Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hillbilly Cargo Carrier

My Mom’s Mom left her china closet to my Mother when she passed away 5 years ago. Mom asked us three kids if any of us were interested in having the closet. Both my youngest sister and I expressed an interest in owning this family heirloom. My mother refused to decide which of the two of us would get grandma’s china closet. She kept telling us “You two work it out.”

Well neither of us made any effort to work it out. We both suspected that Mom just was trying to start a fight and neither of us wanted any part of that. So the china closet sat in the corner of Mom and Dad’s living room, unused, for 5 years.

When my sister and I asked Dad about the China Closet last week he defaulted to Mom’s decision and told us that we would have to work it out between the two of us. So my sister and I decided to work it out between us. I immediately started referring to it as my china closet as often as I could during the week. My sister asked me what my plans for the closet were and I decided to play a little hardball just to see what her reaction would be. So I said “it goes home with me this week or it stays here.”

She stopped for a moment and asked me “Do you have a plan to be able to get it home this week?” I replied with an emphatic “Yes! I have a plan.” I did have a plan. I planned on trying to get her to let me have the china closet. After that I would come up with something. My sister just looked surprised and walked away.

After several more days of me referring to the china closet as ‘My New China Closet’ my sister finally had a sit down talk with her daughter and they decided that in exchange for some concessions on my part for several other pieces of furniture I could have the china closet. I really do like the other pieces of furniture that my sister insisted I trade for, but not as much as the china closet. So I was willing to let them go. After all I can always go visit them at her house.

This put me into a real bind. It was approximately 24 hours until we were scheduled to leave town and I had to come up with a plan on how to get that china closet home that was more than just saying I had a plan. So I waved good bye to my dear wife and headed to the lumber yard to wander around and think up an idea or two.

Two hours later I returned back to my Father’s house with three sheets of 7/16 OSB four sheets of ¾ inch Styrofoam, some plastic sheeting, five 2x2s and a box of screws.

I measured, sawed and measured again for a couple hours but didn’t get very far. I had a gallery of onlookers just hanging out in the front yard gawking at me. I don’t work well with an audience. So a puttered around and tried to ignore all the comments being made about “engineers with tools” and “it’s measure twice, cut once, not measure once, cut twice.”

The next morning I had the front yard to myself and I got a lot more done. Then 2 hours before Mom’s Memorial Service was scheduled to start I had the China Closet packed and loaded on top of the van.


As soon as the rest of the family saw this the comments started flying like mosquitoes at an everglades nudist colony.

Eventually my creation was dubbed the Hillbilly Cargo Carrier and if anyone asked we got it at Redneck Rentals.

It may have been ugly but it rode up there well. It cruised through slamming on the braked to miss a couple deer, and several miles of nasty California highway just fine. My gas milage only went down abut 3 mpg but I can't blame all of the that on the Hillbilly Cargo Carrier. We had the inside of the van really loaded down, and we bucking some pretty strong winds the last 400 miles of the trip.

The china closet arrived home undamaged. But I did get some pretty interesting looks from people at the gas stations though. We stopped for a bathroom and stretch break at Little America in western Wyoming and another traveler was making some supposedly funny remarks about aerodynamic boxes when my dear wife walked past us. I was tempted to grab her, kiss her and ask “ready to get on the road sis?” In retrospect, I should have done it.

I'm retiring the hillbilly cargo carrier today. It was put together with screws so it would come apart again. But you know, with just a little modification I could use it as a truck topper for my little dodge pickup. I'll have to run that one by my dear wife and kids.

Friday, July 28, 2006

2730 Miles

We just got home from our "vacation". We put 2730 miles on the old Dodge Grand Caravan.

We didn't get out of Cheyenne until about 6 PM last night. I was hoping for 4 PM. So much for the best laid plans. Several friends who I had not seen in several years showed up for Mom's Memorial. I just couldn't bring myself to walk out and leave without visiting as much as possible.

We spent last night in Provo UT. We got into the motel around 2 AM this morning, about an hour later than I thought we would. I tired to take the 40/189 cuttoff through Provo Canyon in order to avoid driving through Salt Lake City. But 25 miles after leaving interstate 80 I was driving away from Heber City and came across a large electronic sign that told me that highway 189 was closed from 10 PM to 6 AM and to take Interstate 80. It sure would have been nice if they had told me that 20 miles earlier.

