This administration is SOARING!

If you missed it last night (or any of the multiple re-runs), here's Stephen Colbert speaking at the Washington Correspondents' Dinner (huge avi file).

Like a day at the spa?

I drove to Rockford this morning to pre-ride the course at Rock Cut Park before the mtb race tomorrow morning. Don't let Burrito Eater fool you - it's certainly not an easy course. There are at least six sections that I'd have to run over during the race, probably even with more practice. It started raining - not hard - just as I was swinging a leg over my bike and within an hour, the rooty climbs were too slippery to ride quickly or safely and there was lots of standing water on the trail. It's a 25-mile race tomorrow, which I thought would probably take 1:45 if I rode fast - my fastest lap today was 1:15, so 1:45 is a pipe dream (which may need to be hyphenated, but certainly not combined).

I'm home now because I didn't want to camp in the rain, and I'm on the verge of not going back tomorrow at all. Weather.com shows rain all night and through the afternoon tomorrow in Rockford, and I don't know if I want to drive an hour and pay $25 to fall in the mud again and again and again. And again. Probably one more time.

Update: As the Eata' posted in the comments, the race has been postphoned! I'm superglad because now I don't have to feel like a pansy because I didn't want to race in the mud, also I get another cance on a course I thought I could do reasonably well on. The only think keeping me from being uberglad is that I took Thursday and Friday off from riding to give my legs a break for today - now, it turns out that was a complete waste of two gorgeous days.
"Do The Rock" Mountain Bike Race Cancelled for April 30
Posted by admin on 4/29/06
6:00 PM Saturday, April 29 - The Trail Crew has been monitoring trail conditions at Rock Cut State Park and, due to the weather, has decided to cancel the "Do The Rock" mountain bike race.

A lot of volunteers put in a lot of time organizing this event and we are as disappointed as you are that we can not put it on.

We are meeting on Monday with the park's land manager to schedule a rain date, and will post all updates here on the web site.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

Direct bribes as political strategy

Well, this is subtle.
WASHINGTON - Responding to an election-year spike in gasoline prices, Senate Republicans on Wednesday drafted legislation providing $100 rebates for taxpayers as key lawmakers sought access to Big Oil's income tax returns.

The rebate legislation also calls for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an intensely controversial proposal that will probably contribute to the defeat of the overall measure.

I suppose this is what it feels like to be a Republican member of Congress when Jack Abrahamoff is around. Frankly, I'd rather have my $20,000 for the war in Iraq back than, what, five tanks of gas?

Stymied

I just got back from the vet, changed into cycling clothes, filled a bottle, put on my helmet, gave my chain a quick clean & lube, and started to head out the door for a quick ride - only to find a very flat rear tire. No problem, though, I'll just change it quick and only lose a few minutes of riding time. Flat changed, I opened the closet to grab a fresh spare for my seat pack - nada, no more tubes in my box.

Update: Instead of kicking myself for being unprepared In addition to kicking myself for being unprepared, I grabbed my mountain bike out of the garage and putted down to do some hill repeats on Parmenter St. I rode a couple loops through the half-mile of trails at Walnut Grove Park on the way, then rode up the Parmenter hill six times. I took a left on Old Sauk on the way back because I was going to ride up the steep hill (steep enough for a warning sign) near University a couple times.

I took a right into Owen Park before I got there, though, and I couldn't have made a better detour. There have to be close to 5 miles of mountain bike trails in Owen Park - none of it is exceptionally technical, but there are some good climbs, it's fun to ride the big paved runoff ditch like a halfpipe, and it's less than two miles from my house.

After some research, the City of Madison says I'm wrong about the mileage - it's only 3.4 miles of trails. It was also the farm and personal retreat of former UW professor John Owen. Thanks for the trails, John!

That makes four sections of mtb trails in the Madison metropolitan area that I know of, plus one that Burrito Eater says he found by his house. We should sketch these out on a map and make some giant urban-mtb loop.

This is completely unrelated to the previous paragraphs, but I wanted to add to the pile of sadness from two posts ago and I knew no one would scroll down to check for updates - School Sends Kids to Closed Amusement Park

WOOOooooWOOOooooo (that's the sound a siren makes)

AKING NEWS****BREAKING NEWS***BREAKING NEWS****BREAKING NEWS****BRE
Britney Spears is pregnant with her second child with husband Kevin Federline, the Web site of Us Weekly is reporting.

