Sunday, May 31, 2009
The Green Monster
A week or two ago ago I posted a review of a turkey Honda Hybrid. In his responding comment Abe alluded to a green monster he had just resurrected, which he felt was the antithesis of the modern hybrid. This is a post about the machine. It brought back memories of a dangerously fast blue bomb that I drove for a while. RPMs are okay, but in the long run it's tough to beat torque. Enjoy.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Gunnar Buys Pastrami
Friday, May 22, 2009
Depressed Old Guys Rule!
Former world hour record holder Graeme Obree is seriously considering another attempt at the record.
In an interview in Cycling Plus 224 (on sale 5 June), 43-year-old Obree says he has been training hard, built a bike that conforms with UCI regulations (you can see him and it at BikeRadar Live), and set a date of late 2009 to make the attempt.
"I'm not saying that I will break the hour record, but I am aspiring to do it," said Obree. "You know, last year was the first year since I was 16 that I didn't win a bike race.
"I don't think that you're physically hampered from winning at the highest level just because of age. To diminish yourself just in terms of age isn't justified. I don't think you can use it as an excuse, not if you've kept it going."
The current record, using 'modern' UCI rules, is 49.7km, held by Czech Ondrej Sosenka. In the past, when the rules allowed for more aerodynamic bikes, Obree twice broke the record: 51.596km in 1993 and 52.713km in 1994.
The bar was eventually raised to 56.375km by Chris Boardman in 1996, before the UCI banned the types of bikes and 'superman' riding style that allowed such speeds to be reached. Now, only traditional round-tubed diamond frames with spoked wheels and drop handlebars are allowed. Luckily, Obree knows how to build bikes:
Graeme Obree's hour record attempt machine, which he'll be bringing to BikeRadar Live(Photo: Andy McAndlish)
As he did with his previous hour records, Obree has built his own bike for this attempt. It's made out of Reynolds 653 tubing and weighs over the UCI limit of 6.8 kilos. "I've built it within the limiting factors of the regulations," he said. "It's deliberately long so my arms are stretched onto the drops for the best aero position. It's also longer at the rear as this puts weight towards the front of the bike."
The bike also features another Obree trademark, a huge gear: 138 inches (67x13) to be exact. He's been pedaling this on his evening training sessions, which typically last between two and two-and-a-half hours.
Obree was at his peak in the early to mid '90s, when he twice broke the hour record and twice won the world individual pursuit championships. He has had a well documented battle with depression, highlighted in his autobiography, The Flying Scotsman, which was made into a movie.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Church Bell Tells the Tale
You may not be aware, but we are in the middle of the Giro d'Italia, maybe the best Grand Tour race of the year (Denis Menchov is leading). This is from Cycling News. If you interested in bicycle racing from a historical perspective it is a good source. The following is about maybe the greatest rivalry in cycling history. In the contest of Fausto Coppi versus Gino Bartali, I come down as a Coppi man.
Dave's Thought for the Day
If at this moment you have a problem, the great thing about living in the moment is, if one moment is not particularly pleasant, there will be another along right after it.
Dwelling on the past is a pointless exercise; no matter how hard you try your past will never get any better or worse for that matter. What is the point of reliving unpleasant experiences and feeling the pain all over again? Or longing for happier times you may have previously experienced. It is not real; it is in your head.
Worrying is another futile pursuit; often the problem is only imagined in the first place. I heard worry described as "Praying for something we don't want."
Even if a problem is inevitable, time enough to deal with it, if and when it arrives. Why torment yourself in the days or weeks leading up to the event? Remember with any problem; before the problem you were, after the problem you still are. The problem is transient, you are not.
How do you get to live in the moment? Ride your bike is one way, or practice meditation, but often we can slip out of the moment once we stop bike riding or meditating.
What worked for me was to become an observer of my mind; I become aware of my thoughts and recognized when I was slipping out of the moment and into the past or future. Just by being aware of these thoughts is enough to stop it."