So I had to turn around and backtrack all the way back to I80. Then drive down through Salt Lake City to get to Provo. On the way back to I80 I almost hit 2 deer. One I missed by less than 10 feet. I saw 4 others just standing on the side of the road. Weird, I didn't see a single deer on the way through there the first time. But on the way back through it was like they were sprouting up out of the pavement.

We slept in this morning and didn't get out of Provo until almost 11 AM. I needed the sleep because today's drive was going to be almost 11 hours.

We rolled into the driveway about 9:30 PM PDT. Almost 11.5 hours after we left. We made a dinner stop in Barstow that killed almost 45 minutes. It was a long hot drive today.

It's good to be home. We got the car unloaded, and the kids into bed and I'm heading there soon. I'll post some of my vacation stuff over the next couple days.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yellow Floyd

(I wrote this on Sunday July 23)

It took me a while to find out the results of this years tour. The not knowing was driving me nuts. But I’m stuck in Cheyenne WY where most folks have never heard of the Tour de France and those who have don’t care. Since I don’t have a regular internet connection here, I’m dependant on a little coffee shop near my Dad’s house to my connections.

The tour had finished in the Pyrennes Mountains and had a couple days of rolling hills to get thorough. Then Phonak did what I consider to be the bone head decision of the tour. They let Spainard Oscar Pereiro, a known climber and pretty good all around cyclist, who was hanging around over 25 minutes back of Floyd Landis get out on a break away and the peloton did nothing to try and reduce his 29 minute lead on the stage. So one day after taking over the lead in the tour Floyd Landis lost it to Pereiro.

Then the tour reached the fabled climb up Alp D’Huez. Landis lost the stage but finished far enough a head of Pereiro to take back the yellow jersey. So with a slim 10 second lead over oscar Pereiro Floyd Landis and the rest of the tour entered the second day in the Alps. The hardest day of the tour. This stage was a 182 km run that included two above category climbs a cat 2 climb and ended on the top of the category 1 La Toussuire. Demarks Mickael Rasmussen finally decided to defend his polka Dot jersey from last year and got out on a breakaway. He took maximum points at the top of all four climbs, won the stage and secured the polka dot jersey for the second year in a row. The big news though is that Floyd Landis cracked on the final climb and finished almost 10 minutes behind the stage winners. This stage should have ended Floyd’s Tour. Coming back from an 8 minute deficit with only one mountain stage to race seemed impossible.

I guess Floyd should change his name to impossible man. Race Director, Jean Marie Lablanc, had this to say about Floyd’s ride in stage 17.

"the best performance in the modern history of the Tour" — adding that only a day earlier, he was "gone, finished, condemned."

Floyd won the stage by over 5 and a half minutes. He ended the day only 30 second out of first place and in striking distance to take over the race lead in the last individual time trial on Saturday. Which is exactly what he did.

Today, Floyd Landis became the third American to ever win the Tour de France, the 8th in row and the eleventh in the last 21 years to win this fabled race. Way to go Floyd Landis and good luck with your hip replacement surgery later this year. I hope we get to see him defend his championship next year or the year after.

The rest of the Americans finished:

Pos. No. Name Team Nat. Gap
1 071 LANDIS Floyd PHO USA
13 041 LEIPHEIMER Levi GST USA 19' 22"
24 016 VANDEVELDE Christian CSC USA 50' 19"
32 003 HINCAPIE George DSC USA 1h 11' 14"
64 064 HORNER Christopher DVL USA 2h 12' 25"
74 018 ZABRISKIE David CSC USA 2h 33' 46"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Traveling to Wyoming

We left Ridgecrest for Wyoming yesterday around 1:30 in the afternoon. This was a couple hours later than I wanted to but I had a lot of things I had put off until the last minute and it took longer to get packed and ready to go than I had planned on. I hate it when I’m the one that makes us late for arbitrary deadlines that I set. It’s much more fun nagging at everyone else who making us late for my arbitrary deadlines.

