Greetings from Missoura!

The Best Western we're staying in tonight has wireless access, so I'm going to fill you in on today's run of bad news and gorgeous lakes (in that order).

Just before 7:00 this morning, I grabbed the car to fill the tank. When I turned the key to the accessory position, nothing happened immediately - after a second and a half, though, everything was coo'. I chalked it up to weirdness and drove to the Kwik Trip on the corner - half a block, max. Turning into the station, the engine cut out. I rolled up to the pump (without power steering) and swore under my breath. I restarted it - again with the little pause before the ignition caught. Again with the quitting immediately. I put a little gas in, started it one more time, and drove it back to our house. I grabbed Missy, told her about my last 10 minutes, and convinced her to come for a test-drive with me. It seemed to be fine - fine enough that she asked whether I made the whole thing up so that we could skip the trip to Missouri. She called that sweet, which says a lot about how much she doesn't want to swim this weekend.

After 10 minutes of all kinds of test-driving, we stopped at Walgreen's for some last-minute prescriptions. I stayed in the parking lot to futz with the car - which turned out to be a good thing, since it started exactly one more time. After that, nuttin'. The battery was fine - all the lights came on, all the dingy-things dinged, the radio played corporate crap, all the power accessories worked, etc. The dash lights behind the speedometer just wouldn't come on - and the ignition wouldn't catch. After about 10 minutes of semi-panicked trying, we gave up and called (1) AAA, for a tow truck, and (2) Missy's boss, to see whether she was using her car that weekend. Fortunately, she was going to be out of town anyway, and wasn't going to need it for anything.

Rita is the only reason we were able to make it to the race, so send her a note if you enjoy the race reports and photos over the next couple days.

We've decided to take two positive things away from it - (1) it could have happened 100 miles into Illinois, in which case we'd have been screwed, and (2) any bad luck we had coming our way over the next four days was used up by 9:00 this morning.

After 7 hours on Interstates 90, 39, 55, 270, and 70, we made it to Wright City, where we're staying tonight. Innsbrook, the resort where the race is being held and where we're staying tomorrow and Saturday night, is about 5 miles south. We drove down after checking into tonight's hotel, and for an ultra-swank 7000-acre private resort with 80 lakes, 100 miles of private roads, and a gated entrance, it's about exactly what you'd expect.

The lake was clear, still, and warm - the only similar body of water I've ever swam in is the pool at the Princeton Club. We found a dead fish and a water snake, though, so it's not perfect. Missy was less scared of the water snake than I expected, although she may change her mind when it swims into her mouth this weekend.

The roads in the resort go up, they go down, they go left, and they go right - alternating between those with alarming frequency. This won't be the kind of course you can put your head down and hammer on. It'll be challenging, but gorgeous-tastic.

The condo we're sharing with the Arkansas Hawgs sits next to the transition area - it's like the lake is the bottom slice of sourdough, the transition area is the smoked turkey, provolone cheese and guacamole, and our condo is the other slice of bread. Really - it's that delicious. I took a few pictures while everything was empty and calm, but I couldn't find anywhere to develop them tonight.

Packet pick-up starts at 2:00 tomorrow and we can check into the condo at 3 - we're going to swim and ride the course tomorrow morning, but not before continental breakfast. There's no wireless at the condos (I called the check), so this'll be it until a quick update Sunday night. I'll probably try to write a little tomorrow and Saturday night, though.

To the...umm...MAX. I guess.


Hey there blog-reader-people - this is my last post until Sunday night, since Team PushmePullu co-captain M.Bro and I are leaving early tomorrow morning for Wright City, Missoura for Max-o-Mania. Friday night is the prologue sprint tri; Saturday is a mixed-up triathlon, an aquathon, and a duathlon; and Sunday morning is a quarter-ironman distance tri. Our goal is fourth place or better for Married Teams Under 80 in Sunday afternoon's final awards ceremony. The place we're staying doesn't have wireless, so no blogging from the event, but I'm taking my computer so I can write a little every night. Since we're both racing, photos may be limited, but we'll do our best.

Good luck - to us! If someone could feed our cats, that would be great.

Not all that freaky, really

I finished the Levitt book over dinner last night - some thoughts -

1) It bridges the gap between serious academic work and books by pundits pretty nicely, meaning it's suggestive much more than conclusive, but it asks questions and frames problems in a social scientific way. At the same time, though, who _can't_ write a book that's almost primarily speculative? Maybe I was approaching the project the wrong way or asking too much from a non-academic book, but c'mon guys - just one robustness check? One alternative model specification?

2) Big props for trying to teach mainstream readers some basic quantitative analysis - that a mean isn't as useful as a mean with spread, that correlation doesn't equal causation, that creative use of data can answer difficult questionsm, that the difference between observed and expected results can be quantified, that raw numbers aren't always valuable without understanding their context (maybe the 7-7 sumo wrestler is more motivated to get a winning record than his 8-6 opponent, maybe the drug dealer on the street has some other motivation to stay at a $3.30/hour job, etc). In other words, quantifiable economic incentives are important, but only one slice - social and moral incentives have a role to play too. However, at the same time, we should be willing to jettison social and moral pressure to accept conventional wisdom - for example, about the relationship between abortion and the decline in crime in the 90's.

