randomduck

thoughtful. entertaining. random.

Month: July 2006 (Page 1 of 3)

random stuff for monday

Yeah, I’ve gone off on the political rant tangent again – remember it’s randomduck you’re dealing with!

But in some good news: the LeMond is back in one piece – hooray! One local shop had a spare SRAM PowerLink for me to use, which solved the pesky chain issue. And during lunch today, another local shop trued my rear wheel, which is now spinning so nicely: smooth, wobble free, and responsive. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s “Downtown Breakaway” ride.

Of course, the heat index is predicted to be in the range of 100 to 110 degrees during ride time, so I need to remind myself to hydrate tomorrow. “Hydration is good, Rudi – hydration is good.”

And the days off the bike have allowed me to get back some of the hunger for the ride – not a bad thing, especially during the dog days of summer.

If you want to see some things I’ve captured in pictures, check out my Flickr page.

If you want to see what’s been playing on my computer’s music system, check out my Last.fm page.

And if you want to check out a playlist or two, check out Selective Service.

just to clarify

I don’t condone what Hizbullah has done throughout this mess, either. I’ve never respected their tactics or their insistence on pedantic arguments to claim legitimacy.

Nor do I believe that the Lebanese government’s “stop-or-I’ll-say-stop-again” inaction toward Hizbullah is helping matters. In a coalition government, it’s always possible to utilize the power of other coalition members to keep the fringe in check.

But Israel is still taking things far to severely. There is no way to claim that a nation is peaceful while it inflicts such lopsided casualty numbers against an enemy that is incapable of overthrowing its government. What both sides are doing does nothing toward developing peace and understanding in the region. It’s insanity: it’s the same thing that’s happened again and again, and to what end? More conlfict, same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

And in response to this comment: who’s to say who the original instigator of the conflict is? It could be argued that many, many players lay the seed for the current tinder box that is the Middle East. Even in this conflict, Hizbullah is hardly the sole instigator – it cuts both ways.

So to clarify: I don’t respect either party in the conflict. As tom Friedman said on Meet The Press this past Sunday: something new has to be tried, and listening is the best way to start.

when words don’t mean anything

Israel has reneged on its 48-hour cease-fire.

I guess that words don’t mean anything to Olmert and his gang of misguided hooligans.

Did I mention that I have no respect for them?

i have no more respect for them

That’s my $0.02 on the government of Israel, given the ongoing military action they are taking against Hizbullah. Israel refuses to honor the UN-brokered truce, stating that it would give their adversaries time to rebuild, regroup, and “build human shields” against attack.

For a so-called “peace-loving” nation-state, that’s not exactly a pacifist stance, nor is it an attempt at civility.

When you compare the casualty count on both sides, the Lebanese people – both Hizbullah and innocent, non-affiliated civilians – have suffered a far worse fate: for every one Israeli casualty, between 10 and 12 Lebanese have died. If Israel is going for any kind of proportional response, they’re failing.

And are they actually targeting their enemies? Most of the Lebanese dead are non-Hizbullah: ordinary citizens, people who were, according to Anthony Bourdain, embracing joy and life, and blossoming as a world cultural destination. The Lebanese people are angry and scared. The airport in Beirut is in ruins, as is most of the city, which spent almost two decades rebuilding from war. Families are cut off from each other. Rural towns and villages are losing basic utilities and stability, as explosions blossom mercilessly from Israei rockets and bombs.

And the military response is not coming from the Lebanese military. Rather, it originates from a militant group. Yet Israel continues to attack all types of targets on speculation and so-called “gathered intelligence,” as if Hibullah is the Lebanese government. That’s the same logic as saying that Methodists or Lutherans represent all of Christianity, or that the Green Party represents all of U.S. politics – it’s an asinine strategy.

Still, the Israeli military is responding with the same kind of “proportional response” that they’ve used against the Palestinians: they use high-tech, high-power rockets and bombs against the low-tech, low-power rockets and mortars of their opponents. There’s nothing reasonable about the level and scope of response from Israel.

And it’s a story that the U.S. media hasn’t covered in much depth. And it’s a situation that the Bush administration has treated in a fairly flip manner. Secretary of State Rice even said that she didn’t know what to think of the matter on last week’s Sunday talk shows – an inexcusable attitude toward a conflict that stands to cause more trouble on the world stage than our ill-thought and ill-executed police action against Iraq.

And yet Israel is looking for the world’s sympathy. To me, they’ve run out of last chances. This is a country that can fight for itself. It manufactures some of the best munitions in the world. It also has one of the best-trained militaries in the world, with some of the most battle-tested and well-educated leaders and strategists in world history. It has a vibrant economy and a democracy that has lasted a long time with an incredible amount of stability.

Israel is a grown-up nation-state now – it should be able to stand its own ground without crying to the world that it it being picked on.

And I have no respect for what they’re doing to the Lebanese people. I do not support their current action, and neither should the U.S. government.

Update: It seems that Israel has suspended aerial attacks for the next 48 hours after an air strike in Qana killed 60 civilians, most of them children. It’s a start, but it still doesn’t make up for the abject brutality of their earlier strikes.

random day for the random duck

Let’s see, what have we learned today?