According to the Us weblog, Spears was spotted at the swimming pool of the Caesar's Palace casino in Las Vegas over the weekend and was visibly pregnant. Sources then confirmed to the pregnancy to the magazine.

Stay tuned to this blog through the evening and into tomorrow for Brit baby updates. Good night, and good luck.

Fantazy Land

Is there anything sadder than an abandoned theme park?


Well, one thing I suppose -

Celebrity Eye Candy

I don't have high standards for VH1, or for celebrity gossip shows in general, but this may be the steamiest pile of garbage being broadcast. The commentary - inane. The clips and photos - tame, and frankly, almost all old news for anyone with an internet.

A compendium of bike-related things

I had one bike-related thing to post about, but it would have been kinda puny to support a whole post of its own. Then I got another thing, and then a third thing quickly followed, so they're going in one mega-ultra-bike-post.

Thing 1 - After two hours on my bike on Monday, two more Tuesday, 3:45 yesterday, and 2:15 this afternoon, it's officially my biggest week of training since Ironman in 2003. It's been 162 miles, all west of town, which means all hilly. I wouldn't say my legs are sore in the way you'd typically think of muscles being sore - they are really tired though. Walking up Bascom hill and then three flights of stairs to my office made me want to sit on one of the landings to rest. I feel like I can't drink enough water to keep myself from being thirsty.

Thing 2 - Remember this post? And Burrito Eater's comment that he would check it out when he visited his brother? Burrito Eater (who is looking awfully svelte these days) does not lie to you. Bonus creepy sea creature picture!

Thing 3 - Alejandro Acton, who rides for the new GT/TargetTraining road team, led yesterday's stage at the Tour de Georgia for 150km, getting as far as 10 minutes ahead of the Peloton. Unfortunately, he got caught before the line and Discovery's Yaroslov Popovych took the win and the leader's jersey.

What's a fashioneaster?

This is a long-term project, but I've been learning about men's fashion and slowly replacing almost all of the clothes I own. I'm going to share some basic clothing tips with you, my readers of the male and female genders, which you probably already know and don't need - but if you don't and you do, then you're welcome. These are classic things - not advice that will be out of style by this fall - so you can print this post and keep it in your pocket forever.

-Socks should match your pants, not your shoes. You want to make your legs look longer, not your feet look taller. Tan pants with dark shoes are the exception - pick a pair of socks that splits the difference in colors: a medium shade of brown or a dark brown sock with a light-colored pattern.

-The shoulder seams on your shirts should sit on top of your shoulder, not hanging down your arm an inch or two. At least 60% of the men I see are are wearing shirts that are at least one size too big for them. Wearing a shirt that fits will make you look slimmer and sharper. Don't rely on the size on the tag - I wear an Large in Penguin sizing and an XS in Lacoste (side note: American sizing is silly - there's no way a 6'2", 175 lb person should be wearing an shirt tagged "extra-small").

-Spend $15 and get at least one white dress shirt tailored by a professional. Now it's your go-to basic white dress shirt. You know it fits, so wear it confidently - untucked with jeans, open-collared and tucked in with the sleeves rolled, under a sporcoat, or with a suit.

-Relaxed-fit, boot-cut jeans may be more comfortable than slim, straight-leg jeans, but they don't look as good.

-Pleated pants and double-breasted suits were designed in the 1940s to make overweight men look slimmer. Unless you have a giant ol' belly, you want single-breasted jackets with flat-front pants.

-Even though they're both dark, black and navy don't match. You need a brown belt and brown shoes with those navy pants. While you're at it, wear brown with your grey pants too - especially if you're wearing a pink, yellow, or blue shirt.

-None of us will ever be able to dress as cool as this guy -

It's a fudge-tastic mystery

The third floor (and possibly other floors) in my building smells like brownies - fresh out of the oven brownies. I'm tempted to go buy some vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup so that I'm prepared to make a sundae if I figure out where the smell is coming from.

