Tailwinds: what goes around, …

Don’t you love wind at your back? Really, literally or figuratively, it is a nice feeling to have the wind at your back. Tailwinds let you move either faster or with greater ease. Yesterday’s ride planning was to have a ride with some distance and not necessarily speed. Just getting in the distance without a maximal effort was the idea as a part of my training for the BP MS-150 in mid-April. It was known that there would be some wind. No big deal for a West Texas kid — I’m just proud when there is no dust in the air!

Bynum was out of town and the other usual suspects had plans so I laid out a 60’ish mile route and an 80’ish mile route. You know, just in case I got to the decision point and (a) felt good and (b) the winds were less than hurricane strength. I have to admit that the wind prospect was a bit concerning. Continue reading “Tailwinds: what goes around, …”

Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That? – WSJ.com

Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944), the last Emir ...
Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944), the last Emir of Bukhara. Image via Wikipedia

All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?

via Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That? – WSJ.com.

After you answer that question — and good luck with that one — tell me/us why the attire you see on both sexes of all ages no longer, in far too many instances, is appropriate to the place or occasion? Let’s take an example near and dear to my heart. (after you ponder the following, go back and read the entire article — interesting)

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away (isn’t that how all good stories are supposed to begin?) there was a judge conducting jury selection in a case somewhere in Texas. Moments after one of the prospects asked to approach the bench, the unsuspecting judge was rocked back on his heels. Well, back in his over-stuffed chair anyway.

There “it” was. Marching down the aisle between the two sections of seating, coming to share dark secrets with hiz honor, was this nattily attired person.  Nattily attired if attending a beach blanket bingo party, that is.

Resplendent in his tank-top, shorts and 88 cent shower shoes (not even the courtesy of Birckenstocks), he sauntered right down for some conversation. The conversation was short. Once the startled judge got his heart restarted, his tongue out of the back of his throat and his gizzard to pumping again, he simply said “your attire, sir, is inappropriate for court and you may be excused and will appear on another day.”

The real trouble began later when I published (yes, I was that judge) my now-infamous Court Dress Code. Clean and pressed jeans were allowed — after all, we’re (thankfully) in the “sticks.” A jacket was preferred for men, but not required. I think it was the requirement that men wear a tie that garnered the most attention. Yes, I know it was. Without any doubt.

I say “trouble” only if one considers it to be a problem to be accosted at the Horseshoe Bay “500 of your closest friends” parties by every single male who either had gotten a jury summons or feared the very prospect now that the draconian dress code was in the wind. “I’m not wearing a damn tie to your court or any other” was the frequent greeting, to which I silently pondered “how will this play in (federal) Judge Sam Sparks court?”

Not to worry. I had the solution. I just knew that a rent-a-tie business could nicely add to my eventual retirement. Not really, of course, but I did garner a nice collection contributed by guys who obviously had not cleaned out their closets since pre-1980’s. Everyone’s favorite was the “fish tie.” If you turned the tie horizontally the tip was a fish-head and for a tie-tack … you guessed it, a huge faux gold-plated fish hook.

That dress code came and went. Another took its place and has remained for many years with moderate success punctuated occasionally by some hapless soul who gets his ticket punched to return another day.

But here I have digressed. The question was, and is:  why do so many people seem clueless about attire appropriate to the occasion and place?  The court is but one place, but one would think that almost anyone knows that the courthouse, with the potential to get on a jury looming high on their horizon, requires a certain degree of decorum and solemnity. It has been suggested that dressing down is a ploy to avoid being picked. Maybe, but I don’t think so.

So answer me. Why?

New look at addiction, and proof of my own sanity

In a recent post I discussed the addiction of exercise, pedaling in particular.

