Le Tour de France

Last year I had the most amazing time watching the Tour (see here, here and here for some old posts). It was the first time I’d actually sat down and actually watched it. Previously I’d seen highlights and kept up with it in the paper, but boy I’m glad I got to see it. I’m so glad I got to see Lance Armstrong, the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen in my life (and I’ve seen a few).

So, Lance is retired and now the Tour is looking for a new champion. Who will it be? What will happen this year? You can totally find out by watching OLN starting Saturday. The race is 3 weeks of hell to ride but just amazing to watch. I know.. I know it seems like watching a bike race would be like watching paint dry but it really isn’t. It’s a team sport with tactics and athleticism. It’s a thinking mans sport. It’s amazing.

I urge you all to give it a shot. But I need to give you an idea of what you are going to see. Each day is a stage (there will be 20 this year) and each stage is different. Everyone has a time for finishing the stages and when added together, they have what is called the General Classification. The person with the lowest GC at the end is the winner. At the end of each stage the person with the lowest GC also gets awarded the Yellow jersey.

Anyway, there are essentially 4 stage types. The first is a time trial. This is an individual race against the clock where riders try to finish a course as fast as they can. They are on the course alone while they ride. (There is also a team time trial, but not in the Tour this year). The other stages are all done as a group (well, they start that way). The second type is a flat stage where they ride a course that averages about 200 km (or 125 miles). It is the type of stage where riders will generally stay in the main pack (called the peleton) and finish all within a few seconds of each other. Sometimes a group of riders will break away from the peleton and try to make up some GC time. Depending on how high up they are in the GC, the peleton may or may not decide to chase them down. The flat stages are peaceful and beautiful to watch. The third stage type is similar to the flat stage but has a few relatively small mountains or hills in it. This is called a rolling stage and it begins to test the riders. The last stage type is the mountain stage and I can’t even begin to describe what happens here. It is in the mountains (which begin on July 12) that the real race is generally fought.

So, on Saturday you’ll see a time trial and then in the following days a number of flat and rolling stages. You should try to check out one or two days to get a feel for the riders and who is looking like they have the legs to ride the whole thing to the end. If you watch nothing else, watch a mountain stage in its entirety, you will not be disappointed.

Ok.. so that’s my little blurb on the Tour. Of course I need to give you my predictions for the finish. Here is my top 10 in the GC followed by the Green and the Poka Dot jersey winners:

1. Jan Ullrich
2. Ivan Basso
3. Alexander Vinokourov (could win if he has a strong team effort)
4. George Hincapie (will have an incredible team with him but had a bad crash earlier this year)
5. Floyd Landis
6. Alejandro Valverde
7. Levi Leipheimer
8. Yaroslav Popovych
9. Cadel Evans
10. Christophe Moreau

green jersey : Thor Hushovd (with Tom Boonan a very close second)
poka dot : rassmussen

Vive Le Tour!

Le Tour de France

Last year I had the most amazing time watching the Tour (see here, here and here for some old posts). It was the first time I’d actually sat down and actually watched it. Previously I’d seen highlights and kept up with it in the paper, but boy I’m glad I got to see it. I’m so glad I got to see Lance Armstrong, the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen in my life (and I’ve seen a few).

So, Lance is retired and now the Tour is looking for a new champion. Who will it be? What will happen this year? You can totally find out by watching OLN starting Saturday. The race is 3 weeks of hell to ride but just amazing to watch. I know.. I know it seems like watching a bike race would be like watching paint dry but it really isn’t. It’s a team sport with tactics and athleticism. It’s a thinking mans sport. It’s amazing.

I urge you all to give it a shot. But I need to give you an idea of what you are going to see. Each day is a stage (there will be 20 this year) and each stage is different. Everyone has a time for finishing the stages and when added together, they have what is called the General Classification. The person with the lowest GC at the end is the winner. At the end of each stage the person with the lowest GC also gets awarded the Yellow jersey.

Anyway, there are essentially 4 stage types. The first is a time trial. This is an individual race against the clock where riders try to finish a course as fast as they can. They are on the course alone while they ride. (There is also a team time trial, but not in the Tour this year). The other stages are all done as a group (well, they start that way). The second type is a flat stage where they ride a course that averages about 200 km (or 125 miles). It is the type of stage where riders will generally stay in the main pack (called the peleton) and finish all within a few seconds of each other. Sometimes a group of riders will break away from the peleton and try to make up some GC time. Depending on how high up they are in the GC, the peleton may or may not decide to chase them down. The flat stages are peaceful and beautiful to watch. The third stage type is similar to the flat stage but has a few relatively small mountains or hills in it. This is called a rolling stage and it begins to test the riders. The last stage type is the mountain stage and I can’t even begin to describe what happens here. It is in the mountains (which begin on July 12) that the real race is generally fought.