Rhymin' and Stealin'

These rhymes are hereby banned from music, by order of Captain Cliche:
Girl - World
Night - Right
Hot - Got


These are still OK though, OK?:
Selfish times - Shellfish Crimes
Beetle - Beatle
Tortoise - Porpoise


These comics - also OK:

It was Arrested Development

It looks like the dream is dead. Dead dead.
The Bluths are out of business.

"Arrested Development," the critically praised but low-rated Fox show that won an Emmy for outstanding comedy series, as well as Emmys for writing, will not be resurrected on Showtime as rumors circulating for months have suggested.

A source close to the negotiations said that creator Mitch Hurwitz had decided after a lengthy period of debating an offer from Showtime that "Arrested Development reached its end, creatively, as a series."

I should probably just be happy that it survived past its second episode on Fox, and although I'm not as bitter as I thought I'd be, the bitterness I have is mostly directed at people that watched reruns of 7th Heaven instead of Arrested Development. The Season 3 DVDs will be out in June and that makes 53 episodes of fantastic television preserved until 2008, when DVDs are as useless as VCR cassettes are now.

Aw, hail no!

Did you see that hail?!? 90 seconds of golf balls coming down en masse, dentin' cars and breakin' roofs!

A size update, courtesy of my friend Nathan's neighbor -

Sometimes a pony gets depressed

I may not be riding a thousand miles a week or running a marathon every Sunday, but I still win the whose-musical-taste-is-the-awesomest race. M.Bro and I have tickets to see Silver Jews at High Noon on Saturday - join us if you're around.

Help me pull this knife out of my heart!

The New Pornographers are playing another show in Madison - Sunday, 4/23 at the High Noon Saloon!

But wait! According to the HNS's website, "There will be no tickets sold for this show- you need to win an invite through Jack Daniel's to attend. For your chance to win tickets, read The Onion (www.theonion.com), listen to WMMM 105.5 (www.1055triplem.com) or look for the Jack Daniel’s Promotional team in the Madison area!"

Don't want to go, but do want to help me win tickets? Send an e-mail to madpromo@theonion.com with "Jack Daniel's Studio No 7" as the subject line and your birthdate in the text, and have them put the tickets in my name at will-call!

And, for god's sake, if you see someone dressed as a bottle of Jack Daniels on State Street, get me a ticket from them!

Go ahead - smell it!

That's what the air smells like on my favorite day of the year - open your office windows, take your students to Bascom Hill, eat lunch on the patio, roll around in the grass, ride your bike, or something similar, but whatever you do, don't waste my favorite day!

Also, I'm just going to steal this entire e-mail from TimH, because it's hi-larious
Ever wonder if you made the right career choice? Worry that you didn't? Fear not, for I bring you news of great joy. According to Money magazine, you have the second best job in America! That's right, barely beaten out by something called "software engineer," college professor is the first among the rest!

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/?cnn=yes

What makes it second best? Flexible schedules, "creative thinking" and NO dress code. You can make an average salary of $81,500 and the demand for college professors is exploding!

Surely current grad students are saying, "But the road to being a college professor is a long one, I can't wait!" Don't worry, because according to Money magazine, as a graduate TA, you are already included in the category. So borrow some money and have a beer for you have one of the greatest jobs in America!

And those of you who haven't quite finished your dissertation, stop now! Money magazine says that it is SO easy to break in at this level--you can even teach with a master's degree!

Next time your son/daughter, niece/nephew, says they want to be a doctor, lawyer or something called "software engineer," give them a copy of Thucydides, correct them and say, "No, you want to be a college professor...just ask Money magazine"

Rapid-fire, yo

-I have a love/hate relationship with my cage in the library. I get a lot of work done, but I leave it feeling dejected.

-I'm doing the 25-mile race on the 30th.

-Pearl Jam plays Saturday Night Live this weekend to promote an album that's coming out on May 2nd. Watch them. Love them.

-What happened to Melanie Griffith?

-Umm, that might be it.

Why just ride?

Riding my bike alone is just like racing myself, which sucks because I always lose. I was disappointed that I was going to have to miss out on some early-season races - the Platteville cross-country time trial is the same day as my panel at the MPSA conference, and I'm going to out of town the day of the first WORS race of the season. BurritoEater just e-mailed me about another early-season race, though - now I have 19 days to get back in racing shape. You just tell me to skip the conference to train and I will.

