a lack of humility is to me the definition of arrogance. That arrogance is the defining word for the Bush administration. That they simply thought they knew better than the rest of us. That torture was not only acceptable, but necessary and legal in the "war against terror." That loyalty was the only requirement needed to fill the position of attorney general. That he had no culpability with the Katrina disaster and the feeble attempts to help. That alienation of our allies wasn't a problem. That it was more important to have a "Gay Free" military than to have the needed interpreters while conducting a military action in a pair of countries riddled with unfathomable dialects and culture. That business permitted to operate unfettered by law will only serve itself, not its employees or even its stockholders. That the national budget did not need to include the most expensive single line item, the war against terror in the middle east.

I wish Harry was here to give Dick and George W. some hell, they could really use it. And I think he'd be just the man to give it to them. Rush Limbaugh sure isn't.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Being Contrary is a Good Thing

To those of us that were happy with the election of Obama as our President should also be grateful for his choice of Vice-President. Biden has been vilified for his wordiness, tendency to make gaffs and concern with him going "off script". Yet a New York Times article today alleges (and backs up) the idea that Joe Biden plays an important role in the Obama administration: Contrarian. Read for yourself here.

I truly think this is another good sign of an outstanding leader. A good leader doesn't surround himself with "yes" men who only do his bidding and answer questions with responses he wants to hear. A good leader has to have one (at least one) individual who has the license to say what he thinks and articulate another position. Not just to be contrary, but to have the comfort to know they can speak their mind without retribution and thereby lead the discussion to cover all the facets of possibilities. To live by group think and thereby choose to remain trapped in a bubble is one of the principle failures of the Bush administration. They were incapable of listening. They felt omnipotent. History will show them to be as capable of error as any administration in history. I truly think group think is what lead them to be the worst administration in history.

No administration is perfect and Obama's already has had their share of missteps. Yet it contrasts so well with the previous administration in its willingness to hold and consider other opinions versus making a decision and sticking to it regardless of when data and reality show it to be foolhardy.

In the past eight years those in public and private who questioned the Bush administration decisions were considered unpatriotic by the GOP message machine. And now that same machine is inelegantly wishing for the Obama administration to fail regardless if it takes the same country they live in to a deep point in history economically, politically, or by foreign policy. I defend Rush's right to say he hopes Obama will fail, but I relish the opportunity in the future when I will haunt him with those words. Maybe it will be Bobby Jindahl ridiculing volcano research only to have a volcano erupt in Palin's backyard or other foolishness, saying you want your president to fail and professing to be patriotic and loving your country is damning. It says you only want success for your country when your team is in charge.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Only Fox news finds this important enough to report about. So a foul mouthed comedian called hecklers "dicks". Its not like she used a racial slur. Fox news, serving mildly titillating news to conservatives who don't want to know what dicks Cheney and the Shrub are.