Thursday, July 28, 2005

People Don't Want War

The following letter appeared this evening in our local paper. I thought about sending in a reply, but the Letters to the Editor section of the Daily Independant rapidly disintegrates into a bunch of people incoherently trying to change each other's minds about topics where people very rarely listen to opposing views and even rarer still change their minds. But I just couldn't let this letter go by without makeing some comment. Even if my comments are here where no one else will ever read them.

People don't want war; it's the politicians that do

Thursday, July 28, 2005 1:11 PM PDT


Why, of course, the people don't want war.

Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?

Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor England nor in America nor, for that matter, Germany. That is understood.

But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a Democracy or a Fascist Dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist Dictatorship.

As quoted by Hermann Goering in the Nuremberg Diary (1947), written by G. M. Gilbert, "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

I wanted to share this tidbit of historical perspective with Ridgecrest. I found it to be very apropos for these times.


I like and agree with this man's basic premise that 'people don't want war'. He is of course correct. No rational, peaceful people desire war. But R.G. Niles doesn't carry this thought to the next step. I grant him that people don't want war. But sometimes a rational peaceful people do go to war, because they have to.

Then Niles quotes Hermann Goering to say that all a political leader has to do is tell people that they have been attacked. Well Mr. (or Mrs.) Niles my political leaders don't have to tell me that we have been attacked. I watched it live on TV on the morning of September 11, 2001. If you don't consider killing four aircrafts full of American citizens and destroying the World Trade Centers and damaging the pentagon being attacked, Exactly how many Americans have to die before you think we have been attacked.

As individuals we do not want war. As a nation we do not want war. I'm even confident enough to say that our elected leaders do not want war. But sometimes a people and a nation have to fight. To not resist the terrorists, to not hunt them down and kill them, to allow them get away with attacking our nation will just empower them to attack us again, and again.

Lastly, of all the great leaders, philosophers, peacemakers, scholars, and people throughout the history of mankind you chose to quote Hermann Goering. The man who after Hitler, was the most prominent man in the Nazi Regime. A man who was tried and convicted of four accounts of Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against humanity. Of all the great thinkers, brave heros, and heroic champions in the history of mankind you choose to quote a man who committed suicide during his trial rather than face the charges brought against him.

R.G. Niles, your choice of inspiration alone trivializes the premises of your arguement. Your belief that we are in a war only because our leaders want it makes you a danger to yourself, your family and people who encounter you every day. Refusal to recognize a threat to your safety and wellbeing makes you naive. Refusal to fight or resist that threat makes you a fool.

Space Shuttle Grounded

Who exactly is in charge at NASA these days? Willy E. Coyote?

From the New York Times:

NASA suspended further flights of the space shuttle fleet on Wednesday after determining that a large piece of insulating foam had broken off the external fuel tank of the Discovery shortly after liftoff Tuesday morning, the same problem that doomed the Columbia and its seven astronauts in the last mission, two and a half years ago.

The manager of the shuttle program, William W. Parsons during a news briefing said:

"Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again,"

NASA Has spent the last 2 and a half years and hundreds of millions of dollars working on the foam problem. Even after identifing the area of the booster that lost the foam as a trouble area they decided not to redesign it.

"We decided it was safe to fly as is," Mr. Parsons said. "Obviously, we were wrong."

So what exactly has NASA been doing the last 2 years? Teaching the shuttle how to do backflips?

From the front page of NASA's own website:

Discovery has arrived at the International Space Station after performng an unprecedented "backflip" to allow the Station crew to photograph the Shuttle's heat shield. Shuttle astronauts will make three spacewalks as the Station is resupplied and upgraded.

Commander Eileen Collins and her six STS-114 crewmates are testing out new techniques and equipment designed to make Space Shuttles safer.

OK, the shuttle crew are testing out new techniques and equipment designed to make the shuttle safer. It's too bad that NASA didn't bother to fix the known existing problems.

Apparently no one at NASA read the Columbia Accident Investigation Report You can download it here.

I warn you this report is 341 pages and much of it is rather dry. I tried to read major portions of this report right after it was released in August of 2003. Chapter three is interesting reading if you're aa engineer, or having trouble sleeping. For most folks the executive summary on page 9 will cover most of what you need to know.

The physical cause of the loss of Columbia and its crew was a breach in the Thermal Protection System on the leading edge of the left wing, caused by a piece of insulating foam which separated from the left bipod ramp section of the External Tank at 81.7 seconds after launch, and struck the wing in the vicinity of the lower half of Reinforced Carbon-Carbon panel number 8. During re-entry this breach in the Thermal Protection System allowed superheated air to penetrate
through the leading edge insulation and progressively melt the aluminum structure of the left wing, resulting in a weakening of the structure until increasing aerodynamic forces caused loss of control, failure of the wing, and break-up of the Orbiter.

OK we know that NASA didn't do much about the physical problem that caused the loss of the shuttle Columbia. But did they do anything about the culteral problems in the organization that were just as much to blame for the loss of the Columbia

Cultural traits and organizational practices detrimental to safety were allowed to develop, including: reliance on past success as a substitute for sound engineering practices (such as testing to understand why systems were not performing in accordance with requirements); organizational barriers that prevented effective communication of critical safety information and stifled professional differences of opinion; lack of integrated management across program elements; and the evolution of an informal chain of command and decision-making processes
that operated outside the organizationʼs rules.

News Update:

NASA has just said that the backflip that allowed the space station crew to photograph the underside of the shuttle and it appears that everything looks good. Their not declaring the shuttle safe to re-enter the atmosphere yet. But ar first look, things look good. But that should have been expected. The video of the foam blowing off the booster showed it didn't hit the orbitor.

Final thought (for now):

I've been a fan/supporter of the space program since July 20th 1969. But I just don't see the current incarnation of NASA supporting a viable space program. They have lost their focus. In the 1960s NASA was a gathering of the most brilliant engineering and scientific minds available to take a man to the moon.

Now NASA seems to be focused on getting into low earth orbit and home again without losing their funding.

There are still severe problems at NASA and I'm not talking about one third of our grounded shuttle fleet sitting parked in orbit at the international space program. I'm not worried about Discovery eventually making a safe return to earth. That will happen. I'm worried about the future of our space program as a whole

On the upside - that video of the shuttle backflipping with the earth in the background is really cool.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Nuking Mecca??

Last Monday (July 19) A Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo told radio show host, Pat Campbell of WFLA that the U.S. should "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

Campbell said: "You're talking about bombing Mecca,"

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

There has been a lot of discussion about this all over the blogosphere. Some people are mad a hell at Tancredo for being an idiot. Others are supporting him, reasoning that turn about is fair play.

Now I've been trying put my thoughts on this into words. I remember how mad I was on 9-11. My transition from "Oh My God" to "Some Bastards Gonna Pay For This" took about one hour.

So how do we respond to a nuke attack. With Nukes? But who do we nuke?

I think the only thing more useless than the threat to nuke Mecca would be the act of nuking Mecca.

Nukes were a deterent against centralized governements where the the "head of the snake" could be chopped off with one huge blast. But killing extremist Islamics with a nuke would be like trying to bring down the internet by blowing up a single router.

While I'm no expert on global politics, and I don't pretend to know how a foreign country will respond in any situation I can play the what if game....

So what should we do if one or more American cities get nuked?

Since I maintain that nuking Mecca would be futile. Then instead of destroying Mecca we don't we just take control of it and charge admission.

Ideally we would have warned certain nations hostile to the US about our intentions if we are nuked. Then when the nuke goes off in the USA we act. The governments of ALL hostile Islamic nations (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc) would be Afghanistaned. Their Royal, Religious, or Dictitorial Governments would be forceably overthrown and eventaully replaced with a democratically elected constitutional government. But carrying the Afghanistan model a step farther we also overthrow the religous heirarchy. Any Iman, Cleric or teacher who has openly preached or advocated jihad would be replaced with a known moderate Muslim cleric. Even if we have to import American born moderate Clerics.

As long as they stay peaceful the citizens of these nations would be allowed to continue in their daily lives. No mosques would be closed, they would just have moderte clerics preaching in them. Mecca would be open and intact. Any media outlet that has opening supported Jihad would have it's leadership removed and replaced with moderate Muslim leadership.

Long term, the only weapon that can finally end this radical islamic jihad is freedom and control by moderate Muslims. Afghanistan was the first step and Iraq the second step to the spread of Democracy and Freedom in the middle east. If we are nuked we stop doing this step by step. We accelerate the program and stop worrying about upsetting political heirarchys of the other Islamic Nations. We institute freedom immidiately. Freedom from government oppression and freedom from radical islamic teachings. Sure they will have to put up with our military for a while, but eventually they will leave.

We have to let our enemies know that if they resort to the extreme methods of a nuke attack that our response will be just as extreme. We have replaced the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan with democratic governements. But we have left their religious leaders and their media outlets alone. That won't be the case if the nuke goes off.

There now you know why I'm not in charge and why they don't let me make national policy decisions.

Golf on Tuesday - Season End

Tonight was our last night of golf in the league. I had a good night and a bad night.

I didn't golf really well. My brain kept getting in the way of my golf game. I made some great shots. Then I made some real stinkers. On hole number 15 a short par 4, it took me four shots just to get on the green. Then I buried a 30 foot putt, over a rise in the green with about a 3 foot break to the right.

My team went into tonight tied for 6th place. We wanted to try and get back into the top 5 (for some bonus money). Third place and up were mathematically impossible. Fourth was highly unlikely. But for 5th we only had to outscore the other two teams that we were tied with, and out score the current 5th place team by more than a point.