Regardless we finally hit the road. It was 108 in Ridgecrest when we left. It was 121 in Baker, CA when we drove through there a couple hours later. It was 115 degrees in Las Vegas. Basically it was HOT! DAMNED HOT! WELCOME TO HELL HOT!

To add to the heat we were driving in the middle of the LA to Las Vegas weekend traffic. This means that we were surrounded by idiots who were on their way to Las Vegas to lose all their money and can’t get there fast enough to do so. It boils down to a four hour drive in over 110 degree temperatures and surrounded by morons who if they ever knew anything about driving have forgotten it.

To top matters off my car kept overheating. The van tends to run a little hot, and when loaded down it will occasionally heat up while trying to climb steep hills AT 70 mph when it is hot out. Well it was hot out, and we were climbing steep hills AT 70 mph but we weren’t really loaded down. So I was surprised when the van kept overheating. So on top of the heat and the traffic we rode about 100 miles without our air conditioner.

Eventually I got past Vegas, the temperatures dropped a bit, the sun went down, the traffic thinned out and the van stopped overheating and we were able to get down to traveling.

We spent the night at a Travelodge in Provo Utah. This morning my first task was to check the van. There was plenty of water in the radiator, and everything else looked OK except for this one hose that came out of the manifold cover and was supposed to be hooked into the air filter cover. It was loose. I pushed it back onto its fitting and we traveled to Laramie today with the AC running the whole way with no overheating at all. Damn. I wish I would have noticed that little hose when I looked under the hood at the gas station in Las Vegas.

Just outside of Evanston WY we stopped for some lunch and I got a couple pictures of some of the local residents.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stage 11

Ok, one last Tour de France posting before I leave on vacation. I should be sleeping but I can't. Choas and I and her two friends got home from the volleyball camp in Bakersfield that my daughter and her friends were at all week. I didn't get to see today's result until I got home and watched the OLN coverage I had TIVOed.

This was a great day of racing in the tour. 206.5 km of mountains. The climbing started with the col de Tourmalet. I think Lance Armstrong had the best comment concerning the Tourmalet when he said that he really didn't like that mountain.

Following the "beyond catagory" Tourmalet the race climbed over 4 more catagory 1 climbs.

This was the kind of stage that Armstrong used to use to take over and eventually win the entire tour. Floyd Landis used to ride for Armstrong on the Postal Service team and he learned his lessons well.

When the day ended Floyd Landis is the 5th American to ever wear the yellow jersey in the tour de France. The two Americans who have won tours have both retired - Armstrong and LeMonde. The other three are all still racing this year - Zabriskie, Hincapie and Landis. Now we will have to see if Landis, who is going to have his hip replaced after the tour can join Lance and Greg as the third American to win the tour. But that is still 10 days away.

Landis took over the yellow jersey by a slimmist margin. The 8 second time bonus he received for finishing the stage in third place.

So how are the remaining Americans doing?

Pos. No. Name Team Nat. Gap
1 071 LANDIS Floyd PHO USA
13 041 LEIPHEIMER Levi GST USA 05' 39"
28 016 VANDEVELDE Christian CSC USA 13' 41"
40 003 HINCAPIE George DSC USA 23' 01"
71 018 ZABRISKIE David CSC USA 41' 33"
102 064 HORNER Christopher DVL USA 55' 47"

Levi Leipheimer who finished second on the stage is probably really kicking himself for the 6 minutes he lost in the first time trail.

The next three days, are smaller mountains and some sprints then there are 3 days of big Alps mountains.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Busy Weeks Coming Up

I haven't been blogging too much lately. I may not be able to do much the next two weeks. Thursday night I have to run over to Bakersfield and pick Chaos and two of her friends from the volleyball camp they are at this week.

On friday right after Destruction gets out of his soccer camp we are loading up the van and heading for Laramie WY. Chaos is enrolled in a volleyball camp there next week. After her camp is over we are going to run over to Cheyenne for a few days.

Frontier Days starts the weekend of 21st. We are going to attend the opening Saturday Parade. I have rodeo tickets for Sunday afternoon. There is a pancake breakfast on Monday. We plan on spending several days visiting friends, being tourists and just having fun.

