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Monday, January 31, 2005
 CSS Anthology 
My next computer book will likely be the CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks. I've been looking for a good CSS text that includes examples of page layout. Eric Meyer's Cascading Style Shees: The Definitive Guide is a good, basic text, but my First Edition is a bit dated, with relatively poor layout examples.

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 Research tools for writers 
Kottke pointed to Stephen Johnson's entry about the tool that he uses for doing research on his computer. He uses a program called DevonThink, available only for the Mac. It allows him to search quotations for keywords that he's saved over the years. The beauty of the system is that it then allows him to search for quotes that are semantically related to the first text; and on and on. The key is the collection of quotes that he's accumulated, not an easy task.

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 Super Size Me 
Watched the documentary film Super Size Me last night; a funny, sad, commentary on America's eating habits. Morgan Spurlock, the creator, director, and main character is hillarious when he's not barfing from the effects of a supersize McDonald's meal. Spurlock shows real glee when gorging on the fat-, calorie-rich food and actually becomes somewhat addicted to it. Lot's of facts and figures about America's obesity crisis are interspersed between visits to McD's. He gained 25 pounds in the month of eating at McDonald's, and it took him nearly a year to lose the weight and get his body chemistry back to normal.

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Friday, January 28, 2005
 Flu shot 
It didn't seem like it was worth it at the time, but I'm now glad that I was able to get one of the last flu shots available at the local county health clinic. It was a 2 hour wait for a 2 minute shot. Luckily most of the people in the waiting room seemed to be relatively healthy. I think many were there for the free prenatal care and pregnancy tests. I'm glad I brought my copy of Barnett's Manual of Bicycle Repair so that I could read up on rims, hubs, spokes, and wheel building.

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Most of the snow has melted on the roads, so it was time to venture out on the bike and check out the trail. There were several long patches of ice and snow, but most of the trail was navigable between Reston and Vienna. I'll class today as a rideable day. Unfortunately snow is predicted for tomorrow night.

Winter 2005 riding days

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 Gunnar Palace 
It looks like a powerful film:
Filmmaker Michael Tucker, who lived with 2/3 Field Artillery, a.k.a. "The Gunners" for two months, captures the lives and humanity of these soldiers whose barracks are the bombed-out pleasure palace of Uday Hussein (nicknamed Gunner Palace), situated in the heart of the most volatile section of Baghdad.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005
 Exercise is addicting 
Without being able to get on the bike for the past couple of days, I've been climbing the walls. Running around the house in a desperate attempt to get the blood moving, I realize that I'm addicted to exercise. I don't want to stop, want to keep that blood moving, to keep sucking in air for oxygen. And yes, there have been studies to prove that exercise is addicting, at least as far as mice are concerned. But is that such a bad thing?

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
 New camera 

Received a package in the mail yesterday that conatained a Konica Minolta Dimage xg camera from big brother. It was a pleasant surprise. Here's one of the first images. Since I have been using an old Canon Powershot A5 that has a resolution of less than 1 megapixels, the 3+ megapixels will be a nice change.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005
 Cleaning bikes 
Since the trails have been covered with snow and ice for the past week (Winter 2005 ride table), and the roads are covered with slush, salt and sand, it's a good time to stay indoors and clean up the bikes. I'm getting a little tired of getting black, dirty grease on my whenever I even look at my chain, I'm experimenting with the wax lube White Lightning. The chain was cleaned with Clean Streak, another White Lightning product. The SRAM Power link, used on the Bike Friday chain, is a great invention. It allows removal of the chain without the chain tool by merely unlocking the sliding plates on the removable link and pulling them apart. After cleaning the chain, a coating of White Lightning was applied. Right afterwards I noticed that the links were again coated with black grit. The gunk on the inside of the plates and links had worked it's way to the surface soon after I applied the lube. This was wiped off, and I'll apply the lube again before the next ride. Keeping the Bike Friday chain relatively clean will be a big help when traveling.

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Monday, January 24, 2005
 Bicycle industry 
A slightly dated Bicycle Industry Profile from the State of Illinois.
The National Bicycle Dealers Association Web site.

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 Bikes are not toys 
Why not to buy a bike at a toy store or discount store.

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 Sigur Rós 
Listening to the new Sigur Rós Cd (). It's a dark, haunting sound, ideal for this time of year. For me it's the perfect mix of instrumental and vocal sound; vocals without meaning that blend with the music, I guess not unlike opera. Some of their music is available for download.