April 30 - Rock Cut State Park - Rockford, IL
Choice of courses: 10 mile, 25 mile, 37.5 mile

The registration fee is $25 for whichever course I pick, so I feel like I should do the 37.5 mile race. It's only 67 cents per mile, compared to $1 per mile for the medium course and $2.50 per mile for the short course. The 37.5 mile race would be almost 5 times as cost-effective in terms of racing-miles-for-my-buck.

Bikin'

I finished rebuilding my mountain bike on Thursday night in anticipation of taking it to Kettle this weekend, but Friday's rain shut the trails down. The ground is still pretty saturated from the melting (well, melted) snow, so it doesn't take much rain to make them unrideable.

With actual mountain biking ruled out, I decided to take it out on Saturday afternoon anyway - just riding around city streets and hitting a couple small sections of trail in city parks. Missy needed to put in a 9-mile run, so I let her leave a few minutes before me and then played a little game of Find-My-Wife. It turned out to be a fun 2-hour game, and a doing hill repeats on the city streets was a fantastic workout. It was fine when I ran it through the cassette on my workstand, but my rear derailleur had all kinds of shifting problems under load - I'll have to bribe one of the guys at BikeCo with beer to adjust it right before I ride it too much more and bent a cog or something.

Oh, road bike - why do you look so sad? OK I will ride you. I found a nice square that starts at our house, hits some of the climbs on the Horribly Hilly Hundred and Ironman courses, and comes back to our driveway 14.97 miles later. I did two loops of it on Sunday afternoon, and then ran 3 miles with Missy after she got off work. There's nothing better than that feeling of pushing 25 with your feet barely scraping the pedals, is there? Thanks, tailwind!

I've decided that this summer is going to be The Summer of Better Bike Handling, which includes the following goals:
1) Descending more confidently and more brake-free, on the road and on the trails (so that I can keep my lead after my big breakaway from the Peloton on the last climb)
2) Looking behind me without being so swervy (so that I can make sure the sprinters' teams aren't catching up to me on the finishing straight)
3) Riding hands-free for more than 10 seconds (for my victory salute at the line)
4) Clearing log piles on the trails without dismounting and running over them
5) Bunny-hop higher than a half-inch

Let's play a game


We'll call this game, "WTF is going on inside Katie Holmes' uterus?!" I've seen a lot of pregnant women (although, full disclosure, not very many pregnant scientologists), and I think that's a basketball held on by a strap. Which can only mean one thing - someone dug up L. Ron Hubbard's body, extracted dna from the corpse, threw it in a blender with some proteins and stem cells, and created a clone. The clone took a little longer to grow into a baby-size L. Ron than Scientology's scientists thought it would, so Katie Holmes has had to fake her pregnancy for 13 months now. When the "baby" is "born", Tom will dump her and raise L. Ron II in a commune.





Let's compare that with this an actual human baby (Violet) that came out of an actual human woman (Alias).

Kettle

If the DNR's website says the Kettle Moraine mtb trails are "Closed until April 1, weather permitting", do you think that means they're open or closed this weekend?

I just checked my archives, and my first mtb ride last spring was on Saturday, April 9th - that's creeeeeeepy, right?

When the district sleeps alone, eat a Snickers bar

I love the Colbert Report so much that I even like the commercials - especially M&M commercials backed with a remix of the Postal Service's Such Great Heights.

Where are I? Who am you?

I wouldn't say lecture went terribly, but I think it was a good idea to end it 20 minutes early. I felt clammy and sweaty simultaneously and my t-zone feels like it's being sucked backwards inside my skull with a suction cup. I kept getting lost in my own lecture notes (which they hopefully interpreted as dramatic pauses) and distracted by the tone of my own voice ("Do I sound to preach-ey? Did that statement have a questioning tone? Oh crap - what was I just talking about? Where am I at in my notes?"). I've had better lectures, and I think I just need to regroup and get back into it on Thursday.

Missy had fantastic news for me when I got home though - I haven't got my official entry postcard, but my registration check for the Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 went through the bank, so my entry got picked in the lottery! I'm in!

Oh yah - Aloha der, you guys

It's good to be back, even if the end of daylight savings time and the four hour time zone difference and the overnight flight are all combining their powers to make my head feel like sawdust. The lecture I have to give in three hours is going to be a trainwreck.

The fun part

I don't want to let the car thieves win, so here are more photos of the fun things we did over the last few days -

Thursday afternoon, we took the Jeep to Hanauma Bay, an underwater state park, and rented snorkels, masks, and fins. It was only 8:00 a.m., so the water was still pretty bracing - we splashed around for a while, got used to breathing through our tubes, and headed out into the bay. Within eight seconds, we spotted a fish - ohmygodawhitefish! We were very excited and took at least three pictures each of that first white fish - and by the time we left at 11:00, we were so experienced (or jaded) that we were shoving boring white fish out of our way.



It's difficult to get a sense of depth snorkeling - there were lots of times I thought the water was pretty deep, until some dark shape I thought was a rock turned out to be a fat guy in black trunks standing waist-deep.


After Hanauma, we drove to North Shore and the Dole Pineapple Plantation, which I already posted pictures of. You can't have any more, you vultures. I will, however, give you one picture of the luau at the hotel that we hurried back for. Not a good picture, though - it was too dark, and we bought tickets too late to get close seats.


We planned to spend the morning snorkeling at Yokohama/Pray for Sex beach and then hiking to Kaena Point, the westernmost tip of Oahu. Rain and rough surf made snorkeling unattractive, if not dangerous, so we just hiked to the point. It was right along the coast, with lots of sections of very scary drop-offs to the hardened magma below. There were spots, however, that we could make our way onto the rocks relatively safely. It was spectacular - amazing views of the ocean and shoreline, and awesome caves under the shore that the blue water disappeared into and shot back out of. There was one section with an ocean geyser - a small hole that the water underneath shoots out of with a puff of mist and a loud whistling. It was also mud-tastic.





Then came the robbery, the police officer who told us to get back to our room as fast as possible if they had stolen a hotel key (my laptop! my ipod!), the frantic calls to cancel credit cards on the way, the frustrating call to the Hawaii PD, and the more satisfying trip to the police station in Kane'ohe.


Later Friday night, Matt and Gretchen took us to Lani'kai beach, one of the top three beaches in the world according to a Travel Channel special. It was getting dark and the tide was very, very high, but the beach was gorgeous, the view of the bay (including a massive island protected as a bird sanctuary) was amazing, and the houses along the beach were right out of some beach movie where teenagers solve crimes in between lacrosse practice and a tangled web of in-group dating. Since it's set in Hawaii, it's probably called "Aloha High" or "Aloha Sun" or "Aloha Beach Patrol: Mahalo Squad" or something.

Matt and I played a round of the traditional Hawaiian game "Mano'ehe", which means "throw the 10-lb soaking wet coconut back and forth".


Yesterday was a little more low-key, a little less adventurous - we met Missy's friend Kristen for lunch and pina coladas at the Barefoot Bar next to the beach. Kristen was a Scrapbook Superstore employee until October, when she decided to move to Honolulu in search of fame and riches.


Remember all the rain? Yeah, you do. It's been raining like that for a month and a half, and our visit marked the high point of rain-related grossness - a sewer line under Ali Koa Blvd couldn't handle the excess runoff and exploded on Thursday morning. I think I read that 30 million gallons of Honolulu's sewer waste was diverted into Ali Koa Channel, which dumps directly into the ocean, two hotels down from ours. The beaches are all closed due to fear of bacteria in the water, and the headlines yesterday said that Waikiki Beach could stay closed for as long as two months. It didn't seem to stop people from enjoying yesterday's sun, but I'm afraid the long-term damage to this area's tourism industry make hurt.


Matt and Gretchen (but mostly Matt) still wanted to go snorkeling, so we went back to Hanauma Bay with them. Gretchen had been once when she first moved to Hawaii and Matt said he had "kind of snorkeled," which we found out meant that he had put on goggles and dipped his head in the water behind a moving boat. Unfortunately, the waves were much bigger than our trip to Hanauma on Thursday and they stirred up a lot of silt. I felt like I had to hold Missy's hand to stay together, when on Thursday, we could see each other easily from 15-20' away.

