30 July 2007

What local advertising should look like...

Look, you know the deal. Normally local ads for local businesses, well, they suck. Johnson Automotive in Cary, NC (I think that's where they are) has got it pegged with their "badger" series of ads. It cracks me up for some reason. I guess that reason is because it's funny. Anyway, check it out, and go to Youtube and search for Johnson Automotive for the rest of them. They're all pretty damn funny.

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25 July 2007

And now...

And now we have Rassmussen kicked out as well? What in the world is going on in this Tour?

And Moreni...

Sure, still not as bad as Festina in 1998, but still, holy hell Hanna! Shit is going down.

I, of course, am disappointed. Who wouldn't be in this whole fiasco that this has turned into thus far. Now we have Contador taking over the yellow jersey, but, he was once suspected of doping last year as well (Operacion Puerto anyone?). Now, this will hang over the rest of the Tour. Yellow jersey kicked off of his team, and booted from le Tour. Guy in 2nd place was suspected as a doper. Last year's "winner", busted for doping. And so on and so forth we go.

And to think I was enjoying this year's race, a lot. But since Rassmussen won today's stage, I didn't bother to watch it, because it matters not once again. What I do think though is that the system, is slowly, and surely catching up with the dopers and the cheaters. Why do I say this? Well, more guys are getting busted, so the tests must be getting better, and the dumb asses who continue to cheat, are going to keep getting caught. It also makes me feel better that there are now teams taking measures to head off doping on their own without the help of the UCI, or the rider's national testing bodies. T-Mobile, CSC, Slipstream, and a couple of other teams have put into place stringent controls over and above what the UCI or the doping testers are doing on their own. I think that people who are putting these programs into place (Bob Stapleton, Jonathan Vaughters, and Bjarne Riis namely) are trying to save the sport from itself, and are doing the right things for sure. They want to see the sport flourish, and want to see it done cleanly. I applaud their efforts, and applaud the efforts of the UCI in catching more damn cheaters. Sure, it makes it looks like there is a pox on our house, but I'd rather have these guys get busted, and have me disappointed for a few days, or weeks, rather than having those same assholes still riding, and probably winning races.

To sum up. I'm disappointed, but hopeful. I love the sport, and want to see it continue to get better and better, and cleaner and cleaner. Will it ever be squeaky clean? I doubt it. That flies in the face of human nature and competition in general, but it can get a lot better, and it will. It has to, I think, to survive.

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24 July 2007

OK, that's it...

Vino busted for transfusing blood at the Tour de France

Are you freakin' kidding me? You took away what was turning out to be a great race, and made it into ANOTHER doping affair. Nice going, jackass. May Borat kill you 2 times in your sleep.

Not to mention, you had Sinkewicz (spelling??) testing positive for testosterone.

The Tour leader is embroiled in his own possible doping scandal back home for missing out of competition tests.

Contador was implicated, and then let go in Operacion Puerto.

Lindsay Lohan got busted for cocaine this morning.

Has the entire world gone mad?!?!

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16 July 2007

The Tour de France thus far is just like Festivus...

Yes, it is true. The Tour de France this year has been just like Festivus. How you might ask? Well, I'm glad that you had just that question.

First a short history lesson. Festivus didn't originate with Seinfeld as most of us came to know this noble holiday. Oh no. It was a Reader's Digest creation. Yes, the little magazine on the back of the shitter did actually have something of worth in it after all. Festivus was invented in 1966 by Reader's Digest writer Dan O'Keefe. We all mostly learned about it through Dan's son, Daniel, when he was a writer for Seinfeld back in 1997. It is technically supposed to be celebrated on December the 23rd, but for the purposes of this write up, we'll celebrate it now, during le Tour de France.

First, we have the airing of grievances. I guess we could say that this was Jorg Jackshe right before the Tour kick off a couple of weeks ago basically airing his dirty laundry about his doping adventures in the European peloton. And of course, he indicated a bunch of other people, mostly team managers and doctors and such, but of course no names of riders were brought up. Man, I would have loved to have seen his sell his cycling com padres down the river for a few thousand Euro, but oh no, the Omerta remains. Jorg did sufficiently air his grievances though, so we did complete step one of Festivus. I guess we could add in all those other guys who have been feeling guilty this year. Riis, Zabel, and a whole host of others (Basso and so on and so forth). These guys, professional airers of grievances for sure. They knocked it out of the park with this one, especially Jorg.

