Trois Gnossiennes

Piano playing for me is always in fits and starts. I may go a couple months and barely glance at the piano from across the room. Then something will switch and I’ll find myself playing over an hour per day. I’m currently in the latter phase. Though I have a horrible tendency to play all music fast as I see fit, this time around I’m consciously slowing it down and trying to find the right interpretation of a song. (“Right” being what sounds good to me. I can’t be hemmed in by how so-called “experts” say a song should be played).

I’m currently obsessed with a few songs, but most of all Erik Satie‘s Trois Gnossiennes. His music is beautifully haunting and, in my estimation, very open to interpretation. There is no time signature, no measures, and very little additional instruction (at least, that I understand). In short, this is my kind of composer. Trois Gnossiennes, as you might infer, is actually three individual pieces — Gnossienne no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, appropriately — grouped together. From what I’ve gathered, Satie made up the word “Gnossiennes” so no one really knows what it means or exactly how it’s pronounced. Again, loving this guy the more I read about him.

As an experiment, I fired up GarageBand, and, for the first time ever, attempted to record something. The sound is not awesome as I don’t have the proper equipment to connect my piano directly to the computer, but it was a fun experiment.


Sisterly Halloween

As noted when it was taken, if ever there were a photo that summed up our sisterly bond, this could be it. Me being annoying, The Sister ™ annoyed.

Me and The Sister

Not only should I watch myself, but perhaps you should too.

The Sister

Hope everyone’s Halloween was great!


My Geek Box

Geek Box of Comp. Sci. textbooks

Yes, I’m a geek. As I was finally unpacking some boxes of books and papers that haven’t seen daylight in about 3 years, I found my fun box of computer science textbooks. Data structures, SPARC architecture, C++ — it doesn’t get much better than this!

And thank god they’re now within referencing distance as one never knows when one might need a handy heapsort algorithm.


Currently Entertaining Me

Part of this video is hard to watch, the rest makes me laugh every time. If you’re cubicle warrioring, you may, um, want to turn down your speakers.

Election 2008 Politics

Let’s be FOR Something

I have long been “that person” who will reply all to a forwarded email — it’s not a requirement that I know everyone on the forward list — with fact check information or a disproving link. This one caught my radar because not only is it factually incorrect in places, it’s, well, ineffective.

Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,

We are writing to you today because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce—on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate—that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms.Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present and future daughters. To date, she is against a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, alternative energy development, gun control, freedom of speech (as mayor she brought up the question of banning books and then attempted to fire the librarian who refused), the separation of church and state, community organizing, and polar bears.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin’s political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we’ve so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we hope that you will reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and city or town and state of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called ‘Women Against Sarah Palin,’ which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience—the greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action. And please pass this message on to the ladies in your life!



Quinn L. and Lyra K.
New York, NY

Let’s dissect, shall we?

To date, she is against a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, alternative energy development, gun control, freedom of speech (as mayor she brought up the question of banning books and then attempted to fire the librarian who refused), the separation of church and state, community organizing, and polar bears.

This excerpt is indicative of the entire tone of the letter. In many cases if you look up these issues, you’ll find that Palin is “for” something, but the authors of this letter decided to make the leap that she is automatically “against” a similar issue (e.g. She’s for drilling in ANWR, therefore she must be against alternative energy development). To the facts:

  • Against a woman’s right to choose — I guess this is another way to say she’s pro-life (which is true). It seems the writers of this letter resorted to the tried and true abortion debate method of using incongruous language — “pro-abortion” vs. “pro-life”, “pro-choice” vs. “against woman’s right to choose”. Both equally ridiculous.
  • Against environmental protection — It’s true that she’s fought against endangered species protections for certain species, but she has also recognized climate change and created a subcommittee to address climate change in Alaska. So this claim is half true if we’re being optimistic.
  • Against alternative energy development — I haven’t read anything to suggest she’s against alternative energy development. Palin does support the opening of ANWR, but one does not automatically beget the other.
  • Against gun control — It’s true that she’s a longtime NRA member and supports the constitutional right to bear arms. Again, I can not find a specific reference where she says she’s against gun control.
  • Against freedom of speech — I can only assume this refers to the oft-quoted Wasilla librarian debate. The real circumstances indicate she didn’t attempt to ban books, or at least not so explicitly, and especially not the book lists that have circulated in some places. In short, this statement is a leap at best.
  • Against separation of church and state — Apparently this conclusion is made from Palin’s various remarks that creationism could be taught alongside evolution. However, she also noted that school boards should not be pushed on the subject, but to leave it open for discussion.
  • Against community organizing — I can only assume this refers to her RNC speech comments about Obama’s time as a community organizer. I’ll allow that this was a stupid statement, and I’m a fan of Jon Stewart’s take.
  • Against polar bears — She also hates kittens and kicks dogs. But, I guess if fighting to keep polar bears off the endangered species list equates to a hate of polar bears, then this one is true.

Ms. Palin’s political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we’ve so demonstrably benefited from.

I hate, hate when someone presumes to speak for me as a woman. Neither side of the debate should attempt to, but especially not with such obviously biased and inflammatory language as this letter contains.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

The fact that this letter is addressed to “fellow lamenters” should be a quick indicator of the ineffectiveness of such a “women against Palin” campaign. I agree that Palin is a poor Vice Presidential choice. The chance of me voting for the McCain/Palin ticket is quite slim (get out the micrometer to measure this one), but yet I bristle at this email. One, don’t start a “movement” based on loose interpretations of the facts. Two, preaching to the Democratic choir is not likely to be effective. A movement to get women who wouldn’t have voted for McCain/Palin anyway to speak out against Palin? Wow, how revolutionary.