So, on Saturday you’ll see a time trial and then in the following days a number of flat and rolling stages. You should try to check out one or two days to get a feel for the riders and who is looking like they have the legs to ride the whole thing to the end. If you watch nothing else, watch a mountain stage in its entirety, you will not be disappointed.

Ok.. so that’s my little blurb on the Tour. Of course I need to give you my predictions for the finish. Here is my top 10 in the GC followed by the Green and the Poka Dot jersey winners:

1. Jan Ullrich
2. Ivan Basso
3. Alexander Vinokourov (could win if he has a strong team effort)
4. George Hincapie (will have an incredible team with him but had a bad crash earlier this year)
5. Floyd Landis
6. Alejandro Valverde
7. Levi Leipheimer
8. Yaroslav Popovych
9. Cadel Evans
10. Christophe Moreau

green jersey : Thor Hushovd (with Tom Boonan a very close second)
poka dot : rassmussen

Vive Le Tour!

Our Floods and Climate Change

Hmn… I wonder if all of our floods lately are related to climate change? You know, there was an interesting statistic in the Gore movie (which you should go see if you haven’t) that talks about the fact that in a sample of 1000 peer reviewed papers, 0 of them denied that climate change is real and that we have caused it. It then says that of a sample of news reports over the past few years, 55% of them gave rise to doubt that climate change is real. Disenfranchise folks.

So, I don’t have the tools or the time to do a survey today, but from what I saw on our local news yesterday and what I’ve seen in the papers today, there was not one mention of the possible reason for the increased rains we’ve been having. In the Inky article I linked to above there is this quote : “Meteorologists described the spell of rain that began last Thursday as a remarkable one.”.

Obviously in my mind there should be at least an attempt to get some scientist to tell us why the rains are occurring and what the possible connecting causes could be. But of course there was none. Perhaps we could feel like weather patterns are more science like if we started calling weather forecasters by some other title instead of “meteorologist”. Think about that name for a minute.. does it really make you think of a trained professional? Or does it make you think of a fortune teller? The name is from the middle ages and it’s just embarrassing that we still use it.

Point is, climate change is real and it’s behind all of this and we are taking way to long to make the connection in our minds. We have to wake up and smell the coffee before we’re all living in it.

Our Floods and Climate Change

Hmn… I wonder if all of our floods lately are related to climate change? You know, there was an interesting statistic in the Gore movie (which you should go see if you haven’t) that talks about the fact that in a sample of 1000 peer reviewed papers, 0 of them denied that climate change is real and that we have caused it. It then says that of a sample of news reports over the past few years, 55% of them gave rise to doubt that climate change is real. Disenfranchise folks.

So, I don’t have the tools or the time to do a survey today, but from what I saw on our local news yesterday and what I’ve seen in the papers today, there was not one mention of the possible reason for the increased rains we’ve been having. In the Inky article I linked to above there is this quote : “Meteorologists described the spell of rain that began last Thursday as a remarkable one.”.

Obviously in my mind there should be at least an attempt to get some scientist to tell us why the rains are occurring and what the possible connecting causes could be. But of course there was none. Perhaps we could feel like weather patterns are more science like if we started calling weather forecasters by some other title instead of “meteorologist”. Think about that name for a minute.. does it really make you think of a trained professional? Or does it make you think of a fortune teller? The name is from the middle ages and it’s just embarrassing that we still use it.

Point is, climate change is real and it’s behind all of this and we are taking way to long to make the connection in our minds. We have to wake up and smell the coffee before we’re all living in it.

I don’t know

No.. that’s not true.. I know why I’ve not been very inspired to write lately.. I’ve got topics in my head (Genos, Flag Burning, The Tour, Green Stocks, the new Windows Media Player beta) but I just can’t seem to sit down and write. I think the reason is that I feel like writing here really makes no difference. When I changed focus from personal crap to topical stuff I had envisioned that I would get comments and emails and references… I thought what I would write would actually make a change in the world. I’m not so idealistic anymore. My 2 Questions post was a big one. I had it in my head for a while and I really thought it would generate interest. But like most of my ideas, they are only great in my own head.

For those of you who read regularly, I thank you but I don’t know.. lately I just can’t keep up my pace.. I’m just not inspired enough. But I imagine that I won’t stop since this is my primary outlet (I don’t get out much).

Who knows..

I don’t know

No.. that’s not true.. I know why I’ve not been very inspired to write lately.. I’ve got topics in my head (Genos, Flag Burning, The Tour, Green Stocks, the new Windows Media Player beta) but I just can’t seem to sit down and write. I think the reason is that I feel like writing here really makes no difference. When I changed focus from personal crap to topical stuff I had envisioned that I would get comments and emails and references… I thought what I would write would actually make a change in the world. I’m not so idealistic anymore. My 2 Questions post was a big one. I had it in my head for a while and I really thought it would generate interest. But like most of my ideas, they are only great in my own head.