3) In the end, I wasn't sure which was bigger - Levitt's ego or Dubner's hard-on for him.
Do you think my cats think I spend 10 hours a day in the hallway, just outside the apartment door?

NORBA in Snowmass


Let's take a few minutes out of our busy afternoons to congratulate my favorite mountain biker, Geoff Kabush, on winning the cross-country and the short-track races at the NORBA Snowmass stop the day before yesterday. He's the series leader in both disciplines now - dude's fast.

Brr.

Remember three days ago when I complained that it was cooler outside than in my office? Apparently, the AC here is not only fixed, but working extra hard to make up for last week. Really, it can be a degree over 60 in here. I need those pants I was wearing Friday, and a sweater. A cardigan would also do. If one of you could bring me some pants, that would be fantastic.

Welcome to my blog, bitch!

Let's just get it out in the open - I watched the first season of The O.C. on DVD over the past few weeks. We needed something to watch before the cable was hooked up in the new apartment - we had a used copy of this that we're sending to M.Bro's sister in the hospital - it was a match made in boredom. You know what, though? I enjoyed it. And not just in an ironic sort of way - actually enjoyed the characters and the plot-lines. Yes, Mischa Barton is uncovincing playing a carbon-based life-form. Yes, lots of the plot is contrived and predictable (another formal event interrupted by a fistfight? It seems like this happens once a week!).

I don't think I need to publicly justify myself, but that's not going to stop me from doing it anyway. Here they are - the reasons I can enjoy the O.C. without being ashamed -

1) I think Seth Cohen is funny and cool, but I don't really want to be his friend - I'd like to have him in class, and I'd like my kids to turn out like him, but I think he would annoy me if we hung out.

2) In fact, the scenes of the kids' lives (Seth, Ryan, Marissa, Summer, Anna, Theresa, and/or Luke) are far less entertaining to me than the scenes involving their parents (Kirstin, Sandy, Sandy's Eyebrows, Caleb, Julie, Jimmy, Hailey, and/or The Nanna)

3) For me, the most crush-worthy female character is Seth's mom, Kirstin. Summer? Ee-ew? Marissa? Bluh.

4) Trumping all the other reasons, watching the show brings a whole new level of enjoyment to reading the Television Without Pity recaps. For example:
Ryan sits in his car outside Theresa's hotel room, and then musters up the courage to go inside and confront her. But she has news for him, too, and he lets her go first. Don't people on television know by now that whoever goes second in these scenarios gets screwed? Theresa announces that she called Eddie and told him she's not coming home. He didn't take it well, but Theresa feels so free! Like she's in a tampon commercial! Ryan, meanwhile, is clearly wearing those bulky pads. Theresa asks what he wants to talk about; he wants to talk about swordfish!

and
And, as it turns out, there's at least one person of color who is actually allowed to sit down and dine at Harbor School; you can kind of see her behind the kids throughout this scene. Or maybe she's just catching a breather after carrying them back and forth between classes.

and
Theresa turns on the car, and maybe I've watched one too many spy movies (or seen a certain episode of 90210 about 578 times), but every time I hear a car ignition catch on television, I automatically expect the next shot to be of a fiery ball, and then a funeral scene with adult Dylan McKay and child Dylan McKay wearing identical baseball caps and carrying on a conversation with each other.

and
She also points out the awkwardness in the fact that "the girl who serves food at the party is now a guest at the party." It'd be more awkward, I suppose, if this was a different kind of television show in which "the girl who serves food at the party is now the food at the party." They go back and forth with the "I want to go but I want you to want me to go if you want me to go and I know you want me to go and you know you want me to go so I know you want me to go" and the "I only want you to go if you want to go and I know you want to go but you don't have to go but of course you can go if you want to go and if I know that you want to go and if you know that I want you to go." It's exhausting.

Freakonomics

Jordan just loaned me a book for the drive to Missouri this weekend - "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Economists have boring names, but he says the book is entertaining (although not academic). There's a chapter called "Where Have All the Criminals Gone?" that credits Roe v. Wade with the general decline in crime during the Clinton years - the kind of stuff that makes conservatives' heads explode. But they're equal-opportunity head-exploders, also arguing that backyard pools are far more dangerous to children than their parents' handguns.

From Publisher's Weekly (via Amazon):
Dubner and Levitt deconstruct everything from the organizational structure of drug-dealing gangs to baby-naming patterns. While some chapters might seem frivolous, others touch on more serious issues, including a detailed look at Levitt's controversial linkage between the legalization of abortion and a reduced crime rate two decades later. Underlying all these research subjects is a belief that complex phenomena can be understood if we find the right perspective.

"The cops 'round these parts...."


Do you think there's a professor at Oxford that claims Austin as his birthplace, even though his family is actually from Langerfordshire? Instead of the "local constabulary" he talks about the "po-po"?