Monday, May 18, 2009
Ain't These Beautiful?
Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid
I try to live small, to impact the planet as little as is feasible...for me. I'm interested in hybrid cars, so this review from the London Sunday Times caught my eye:
"Much has been written about the Insight, Honda’s new low-priced hybrid. We’ve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when you’re easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.
So far, though, you have not been told what it’s like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.
So here goes. It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more."
And it goes on.
1949 Giro - Part One
He is dreaming of HIS Giro d'Italia, an awe-inspiring revenge, and right from the very start of course!
One hundred six kilometers from Palermo, where the road begins the difficult climb toward the Colle del Contrasto, more than 3000 feet above sea level, out of the thundering pack of racers, still as compact as a herd of buffalo, who leaps out? None other than he, the gregario, the unknown one, whose name children have never chalked on suburban walls, as encouragement or as scorn.
Alone, he hurls himself like a madman up the steep climb, while the others ignore him."What an idiot," says one know-it-all, "That's the best way to do yourself in! In five minutes at most he'll explode."
But he continues to fly, as if carried by a supernatural force. He devours switchback after switchback as if, instead of climbing, he was hurtling down the Stelvio, or some other mountain pass."
Friday, May 15, 2009
Quality of Life Movin' On
When I'm 64!
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo
You'll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah)
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings, go for a ride.
Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee:
Vera, Chuck, and Dave
Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
B' Day from Toad
Celebrates Gunnar today,
Happy Birthday Man
1949 Giro d'Italia
Please keep in mind that this is still (after nearly seven years) a work in progress, and each year brings new pictures or articles or other reference materials. I think this is the third edition... please feel free to send corrections or suggestions as much of the story is still guesswork and I feel I still don't have the entire picture. For instance, did you know Buzzati's articles about the Giro continued even after the finish? But try finding copies of those! And I'm STILL trying to find a picture of the Edelweiss team jersey (I have pictures of all the others, and even color drawings).
Well, that's the story of how this all got started. Now let's get into the spirit of the thing.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I'm Going Downhill - Fast!
No more banging your hard head
Coasting down the hill
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Thoreau Buys a Farm
We normally have three varieties of woodpeckers at our feeders; Downy, Hairy, and Redbellied. Today we have vistor, a Redheaded Woodpecker. Neat and trim with crisp markings. He'll move on in a day or two; he's a creature of dead snags and open fields, not oak woods. They were common when I was a boy, but when farmers got more free time they began to neaten things up - mowing ditches, cutting down dead trees, generally grubbing things out, all under the guise of "improvement". I think one Redheaded Woodpecker is worth a lot of dead trees in the fencerows.
Wounded Knee - READ THIS!
I was a bit closer to some of the events because Gary Thomas, the legal services lawyer in the Pine Ridge office, was moved to my Ft. Thompson office after the Pine Ridge office was "closed." Turns out ol' Rowe knew a good bit about the caravan that formed to go out to Wounded Knee that night, what kind of ordinance was in the car trunks, names and particulars. It wasn't safe for him to stay on in Pine Ridge, so he got pulled out and sent off to my way-station. That's probably why the Wilson goons broke into the Pine Ridge office and trashed it after he hauled ass.
There's lots of stories, but only two strike me as worth retelling right now. The first involves the trashed Pine Ridge office. Along about late April/early May, Thomas and I decided (in good legal aid tradition) that our office would benefit from a good chunk of the library and office equipment that the legal aid program had been purchased for the Pine Ridge office. So on a bright sunny day we jumped in my old blue Chevy pickup and hit the trail for the big res.
We hit surveillance shortly after crossing Pine Ridge's east boundary on the road in from Martin -- can't think of the highway number and I'm too lazy to look at a map. The surveillance came in the form of a very obvious tail by an unmarked law enforcement car. It followed us along a ways, then suddenly accelerated around us and whipped on down the road to the Wounded Knee junction, where it turned off north. We were pleased. Obviously there was still enough going on in Wounded Knee that we were too inconsequential to deal with.