The night started out badly for me. We had to play the team captained by my wife's ex-boss. We were both the B players for our teams so I would have to compete against him. This put me into a tough situation. My own personal beliefs force me to be a good sportsman and polite to my opponents. It's part of golf. But it's the way I learned to play all sports. Unfortunately my personal dislike for this guy is way off the chart.

Our pet phrase for him around the house (when the kids aren't listening) is that he is a lying, backstabbing, sack of bovine excrement. Then I had to spend the next two hours being polite to him.

Luckily for me that golf is a game that makes it pretty easy to ignore your opponent most of the time.

Unfortunately I didn't golf well and he did. He won our match. I could have won the 8th hole we played which would have evened up our match. My opponent had to move his ball mark so I could putt. After I putted out, my partner and then his partner putted. When it was my opponent's turn to putt he forgot he had moved his mark. He placed his ball and was getting ready to putt. I wanted to just stand there and let him putt, but instead I asked if he remembered to replace his ball mark? He repositioned the ball mark and made the putt that ended our match. My partner looked at me and just shook his head, I whispered to him, "I'll kick myself for that later." He replied, "Maybe, but I know you, you'd kick yourself even harder if you hadn't done it."

But on the bright side the rest of my team beat the rest of his team.

We ended up winning five out of six points. This coupled with two other teams splitting points moved us up to 5th place and our opponents down to 7th or 8th.

All is all we had a pretty good season. We spent a couple weeks in first place. A position we hadn't been in since we won the league back in 1999. Our fifth place finish is the 3rd best season we've had.

No I have to start practicing for the club championships which are probably 5-6 weeks away. I don't expect them to have a over 19 handicap division this year so I'll have to compete with the rest of the handicap golfers.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hillary Clinton vrs. the Hard Right Ideology

I was eating lunch this afternoon when Fox News played a clip of Hillary Clinton addressing the Democratic Leadership Council. As a general rule I don't listen to either Clinton while eating. But before I could reach for the remote I heard:

"Now, I know the DLC has taken some shots from some within our party and that it has returned fire too. Well, I think it's high time for a cease-fire, time for all Democrats to work together based on the fundamental values we all share. Let's start by uniting against the hard-right ideology in Washington"

Hillary I have news for you. The Democratic Party's insistance in being against the hard right ideology is what keeps losing you elections.

What the Democrats seem to have forgotten is that we are all Americans. The right, the left and the moderates. What people want from their Senator's and Congressmen is for them to work together to do what is best for the United States of America.

You weren't elected to your office to wage war against other Americans.

But the Democratic party isn't about working together, or working for America anymore. They are all about working against the hard right ideology. That's obstructionism Senator, and that is what is going to cost you even more Senate Seats next year, and one more Presidential Election two years later.

Senator it's time you stopped uniting against conservative America and start trying to figure out how to compromise with them for the good of the country.

One last Hillary thought. The mainstream media has already started to try and portray Hillary as a moderate. They are going to try and cast Hillary as a strong supporter of welfare reform, tough on terror, pro military and an education reformer. All good conservative issues. Don't you believe it. Remember you heard it right from the Hildebeast's two sided mouth - She plans to start her champaign by organizing the democratic party against the hard-right ideology in Washington. Is that the attitude of a moderate?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lance Armstrong

I wasn't planning on writing much about Lance Armstrong. What could I say that other much more literate and interesting writers will get paid to write. But then I remember why I started blogging. Not so that other people could read my words, but so I could, and maybe someday my kids will also.

Then it hit me. Lance Armstrong retired today becasue he wants to spend more time with his children. I can't think of a better reason to stop doing something that you are good at, and that you love doing.

People, myself included, have admired Lance's determination and his refusal to lose in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds. They (I) respect him for the work he does for those who aren't as fortunate as he is. As sports fans we follow his exploits on the bicycle. We marvel at the ease with which he is able to ride down, and past his competition. As human beings we are moved by the story of his life. Growing up without a father, just starting into his professional career and to be struck down with cancer, then to recover and retrain his body to perform at a level that drives him to be the best in his field.

There have been so many exploits of Lance's career that will make people remember him. From his U.S. National Amateur Champion in 1991 to his seventh Tour de France win in 2005. Lance finished 14th in the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. In 1993 he won 10 races including the World Championship, the U.S. Pro Championship, and a stage victory in the Tour de France. In 1996 Lance started the year as the number one ranked cyclist in the world. He defended his Tour Du Pont Championship and was the first American to win the classic Fleche Wallone in Belgium. In October he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The rest we all know, he survived the cancer which had spread to his lungs and brain. Then he rejoined the world of cycling and became the only man to ever win 7 consecutive Tours de France.

There are events in the tour that people will forever stand out in people's minds as Lance's greatest moments. Some of my favorites are:

1995 - Stage 18 - Lance Armstrong crosses the finish line in Limoges with both index fingers pointed towards the sky honoring his fallen teammate and friend Fabio Casartelli.

2001 - Stage 13. Ullrich is riding hard trying to get himself moved up out of 4th place in the GC. Lance is marking him close to make sure that he doesn't gain any time on him. Suddenly Ullrich goes over the edge of the road and summersaults with his bike. Armstrong slows down and makes the other attackers slow down. Riding slowly they wait until Ullrich catches up. Once Ullrich recovers Lance and Ullrich continue their assault up the hill. Lance is leading the way to the finish line when he sits down and lets Ullrich take the 8 second time bonus - the edge he needed to get into third place. When asked why he waited Lance replied "I chose to wait - it's not fair to take advantage of a situation like that,"

2003 - Stage 9 - Lance following Joseba Beloki in a frantic descent with the two of them chasing breakaway Alexander Vinokourov, Beloki suddenly goes down hard. Lance swerves to the right and goes cross country through a mown hay field. He ends up cutting across the field, getting off his bike, jumping a small irrigation ditch with his bike in hand and rejoined the downhill run.

2005 - Stage 5 - This is the only day that Lance had to be coaxed and threatened to wear the yellow jersey. Lance won the jersey yesterday when David Zabriskie crashed in the team time trial. Lance who was never one to take advantage of a competitor who had crashed showed up for the race in his team jersey saying that he didn't feel that he had earned the jersey and so was chosing not to wear it that day. At the official race start the orgainizers had to stop the race and force Armstrong under threat of disqualification to wear the yellow jersey.

2005 - The podium in Paris. Lance takes his children on the podium with him. Then he credits Ullrich and Basso for being great competitors and friends. Then he expresses his regret at the loss to anyone who doesn't love and appreciate cycling for being the great sport that it is.

Lance gave us so many great moments during his professional racing career that I could go on forever. I think the most complementary thing I can think to say about Lance Armstrong is this:

Lance Armstrong has been a consummate champion on and off the bike. A gracious loser and a humble winner, he has never done or said anything to make me feel shy about telling friends of his exploits nor embarrassed to be a fan of his.

Thank you Lance Armstrong! You've been a great inspriation, a great champion, and a joy to watch. Good luck in your next challenge - to be a great father.

Tour de France - Stage 21 - Paris

Today started out as a traveling backyard bbq, without the burgers and beer. Everyone just cruised along, chatting and smiling. It looked like everyone in the peloton wanted a chance to congratulate Lance Armstrong.

Unfortunately the day didn't stay that way. There was still the green jersey to sort out and a few final spots in the top 10 of the GC were too close to call.

Going into today's stage Levi Leipheimer was in 5th place only 2 seconds ahead of Alexander Vinokourov. Well Vinokourov has showen that he is willing to attack anyone, anywhere, at any time. So if anyone out there thought he was going to sit back in the peloton and cruise into Paris just 2 seconds out of the top 5, you haven't been paying attention.

At the first intermediate sprint, Vino attacked and that attack was answered by Levi and 3 of his teammates. Vino went across one position ahead of Levi, essentially tieing up the 5th place spot.

The day was rainy and the road quickly became wet and slick. There were several small accidents on the road, but no one was hurt bad enough that they were unable to continue. Then after three Discovery riders went down on a turn and almost took Armstrong out at the same time the race officials announced that the general classification timing would end the first time the riders passed under the finish line on the Champs-Elysees. They decided that the only prizes at the end would be the sprint points and the glory of winning a stage in Paris.

I suppose this was a smart thing to do. If the road is slick this would eliminate most of the chaos during the circuit ride of the Champs-Elysees. There would be just the last big sprint to worry about and that takes case on a straight away.

So without the intermediate sprints to worry about the race settled down for an 8 lap cruise of the Champs-Elysees. Sure there were several breakaways but those were quickly squashed. Then in the last 1500 meters the sprint teams in the peloton found themselves chasing a breakaway of Fabian Cancellara, Bradley McGee and Alexander Vinokourov. This breakaway was run down at the line by the big sprinters of the day, but not before all three of them got across the line ahead of the sprinters.

It was a great attack and ride by Vinokourov. I haven't been that impressed with Vinokourov these last three weeks. He seems to just attack at random, and most of the time his attacks don't last, don't work and don't gain him anything except the annimosity of the riders he is attacking. But today it worked.

Phil Ligget kept saying what a great tactition that Vinokourov is but I disagree. He's not a great tactition. He's a loose cannon who every now and then actually manages to follow through with his wild attacks. Today was one of those days.