Next up, Feats of Strength. This we saw on yesterday's stage that's for sure (15-Jul-07). We saw the Chicken, one Rasmussen run roughshod over the entire peloton yesterday. He killed it. Even more impressive though to me in the feats of strength division, Christophe Moreau. Yes, he was railing it, and dragging a bunch of other people with him along the way. He looked strong like French bull (is there such a thing), and in there we have some honorable mentions as well. Mayo for outkicking the rest at the end, and basically that end group who were all kicking each other's teeth in the whole day. God, this is so much better than the Lance days of Disco / Postal controlling the race, ramping it up, and letting Lance climb away on the final slopes of whatever Col they were riding that day. I mean, hey, good strategy for winning races and all, but B-O-R-I-N-G! Yesterday, that was some good bike racing, and some feats of strength. We could have qualified Floyd's ride last year as a feat of strength, but alas, he got busted for dropping a testosterone patch on his nuts, so no Festivus last year during the Tour.

Then, there is the Festivus miracle or miracles. Well, this remains to be seen thus far, but we have some contenders. One, Moreau's incredible ride yesterday. That could be seen as a miracle for sure. Rasmussen taking the yellow jersey. Miracle. Linus Gerdman taking yellow the day before. Miracle. Dave Zabriskie not flipping out the getting taken away to the funny farm. Miracle (seriously, that kid is crazier than a shit house rat, must be that fresh Utah air or something). There are some contenders for miracles in there, and after further review, yeah, we've met the criteria. 

The Festivus pole? Well, seeing as how yesterday was an epic stage, there had to be epic crashes, which there were a plenty. Poor Stuey O'Grady, taken away in a horrible scene, but there had to be a pole involved somewhere along the line there. Heal up Stuey, we need you riding again soon, and watch out for those poles. 

Festivus Dinner? Hello? Feed zones, every single damn day. So much feasting and food, it is hard to deny the facts staring you in the face. It is all around you out there on the roads of France here in July. Festivus for the rest of us. 

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I have to admit...

I have to admit, I am obsessed with a certain writing instrument. When I first started my current job I didn't like the selection of pens that they had in my office, so I went in search of a new one for myself. Anyone who knows me, knows that I write freakishly small, in block letters, all capitals. Yeah, I'm that guy. People can't help but comment on it, so I needed a pen to help me with that small writing problem. What I found was pure gold. 

I found the Pilot P-500 extra fine (0.5mm) pen in blue ink. I bought 3 of them, they lasted me for a year, actually slightly longer. I was hooked. And now, I will not write for any sustained length of time with any other writing instrument. I just won't do it. It's not the same. Even when signing credit card slips or something like that, I still pull out my own pen. Yeah, it's sad, I know. But hey, if we can't be excited about our writing instruments, what can we be excited about? OK, there are tons of other things that we can be excited about, but alas, I like my pens. 

After I rolled through those first 3 pens, I went in for the big purchase. I got a dozen. This was in 2002. Take a look at what year it is now. 2007. I just cracked into my last pen from that initial dozen. Typically, I come pretty darn close to finishing off one of these pens, but something always gets in my way. I drop it, and break the nib off for instance. Or, I might lose it somewhere along the line. Set it down somewhere, or something like that. Anyway, in the 6 years that I've been using these pens, I have never, repeat, never ran one completely out. That is, until today. Yes indeed folks. I finally ran one of these beauties out. I was in the middle of my 4th conference call this morning, and lo and behold. It kicked on me, the bright blue ink started to fade, and finally, it winked out of existence. I shed a little tear for my accomplishment. Took a few snaps of the dead soldier, and then unceremoniously tossed it into the trash can at work. Of course, it is now immortalized for all to see on these pages, my dead pen. Run out of ink. Completely. Kaput. Done. Finito. And so on and so forth. To give the dead pen a little contrast though, I placed the new one next to it so you can see the suffering I went through the squeeze every last amount of ink out of this bad boy.

And now, the new hotness (actually, they are identical in appearance, it's just that this one is loaded for bear, and ready to do some serious writing). You see, I'm not sure what I would do if they stopped making this pen. It's bad enough I have to mail order them, as I can never find them in any store. Anywhere. I've tried other extra fine pens, but this one is a lot more precise, and "extra fine" for some reason. The ink, waterproof (it takes a little bit of "curing" time), and it doesn't run. I've dumped water on my notes before, and Diet Pepsi, and they survived quite nicely, no smudging (again, if the ink was already dry that is). I've tried writing with other pens, nothing doing chief. It drives me a little nuts. And pencils? Holy sheep shit, forget pencils. 