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 Climate change turning point 
A report in the Independent, Countdown to global catastrophe, states:
In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.
Since Republican senator Olympia Snow is the co-chair of the committee responsible for the report, it will be interesting to see the government's reaction. Let me guess; “we'll need to study this more thoroughly”.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005
 Aerobic workout 
It was a cold, windy day, with a thin layer of snow that was bare where the snow had blown away. There was enough snow on which to ski for several miles along the golf course. Coming into the wind was not fun, and my shoulder started acting up, so after about an hour I headed back home, taking off the skis occasionally to cross the road. Not a good biking day.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005
 Terry Jones 
Salon has an excellent interview with Terry Jones, the founding member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which Jones gives a totally unbiased view of Bush and his war on Iraq.

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The snow has ended the long streak of riding days this winter. The few inches of snow on Wednesday has not melted, and another 4-8 inches are expected today. Time for the layer of body fat to start developing given the lack of exercise. I'm hoping that the expected rain on Wednesday melts most of the snow. The W&OD trail is not plowed and once covered with hard packed snow, it takes forever to melt in some of the shady parts.

Here's the latest version of the Winter 2005 riding days.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
 First snow 
Even though some may have thought that yesterday was not a rideable day, with the temperature below 20 for most of the day, today is probably worse. There's about an inch of snow on the ground, and without studded tires, cycling isn't very feasible. This makes the second unrideable day of the season.

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 Will Eisner 
Design Observer pointed to what looks like a good article on Will Eisner, The Spirit of Will Eisner by Michael Dooley.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005
 Frozen waterbottle 
You know it's cold when you reach around for your waterbottle and as you bring it to your mouth you hear a crunching sound. It was 15°F as I left for my 25 mile round trip ride, and when I stopped for my meeting at 12.5 miles, my water was partly frozen. Getting a drink without the frozen water would have been a challenge, since my face was covered with a silk balaklava and face mask. I wore silk longjohns under RailRider pants, socks, shoes and booties, a capilene undershirt, fleece zip T, nylon vest and nylon jacket, and headband. While most of my body was toasty warm, my hands were freezing, even with lobster claw gloves with waterproof nylon mittens over them. I haven't found anything that keeps them warm in temperatures around 25°F or below for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Guess I better read the winter biking tips at Chicago Bike Winter.

Here's the updated ride table for Winter 2005

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There's an excellent article in Wired on Bittorrent, the program used for downloading content over the Internet. Most Internet providers allow users to download at a much higher rate than for uploading. Bittorent gets around this bottleneck for shared content by spliting it into many parts on many computers. When a file is requested, each part is uploaded slowly from many computers, which results in a fast download to a single computer. It could be the wave of the future.

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 Frozen tears 
It was a cold ride home last night, eyes so cold that they watered, then the tears froze. It was around 20 degrees with about a 10 mph headwind. I used a neck gaiter and headband, which left my eyes and exposed. My hot breath kept the rest of my face warm until condensation built up so much that I had to lower it. There were a few joggers on the trail but no cyclists. It was a rideable day for the hardy. It's around 15 degrees F today, close to unrideable for most people.

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Thursday, January 13, 2005
Tina Brown ends her column in the Post on the Dan Rather affair, Almighty Anchor, with a great quote:
How much will this debacle chill the pursuit of other risky investigations? The old press baron Lord Northcliffe's definition of news is still the only one that counts: “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

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 T-shirt weather 
The weather today was like late spring, mid 60's and sunny. I took advantage of the day and rode downtown to a Bike to Work Day organizing meeting. It's a long trip, taking two hours to get down there against a headwind. Some people hate riding in urban traffic; I don't mind. It certainly beats driving. On the way back I stopped by the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria to check out the gallery show and to prepare an etching plate for a drawing.

It was about a 55 mile round trip. I've been keeping track of bike miles since January 1, and I've now gone 212 miles. Last night I rode to a trails committee meeting, around 25 miles round trip. Every day this year has been rideable, which leads me to believe that I shouldn't even keep track, since this year is such an anomaly.

December and January riding days.

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Monday, January 10, 2005
 Inter County Connector bike trail 
A while back the Post contained an editorial on the bike trail adjacent to the Inter County Connector road project in Maryland. It is being dropped from the project, and the Post, while saying that it was widely supported, concluded by saying that fighting over it shouldn't hold up the project. In an offhand comment, they pondered why anyone would want to ride a bike next to the highway. In my letter to the editor published in today's edition, I compared that trail to the very successful Custis Trail adjacent to I-66 in Virginia, used by many, many bicycle commuters.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005
 The Command Line in 2004 
Am anxious to find the time to read the annotated, updated version of Neal Stephenson's essay, In the Beginning...was the Command Line, his long article comparing commercial operating system software to the open source alternatives.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005
 Gallery hopping 
Returned to the Freer Gallery again to view the show Young Whistler: Early Prints and the “French Set”. There's something about the Whistler etchings that I find very appealing. The National Gallery has a good selection of his work online.
Also returned to the National Gallery to view Six Centuries of Prints and Drawings: Recent Acquisitions. The show is an uneven collection of works that includes some very large etchings done in several sections.