Last night was also our big move from room 201 waaaaay upstairs and toward the ocean to room 1335. When we checked into the new room, two separate front desk people at two separate times said, "Oh woowwwww - you're going to be realllly happy with the upgrade!" Apparently people who come to the Hale Koa multiple times will request 1335 specifically. The first woman was one of the employees who helped us straighten out payment for our stay on Friday, so we think maybe she gave us the best room out of the block of oceanside rooms out of pity. We'll take it.

A thievery update

In the comments section of the last post, Kyle asked whether this was an April Fool's Joke - I wish, buddy. We just keep realizing more and more things that are gone - my keys must have been in my new green bag, so my student ID and bus pass are both gone too; our bus tickets for the return trip from Chicago to Madison were in Missy's bag, so I suppose we'll have to buy new full-price ones (no student discount without a student ID) at the airport there; and Missy's reading glasses were in her bag.

When we called all the credit cards to cancel them, everyone reported multiple charges to gas stations in the small town closest to the hiking trail. Matt says what these thieves generally do is tell people pulling in to fill up their cars, but pay the theif a lower amount of cash. I was really surprised that anyone would agree to that - isn't it pretty obvious that something really shady is going on? - but Gretchen says that area is so poor that needing gas sometimes overcomes ethics.

In fact, at one 7-11, Matt and Gretchen had that theory confirmed. Unlike the cashiers that had no interest in helping us ("No, I'm not looking through the receipts - and what would it even matter if we found one with your name on it?"), they found a station that no only found four receipts with Missy's name, but showed them the security video of the pumps. A crazy-haired blonde in very short shorts was buying gas for multiple vehicles and turning our credit cards into cash that way. Apparently Matt and Gretchen had missed her by less than two minutes.

We managed to file a police report yesterday - we decided it was less likely they'd tell us not to bother them in person, so we stopped at the station nearest to Matt and Gretchen's apartment. I don't expect anything to come from filing the report, but we'll need it in order to dispute the gas charges and the $754.19 charge to a pre-paid cellular place with our credit card companies. Fortunately, we convinced the hotel to run our bill through, including the nights we haven't actually stayed for yet, before we cancelled that card.

We can get through the rest of the vacation with the money in our checking account, but we're crushed that we won't be able to go on a helicopter ride through the mountains like we'd planned. Before we left, Missy's coworkers told her to do that even if it meant skipping other things - that we absolutely, positively wouldn't regret it, even if it was a super-expensive 60 minutes of fun. We decided to save it for our last day on the island, so we'd have something amazing to look forward to and wouldn't feel sad about leaving in the days leading up to Sunday.

Honestly, and someone who has actually been mugged can certainly tell me I'm wrong here - I think I'd feel better if we'd been mugged. The worst part of this is that 30 more seconds of locking things away before we'd left the Jeep to go hiking would have prevented all of it - literally, 30 seconds. We could have locked everything away in the trunk - we could have taken it with us - we could have put it all in Matt and Gretchen's pickup. We were so, so careful when we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay on Thursday - when we got breakfast, we sat where we could see the Jeep the whole time, and when we got to the bay, we made sure there weren't even stray napkins in the cab. How did we get so stupid and so trusting just 24 hours later?

I'm sleeping by reminding myself how much worse it could have been - at least I had my wallet with me, and at least we weren't out snorkeling with our wedding rings along with everything else in the Jeep, and at least they didn't take or damage the Jeep. Matt says he knows people that have had their windows smashed to get a purse or a couple dollars cash, and other people that have had their tires slashed for no reason after a break-in.

We're still in surprisingly high spirits, and I don't think we're going to let it ruin the next two days of our trip. I think I'll even post some pictures from yesterday as soon as we get back from returning the Jeep and eating breakfast. We took pictures with waterproof disposable cameras as Hanauma Bay, and I'm really excited to see whether they turned out and to show them to you if they did.

HEY BIG UPDATE - Missy just found my keys my student ID, my city bus pass, and our bus tickets from Chicago to Madison buried in one of our drawers!! Hooray for small victories!