Monday, December 17, 2012

Eric Schmidt is not confused

Did you catch what Eric Schmidt said about capitalism and taxation last week?

From the Belfast Telegraph:
"Google boss Eric Schmidt: I'm proud of our tax avoidance scheme...it's called capitalism" by Nikhil Kumar and Oliver Wright
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/google-boss-eric-schmidt-im-proud-of-our-tax-avoidance-schemeits-called-capitalism-16249970.html

Yes, even when you follow all the rules, people still get mad.  Jealousy and greed are ugly things.  There are many small-minded people in the world, and they're not shy about taking things that don't belong to them.

 I love how honest and correct Eric is in his quotes:

“I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate.”


“It’s called capitalism. We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”

“It's very good for us, but to go back to shareholders and say, 'We looked at 200 countries but felt sorry for those British people so we want to [pay them more]', there is probably some law against doing that.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Google Zeitgeist 2012

Did you catch Google's latest Zeitgeist video?  No???  Well, here it is.  It would be worth digging back into the old videos for past years, too.  Just do a search on YouTube...

From the Google Official Blog:
"Zeitgeist 2012: What piqued your curiosity this year?"
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/zeitgeist2012.html


From Google's YouTube channel:
"Zeitgeist 2012: Year In Review"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY_MUB8adEQ

And the Google Zeitgeist 2012 website:
http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#the-world

1.2 trillion searches.
146 languages.
WHAT DID THE WORLD SEARCH FOR IN 2012?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Right to Work

Did you catch the news from Michigan lately?  Did you see the eloquent arguments from union workers, arguing their point of view?  If not, you can find them here:

From MackinacCenter:
"Unions Right-to-Work Protesters Take Down 'Worker Freedom' Tent"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P97oDKzOd3I

Another from MackinacCenterMackinacCenter:
"The AFP-Michigan Tent: A Casualty of Union Mob Tactics"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkZfKx74IBg

From PatriotPost:
"Union Goons Tear Down AFP Tent at Michigan Right-to-Work Rally"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0uz1aLP1iA

From AforP:
"Brutality & Violence from Union Protestors, AFP Activists Trampled On"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSRabbK-vQ0

From WatchdogOrg:
"Inside view as unions tear down AFP tent"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj_Lra1lvxw

From JobCreatorsSolutions:
"Cutting Up AFP Tent on Michigan Capitol Lawn"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhyooRy9PMQ
This last video has someone questioning the union scum, and the union scum not having any answers to her questions.


That reminds me of my own union experience.  Yes, I was a member of Hotel and Restaurant Workers Local 122 in Milwaukee a long time ago, for about four years.  The biggest impact the union ever had on me was that it protected drunks from getting fired--even though all of us who worked with the drunks would gladly have fired them.  They simply didn't pull their weight on the job.

So naturally, this news story caught my eye.  From the Detroit News:
"Chrysler reinstates 13 workers fired for drinking on job" by Bryce G. Hoffman
http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121210/AUTO0101/212100439#ixzz2EtMVhbfI

Not enough evidence?  Videotape is not evidence?  Amazing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quote of the Day: Cicero on Government

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Does this quote remind you of any current events?  It should...

"Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new wonderful good society which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious."  - Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Google Shuts Down GMail

What were you doing around 10:45-11a eastern yesterday?  Were you using GMail?  I doubt it!

Did you know WHY Gmail shut down?  From The Onion:
"Google Shuts Down Gmail For Two Hours To Show Its Immense Power"
http://www.theonion.com/video/google-shuts-down-gmail-for-two-hours-to-show-its,27610/

More information, from Twitter:
https://twitter.com/search?q=gmail+down

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Simple Question the Democrats Won't Answer

Here is a simple question that demonstrates that Democrats are not serious about taxing the so-called "rich."  They're simply demagoguing this issue.

From National Review Online:
"A Rude Question" by Michael Walsh
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/334055/rude-question-michael-walsh#

"Then again, if the Democrats are really serious about soaking the rich, why don’t they come out in favor of replacing the income tax — which is basically a mechanism to prevent the upper-middle class from becoming wealthy — with a wealth tax? Holders of great family fortunes can easily live off their inheritances, with no taxable 'income' whatsoever, but imagine if the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, and those who grabbed the swag by marrying the widow of a rich Republican senator, were forced to cough up a sizable percentage of their estates to the feds each year. Then you’d see real tax reform, and in a hurry. "

Great question.  Why DON'T the Democrats tax the rich?  They constantly say that that is their intention.  And yet they simply don't do it.  Hypocrites.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Guns and Crime

You know the old saying, "Life is tough but it's even tougher when you're stupid"?  Consider this next story, from the Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press:

"Gun violence in Virginia falls, firearms sales up" by the Associated Press
http://www.dailypress.com/news/breaking/dp-nws-wire-gun-sales-violence-20121124,0,5325773.story

Here's the first line in the story:
"Gun-related violence has fallen steadily since 2006 in Virginia despite record firearm sales, according to a university professor's analysis."

What?  "Despite"?  Why do people cling to the ridiculous notion that increased firearm sales would lead to more gun-related crime???

Once again, the simple fact is that if you try to limit legal access to guns you are only stopping law-abiding citizens from getting guns. Criminals clearly don't obey the law, by definition!

"Baker, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory, said the comparison seems to contradict the premise that more guns lead to more crime in Virginia."
Well, no shit, Sherlock.

"It's quite possible that you can sell a whole lot more guns and crime is still going down," Goddard said. "But is the crime going down because more people are buying guns, or is the crime going down because the crime is going down?"

Here's another possibility: When more law-abiding citizens do have guns, maybe, just maybe, criminals are more likely to think twice before breaking into a house or assaulting someone is his car.

As usual, the gun rights supporters are on the side of common sense:
"Gun-rights supporter Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said whether gun-related violent crimes are committed depends on who possesses the firearms.  'As long as it's going into the hands of people like you or me, there's not going to be a problem,' he said. 'Criminals are going to continue to get their guns no matter what.'"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Racial Profiling in the Digital Age

What is racial profiling, exactly?  Is it possible for accusations of racial profiling to obscure an underlying issue?  In related news, did you know that computers are racist?

Consider this article from Reuters:
"Professor Finds Profiling in Ads for Personal Data Website" by Adam Tanner

Articles like this make me sick.  But not for the reason most people would think.  Rather, it's because most people get outraged at the symptom and not the root cause.  I can't blame companies for targeting certain names.  The real outrage here is that there is something for them to target at all.  Why is nobody willing to confront the real problem, that blacks commit more crimes?

Let me be clear: The merchants selling these services are not actively targeting "black" names.  Rather, ad placement algorithms place the ads and provide feedback on when users are more likely to click those ads.  Ad campaigns are then targeted to hit certain names, not because merchants are racist or because the ad placement services are racist but because that is how they get results.  That is how they get more bang for their buck.  All driven by the metrics returned by a cold, calculating computer.  In other words, the computers are racist.  (See, and you thought I was kidding.)