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 Al Gore lives on a street in Nashville 
is the subtitle of a good New Yorker profile of the former Vice President entitled The Wilderness Campaign by David Remnick that I just finished reading. Gore seems to be making the most of his time away from politics, including the launching of INdTV:
In 2005 the company will debut new programming featuring shows shaped by a generation of media creators

In the profile, Gore doesn't mince his words on the current administration. In March of 2002, just before the launching of the Iraqi war, his comments were prescient:
If we quickly succeed in a war against the weakened and depleted fourth-rate military of Iraq, and then quickly abandon that nation, as President Bush has quickly abandoned almost all of Afghanistan after defeating a fifth-rate military power there, then the resulting chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.

His comments about Bush as president were scathing:
“The real distinction of this Presidency is that, at its core, he is a very weak man. He projects himself as incredibly strong, but behind closed doors he is incapable of saying no to his biggest financial supporters and his coalition in the Oval Office. He’s been shockingly malleable to Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and the whole New American Century bunch. He was rolled in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He was too weak to resist it.

“I’m not of the school that questions his intelligence,” Gore went on. “There are different kinds of intelligence, and it’s arrogant for a person with one kind of intelligence to question someone with another kind. He certainly is a master at some things, and he has a following. He seeks strength in simplicity. But, in today’s world, that’s often a problem. I don’t think that he’s weak intellectually. I think that he is incurious. It’s astonishing to me that he’d spend an hour with his incoming Secretary of the Treasury and not ask him a single question.

“But I think his weakness is a moral weakness. I think he is a bully, and, like all bullies, he’s a coward when confronted with a force that he’s fearful of. His reaction to the extravagant and unbelievably selfish wish list of the wealthy interest groups that put him in the White House is obsequious. The degree of obsequiousness that is involved in saying ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’ to whatever these people want, no matter the damage and harm done to the nation as a whole—that can come only from genuine moral cowardice. I don’t see any other explanation for it, because it’s not a question of principle. The only common denominator is each of the groups has a lot of money that they’re willing to put in service to his political fortunes and their ferocious and unyielding pursuit of public policies that benefit them at the expense of the nation.”

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Monday, January 03, 2005
This is the day to discover new cycling sites. RoadBikeRider.com is a site that provides cycling tips to road cyclists, which I'm taking to include recumbent road cyclists. There appears to be no information specifically for recumbent riders, but I signed up for the free newsletter just the same. The content for the site is by two cyclists who have written many books and articles for such magazines as Velonews and Bicycling, Ed Pavelka and Fred Matheny. There's lots of good info on the site.

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 Bike Washington 
I just discovered an excellent Web site for cyclists in the DC area, Bike Washington. The site contains maps and directions for many recreational and commuter bike routes in the region. There's also a message board where local cyclists post info about bike related events and news.

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Saturday, January 01, 2005
 Summer in January 
The temperature felt like it must have been in the 70's today, t-shirt and short weather. We started the year with a long ride to Leesburg, about 40 miles total. The trail was as crowded as the first day in spring, including all the people who haven't ridden in months and appear to have forgotten how to ride in a crowd. Using the word “asshole” twice in one day wasn't exactly good behaviour on my part, but it was hard not to get a little pissed when people's actions endanger our health.

December riding days.

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Last year I started the year out by doing a drawing a day for the month of January. The exercise was a good way to ensure that I practiced daily. Thought about doing it again this year, but am not sure that I'll be able to stick with it for the month. This one was dashed off in a few minutes before midnight just in case.

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 Images and maps of tsunami disaster 
The New York Times Web site contains some powerful and informative info on the tsunami disaster.

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 Last ride of the year 
Yesterday was one of the best riding days of the year. It was cool and sunny. The bike shop was crowded with people out for their last ride of the year, many out for the first time in a few weeks. Today is an even better day; it's already warmer outside than in. Time for the first ride of the year.

Unfortunately the Post doesn't seem to think that anyone needs to be out bike riding, with their anti-cycling editorial on the removal of the bike trail adjacent to a planned roadway in Maryland. While the article seems to lament the lost of the trail, it voices almost no support for the idea behind it:
Whatever the sentiment on the bike trail may be, it need not -- and must not -- delay the connector another day.
The Post has been consistent in it's support of nearly all road expansion and road building projects in the region at the expense of most other more environmentall sound solutions.

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