When you fight dirt, the dirt always wins. It's pretty much a law of physics.

A race report from this weekend's Dirtfighter Classic is up on my still-a-blog-but-soon-to-be-a-website. Pictures will soon follow are up!

For your shopping pleasure

Man, that's a sharp-looking promo poster! (click for more detail)

Nothing better than the wink-and-point!


Look at how I manipulated these nice people into looking like total dorks! The picture is from the first Fleet Feet track workout - it's now posted on their website.

Dirtfighter - blarg.

Just walked in from my trip to the Dirtfighter Classic in Phillips - Mark, Ryan, Jess and I agree that the Phillips course is a relentless, pound-my-saddle-into-my-ass course with no redeeming qualities. Apologies to my mom for using such coarse language on the otherwise-tame internet.

Oh, lord, I smell badly.

Blog-free weekend

"God is Dead" - Nietzchze
"Nietzchze is dead" - God
"ZOMBIE NIETZCHZE LIVES! GRRRAAARRRRR!" - Zombie Nietzchze

I'm camping and racing bikes in Phillips this weekend, so no blogging until late Sunday night. Go outside, pasty nerds!

Hee - let's play "spot the inappropriateness!"


A woman makes her way among hundreds of sleeping tourists at a shelter in downtown Cancun, Mexico in the early hours of Monday July 18, 2005. Hurricane Emily hit the coasts of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula causing widespread damage but no deaths or injuries have been reported.(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Look away - I'm hideous

Left for the dentist at 2:30 to get a filling - it was cooler outside than inside, wihch is due to thermodynamics or refraction or infared or something. Even though he was clamping things on my face and drilling holes in my teeth, the GHC dentist was much more pleasant than my childhood dentist - an older man in a two-room office in rural Nebraska, who had probably been using the same equipment for decades. My worst memory? When his drill putzed out halfway through my wisdom tooth when I was in junior high. He finished the extraction with a hacksaw.

That's not true.

But it's close.

With 45 minutes to kill between the dentist and picking up M.Bro, I went to PrePlayed, a used music shop just across the street from my new apartment. I need something new to listen to on the 4-hour drive to Phillips tomorrow, and I found a copy of The Walkmen and Pretty Girls Make Graves - awesome. The guy at the counter agreed, and wanted to chat about the Matador compilation disc that came out last year. Unfortunately, I still had (and still have) a stroke-victim mouth from the anaesthetic, and I was having some enunciation trouble - not awesome.

Can't. Breathe.

P.C.'s air condition is broken. It's a balmy 105 in here today, and even rolling my jeans (jeans?!? I wore jeans today?!) up to my knees isn't cooling me off. I'm going to try laying on the floor.

No storm this morning. In fact....

It's funny 'cause it's true

Hee. I've probably mentioned it before, but the guy who draws/writes Frazz is a triathlete.

Two days in a row! How lucky are we?!



20 minutes later: Wow. Now we're directly under the red part of the radar. It's so dark that I can't see cars on the beltline - only headlights - or the trees on the golf course across the road. That's probably meaningless unless you know where the BikeCo building is. This is quite the display of weather.

Clarification: I concede that "lucky" in this context only applies to those of us watching the storm from inside a building, and not those of us walking down the street or driving on the highway.

3 hours later: Still depressing outside, but no longer scary.

New lid


Thanks to Giro's generous industry purchase discount, I can afford to replace my 4 year-old Specialized Cobra with a purty new Pneumo. It's light, aesthetically-pleasing, and so full of vents that I feel kind of like I'm paying for something that's barely there. Like a mobile, two-legged wal-mart, I destroyed a local, independent business last night by trying on helmets in their shop before faxing my order to Giro this morning.

I can'na hold er togetha much longa, Cap'n!


RIP Scotty
James Doohan, the actor best known for his role as the intergalactic engineer Scotty in Star Trek, has died at his home in the US. He was 85.

Doohan lost his struggle against pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease this morning in Washington State, according to his agent and friend Steve Stevens.

Storm's-a-comin'


It's been a while since we've had a good thunder -storm. Today's the day, my friends. It's so dark in my office, it's noir. The scene would probably be shot from outside the window - I'd look through the rain-streaked glass, pining for a lost love, while a twinkly pop song plays on the soundtrack.

"After we dissed Bob Roll, we played on the swingset"

Apparently my tweenage cousin, Nate, is following the Tour closely enough to know who Jan Ullrich is! From an e-mail he sent me last night:
I was watching Te Tour De France and that Jan Ulrich must be doing pretty good i think. Is he your favorite biker?

Fill-in-the-blank: music edition

Now that I'm older and wiser, I wish I had listened to _________________ instead of _______________ when I was younger. However, to my credit, I listened to _______________ before they were cool.


Mine:
1) Pavement, or The Pixies, or Weezer - take your pick
2) Skid Row - not even a hair band that has kitsch-cool now.
3) Portishead - is Portishead cool? If not, then Nine Inch Nails - I had Pretty Hate Machine on cassette back when MTV only showed the video for Head Like A Hole in the middle of the night.