We pulled into Pine Ridge, went down the alley to the legal aid office, parked and let ourselves in. That's when we discovered the place had been trashed, or tossed might be more descriptive. There wasn't a thing on a shelf, or in a drawer. Books were every where. Thomas and I looked at each other and rapidly revised the shopping list. Piss on the better desk and copier; which legal treatises could we find and get carried out to the truck?
As I was stacking some law books to go, I heard a noise, looked up and saw two of the biggest tribal cops I'd ever laid eyes on standing just inside the doorway. I was not comforted by the way they were caressing and playing with their riot batons. I called Brother Thomas' attention to our visitors -- it was his office after all; shit, hopefully he knew them and hadn't pissed them off in tribal court.
Upshot was there was a quick conversation during which the cop with the stripes did most of the talking. Turns out it was not our program's office anymore; it was the property of the Tribe (i.e., Dickie Wilson and company); we were trespassing; and if we picked up another fucking book they were going to thump us. Thomas and I saw the impeccable logic of it all, said our good days and headed for the truck. We hit the highway and headed for the nearest reservation line. We also got a nice police escort off the reservation which ended with a one-finger salute as we crossed into state jurisdiction.
My other memory is of the Reign of Terror days that followed Wounded Knee. As you recall from the program, 60 some Indians were murdered on Pine Ridge after the occupation ended. I knew one of the victims, Byron DeSersa. He was a young, thin, iron muscled fellow from Pine Ridge. His dad had run a underground newsletter opposing the Wilson administration, and Byron was continuing the business. He was involved as a lay-advocate and a community organizer actively opposing the Wilson gang. The kid was sharp, fun to party with, and he was fearless.
One night in January 1976 (this is how his family members passed it along to us legal aids), Byron and his wife and kid were driving down around Wamblee were he was meeting some folks and checking some stuff out. Outside town a carload of Wilson Goons picked them up and then passed Byron's car shooting it full of holes. They also got Byron full of holes. He pulled his car off into the ditch and hurried his wife and kid off into the night on foot, but he was too shot up to get away. We were told the Goon car turned around and came back and there was more shooting.
I was gobsmacked when I heard this. We'd been at a house party three weeks earlier with Byron and his wife, everyone was pushing Byron to get back into school, get a law degree, all that altruistic bullshit. Now the Goons had got him.
The investigation was low priority, but the feds finally did arrest some of Wilson's boys for it. Two of them walked, two of the others were given a sweetheart deal and did 2 years of a 5 year sentence for manslaughter. As we had so often said in jest, and now in sorrow, "That's life on the res."
The PBS program could have been longer, but maybe a new generation just hearing this story would have been lost in too many details. This was bare boned and moved well. Lots of stuff happened during that year so long ago, so many names and places associated with what was going on -- seeing old Fools Crow again was neat, but there was only one reference to Crow Dog. There was a place back then on the Rosebud called "Crow Dog's Paradise" where no FBIs went. But that stuff all ramped up big time following Wounded Knee and led up to the shootings of the federal agents and the charges against Leonard Peltier. For tonight it was just better to remember the guys like poor Buddy LaMont and Byron DeSersa.
These events are still playing themselves out in real time in South Dakota. Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was killed following Wounded Knee. Depending on the story-teller, she was either an AIM activist or a federal informant. At any rate, after all these years the feds finally made some cases, got the Canadians to extradite a fellow, and they've got two fellows in the local jail waiting to go on trial for her murder sometime this summer. Its a tough case for the Indian community because it looks like its going to play out that the AIM boys ordered her execution as a snitch -- which may, or may not have been the case.