And for my last picture. check out the comparison, old to new. Also, if you look in the background, you can see a small sample of my writing on the green paper in the back. This is also something I will not skimp on. Do I take notes on regular white line notebook type paper? Of course not. Why would I do something like that? I use an engineering pad. This is a habit that I started back in the college days, and carried it over with me to the working world. All told, I think I have in excess of 2000 written pages of notes that I've taken over the years in various jobs. Last year, was the record note taking year for me. I had an astounding 600+ pages of notes by the end of 2006. Sad thing is, on my track to beat that record this year, easily. Thinking about it though, it's not all just notes. When I have some defect parts that I take pictures of, I print out small versions of the pictures, and tape them into the notebook, scrapbook style. I have lots of data tables in there as well, for different various things I've taken data on. And notes, tons of notes. Part reviews, and so on. I won't get into any further detail since the life of an automotive quality engineer is well, kind of droll. But if anyone wants to take my notes someday, and archive them, let me know. We can preserve the inane ramblings of a quality engineer for all to see and read. Especially if you're having a hard time getting to sleep. This would do the trick for sure.

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08 July 2007

A bib short retrospective...

Today was cleaning day. OK, more like throwing away day. I went into the hopper of cycling clothes and tossed out all of my old bib shorts. How many you might ask could he have leftover? I tossed 10 pairs of bib shorts today. Yes, 10. This leaves me with 6 pairs left, but unfortunately, many of those are now aging, and they are going to need to go as well, soon enough. Which means, for the first time since 1999 I do not have a single pair of Cycles de Oro bib shorts. I hope they find those damn Columbian rebels that hijacked our team clothes somewhere in the hills of Columbia, but so far, we have seen nothing.

The first pair (I won't show you all 7 pair that I threw away) are the Cycles de Oro bibs. Now, these are good shorts. Louis Garneau makes a fairly decent pair of bibs I've got to say. These lasted quite some time, but alas, these, and their 6 brothers, have got to go. Mostly because the lycra in them is cheap, and it wears out quickly, and becomes what I'd like to call transparent, and believe me, if you're riding behind me, the last thing you are going to want to see is my hairy ass through said shorts. It so disturbed Ryan Trebon in one race, that he couldn't help but continue to stare. Apparently, my ass hair is hypnotic or something like that. In the second picture of the same pair of bibs, you can easily see the light through the shorts themselves. Which is why they needed to go. The lycra, once again, wears out, and you're left with one see through pair of shorts. That's just not good for business.

Pair number 2 that went into the trash can were the good old dependable Domo Farm Frites bibs that I got somewhere along the line one year for training bibs. Yes, I was a team kit Fred at one point in time, OK, several points in time as we'll see as we move along memory lane and all. But these were damn good shorts, and they held up well. I think I rode these for a couple of seasons, like a couple of high mileage type seasons, and they were comfortable, almost ridiculously comfortable. I don't know why, maybe they just fit to my bottom nicely, but they did the job. A couple of years ago, they went into a deep dark drawer, and were never seen again, until today, cleaning out day, throwing away day. Sorry Johan Musseuw, but these bad boys need to go. How long has it been since there even was a Domo Farm Frites team anyway? It's been quite awhile now. And when the chamois is chafing and has come undone from the shorts themselves, they no longer remain comfortable. Thanks for the memories Domo, time to go. 

Somewhere I picked up this pair of Marlux shorts. I think these were a purchase off of probikekit.com, because they used to actually have good deals (not any longer), where you could get some team shorts, and if like me, you didn't mind looking like an idiot, you could get some decent cheap shorts. Again, for training. This way, I didn't have to worry about wearing out the team bibs, when I could wear other bibs instead. These shorts pretty much looked like something threw up on them. There is a lot of color going on here, and a lot of busy-ness happening with the shorts. I don't know what I was thinking on this one, but hey, they were probably like $40 or so, and when and where can you get a pair of bibs for $40 that last a couple of years? Yeah, nowhere, that's where chief. I had to toss these because once again, we had chamois short separation. This is never good when this happens, and you end up getting some bad chafe if you wear a pair with chamois separation. 

Next on the hit parade, what I like to call vintage team CSC shorts. Yes, I had a pair of these mostly because Ja-Ja wore a similar pair one year, and let's face it, that doping son of a bitch could ride him some bikes. I do see now that he's made the change to triathlons, and actually finished like in the top 30 or something like that in his first Ironman race. Not bad for a skinny bad skinned Frenchman. I wonder what kind of doping products he's doing now? I know, this is being cynical of me and all, but he was wrapped up in a lot of good doping teams in the past, so it's not a stretch to think that maybe, just maybe, he was doing something like that as well. Hmm? Maybe? Anyway, these shorts, as you might be able to see, had a white side panel. At the time, I thought that hey, this might be cool. Then in hindsight, once again, being the hairy bastard that I am, white anything when it comes to shorts is a B-A-D idea. They served their purpose though once again, and were Castelli, so they weren't a bad brand of shorts at all. The chamois, comfy. The material, not bad. The one gripe that I had about these shorts though was that the little scorpion logo that comes on Castelli products came off about a week after I got them. Again, cheap shorts though, so I can't complain too much.

I lined up my Cycles de Oro team shorts on the bed for a "team picture" before they got tossed into the can. You can see from the layout, that I have been riding for the same team for quite some time now. Yes, I have been riding for De Oro since moving down to North Carolina in 1999. I've got to say, it's been good times for sure. I've met some really good people, and have seen some really good racers move through our team. Chris Foster, Rich Harper, Chad Gibson, Candice Blickem, and even Joey D'Antoni were all fairly strong local area riders, and at least a couple of these folks went on to race pro, at least for a little while and all. Harper is still killing it with Abercrombie and Fitch cycling team, with his teammate winning or leading the US crit series right now. Joey, after serving a 2 year suspension for doping is back on the bike. Candice, taking a year off to have a baby and all. Anyway, the last lineup for the team shorts before they go into the can.

And, last but not least...

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06 July 2007

Oh Scooter my Scooter...

Stop it. All of you conservatives out there, stop it. You know what I'm talking about.

You are all twisting yourselves around trying to justify Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Wilson case, and you're making yourselves look like, well, freakin' idiots of the highest order.

Don't point at Clinton and say, "He pardoned people too." Yeah, we know he did, and guess what? At the time he did it, it was controversial as well, and he was also raked over the coals and rightfully so in certain cases in my judgment. But, Clinton also didn't pardon someone who exposed a covert CIA agent, and exposed the business front for her, and others operations on WMD proliferation around the world.

Don't say nobody was charged with outing Valerie Wilson as "proof" that Scooter didn't deserve what he got. If you have a hard time with this log, please look up the term "obstruction of justice" to understand exactly why nobody was charged and or convicted with outing Mrs. Wilson and her covert status.

Do remember that Bush said, time and again when running for office the first time, that he would bring honor and integrity BACK to the White House. Apparently, this means letting his staff expose a covert agent (yes, she was covert), and discuss highly classified information with reporters to sell the war in Iraq. But hey, nobody was getting a BJ under the desk, so I guess honor and integrity, restored!

Do remember that Bush also said time and again (himself, and his spokespeople) that if someone within his administration was found to have leaked classified information, then that person, or persons would no longer be working in the White House. Flash forward. Karl Rover, still employed as far as I know. Libby? He was still employed until he was indicted. Why hasn't Bush fired Karl Rove yet, and he just got his classified clearance renewed, again.

Do remember that Valerie Wilson (no matter what right winged conservative writers and defenders say) was a covert agent for the CIA. The CIA said so themselves, and have also said that the outing of Wilson as a covert agent has indeed put others at risk, and has destroyed a certain body of work that she, and others under her and around her, were doing. And also remember, that it was the CIA that asked for this investigation into her name being released in the first place.

Don't keep saying that Patrick Fitzgerald is an "out of control" prosecutor and that this whole thing was a partisan witch hunt. This is simply ridiculous on its face, and kind of disrespectful altogether. All through this long investigation, Fitzgerald actually conducted his work, and himself with grace and honor. He didn't pull a Ken Starr and tell people that he was going to get someone. He didn't intimidate witnesses. He didn't have press conferences where he made his partisanship known (Starr did all of those things, and a lot more). What he did do was to pursue the law to the full extent with which he was charged to do. And don't forget, Fitzgerald was a Bush appointee. As were 3 out of the 4 judges who ruled on this case (I think 1 of the judges was a George HW Bush appointee). This was not a partisan witch hunt, as the defenders keep saying. No. It was how an investigation of this nature should be pursued. And how did Bush appointees all of a sudden become highly partisan out of control judicial members? Again, stop saying these things, it makes you look incredibly ignorant and stupid.

Don't compare this whole fiasco to Clinton. Clinton didn't commute Scooter's sentence, Bush did. Clinton has been out of the White House now for 6+ years, and it's time for Bush and Company to take responsibility for their own actions and what they do, and to have the Bush apologists and cronies stop pointing the finger at Clinton. You guys in the Bush administration suck at this whole governing thing, stop trying to pretend that you don't.