The pictures aren't out of focus - those are heat waves

Mark took some digital pics before the races Sunday, and I took the helm while he was out on the course. Here's a few of the expo area and first climb (looking down, then up, from about halfway up the slope) - click to see larger versions.

I took this from just below the starting chute, which was about 1/4 mile up the slope from the parking lot and trailhead.


The second group of tiny little people in this photo are about halfway between me and the starting chute...


...and the tiny little tent you can see at the top of this photo is about 50 yards below the left turn into the singletrack.

Pre-race

The course for the kids race was set up on the bunny slope - a big, clover-shaped loop with this trailer as the only shade. I enjoyed taunting the little kids who couldn't make it up the ramp.


GT tent in the expo area - bikes on display for people to look at, gatorade in a cooler for me to drink.


Checking for creaking after re-tightening my saddle clamp

Finally - race photos




EXTREMEphotographyUNLIMITED doesn't have their photos uploaded yet, but I'm hoping they got some from the singletrack sections. They'll be tagged, but I'll post links once they're online.

I'm feeling hot-hot-hot

A race report from this morning's WORS stop at Devil's Head ski resort is up. Short version - tough tough course, hot hot heat, 4th place finish.

6:30 update: My legs feel like wooden sticks, and my head is pounding.

11:00 the next morning update: According to Burrito Eater's WORS handbook, medals in my class/age-group go down to fourth place! And I left before the podium presentation - argh.

an afternoon of clean clothes, and death

I rented the first season of Six Feet Under last night to watch while I do laundry this afternoon. After one episode, I say - five stars! You netflixey readers should put it on your list.

Devil's Head (but nothing to do with the TdF devil)

I drove up to Devil's Head ski resort this morning to do some practice laps on the cross-country course for tomorrow morning's race - let me see if I can describe the course to you: brutal. Let me see if I can describe it better: ride up a swooping ski run, zig-zag up and down along the top of the resort (singletrack down, grassy climbs up), hit a tree, fall on a rock, ride halfway down the slopes on a technical descent with lots of mean-looking rocks, ride the rest of the way down on a swooping grassy run (fun).

I was super-happy to have an excuse not to be doing the trail run though - apparently the field was decimated by heat exhaustion. There were at least three ambulances that I saw, all of which were taking heat strokers out of the parking lot. The run course was basically up one ski run, )across some singletrack to the next run, alllllll the way back down a ski run, across some singletrack to the next run, allllllll the way back up the hill on another ski run, repeat three or four more times. I ran into Jessica, who owns Fleet Feet and who helped me buy new shoes last night (Nike Air Zoom Elite, in the parking lot, and she said even the lead men were walking after the first climb. These are national-caliber runners - the event was actually a qualifier for the U.S. National Trail Running Team. I overheard a guy with a tattoo of the Olympic rings (qualifier?) say that he dropped out on the third lap. Damn.

Another famous Nebraskan!

1911, Tilden, NE: L. Ron Hubbard is born. 79 years later, little-boy J.Bro plays Tilden in little league baseball. 15 years later, grown-up-blogger J.Bro learns that Beck and Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, are scientologists.

Take that, Oklahoma and Minnesota! Phhhhhhllllbbbbbttt!

He's in the details

OleNelson asked about the TdF devil (below, aloft and on the world's biggest tandem) - PezCycling did a nice interview that gives you the whole what-for.

Amen to _that_, Rude Pundit!

On Rove's explanation that he never actually said the name "Valerie Plume" and, thus, can't be guilty of leaking her name:
So Robert Luskin's defense of Rove is truly bizarre, as if there's some existential notion of identity being attached only to names, that without a name, Valerie Plame could not, in fact, be identified. Or, to go more absurdist, that sans name, Valerie Plame doesn't even exist. Kinda makes the definitions of "sexual relations" and "is" seem rather quaint.

Can't shake his demons


This is my favorite picture from the tour so far - Jan Ullrich, perennial runner-up, and the mountain stages' famous devil. The emotional contrast makes the photo for me - click for the larger view to really see Ullrich's snarl in detail.

Cholesterol update!

My grandfather e-mailed to apologize for passing down fatty blood, and that my numbers actually looked pretty good compared to his and grandma's. We'll see what my doctor has to say on Tuesday, but in the meantime, I'm going to call my parents to get the scoop on this -

New website?

Mssr. Vertigoe thinks I should have a website in addition to my blog. I'm not so keen on the idea of having an all-things-j.bro website, since blogspot is so easy to update whenever the mood strikes me, but I kind of like the idea of replacing ultramax.blogspot.com with a more traditional website. The idea of having an easily accessible archive of photos and race reports, as well as a local race calendar, training plans, googleped route maps, etc. appeals to me. The drawback is that blogspot is free, while setting up my own website would be un-free (around $15/year to have the domain name and $5/mo for hosting). Thoughts?

Watch out for flying rib fragments!