Regardless of his tactical ability he made a great ride today to win his second stage of this years tour. If nothing else he as put out a great resume for his job hunt, since he is looking for a new team to ride for.

Unfortunately there was a lot of controversy about the final GC standings. The officials after canceling the intermediate time bonuses and freezing the GC standings at the first crossing of the finish line. Then after the race they went ahead and gave vinokourov the 20 second time bonus for winning the stage. This moved him above Levi Leipheimer into 5th place overall.

We as spectators don't know what was decided and when. We don't know what the racers were told and when. We may never know. But we weren't alone. The broadcasters on the OLN network didn't know either.

You would think that the race officials would at least take the effort to let the "Official Broadcasters of the Tour de France" know what was going on. Leaving your official voices to guess what's going on just makes the whole show look amaturish and illprepared.

Final thoughts on the 2005 Tour:

Lance Armstrong wins his 7th consecutive yellow jersey. He was also 8th in points competition and third in the climbing.
America finished with 5 racers in the top 17 positions.
Michael Rasmussen won the polka dot jersey
Thor Hushovd won the green points jersey.
T-mobile won the team competition, Discovery Channel was second.
Yaroslav Popovych of Discovery Channel won the best young rider in the tour.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Tour de Kerry

My daughter and I had a Volleyball Camp this morning. My dear wife and the twins were out at Grandma's making plum jelly, so Chaos and I swung through a drive through and grabbed some lunch on the way home.

We got back to the house about 1 PM. I set out my lunch and grabbed the remote to watch the Tour de France on the TIVO. So there I am relaxing in my chair watching the OLN coverage of this mornings time trial when the scariest thing I've ever seen at the tour popped up on the screen.

John Kerry!

I grabbed for the remote, screaming at my beloved first born "Don't Look! Cover Your Eyes."

Being a good kid who always does exactly as Daddy says she naturally looked at the TV.

So there we were, me fumbling for the remote trying to hit the fast forward button and my daughter trembling in fear begging me to make the scary man go away.

I finally got the fast forward button pushed and the sound ended. But the picture remained. We sat there transfixed in horror. Curious about what the long face was droning on about, but at the same time to terrified to find out.

Eventually I was overcome by curiosity and I turned the sound back on just in time to hear:

"I'm John Kerry, I used to ride bikes in France when I wasn't in Vietnam. I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a bike in France. I remember what it was like to be passed by Lance Armstrong in a time trial, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the peloton were not there. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me. I still have the saddle that Eddy Merckx gave me that day. It's a cherished possesion of mine, even though it gave me blisters."

"Do you want to see my blisters?"

So if anyone out there is wondering how Lance Armstrong can ride a bike as fast as he does? I know the answer. Just how fast if would you ride if you knew that John Kerry was in the team car behind you?

All Lance heard in his radio ear piece today was the voice of Johann Bruyneel begging him "For the love of God Lance - ride faster. If I have to listen to one more memory that is seared into this blowhard's mind I swear to God, Lance, I'm going to run you over just so he can talk to the media while they investigate the accident."

I'd be riding fast also.

One last question for OLN. You are covering one of the most popular sporting events in Europe. Lance Armstrong is fixing to win his 22nd stage of his career and sew up the yellow jersey for an unprecidenced 7th time. There are thousands of Americans there to watch and cheer him on. There are hundreds of cycling folks who have worked or ridden with, against or for Lance Armstrong and the only guy you can find to interview is a failed presidential candidate? Next time how about putting some kind of viewer warning on the screen: "Warning the following interview is not suitable for small children or rational adults with a low tolerance for bluster, pugnaciousness, diffusion, misdirection, pomposity and an undeserved sense of moral and mental superiority."

Volleyball Camp

We had or first school volleyball camp for the upcoming school year this morning. We think that we will have 15 players this year. All 7 of the eighth graders in the school signed up to play so we'll have our first 8th grade team made up of all 8th graders. We have 5 sixth graders and 3 seventh graders signed up to play so we'll have a 7th grade team that is mostly 6th graders, but that's better than 2 years ago when our 7th grade team was all 6th graders.

We held a 3 hour camp this morning. We started out with 45 minutes of warmup and conditioning. Then worked on passing, setting, court management and rotations, then serving and finally a scrimage. We started the day with 9 players there, and lost one along the way. So we split up the remaining four into 3 eighth graders and one 7th grader playing against the remaining two 7th graders and the two 6th graders. The 8th grade coach asked if I felt that the teams were a little unfair. I assured him that my girls would go easy on his 8th graders. (hah, hah)

The three seventh graders that I have on my team are real spitfires. These three are fantastic. They have so much strength, grace and energy for their age it's incredible. They sometimes lose focus but they never quit. Well my two spitfire 7th graders really stayed focused on the task and my two sixth graders were playing way above themselves. They won that game 26-24. They got a marvelous lesson in the importance of good serving in rally scoring.

When camp ended they were all tired and ready to go home. I hated leaving. I was so pumped up and excited that I can hardly wait for the next camp. I used to think that if I couldn't play the game I didn't even want to be around it. But the last two years coaching have changed my mind. It can be the most stressful, irritating and occasionally thankless job around. But watching the look on a young girl's face when she struggled with her serving all through practice then steps up with the game on the line and pounds three overhand service aces makes it all worthwhile. Have you every seen a 7th grader smile so large that her ears disappear?

Tour de France - Stage 20

Today is the penultimate stage in the tour. A 55.5 km individual time trial that starts and ends in Saint-Etienne. Unlike many individual time trials in the past this is no flat course. There are several small hills along the route. There is also several turns in the villages that turn though almost 180 degrees.

Today was also Lance Armstrong's last real chance to win a stage in this years tour.

The race today had each rider starting 2 minutes apart in reverse order of their current standing in the tour. The last 20 riders, which are the top 20 riders in the tour start 3 minutes apart.

Today we got to see two different races. Lance Armstrong riding the course like a man possesed hunting down his closest rivals in search of an illusive stage win.

We also got to see Mickael Rasmussen's personal Tour of Terror.

First up - Lance Armstrong. Lance had very little to gain today. He was looking for a stage win, which he really doesn't need. But LAnce had plenty to lose, an accident or slip on the road could easily cost him the yellow jersey.

At the first 17 km time check Ivan Basso led the way with Armstrong seven seconds back and Ullrich another 10 seconds behind Lance.

At the second (35 km) time check Armstrong held the fastest time followed by Ullrich at 19 seconds and Basso at 53 seconds.

The third time check at 40 km showed Lance flying up the road a little over 30 seconds ahead of Ullrich and over a minute ahead of anyone else.

The fourth time check came at 49 km, Again Lance set the fastest time. Ullrich was 36 seconds back. The next closest rider was Alexander Vinokourov over a minute behind.

At the end Lance won by 23 seconds to finally take his 22 tour de France stage win.

Today Lance rode like a man possessed. HE just flew over the hills and through the turns. He certainly didn't llok like a man who is only a day away from retirement.

Then there was Mickael Rasmussen. Rasmussen went into the todays stage needing to just arrive in paris tomorrow to win the polka dot climbers jersey. But he was also sitting third in the overall classification just 2:12 a head of Jan Ullrich. Ullrich has been aiming at Rasmussen for several days trying to get himself back onto the podium in Paris.

While working his way through a traffic circle Mickael went down. He jumped back up right away and started fiddling with the rear wheel on his bike. Then he climbed back on the bike and started racing again. Over the next 15 minutes Mickael's Dream tour de France turned into the ride from hell. He had to have a wheel replaced on his bike. Then the whole bike replaced - twice. Then he went down again. He roade right off the road and tumbled over the handlebars. Then a third bicycle change.

When the bleeding was done, Mickael Rasmussen was passed on the road by Ivan Basso who started 3 minutes behind him, then he was passed by Armstrong who started 6 minutes behind him. Mickael dropped 7:47 seconds to Lance Armstrong. He dropped from his third palce podium spot all the way to 7th in the GC.

It was painful to watch. Rasmussen had ridden so well for the first three weeks. He had acheived his goals. In only his second tour he had won a stage and was going to wear the polka dot jersey into Paris. To see a rider's race tumble into disaster was heartbreaking. I wouldn't even wish that kind of bad luck on Bjarne Riis, and I don't like Bjarne Riis.

So Lance basicslly just has to stay in the saddle tomorrow and talk a wrong turn once he starts having a couple toasts.

The guys tomorrow who have to watch out are the sprinters and Levi Leipheimer He is in 5th place in the GC but only 2 seconds ahead of Vinokourov. So watch for some sprint attacks by Vino tomorrow. Levi needs to park himself on Vinos back wheel and every time Vino attacks he needs to outsprint him to whatever line he is chasing.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Tour de France - Stage 19

Today's stage is a 153 km run from Issoire - to Le Puy-en-Velay. The final few stages of the Tour de France are usually flat or rolling hills stages that put the sprinters and the long breakaway specialists back into the game. But this year these last few stages have had some pretty good climbs in them. Today is no exception. There are three catagory 4 climbs with the catagory 2 Col de Pradeaux at the 68 km mark.

Lance Armstrong and the Discovery boys had a pretty easy ride in the French Countryside today.

There was a breakaway of four riders: Giuseppe Guerini - T-Mobile, Sandy Casar - Française des Jeux, Franco Pellizotti - Liquigas-Bianchiand Oscar Pereiro - Phonak.