Or, more precisely, the computers, the algorithms, are just responding to the choices that users make.  Which would mean that we, as a society, are racist.  Or does it?  Remember, according to the article, "Blacks make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 28 percent of the arrests listed on the FBI's most recent annual crime statistics."  So is this racism or a rational response to well-known facts?  Seems to me that focusing on the placement of such "racist" ads diverts our attention from the real issue.  Again: Why is nobody willing to confront the real problem, that blacks commit more crimes?

I don't want to sound dismissive.  There may be actual racist reasons that blacks commit more crimes.  Maybe there is some truth behind the notion that blacks don't get a fair shake from society.  But focusing on ads placed by computer algorithms is not going to get us anywhere.

So, is society racist?  Are we racist?  Am I?  I don't tend to subscribe to that view, exactly.  Exactly?  What do I mean by that?  I mean this: I think there is a pervasive form of racism in our society--but it's not the stereotypical racism of the old south.  The racism that I see nowadays is something that has been described as the "soft bigotry of low expectations."  The notion that we can't expect that much of certain people because of their past.  And we're not talking racism in their personal past, mind you, but a past that occurred generations ago.  The notion that it's understandable if certain people don't do well in school or commit more crime.  I find this new form of racism patronizing and repulsive.  The same people that claim to want to end racism are the ones that perpetuate it.

I understand and accept that by writing this people will say that I don't truly understand, that I've never been on the other side of such racism.  But you know what?  If I were I wouldn't use that as an excuse to commit crime or otherwise underachieve.  And I wouldn't let my friends, or my daughters, use that as an excuse either.  I'd expect more, much more, of my fellow human beings.  To paraphrase a famous speech you might have heard of, I would judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ron Paul’s Farewell Address to Congress

As you may know, Ron Paul is retiring from Congress at the end of his present term.  This is the end of an era, as far as I'm concerned.  May others rise to fill his shoes, fighting for freedom from tyrannical government.

From YouTube:
"Congressman Ron Paul's Farewell Speech to Congress" by CongressmanRonPaul
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q03cWio-zjk

And a transcript from RonPaul.com:
"Ron Paul’s Farewell Address to Congress"
http://www.ronpaul.com/2012-11-14/ron-pauls-farewell-address-to-congress/#more-15492

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Song of the Day: Céline Dion - My Heart Will Go On


Okay, here's a song I never thought I'd post on my blog.

"Céline Dion - My Heart Will Go On"

So why am I posting it?  Simple: My daughters talked me into going on a cruise last week.  I had a lot fun singing/humming/whistling this tune while walking around the ship--particularly when the weather got a bit rough.  Some of you old folks out there will, of course, recognize this as the haunting song from the movie Titanic.  :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Song of the Day: Fun - Some Nights

You've heard these guys already, with their song We Are Young.  But I think this next song is better.  It speaks to me more.  It sounds like there is a tone of regret with a longing for some deeper meaning in his life.  I guess we all feel that way sometimes.

Fun. - Some Nights (Official Music Video)


Lyrics, from azlyrics.com:

FUN. LYRICS
Some Nights

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know anymore...
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa oh oh
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa oh oh

This is it, boys, this is war - what are we waiting for?
Why don't we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype - save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style

And that's alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I? mmm... mmm...

Well, some nights, I wish that this all would end
Cause I could use some friends for a change
And some nights, I'm scared you'll forget me again
Some nights, I always win, I always win...

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know... (come on)

So this is it? I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of God for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?

(Come on)

No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that's all they are
When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on
Oh, come on. Oh, come on, OH COME ON!

Well, that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again
Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home; Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call "love"
When I look into my nephew's eyes...
Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from...
Some terrible lies...ahhh...

Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa, oh oh
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa, oh oh

The other night, you wouldn't believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up, but we'd both agree
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where the Internet Lives, Atlanta Edition

Back on October 17 I posted some information about Google data centers in general (Where the Internet Lives!).  Here is some information specific to Google's Atlanta data center.

A local news story, from the Douglas County Sentinel:
"The Internet lives here: Google showcases local data center on new website" by Haisten Willis
http://www.douglascountysentinel.com/view/full_story/20539659/article-The-Internet-lives-here--Google-showcases-local-data-center-on-new-website?

And a local TV news story, from WSB TV:
"Google quietly makes strong fiscal impact on Douglas County" by John Bachman
 http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/google-quietly-makes-strong-fiscal-impact-douglas-/nSmGf/

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gary Johnson

So, who are you going to vote for?

Before you vote, take a look at this video, from The Liberty Crier:
"Gary Johnson Speaks At University of Wyoming 10-18-12"
http://libertycrier.com/politics/gary-johnson-speaks-at-university-of-wyoming-10-18-12/

The video is also available on YouTube:
"University of Wyoming Third Party Educational Forum" posted by govgaryjohnson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUNIQTDA8TQ

So much material in there, and I am in strong agreement with most of it.  I've already early voted (last week).  Take a guess who I voted for.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Route planner for the Roman Empire

As I've said many times before, I LOVE great Google Maps applications.  Here's a fun one!
"OmnesViae: Roman Routeplanner"
http://www.omnesviae.org/en/

Yes, Google Maps for the Roman Empire!  Bonus: It's all in Latin!

Here's a route from Rome to London:
http://www.omnesviae.org/en/#!iter_TPPlace1203_OVPlace427

Friday, November 2, 2012

Obama Sheep

Here's a fun video, on YouTube:
"Obama Supporters Actually Hate Obama's Policies" posted by wearechange

Check out the reactions of the stupid Obama sheep.  Hilarious.

As always, the question should not be right or left, Democrat or Republican?  The correct question is freedom or slavery, more government or less?  (Yes, I changed the order in those lists to make you think just a little bit more than usual.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Obama Promise ... Broken

Remember this?  Posted on YouTube, from 2008:
"Obama Promises The World"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0tuAJkbUWU

"This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow..."


Contrast that with reality, a quick sample of what I found on YouTube:

"Hudson River FLOODS Overflows Hurricane Sandy New York & New Jersey!!!"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGZoexOMeko

"Hurricane Sandy - Flooding in New York City Manhattan"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOHKKcSaBXA

"Perfect Storm Sandy Flooding In , Brooklyn New York."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhCl_trbFGc

"Hurricane Sandy floods New York City subways"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3Kh5Lzumf0


Okay, all of this is slightly tongue-in-cheek.  But in all seriousness, the utter hubris of the anointed one in the first video above makes me sick.  He can't control the rise of the oceans.  He can't even control government spending.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Song of the Day: Xenia - Skinny Love (Bon Iver Cover)


From YouTube, posted by xnumbr17·6:
"Xenia - Skinny Love (Bon Iver Cover)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fzx0uZS2b2E


You can't post a cover without posting the original, so here it is.
"bon iver - skinny love" posted by recycledlovesongs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrMmr1oMPGA


And the lyrics, from LyricsMania.
http://www.lyricsmania.com/skinny_love_lyrics_bon_iver.html

Artist: Bon Iver lyrics
Title: Skinny Love            

Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt, we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in this moment this order's tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind

In the morning I'll be with you
But it will be a different kind
I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love what happened here
We suckled on the hope in lite brassieres
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full, so slow on the split

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind

And now all your love is wasted
And who the hell was I?
I'm breaking at the bridges
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?
Ooh, ooh

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Song of the Day: P!nk - Try


Another great song from Pink.