I really do think that Bush commuted Scooter's sentence to keep him quiet. And this whole business about him having the conviction on his record, and having to pay a fine? Whoop-de-doo… Are you kidding me? He won't have to pay one cent of that fine himself, and within less than 3 months, I guarantee he'll have some high paying job within some sort of right wing think tank somewhere in DC making dollars hand over fist. I don't think that you'll have to worry about Scooter Libby making enough money to support his family. Oh no. I'm sure that all of his legal bills are paid for, and that he's got something nice and cushy lined up for himself.

What a farce this whole thing is. Sometimes, I can't even believe it myself.

04 July 2007

Twitchy riding...

Today, being the 4th o' July and all, and just about everyone having a day off, I decided to hang out, and go for a ride at one of the local "group" rides that are held this time of the year. I write "group" rides, because as most of you know, the group rides on days like today are more like a mob scene. Today, no different at all really. I think around about 1000 folks lined up and rolled out from Spin Cycle in Cary this morning at 8:00AM. There was a 50k route, and a 100k. I decided, at the last moment, that maybe the 100k would be OK to do. Nah, just kidding, I decided the 100k way back, I mean it is only 60 some odd miles after all. 

So the ride rolls out, and we get a police escort out of town. Nice, except for the fact that the pace car, and the cop cars rolling with us are stopping in the middle of the intersections with little to no warning that they are stopping. In other words, some movable road furniture. There were almost several crashes heading out of town. Everyone made it out alive though, no worries.

While out on the road, I've got to admit, there are some jackasses on this ride. Look people, it's a large group ride, and we're moving fairly fast. It's not a race though. When things bunch up, do not, I repeat do not go over the yellow mid line of the road, into a blind corner, going uphill, and almost get your stupid ass run over. This happened, time and time again. There is no need for it. No need at all. Why risk your damn life on a group ride. Why risk your life in a race for that matter. Look, rules of the road, stay to the right of the yellow line. You'll live longer. But then again, maybe Darwinism should be practiced, because then we'd have less stupid people out there riding with us. I won't name names, but there seemed to be a certain local team whose riders were doing this the most. Mostly because they seemed to not be able to maintain their position within the group, and decided that the only way to "get ahead" was to dash across the line and then have to dart back in when a tractor trailer truck was coming up the other side of the road, therefore endangering other people, again because the riders had to dash back into the group. Nice work jackasses. I've been to a few races, and I think the bulk of this team are all hero cat. 4's, I could be wrong, but I think that's the level they're at. Ridiculous really. But again, no names, don't want anyone feeling downtrodden by little old me.

Then, coming into town, anyone who has done this ride knows, that there are some traffic lights when rolling back into town. OK, a little lesson for those of you who don't know. If the light is red, you stop. If the light is green, you go. If there is a car in the lane in which you're in, do not go around the car at the stop light. I don't ride in Cary all of the time, or make that hardly ever, but there are a lot of people that do. And guess what? A little respect for their town goes a long way, plus it makes the motorists of Cary a lot less pissed off (I'm talking to the people who go around cars at stop lights and "swarm" the cars - idiots). You see, in a large ride like this, you should obey the laws and rules of the road when rolling back into town. Don't ignore, and run the lights. And I did see people who should know A LOT better than to do this, doing it on the way back into town. You makes us all look bad, so stop it. Then, the topper to all of this. We're about a half mile away from the finish point of the ride. I'm riding in a double paceline with, oh, 60 other people. I see someone come up on the outside of me, he cuts back hard to right, splits the difference of a couple of teammates in front of me, bounces around a little bit, almost knocks over 3-4 people, and then he sort of sprints off up the road. What were you trying to accomplish there super chief? Are you racing for the parking lot? Did you want to get to the bouncy castle first. Unbelievable. Again, this guy was from the same time riding all over the yellow line, so it didn't surprise me when this happened. I yelled at him of course, it's what I do on these things.

My griping aside though, Spin Cycle, and Capital Cycling Club held another great event this year. It was well organized, and well attended. I can't express my thanks enough to those folks for putting this on. It must have been a huge undertaking, and it was for a worthy cause, so I didn't mind tossing in my $30 bucks. Nice work folks. Everyone seemed to have a good time and there was good food, good rest stops, and a nice little post ride party back at the Hibernian. You guys did right. I hate it that people act like assholes out on the road, but what are you going to do? Rides like this attract people like that. People who don't, or can't race, but yet have some fitness and want to show everyone "what they're made of" and all. But, considering the amount of people who attended, it could have been a lot worse. I wasn't aware of any crashes that took place, or anything really bad happening. And again, Spin Cycle, Capital Cycling Club, thanks for having this, and hope to see you at it again next year.

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01 July 2007

As always...

As always, Henry Rollins has a good way with the words.

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