Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
"Only Bollywood does more to unite India than its railways. The statistics beggar belief: every year, Indians take 5.4 billion train trips, 7 million per day in suburban Mumbai alone. New Delhi Station sees daily transit of 350,000 passengers, which is roughly five times more than New York’s LaGuardia Airport, and enough to make Grand Central look like Mayberry Junction. The railways’ total track mileage rivals the length of the entire U.S. Interstate Highway system, even though the United States is three times the size of India. Among human resource problems, the railways of India are an Everest. Its employees outnumber Wal-Mart’s by a figure comparable to the population of Pittsburgh. The world’s only larger employer is the People’s Liberation Army of China. (The third-largest employer is the British National Health Service.)"
Sunday, February 22, 2009
For you people living in more reasonable climes, these shacks in the picture are on the lake. Don't let the tracks laid down by pickups mislead you. When it freezes hard you can drive all over the lakes. Ice houses, or fish houses, are clustered around the lake, usually in groups in front of the "better" homes. They have floors with cutouts for the holes that are chiseled through a foot or more of ice, to allow a fishing line to be dangled down into the water, at east theoretically. In actuality it's a place where men go to drink beer, scratch, spit and fart without being "corrected". It is an example of how far society would slide and deteriorate without women to maintain certain minimal standards. There are no frilly curtains, no "cute" window boxes - just a minimal shack painted with a mixture of the old paint from the top shelf. Both my grandfather and father had ice houses. I don't, and I'm probably the poorer for it.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
"Another telling experiment, conducted on rats, did not rely on cooking. Rather the experimenters ground up food pellets and then recompacted them to make them softer. Rats fed on the softer pellets weighed 30% more after 26 weeks than those fed the same weight of standard pellets. The difference was because of the lower cost of digestion. Indeed, Dr Wrangham suspects the main cause of the modern epidemic of obesity is not overeating (which the evidence suggests—in America, at least—is a myth) but the rise of processed foods."
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Our Akvavit of choice is Aalborg, which is the nearest city to the village where my grandfather was born. Recently a novice from the Coast asked about how to drink Akvavit and I explained it to him, but I shorted him a little on the "ritual". From today's Minneapolis Tribune:
"Aquavit's strange attractions go beyond health. There's a mystical quality to the elixir; it's like a Scandinavian version of communion wine, fraught with ritual. The basic ritual goes like this:
Pour into a frozen aquavit glass (a special shot glass with a stem so your fingers won't warm the contents). Lift glass toward mouth and pause. Stare into eyes of everyone else holding a glass. Say the obligatory Danish toast, "Skaal." Drink -- to empty or not to empty is up to the individual. Look everyone in the eyes again. Set glass down."
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
"...he argues himself in this engaging new book, The Future of Liberalism, liberalism is more than a temperament; it is also a political tradition with substantive commitments—a body of ideas—and it has, as well, a dedication to fair procedures, impartially administered, legitimated by the consent of the people. Temperament, substance, procedure can all be liberal, and understanding liberalism requires a grasp of all three and of the connections among them. Wolfe's distinctive claim, however, is that the key to liberalism is a set of dispositions, or habits of mind—seven of them, in fact, each of which gets its own chapter.
Four of these dispositions will be quite familiar: "a sympathy for equality," "an inclination to deliberate," "a commitment to tolerance," and "an appreciation of openness." We're used to the portrayal: liberals as talky, tolerant, open-minded, egalitarians. It's not surprising, then, that these types are at home in the garrulous world of the academy—or that bossy preachers, convinced they have the one true story, do not care for them much. But Wolfe's sketch of the liberal adds three unfamiliar elements to the picture: "a disposition to grow," "a preference for realism," and "a taste for governance."
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"I am too cynical to be one of those people who idealize poverty and human suffering. But at the same time, it seems like there is something so genuine about life here. It seems so real. A part of me feels like such a phony, I write about the realness of Cambodia, when in reality I haven't really experienced it. I am stuck in hippy, backpacker ville. I wonder if the drugged out and drunk backpackers around me realize that what they are experiencing is not Cambodia. And if they do realize this, I wonder if they even care; if they are okay with being numb. Though I guess being numb is probably the easiest way to deal with being an uninvited guest in a country such as Cambodia. So fair enough, I'll remain a bit numb myself, but I will make a concious effort to take a moment to breathe in the shit of true humanity."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
"At the time of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia was sealed and nobody outside of Cambodia knew how bad it was. There were just whispers and rumors. I didn't become aware of the genocide myself until the book and then movie, "The Killing Fields" came out. I guess it was so terribly disturbing that I put in in a dark, awful corner of my memory - the same way I do with the awful things that are still happening in Africa. The thing about the Khmer Rouge that was different than the other breakdowns of humanity, is that they were doing to their own people. Doing it to themselves."