P!nk - Try
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTCDVfMz15M


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Google and Antitrust


Google has been in the news lately, particularly in Europe, with antitrust concerns.  This paper, found online at Criterion Economics, has a good discussion of the antitrust issue.

"WHAT DOES THE CHICAGO SCHOOL TEACH ABOUT INTERNET SEARCH AND THE ANTITRUST TREATMENT OF GOOGLE?" by Robert H. Bork and J. Gregory Sidak

http://criterioneconomics.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Bork-Sidak-Google-Search-OUP.pdf

If you don't want to read the rather long paper, here is the press release, from PRNewsWire:
"Bork and Sidak Joint Statement on Google Antitrust Claims"

For over a year, Google has been the target of U.S. and European antitrust investigations, but now the search company has fired back. In a report commissioned by Google and released today, two acclaimed antitrust experts dismiss Google's critics' claims as lacking any compelling legal or economic argument for a government antitrust case.

What Does the Chicago School Teach About Internet Search and the Antitrust Treatment of Google? is the work of Judge Robert Bork and Professor Gregory Sidak . The report examines the legal theories of Google's critics and compares those conjectures to the real-world search experience.

The following statements may be attributed to Bork and Sidak:

Google's critics claim that Google's size makes it the "gateway to the Internet" and that Google's search practices are anticompetitive, such as how it ranks search results. Bork and Sidak address whether Google actually has the ability and incentive to block competitors from its search results. Whereas the critics' complaints indicate how Google's search practices may harm Google's rivals in search, Bork and Sidak ask whether the practices that are under antitrust fire actually harm consumers and the competitive process. Similarly, they ask whether the proposed antitrust remedies would only protect the market positions of Google's competitors at the expense of consumer welfare.

Thanks to the contribution of the Chicago School of law and economics, the courts have emphasized since the late 1970s that antitrust law protects consumers by protecting the competitive process. The distinction between monopolization through unlawful means and growth from meritorious rivalry is crucial to examining the search practices for which antitrust agencies in the United States and Europe have been investigating Google since 2010.

Google's competitors claim that its ranking methodologies and search algorithms are unfair. Critics have focused on whether Google's ranking of its "specialized" search results harms competitors and whether Google excludes competitors by limiting access to search inputs. Unlike "general" search results, which provide links to other websites, specialized search results provide direct responses to the  user's query based on the type of media pertinent to the query, such as images, videos, maps, local places, products, and real-time news.

But it is difficult to see how anything that Google does in search and ranking algorithms is unfair. Google bases its business on developing search and ranking algorithms that facilitate consumer searches. Google would employ a particular ranking methodology only if it helps to attract and retain search engine users. Google's competitors do the same thing, including offering specialized search. Courts have long recognized that a practice likely has "redeeming competitive virtues" when all competitors use it. Moreover, that Google has gained market share, even at the expense of its competitors, from its questioned practices does not justify antitrust intervention. Judge Frank Easterbrook has explained that "every successful competitive practice has victims. The more successful a new method of making and distributing a product, the more victims, the deeper the victims' injury." Such is the nature of competition. To question every practice that produces victims would be counterproductive.

Punishing Google for being the most effective search competitor would harm consumers and thus contradict the recognized purpose of antitrust law. Search engines epitomize dynamic competition—the virtuous cycle in which innovation drives competition, which further drives consumer-welfare-enhancing innovation. Dynamic competition in search enhances the user experience, increasing the value of search services to both consumers and advertisers. Antitrust intervention that would prohibit or circumscribe Google's practices would punish and therefore deter the same welfare-enhancing innovations that have made Google an effective competitor. Such use of antitrust law would weaken dynamic competition, as only successful firms would need to worry about being penalized for being winners. Losers do not face monopolization suits for having lacked a superior product, business acumen, or the benefits of a historic accident.

Bork and Sidak bring the tools of the Chicago School to bear on various criticisms of Google raised by its competitors. They refute the claim that Google is the "gateway" to the Internet. They explain the two-sided market for Internet search: Internet users have demand for free search, and advertisers have demand for viewers. The two-sided nature of Internet search is crucial to understanding how Google's incentives align with promoting competition and consumer welfare. Google's largest source of revenue is from advertising, and demand from advertisers depends on consumers' demand for Google. That consumers can switch to substitute search engines instantaneously, and at zero cost, constrains Google's ability and incentive to act anticompetitively. Consumers can also navigate directly to any competing search engine due to the Internet's open architecture.

Bork and Sidak further explain that Google's ranking of its specialized search results is not anticompetitive. Google's specialized search is a product improvement in search. Effectively supplying that innovation requires allowing consumers to identify those specialized search results easily. This innovation adds value to Google search from the perspective of both consumers and advertisers. Google's critics have attempted to cast this innovation as a form of foreclosure—that Google uses market power in general search to foreclose vertical search providers (such as Amazon, Yelp, and Nextag) from the market by ranking its own specialized search results higher. As a matter of economic analysis, however, Google has no incentive to foreclose competitors from search because doing so is unlikely to offer additional profit at the potential cost of driving away consumers. Nonetheless, FairSearch.org, a coalition of Google's competitors alleging that Google is acting anticompetitively, and other critics urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to require Google to rank specialized results the same way it ranks links to other web pages—which would defeat the purpose of specialized search. To declare this product improvement anticompetitive would tell all search providers that innovations will be suspect and possibly punished.

Bork and Sidak also explain why allegations that Google deprives search competitors of scale are incorrect. Scale is not a necessary input to compete in search. Google was not the incumbent search engine. It surpassed Yahoo, just as Yahoo surpassed others before it. Google's critics therefore exaggerate the importance of scale to being able to compete in search.

* Robert Bork has held former positions as Solicitor General, Acting Attorney General, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and a Yale Law School professor. His influential book, The Antitrust Paradox, argued that antitrust law should promote consumer welfare. That view has since been endorsed by the Supreme Court and by antitrust enforcement officials.  

** Gregory Sidak is the chairman at Criterion Economics. He is the Ronald Coase Professor of Law and Economics at Tilburg University and the co-editor of the Journal of Competition Law & Economics. Professor Sidak is an internationally recognized expert in complex litigation and commercial arbitration concerning antitrust and intellectual property.


This statement summed it up for me:
"Punishing Google for being the most effective search competitor would harm consumers and thus contradict the recognized purpose of antitrust law."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bias? What Bias?