On Thursday the 27th we will have a Memorial Service for my Mother in Cheyenne. Dad wanted to have the Memorial Service during Frontier Days when most of his grandchildren were going to be in town. There was some mixup and miscommunications with the Pastor and we ended up with the memorial service being planned for the day after we were going to leave to come home. So we had to make some different plans. Fortunately the motel I had our return trip booked with willing to move our reservation out one day.

We didn't take much of a vacation last summer. Since we will be spending a lot of this one with family I'm not sure how much of a vacation it will be. But we will be away from work and out of the desert heat. So I guess it will qualify as a vacation.

I don't know what kind of internet connections I will be able to scare up while out of town. But I'll write some occasionally and post it when I get the chance.

The one thing I'm really gonna miss is the second half of the Tour de France. None of the places we will be visiting will have OLN on their cable systems, or they will not have cable at all.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I'll admit that I don't follow soccer as closely as I used to when my knees would let me play it. But Italy won the World Cup last night. They played France to a 1-1 tie and eventually won in penalty kicks 5-3.

French Captain Zinedine Zidane pulled the bone headed play of the year when he walked past Italian defender Marco Materazzi then stopped turned around and in full view of everyone headbutted Materazzi in the chest. This totally unnecessary behaviour was the final act of a great soccer career and was rewarded with a red card expulsion from the game.

Then again later in the evening Zidane was rewarded again for his childish behavior with the Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player. This is an award that is voted on my journalists. Which explains a lot. When was the last time you heard a european journalist who had a clue about what he was talking about.

Zidane with one act of childish anger tainted an entire career as a great player.

That may seem a little harsh but as a defender and backup goalie I was on the receiving end of several fits of anger by self important star strikers. I learned very quickly that I don't care how good you are on the field the moment you lash out at an opponent that way you don't belong on the field anymore. And you certainly don't deserve a top player award.

Zidane made as ass of himself and his career in front of the world. Then a couple hours later the journalist who voted for him joined him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

First World War Grandfather

My Grandfather (Dad’s Dad) was born in 1899. Grandpa was 17 years old when The United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. I don’t have the exact details of his enlistment in the Army. I have requested a copy of his service record from the National Archives but I am still waiting for a response.

My sister has this picture of Grandpa and his buddies at their training camp.

Grandpa and his buddies


My grandfather never saw duty overseas. He and the rest of his army buddies were on the train heading for the ship that was going to take them to Europe to fight when the Armistice was signed on 11 Nov. 1918.

When I was at home with my Dad last month after Mom’s funeral I was packing up my suitcase to head for the airport when my Dad walked in the room and handed me this medal.

ww1 medal

The medal is my Grandfather’s First World War Victory Medal. Each of the Allied Nations that fought in the war produced a similar medal for every person that served in the military during the war.

* It was resolved that each of the Allied and Associated nations should issue a "Victory Medal" to their own nationals to prevent a mass exchange of commemorative awards between the nations.

* It was further resolved that all the issues would have as a common feature the figure of Victory upon the obverse.

* All were to share a common "double rainbow" ribbon.

* The ribbon to the World War I Victory Medal consists of a double rainbow, with the red joining in the center.
* The ribbon is edged with very narrow stripes of white.
* The rainbows were selected to represent a "new era" and the calm after a storm (alluding to the First World War). It also represents the combined colors of the Allies joined together in a common cause.
* The two rainbows also represent the two groupings of nations, Allied and Associated, meeting the heraldic colour for conflict and bravery.
* The use of the double rainbow also provides symmetry and balance and avoids having the ribbon confused with that of the British 1914 Star (which, although not a rainbow, is similar).

* The issue of the Victory Medal was optional and in the event the following 14 countries (from a possible 16) issued medals: Great Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Czechoslovakia (Serbia), France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Thailand (Siam), Union of South Africa and United States of America.

China & Montenegro did not issue a medal.

Poland issued an "unofficial" version

My Grandfather was very proud of his military service. He is buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery (same place as Mom is buried). He didn’t talk much about his service except to tell me how he was killed saving the life of his company commander. How he died the second time when he jumped on a grenade to save all his buddies. But these weren’t the only acts of heroism my Grandfather performed in his life. He was killed at Little Bighorn fighting along side General Custer, which must have been pretty embarrassing because he was also a blood brother to the Indian Chief Crazy Horse. He died in WWII when he jumped in front of a bullet that would have killed General Patton. He died again fighting the Japanese in the south pacific.

