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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Tabs - I just discovered tabbed browsing with Firefox. Having used IE for many years, I wasn't aware of the concept and hadn't taken the time to learn about it. Now insted of starting up a new browser window I just use ctrl-T to start a new tab. Such a simple, functional concept.

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Life of Pi - Finally finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel, an intriguing book, about a boy stranded on a life raft with a tiger after the ship on which his family was traveling from India to Canada was sunk. It sounds preposterous and I was reluctant to read a book that from the beginning I thought was not believable. The story is written well and after a few pages I was hooked, with thoughts of Siegfried and Roy running through my head.

The unusual ending requires an entire rethinking of the book in terms of what is real, what we want to and can believe, and how we preceive the stories of our lives.

Now it's time for True North by Jim Harrison, “a contemplative saga of one wealthy and dysfunctional family in Michigan's Upper Peninsula from the 1960s to the 1980s.”.

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Sunday, June 27, 2004
Glorious lily - Somehow the calla lily that I planted last year (mentioned below) survived and produced a beautiful bloom. I would love to paint it, but know that the painting would be such a disappointment compared to the real thing.

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Let er rip - I've decided it's time to convert my CD collection to mp3 format. Of course as soon as I made said decision, Tim Bray explains why mp3 is the wrong choice. I'm going ahead anyway, since I converting to mp3 doesn't preclude converting the collection using a better format that preserves the full quality of the recordings.

I'm using Windows Media Player, mostly because I'm lazy and it works. I tried using Musicmatch Jukebox, but the program wouldn't connect to the Internet to find the song titles and artist name, so I tried the media player and it worked just fine using the 56 Kbps default sample rate. It will be a joy to be able to select tunes from the hard disk while working.

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Friday, June 25, 2004
Additions to the Garden - The first harvest from the 10' x 10' community garden plot that I rented this year was rather bountiful. After being away on Bike Virginia for a week, the yellow squash had grown a bit out of control. There were lots of bush beans and a few small carrots. Best of all were the two tomatoes, the best I've eaten in a long time.

The calla lily that I planted last year was in bloom as well.

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Monday, June 14, 2004
Paris to ban SUVs - Maybe we could implement something like this in DC.

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How websites learn - For some time I've wanted to read Stewart Brand's book on architecture, How Buildings Learn. Brand describes what happens to buildings after they've been built and occupied for several years. They begin to change, and Brand suggests that architects should not only think about how their buildings change after they've been completed, but foster that future change. At Acts of Volition, Steven Garrity has applied Brand's concepts to how websites change over time.

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Sunday, June 13, 2004
Mayo wins Dauphiné - Iban Mayo held his lead to win the Dauphiné Libéré today. Lance finished 2 minutes back and what is hopefully not an indication of things to come, his shoe slipped out of the pedal on one of the climbs.

Ullrich leads the Tour of Switzerland - Lance will have some strong competition this year. I take back what I said earlier about Ullrich; he seems to be in good form and ready for the Tour, currently holding the lead in the Tour of Switzerland.

Armstong doping allegations - In other cycling news, the authors of a new book claim that Lance took EPO, the red blood cell booster, as late as 1998.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004
Tyler Hamilton crashes again - While he is still only 30 seconds behind Iban Mayo the leader of the Dauphiné Libéré, Tyler crashed on a steep downhill (aptly titled the “Pass of the Dead”) today in stage 6. He was able to catch the lead group after a desperate chase. Lance is still 2 minutes behind with one stage to go, and a hilly on at that.

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Jim Harrison's latest - Happened across Jim Harrison's latest novel, True North, at the local library. I hadn't heard about it, probably because the Post hasn't reviewed it yet. I'm undecided about quickly reading the library copy or buying a copy to savor over a few weeks and re-read in the future. Harrison is one of the few authors whose work I can purchase without hesitation. Peter Matthiessen is another. Each paragraph that Harrison writes usually contains many nuggets of wisdom.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004
Mayo kicks some butt on Mont Ventoux - Iban Mayo took the lead in the Dauphne Libre today on the Mont Ventoux time trail, beating both Tyler Hamilton and Lance. Tyler did well, finishing second, nearly a minute and a half ahead of Lance, who finished fifth. I don't think Ullrich, who will race in the upcoming Tour of Switzerland, stands much of a chance this year, but there is lots of other competition for the Tour.