These four at one point had a lead of almost 10 minutes. This put a lot of the higher placed GC riders into a bit of a snit. Oscar Pereiro started the day only 17 minutes back from Lance Armstrong. While he never worried Armstrong, the riders in 5th through 10th place were forced to chase the breakaway because Pereiro at one point had himself up as high as fifth place on the road at one point. Since none of the top 10 riders wanted to surrender their position they started chasing.

Today was a text book example of how to not ride the Tour as a team. In the four man breakaway was a T-mobile rider - Giuseppe Guerini. Guerini spent the whole day riding hard in the breakaway. His hard work was key to Oscar Pereiro's climb up the GC on the road.

This asks the question, with T-mobile having Jan Ullrich sitting in 4th overall, and Alexander Vinokourov sitting in 6th place overall. Why would a T-mobile rider in a breakaway work so hard helping a Phonack Rider - Oscar Pereiro gain enough time to possibly pass Vino and maybe even Ullrich in the standings.

In the end it was the T-mobile rider - Giuseppe Guerini who won the stage. So his hard work was rewarded with a stage win. But the big winner of the day was Oscar Pereiro. Who moved up to 10th place overall in the general catagory.

Tomorrow is the last individual time trail and Lance Armstrongs last real chance to win an individual stage in his last tour.

Set Phasors to Stun

According to this article from LONDON (Reuters) scientists are questioning the safety of a Star Wars-style riot control ray gun due to be deployed in Iraq next year.

The Active Denial System weapon is a 95-gigahertz microwave beam that can be fired at rioters and apparently causes heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds.

But Neil Davison, coordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at Britain's Bradford University has some concerns about the weapon:

"What happens if someone in a crowd is unable for whatever reason to move away from the beam. How do you ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent damage? Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?"

Mr. Davison have you ever heard the story of the little old lady who tried to dry off her wet poodle in the microwave?

Actually if folks are worried about the safety of a non-lethal weapon we could just keep using the old tried and true methods of riot dispersal:

Riot Control Agents (CS & CR) - a pyrotechnic mixture or powder. It's pungent pepperlike order causes burning eyes, tearing, coughing, breathing difficulties, stining skin, sinus burning, vomiting and feelings of suffocation. These agents require significant planning for their safe use. Commanders must take into account - safety of the agent during shipping, storage and use, weather, riot escape routes, wind direction, the size of the area, and the proximity of children or the ailing.

Non-lethal weapons - rubber bullets, sandbags, batons, tazers. These devices usually work by inflicting blunt force trauma, shock, pain and discomfort on the rioters. Again they have their risks such as any force significant enough to stun or injure a person can also kill.

Neil Davison is worried about what happens if the rioters aren't able to move away from the microwave beam. A less flippant answer is: the same thing that happens when rioters don't move away from CS gas or spray or any of the other riot control devices currently in use today - they get hurt. This is called riot control. The object is to inflict enough pain and discomfort that people choose to run away instead of sticking around.

Assuring that the rioters have an escape route to disperse through is the responsibility of the force commander who is trying to qwell the riot.

Until we get Star Trek Phasors with a wide disersal stun setting. I guess 95-gigahertz of microwaves is gong to have to do.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Apollo 11

It was 36 years (and one day) ago that Apollo 11 landed on the moon. I was going to write about this yesterday. But I got busy and it slipped my mind. But I should be excused this minor slip. Apollo 11 landed at 4:17 PM Eastern Daylight Time. But Neil Armstrong didn't actually walk on the moon until six and a half hours later - at 10:56 EDT. At that time in was 2:56 UTC in Greenwich England on July 21st. So in some parts of the world the first walk on the moon happened on July 21.

I was at my grandmother's house in Madison SD on July 20, 1969. I was 11 years old.

I spent most of my days at that age climbing in the trees in my Grandmother's yard. I remember my Grandmother coming out in the middle of the afternoon (around 2:30 PM) and telling me that Apollo 11 had landed on the moon. I was impressed, but also busy. I was trying to get myself across a 10 foot gap between two trees without touching the ground, so I didn't have too much time to pay much attention.

Later that night we all settled down in front of Grandma's TV to watch Neil Armstrong's moon walk. For a kid of 11 it seemed like things took forever. We spent a couple hours listening to Walter Cronkite telling us all about the lunar landing. There wasn't any video to see until Commander Armstrong moved out onto the ladder and activated the camera that was mounted on the side of the Eagle.

Waiting to see pictures from the moon about drove me nuts. After all I had all the patience of an eleven year old. I drove my Grandparents to distraction with endless questions. Finally we got to see the images from the camera mounted on the side of Eagle and watch Commander Neil Armstrong take that one small step. My grandparents and I sat and watched together for a couple hours. Once Buzz Aldrin finally got onto the lunar surface I got very interested. I watched these two men hop around like bunnies. I sat entranced, trying by the sheer force of my will, to cause one of the astronauts to trip and fall. I wanted to see how far he would bounce. Apparently I spent too much time believing what I saw in the cartoons.

Years later I realized how silly that desire was. In retrospect I'm glad I was disappointed. The potential damage to one of the astronauts from a fall would have been very traumatic to watch.

Once the moon walk was over I grabbed Grandpa's binoculars and headed out to the back yard. I spent several minutes peering at the moon trying to see the flag that Armstrong and Aldrin had placed there. I was sure that if I looked hard enough I could see it. Going back into the house that night without seeing the American Flag on the moon was a disappointment that almost overwhelmed the excitement of seeing the Armstrong's luner excursion.

At the age of 11 I didn't really understand the importance of that lunar landing. But I was hooked on the space program. I watched every rocket launch and every subsequent moon landing. I watched every shuttle launch. I stood in the hallway at work, watching through the door of the audio/video closet connected to the conference room, with tears running down my face as we watched Challenger explode during launch.

I have been down to Edwards AFB to watch the shuttle land.

I sat in the living room watching debris of the Columbia streak across the sky as more brave asrtonauts gave their lives in the exploration of space.

I didn't get to see anything about the Apollo 17 mission. By 1972 the news media considered the space program to be old news and the coverage was limited to a few articles in the newspaper and a brief mention of the evening news.

By 1972 I had decided that I wanted to be an astronaut. But that was the same year that I was diagnosed as near-sighted and my childish dreams of space disappeared behind a pair of wireframe glasses.

Instead I settled for a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I knew that I would never be accepted into the military as a pilot. So I took a clue from Harrison Schmitt on Apollo 17. Schmitt was the first and only scientist to walk on the moon.

I figured that engineering was my only hope to get into space.

Unfortunately during my high school and college days I got to watch the death of the United States Space Program. So that by the time I graduated from college there was almost no space program to join.

NASA still existed but it was an organization that was more interested in maintaining it's funding than they were in putting men back on the moon.

So I ended up working for a Department of Energy Contractor in Texas. From there I ended up at China Lake were I went from dreams of being an astronaut to being a rocket scientist.

My entire adult life I have been interested in space and space technology. For a variety of reasons I was never able to work for the space programs. But I have never lost my interest in space. It all goes back to that hot humid night in Madison SD when Astronaut Neil Armstrong traveled to the moon and then reached all the way back to earth and touched my soul.

I had given up on my dreams of getting into space. But watching Spaceship One last year fly out of Mojave and into space rekindled those dreams. Not so much for me, but for my children, or grandchildren. I just hope that someday a brave soul will reach out from the blackness of space and touch their souls the way Astronaut Armstrong touched mine.

Tour de France - Stage 18

I have to say I really like Paul Sherwin. He has been a good commentator. But mostly I like how he doesn't let up on Bjarne Riss the team manager of the CSC team. Early in this years tour Riis ordered his team to leave David Zabrinski who was wearing the yellow jersey laying on the road after a crash. Then a couple days later when his teammate Jens Voight was wearing the yellow and got in trouble on a climb, he ordered the team to leave him.

Paul Sherwin doesn't like Riis's lack of respect for his team members who are wearing yellow and he isn't afraid to voice that displeasure.

Today in the prerace show OLN showed some footage of the CSC participating in a team building excercise this last December. They were taking part in a military style bootcamp. As the pictures showed the team in fatigues loading gear into a small inflatable boat the announcers were discussing how the individuals looked and Paul Sherwin asked "I wonder what happened when they got to the part about not leaving any men behind?"

Bob Roll responded that they obviously left that part out of the training.

OK, on with the race.

Stage 18 is 189 km from Albi to Mende. There are a couple sprints and two 2nd Category, two 3rd Category, and a 4th Category climbs.

This ride is pretty benign in the eraly part, they they climb up the central plateau. There is a couple harsh climbs in the last 10 kms.

There was an early breakaway, imagine that. 14 riders got out about 15 minutes at one point. But there were no contenders in the pack so they were allowed to run.

The 14 man breakaway spintered on the final climb and came down to Davitamon-Lotto's Axel Merckx, Marcos Serrano of Liberty Seguros and Cofidis' Cedric Vasseur.

Serrano outsprinted Merckx and Vasseur for his first stage in 8 tours. This is also the first win for Liberty Seguros this year.

The main pack did thier own fighting on the second to the final climb with Basso, Armstrong, Ullrich, and Evans running away from Vinokourov, Rasmussen, and Leipheimer.

There was not much change in the GC. Cadel Evan jumped back over Vinokourov to regain his 7th place finish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Tour de France - Stage 17

Longest stage in the tour at 239 km (149 miles).

Pretty much flat stage. A couple catagory 4 climbs and a cat 3 near the end. This stage stacked up to be one for a breakaway to get away and stay there.