By their description:
Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout. Our version of the classic English-style Oatmeal Stout, using a variety of dark roasted malts, oatmeal, and our imported ale yeast. The result is a smooth almost-black beer, medium to full-bodied, with chocolate and coffee overtones and a roasty flavor. O.G. 1.056.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go hid in the den and drink the season's last bottle of Schell's Snow Storm.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I have reconnected with my old friend Toad. We were college roommates, or more accurately, college dropout roommates. We lived together in one of those times of transition in our lives. I didn't realize how much I missed him until we started communicating again - my Toad who was lost and now is found. Among other things he has a blog devoted to establishing an ethical will, a way of passing on the life lessons and values you have spent a lifetime learning, to the next generation - to save them from the Goddamned pain you have suffered.
This is from his blog http://yourethicalwill.blogspot.com/ taken from the writings of the Lama Surya Das:
- ~ Take care, stay aware. Watch your step. Pay attention---it pays off.
- ~ Awaken your mind, open your heart and energize yourself. Learn to see clearly and love generously.
- ~ Find a way to live your own spiritual practice. Develop an ongoing spiritual life, not just a few spiritual experiences.
- ~ Don't see others' light. Exploit your own innate natural resources for a change. Mine the mind.
- ~ Freedom is a process, not just an idea or ideal outcome. Progress is more important than perfection.
- ~ Learn to accept, to let go, and let be. Allow.
- ~ Lighten up while enlightening up. Cultivate joy. Don't take yourself too seriously, or it won't be much fun.
- ~ Don't cling to anything. Recognize everything is impermanent and like a dream, a movie, a sitcom. Remember the daily mantra: This Too Shall Pass.
- ~ Not too tight, and not too loose. Stay attuned to the big picture.
- ~ Be mindful. Pay attention. Keep your eyes peeled. Be vigilant and intelligent about your experiments with reality.
- ~ Be here while getting there, every single step of the way.
- ~ Don't rely on mere words and concepts. Just say maybe.
- ~ Don't be deceived by ideas and opinions, either others' or your own. You just can't believe whatever you think.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Chris is know for building sweet riding bikes and as the photo shows, very nice details - thin filed lugs and graceful curves. "Art" is probably too strong a word, but they are exquisite viewed up close. Note: in the backround are pieces of tubing painted with some of the colors Chris has painted in the past - all Dupont Imron epoxy, a particularily nasty paint to work with, but tough as nails.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
One of things I like about Phil Wood hubs, in this day of hype and advertising, there isn't big logos all over them, just a simple "Phil" in small letters. That, gentlemen, is class.
I recall reading that when the company was young, Phil Wood was in Europe, probably pushing his products. While touring the Cinelli factory, maker of some of the finest racing bicycles ever made, Cino Cinelli showed Phil his personal bike. It had Phil Wood hubs. Ne Plus Ultra.
When I was growing up, most of the small towns of the Midwest had ballrooms. The Surf, just 20 miles across the Iowa border, is the only one left around here. The only reason that it's still standing is because it's the last place Buddy Holly played before he died. It has become the monument to him, and the traditional rockers still come to play and pay homage. I was thinking about that today, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the his death.
A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they'd be happy for a while.
But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.
But lest we think of Charles Holley's passing in romantic terms, we have to remember, he wasn't a legend when his torn, broken body was in the twisted metal airplane wreckage strewn across a barren, desolate Iowa field. He was someone's young son, someone's husband, someone's baby. Reality:
From the Coroner's Report dated Feb. 4, 1959
The body of Charles H. Holley was clothed in an outer jacket of yellow leather-like material in which 4 seams in the back were split almost full length. The skull was split medially in the forehead and this extended into the vertex region. Approximately half the brain tissue was absent. There was bleeding from both ears, and the face showed multiple lacerations. The consistency of the chest was soft due to extensive crushing injury to the bony structure. The left forearm was fractured 1/3 the way up from the wrist and the right elbow was fractured. Both thighs and legs showed multiple fractures. There was a small laceration of the scrotum.
Personal effects found with the body are listed on a separate sheet in this report.
Fingerprints were taken of the deceased for purposes of identification.
Ralph E. Smiley, MD Acting coroner
Personal effects, Charles Holley
Cash $193.00 less $11.65 coroner's fees - $181.35, 2 cuff links, silver 1/2 in. balls having jeweled band. Top portion of ball point pen.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
For the 1949 Tour de France the Spanish National Team included six riders, and one of them, Julian Berrendero, had also been a member of Spain's last Tour team in 1938. But after eleven years away from the Tour, Berrendero and his teammates were ill-prepared for constant attacks and high tempo of the French and Belgian riders during the opening stages. On the first day Bernardo Capo finished outside the time limit and was eliminated. Dalmacio Langarica, Emilio Rodriguez, and Bernard Ruiz abandoned on Stage 5 - the same day Berrendero finished outside the time limit and was also eliminated. And finally, on Stage 6, the sole remaining Spaniard Jose Serra climbed off his bike and abandoned just a few kilometers after the start.1949 would be Berrendero's final racing season. The Spaniards would not field a team again until 1951, with Bernardo Ruiz dominating a mountainous stage 10 and finishing 9th overall in Paris.