randomduck

thoughtful. entertaining. random.

Month: February 2008 Page 1 of 2

friday my:dc : traffic

Traffic at Florida and RIf you live in DC, you know traffic.

It’s said that DC’s traffic is among the top-5 worst in the United States. While I believe this (and am grateful that I don’t have to do the “Beltway Ballet” every work day), I also see some of the beauty of the L’Enfant plan: the city is imposing, the streets mighty, and the intersections hob-like. And while they are, indeed, hubs, they also weren’t envisioned as thoroughfares for automobiles.

It makes me glad I ride a bike for most of my commutes.

workout log: 28 february 2008

Activity: road cycling
Location: Hains Point (laps)
Distance: 17.7 miles
Duration: 1:07
Weather: clear and cold with a north wind (pre-dawn), 19-21 degrees
Avg HR: 135 (max 173)
Type: aerobic

Pre-dawn laps with Mike S. The sprints were good, but it took me a while to warm up. This is possibly the coldest riding weather I’ve ever experienced.

why obama keeps gaining momentum

Barack Obama keeps gaining in both state races and nationally because he’s remarkably consistent in tone, poise, delivery and focus of message. At stump speeches, town hall meetings, debates and interviews, he’s confident and consistent. It’s a tone he’s stuck with throughout the campaign, with some variations here and there, but nothing that veers too far from his “always looking forward, never looking back” campaign approach. Even when his campaign looked wounded after New Hampshire, he stayed true with his approach.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has run the gamut of tactics this week – and during the whole campaign. During the Texas debate, she was alternately snarky (the “change via Xerox” quip) and cordially conciliatory (her closing, known amongst Clintonistas as “the moment”). After that, she’s been harsh and attacking, pedantically mocking, calm and collected, and oddly giddy. It’s like she’s still trying to figure out which persona is the one that will work to derail the Obama momentum.

And then there’s the Bill factor: one week he’s the attack dog, the next he’s eerily silent. And no matter what he says or does, it doesn’t help matters – he’s a fly in the ointment of his wife’s campaign, which is to be expected when you have two political alpha dogs in the household, and only one can run for office.

The Clinton campaign is in a state of panicked free fall. They’re not accustomed to being on the skids without any traction in sight. There’s always been some sort of safety net along the way to bail things out, some break that goes their way. This time out, however, the lucky breaks have, to borrow a phrase from Paul McCartney, broken in two. So the campaign is flailing, throwing approaches around, hoping that something clicks with the electorate. It’s sheer desperation, and sad to witness. Hillary’s supporters, and Democrats, deserve better.

Meanwhile, Obama keeps soldiering on – consistent, cool and calm. Good on him – he’s the embodiment of a politician who gets it.

workout log: 24 february 2008

Activity: road cycling
Location: Dupont Circle > Glen Echo > Bethesda > Dupont Circle
Distance: 26.3 miles
Duration: 1:33
Weather: sunny & calm, 41-44 degrees
Avg HR: 132 (max 170)
Type: aerobic

A short loop of a ride on a Sunday afternoon. My first ride after my skiing trip to New Hampshire.

friday my:dc : goodbye to a big friend

Seize the sunsetThis past Wednesday, “The Awakening” – a.k.a. the giant of Hains Point – was moved to his new home at the Washington Harbour development in Prince George’s County.

Bugger.

To anybody who saw this gentle, metal giant, he left an impression. He was huge. He was shiny. And he was the most unexpected thing to see in a park that’s otherwise known for being a second home for golfers and cyclists. Kids would scale his arms, peer into his mouth, and marvel at the size of his toes. And almost like Stonehenge, he acted as a bit of a celestial clock, marking the seasons, stretching his hand toward the rising sun in the morning, and trying to grasp onto the last rays of light at dusk.

But now, after 28 years of slumber at Hains Point, he was unceremoniously unearthed, loaded onto trailers, floated down the Potomac, and placed in his new home at a monolithic, soulless “multi-use” development, seven miles to the south.

Will I visit him there? Perhaps. But it will be with a heavy heart, as my usual morning greeter for my pre-dawn laps on the bike has been evicted from his rightful home.

the liberal blogs are dead to me (most of ’em, anyway)

The liberal blogosphere has been an incredible group in its rise to power in Democratic and progressive politics. It has empowered hundreds of thousands of people to voice their opinions on political and social issues great and small, and should be commended for it.

But in this 2008 cycle, blogs that used to be open forums for honest discussion of politics and politicians have become increasingly partisan. Some, like MyDD, have by the choice of the owner: Jerome Armstrong is an unabashed fan of Hillary Clinton, and does not take kindly to those bashing her, her campaign, or his advocacy of her run for the White House. A good friend of mine was banned from Armstrong’s site for calling out one of the white elephants on his blog: that he’s very likely angling for a paid staff position in a Clinton administration. The ban was swift and direct.