My Grandfather was always my hero as a kid, and it had nothing to do with the number of time he died.

Tour de France 2006 Stage 7

Stage 7 is a 52 km individual time trial from Saint-Gregoire to Rennes.

Today was the day when the overall race favorites were supposed to step up and make themselves known. However someone forgot to tell the race favorites that. At least the guys who the OLN broadcasting crew have been pushing as race favorites didn’t show up today.

OK, Floyd Landis who has been presented as a race favorite showed up, but the rest of the “favorites” seemed to struggle with the wind on the course today. Floyd had some handlebar problems early on and needed a bike switch. But he really put in good ride after that.

Discovery channel dropped from 1st to 4th in the team competition. Overall as a team they didn’t perform well.

Early in the race American Bobby Julich went down on a curve and had a nasty crash into the curb. That crash ended Bobby Julich’s tour. Preliminary reports are that he damaged his wrist. Based on the way he hit the ground I would have thought that his shoulders and ribs had taken all the damage.

The time trial was won the first ever Ukranian to win a stage in the Tour. Serhiy Honchar who rides for the T-mobile team blew everyone’s doors off the entire race. When the day was over Serhiy Honchar won not only the stage but the overall leader's yellow jersey.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Team Nat. Gap
2 071 LANDIS Floyd PHO USA 01' 00"
10 018 ZABRISKIE David CSC USA 02' 03"
17 003 HINCAPIE George DSC USA 02' 30"
22 016 VANDEVELDE Christian CSC USA 03' 25"21
62 041 LEIPHEIMER Levi GST USA 06' 17"
126 064 HORNER Christopher DVL USA 12' 19"
011 JULICH Bobby CSC USA Abandoned

Two more days coming up for the sprinters then the Mountains start and then we’ll find out who the contenders for the tour really are.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stage 6

Stage 6 is a 189 km sprint from Lisieux to Vitre.

One small little cat 3 climb about 28 km into the stage and then nothing but flat land sprint points all the way to Vitre.

Narrow roads and several flat land riders who are running out of chances to win a stage or some points made for a day of beautiful scenery and some fast and awkward cycling.

After several breakaways it came down to a big sprint again. Australian Robbie McEwen won his third stage of this tour. Not much changed in the general classification or the green or polka dot jersey standings.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Team Nat. Gap
5 003 HINCAPIE George DSC USA 00' 25"
8 071 LANDIS Floyd PHO USA 00' 36"
17 018 ZABRISKIE David CSC USA 00' 43"
21 011 JULICH Bobby CSC USA 00' 45"
24 016 VANDEVELDE Christian CSC USA 00' 48"
25 041 LEIPHEIMER Levi GST USA 00' 48"
139 064 HORNER Christopher DVL USA 08' 42"

Tomorrow is the first individual time trial. Expect these stats to change. Hopefully 5 of these seven men will be moving up the standings.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stages 4 and 5

Stage 4 is a 207 km sprint from Huy to Saint-Quentin.

The stage starts with an early cat 3 climb and then cat 4 bump about 40 km later. Then it’s flat to the finish about 150 km later.

The only interesting part of most of this stage was that the Spanish Discovery Channel rider Egoi Martinez got into a breakaway with 4 other riders. Egoi jumpd on several of the sprint bonuses and managed to work his way all the way up to 5th place in the overall classification which helps Discovery Channel keep their lead in the team category.

Late in the stage there were two surprising incidents both involving Thor Hushovd. Thor’s race finale escapades continue. So far he had his elbow sliced open by a spectator, he has lost a pedal in the final sprint, then today his lead-out man for the sprint Julian Dean crashes in the last 200 m. Hushovd was swerving to avoid running over Dean and he ended up squeezing another rider against the baracade. Since Hushovd did make and maintain contact with the other rider the race officials had him relegated.

Relegated means he was put in last place for the stage. This cost him 20 green jersey points and makes his repeating as the Points leader a much tougher task. I think the relegation was pretty strict after seeing the incedent on video, so did a couple of the announcers. But we’re not in charge and Thor is just going to have to get those points back wherever he can.