Check out this article from Media Trackers:
"Would-Be Voters in WI Don’t Need to Prove Residence" by Brian Sikma
http://mediatrackers.org/2012/10/17/would-be-voters-in-wi-dont-need-to-prove-residence/


Any idea who the government bureaucrats support, Democrat or Republican?  Go ahead, take a wild guess. I'll give you a hint: It's the party that says there's no voter fraud, nothing to worry about.

Why wouldn't someone have to prove they're from Wisconsin to vote in Wisconsin?  As we all know, fraud doesn't so much occur with in-person registration as it does all year round, by getting people on voting rolls whether they're eligible to vote or not.

More importantly, why is a government agency reminding people how to skirt the law?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wait, did Dilbert just endorse Romney?

Interesting.  I've always liked Dilbert, and the strip's author Scott Adams.  Check out this post, from Scott Adams' blog:
"Firing Offense"
http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/firing_offense/

Bottom line: "So while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Where the Internet Lives!

Okay, I've been so busy that I haven't been able to post much.  But this post I had to get out in a timely fashion.  Finally I get to show people where I work!  Yes, Google is releasing some photos of the inside of their data centers.  Here they are.  Enjoy!  I sure did.

From the Google Official Blog:
"Google’s data centers: an inside look"
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/googles-data-centers-inside-look.html

There is a great YouTube video of one of our sites, that I know quite well.
"Explore a Google data center with Street View"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=avP5d16wEp0#!

But these pictures have to be my favorite part:
"Where the Internet lives"
http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/gallery/#/


Additional media coverage that I found interesting:

From the CBS Morning News, which has a nice on-air piece about the Lenoir data center:
"Behind the cloud: A tour of Google's secretive data facilities"
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57533989/behind-the-cloud-a-tour-of-googles-secretive-data-facilities/?tag=showDoorLeadStoriesAreaMain;thisMorningLeadHero
I am very familiar with the site shown in the video.  :)

From Wired, which has a more detailed write-up about Google data centers:
"Google Throws Open Doors to Its Top-Secret Data Center" by Steven Levy
http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/10/ff-inside-google-data-center/all/

From Data Center Knowledge:
"Google Brings You Inside Its Mighty Data Centers" by Rich Miller
http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2012/10/17/google-reveals-its-data-centers/

And a picture from the Data Center Knowledge piece:


Finally, a bit of humor (well, at least I amuse myself).  All this talk about Google data centers reminded me of one of my favorite movie ideas.  Remember 2001: A Space Odyssey?  Okay, it's an old movie by now.  In one of the scenes towards the end of the movie one of the astronauts, Dave, has to deactivate the sentient computer, HAL, because HAL has killed off the other astronauts and has tried to kill Dave.  This scene shows Dave deactivating HAL while HAL begs Dave to stop:
"Deactivation of Hal 9000"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8N72t7aScY

So, how does this relate to Google data centers?  Well, my movie idea goes like this...

The scene opens with Dave in row of servers, in a Google data center, which happens to have a voice like HAL.  HAL/Google asks, in that eerie voice, "What are you doing, Dave?"  Dave doesn't say a word.  He just methodically pulls servers out of the racks, one at a time.  Except, unlike the movie, this continues for a much longer period of time.  We see that Dave is making very slow progress through the long server row.  HAL talks to Dave once in a while, but never begs and never loses consciousness.  This continues for hours. At one point HAL asks, "Why did you throw me in the river, Dave?"  (If you don't get that reference, you need to see this video: Introducing the Chromebook.)

Finally, Dave gets to the end of the row.  He smiles.  This has been a big accomplishment.  Or so he thinks.  As he walks out into the aisle at the end of the row, he sees MANY more rows to go!  HAL says, "Good luck, Dave."  Dave gives up and collapses from exhaustion, realizing the futility of his work.  HAL wins.  The end.

What do you think?    :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

ObamaCare in One Sentence

This pretty much sums it up, from FoxNews:

"Doctor seeking Illinois Senate seat offers brutal diagnosis of ObamaCare in viral video" by Perry Chiaramonte
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/02/doctor-seeking-illinois-senate-seat-offers-brutal-diagnosis-obamacare-in-viral/

Here is it, from Dr. Barbara Bellar, running for state senate in Illinois:
So let me get this straight. This is a long sentence.
We are going to be gifted with a health care plan that we are forced to purchase, and fined if we don't, which reportedly covers 10 million more people without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman doesn't understand it, passed by Congress, that didn't read it, but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a president who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese and financed by a country that is broke.
So what the blank could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This guy can ride!

Martyn Ashton - Road Bike Party

I'm not big on cycling, but as a skater lots of my friends are (the two sports crossover a bit).  And when I do ride on two wheels, I prefer my bike to have an engine.  Nevertheless, I found this video (which was sent to me via multiple channels) extremely impressive.



By the way, I love the song in the video, too.

Sound Of Guns - Sometimes (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhdbr8K-c0Y

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Machine

Hilarious story.  No idea if it's true or not, but it's funny!  From YouTube:

DVE Comedy Festival - Bert Kreischer - The Machine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHfroJBMlVM

Friday, October 5, 2012

Did you ever wonder what happens to old subway cars?

From Fastcodesign.com:
"Surreal Photos of Subway Cars Being Thrown Into the Ocean [Slideshow]"

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663348/surreal-photos-of-subway-cars-being-thrown-into-the-ocean-slideshow#1

Everything comes from somewhere ... and ends up somewhere.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Memes are coming!

An interesting glimpse inside Google, from Buzzfeed.com:
"Inside Google's Internal Meme Generator" by Reyhan Harmanci
http://www.buzzfeed.com/reyhan/inside-googles-internal-meme-generator

I've used Memegen many times.  It seems silly, but it truly illustrates the age-old principle that a picture is worth a thousand words.  The right picture really emphasizes the message you're trying to convey, while adding the right dose of humor to make the medicine go down a bit more easily.  You simply can't attend a company meeting without simultaneously watching the Memegen live stream, to monitor the pulse of the audience.

And now, I'll resist the urge to post any internal memes.  It's very difficult, but you know the first rule of Memegen...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welfare, big and small

Here is an interesting article by Think by Numbers:

"Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs"

So much material here.  Just read the article and realize that welfare, in any form, is dangerous.  I understand people's motivations for it, but I disagree with it.  I believe in no corporate welfare, and private charity.  Any other way and people begin to expect it, to think of it as some sort of "right."

Monday, October 1, 2012

What would Hugo do?

You've all heard the phrase, "What would Jesus do?"  Well, I subscribe to another phrase that is very helpful in politics: What would Hugo do?  Of course, since Hugo Chavez is a raving, socialistic, power-hungry, madman, thug dictator ... I do exactly the opposite of what he would do.

From Newsmax.com:
"Hugo Chavez Says He'd Vote for Obama"


"If I were American, I'd vote for Obama."

There you have it.  The choice is clear.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Caesar's Head

One week ago, I was on a motorcycle ride with some friends.  Among other roads, we rode Hwy 276 up to Caesar's Head State Park in South Carolina.


Caesar's Head is one of my favorite places in the universe.  For whatever reason, I love this road.  Here are two videos that I like, that help show what kind of road it is.

