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exhalations
Monday, February 28, 2005
 George wins another (semi-)classic 
Yesterday George Hincapie won the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Belgium race, the second time he was the first U.S. citizen to win a major spring race in Europe, the first being Gent-Wevelgem in 2001. It's good to see him get his due in the early season races, before he has to sacrifice his solo victories for the good of the team, and Lance, later in the year.


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 Thomas Friedman on the shrinking U.S. Dollar 
Honey, I shrunk the dollar by Thomas Friedman. Here's a chart to graphically depict that shrinking dollar.
When a country lives on borrowed time, borrowed money and borrowed energy, it is just begging the markets to discipline it in their own way at their own time.


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 Bike in a bag 
It's interesting to see that the iXi collapsible bike is included in the Oscar goodie bag. It's the first bike I've seen with a greaseless drive belt instead of a chain. It's certainly a bit more practical than the mink eyelashes included in the Shu Uemura cosmetics packet.


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Saturday, February 26, 2005
 Renting a house in Iraq 
There's an interesting article at Harpers by Adam Davidson entitled Out of Iraq: The rise and fall of one mans occupation, about a journalist who rents a house in Iraq in 2003.


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Friday, February 25, 2005
 Back from Jax 
It was a wet ride to the Jacksonville airport from Atlantic Beach, about a 25 mile trip that includes a ride across the St. Johns River aboard the Jean Ribault, the primary vessel of the St. Johns River Ferry Service. I waited until the last minute to decide whether or not to ride, thinking that I could always get a taxi. Maybe it was the optimist in me, or the fact that I hate to pay $50 for a taxi when I could be cycling; I thought that the rain would end and the ride would be relatively dry. It was just barely raining as I left, but by the time I got on the ferry the rain started up again. After I had ridden a couple of miles beyond the ferry, about 8 miles into the trip, there was a steady rain.

As with most rainy rides, the first few minutes were unpleasant. Once used to being wet, I could enjoy the ride, as long as I was pedaling hard. Since the temperature was about 55 degrees F, my hands started to get a little cold. By the time I arrived at the airport, 2 hours after leaving Atlantic Beach, I could hardly move them. It was difficult using the hex wrench to disassemble my Bike Friday. I wiped the bike dry, stuffed it into the suitcase, and paid a visit to the men's room to change and rinse my face. After checking in, the decaf latte and muffin never tasted so good. And I felt much better than had I taken the much less adventuresome taxi ride.

Back at Dulles I was first in line at the Metrobus stop to catch the 5A. There's almost no place to store luggage, despite the fact that 90 percent of the riders have at least one suitcase. People stumble down the aisles tripping over bags lined in front of passengers, after having waited forever for everyone to try to stuff their 3 dollar bills in the fare box. Welcome to the third world. I commiserated with a couple of tourists, trying to tell them not to judge the area by their first experience with public transit. I also encouraged others to write to WMATA to complain about the poor facilities.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
 Lansing area cycling news 
After posting about Champion Cycling's lack of a Web site, I remembered that a small shop that I visited in Michigan, Denny's Cycling and Fitness, was also siteless. To see if they had created a site since last summer, I googled the name. Alas, still no site. However, in the process I learned a lot about cycling in the Lansing/East Lansing, Michigan area.

Conditions there can be brutal for several months a year. There's a very ative cycling club at the University (my alma mater), the Tri-County Bicycle Association (with whom I took my first group ride back in 1972), the Bike Project that reconditions old bikes and gives or loans them to university students and faculty, and Smart Commute, a volunteer group that promotes "Smart Commute 05, a week-long campaign to help people who live or
work in the Capital area explore bicycling, bus-riding, carpooling, and
walking as safe and convenient transportation options." Maybe there's hope for us after all...


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 Jacksonville Beach bike shop 
Stopped by a local bike shop yesterday to pick up some White Lightening chain lube. I can't travel with it because of the alchohol base, which is banned on airlines. It hurts to pay retail again. The shop is called Champion Cycling, on 3rd Street in Jacksonville Beach. It's small but packed with good equipment, not unlike our shop. Many of the bikes are hung from the ceiling by their saddles. Tires are displayed on hooks across the top of one wall. Rental beach cruisers are parked out front and brought into the shop each night.

When I returned home, I searched for their site and couldn't find it. Sure enough, when I went back today to pick up a mirror, they said they didn't have one. They have 4 store locations, and it's impossible to look up their office hours or find out any information about them on the web, other than the superpages link above or other indirect references. I suppose there are thousands of small businesses out there without sites.


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 Back in the saddle 
I can't wait for Bike Friday to announce their new folding recumbent. I use the New World Tourist upright folder as my traveling bike and it works great. However, after having ridden a recumbent for a solid year, it's hard to get accustomed again to having a sore butt. I've got a good Specialized split saddle, but my butt still gets tender after a few miles, especially since I haven't been on it in a while. Nothing beats the comfort of a recumbent seat.


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Saturday, February 19, 2005
 Manhole covers 
It looks like I'm not the only person in the world who notices, and photographs manhole and utility covers. Thanks to Design Observer to pointing me to the collection of manhole cover photos at the Flickr, the online photo service. I'll post mine one day. From the looks of the Flickr photos, I have another reason for visiting Japan.


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 Manhole covers 
It looks like I'm not the only person in the world who notices, and photographs manhole and utility covers. Thanks to Design Observer to pointing me to the collection of manhole cover photos at the Flickr, the online photo service.


