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Thursday, March 31, 2005
 Worm gruntin’ and oyster shuckin’ 
Back from a week and a half in Florida, doing some worm gruntin' and oyster shuckin' on Bike Florida and spending a wet weekend on the beach in Destin. We were lucky on Bike Florida in that we had very little rain until the last day. Even then the rain was light and the temperature was mild. The ride this year was in the center part of the Panhandle from Monticello (pronounced Mon-ti-SELL-o) which is just east of Tallahassee, west to Quincy, then south along the beach to Apalachicola, back north to Sopchoppy for the worm gruntin', then back to Monticello.

As crowded and developed as Florida has become, it's surprising to pass through an area that contains so few people and so many pine trees. After the bike trip we spent a little time in my bother's condo on the beach in Destin, watching the rain and waiting for the tornado warnings to end. From the time we arrived until just before we left there were nearly constant tornado warnings. That was OK since we needed a little time just to relax. I plan to write a trip report about our adventures in the near future.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005
 Kaine for Governor 

Tim Kaine, the current Lt. Governor of Virginia, announced that he is running for governor. He stopped in Herndon, the next town over, so I rode over to hear him speak. He's not the most dynamic speaker; he made Governor Warner sound eloquent, but he has the right message and would make a good governor.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
 Minor obstruction 

On the way to a pedestrian task force meeting I encountered this beast. I have a collection of this kind of picture; some vehicle blocking a trail or sidewalk. Unfortunately they are very easy to obtain, as I encounter them constantly. In this case there was a crew repairing a bridge. That's the good news; the bad news is that the trail will likely be closed for a month, and if past experience is a guide, there will be no detour. The proper authorities have been notified.

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 Riding days 
It's been a cold March, but there hasn't been a day on which one couldn't ride. We had a little snow last week but it soon melted. Today was a beautiful day, and there was almost no one out riding. People's cold threshold is pretty high in this area. The temperature usually has to be above the mid 50's before most people will consider riding. What a contrast to places like Madison, Seattle, etc. We've got some of the best cycling weather around that it's a shame that so few people ride.

Winter 2005 Ride Table

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Monday, March 14, 2005
 New look at bikes@vienna 
Our redesigned bikes@vienna site launched last week. It didn't happen without some pain, especially for our sysadmin. Not only did we launch the new site, but we switched servers. I had worked up the new design a while back, using some ideas from zeldman.com. I used some of his background and div ideas. Once I finally had the site working in all browsers on which I tested, it was migrated to the old server and tested. The most ornery browser turned out to be IE 5.6 on Mac OS 9.x. The divs never seemed to line up correctly. It turned out that the other browsers I tested were somewhat forgiving of a small miscalculation of the div width. Once I got it worked out exactly, all was fine.

We struggled for a long while on the old server, and the ISP support was abysmal. Instead of beating our heads against the wall, we switched ISP's. It seemed to be a good time to turn on the new site as well, but there were a few missing links and other problems that took a little debugging. All now seems to be well, and we think the site is a bit more user friendly.

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Sunday, March 13, 2005
 Julich wins Paris-Nice 
Today Bobby Julich became the first American (U.S. Citizen) to win Paris-Nice. He seems to finally be reaching his long anticipated potential. I hope his luck holds out. Racing for Bjarne Riis and the CSC team was a great move a few years back.
"I feel like I have a new lease on life," said Julich, recalling his lean years after he finished third in the 1998 Tour. "Don't call this a comeback. I've been around for years. I've seen all the peaks and valleys of this sport, but I never quit. Right now I am living in the present, not the past."

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
 Empire apples 
While picking up some produce the other day I was pondering the available apples at the local Safeway store. Pickings there are usually pretty bleak; that's why I usually shop at Whole Foods, but sometimes a quick trip to Safeway has to suffice. While looking for the Braeburn, Fuji, or Gala apples that I usually buy. The woman next to me mentioned that the Empire apples are excellent. She's right, they have that sweet, tart combination that I love.

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Monday, March 07, 2005
It will be a while before Lance works himself into shape. He's riding Paris-Nice and finished 140th in the opening prologue.
"It's my first race of the season and I'm not very sharp," said Armstrong who struggled in 140th position in Sunday's prologue. "I'm probaby slower simply because I stayed longer than usual in the United States. When I return to Europe I pay a lot more attention to my form because I train regularly, eat better and have nothing to distract me.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005
 Tandem ride 
The trail was relatively crowded today as many people seemed to be out for their first rides of the year. The temperature was in the mid 50°s F and there was a strong crosswind. We put a few miles on the tandem to get ready for an upcoming tour. A few hotshots told us how fast our tandem was, usually a sign that they couldn't pass us as fast as they might have liked. The knees will probably be throbbing tomorrow.

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 Giant Steps 
This is a marvelous, simple, animation of John Coltrane's Giant Steps.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005
 Freezing tears 
On the ride home tonight I decided to go without my glasses. I usually wear them to protect my eyes from the cold. However, with a neck gaiter over my mouth, the steam from my breath usually clouds the glasses so I can't see. Without the glasses, that wasn't a problem and I could wear the gaiter to just below my eyes, and if everything was just right, my eyes stayed relatively warm. When everything wasn't right, I could almost feel the ice forming in the corners of my eyes.

The temperature on the ride home was just under 30°F. Most of the ice and snow has melted from the trail and there was only one short stretch that was a little tricky, especially at night, trying to find a gap in the ice with my Niterider light. On the clear stretches I slowed for a bit and just coasted, trying to hear the sounds of the deer that scurry off the trail as I approach.

Tomorrow's my one year anniversary at bikes@vienna. A good anniversary gift would be having the redesign of the site that I worked on for serveral weeks finally go live. We'll see.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
 Bike to Work Day will soon be here 
We had an organizing meeting for Bike to Work Day today. Things are coming together for the May 20 event at the Reston Town Center. Later I decided to check out the trails and see if the snow and ice from the 4” snow storm that we had last week had melted. The trails were mostly clear; it was definitely a rideable day. Here's what the Winter 2005 Riding Days table looks like.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
 Time to buy gold? 
According to Yahoo! Finance,
Asian central bank and finance officials met quietly here this week to discuss ways to stabilize foreign exchange markets as currencies around the region surged against the U.S. dollar, some to multi-year highs.
Why is it so difficult for U.S. citizens to figure out that if you reduce taxes and increase spending on defense, the deficit will grow and the value of the dollar will drop. According to the Federal Reserve, the value is currently at an historical low, down to 81.88 from a high of 109.59 in July 2001, around the time that our friend George Bush came into office. Here is what the data look like as a chart, from 1973 to the present:

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