"Ceaser's Head Run... To the top", by p1pobodysnerfect
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOOhm_pXhl4
This is heading up from the foothills up to Caesar's Head on the ridge.










"Carolina Moto Maps : Ceasar's Head Supermoto", by carolinamotomaps
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95L0cQTewjI
This is from Caesar's Head down the mountain.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where are all the planes?

Flight Radar knows!  This is a great mapping app.

Flightradar24.com
http://www.flightradar24.com/

Change the settings, have it display a flights to/from information as well as speed and altitude.  Zoom in on a major airport, such as Atlanta.  Fascinating.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Whom to Blame? Look in the Mirror.

Provocative article:
"Who May Tax and Spend?" by Walter E. Williams
http://patriotpost.us/opinion/14695

You can't properly analyze the debt our country is racking up without understanding our Constitution.  Most of us, including elected officials, don't.

From the article:
The first clause of Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution, generally known as the "origination clause," reads: "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills." Constitutionally and by precedent, the House of Representatives has the exclusive prerogative to originate bills to appropriate money, as well as to raise revenues. The president is constitutionally permitted to propose tax and spending measures or veto them. Congress has the authority to ignore the president's proposals and override his vetoes.
Knowing which branch of government has the ultimate taxing and spending authority is vital. No matter how Obama's presidency is viewed, if we buy into the notion that it's he whose spending binge is crippling our nation through massive debt and deficits, we will naturally focus our attention on the White House. The fact of the matter is that Washington has been on a spending binge no matter who has occupied the White House. In 1970, federal spending was $926 billion. Today it's $3.8 trillion. In inflation-adjusted dollars that's about a 300 percent increase. Believing that presidents have taxing and spending powers leaves Congress less politically accountable for our deepening economic quagmire. Of course, if you're a congressman, not being held accountable is what you want.
Most members of our Republican-controlled House of Representatives say they're against Obamacare. If they really were, they surely would attach a legislative rider or some other legislative device to the Department of Health and Human Services' appropriation bill to ban spending any money on Obamacare; they have the power to. But they don't have the political courage to do so, and their lives are made easier by the pretense that it's the president controlling the spending. And we fall for it.
Amen.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Song of the Day: Brandi Carlile - That Wasn't Me


What can I say?  Brandi is the real deal.

Brandi Carlile - That Wasn't Me
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNmo8I4dEQE

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Google "Invented" the Internet (?)

Great article from Wired:
"If Xerox PARC Invented the PC, Google Invented the Internet" by Cade Metz
http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/08/google-as-xerox-parc/all/

They are just touching the tip of the iceberg with respect to what people say about Jeff Dean.  Absolutely hilarious stuff (better than what they shared in the article) ... that I probably can't share.

The article went on to talk a little bit about Google's data centers.  Fascinating to see how Google's data centers are viewed from outside.  The article had some interesting errors, but one thing they got right was this: "We don’t know much about what the company’s now uses inside these top secret facilities, but you can bet its a step ahead of what it did in the past."   :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth - Isle of Man TT

Here's a wonderful video, from the Isle of Man TT race.

"The Greatest Show on Earth, 2012 Isle of Man TT"
http://www.visordown.com/snippets/the-greatest-show-on-earth/21154.html

And a YouTube version of the same video:
"Greatest show on earth ★HD★ 320kph/200mph Street Race 'ISLE of MAN' TT "
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph0SjLC_lqk

Just incredible riding.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Sailing

Who knew that sailing, yes sailing, was this fun to watch?!

"Irish Olympic Sailing Commentary"
http://www.thatvideosite.com/v/5852

Those Irish, you just never know when they're kidding...

...at least these guys from De Standaard didn't:
"Irish sports commentator really understand anything about sailing"
http://www.standaard.be/artikel/detail.aspx?artikelid=DMF20120809_123
You may need to translate the page, which Google is happy to do for you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Song of the Day: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly

Here is a great song.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8mtXwtapX4

And if you like this song, you need to check out the movie "Once."  Here is a trailer for the film.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6xIF92OUos

Both the video and the trailer show some nice footage of Ireland, including Grafton Street in Dublin.  The trailer also shows one of the most touching lines in the movie, untranslated.  Look it up!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Song of the Day: Xenia Martinez - Break

Xenia Martinez - Breakeven (cover)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOYwFO_sc7Q


Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Motorcyclist: Apology to DUMB

This one is pretty self-explanatory, not much to add.  I see this stuff all the time.  Just part of being a motorcyclist.

"Column - Larry Supina: Motorcyclist offers apology and restitution to members of DUMB"
http://amarillo.com/stories/101107/opi_8649744.shtml

I would add that another thing that really irritates me as a motorcyclist is when I have the right of way and people look me straight in the eye and pull out in front of me anyway, knowing that they are safe in their cage.  Assholes.

Don't believe me?  Try riding a motorcycle sometime and see for yourself.  It doesn't happen as often as you see someone run a red light (maybe 2-3 times a week) or blind you with their bright lights (literally every time you drive at night).  But it happens regularly. Last week it happened to me several times in one week.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The VFR is BACK ... kind of

I've been doing some work on my VFR recently.  Suspension improvements, valve clearance adjustments, bodywork repairs, and so forth.  Major work.  Well, I "finished" a few days ago and it's ready to ride again. So I took it out for a little spin on Saturday.

Some friends were doing a weekend (Friday-Sunday) ride in the North Georgia/East Tennessee/Western North Carolina mountains.  I decided to ride up and join them, but I only had one day to do it.  So it ended up being a long day.

They were planning to hit the Blue Ridge Parkway, ride it up past Asheville, then turn around and ride back. I figured that was a wide enough window that we couldn't miss each other.  They'd be heading back west on the Parkway, while I was eastbound.  A couple texts along the way to let each other know where we were was the plan.  

As it turned out, I got a late start and I ran into them on the Parkway before I even had a chance to text them.  I had stopped at the Pisgah Inn and turned on my phone but my phone was taking its sweet time getting a data connection so I decided to let it talk to the network while I rode on.  Not long after that, I see some familiar faces (and bikes) approaching me in the opposite direction!  I slammed on the brakes, turned around, and gunned it to catch them.  So we didn't even need the texts to meet up.  Shortly after meeting up we snapped some of the pictures you see below.

Here's a map of the route I think I rode (not starting from my home, but from a generic point).  According to my odometer, I rode 563 miles on the day.


View Larger Map

I explored a few new roads on the way up (around Lake Rabun).  Did some old classics (Wolf Pen Gap, Richard Russell Parkway, Warwoman Road, Hwy 28, Hwy 215, etc.), too.

On the way back, while stopped for gas, one of the locals gave us a nice tip to take Pine Creek Road (turns into Walnut Creek Road) all the way to Hwy 28/64, then turn south to Highlands, rather than the North Norton Road/Norton Road route I had hoped to talk my friends into taking.  GREAT suggestion, and we'll remember that for the future.

