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Showing posts from July, 2006

Stephen Hawking and "The Great Escape"

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Physicist (Astro-physicist?) Stephen Hawking gave a speech in Hong Kong a little while back in which he said "It is important for the human species to spread out into space for the survival of the species. Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."

He was then a guest "questioner" on Yahoo Answers, which apparently has been publicizing their service by having people like Hawking, Al Gore and Bono ask big questions on the site for the general public to answer. Hawking's question was - "In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?"

So what does it mean that Hawking, who is arguably the Einstein of our era, is recommending a "Great Escape?" That he's saying we've doomed the planet and that we better find a wa…

Bike Maintenance and cool T-Shirts

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The bad news is that my main commuting bike is in the shop. The good news is that I have two other bikes and can improvise.
Smut's bike (I refer to my commuting bike as "Smut's Bike" because I bought it off my friend Smut, whose real name is Duncan) has somewhere around 2000km on it since I've been riding it, and I broke some spokes on the back wheel. I'm going to be without it for likely another week. On Thursday and Friday I rode my old Kona Hahanna mountain bike to the Go Station, took it to Whitby with me on the train, and rode it from the Whitby Station up to UOIT.
My feelings towards my old mountain bike are probably similar to those of a farmer towards his big, quiet, never-complaining, dignified work horse. It's not a sexy bike, and it doesn't do anything fast, but in return for a little respect and some T.L.C. it always gets the job done.
For the upcoming week I'm going to take the Cervelo off the trainer and ride my race bike (carefully) t…

Rain

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I'm not totally crazy. If it's raining when I wake up, I don't do the full ride to Oshawa, I do some combination of bike/Go Train to get to work. Riding long distances through the rain is a really miserable, lonely experience.

Last night on the Weather Network they were saying clear for this morning, and rainy/thunderstorms in the afternoon. So to me, that means bike to work but take the rain pants & coat for the ride through Whitby after work.
And the radio this morning was no help either. I think the word Harold Hossein (sp?), the weather guy on 680 News, used was "unsettled." Unsettled? Hoser. It would have been more informative if he'd said "Chris, this morning about halfway into your ride a rain storm is just going to pound down on your head." That would have been helpful.

So this morning around 6:00a.m., when I was either in east Scarborough or West Pickering (it's hard to tell, it's actually hard to tell where you are all along Highw…

Impeach Bush?

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Bill Clinton was
impeached) for allegedly lying to a grand jury regarding Paula Jones (who had sued him for sexual harassment), and about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Should George Bush be impeached?

In 1970 the domestic production of oil in the United States peaks. American oil production has since done nothing but fall.
In 1973 and 1978 the Saudi oil embargo, and then the Iranian revolution, disrupt U.S. oil consumption. Oil prices soar, causing widespread panic over an imminent energy crisis.
In 1997 the Project for the New American Century is formed. The PNAC is billed as a political think tank whose goal is to promote American global leadership. The PNAC believes America must act alone if international organizations cannot be used to promote American goals. In 1998 the PNAC writes President Clinton, imploring him to invade Iraq and remove Saddamn Hussein from power. A great number of PNAC members go on to fill positions in George W. Bush's administration …

Kingston Road

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I've been getting bored with my route, especially because it goes so far to the north to avoid sprawlurbia, so today I tried out a new and fairly direct route which I've been so far avoiding.

Old Highway 2, also known as Kingston Road, basically runs parallel to the 401 through the southern part of sprawlurbia. I've been avoiding it because I generally think of it as a "let's kill cyclists" highway, but I didn't really care this morning so I gave it a go.
To my complete surprise, it was a piece of cake. There's hardly any traffic going OUT of Toronto at 6:00a.m., so I basically had a lane to myself. It also cut about 10km and 15 minutes off the commute. AND, as a bonus, I found a toonie as I rolled into a red light at an intersection.

FYI - I'm working on a nice George Bush post, but I need to do more research first before I put it out there. In the meantime, here's one of my favourite parodies from JIB JAB. - This Land is Your Land. Bear through…

Floyd Landis (just quick)

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Warning... entirely stolen content to follow:

The foolish, but inspiring, risk of Floyd Landis:
Thursday in the Alps of France an American with a bad hip declined to listen to the pleas of his fellow cyclists, the common sense of racing strategists, and the overwhelming odds. Floyd Landis, a 30-year-old bike racer, took on the terrible climb that once cracked bike icon Lance Armstrong and left everyone in the dust in the Tour de France.

Landis doesn't have the leader's yellow jersey — but he's in position and is considered the favorite heading into the Saturday time trials. This is an improvement over what he was on Wednesday, which was finished, done, and utterly out of contention.