Apparently my heart may explode at any minute! Most of my health screening went well - 9.1% body fat, 123/80 blood pressure, 86 mg/dl glucose, no risky behavior, no family history of disease, etc. My cholesterol levels, though, were high - really troublingly high, in fact. From my report (emphasis in original):
Total 261
"Greater than or equal to 200 is high and increases one's risk of heart disease."

HDL 33
"Less than 40 indicates a major risk factor for heart disease."

LDL 184
"A high level of LDL, 130 or greater, indicates a higher risk of heart disease."

Triglycerides 216
"Greater than or equal to 150 warrants the attention of your primary health care provider."

They recommended that I schedule a full lipid panel with my primary doc, which I have an appointment to do next Tuesday. They said it might just be a mistake in their little travel machine, so I have my fingers crossed that I won't actually have to start taking lipitor or levitra or something.

Update: RC just sent me the toll-free number for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Quatorze Juillet

Happy Bastille Day! To celebrate, I'm making myself miserable and edgy by fasting for 12 hours! Technically, it's for the Health Risk Assessment that I'm doing later this morning, but pretending that I'm celebrating French independence by skipping breakfast and not drinking coffee makes it easier to suffer through.

I know that y'all are concerned about my health, so I'll certainly be posting the results later today (right after I eat the muffin that's staring at me longingly from my bag).

Episode III script - a rough draft

I googled "episode 3 script" to try to figure out what Hayden Christianson is saying in the screencaps below, and came across this - friggin' HI-larious! Here's a little taste - take the time to eat the full course meal though.
IAN MCDIARMID
Did you know that those who embrace
the Dark Side have a lot of powers
that Jedi do not? For example, they
can influence that midichlorian
bullshit to create life.

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN
Create life? Wait, are you implying
that my supposed virgin birth was--

IAN MCDIARMID
And they can stop others from
dying.

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN
Stop others? Like, if someone force
chokes them and they start to die
because of it hours later?

IAN MCDIARMID
Yup.

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN
That's distracting enough that I'll
not bother following up on the other
thing you said.

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN runs up to SAMUEL L. MOTHERFUCKING
JACKSON

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN
Samuel, I rented the original Star
Wars trilogy from Blockbuster. I'm
pretty sure Ian McDiarmid is a Sith
Lord.

SAMUEL L. MOTHERFUCKING JACKSON
Then it's time to get medieval on
some ass.

Suddenly, IAN pulls out his LIGHTSABER. He moves toward the
JEDI, pulls his arm back, aims at a Jedi, kills him, pulls
his blade out, moves toward another, and slowly kills him
too, all while SAMUEL L. MOTHERFUCKING JACKSON twirls his
lightsaber around pointlessly behind them. Once only SAMUEL
is left, they DUEL. IAN makes silly faces and is eventually
beaten.

SAMUEL L. MOTHERFUCKING JACKSON
Let me read to you from the book of
Ezekiel for a--

Suddenly, IAN unleashes some force lightning on SAMUEL,
which he absorbs into his lightsaber and somehow pushes back
onto IAN, which causes him to grow old, apprently. Despite
this, IAN refuses to stop doing it.

IAN MCDIARMID
Must... bridge... gap... to...
original... trilogy...

Look out for the dots!


After a long break on Sunday and a very respectable third yesterday, Michael Rasmussen increased his lead in the King of the Mountains points competition again today. My favorite part is not that he's a really young rider, or riding in only his second tour, or that he used to be a world champion mountain biker - it's that he's totally stoked to be sportin' the dots (in Spice's words). Most KOM leaders wear the polka dot jersey with their regular team shorts and helmet - Rasmussen went for the whole shebang -

Auction-tastic!

Here's how you sell bike parts on ebay! Some bike dork finds the auction, posts them on a message board (or a blog, I suppose), and the seller gets scads of instant publicity! I'm not posting the photos because they're not...uhhhh...good to be looking at if your boss walks by.

Thompson seatpost!

Pinarello frame!

Are margaritas French?

After drinking around 100oz of half-price margarita-ey goodness at Pedro's last night and watching all of the chumps I picked to win the tour get ridden off Lance Armstrong's wheel like they were...well...me, I feel like a lump of crap this morning. Last night was fun, though, and worth a few hours of bleary-eyed mumbliness this morning. Those who were there will have to confirm this, but I'm pretty sure I held my ground and didn't sing karaoke.

Today is another huge mountain stage, with two Hors Categorie mountains and one slightly less difficult Cat 1. Mayo, the chump, is already off the back. Vinokourov is in a break with Santiago Botero, though, and I hope he takes the double points at the top of the Col de Galibier so that Rasmussen can stay in the polka dot jersey. I like that kid, and if Vinokourov takes the points, Botero won't have any chance to catch Rasmussen.

Amazingly, Yoda speaks like a normal person now

These are screencaps from a Chinese bootleg DVD of Episode 3 - translated from English to Mandarin, with English subtitles added.

Do you remember this moving scene?


How about these?

Why you so good to me?

You know what tastes good? Hot water with little bits of bean floating in it.