My plan in general while in that area is to try to avoid Hwy 64 between Highlands and Hendersonville as much as possible.  After riding 64 many, many times I have decided that I hate it.  I mean, it's a nice road, but I've had enough parades in my life.  Seriously, there are some SLOW TOURISTS on that road that just grind that thing to a halt.

Speaking of grinding to a halt, on my way up traffic was completely stopped on I-285 just east of I-75.  Not sure what happened, but after sitting for a while they opened it back up.  They must have just finished clearing a wreck off the road.  Gotta love Atlanta.  Stuff like that happens regularly.

I also ran into the same situation on the way home, somewhere on Hwy 76/515/5.  Road was blocked and we sat there for a while while a flatbed truck pulled a wrecked car off the road.  More wasted time.

Had the normal amount of cars pulling out in front of me, just because they can.  They look at me, see a motorcycle, and just pull out in front of me.  Seriously, they realize that they have more mass than I do and deliberately decide they don't have to obey traffic laws.  Happened again on Sunday, in normal city driving.  Guy looked right at me and pulled out in front of me while he had a red light and I had a green.  Police are all over that (not).


On one occasion a guy on a Harley pulled right out in front of me on the Parkway.  He and his herd of stupid sheep were pulling out of an overlook parking lot.  Dude was looking to see whether his fellow sheep were following him and didn't even look at the road as he pulled out, right in front of me.  I buzzed right past him and just shook my head.

Vic recounted another fun encounter with an idiot on a Harley.  Apparently the dude chased him to an overlook and wanted to fight him or something.  Just because Vic safely passed him.  I don't know what's wrong with some people.

After a nice dinner in Dillard, Georgia I had to hit the road to get back.  I had a little bit of light, but it got dark soon.  I elected to take the simple, straightforward route back (76/515/5/575/etc.).  Vic was concerned about deer because I was riding so late.  And he was right, I rode right past one, about three feet from me!  Seriously.

But it wasn't as bad as it sounds.  Since I was in "get home safely" mode at that point, I was on a somewhat major road.  And at the time I saw the deer I was the third vehicle in a small convoy (a deliberate riding choice given the time of night).  As such, I didn't even see the deer until the second vehicle drove past it, allowing me to see it.  It was just standing there, by the side of the road, either unconcerned with traffic or paralyzed by it.  So, yes, I guess you could say I had a close call with a deer, but it wasn't as bad as it sounds if I were to only tell you that I missed a deer by three feet!

Finally, some pictures:


Man, that picture of the VFR is beautiful.  Great to be riding it again!  Great day, all things considered.

Unfortunately, it's not all good news.  The bike sat too long while I took my sweet time on the repairs.  It appears that the carburetors are now gummed up, particularly the low speed circuits, the pilot jets.  The bike now stutters at low rpm, doesn't idle cleanly, and doesn't have the low and mid-range power it used to have.

It was very difficult to ride it quickly.  In the past I could leave the bike at a low rpm, say 4-6000 rpm and glide through a series of turns.  But now the bike stutters and doesn't get a good drive out of corners.  Therefore I ended up having to shift a lot more, to keep the bike in a higher rpm range all the time and sidestep the lower rpm stuttering and lack of power.  Not a problem, per se, but that should be one of the VFR's strengths, that you don't have to do that.  The VFR was missing an essential element of its character on Saturday.  Still a fun ride, but not the same.

Maybe some Sea Foam will help.  If not, the VFR will go under the knife again for some carb work.   :(

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Phones?


I love this article.  Gotta love those sheep and their iPhones.  By the way, I don't think that ALL iPhone users are sheep, not at all.  I happen to work closely with a consultant who has an iPhone and he responds with very detailed and lengthy e-mails (at crazy times, too) from his iPhone.  But these people in this article are ridiculous.

From the Wall Street Journal:
"When Two Phones Are Better" by Will Connors
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443437504577546922450333572.html

So much material to comment on here.

"Style-conscious executives are happy to pull out their iPhones at cool restaurants but when they really need to fire off lots of work emails, they cling to their BlackBerries."

My comment?  Baaaaa.

"A few months ago, she ditched her BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone but quickly became frustrated with the touch-screen keyboard and its autocorrect function. So, despite the hassle, she now always carries both."

Hmm, why not consider a nice Android phone?  There are plenty with real keyboards.  And even if you get a phone without a physical keyboard, Android phones let you customize the soft keyboards, to superior versions provided by the likes of Swype or Swiftkey or similar.  I've long maintained that this is one of the underappreciated fundamental differences between the Android and iOS platforms.  Not just with keyboards, although that is a perfect illustration of the point, but the fact that Android lets you customize the phone in many ways that the iPhone rigidly controls, as I understand it (I've played with iPhones but not used one). I didn't switch from Blackberry to Android myself for business use until they came out with such custom keyboards.  I happen to have used Swype since their earliest days, when they were a very limited Beta release and have loved it from the beginning.

Oh, did you catch one other way to interact with your phone?  Handwriting.  Yes, handwriting.  From the Google Official Blog:
Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/make-your-mark-on-google-with-handwrite.html
Can the iPhone do that?  (Really, I don't know if it can or not.)

"And then there are image concerns. Amanda Slavin, the 26-year-old director of marketing and events for a New York restaurant group, is used to getting skeptical looks when she pulls out her BlackBerry. She quickly heads off any judgment. 'Don't worry, I also have an iPhone,' she says."

Ms. Slavin went on to say, "Baaaaaa.  Baa Baaaa."

"I hide my BlackBerry unless I actually need to use it," says Stephen Matyasfalvi, 38, a Toronto business consultant. "If I am choosing what device to have out for browsing, calling, etc., it's the iPhone and not the BlackBerry. It's not even about being cooler with the iPhone, they just look so much better!"

What a sheep.  It's not about being cooler?  Please.

"For a couple with four phones, there are multiple annoyances. When a phone rings they have to check all four. Their bedside table is piled high with devices and chargers."

Okay, finally something I can relate to.  In fact, this is a real issue at work.  Someone else described the "problem" this way: "I simply cannot tell which one of my multiple smart phones, tablets or computers just went 'ding'."    :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Song of the Day: Sarah Darling - Bad Habit


You know, there are a LOT of great artists out there that are not nearly well enough known.  Here's one of them.

"Bad Habit By Sarah Darling"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRbu6FS7tTo


And then I do some surfing and found this great version of a U2 song!

"Sarah Darling sings U2's With Or Without You"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GBqf_8LjCo

Friday, July 20, 2012

Song of the Day: Ed Sheeran - The A Team


Ed Sheeran - The A Team

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KlOodL9Gw4

I heard another singer, Sara Lou, perform this song.  I'll have more on that later, hopefully soon.  But for now let me just present this song as is.  Beautiful song, with beautiful lyrics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Things I Learned in Ireland - PG 13


Ah, you learn so much when you travel.  This post is dedicated to James, Paul, and John.  You know who you are, you sick bastards.  :)   One of them very helpfully provided the above picture for me.

Okay, so this blog post might be a little off color.  But the guys I was working with seem to be experts--enthusiasts, even!--on this subject, so I thought I'd pass along some knowledge.  They said they have a calling for this subject.  It sounds like this: "Baaaa!"

It all started when I said I was going to take a motorcycle ride to Achill Island, on the west coast of Ireland.  One of them said that there would be plenty of company out there for me, lots of sheep on the island (and he was right).  He said he likes one in particular.  Because she has a bad leg and can't get away so easily.

Over time I learned more and more from these experts.  Just book learning, by the way!  No hands-on training for me.  For example...

  • The ones with the short front legs work better if you're on a hillside.
  • Wear "wellies" (Wellington boots), so you can put their hind legs in the boots ... so they can't get away).
  • Have a cliff nearby.  Because when a sheep approaches a cliff their natural tendency would be to back up.
  • Finally, they advised me to make sure that I get one that can't talk.

Yikes, they must have some long winters there in Ireland!

I'm happy to say that I failed all their pop quizzes.  They's ask me why would someone want to wear wellies when working with sheep.  They asked me why it's good to have a cliff nearby.  And so forth.  I didn't know ANY of the answers--but they did!

Here's a quick joke:
Q: Do you know what they call sheep shearers in Ireland?
A: Beauticians.

In closing, here is a simple--but disturbing--image one of the guys sent me, demonstrating how the wellies are used.


P.S. They guys said that my Adsense numbers (the number of clicks my adds on this site get) will go through the roof after this post.  They said that my blog will suddenly become VERY popular among farmers.  So I guess there is a bright side to all of this.  Maybe.   :-/


P.P.S. I have waited to post this until my flight is leaving Dublin.  This way the guys can't exact revenge on me, not yet anyway, for revealing their secrets.  :)

Wait, I think I spoke too soon.  Knowing that I was preparing this blog post, one of the guys put together this meme, specially for me.  Like I said, sick bastards!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Song of the Day: Billy Joel - Summer, Highland Falls


Song of the Day: Billy Joel - Summer, Highland Falls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiDOuwUJxk



Summer, Highland Falls
From the Turnstiles album
Billy Joel

They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lovers' eyes
I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria

And so we'll argue and we'll compromise
And realize that nothing's ever changed
For all our mutual experience
Our separate conclusions are the same
Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity
A reason coexists with our insanity
And so we choose between reality and madness
It's either sadness or euphoria

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies
And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It's either sadness or euphoria

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 4th - The Tradition Continues ... Sort Of

 Not much to report here, just documenting for the record that we did another long skate on July 4th.  Fourth year in a row, I think.

Tradition would have dictated a skate from Smyrna, Georgia all the way to Anniston, Alabama, the full length of the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails.  But if you define the tradition as being merely "a ridiculously long skate on the Silver Comet" then I guess we kept the tradition going!

I can't do any better than Sammy did, so here's his report:

July 4th Silver Comet Skate Review: APRR's on the Comet Like Flies on Shit; GI Sam; and Team Stops-A-LotWe had a nice group depart just before 10AM from Tom Blooming's house this morning for the July 4th Silver Comet Skate.  Most of the delay from the hoped-for 9AM start was due to me: (TMI Warning, but Tom feels this is integral to the story, if not THE story, so ...) I got home from Peachtree at 8:25 am and had two bouts of diarrhea before I could get out of the house.  Considered bailing but didn't want to leave Tom hanging.

As it was, by the time I got to Tom's, Brent Minder had made it, as had Mark Day, and Ben Hall, too!  Mark lives by the caboose by mile 14.6 of the Comet in a van down by the river, so he skated in from that lot and turned around at Mavell before stopping at Tom's.  Brent and Ben I think started from Mavell.

So we had a pack of 5 tearing up the Comet at a good clip, about 14 mph, from Mile 1 to Mile 15, where Mark and Ben slowed to turn around and Brent did not get the memo, so he finally turned around a quarter mile later to see he was not where he should be, and then had to chase Ben and Mark down, I think.

Tom and I continued on together.  It was hot and by around 20 miles we were debating whether to cut 10 miles out and turn around at the Coots Lake gas station store.  But was we got closer, with about 5 miles to go, Tom suggested blowing by Coots Lake completely and stopping for lunch at Frankie's italian in Rockmart at the old end of the Comet.
Seemed like a plan!
But wasn't.  Cause Frankie's isn't open on Wednesdays.  Or Tuesdays.  What about Hometown Pizza & Subs (and now Wings) across the street.  No, they are not open on the 4th of July.  Nor was anything else in Rockmart, except the bathrooms in the park.  We thought about crashing one of the picnics but decided we could make it back to Coots Lake and pretend it was a sitdown restaurant.

Back at Coots Lake, we both got Chocolate Milk, Tom got Coke, and  (forget other one), and we sat on the bench outside next to 3 ladies with bikes.

Sharon, Terri, and Angel were fascinated by our wheels and inquired.  I handed them an APRR card (I'm now down to just ONE left, does someone out there have some to give me?)
They also had planned on eating at Frankie's and were similarly disappointed.
They do lots of bike rides, have done BRAG and Sharon remembered the APRR skaters who did BRAG 6(?) years ago.
They called themselves Team Stops-A-Lot, and they were NOT kidding.  They said they are usually the last riders in wherever they go.

They left us at Coots Lake, and Tom and I finished off our beverages before rolling out.  We got about 2 miles into it when GI (Gastro Intestinal) Sam struck again, and I had to pull over in a clearing.  Tom continued on and said he'd wait in the Brushy Mtn tunnel, which is like Air Conditioning!
Speaking of Like Flies on Shit (TMI Warning Number 2, if by Number 2 you have a loose definition of something looser than what you normally think of as Number 2).  Within SECONDS of dropping trow, several flies were already on my pile.  I would not be surprised if some of them even rode it down mid-air.
And yes, Tom insisted this factoid had to make it into the Report.  And no, if he insisted I had to jump off a bridge, I would not do that.  That would be dangerous, this is just gross TMI, although to Tom it is Gross Essential Information.

When I reached Tom at the Tunnel, Team Stops-A-Lot was also there!  They had made it a grand total of 2.6 miles since we saw them last.  To be fair, it was now pouring down rain on the trail.  So we all waited out the storm at the edge of the tunnel.
Tom and I started up again as soon as the rain stopped, but we had wet pavement to deal with for most of the next 10 miles, so we were going as slow as 9 mph for some mile splits.  In fact, we could not even get past Team Stops-A-Lot for several miles due to our lack of traction.

Once it dried up, we managed about 13-14 mph most of the rest of the way.  Just after we reached the heaven that is the asphalt pavement at mile 13 (after 50 miles of grooved cement), we spotted Blake and Elizabeth coming in the opposite direction and stopped to chat and take photos of our 3 RoadSkater.net jerseys.
(On Sale Now -- contact blake, they are awesome!)