In what many considered a suicidal risk, Landis took it out on one of the steepest stages of the day. He was quickly alone — no one wanted to follow him on such a crazy, exhausting dash — and then, against the odds, he held everyone off, won the stage, gained back the time he had lost, and is now j…

The Tour & the Mountains

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The last few days have been spectacular at the Tour de France, and I finally feel like writing up a bit of what the Tour is, for people who don't really follow cycling.
The 2006 Tour de France is a bit of an oddity. It's the first Tour after Lance's retirement, meaning a lot of riders thought they had a chance to win. Then the doping scandal hit a few days before the Tour, meaning that 3 of the best riders (Basso, Ullrich, Vinokourov) weren't going to be racing either. This leaves the door open for lots of good, but unheralded riders, to win the biggest race in cycling.

So the Tour starts. These guys are doing somewhere between 150 to 240km a day in intense heat at speeds that shouldn't be possible. They approach the mountains with Floyd Landis in the lead. After all the shake-ups, Floyd can probably be considered the top contender for the Tour. He's also, incidentally, riding with a degenerative hip condition:
Describing the pain, he said in an interview at hi…

Ah, Lance...

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So this is why Lance Armstrong isn't really well-liked. He's totally respected, but not really liked:
Regarding the French football team, he was quoted as saying "All their players have tested positive for being assholes."
He's now in France, hanging around his former Discovery teammates at the Tour de France, and this is how one headline welcomed him:
"Welcome to France, Trouduc” — short for trou du cul (asshole).
See story here

This by the way is what the cyclists in Tour climbed yesterday:

That's L'Alpe d'Huez. Today and tomorrow they're doing rides almost as bad as that.

And here's a quick note about the sounds of cycling on a highway:

The sound of a car coming up behind you on the highway is nearly unnoticeable until a sudden burst of air right explodes beside your ear, as though someone sneaked up and popped a paper bag right beside your head. The sound of a heavy truck coming up from behind you is like the sound of an incoming bomb.

Cycling in Oshawa & Whitby

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After being at UOIT for nearly a month now, and cycling around this area for two or three weeks, I feel ready to shoot my mouth off a bit about the Oshawa area in general, and cycling here in particular.
Here's a bit of background for people who don't know the area well.
According to
this document, Oshawa's history is "without parallel." That really makes me smile. I hope nobody in Prague or Istanbul or Beijing read it, they'd be pissed to know that their city's history is dwarfed by that of Oshawa. (It is kind of cool though that Ian Fleming attended spy training in Oshawa, and got the idea for James Bond here. And Bobby Orr played hockey here for the Oshawa Generals. That's pretty neat for a hockey fan.)

Oshawa can either be considered a city in its own right, or it can merely be considered the last outpost on a stretch of sprawlurbia from Toronto east to Scarborough, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and finally Oshawa. My vote is that it's part of Toronto…

How much I'm riding, part II

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My first week has passed having my own office at UOIT (meaning a safe place to store the bike and drape wet cycling gear etc etc). I thought I'd give a status report of how much riding I'm doing, because I think I'm still guilty of giving the impression that I'm doing 68km in the morning AND evening to get to and from Oshawa.
I'm not.
The pattern this week, and this will probably be true until winter, is that I'm cycling to Oshawa in the morning, and then biking and using the Go Train to get back into Toronto in the afternoon. All together, that gives me about 90km on my bike computer each day. I simply don't have the fitness level to do the round trip ride each day, plus, the ride back to Toronto is a bit more uphill, and tends to have headwinds, and it takes FAR too long (i.e. over 3 hours).

So that's my riding report. Here's some fun stuff.
I found a really cool e-card site at Global Fair Trade.

They have awesome ecards that you can send, like these o…

The Tour and Newsweek

Here's a quick post until I get some more time:

I just found this on You Tube - it's kind of a Tour de France highlights package, set to a Moby song (same one used in some of the best racing scenes in SeaBiscuit actually).


And Newsweek's Cover Story for July 17 is called "The New Greening of America: From Politics to Lifestyle, Why Saving the Environment is Suddenly Hot."

Here's the first paragraph:

By Jerry Adler
Newsweek

July 17, 2006 issue - One morning last week ... 29 years after president Jimmy Carter declared energy conservation "the moral equivalent of war" ... 37 years after the first reference to the "greenhouse effect" in The New York Times ... one day after oil prices hit a record peak of more than $75 per barrel ... Kelley Howell, a 38-year-old architect, got on her bicycle a little after 5 a.m. and rode 7.9 miles past shopping centers, housing developments and a nature preserve to a bus stop to complete her 24-mile commute to work…

Cyclist reflects on death and cows

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Although I'm tempted to do a post titled "The Ride's Yucky Bits" where I'd take photos to go along with that post titled "The Ride's Nice Bits," I won't bore you with pictures of downtown Toronto streets and Highway 7.
Instead, this morning I took a couple photos of other things I like on the ride. This one I call "Sunrise - Cows grazing with Power Lines in the Distance." (P.S. If you click on a picture you get it full size).