And the Leonard Peltier case keeps popping to the top every 5 years or so. I predict that I will not live to see the definitive history of 1972 - 1977 in Indian County written.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Most mornings, the men of the Grove ate a hearty breakfast at the Town Talk Cafe. On mornings after a new snow they brought their cased hunting rifles with them and stacked them by the door as they came in. There were no phone calls or prearranging, it was assumed there would be a hunt. My Old Man had a Piper Cub fitted with skis at the strip on the south edge of town. If it was a school snow day or Saturday I would get to go with him and we'd fly out, mostly north and west of town, looking for red foxes resting on the hillsides catching the first warming rays of morning sunshine. After we had spotted two or three we landed and went back to the cafe, where the guys were on cup three or four of Iv's strong coffee. Plans were made, the quarry selected and driver-passenger arrangements set up. Then we'd climb into the cars and take off in a high speed caravan over the narrow, rough gravel back roads.
The general idea of the hunt was not to kill the fox; it was to get the fox running, which they are inclined to do if they are shot at with high power rifles. Then other hunters were set up on roads to intercept them. I should interject that this wasn't done on foot, it was done leaning across car hoods or from inside vehicles - all terribly dangerous and illegal. There were local vehicles that had patched holes in their roofs from guns discharging from a whump on the washboard gravel roads. In a scene from a typical hunt...the fox is running in terror from the sound of a barrage of gun fire, he scrambles over the hill and follows the overgrown fencerow to get to safety in the willows of Klunder's slough. But...but there are three or four cars flying down the gravel road to intercept and hopefully greet him with a hail of hot lead. The drivers hit the brakes, everyone jumps out, lean across the car hoods and lay down a barrage of gunfire at the poor fox that would make Ulysses S. Grant proud . In the excitement of gunsmoke and laughter there was very little aiming. It tended to be controlled spraying. I've seen cars lined up with half a dozen "hunters" firing, the fox run between the cars, and never lose a a nick of fur.
For me, "The Kid", a kind of a tagalong, the dream team was Ivan Paulson at the wheel of his '57 Dodge Ram (not a pickup - a tail-finned sedan with a hemi-head and two 4-barrel carburetors), "King" Thompson, and Don Wayne, who kind of took me under his wing when the Old Man was away or up in the Cub. This was a kid's dream - loud noises, fast cars and guns, laughing, spitting and swearing. With the men! It just didn't get any better than that. Iv was a crazy driver with a car that was stupid fast, King was kind of jumpy nervous, and Big Don was an instigator. He usually didn't even take a gun. His job was to give dual, to give advice and training, or rather to aid and abet. Bob (King) had never shot a fox in his life and it was Donald's mission to "help" him. I recall one time Don loaned King his gun, a big semi-automatic. I don't recall the model - the gun guys would remember. Anyway, Don tells King that, "You can never have too much firepower!". When we had the fox intercepted, Don gives me that now watch this look, and helped King get set up for the kill. "Now don't shoot yet. Hold your fire. Hold it. Hold it. Okay now, FIRE! SHOOT! SHOOT! SHOOT, YOU FOOL!" King unloaded the gun like it was an Uzi, never coming within ten yards of the poor critter. Don was slapping his leg and laughing so hard he could hardly stand up. Then back into the car to go up the road and do it all over again. And again. I believe the King died without ever shooting a fox.
I just proofed the above and it's all over the place. Tough. It's probably not accurate, but it is the truth as I remember it. And as W.D. Jensen, one of the last of his generation, said the other day, "It's hard to believe we could have that much fun without having alcohol involved." It was probably cruel, certainly unsporting, and even illegal at times... but it was like living in a sitcom and I've never had so much fun in my life.
(And then there was shooting foxes from an airplane. All I'll say about that is that it ended with an airplane crumpled in a pile with both wings broke off. Another story entirely.)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Good Morning Albert Lea
Some Brewer has to be the Smallest
What sets this operation apart from most others is its scale. He brews two batches every Monday and two batches every Tuesday, and more during the week as needed. He's forced to brew a lot of batches because of his capacity. “This is tiny. This is only a 10 gallon system, so it’s almost like a home brewery size,” Ausenhus said. “Generally a professional brewery, at the minimum, is about ten times this size. So I think I’m the smallest licensed brewery in the country, actually.” (info from the A.L.Trib)