The stage was one rather convincingly by Australian Robbie McEwen.

Stage 5 was a 225 km fairly flat stage from Beauvais to Caen. There are 4 small cat 4 clmbs and several sprints.

Two riders got out early on a breakaway and stayed there until inside the last 2 km. The big boys of the race seemed to take a day off. There was very few attempts to get any of the intermediate sprint or climb points.

Late in the race Egoi Martinez crashed with only 10 miles left to race. He got back on the bike and finished the race but he lost over a minute that dropped him all the way back from 5th in the overall classification to 88th.

At the end Oscar Freire from Spain out sprinted the sprinters to win a Tour de France stage for the second time in his career. Boonen finished second and retained his yellow jersey.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Gap
4 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:00:17.000
8 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:00:28.000
16 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:00:35.000
20 011 JULICH, Bobby USA CSC 00:00:37.000
23 016 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 00:00:40.000
25 041 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA GST 00:00:40.000
141 064 HORNER, Christopher USA DVL 00:08:34.000

Chris Horner is racing with a damaged hand that makes holding the handlebars difficult. But he is staying with it. The other six Americans are all within 40 seconds of the lead which is a good place to be.

Norwegian Thor Hushovd is still in 5th place only 19 seconds back, but he trails the in the points jersey by 41 points.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July 2006

We had a 4th of July party today. It is not the kind of party that will go down in the annals of party history. We BBQed chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs and smoked sausages. We had some salads, beans and snacks. At it's peak we had about 16 people here. Several came and went during the day.

We sat around and visited and snacked during the day. We dined around 5 PM. Then we threw a movie into the DVD player and watched it until it got dark. Around 9:15 we moved the party out into the driveway. There we shot off several packages of fireworks in the cul-de-sac and ate watermelon.

In years past we had all the families in the cul-de-sac join us for this. But through the years the other families have found other things to do for the 4th. The last few years we have been the only family home on the 4th.

This year however the folks who moved in a couple houses down from us were home. At least their kids were home. They had their garage band playing in the driveway with about 30 high school kids hanging around listening. Normally we would have welcomed neighbors to enjoy the fireworks with us. But the "music" this band was playing was really annoying.

Now I grew up while heavy metal was at it's peak and most of my friends all listened to it. Even as a kid I didn't appreciate it. As an older adult I like it even less. The one high school kid that was at our party was raving about how good those guys were. But when I asked her to tap her foot to the beat of the music, or tell me what they lyrics they were singing were she couldn't do either. That is mostly because there was no rythem to the music and the lyrics if there were any were completely unintelligable. Even when they stopped playing and the "lead singer" started talking to the crowd you could not understand a word he said. The distortion coming out of the speakers was ridiculous.

So we shot off our boxes of completely wimpy California legal fireworks to the accompliment of a deafening noise that was being passed off as music. Fortunately the concert was short. Apparently this "band" only knows about 5 songs. But you could have fooled me. It sounded to me like they played the same "song" five times. How do you tell the difference when each song is guitar noise mixed with bass noise with a drummer that is just pounding on the drums with no rythem or beat and a singer or two who is just yelling into a microphone.

Inspite of the noisy fireworks display we had a fun evening. It was a good 4th of July. Pretty good food, if as the chef I do say so myself, good friends, and a chance to celebrate our freedom and independence.

Tour de France 2006 Stage 3

Tough stage today, 216.5 km from Esch-sur-Alzette to Valkenburg. The temperatures were high and so were the crashes.

Hot days in on the road tend to lead to careless riders and careless riders lead to accidents. There were several little dustups along the road where no one got hurt. Nearing the third climb of the day American Fred Rodriguez and Eric Dekker from the Netherlands crashed into a spectator. Reports are that Rodriguez broke his wrist and Dekker several teeth. Fred Rodriguez has never been a threat to win the tour. His job is to lead out Australian Sprinter Robbie McEwen. I think this will be interesting to see how McEwen does in the sprints over the next few days without his favorite leadout man.

Eric Dekker is a big loss to me. Over the last several years Dekker has been part of many group and solo break aways. While he is getting older you still never knew what he was going to do next. Dekker is one of a few riders in the tour who could say that they won stage races against both Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indurain.