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Friday, February 18, 2005
 What retirement? 
A new blog with info on the coming boomer retirement wave. Updates on Social Security, job information for geezers, etc. I'll add it to my links page.


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 Power monopoly 
It sure would be nice to treat Dominion Virginia Power the way they treat their customers; get screwed, we'll do what we want. Unfortunately, they have a local monopoly. I just contacted NOVEC, a local power cooperative, and was told that they do not provide service in my area. Virginia Power is in the process of cutting most of the trees in one of the most popluar parks in Virginia, the W&OD Trail. They claim it's to prevent power outages from downed trees. From what I've seen, that wouldn't be possible for 20 years given the size of many of the trees that they've cut.


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 Iran/Contra veteran returns 
It was surprising that when John Negroponte was appointed ambassador to Iran that there was not more press information about his links to the Iran/Contra affair and his dismal human rights record as ambassador to Honduras. According to David Corn of The Nation,
The Washington Post's front-page story on his nomination [to ambassador to Iran] did not mention his stint there.


Negroponte's nomination is consistent at least, given the recent appointment of Elliott Abrams as Bush's deputy national security advise. At Counterpunch, the Larry Birns article entitled Democracy According to Elliott Abrams, leads off with the question
Why has an admitted perjurer, a facilitator of death squads and an arms broker to Islamic terrorists just been appointed to be deputy national security adviser to President Bush?
I'm sure they both have very high moral values...


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Wednesday, February 16, 2005
 Lance goes for 7 
Lance will return to the Tour de France again this year to attempt his seventh consecutive victory. His first race of the season will be Paris-Nice starting on March 6. He also plans to ride in the Tour de Georgia, April 19-24. Maybe it's time to plan for a spring trip to the south.


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Sunday, February 13, 2005
 NOAA weather statistics 
I used to use either weather.com or the Weather Underground for local forecasts. They're OK, although both have too many annoying ads. In searching for some recent historical weather stats, I went to the NOAA site. There I discovered a great NOAA weather forecast service. As with the other sites, you enter a city or zip code and a forecast appears. There are no ads, and there's as much info as the other sites. Plus, there's a link for “Past Weather” that allows access to detailed daily summary data back to 2000.


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 Cool riding 
We've had a few rideable days lately. The snow finally melted from the W&OD Trail and the weather has been mostly above freezing. Today we rode around some of the local roads and trails, areas we usually avoid due to traffic. Today we decided we needed a change from just getting on the trail and riding toward Leesburg. We had few problems with traffic. As long as we assert ourselves and take our lane whenever necessary we rarely have problems with cars coming too close.

Here's the latest version of the Winter 2005 ridetable.


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Friday, February 11, 2005
 Waves on the Potomac 
It was a fast, cool ride to the Bike to Work Day meeting downtown yesterday morning. With a strong, 15 mph tailwind, the 23 mile ride took about an hour and a half. It was unusual to see whitecaps on the Potomac as I crossed the 14th Street bridge. Since I was early for the meeting, I stopped by the National Gallery to watch progress on the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture project, Roof. The cold, windy weather was probably to the British dry-stone wallers working on the domes of stacked slate being created this month in the outdoor garden of the East Building. The crew were at work as I pedaled off to the meeting. Afterwards I returned to find that everyone had left for lunch. I waited for a while, chatting with another patron looking for a glimpse of Goldsworthy. We discussed the excellent film about his work, Rivers and Tides, my introduction to his art.

As I was riding through the museum courtyard, I noticed a figure sitting on the curb eating a sandwich from a backpack, dressed warmly in down coat and wool cap. I'm quite sure it was Goldsworthy, in his element, eating a simple lunch outside in the cold.


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Tuesday, February 08, 2005
 Google maps 
Just tried out the new Google maps site. Looks like Google have put their server farm to good use; it's a great program with an excellent interface. The maps look good, the zoom and pan are fast, and the interface is clean. I'll be using it from now on. Here's a screen shot:



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Friday, February 04, 2005
 The Wisdom of Warren Buffett 
On Stuff I Think is a list of the top 5 words of wisdom extracted from a talk given by Warren Buffett; basically his philosophy of life, beginning with Be Grateful. Many of us take our present circumstances for grated, which are basically due to the luck of the draw; to be born in mostly affluent communities with many opportunities for advancement.


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 Let the blogging begin 
At the bike shop where I work, bikes@vienna, it's always a challenge to get timely information about products and events to customers. We post some info on the Web site and send targeted email messages, but these tend to take more time than they should to accomplish. The thought occurred to the owner of the shop that a Web log would be one solution; he can post at any time from anywhere, without the need to pass the info on to someone else to then post to the site. We've created the blog “From the Pocket” and will post regularly with news from the shop.


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Thursday, February 03, 2005
 Tina Brown 
Once again Tina Brown, in her own caustic way, says what many are thinking in her column on Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, and the Iraqi elections in today's Washington Post, The Difference Between Faint and Fainthearted.
Even reporters on the ground in Iraq could hardly believe what they were living through as they watched the power of an idea transmute into the living, breathing form of black-clad women, Marsh Arabs and throngs of Kurdish mountaineers festively making their way to the polls.

I think most of us want the elections to succeed, but how can we overlook all the wrongheaded moves, the lies, the deaths of Americans and Iraqis that brought us to this point.
That's why among Democrats there's a lot of quiet soul-searching going on. Every Bush hater you meet in New York is engaged with an inner struggle of how much to let go of the past.


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