LALALALALALALALALALALALAAAAA - I CAN'T HEAR YOU

Tomorrow's stage - 192.5km from Grenoble to Courchevel - is going to be huge. Everyone who's everyone in my circle of Madison-friends is going to be at Pedro's West at 7:00 to watch OLN's coverage and drink half-price Monsteritas.

The big question - should I follow the live coverage in the morning on my computer? If I knew that there was no way I'd find out about something big (if something big happens, of course), then I wouldn't do it. BUT, if someone at BikeCo is just going to slip up and ruin it, then I might as well have watched the live updates.

Update: Nevermind. Brent's listening to Sean Kelley call it live on internet radio and he's not going to turn it off, so I might as well look at the online text updates too.

I am...

...drinking an excellent cup of white hot chocolate (from powder!) and estimating highly advanced, very complex models to advance knowledge in the field and increase our understanding of political behavior. Since this is what I love to do above all else, I certainly didn't waste three hours mountain biking at Kettle with (really fast) guys from BikeCo on Friday night or multiple hours riding the stationary trainer while watching the tour on Saturday or Sunday. My brain is sore from all the thinking I did this weekend - my legs are fine. No reason for them to be sore.

It's a meta-post!

The Chronicle has a new article about academics on the market and their blogs. Some relevant lines:
Professor Shrill ran a strictly personal blog, which, to the author's credit, scrupulously avoided comment about the writer's current job, coworkers, or place of employment. But it's best for job seekers to leave their personal lives mostly out of the interview process.

Earlier in the article, the author noted that the search committee found some blogs by googling the applicant's name, while others were included on the C.V. If Professor "Shrill" was one of the latter, fine. If the former, though, then it seems to me that he was certainly trying to leave his personal life out of the interview process!
The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.

This is more troubling. While I'd like to think a search committee member would have a nice giggle at a Toothpaste for Dinner cartoon and move my application to the top of the file, I've written some things that senior faculty might not appreciate - complaints about department procedures, other grad students, one particular lecturer, etc.

But at least I didn't admit to thefting a stapler.

Update: Maybe I should be more worried that this is the second hit when I google my name.
Two Clay County men are under arrest for their role in the illegal shipping of twenty-three (23) pounds of marijuana into Clay County. Jeffrey Goodson (DOB 9/9/76), a resident of 2473 Ridgewood Avenue in Orange Park, and [SAME NAME AS ME - BUT NOT ME!] (DOB 5/4/74), a resident of 189 Jefferson Avenue East in Orange Park, were both arrested this week on charges of Possession of Cannabis Over 20 Pounds with Intent to Sell and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

My blog doesn't show up anywhere on the first 10 pages - not even when I add "blog" to the search string after my name. Blog away, J.Bro!

Another update: Online discussions at MetaFilter and DanDrezner

Johnathan Michael Update the Third: The more comments I read, the more I think the original article was a phony, trollish sort of post, meant to elicit exactly this sort of online discussion.
This is obviously photoshopped, but it's a nice break for those of you that are tired of tour posts -

A 231.5 km (143.8 mile) stage.....


....decided by pixels! The black line is the official finishing line - who would you call the winner?

Updated: The official time gap is .00002 seconds - which is around 3mm at 60 km/h. For comparison, the stage was 231,500,000 mm in total length - almost a quarter-billion, decided by three!

Stage 9 - huh?

Hmmm...it looks like Saturday's stage will start with a little dip in the ocean, according to OLNtv.com

Adult stabilizing wheels


I get about a half-dozen e-mails or calls per week asking whether we make something like this. Steve, the inside rep for most of the South, saw someone riding with these on his way to work this morning and stopped them to find out where they came from. They gave him the name of the shop, who gave him the name of the distributor. It's useful to me that they exist -

Gabi's babbie

Now that's an adorable baby big boy

Willie!

E-mail from M.Bro: "I just wanted to make sure you checked your Polisci e-mail soon! You have an e-mail from Ticketmaster - you won't want to miss this person!!!"

E-mail from Ticketmaster: "Don't miss Willie Nelson"

Tour de Frermany


Tomorrow's stage leaves France to finish in Karslruhe, Germany, and Saturday's stage starts in nearby Pforzheim. Velonews has a nice little story about how the Tour organizers picked those two cities for such an honor -
Every mayor capable of finding the obligatory 200,000 Euro fee in his budget sent an application to Paris, asking to become part of the spectacle. Because of such fierce competition the French organizers looked for a special connection of the applying community to cycling and the Tour. That's top among the reasons ASO chose the towns of Karlsruhe and Pforzheim, the finish of Friday's and the start of Saturday's stages.

Karlsruhe is the hometown and Pforzheim was the residence of the nobleman Karl Drais, the inventor of the so-called Draisine - a wooden vehicle with two wheels upon which you would sit and propel yourself forward by pushing off the ground with your feet. It was the craze of the day, accelerating mid-19th-century travel by over four times in comparison to the stagecoach. It was another 50 years before it was surpassed by the first real bicycles - the penny-farthings of the 1870s.

Stage 6


God - what a great finish! I've been skipping the evening OLN broadcasts of the flat stages, but I may go to the gym and watch this one tonight.