The other approach is a bit more hands-off, yet with the overall trend being toward advocacy for a particular candidate. The “blogfather,” Markos Moulitsas, has been a bit of an equal-opportunity basher of candidates on his Daily Kos site (though he’s open about voting for Obama in the California primary), yet the discussion led by the others in the “front page posters” (those anointed to moderator status by Markos) tends to advocate Obama (and before that, Edwards) at the expense and ridicule of Clinton supporters. The arguments get heated, alternating between juvenile playground threats to more vile, disturbing over and undertones. It’s a mess.

And it’s noisy.

And it turns me off.

As most or my friends and family will attest, I’m a political creature. I tend to thrive on political dialog and argument. Yet I’m not one to tolerate inane and pointless arguments about non-substantive issues.

Such arguments are ruling both Daily Kos and MyDD, and I’m not taking the bait. Sure, I’ll glance every so often to see if anything new and truly productive is being discussed. But I think I’ll mostly just move on with my political life, picking my own path, fighting the battles that are worth my time and effort.

And this carries through to other political endeavors in my life. I’ve already made a split from a PAC I helped create back in 2004. And I do not plan to seek re-election to the DC Democratic State Committee once my time is up, as I feel there are better ways to explore my political interests (more on this at a future date).

Political battles that serve no clear purpose other than character assassination are truly stupid. I see them on various skiing forums, where differing schools of ski pedagogy are treated with the same reverence – and resulting fanatic devotion and defensiveness – as major religions. And as is the case with religion: the end is usually the same, though the means to that end may be radically different (or only semantically or syntactically different).

The same goes for the ongoing skirmishes within my cycling club (the faster crowd versus the slower touring set): people take their sides and dig in for trench warfare. And while I tend to ride with the fast crowd, I also see the need to cater to the touring set, who make up the majority of the active membership.

Can’t we all just get along? If not, just leave me out of it for now.

friday my:dc : the queue

The line inside St. Thomas'This was the scene on Tuesday at my local polling place: a long queue to vote. And this was just the indoor portion, as the line snaked outside and down the block a stretch.

It’s a good sign that people are showing up to vote in the primaries. And I’m really pleased that the front-loaded primary schedule didn’t result in a candidate before the citizens of DC, Maryland and Virginia had a chance to vote. For once, I don’t feel completely disenfranchised.

tour de france in tailspin

Today brings the unfortunate news that the Aumury Sport Organization has banned Astana from all of their 2008 events, including the Tour de France.

So there will be no defending champion, as many of Discovery Channel Cycling’s top riders moved to Astana during their off-season reorganization. Alberto Contador won’t be there (1st in 2007). Andres Klöden won’t be there, either (multiple podium finishes since 2004). My friend Levi Leipheimer won’t be there (3rd in 2007).

The race won’t be completely devoid of talent, but it won’t be a true test of champions.

This follows an earlier announcement that Astana isn’t invited to the Giro d’Italia, the season’s other top-level stage race.

ASO has stated that Astana “must prove itself” in 2008 to be considered for future entries. Regardless, no matter now well Astana races in the Tour of California or any of the early season, single-stage races, they won’t be given the chance to compete and prove themselves. So ASO has set them up to fail from the outset.

I completely understand the desire to clean up professional cycling. I also understand that, in 2006 and 2007, Astana was one of the most egregious offenders in the doping scandals, and that ASO has every right to be wary.

But in the off-season, Astana cleaned house. All of their staff were fired. Many riders were either fired or left on their own accord. Johann Bruyneel, mastermind of US Post Service/Discovery Channel was brought on board to right the ship, and all indications are that he’s been successful in that mission.

But thanks to ASO, the opportunity won’t present itself – at least without a fight. I hope they appeal this to whatever legal body they can.

And in the meantime, I hope they race to win every day, just to show up the ASO’s short-sighted decision.

huckabee is not an alien!

(That said, I didn’t vote for him.)

A transcript from IM this morning – it sums up the whole thing rather well.

The Scene: me, riding my bike back home after a pre-dawn ride at Hains Point, about 6:55 am:

I was coming up 22nd St., and it was closed between M and N.
I hopped on the sidewalk, which was also closed (temporarily), and a guy calls out to me "you're insane to be riding in this cold!"
And it's Huckabee.
So I laugh and say yes, I'm insane, and my feet are frozen solid.
He then walks over to his van and grabs me a small cup of coffee.
We discussed working out for 3 or 4 minutes while I waited for the congestion to clear.
Affable guy.
He was waiting to be interviewed by Fox News, and they weren't going live until 7:10 or so.
I said thanks for the coffee and wished him luck. He didn't ask me for my vote - I think he figured out I wasn't a Republican.
But he was friendly and funny - and bemoaning the fact that the campaign has kept him from his workout regimen.

One of those uniquely DC moments, I must say!

vote today!

If you live in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia, today is the day!

Get out and vote in the “Potomac Primary!”

I’ll be casting my vote for Barack Obama.

And if this is all weighing too heavily on you, here’s something to watch:

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén