Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crush of the Week: Nora

I was in the car the other day and this song came over the radio. If I could choose one person to sing to me at night, it might be Norah Jones. That voice is is therapy, it would be a good end to a tough day. She's not the most amazing voice, nor does she have the most range. She just works and for that, she's this week's crush. Thank you free radio for bringing her to me and reminding me of someone I've forgotten about for a while.

Near Crushes: Jan Stanley, volleyball coach at West Henderson for setting a new record for career coaching wins; Jim Lehrer, for trying, despite their attempts otherwise, to get the candidates to actually answer the question in front of them.

It's the end of the world as we know it...

... and I feel fine.

Last night, a few of us gathered around the campfire, cooked hobos, made smores and enjoyed one another's company. Lindsay made the comment that despite all the bad things going on around (gas crisis in Asheville, Wall St bailout, subprime fiascos, Iran's rhetoric and so forth), she had a remarkable week.

That was such a reassuring statement, because I know that our country has major issues and I know that individuals struggle on a daily basis. There was a point last week where I was feeling bad because it seemed in the middle of all this turmoil, I was clicking on all cylinders and having a fantastic week. I'm glad that I wasn't the only one, because the evening news made it seem like I was.

My students and classes were fabulous last week. They worked hard all week and took a test on Friday that either: they all cheated on, I really covered well, or they actually studied for since each class scored very well (and my tests are not easy). So, I had a terrific week of work. In addition to a terrific bunch of students and a terrific week of work, I also got to experience a bunch of great times with friends:

-Monday, I got to go to Laura's for a fall/end of summer hangout with a bunch of great people.
-Tuesday, Mike and I took a 20 mile road bike ride and then went to Two Guys Pizza where he interviewed me for a class and we ate fantastic pizza.
-Wednesday, I got to hang out with Dave and Sturgill and we rocked some Guitar Hero to relieve the grind of teaching and coaching.
-Thursday I attended the North-West volleyball game and, even though we lost, I saw Jan Stanley set the state record for career wins by a coach.
-Friday visited with Slim and DK (a week early)
-Saturday I hung drywall with my hero Jeff Smith and then sat around the campfire with great friends.

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers.
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn.
Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood letting.
Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed. Uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
Renegade steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
(I feel fine)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

265/366 - 23 Sept [Gas shortage]

When I left school at about 5:00 today, this was the line of cars waiting on US64 East for gas. What a nice crisis we''ve created for ourselves here...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crush of the Week

Alright, I am starting a new post called "Crush of the Week". It is to recognize someone I am: secretly infatuated with, dangerously obsessed with, or just pretty darn impressed with. This week's crush is actually a "man-crush". So I hearby introduce my man-crush of the past week: Ronnie Brown, running back for the Miami Dolphins.
Look at his stat line today: 113 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on just 17 carries. That's 6.6 yards an attempt! Ronnie was also 1-1 passing, the completion going for 19 yards and a TOUCHDOWN! Oh, and he had 1 catch for 9 yards. Between 4 rushing touchdowns and 1 passing, Brown accounted for 30 of Miami's 38 points in a 38-13 rout of New England and handing the Patriots their first regular season loss in over almost two years.

Look, it's been really hard to be a Dolphins fan for the last few years. I am a realist; I don't expect them to win the Super Bowl. I just want to see that my team is getting better and today was a step in that direction...

Near Crushes: Michael Johnson, DE GaTech for his two pass deflections, fumble recovery, fourth down sack AND blocked field goal in Tech's 38-7 victory over Miss St (cool that both my teams scored 38); Dot Case, Rachel Durant, and Kathryn Bailey for bringing lots of yummy food after my tooth extractions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Best Of: The Pacific Northwest

Tomorrow (Sept 18) marks exactly one month since I returned from the Pacific NW. I have had enough time to decompress and reflect on my Pacific Northwest Trip. Love that part of the country. The scenery is great, people are wonderful, food is excellent. Here are some of the superlatives:
Bend, Oregon
Best Town (less than 100,000): Bend, OR – What’s not to love? Great city with everything I love: scenery, neat people, trails, mountains, clean, funky. Bend is sort of summarized in this blog post.
Honorable Mention: Eugene, OR and its cool university; Poulsbo, WA with its Norwegian flair; Florence, OR and its dunes and Old Town.

Sunset Beach from Burrard St Bridge
Best City (over 100,000): Vancouver, BC – the hosts of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is cosmopolitan and diverse, trendy and funky. Downtown Vancouver is compact has neat neighborhoods like Yaletown, Chinatown and Gastown. How can you not like a city that has a huge park downtown, skiing and beaches within the metropolitan limits and Whistler with its world-class slopes and mountain bike trails less than two hours away?
Honorable Mention: Victoria, BC – walkable, quaint with great history and architecture; Portland, OR – bike friendly, lots of parks and home of Powell’s.

Best Drive: Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park – every overlook reveals another perspective of Crater Lake and makes you just want to stop. The drive is scenic and spectacular.
Runner-up: Pacific Coast Highway between Brookings and Bandon, Oregon
Best Drive I didn’t drive: Pacific Rim Highway (Hwy 4) between Port Alberni and Tofino on Vancouver Island

Newberry Crater
Best View: Newberry Crater (with Pauline and East Lakes) from Paulina Peak, Newberry Volcano National Monument
Honorable Mention: Crater Lake from Wizard Island Summit; Bend from Pilot Butte (see photo above "Best Town"); looking up at the Redwoods.

Surf school
Best Beach: Cox Beach, Tofino, BC
Runner-up: Secret beach near Brookings, OR

Favorite Mountain: Three Sisters, Oregon- Actually three mountains: South Sister, 10,363 ft; Middle Sister, 10,047 and North Sister, 10,085 are not the highest in the central Oregon Cascades, but together are awful pretty to look at when driving or from Bend. (note: Mt Ranier is still my favorite, I just didn't go there on this trip)
Honorable Mention: Mt Hood

Favorite Island: Vancouver Island- it has it all, a great city in Victoria, awesome National Parks, skiing and then best surfing in Canada.
Honorable Mention: Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park

Best Coffee: Human Bean Coffee, Bend, Oregon

Best Coffee Shop: Townsends Tea House, Bend, OR – okay, they don’t serve coffee, but it’s a great shop that hangs great art on the walls and is a nice place to work or relax. Plus, the Kashmiri Chai almost makes me never want coffee ever again...
Honorable Mention: Dragonfly Coffee, Portland NW

Best Bookstore: Powell’s City of Books, Portland, OR – go get lost in Powell’s, it’s very easy to do and some time well spent.

Best Breakfast: Victorian Cafe, Bend, OR – the Warsaw was amazing!
Honorable Mention: Willie’s Bakery, Victoria, BC
Coolest Restaurant: Cornucopia, Eugene, OR - wonderful lunch specials
Best Norwegian Themed Restaurant: The Crazy Norwegian, Port Orford, OR- the best fish and chips!
Favorite Brewery: Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR- hooray Black Butte Porter
Richmond Night market food vendor
Best Single Place for a variety of food: Richmond Night Market, Richmond, BC

Best Hostel: Hostelling International Vancouver Downtown- Large, but comfy, clean and safe.
Honorable Mention: Olympic Hostel, Port Townsend, WA - Great location

Trail sign
Favorite Hike: Dutton Creek, Crater Lake National Park
Runner-up: Mirror Lake, near Mt Hood, Oregon; Wizard Island Summit, Crater Lake

Favorite bike trail:
Tumalo Falls Trail, Bend, OR- the climb is made easy by all the waterfalls you pass; the downhill fast, twisty and fun.
Runner-up: Voodoo Trail, part of Phil’s trail system, Bend, OR

Best Boat Ride: Wizard Island drop-off, Crater Lake National Park
Runner-up: ferry between Nanaimo and Vancouver

Stanley Park
Favorite City Park: Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC- with its beaches, aquarium, marina, views, hikes, Stanley Park has everything all within walking distance of downtown Vancouver.
Honorable Mention: Wallace Park, Portland, OR; River Park, Bend, OR; English Beach, Vancouver, BC

Cape Blanco Beach, Oregon
Favorite State Park: Cape Blanco State Park, Oregon coast
Runners-up: Tumalo State Park, near Bend, OR; Honeyman State Park, Florence, OR
(note: Oregon's State Park system is first class. North Carolina could take some notes).

Lion's Gate Bridge
Favorite Bridge: Lion’s Gate Bridge connecting North Vancouver with downtown Vancouver
Runner-up: St. John's Bridge, Portland/St. Johns, OR

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Clocked by the cops

On Saturday, I was riding my bike to watch Georgia Tech play Boston College. Just commuting to a restaurant a few miles from my house that had the game on. As I was was riding along, I passed a Police Department Patrol car parked on the side of 3rd Ave. When I passed, I heard, "Good job, 19!", out the window. I looked at my bike computer and I was going 19.4 mph. I wasn't hammering the pedals by any means, so without max effort, I was making pretty good time on a slight uphill.

So, while I wasn't speeding, I did feel fast. I mean, how many people get radared and called out by the police while on a bicycle?
In other cycling news, it appears that Lance is returning to competitive cycling. Why can't athletes just stay retired? A few quick thoughts on this annoucement:

- Lance would not return if he could not compete to win. I promise, he's fit. He placed second in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, a brutal off road race that starts and ends in Leadville, CO, the highest incorporated city in the United States (elev 10,430ft).

Lance being led by eventual Leadville 100 winnner Dave Wiens

- Perhaps he will tarnish his legacy by competing and not winning. On the other hand, if he competes and wins, he might solidify his legacy more. Though he has never been caught, Lance cannot escape accusations of doping. With the emphasis on weeding out dopers, Lance racing what would be seen as a "cleaner" Tour might add legitimacy to his legacy. What would be really impressive is if he joined a team with its own comprehensive testing program such as Team Slipstream/Garmin-Chipotle or Team Columbia.

- He says he wants to bring more awareness to cancer. I hope he's sincere.

- Maybe he wants to win Sheryl Crow back.
- No matter what Lance does, I still am pulling for Christian Vande Velde and Garmin-Chipotle in next year's Le Tour.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Convenient Truth

This is not so much an endorsement or indictment of a candidate as much as it is to illustrate the point that when it comes to opinions, our opinions can often be fluid according to what we want it to portray. Whenever you are dealing with fanaticism, you only hear the things you want to hear, believe the things that you want to believe. In many ways, the biggest danger to all of us is extremism. Whether it is political extremism, to the left or right, religious extremism or some other idealogue, extreme fanaticism causes a twisting of the truth to where we cannot differentiate the truth from lies.

One thing all extremism has in common-- liberal, conservative, Islamic, nazi, Christian: If the lies you are telling you believe to be true, then you cannot be lying...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What the derailleur!?

Broken Bike... but fixed (sorta)
I had my worst bike damage today. And the sad thing is, there's no cool story to go with it. I wasn't jumping a ledge, I did not bunny hop a Sasquatch or anything like that. I was rolling slowly, waiting on some friends, when I hear a crack and my rear tire comes to a quick stop.

Apparently, a small stick (really just a skinny twig) got kicked into my rear derailleur. The stick got caught in the spokes which pulled the derailleur up and into the spokes also. The derailleur got caught in the spokes and was yanked around about 180 degrees from its normal position.

Luckily John had his tool kit. We broke the chain, making my bike a single speed. We did not have a knife to cut the derailleur cable, so used Wendy's watch strap to secure the derailleur to the frame so I could ride out. Wow, in all the years I owned this bike, this was the single worse incident to the bike (there have been several incidents the bike came out better than the rider).

In all, I'll have to replace the derailleur hanger, purchase a new chain and true that back wheel. I think the derailleur might be salvagable. If not, that's a new derailleur. Really, it could have been a lot worse. Now, here's a great photo of John at Grassy Creek Falls studying the map of Dupont.
246/366 - 3 Sept [Dupont Map]

Monday, September 1, 2008

Is God a Republican?

"Bush, Cheney to miss Republican convention" from Reuters

The far right would like you to believe that God leans Republican. Further evidence of this theory is shown in the timing of Hurricane Gustav and the fact that Bush and Cheney must now leave to attend to matters of national importance. For his entire campaign, McCain has carefully distanced himself from Bush. He has neither courted the administration or actively sought their endorsement. This is rare for a candidate representing the party of an incumbent.

Bush's scheduled appearance at the Republican National Convention would have not helped McCain with moderate and swing voters. It would have further galvanized the conservative base, but McCain does not need help with them. Bush, with his less than 30 percent approval rating [by the way, click on this link for a great visual of GW's presidency], would have chased away many middle of the road voters. Thank goodness for divine intervention...