Excerpts from the Guide to Role Playing Games, which is shockingly accurate

Having wasted many hours of my teenage youth on Super Nintendo RPGs - time that would have been better spent, say, watching the Game Show Network - these made me giggle. If you had less nerdy teenage years, are a girl, or are much older than 27, you will not giggle.
The least qualified person to save the world will always be the only guy who can do it. This is offset by the fact that your evil arch-nemesis is located very, very far away from wherever you live, and the power of his evil minions increase with every step you take towards his goofy floating castle or invisible tralier park of doom. Sure he may have two spike-laced, fire spewing demon overlords guarding his palace doors with automatic plasma gun turrets, but 2,000 miles away and in your town, all he has is a handful of slightly aggressive wasps and a toad that shoots mossy rocks from its mouth.

You will soon learn that God hates you. That's right, the Almighty must have your eternal suffering in mind. Why else would almost every town have just one natural entrance and exit? Rivers on the world map block your access to a treasure chest no more than three feet away, mocking the lustful look in your eyes. Luckily, God doesn't completely hate you, and there's always ONE magic tree you can cut down to create a bridge or dam to safely cross the deadly six inch deep abyss full of deadly minnows. Speaking of trees, they often act as impenetrable force fields, somehow growing in perfectly straight lines to constantly block your way, thereby creating labyrinths alongside the highly important boulders and signposts. This explains why nobody except you ever bothers leaving towns in any RPG. If I had to fight off several hundred monsters while nearly braining myself against a magic tree every few feet, I'd stay in town with a shit-eating grin on my face too.

While traveling, some obstacles will invariably block your passage. Such intimidating objects as three foot high rocks, sleeping fat men, and pretty tall grass are sure to keep even the most valiant warriors (who are the world's last hope) at bay. Sure, you can cast a spell that sucks 50 enemies into a whirling vortex of hell, but if the bridge is out or there's a somewhat large rock in your path, you're screwed and might as well give up.

The population of RPG worlds have apparently pushed the local birds, rats, and wombats too far, and they now have no choice but to randomly retaliate against wandering adventurers. Nature absolutely, positively loathes you and only you. When was the last time anybody had to save other villagers or towns from rat attacks? Where the fuck is Animal Control? Don't towns have some kind of department which travels more than 10 feet outside of the town to make sure there aren't any fire owls waiting to attack?

Many insects and animals carry around money and other things such as healing potions or magic herbs. They choose to haul these items around with them because the banks in town refuse to open up accounts for "deadly moths" and "some kind of evil wombat-goose creature."

Towns in RPG games have a 98% jobless rate, as there are only four businesses per town (blacksmith, wizard, item store, bank), and the rest of the town consists of people who stand and stare at bushes, walk to a barn, walk back to the bushes, turn around, and walk back to the barn all day.

Short term memory loss is a widespread problem which affects all. In addition to your main character likely suffering from amnesia which prevents him from remembering he's the most powerful being in the world, every single person you converse with will repeat the last thing they said as if they hadn't said it before.

"Hello, adventurer! I hope someone saves us all from this horrible evil soon!"
*player presses A in an attempt to get more information which could be used to help this person*
"Hello, adventurer! I hope someone saves us all from this horrible evil soon!"

The "..." is a valid form of communication no matter where you go, and can denote anything from surprise to happiness to death.

It's worth noting that almost every form of liquid is extremely helpful. In fact, any status or effect can be fixed by drinking a beverage of some kind! Most shops carry the "confusion-causing purple rattlesnake of upper west side Pittsburgh" antivenom, despite the fact that there is no Pittsburgh in the game. If there was, however, you'd be able to laugh that purple rattlesnake in the face as you shrugged off its only attack! Even death can be cured by a potion, so the only way a wizard could really fuck you up is by casting his "close mouth" spell on you. Luckily, in that case you'd be able to respond with the powerful "..." counterattack.

Don't worry about dying in combat. Somehow, being dead doesn't usually count as being dead unless it's your main character that bites it. Did the stupendous Human Shield character which you consistently neglect to equip with anything worthy fall from the vicious right jab of Mutated Frog Homophobic Butterfly #42? No problem, just get back to the nearest town; they've all got an old guy that can somehow revive the dead, yet lives in a rundown shack and isn't on Dr. Phil making millions. In the meantime, the biggest downfall to dying is not accruing experience points, which I'm sure characters kick themselves for while they're in the afterlife chilling out and waiting for their party members to find the right potion to revive them.

The news is not breaking, but thanks for your concern

Hee

McSweeneys - it'll never let you down
I'm beginning to think that that backwater Tatooine is the best place going, 'cause if it's not happening on freeze-your-ass-off Hoth or in the twang-your-banjo backwoods of Endor, desert-and-giant-sandworm Tatooine seems like the place to be. I mean, what's the Empire being so piggy about if there's only a frozen planet, a desert planet, a volcanic planet, and a teddy-bear nature reserve to fight over? No wonder everybody cool lives on Coruscant—they even have awesome flying cars and weird alien discos. Fuck Tatooine.