Every morning (that I do the full ride), I find it disturbingly ironic that, right before I begin the most dangerous part of the ride, when I turn onto Highway 7, I pass this nice little graveyard.

I kind of take it as my warning to keep my concentration level high on my "10 cm of life."

And this is my favourite gravemarker in this cemetary. All the other ones are pretty large gravestones, and then there's this little white cross.

It's fairly new, only 4 years old, and I wonder about the woman…

Jimmy Carter

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I was thinking recently about how different the world would be if Al Gore had won (well, he did win, he got the majority of the popular vote) the 2000 presidential election, and if he had been the American president instead of Mr. Bush. Would Iraq have been invaded after 9/11? Probably not. Would the U.S. have signed Kyoto? Probably.
Then I got thinking about another unfulfilled presidency, that of Jimmy Carter.

Carter was a Democrat, and was President from 1977-1981. The critical thing about Carter was that - as far as energy goes - he "got" it. It probably helped that he was a nuclear engineer.
In the 1970's the world was hit by two oil shocks - in 1973 the Saudis reduced their oil output to piss off the world a bit and show how upset they were about Israel's continued growth, and in 1978 the Iranian revolution took Iran's oil off the market - both oil shortages sent prices soaring and got people thinking about energy conservation. In 1976, one of the people …

The Economist on Global Warming

I should be getting ready for work, but I really have to share this because it annoys me so much.
I was at work playing around with the Economist, and decided to see what this (very conservative, very pro business) magazine had to say about "peak oil."
I came across this article "The oil industry: Steady as she goes" from 22 April 2006.
Basically the author (there are no "bylines" in the Economist - you never actually know who has written the articles) denies that we're approaching peak oil, mainly because technology will improve etc etc... plus there's this nugget:

"Globally, the oil industry recovers only about one-third of the oil that is known to exist in any given reservoir. New technologies like 4-D seismic analysis and electromagnetic "direct detection" of hydrocarbons are lifting that "recovery rate", and even a rise of a few percentage points would provide more oil to the market than another discovery on the scale o…

The Route's Nice Parts

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On Monday I took Annalise for a ride along the nice parts of my route to UOIT. This part here is Sideline 26, where I leave Taunton Road and head north to Concession 5. It looks peaceful enough, but this stretch shows up about 40km into my ride, and is a long gravelly uphill that wears out my legs quite nicely.

It does have a nice bonus though....
I get to say howdy to these two horses almost every day!
And this is my climb. I think I've revised my opinion that it's worse than the Scarborough Bluffs climb. It's not quite as steep, but as you can see, it's a nasty sucker that goes up for a long time. It's on Concession 5 somewhere around 50km into the ride.

So two and a half hours. That's how long I'm on the bike by myself in the morning. When I rode the stationary bike at the gym (usually for an hour) I brought music and that kept me entertained. I could bring music on the bike, but with the wind and the traffic I'd have to turn the music up so loud to hear…

Clinton on Peak Oil

The Georgia Straight has an article talking about a speech former President Clinton gave to the
Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.
The highlights are:
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has urged newspaper editors to focus more attention on the depletion of the world’s oil reserves. Clinton said a “significant number of petroleum geologists” have warned that the world could be nearing the peak in oil production.
Clinton suggested that at current consumption rates the world could be out of “recoverable oil” in 35 to 50 years, elevating the risk of “resource-based wars of all kinds”.
He added that "everybody I know who knows anything about this business believes it’ll be $100 a barrel in five years or less".

So Clinton is on board. Hopefully that means that Hillary is also well-versed on this topic, and if she runs for the Democratic Nomination for 2008, maybe peak-oil will be a big topic at the Democratic Convention and will carry on into the next presidential election.

The Saturday Miscellany

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So it's Saturday morning, and I've got my body so confused it's waking up by itself at 5:30a.m. Which leaves me lots of time to goof off on the net before I go to my weekend job in the beaches at 10:00.
So what do I do when I'm goofing off? I find cool stuff!!! : )

Here's a link to a BBC story about what the earth will be like when the peak oil crisis is in full gear:
BBC.
And here's a link to an urban activism blog out of the University of Winnipeg. This particular story talks about how the WTO is contemplating classifying (it's early in the morning and I'm practicing my alliteration) bikes as an "environmental good" which should be free from tariffs.
U. Winnipeg Blog.

And THIS one is about how wrecked the Tour De Franceis!!!
ESPN Tour de France
Besides Ullrich and Basso, VINO is OUTTT!!! For those of you who don't know pro-cycling, Vinokourov is like a pirate. It's like a game between the Leafs and the Habs where a guy with a patch o…