  • Apparently a double-header on Fox Saturday Baseball is not really a double-header in a market where one of the featured teams is being broadcast. So while we saw the later game (Nats-Dodgers), we didn’t get to see the early game (Mets-Braves or an AL matchup). Funny thing: Baltimore got to see both games. Peter Angelos should get out of the Nats’ and DC’s hair soon – he’s a pox on the face of the earth, just like Bud Selig.
  • When taking apart a SRAM chain to clean it (love that master link), be sure to keep a tab on the two pieces of the master link, lest you lose one down the sink – a lesson learned the hard way today. Oops. So my plan to ride on the LeMond tomorrow morning has been thwarted, as I lost the link after all the bike shops had closed. Thus, tomorrow’s morning ride will be on the Marin, riding the C&O Canal Trail. Wasn’t the original plan – maybe I’ll go for a long road ride in the afternoon, once I’ve picked up the missing link. At least the chain, cassette, chainrings and rear wheel are really clean right now.
  • I shouldn’t try to cook and clean my bike at the same time. Sorry, sprite.
  • Our landlord rocks.
  • The bathroom sink is now as clean as it’s been in a while (see above for the reason why).

Quite the productive day, right? Tomorow brings the farm market, a bike ride (or two), bike helmet shopping, figuring out our travel plans for this week’s NYC trip, and so much more.

what to think now?

Okay, so while I was away at Falcon Ridge, the Tour de France wrapped up with one of the greatest comebacks in modern cycling history. Floyd Landis, after losing over 8 minutes to his closest competitors, stormed back to a commanding solo win during stage 17, earning back all but 30 seconds of his time deficit. After winning coming in second in a time trial two days later, he went on to win the race.

Now it turns out that he tested positive for abnormal testosterone levels during said stage, and may face all sorts of trouble from the Tour’s organizers, the UCI (governing body of pro cycling), his team, and others. Now there are natural causes for these kinds of spikes in hormone levels, so there’s much left to develop. Apparently, the “B” sample has yet to be tested, so there’s still a chance for clearing Landis’ name.

But it’s not cool, any way you look at it.

Oy. When will the madness end? First there’s the “Operacion Puerto” scandal, which knocked out Tour favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, now there’s this. It’s all maddening.

And it gives all cyclists a bad name, even if they’re innocent. Even hobbyists like me get the questions all the time: do you think they’re all doping? Is there doping in your club?

Not that this will keep me from riding – not by a long shot.

workout log: 24 july 2006

Activity: road cycling
Location: Somers, CT > Stafford Springs, CT > Brimfield, MA > Wilbraham, MA > Somers, CT
Distance: 69.7 miles (hilly)
Duration: 3:50
Weather: clear and sunny, 86 degrees
Avg HR: 152 (max 188)
Type: aerobic

A wonderful, fast ramble through the hills of north-central Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts. Some lovely hills, fragrant forests, placid lakes and a lot of good riding. This was the precursor to the return drive to DC, and made up for the rain-out over the weekend in New York.

a quick update

In Connecticut on the way back from Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. The fest was basically this: sun, clouds, rain, mud, rain, rain, rain, mud, mud, rain, mud, an exploding van in the middle of the night, rain, mud, rain, wind, rain, mud, food, rain, wind, sun…. and music. I managed to get in a couple of rides – one a big-time hill challenge, the other a windy and rainy trip to the supermarket. But the weather was not exactly ride-friendly.

The music was okay, when we got to hear it. It wasn’t the most ideal of music festivals, but we surviived and have somt time to do laundry and dry our stuff at sprite’s parents’ house.

More to come….

UPDATE: two rides during the Fest have been posted.

workout log: 22 july 2006

Activity: road cycling
Location: North Hillsdale, NY > Hillsdale, NY
Distance: 11.2 miles (moderately hilly)
Duration: 0:45
Weather: rainy, windy and humid, 80 degrees
Avg HR: n/a
Type: aerobic

A quick run to get groceries (Boca and beef burgers) and supplies (big trash bags for seating in the mud). There was a headwind going both ways due to a nasty storm front. I wasn’t going for any speed record, but I didn’t get hit by the crazy drivers, either.

workout log: 21 july 2006

Activity: road cycling
Location: North Hillsdale, NY > Great Barrington, MA > Copake, NY > Hillsdale
Distance: 43.2 miles (very hilly)
Duration: 2:45
Weather: warm and humid, 84 degrees
Avg HR: 164 (max 186)
Type: aerobic

The one really good ride I was able to get in while at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. This was a great ride: it started out with a 1 mile grind over a 5 percent grade that was consistent. Following some rolling hills, the fun began: a 1.65 mile climb with an average grade of 6.5 percent (and a 500 meter long section that hit 11.5 percent), then a second. 1.1 mile climb (after 2/10 of a mile of slight downgrade) averaging 4 percent. After a nice stretch of mostly level riding on a high, forested plateau, there’s a quick switchback descent (11.5 percent average, with one stretch hitting 15 percent – yikes!), into Bash Bish Falls State Park, which has lovely forests and a newly-repaved road where I hit 45 mph on the descent (average grade of 8 percent). The rest of the ride was fairly simple: some more hills (small), a stop for some Tour news and some Boca burgers (which would become tacos back at camp). All in all, a great ride.

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