Armstrong - good guy after all?

I still don't want him to win, but this was a pretty classy move. From Tour radio:
Lance Armstrong explained at the start of the stage that he didn’t intend to wear the yellow jersey today. He said it wasn’t right that he should wear the jersey which Dave Zabriskie lost in unfortunate circumstances. The CSC rider crashed with less than 2km to go in the team time trial. The peloton stopped at the 0km mark and it appears that the race organizers assked Armstrong to wear the yellow jersey for today’s stage. After a brief conference on the outskirts of Chambord Armstrong replaced his Discovery Channel team jersey with the race leader’s one.


By the way, if you're not following the live updates on CyclingNews, you're a foolish, foolish fool.

CSC's fleet

Taken after yesterday's stage into Tours -



CSC also rides the second-sexiest time trial bike in the Tour - the P3Carbon, here being ridden by Utahan Dave Zabriske -

TTT


Today's Tour stage is the War of the Worlds-looking Team Time Trial. I've picked CSC to win, followed by Discovery and Phonak. That'll keep Zabriske in yellow and help Basso pull back a few seconds from Armstrong (not many, though, thanks to new rules that limit time losses to 20-30 seconds).

Although, if Euskatel-Euskadi rides the sexiest bike in the tour to a win, Brent says he'll give me his next five paychecks. Right now they're standing dead last - 21st/21 - so let's give a big cheer for the Basques! Let's have another look at that bike - ohhhh, baaaaabbby


Update: After leading at all three intermediate checks, CSC got clipped by 2 seconds by Discovery at the finish. Dave Zabriske (wearing the yellow jersey) hit a barrier with 2km to go - the CSC team went on to finish without him, but their rhythm must have been interrupted.

Top 5:
1 Discovery Channel Team 1.10.39 (35.65 mph)
2 Team CSC 0.02 back
3 T-Mobile Team 0.36
4 Liberty Seguros - W├╝rth Team 0.53
5 Phonak Hearing Systems 1.31

Happy birthday, Amurrka


Happy Fourth of Julie!

Today is not only the hundred-somethingth anniversary of the famous duel between George Washington and Richard the Lionheart, it's the first anniversary of the "Screw You George Bush - We're Spending the Fourth of Julie in Canada Day". That means, of course, that it was one year ago today that I was told, "You waited in line for a donut? That's hilaaaaaaaaarious."

Stealing?

Is it theft if (1) the internet access is just floating in the air, and (2) my use of said wireless doesn't impinge on the owner/provider's use of it?

Googlemap application

This is a spectacular idea.
What is this?
This is a little hack that uses Google's superb mapping application to help record distances traveled during a running or walking workout.
Usage:
Just as you do at Google Maps, drag or double-click to move the map, use the slider to increase or decrease the zoom level, and click the "Satellite" link (top right) to switch to satellite imagery.
When you're ready to start recording the distance you traveled, click the Start recording button.
Thereafter, every double-click will draw a point on the map, and the distance from your last point and your cumulative distance will both appear in the boxes above. Note that only a double-click will create a new point.

For example, it is 1.2456451502464036 miles from our new apartment to M.Bro's job:

We'll race Boks

Instead of a trip to the Chicago IKEA, I've convinced M.Bro that a much better plan would be to (1) go to the new Minneapolis IKEA, (2) camp out at Chippewa Valley in Eau Claire Saturday night, and (3) do the WORS race on Sunday morning. Burrito Eater had this to say about my plan: "Way to tie in the shopping with the bike race, that is critical for continued bike racing success. I am very proud of you!"

Tour de Bore

From Slate:
Armstrong has already announced that he's retiring when the Tour ends. Here's hoping he loses this one. Why? Because whoever knocks him off will have earned the title, not merely inherited it; a coup is more exciting than an election.

I couldn't agree more - as much as Lance Armstrong has done for cycling in the U.S. (now I'm "Lance" when people yell at me from cars, which is better than "hey fag"), his dominance of the Tour does make it pretty boring.

Adios, Sandy Dee!

If this doesn't lead to a fistfight - an real, actual, bloody fistfight - on the floor of the Senate in the next few months, I'm going to be one might disappointed blogger-guy.

I hope she has a good HMO

Other than saying that this would make the best screensaver in the world, I'm not going to ruin the fun for you. It's hypnotic.

Tour picks!

Unlike last summer, I'll be OLN-less for this year's Grand Boucle - fortunately, velonews and cyclingnews have live online updates, which I imagine most of the guys here will be running simultaneously. With two days before the 19km prologue, here they are - my '05 Tour de France predictions

G.C. Podium
1. Ivan Basso - CSC
2. Lance Armstrong - Discovery
3. Alexandre Vinokourov - T-mobile

Green Jersey (sprint points)
Tom Boonen - Quick Step

Polka Dot Jersey (king of the mountains)
Iban Maya - Euskatel Euskadi

White Jersey (best young rider, under 25)
Alejandro Valverde - Illes Balears

Sexiest bike (bike that is the most sexy)