For those of you who read regularly, I thank you but I don’t know.. lately I just can’t keep up my pace.. I’m just not inspired enough. But I imagine that I won’t stop since this is my primary outlet (I don’t get out much).

Who knows..

The 2 Questions

I want to ask you to go along with me here for a moment. I want you think big, I want you to forget about borders and races and religions and just think about one thing. Think about the human race. Be inclusive. Count everyone since we all really are the same. We all have the same inner sprit and life and we all can learn and question things. In fact we all have a drive, a need to learn and question things. We may suppress that need, but it’s there in everyone and you and I both know it.

I would argue that the human race is the single most important entity that we all can conceive of in the universe. Ultimately, everything we do and everything we are about serves us as a species. The most important thing in all the universe to us is to simply protect our race. To live. If we were all dead, nothing is relevant.

So, in my world, everything should measure up against one yardstick. How does it serve our species? Our ultimate goal is to survive as a race. But why do we need to survive? Why are we here in the first place? What would happen if all humans were extinct? And, no matter what religion or science tells us, we all know the answer. Deep down we all know that the answer is simple: “We have no idea”.

Sure we have our theories and sure we have faith that there is a reason for life. I mean, if we didn’t, we’d really have no will to live would we? Most of us simply say to ourselves “Well, I don’t know why I’m here, but I’m sure there is a reason so I’ll just stick it out.”

Which leads me to what I believe. I believe that we may never totally know why we are here, but over time, we will continually get closer to knowing. Look at how much we’ve learned since the dawn of human existence. Look how far we have come. I believe that we as a race exist for one main reason: To know ourselves. With each passing generation, our knowledge grows. So, to me, our ultimate goal should be to keep humanity going.

Ok, so you can see where I’m going now. In my mind there are two things going on with one serving the other. Our reason for living is to figure out why we are here and understand who we are. We all agree that that reason can’t be realized in one lifetime. We need to continue on over time so we can get closer and closer to that realization. So we must make it our ultimate goal to survive as a species.

From all that I will argue that we can rate any person, any organized religion, any popular movement, any corporation, anything at all by simply asking two questions of them/it:

1. How has this thing contributed to our knowledge of ourselves?
2. How has this thing contributed to the propagation and continuance of our species?

Use these questions on yourself. Use these questions for your religion. Use these questions for your leaders. You will find, if you are really honest, that most people and institutions today really don’t stack up and that our direction as a species is horribly lost.

My Friday Night – Movie and a Dinner

My girlfriend and I went out last night with 2 of our friends. We went to see a movie and then to dinner afterwards. Here are my short reviews.

The film was “Thank you for Smoking“. Right off the bat, I highly reccomend this movie. It’s a comedy type film with a message. The polot is simple: we spend some time with the head lobbiest for the tobacco industry. Even though the film is clearly anti-smoking, we can’t help but love the guy and respect how amazing a spokesman he is. The film is at times seriously hillarious and the main character is just perfectly played by Aaron Eckhart. If you are planning on going to the movies this weekend, go see “An Inconvenient Truth”. If you’ve seen that and want to laugh, go see “Thank You for Smoking”. Now if only I could convince all the sheep who are going to see the new Sandler film (which I can only assume will suck).

Since we were going to be at the Ritz 5 for the film, we wanted to eat somewhere nearby. There are so many cool places in Old City and we considered our favorite (Buddakan) but instead made reservations at Amada since we wanted to give it a shot and had heard such great things about it from Craig LeBan and others.

My gf and I had gone there once for appetizers to check it out and while she liked it quite a bit, I was totally unimpressed. This time we were doing it right. We had a 10pm reservation and were set up right in front of the stage where they do a set of Flamenco dancing.

We sat down just as the music was starting and boy was it loud. We couldn’t hear anything but the music. Not each other, not the waitor, nothing. We considered leaving but we figued it wouldn’t last all night. We were right. The set lasted about 20 minutes and then they just up and left. Not that I was complaining, but it was kind of odd that the would set up and play just one simple 20 minute set. I mean, there was a stage and it was a draw of the place.. but anyway.. ce la vi..

I’m not going to go into the food in detail. It’s a tapas place and we ordered all kinds of stuff. Some stuff was pretty good, some was boring, and some was bland. Between the 4 of us, we weren’t very impressed with me impressed the least. My rating was based on the fact that our per person check (with tip) ended up being over $75 per person. That’s cool, but for that kind of money I want great food and great drinks. I had neither. So, after 2 visits to Amada, I give it a rating of C+.