Later in the stage with about 20 km to go there was a small peloton pileup that took Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde out of the race with a broken collarbone. Valverde was one of the young riders that many people thought had a shot at winning the tour this year.

American Chris Horner was injured when he was “shooting the gutter” and ran into a section where the gutter wasn’t paved. He and Stuart O’Grady crashed. Chris suffered a dislocated finger and O’Grady a small crack in his fourth vertebra. Both are racing today.

In the end this stage was won by German Matthias Kessler. Yesterday Kessler escaped from the peloton with about 7 km left to race. He tried hard to stay away but was caught by the sprinters with less than 50 meters left to race. Today he tired the same tactic and it worked. He managed to get across the line about 50 km ahead of the rest of the pack.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Gap
3 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:00:05.000
7 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:00:16.000
15 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:00:23.000
19 011 JULICH, Bobby USA CSC 00:00:25.000
23 016 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 00:00:28.000
25 041 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA GST 00:00:28.000
143 064 HORNER, Christopher USA DVL 00:08:22.000
066 RODRIGUEZ, Fred USA DVL abandoned

All serious contenders plus a few extras all within 30 seconds of yellow is good!

Independence Day

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stage 2

Today was the second longest day of the Tour de France. A 228.5 km ride over two category 3 climbs, three category 4 climbs, and about 140 miles of north eastern France. The race started in Obernai and ended in Esch-sur-Alzette Luxemburg.

At the 1 km point of the race two riders got away on a breakaway and managed to stay away for most of the day. These two guys swooped up most of main sprint and mountain points that were available out on the course. In the end one of them, David De La Fuente, ended the day in the Polka Dot Jersey.

Mostly it was a long hot day of riding. George Hincapie and the discovery team did not make a effort to defend the yellow jersey. This tells me that they have decided that they are in this race for the long haul and not looking for single day glory. This is good news to me.

In the end this was another mass sprint at the end. There was a pile up about 2 km from the finish that split the peloton apart. In the end, the stage was won by the Australian Robbie McEwen.

Thor Hushovd the Norwegian who had his right arm sliced open on the final sprint yesterday had another mishap this afternoon when he slipped his left pedal in the final 30 feet and had to pedal across the line with only one foot on the pedals. He still finished 3rd. This third place finish coupled with a 2 second time bonus out on the road put this scrappy Norwegian back in the yellow jersey for tomorrow.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Gap
4 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:00:10.000
5 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:00:16.000
11 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:00:21.000
20 064 HORNER, Christopher USA DVL 00:00:27.000
29 011 JULICH, Bobby USA CSC 00:00:30.000
34 016 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 00:00:33.000
35 041 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA GST 00:00:33.000
99 066 RODRIGUEZ, Fred USA DVL 00:00:50.000

All serious contenders plus a few extras all within 30 seconds of yellow is good!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stage 1

Today was the first official day of racing in this year’s Tour de France - Stage 1. Yesterday was the prologue which basically gives them a back to hang the yellow jersey on.

Today’s ride was a 184.5 km ride in the park from Strasbourg to Strasbourg. I’m not sure why Strasbourg got to host two stages of the tour this year. Apparently they have a better PR department than many of the other French cities. Additionally I probably shouldn’t refer to a 184.5 km ride as a ride in the park. I could probably ride 184.5 km if I had to. Of course it would take me several days and I'd need motel reservations along the way. But if I had to ride at the same pace as the tour riders race, I would be lucky to get from the grand depart to the starting line before my heart would explode.

Today’s race had one small category climb that Bob Roll the OLN commentator described as a freeway overpass.

The main excitement of the day happened at the 175.5 km sprint and at the finish line. At the last sprint of the day, George Hincapie sprinted out of the peloton and grabbed the 2 second time bonus for third place in the sprint. This was a brilliant move on George’s part, since he was in a dead heat with Thor Hushovd for the yellow jersey. Eventually those two seconds put George Hincapie in the yellow jersey at the end of the day.