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Reason to Commute by Bike #15 - It's more interesting. When I see traffic on the roadway adjacent to a trail on which I regularly commute, I think about sitting there trapped inside the mechanical beast, fretting about how long it will take to get through the congestion. On a bike I know how long it will take, and it's fun and like I said, interesting. Every trip is an adventure and a challenge. It's something to look forward to, not despise.

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Monday, June 07, 2004
Raise the price of oil - Although it is blasphemous to most people, Dan Gillmor has got it right when he says that we need to raise the price of oil so that we
...use less energy from polluting, non-renewable sources. I want to see us invest in sensible public transportation, conservation and renewable energy.

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USPRO Cycling Championship - We're back from a long weekend in Philadelphia. While there we attended the Round*Up folding bike festival sponsored by Trophy Bikes, a small shop that sells several models of folding bikes. We heard several talks:
  • The US importer of Birdy Bikes, described their fully suspended folder designed and produced in Germany.

  • Doug Milliken and Jim Glover described their land speed record using a Moulton small-wheel bike.

  • Karl Ulrich discussed a really small-wheeled vechicle, the Xootr scooter. He made some interesting points about how scooters are usually faster modes of transportation than any other over a distance of 0-.5 miles, all things considered. He also discussed his interest in developing a folding bike, not unlike a scooter, without a seat. He thinks that a bike over 15-17 lbs. is too heavy for most people.

  • Peter Reich, the designer of the Swift Folder, discussed his design. His market is the urban commuter who wants a quick fold to take into an apartment or small workspace.

While in Philadelphia we watched the US Pro races on Sunday. Fred Rodriguez was declared the US champion. Even though he finished 4th in the final sprint, he was the first American across the line. Francisco Ventoso, the Spanish rider from the team Prodir Saunier Duval, was the first across the line.

Since it rained all day Saturday, we decided to drive to Chadd's Ford to visit the Brandywine River Museum to see the works of three generations of Wyeth's, N.C., Andrew, and James. Traffic was terrible; this is the price we pay for mobility.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Book Sale - Stopped by the local library today and for $.75 bought Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, and the May 31, 2004 New Yorker magazine. It's always fun to find good, cheap reading material. That was my consolation for not purchasing McSweeney's Issue 13 which looks like a beautiful look at the art of comics. I decided that I've got enough reading material and shouldn't be spending money to buy a new magazine. I've still got too much to read, but didn't spend a lot. It's a comfort thing, needing lots of reading material close at hand.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004
GIMP 2 and Open Source Software - I've started using GIMP 2 and am very pleased with the upgrade, and the price is right as well. GIMP is the Gnu Image Manipulation Program, a free, Open Source program that does many of the operations of the expensive image processing programs on the market. I use the program to enhance, crop, and re-size images. I also use it to place a black border around the outside edge. That function, Stroke, in the earlier version would not always work correctly. Plus one had to remember to always choose the correct size brush to avoid having a huge border. The current version lets you specify the border size as an option of the Stroke command. Very simple, very easy.

I'm gradually trying to wean myself from Microsoft products. I'm using Mozilla's Firefox browser for most web browsing. I still use Outlook for email and to sync with my PDA, so I need to find a good replacement. I assume they are out there and if necessary I'm sure I could live without Outlook, and would probably be much more secure.

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Clear and Sunny - Here in the DC area we are blessed with a few clear, mild days this time of year, before the heavy air pollution from all of the single-passenger commuters and the power plants to the west settles in. Took the V-Rex out to run a couple of errands, to check the garden which is doing well, and to check on a couple of trail issues.

The carrots are doing great, tall and green. I didn't thin them enough, not being able to pull perfectly healthy plants, so they won't be as well-spaced as they should be, but they should produce some decent roots. The yellow squash is about to bloom, and there are several large, green tomatoes. The beans keep getting their little buds nipped by some critters, but they are still doing OK. There is one basil plant that survived from the row that I planted. It was the only one that popped up. Guess the conditions weren't optimal for the seeds.

Now all that needs to be done is to stop by regularly to pick off the insects, to keep the soil loose and weed-free, and to keep the tomatoes staked.

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Sparklines - Edward Tufte, the author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is writing a new book entitled Beautiful Evidence. A sample chapter on sparklines is available online. Sparklines are wordlike graphics that contain a great deal of information.

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