Early in the stage there was a 17 man breakaway that contained two discovery channel riders - Paolo Savoldelli from Italy and José Luis Rubiera from Spain. This group rode hard and long. Couple that with the fact that the peloton wasn't interested in chasing them allowed them to drive their breakaway up to over 25 minutes at one point.

Late in the stage the T-mobile team realized that with a time gap of over 20 minutes and with two riders in the breakaway, Discovery Channel was set to take over the lead of the team competition. So T-mobile started chasing. Either they didn't chase well or the breakaway was riding better beacause the gap moved up to 25 minutes.

In the last 10 km the breakaway shattered apart as the 17 riders started attacking each other. With a 25 minute lead they knew they would finish ahead of the peloton so they attacked each other.

Eventually the race came down to Giro d'Italia champion Paolo Savoldelli and CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen. Arvesen made his move at about 1.5k. Savoldelli didn't look like he had what it was going to take to stay with Arvesen but he managed to get onto his wheel, then powered his way past him in the last 50 meters. One of the announcers described the final race to the line as a slow sprint. Two tired men giving it all they had left with Savoldelli being able to go that extra couple meters.

This was Discovery Channel's second stage win in the last 4 days. After racing for Armstrong for 6 years with no opportunities for personal victory the Discovery Boys have finally been allowed to join, and beat out some of the breakaways for stage wins.

Meanwhile almost 22 and a half minutes behind the leaders T-mobile was still chasing the team lead. But true to form Alexandre Vinokourov decided to do things his own way. He blew the peloton apart on the last climb. Only 10 riders were able to stay with Vinokourov. In a moment of inattention, Floyd Landis, Cadel Evans, and Christophe Moreau were left behind.

This resulted in Vinokourov moving up in the general classification to seventh place. Still more than nine minutes behind Armstrong.

So far in this tour, Discovery Channel has two stage wins, the yellow jersey, the lead in the team competition, the white jersey and Lance Armstrong is now second place all time in days in the yellow jersey. So far the only thing they don't have is a stage win for Lance Armstrong. But that is not necessary. He can win the yellow without a stage win. Greg Lemond in 1990 was the last person to do that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Golf on Tuesday 7/19

Tonight was the last night of the round robin part of our league. We have one more round to play next week - a position round. After tonight I think my team should write a book. We could title it - First to Last in 4 Ugly Weeks.

Actually we probably aren't going to be in last week place. But we have dropped quite a ways. Five weeks ago we were in a tie for first place. In the last four weeks we have a record of 4.5 wins and 19.5 losses.

Some of us have played poorly. Some of us have played well and lost anyway. Personally in the last 3 weeks I have been beaten by golfers having really good nights. I seem to bring the best out in my opponents. My opponents have shot net scores for 9 holes of 32, 34 and tonight a 31.

During my round tonight we started on hole number six. I birdied number 6, I shot par on holes 1, 2 and 4. For a 22 handicap to shoot a birdie and 3 pars in 9 holes is a great round. I lost my round 3 down with 2 to play.

Match play is like that sometimes. You can play well and lose anyway. I've had seasons where I have played poorly and still won a majority of my matches. This year I've won a few nights with poor rounds. I've also had matches where I played well and lost.

Tonight I was tempted to ride a cart. The temperature at the course when we started was 115 degrees. The wind was supposed to only be 7 to 9 mph. But by the second hole it was gusting to over 20 mph. Great, Hot and Windy. It was like golfing in a blast furnance. I went ahead and walked anyway. I had to lug a lot of water along with me, but didn't suffer too badly.

Cycling Tragedy

Yesterday the Australian women’s national team was dealt a fatal blow. While riding a training ride in Germany an 18 year old german driver lost control of her vehicle and slammed in to the group of Australian cyclists.

29 year old Australian rider Amy Gillett was killed and five teammates injured.

There were 5 other riders also injured.

Alexis Rhodes is in intensive care in critical condition. Alexis suffered multiple fractures in the thoracic region.

Louise Yaxley - is stabilized, but in serious condition.

Katie Brown - originally doctors feared that Katie may lose a leg, but surgery on her leg was considered successful. She is inserious condition from multiple fractures.

Lorian Graham is in satisfactory condition with both collarbones broken as well as broken hands and knee and leg injuries.

Katie Nichols - is in satisfactory condition with severe deep tissue damage including torn tendons. She has had succesful surgery for her injuries also.

My prayers and best wishes go out to the injured riders and thier team. My condolences and prayers to Amy Gillett'a family and friends.

Tour de France Stage 16

Today was the last day in the Pyrennes Mountains. Compared to Sunday's stage today should be a ride in the park.

The stage starts in Mourenx and covers 180.5km to Pau. There are two big climbs in todays stage with the main climb being the final ’hors category’ summit of the Col d’Aubisque. The stage ends with a 72km downhill run to the finish.

Before the peloton reached the first climbs of the days eleven riders got out on a breakaway. They highest placed rider in the breakaway was Cadel Evans from the DVL team who started the day in 11th place almost 13 minutes ahead of Lance Armstrong.

This breakaway in several different incarnations stayed away for most of the day. Armstrong and the Discovery Boys had a fairly relaxed day. They didn't chase the breakaway. Lance had to mark a couple small attacks by Basso and Ullrich on the ’hors category’ climb of the Col d’Aubisque. But since he caught them easily, they didn't press too hard. Lance even took a short turn at the front of his group near the top of the climb.

Once they all started the long downhill race to the finish the teams of Ullrich, Rassmusen and the other racers in 4th through 10th place started really chasing the breakaway. At one point Cadel Evans had himself moved all the way up to 4th place in the GC on the road, and was threatening the third place spot.

Armstrong and the Discovery boys just sat back and let everyone else chase. Everyone from 4th through 10th place did all the work and Armstrong just cruised along with them.

Eventually four members of the breakaway stayed out all the way to the finish. The stage winners were Oscar Pereiro, Xabier, Eddy Mazzoleni, and Cadel Evans. Cadel Evan's final gap on the peloton was 3:24. This moved him up to 7th place in the overall classification. It was a great move and a great ride by Evans. The only thing he didn't get out of the day was the stage win. That honor went to Oscar Pereiro who finished second to George Hincapie on Sunday.

Todays win was a great coup of Pereiro and the Phonack team. The only dark spot on his win was his spoiled little childlike bitching that he and his team did 2 days ago when George Hincapie outsprinted him for the stage win. Oscar complained that Hincapie didn't work for that victory. He whinned that he did all the work and George stole his moment.

Oscar, that's called professional cycling. You didn't have to do all that work on sunday. You could have slowed down and let the peloton catch you. But you chose to do all the climbing work, George was lucky enough to be into a postion to take the win.

Well today the shoe was on the other foot. Cadel Evans broke away with several other riders early today. He worked hard all day to stay away. Oscar joined that break away on the last climb and stayed with Evans all the way to the finish. When they got to the lst 20 km, Evans did almost all the work. He had the most to gain so he worked to gain what he could even though he knew that that level of work would probably cost him the stage. Today Oscar sat in the back and let Evans do all the work. Then Oscar outsprinted the tired Evans at the finish for the win.

Oscar rode a good race, but I wonder if he will complain about himself sitting behind Evans and making him do all the work so he could grab the win at the end.

Probably Not.....

Congratulations to Paul Sherwin for asking (retorically} if Oscar would apoligise for sitting on Evan's wheel and not helping so he could win the stage. Thanks for asking Paul but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a comment from Pereiro or Phonack.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tour de France Stages 14 and 15

I'm late with these updates because they happened over the weekend and I was out of town most of the weekend. Thanks to TIVO I got to watch them when I get home.

Stage 14, a long stage with a Hor de Catagory climb followed by a catagory 1 climb to the finish.

Once again Lance was seperated from the Discovery teammates and attacked on the first big climb. He answered the climbs as needed, but mostly he stayed with Ullrich, Basso and Vinokourov. If one attacked he waited until the others realized that they also couldn't let him go if they wanted any hopes of winning the tour themselves. It was fun to watch Ullrich and Basso lead Armstrong back to Vinokourivs wheel.

It was even more fun to watch Basso and Armstrong pull away from the rest of the pack, and then watch Lance outsprint Basso to the finsh line for second in the stage. They tour leaders seperated Armstrong from his teammates in the hopes of breaking him and instead he increased his lead over every single challenger to his position as the race leader.

On Sunday was the last big day in the mountains and what a day it was. The route started with 2 sprints a catagory 2 climb then 4 catagory 1 climbs. The final climb of the day was the hor de catagorye climb up Pla-d’Adet, one of the hardest climbs in tour history.

Early in the stage a 14 man break away started. In a change of team strategy, Discovery Channel sent one of their riders - George Hincapie with the break away. His ordered were to stay with he group, do not help, be rested and ready to help Lance if he catches up, be ready to stop and wait for him if he needs it, if not, win the stage.

Since none of the riders in the breakaway were not real threats to Armstrongs yellow jersey they were let go. Once the pelton seriously started racing, it was T-mobile who did most of the chasing. Eventually Armstrong was isolated from his teammates again and found himself being attacked on the second to the last climb. But once again Lance answered all challenges.

Eventually the breakaway was whittled down to just George Hincapie and the Spanaird, Oscar Pereiro. They had a 5 minute lead on Armstrong's yellow jersey when George outsprinted Oscar for the stage win. Then a few minutes later Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong who were all that was left of the race contenders crossed the line. Lance widened his lead on every rider in the top twenty except for Basso.

Basso moved up to second place overall. He is still 2 minutes and 46 seconds behind Armstrong.

Rasmussen who started the day in second and was dropped by Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich made a great late rush to get back to Ullrich and prevent him from taking over third place in the GC.

But best of all was George Hincapie. George did something that no other teammate of Armstrong has done in the last 6 years. He won a stage in the Tour de France. And oh what a stage. George who spent most of this career a road racing specialist and sprinter wannabe, wins the longest, hardest mountain stage of this years tour.

Also this is George's first ever stage win on the tour after 10 years of trying.


Tomorrow is a rest day then another mountain stage with sprints, small climbs, an Hor de Catagorye climb in the middle and a long downhill sprint to the end.

Golfing at State Bowling Tournement

I am home again safe and sound. Well, safe anyway, I'm only as sound as a guy that would travel seven hours from here to Sacramento just to bowl and golf.

My friend, Scot, and I left here Friday morning around 7:30. We stopped over briefly at the Tehachapi Loop. I had heard about the loop but had never seen it myself. The loop is a section of railroad track that loops around on itself. Here's a picture I took of a train moving around the loop.

Tehachapi Loop

The the train wasn't long enough to wrap around on itself, and because of the angle we were forced to watch from we couldn't see the front of the train as it passed under the bridge that it had just crossed over.

Continuing on we stopped the other side of Bakerfield for lunch at an In-n-Out Burger. Double-Double with grilled onions, fries and a soda. In-n-Out has the best fast food hamburgers ever.

With our stomachs and mouths happy we continued North. We were just south of Stockton when the traffic on Hwy 99 started slowing down. Suddenly we saw a large alert sign that warned of us a traffic accident 9 miles ahead and recommended that we find an alternate route to our destination. Not being familiar with the area Scot and I were looking around for a service road or alternate route, but all we found was a exit ramp and a golf course. So we did what any good commuter would do in this situation. We pulled in to the French Camp Golf Course and played 18 holes to give the highway time to clear.

The course was a short 18-hole, par 60 course. It was a nice little course that only cost $8 twilight rate. Unfortunately I was still suffering from a case of the shanks, so in addition to my $8 I raised the ambient level of the water hazards the equivelent to 8 golf balls. Fortunately for me I had a lot of found balls in my bag that I had collected the last few weeks and those are what I dumped in the ponds around there.

Once our afternoon stroll was over we loaded back into the truck and headed on to Rocklin.

Saturday we bowled in the singles and doubles event. I didn't do too well in singles but redeemed myself somewhat in the doubles event. I didn't bowl well enough to place in either event. But I did OK in the side brackets. There was a lot of luck of the draw there, and I had good draws.

After bowling Scot and I played a round of golf at the Roseville Golf Club, a nice municipal course. There wasn't as much water on this course as the last, and I seemed to have cured my shanks by giving them to Scot. I did lose several balls in the thick rough, but overall golfed better than on Friday. Fortunately Scot and I decided to ride a cart. It was over 100 and humid. We were exhausted when we finished. I don't think that I would have made it trying to walk.

On Sunday we bowled the team event. It was a meaningless gesture on our part. We only had three of our 5 team members there. We managed to find one substitute but had to bowl without the other team member. That meant that we took zeros for the missing man.

I was rather irritated by this. One team member had car troubles and burned his bowling hand trying to fix the difficulty. So I can't blame him, that was a good reason to not show up. But the other missing player just didn't bother to show, no phone calls, no messages, nothing he just blew us off.

Once again I didn't bowl particularly well, but once again I got good draws in the brackets and broke even.

We left for home right after bowling and lunch. It was a long drive home and we got back around 8:15 PM. I was good to see my dear wife and family again. I like getting out and going places, but then there is nothing like going home again. We thought it was hot in Sacramento at 105, but we came home to 114 degrees.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Gone Bowling

I see a lot of bloggers that will post telling people that blogging will be light over an occasional weekend when they are going out of town.

I'm going out of town this weekend. I'd like to say that blogging will be light this weekend. But the truth is that blogging will be non-existant until Sunday evening. I'm heading for Sacramento to the California State Bowling Tournement. I don't intend to take the computer with me. This weekend is about bowling and golf. I don't want to spend any of it in front of a keyboard.

The guys I travel with like to joke around that State Bowling Tournement is just an excuse to go golfing out of town.

It's not a joke.

Have a great weekend, be safe.

Go Lance Armstrong!!!!!!

Ridgecrest Sunset

Add together a few light evening clouds and the sun setting behind the Eastern Sierra Mountains and the result is a beautiful sunset. Since we average about 300 days a year of clear blue skies, we don't get too many of these sunsets.


Since Glenn Reynolds is always mentioning his cameras, I guess I should also.

That picture was taken with a Pentax *ist DS.

Tour de France Stage 12

Stage 12 was a 187 km ride from Briancon to Digne-les-Bains.

Before the tour started Lance Armstrong pointed out this stage as a potential trouble spot. This stage has two catagory 2 climbs, a catagory 3 and two catagory 4 climbs. Just the type of stage that encourages guys to get out on a fast breakaway and try to stay there.

Today is also Bastille Day - the French version of our 4th of July, but without the hamburgers, hotdogs and watermelon. Sorry I just can't see watching fireworks with Brie and a Cabernet.

Being Bastille Day you can bet your best bottle of french toilet water that there will be several Frenchmen killing themselves trying to win this stage.

There were several early attacks but none of them survived past the first climb of the day. Unfortunately for the Discovery team another casualty of the first climb was Manuel Beltran, one of Lance's main climbers. I never got to see the accident but Phil Liggit described it as slow and silly. Paul Sherwin quickly added that the slow crashes were the worst because you landed harder - no slide.

Beltran eventually got back on his bike but before they could reach the second climb of the day he abandoned the race. The last report I saw said he was having knee problems. Beltran is the first teammate of Lance Armstrong to not finish the tour in Paris since 2001. That is impressive. When Lance's detractors say that he has won so many tours because of his strong team. They are right. He has a stong team, and its a team that also sticks together and finishes together. I hope the the Discovery Channel team doesn't miss Beltran too much in the upcoming Pyrénées.

Before the peloton reached the second climb of the day an 11 man breakaway occured. Eventually those 11 were joined by Stuart O'Grady (COF) and Thor Hushovd (C.A).

This 13 man breakaway contained no one who was a threat to either the yellow jersey of LAnce Armstrong or the polka dot jersey of Mickael Rasmussen. So the peloton let them go.

There was eventually some chasing done by the peloton when Robbie McEwen finally figured out that Hushovd and O'Grady were currently sitting 1st and 2nd in the points catagory (green jersey). Tom Boonen the green jersey leader did not start today. Tom has raced well that first week, but has spent a lot of time the second week on the ground. For many guys one crash is too many, Tom has had a couple. However McEwen's attempts to get the peloton racing didn't get very far. Without a lot of help from Discovery his team attempts to drag the peloton back into the race never materialized.

The Discovery boys spent a lot of time at the front of the peloton today but they weren't trying to run anyone down. The were protecting Lance, watching for breakaways from serious contenders, and just being in position to make sure that the 13 man breakaway did not get more than 17 minutes ahead - the time the best rider in the breakaway was back from Armstrong.

On the fourth climb of the day - the catagory two climb up the Col du Corobin French Cofidis rider - David Moncoutie attacked the 13 man breakaway. He stayed out until the end. So the French had a French Champion of Bastille Day. I love when good things like that happen. Even when they happen to the French.

Flat day tomorrow the Mountains on Saturday and Sunday.

Building Small Coffins

Greyhawk who writes the Mudville Gazette published an article yesterday called Building Small Coffins.

Read it, then as Greyhawk says:
Some day you may hear someone describing the virtues of the "resistance" or "freedom fighters" in Iraq , or claiming moral equivalence between these animals and coalition soldiers. You may even hear someone say we're on a "crusade" against Muslims. When you do, send them here.

Warning: Reading Building Small Coffins may cause intense feelings of anger, rage, hatred or sorrow. It may drive you to break things or start shouting loud obscenities at your computer screen. Or, it just make you sick to your stomach. Read it anyway.

Afterwards, if you feel none of the above, report to the lost and found office to see if anyone has turned in your soul.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


The temperatures topped out today at 111 degrees F.

That's hot. Not near our record highs yet. But hot enough that if you touch the metal parts of your car after it's been parked in the parking lot you can burn yourself.

Days like this are the reason why almost every car in town has a custom fit carpet covering the dashboard, a padded steering wheel cover, and a sun screen for the windshield to protect the interior of the car while it is parked.

Seat covers are also a necessity. Especially if you wear shorts. There is nothing more painful that sitting down on a plastic or leather seat when the interior of your car is over 110 degrees inside.

You can usually spot the people in the grocery store that don't have good seat covers, they are walking around and the back of their thighs are bright red.

Tour de France Stage 11

The tour had a long hard ride ahead of themselves today. A couple sprints and three big climbs: the hors categorie Col de la Madeleine, the 1st Category Col du Telegraphe, and the hors categorie Col du Galibier, the highest point of the 2005 Tour. The stage will end with a 40 kilometer descent to Briançon.

So the riders get to climb till their hearts are ready to burst and then race downhill to the finish.

The Running-on-pure-guts award today goes to Thor Hushovd the sprinter who when out early with slim hopes of staying away over the Col de la Madeleine and then picking up the 6 sprint points that were available 42 km after the first summit. It was a grand effort, if a futile one. The 6 points for that first sprint would have put Thor in the green jersey at the end of the day. Unfortunately for him, Alexandre Vinokourov, the Kazakhstan rider for T-mobile had other plans.

Vinokoutov, looking a lot different in the saddle today than yesterday, launched an attack with 7 other riders about 28 km into the stage. Throughout the day this attack squad led by Vinokourov gained and lost members. Finally ending in Briançon with Vinokourov out sprinting Santiago Botero for the stage win.

Lance Armstrong rolled the dice today and bet heavily on his Discovery Teammates. He won that gamble. the entire Discovery team sat back and let the attack with Vinokourov go. Then once Vinokourov's lead on Armstrong got out to around four minutes, Lance got the Discovery boys together and started to try and make up some of that time.

Unlike yesterday where he blew out his teammates one at a time, Lance didn't push the guys as hard on the climbs today. Discovery Team actually went over the summit of Galibier with five of them still together at the front of the peloton.

Overall Vinokourov picked up a minute and 15 seconds on Lance, but is still way back. Christophe Moreau moved from 4th to 3rd overall. Lance is still secure in first, 38 seconds a head of Rasmussen, the polka dot jersey holder.

Tomorrow's stage has two early sprints then a mix of catagory 2, 3 and 4 mountains.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tour de France Stage 10

Today looks to be a tough stage. Pretty flat with two catagory 1 climbs - the Cormet de Roselend about two thirds of the way through the 181 km stage and summit of Courchevel where the stage ends.

Two days ago Lance Armstrong gave away the yellow jersey without a fight so that some other team could do the work on today's stage. Good plan except for a couple flaws. First as I noted before, teams don't attack Armstrong because he is wearing yellow, they attack him because he is Lance Armstrong. The other problem with this plan was that Lance and his Discovery Channel team apparently didn't read page two of the plan. You know, the part where some other team tries to defend the yellow jersey now. Apparently CSC, the team of todays yellow jersey didn't read that page either. In a pre-race interview with Frankie Andreau a CSC spokesman admitted that Basso would be attacking today. Not the kind of behavior you would expect from a team defending the yellow. I'll say it one last time (I promise) CSC will not defend the yellow jersey unless it is on the back of Ivan Basso. Basso will attack today, he will attack Lance Armstrong, and in the process attack his teammate Jens Voigt, the man wearing the yellow jersey.

So the race is off, and in the early flat stages Discovery Channel's plan is working perfectly. There is a breakaway of riders that no one will worry about and the team doing the work is Credit Agricole, the team of Christphe Moreau, the man currently sitting is second place in the GC (General Catagory).

Then we reached the slopes of the Cormet de Roselend and who is at the front of the peloton doing all the work - Discovery Channel. So much for the best laid plans of mice and Lance Armstrong.

On the descent of the Cormet de Roselend Yaroslav Popovych, the heir-apparent of Discovery Channel once Armstrong retires crashed into a CSC team car. He got back up and continued to race. What is it about team cars this year that makes people want to run into them, Popovych today, Ullrich the day before the race started, are they blending into their surrounding too well?

So after the descent there was a sprint and the the climb up Courchevel. For the peloton this was time to make up ground on the nine riders who were away on attacks. So guess who leads the peloton in getting back the time on the leaders. Discovery Channel! There's that great plan at work again. Glad to see that the Discovery boys are taking it easy and letting all those other teams do all the work.

As the peloton approached the start of the climb up Courchevel, about 25 km from the finish, there were still 9 riders about 3 minutes ahead of the peloton that was being led in their chase by nine guys wearing blue and while. You guess it - Discovery Channel.

At this point I'm going to stop taking pot shots at Discovery Channels plan of giving up the yellow jersey. Because for the last 20 km of today's race the Discovery Channel team ran a great race. It was a thing of beauty to watch. The boys in blue on the front of the peloton set a pace that left riders scattered in disarray all over the road. For 10 km the Discovery boys shattered the hearts, lungs, minds, and in many cases the Tour de France hopes of some of the biggest names in the tour.

By the time Lance Armstrong decided to move to the front and taking over the pace setting himself the only riders who were able to match him were Francisco Mancebo (Spain) IBA, Alejandro Valverde (Spain) IBA and Mickael Rasmussen (Denmark) Rabobank.

That's right! No Vinokourov, No Basso, No Ullrich. Just four men, Lance Armstrong, the polka dot jersey of the king of the mountains, and two IBA riders.

These four men owned the road, the race and the mountain for the last 7 km. No one else was able to match their pace. They worked together for 6 of the final 7 km. In the end Lance attacked them and only Vlaverde was able to go with him.

At the line, Valverde outsprinted Armstrong for the stage win, his first ever.

When the dust settled, Armstrong is back in yellow. He holds a narrow 38 second lead over Mickael Rasmussen, the Polka Dot Jersey leader. Lance had better watch this kid. There are more mountains to come and this kid might start thinking that he likes yellow more than he does polka dots.

Behind Lance and Rasmussen is Ivan Basso, who is 2:40 back. Ivan spent the whole day attacking the Yellow Jersey that was on the back on his teammate Jens Voigt. Ullrich is more that 4 minutes back and Vinokourov is 6 and a half back.

Today was a great mountain stage and Discovery Channel rode it to perfection. You have to really respect Yaroslav Popovych. He crashed on the descent the Cormet de Roselend and yet he was there with the team and setting the pace on the climb up Courchevel that dropped both Vinokourov and Ullrich. Maybe he really does have what it takes to be Discovery's team leader next year. We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Tour de France - Rest Day

Today is a rest day for the tour. So what do tour riders do on a rest day? They go for a bicycle ride.

The difference being that today they went for a ride. The last 8 days they were racing. It's a big difference.

Since there is not much to report I thought I'd better clarify something. I am not a Tour de France reporter. I'm a guy who used to commute on a bike and who likes to watch the Tour de France on TV. I'd love to see it in person but that would require a visit to France. Not sure I'm ready for that yet.

So when you read my highlights you may not get a lot of details. You may not get a lot of times, splits, or placings. What you will get is my opinions of that day's stage.

If you want something other than my opinions on the tour here are some other spots you can check out. Some of them will be opinion sites also, some won't.

Tour de France Blog

OLN TV Tour De France Web Site

The offical Tour de France Web Site

Bicycling: Tour de France 2005

Cycling News - 92nd Tour de France

Hollywood’s Box Office Malaise

There have been several articles and news stories written lately about how the movie industry isn't doing too well these days.

Well Govindini Murty over at libertas - the self proclaimed forum for conservative thought on film scored a major coup when she managed to get the L.A. Times to publish an opinion piece about Hollywood's Box Office Malaise.

"The most obvious explanation for box office malaise is consistently overlooked: Hollywood’s ruling liberal elites keep going out of their way to offend half their audience. Constant gibes about Republicans, Christians, conservatives and the military litter today’s movies and award show presentations like so many pieces of trash on theater floors."

Well you can count me as one of the offended.

I am not an actor, producer, or director. I don't live in hollywood. I don't work in hollywood. I have nothing to do with the hollywood movie industry. But I am absolutely essential to the success of the hollywood movie industry.

I am a movie goer.

or at least I used to be.

My wife and I used to spend every saturday afternoon at the movie theater. We went to laugh, to cry, to be scared, to be excited. We went to be entertained.

We don't go to the movies much anymore. We find ourselves looking at the movie listings and asking the question: "Has anyone (actor, director, producer, etc.) connected with this picture done or said anything in public lately that would make us feel dirty or guilty for about putting money in their pockets?"

If the answer is yes, then we don't go see that movie.

We haven't been to many movies lately. Because we see way to many actors and directors shooting their mouths off about how much they hate everything that we believe in, love, and respect about our lives and country.

We don't mind seeing some high school drop out getting paid millions to pretend to be someone else for our entertainment. But when that dimwit tries to preach politics to us we refuse to continue to support their career. Hollywood needs to stick with what they are good at - pretending to be someone entertaining.

Everytime we see a news article about how hollywood is floundering our response is "Good!" Maybe if they slide far enough they will one day wake up and realize that we I want to see and hear Johnny Depp play an over the top pirate, not hear him tell us that
"America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy..."

Also, besides being ex-movie patrons we are also the filter that determines what movies our children will see. Hollywood had better get their act together because my kids are growing up with my narrow-minded patriotic, pro-American biases.

I'm not saying Hollywood can't think and feel anything they want. Just don't expect me to pay you to insult us, and lecture us. What we want to hear you talk about is your job. Just your job! You need to put on your costumes and make-up, pretend to be someone else for a while, then show up at the Oscars and gush over how excited you are that everyone really likes you.

You do that and we'll see you around. I'll be the guy in the theater with the large popcorn, the beautiful wife and the three adorable children.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Tour de France Stage 9

Today was supposed to be another hard day in the mountains. At least as hard a day with several small climbs and two large catagory 1 and 2 climbs can be.

Unfortunately, the day started badly. David Zabriskie who held the yellow jersey for the first 4 days had to abandon the race after just 10 km today. David took a really hard fall in stage 4 and was mixed up in a couple small crashes in the subsequent days. I have taken a couple hard falls back in my commuting on a bike days. Unless the bike was unridable I was always able to get back on and ride inspite of some pretty nasty injuries. But I don't know how these guys can get back on and 'race'. Riding is one thing. Racing is a much much harder thing. Especially when you are hurting. David did a great job early on this year and I plan on watching and cheering him on in the years to come. I'm impressed that he held up as well as he did. Good Job David and I look forward to watching you next year.

Well the attacks started early and often this day. But the earliest and the longest was by a Danish Rider from Rabobank - Mickael Rasmussen. In only his second tour Mickael bragged before the start of the tour to a teammate that he was going to win the polka dot (climbers) jersey this year.

Mickael Rasmussen is a former world mountain bike champion who rides the mountains on pavement like he is commuting on flat ground.

Rasmussen not only won first over every mountain climb today, he also ultimately won the stage as well. This was a magnificent solo performance. That earned Rasmussen maximum climb points and a stage win. He climbed to fourth overall in the general classification only 25 seconds behind Lance Armstrong.

Which brings us to my beef of the day. Tomorrow is a rest day. The day after that is a long hard day in the Alps. Today Lance Armstrong kept the entire Discovery Channel team sitting together at the front of the peloton setting the pace for everyone else. They did not chase the break aways.

The announcers speculated that he was trying to get his team regrouped so that they wouldn't break apart like they did yesterday. They speculate that Lance wanted to give up the yellow jersey so that he would not have to work so hard in the mountains defending it.

Well that doesn't make any sense to me. The other riders in the tour don't attack Lance Armstrong because he is wearing yellow. They attack him because he is the favorite to win the race. Jens Voigt, the current yellow jersey holder, of the CSC team is not the kind of rider who will do particularly well in the high mountains. That is what Ivan Basso is on the CSC team is there to do - climb in the mountains and try to wear the yellow into Paris. That is the plan of Bjarni Riss, the CSC team manager. He will not sacrifce those plans in order to defend the yellow jersey if it is not on the back of Ivan Basso. He proved that in stage four when they left David Zabriskie wearing yellow and sitting on road after a crash.

So if Lance Armstrong thinks that CSC will expend a lot of energy defending the yellow jersey that Jens Voigt is wearing he is probably mistaken. All he has done is prove to his team that he wants them to do things his way, and that he is willing to throw away the yellow jersey to make them do that.

I may be wrong. Lance and his team leader, Johan Bruyneel, have a plan and I hope it works. I just don't understand how fending off attacks in the mountains is more work than having to attack in the mountains to regain something you already lost. The attacks are going to come anyway. Lance is a target no matter what jersey he wears and CSC will only work to put Basso in yellow. When the going gets tough, they will hang Voigt out to dry just like they did Zabriskie.

I hope that Lance and Johan's plans work out. I really hope that today doesn't turn out to be a major mistake. Voigt isn't a great climber, but with help he gets by, and he has 2:18 to play with. In second is Christophe Moreau, a rider who a few years ago was expected to challenge Armstrong for the yellow. What if it just took him a few extra years to reach his full potential. Now he has a 0:28 second lead on Armstrong to drive him.

Right behind Armstrong is Rasmussen, who climbs like a goat. He decends like an avalanche. Absoultely fearless. He's a past world mountain bike champion so he knows how to win. If he manages a time trial later he may have more on his mind than just a polka dot jersey in Paris.

On a strickly petty personal level I was really getting to like the idea of a Tour de France where the only men to wear the yellow were Americans. That dream is gone now.

In more pettiness Lance is only about 8 days in yellow short of Bernard Hinault's second place record of 77 days in yellow for a career. I would really like to see Armstrong take over that spot in the record books. Hinault has publicly said that Armstrong isn't as good a rider as he was in his prime. So I'm in favor of Armstrong taking any and every record away from Hinault that he can.

All in all a good day of racing to watch, just not the kind of results I wanted to see. Ignoring that Rasmussen turned in a great day that was really fun to watch.

Tour de France Stages 8 - yesterday

OK, so I'm really late commenting on the tour, but I had to go pick up my oldest daughter today. She spent last week cabin camping with her Aunt and Uncle at Lake Trinity in Northern CA. Fortunately my sister-in-law was willing to meet me half way so I only had to drive 190 miles (each way) to the intersection of I5 and Hwy 41, instead of the 380 miles to San Ramon and then back again.

Well Chaos and I made it home OK, she had a blast at the lake and is already working on how she can get to go again next year.

I checked my E-mail quickly and found a letter from one of my few non-family blog readers wanting to know where my tour update was. I don't want to disappoint my small audiance so here's my update.

Stage 8 started with a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the London bombings. Then they were off to the mountains - sort of. OK it was a couple or four catagory 3 climbs followed by 120 km of sprints, then a catagory 2 climb, the first real climb of the tour, then a short downhill race to the finish.

Things went pretty smoothly until the final climb. Suddenly Lance Armstrong the American yellow jersey found himself half way up the final climb of the stage and he was surrounded by 30-40 opponents and one Discovery Channel team mate who was running out of gas.

Where was the rest of the Discovery Channel climbers? Good question. Unfortunately it is a question that we may never know the answer to. But there was Armstrong. In the same position that Miguel Indurain found himself in during his try for a 6th tour win. Indurain landed up isolated on a long climbing stage and when his opponents repeatedly attacked him he finally cracked and lost the stage, and his bid for a 6th tour.

Armstrong didn't want to repeat that event. Fortunately for Lance he had several things going in his favor. He only had to survive one climb. He was riding his first day in the mountains. Indurain had been several days into the mountains and still had a couple climbs to face that day.

Well just like Indurain's opponents, Lance's also started attacking. Lance did the smart thing. He decided who the 2 worst threats in the group were - Ullrich and Vinokouov. Then any move started by those two was immediately countered by Lance. Everyone else he just let go.

Last year's number 2 on the podium in Paris - German T-mobile rider Andréas Klöden took advantage of being ignored by Armstrong and attacked. Since Klöden hadn't ridden well the last few weeks Armstrong was willing to let him go.

Armstrong marked both Ullrich and Vinckourov and managed to keep most of his large group intact to the finish.

Klöden raced across the gap to a solo rider who was out in front of the main group. He closed the gap just in time to steal the mountain climber points at the top of the climb from rookie tour rider - Rabobank Rider - Pieter Weenin.

But revenge belonged to Weenin. He lost the mountain climber points but in an unbelievable finish that to me looked like a dead heat. Weenin grabbed the stage win away from Klöden by 3 mm. That's right millimeters.

Lance held onto the yellow jersey but the standings behind him was really shaken up. But he maintained his leads over Ullrich and Vinokouriv.

After the race, when asked where his teammates were, Lance replied "We have some talking to do tonight."

I sure wouldn't have wanted to be on the receiving end of that "talking" that night.

Cheyenne Frontier Days

Our Sunday newspaper - The Daily Independent carries Sunday suppliment called the American Profile.

Page 4 of this weeks American Profile has an Article called Cheyenne's Cowboy Classic. Sorry I can't link to the article, it's not up on their website yet. They website seems to lag a week behind the paper publication.

This article describes the week long event in Cheyenne called Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Cheyenne Frontier Days is a great event if you like country music, rodeos, parades, pancake breakfasts, and cowboys. For one week in July (22 - 31 this year) Cheyenne Wyoming a town of 53,000 people opens it arms to about 60,000 visitors. If you like the old west, the new west, or just cowboys and horses in general this is the place you want to be.

Everyday there are rodeos, and concerts. There are four parades. The parades will have hundreds of horses, horse drawn carriages and marching bands from all over the country. On the mornings that they don't have parades there is a free pancake breakfast held downtown. All you need to do to get breakfast is get in line and grab a plate. Even the breakfast is a show. With lines of volunteers cooking pancakes, and boy scouts scurring about catching and serving pancakes even standing in line watching is fun. The flippers once a pancake is done will scoop up that pancake on their spatula and toss it backwards over their shoulder. Behind them wiil be a gaggle of scouts with platters catching the griddle cakes as they fly through the air.

The focus of the American Profile article is the volunteers from the city of Cheyenne and how they get involved. I can tell you almost everyone in town gets involved in some way or another.

A few years ago I took the family there for the event. I was fun to attend and not have to work. We got to be tourists and just enjoy the fun. In previous years I had tried to go do the events as a tourist and it never worked. I would be spotted by someone I knew who was working the event and I would be recruited to help.

In the American Profile article the mention one volunteer specifically, Mister Bill Dubois. The Article mentions that Bill had sung the national anthem at every rodeo for the last 40 years. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

What the article didn't mention was that he spent his profesional career as a high school teacher at Cheyenne Central High School. I had Bill as a history teacher for three years. He was one of my favorite teachers and one of the more influental adults in my life. When I first had Bill as a teacher I had been convinced by other teachers in earlier years that I wasn't a very good student and didn't have many opportunities ahead of me. But I hit the jackpot for teachers my first year in high school. I had a science, math, french, history, and band teachers who very quickly taught me that my previous teacher were wrong. I could do well in school and I could succeed if I put in the effort. Bill was a key figure in that change in my life. and he remains a good friend to this day. I don't get back to Cheyenne that often and seldom have the chance to see him much anymore, but we treasure the occasional lunch we have had the chance to share with him. His Christmas letters always start the holiday season for us.

So if you get the American Profile in your local paper, read the article about Frontier Days. If you are looking for a place to holiday next year, look into Cheyenne that last full week in July. Its an event you will love, and never forget. If you do go to Cheyenne, pay attention to the volunteers, they are some of the finest poeple you will ever meet.

Finally if you are involved in a community event that you want your whole town to get involved in, you should take a really close look at Cheyenne Frontier Days because it is truly a whole communtiy event.