A Race Across America cyclist

Due to the wonders (which sometimes is the curse) of Facebook I discovered a trailer to a movie — one that I will have to own — which talks about a truly awesome “event.” The Race Across America is an epic, 3000-mile bicycle race from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The RAAM is portrayed in the film Bicycle Dreams. The trailer alone, which follows, will blow you back into your seat. Continue reading “New look at addiction, and proof of my own sanity”

Ruminations on an addiction

Many 18th c. treatments for psychological dist...
Image via Wikipedia

ad·dic·tion –noun

the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.  (Dictionary.com Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.)

Let’s see how that applies to a certain activity: cycling. Continue reading “Ruminations on an addiction”

Credible FACTS about Japanese nuclear plants

Forget the hysteria in the media about a “core meltdown.” Too many people have seen The China Syndrome. Thanks to a shared link posted to Facebook by Jim Wreyford I discovered a web site with what appears to contain knowledgeable, well-reasoned information about the nuclear power process in general, and about Fukushima in particular. An article was originally written by  Dr. Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT (but apparently not a nuclear scientist). His original piece began this way:

I repeat, there was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity from the damaged Japanese reactors.

By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error.

via You Can Stop Worrying About A Radiation Disaster In Japan — Here’s Why.

His article achieved quite a bit of notoriety and has now been modified and migrated to a site at MIT where his article now begins this explanation:

We will have to cover some fundamentals, before we get into what is going on.

Construction of the Fukushima nuclear power plants

The plants at Fukushima are Boiling Water Reactors (BWR for short). A BWR produces electricity by boiling water, and spinning a a turbine with that steam. The nuclear fuel heats water, the water boils and creates steam, the steam then drives turbines that create the electricity, and the steam is then cooled and condensed back to water, and the water returns to be heated by the nuclear fuel. The reactor operates at about 285 °C.

via Modified version of original post written by Josef Oehmen | MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub (http://web.mit.edu/nse/).

His article has a tremendous amount of detail about the redundant safety systems built into nuclear reactor construction. But more importantly, for in-depth explanations of the reactors and the events — being posted frequently with engineering details and analysis, there is now a blog at MIT described thusly:

Information about the incident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants in Japan hosted by http://web.mit.edu/nse/ :: Maintained by the students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. Click here to go to that site. Caution: very technical.

I have to put a lot of faith in the MIT explanation. Read and learn.

Can you comprehend the size of U.S. debt?

Let’s compare it to something we can visualize. First, what is the debt figure?

Click on the thumbnail and get a good look at what $14 trillion looks like written out.  A “14” with TWELVE places after that! And 15 cents. Check the clock for updates.

OK, $14 trillion. Now let’s think of something really, really huge and complicated that we might want to spend some money on. The object is to try to think of a monstrously expensive project. Continue reading “Can you comprehend the size of U.S. debt?”

Being safe outdoors

Good idea, not always possible. For active people on two wheels or four, on snow or water, hiking, hunting or whatever — something or somebody can whack you. I have been lucky in around a quarter-million miles on a motorcycle and now closing in on 1000 miles on a bicycle (plus skiing, hiking, kayaking) — often alone — to not have been hurt along the way.

My friend John Chalmers was wearing a RoadID  the other day when we rode together — an item about which I had thought before — and that spurred me to get one. Not expensive and it makes medical and contact info immediately available to first responders. I plan to wear mine 24/7 as soon as it comes in the mail. If you are active, think about it. Click the logo for more info.

(67 x 3) + 74 = 83

If you don’t follow that math, it’s understandable. But if you take a geezer-squad of three guys 67 years young (two of them precisely that age) and one of 74 years, and put them on bicycles out to prove nothing, you get:  an 83 mile ride in the beautiful hill country of Texas.  Actually, Don Bynum (the effervescent organizer of epic rides and teller of tall tales) thinks he is in my Will and is trying to kill me, or, he is my training coach for the upcoming MS-150 ride (Houston to Austin) in mid-April. By the way, for anyone who might be reading this and is not familiar with the hill country here, check out the National Geographic “Road Trip”  Hill Country, Texas.” Continue reading “(67 x 3) + 74 = 83”