The other bit of excitement came at the finish line. Thor Hushovd the current yellow jersey holder was in the final sprint to the line when he was struck by a large green cardboard hand that one of the tour advertisers had passed out to spectators to wave. This harmless souvenir sliced Hushovd’s right elbow open and ruptured a vein in his arm. Hushovd finished the race with blood rapidly covering his entire right arm. He was eventually taken to the hospital where is arm was stitched up. Hushovd says that he is not sure if he will be able to grip the handlebars as needed in order to sprint for a day or so but he intends to continue racing and see how he fairs in the next few days. You gotta love those tough Norwegians.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Gap
1 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:00:00.000
3 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:00:06.000
9 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:00:11.000
20 064 HORNER, Christopher USA DVL 00:00:17.000
31 011 JULICH, Bobby USA CSC 00:00:20.000
36 016 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 00:00:23.000
38 041 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA GST 00:00:23.000
114 066 RODRIGUEZ, Fred USA DVL 00:00:40.000

George Hincapie in Yellow and two other riders in the top 10 - wonderful.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Prologue

The big news of this years tour is the “sending away” of nine riders on the day before the tour was scheduled to start. While this would be big news for any sport, the fact that 4 or 5 of these riders were expected to be main competitors for a podium finish in Paris.

I have always liked watching Jan Ulrich ride so I was a little upset to see him gone. I have never warmed up to Ivan Basso. Lance Armstrong seemed to like and respect him but I never really cared one way or the other. So Basso being gone doesn’t really matter to me. Well, actually it does. With Ulrich and Basso gone the riders that I have decided to cheer for this year have a better chance of winning.

I’m afraid that I am going to be pretty nationalistic this year. I’m cheering for the Americans - Hincapie, Julich, Landis, Leipheimer, Zabriskie, Horner, Rodriguez and Vandevelde. I’m going to put Hincapie first because he is riding for the American Team of Discovery Channel. Realistically Landis and Leipheimer are the only other two that have a shot at the podium in Paris. But I’ll pull for them all anyway.

The top results for the day are:

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Time
1 118 HUSHOVD, Thor NOR C.A 00:08:17.000
2 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:08:17.000
3 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:08:21.000
4 044 LANG, Sebastian GER GST 00:08:21.000
5 091 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP CEI 00:08:21.000
6 013 O'GRADY, Stuart AUS CSC 00:08:21.000
7 026 ROGERS, Michael AUS TMO 00:08:23.000
8 009 SAVOLDELLI, Paolo ITA DSC 00:08:25.000
9 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:08:26.000
10 096 KARPETS, Vladimir RUS CEI 00:08:27.000

Getting Back to Normal

My main goal for this last week was to try and get back to some semblance of normalcy in my life. So of course I have spent the week changing things.

To start off they finally moved my e-mail computer over to the building where I do most of my work. This has been long overdue. I have been running back and forth across the parking lot several times a day in order to check my e-mail or look things up online. I do most of my work on computers that are not connected to the internet. So it is nice to be able to get my internet connection work done just by swinging my chair around to the other side of my cubical.

On Tuesday I got the chance to play golf with my teammates for the first time in three weeks. I was pretty nervous about this. The last round I played was my worst intramural round of golf in 2 years. Tuesday night I managed to shake that off and played my best round of the year – so far – I hope. I shot a 2 under net par 46. I trialed most of the match and managed to finally get a one up lead with one hole to play. I only had to tie my opponent on the last hole to win my match. Unfortunately I had to give my opponent a stroke on that hole. I nailed a great tee shot with my 5 wood, out driving both my opponents who were swinging drivers. But I followed up that good shot with 3 absolutely lousy shots. I ended up double bogeying the hole, losing it and tying my match. But I’m not too upset. I golfed well and I’ll never complain about that.

Back at work I made some good progress on my programming job. I managed to get the algorithms I needed worked out and tested. Then I started implementing them. I still have some tough problems to solve and I want to have them done before we leave on vacation in two weeks. I think I can manage that.

My health isn’t back to normal yet. I still have some congestion in my lungs. I thought about going to the doctor, but it takes a week or longer to get in to see my regular doctor. I could have gone to urgent care, but the last two times I went there for a cough and congestion like I’m experiencing now they sent me home telling me that I wasn’t sick enough yet and to come back later when I had actually coughed up a lung.

All in all it was a pretty good week and I think I'm getting back to some level of normal. Or at least as normal as my life ever gets.