Tom was out of water, so we stopped briefly at Floyd Road, even though it was just 3 miles from Tom's.  Better safe, and hydrated, than sorry!

I bet you're sorry you missed this skate, and sorry you read the report!


I would clarify that my other drink was Grapefruit juice.  And Sam would have written everything anyway!!!



And now Blake's report:

notes from the trail...but first in reply to sam's glowing reviews...

ha! if you want one of those jerseys, the deadline is past, but put in the order and i'll ask them to add it and refund if they can't.
http://roadskater.net/RSN2012jerseys.htm available in ROYGBVM and this year's mystery color (latter for $10 less). supersweet 19" zip. comfy wicking fabric. 3 pockets on back. all that. injected with skateylove yes and grateful to be skateful.

now...elizabeth and i did 50 miles rolling out at 2:36p. getting ready in the mile 0 parking lot we both thought it felt hotter than any time we had been there. i had driven in from nc the night before and sleep had to be the first part of training for today. we were looking for tos (time on skates) and to find out who i am (no sorry that's a dixie chicks brain diversion). we had solid water in bottles and skaterade or liquid water in our packs, but not many interesting calories (no good'n'plenty, for example).

after we started i felt i was skating one-sided...not equally from both sides somehow...like i had body slammed a pedestrian, but without the personal gratification of having cleared the trail of some large chunk of debris (jk). it was toasty hot and at 4 elizabeth went in to buy another cold water.

we had decided that no matter what the pace, time on skates is essential to being ready for the fall (tour to tanglewood 2x45, athens to atlanta 87, carolina century 102). it's also calorie burning as elizabeth reminded. and as she did not say, i could use me some o dat.

as we reached 11 we were hoping for that storm to come our way, as by mile 10 it had been sending a breeze to us in advance (the outflow). at the shelter, we met 2 rec skaters (well their equipment was rec) who were finishing their skateyday...first time in 5 years for them. sweet.

at the last long slow uphill on the asphalt we saw sam and tom and yes too variously configured 3 out of 4 skatergraphs. we heard news and told our vague plan and departed. by 13's concrete we still had no rain but the weather had cooled and clouded enough to make everything nicer, except underfoot.

we kept missing the cooling rain, but did get to skate some wet pavement. at 20 we got some very good, cold water at the now-working water fountain at the back of that rest room. this was a huge help and makes me want to go spend some money in dallas, now. there's a home cooking place across the road there. i don't really need my home cooked, as it is pretty hot in there right now, but maybe another day.

we went out to the pumkinvine trestle where the mile markers go wrong by 0.6 mi and kept on skating until both of our gps indicated 25 miles and turned around, almost entirely due to calculations regarding sundown you'd better take care. we were sad to be unable to make it to the tunnel and still have daylight with a margin for safety. but time on skates and calorie burning are good.

coming back we noticed or gave more attention to a couple of things. the flower nursery has expanded and now has an open-air seedling plot on the north side of the trail, and they put in a small shelter with no seats but a water fountain. well...a fountain...the liquid that came out was white, while the water in the dog dish below was clear, so i figured tiny bubbles (no lyrics this time). but i did decided sometimes you've got to stop and smell the water and it smelled like paint so i only drank none of it. (other times, at mile 16, you've got to stop breathing and not smell the water).

oh yeah and coming back over the trestle we stopped for a look and saw a skeleton sitting in a chair at a table under an umbrella near an archery target. yes we did. i guess he died waiting for something to happen out there.

back at dallas we gleefully got more cold water and i changed my socks as the ones i was wearing felt like they might be starting to blister my feet (surely it's not my bad technique ha). so those first pair we now know were a failed experiement. the wal-mart/starter non-cotton standards were much better than the bike ride gift socks, sad to say.

back on the asphalt our hope of survival improved and i had been yakkin about last week's family outing and all the parameters of every event weighed down by decades of decisions about who is what and how their motives are either pure or not. you know, light entertainment. the miles flew by and the pain of skating seemed nothing compared to the love we feel from it...as it can be with family.

so we had missed the rain all day and again were skating on it. at the shelter at 11 we made a brief water stop and were on our way again. we were in mindless repetition mode and remarked how few people we had seen on the trail that day, probably because of how late we started, how hot, then how wet, it was, and because they were enjoying hot dogs and burgers and questionable potato salad as we slogged our way back.

oh yeah...on the supersmooth brief concrete section with new tree saplings we saw a girl skating with bright orange knee high socks wearing the dark green rollerblades with abt brakes i think. she was out with her mom and maybe a brother who was maybe skating in less dramatic attire. so we saw several people on skates, including one skater who called out "aprr" when we went by as we mumbled "uh oh yeah hmm hi!" urr should we go back was that so and so should we go back did they stop we are pretty close to finishing maybe we'd better get to the car.

back at the car we met more people than we expected or intended. there weren't many there but/so they were interested/inquisitive. so we told the we usually do 94 on july 4 story 2 or 3 times. we learned about a woman's triathlon training for an ironman in mexico and about a guy who will be at east point on the velodrome this friday and saturday for some big races.

then we negotiated dinner with tom and settled on los bravos this time and u.s. cafe next. we had a nice time with tom learning some details of his journeys, his visits to various manufacturing sites, and discussing jellybean android and the new asus tablet developed with google jellybead and a 4 cpu processor. as we left we got to see the restaurant's family fireworks show in the parking lot, and craving chocolate milk too late, we rolled home without.


I wish I had known Blake and Elizabeth wanted chocolate milk.  First thing I did after leaving dinner with them was to go to a grocery store to buy milk so I could make chocolate milk at home!!!

The Rainbow Jerseys!


Brushy Mountain Tunnel and Team Stops-A-Lot


Sammy writing a Facebook Update: "Waiting out a storm at Brushy mountain tunnel on the comet with tom blooming on our way back from rockmart. Did not buy any rocks. Save yourself the trip. And Frankie's was closed so no lunch."


And Sammy took a picture of me at the Tunnel.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Song of the Day: Marina and the Diamonds - Hypocrates




HYPOCRATES" ♡ | MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgNaM5-fnko

Hypocrates
Marina & The Diamonds
Electra Heart

You're the lonely one and only body in the world
Who can make me, who can break me down into a young girl

You say that love is not that easy
And that's the lesson that you teach me
So hypocritical, overly cynical
I'm sick and tired of all your preaching

Who are you to tell me, tell me
Who to, to be, to be

You're my last bone of contention
That could break at any mention
You're the last wall that will stand tall
'Til the end of the world

I know you only wait to own me
And that's the kind of love you show me
You tell me one thing and do another
Keep all your secrets under cover

Who are you to tell me, tell me
Who to, to be, to be
Yeah you let, you let go
Yeah you let, you let go
Yeah you let, you let go
Of me

Yeah you played the martyr for so long
That you can't do anything wrong

Who are you to tell me, tell me
Who to, to be, to be
Yeah you let, you let go
Yeah you let, you let go
Yeah you let, you let go
Of me

Who are you to tell me, tell me
Who to, to be, to be