I was also pointed to this petition started by the same group. While the text of the petition at least showed an attempt to shore up the language (although, I’m not sure what’s up with the pic of Cheney), it remains a ridiculous petition. What does this accomplish? Why not put energy into campaigning for Obama? Why be negative when you could spend the same time and energy attempting to make a real difference?

I guess it’s just easier to be against something instead of for something.


Data Gathering

Now that my bike computer features an inclinometer, I can’t help but have a sick fascination with seeing it tick upwards. The miles I’ve put on my bike have been ridiculously low since the Copper Triangle, hovering around maybe 75 miles per week, but I finally headed out for a solid 50-miler on my favorite loop last Sunday. Of course, that loop includes a trip up Rist Canyon, prime territory for a rising inclinometer reading. Rist didn’t disappoint. The numbers:

Distance: 49.92 mi
Time: 3:38
Avg. speed: 13.6 mph
Max. speed: 46.6 mph
Total elevation gain: 3955 ft
Max incline: 21%

The last couple miles are super steep — my computer didn’t tick below 9% much preferring to stay in numbers like 9, 12, and 14. On the steepest section of all, I saw it hit 24% before settling on 21%. Fun times. I love that in the warped world of Rist, a 5% incline can be considered a “rest.” Hearing gunshots near the road was a nice kick in the pants to get up the last mile as quickly as possible. (Is it hunting season? What the hell?). Man, I do so love to climb.

There’s wasn’t much else of note the rest of the way home, other than getting honked at by an SUV somewhere near Horsetooth Park as I was kicking it around 20mph. I hereby apologize for delaying that car by 3 seconds in my attempt to save my own arse from a gravel-y meeting with the pavement.


Rock Racing: An Analysis

Aw, hell. The Garmin-Chipotle guys dominated the US Cycling Pro Championships road race all day last Sunday only to lose a 110-mile race by an amount easily countable in millimeters. I first felt disappointment that one of the G-C guys didn’t win, and, secondly, I thought “Why did it have to be a Rock Racing guy that won?”

If it isn’t obvious, I don’t like Rock Racing. Sure, it was Tyler Hamilton wearing the R/R kit crossing the line just ahead of Blake Caldwell. Tyler Hamilton, a guy who will forever carry a cloud of suspicion around him. But I really don’t know what I think about his deal, and as a reader letter to VeloNews put it “it’s so easy to be an armchair critic and forget that real people have to experience the impact of the statements of others.” Essentially, I’m not as bothered by the guy who won as much as the team he rides for. And, honestly, I’m not sure why Rock Racing annoys me so much. So, I’m doing an analysis — longbloghand style, in enumerated fashion.

1. Michael Ball – team owner. — He is obviously an intelligent, ambitious, and successful entrepreneur. And, I truly appreciate his support of cycling and various charitable causes. However, his “style” makes me bristle. In an interview with PezCycling he quips that “if you work for me you’ll cry, crack or get stronger!” Sounds peachy! Where do I apply? (Actually, Mr. Ball, you could use a web developer, but I’ll get to that.)

2. The kit is ugly. — Cycling team kits are no stranger to the awkward balance between acceptable and questionable, and often highly questionable, design. Such is life when trying to find each sponsor an acceptable location for a logo. However, in true Michael Ball fashion, the Rock Racing kit boldy leaps right into ugly territory. I will say that it’s nice that one can tell that the kit is actually designed, but that doesn’t keep it out of ugly territory. And remember, ugly design doesn’t come cheap, so be prepared to drop over $200 if you want a jersey of your own (god forbid).

3. The website is, um, not my favorite. — I’m a web developer, so, like it or not, this could get long. However, before I get all negative, I will say that it’s coded cleanly and has many nice design touches. But on to the laundry list:

  • A splash screen that serves no apparent purpose. Splash screens are rarely useful or necessary. Even less necessary is requiring website viewers to make an extra click through a page with no content save for a Rock Racing logo that is only slightly larger than the one displayed on every single page of the website.
  • A black background with low contrast header and link text. I accept that a dislike for black backgrounds on websites may be a girl thing, but at least make the text on the site be a high contrast color so it’s easily readable.
  • It has a marquee. Fine, I’ll acquiesce that’s it’s not as bad as circa 1995 marquees. However, at least have it scroll the correct way.
  • The repetition. As of shortly after the race, “redemption” was plastered no fewer than three places on the main page. (Aside: Is that really what they want to attach to Tyler’s win?)
  • The photos under Galleries on the main page aren’t linked to the larger version. One has to go to “more photos” then find the photo to view at a larger size. In that same vein, the Press & News headers aren’t linked to the full news item.

4. I’m very obviously not its target market. — The Rock Racing brand with its dark, skull and crossbones motif, dark website, and its ceaseless attempt at “edginess” is not one that appears to be targeted at the late 20s, female demographic. Honestly, I don’t think Rock Racing could brand itself in a way less appealing to me. I even ventured in to read the R/R forums and found none of my kind there either.

5. No personal attachments to any team riders. — I can’t say that I really follow any of the guys on the team and thus have no attachment to their success or non-success. Most of the names are familiar, yes, but I’m not invested.

6. Discretionary irrationalness. — It’s been established before that I have a tendency towards small amounts of irrationalness. I accept this.

Again, I’ll say that I appreciate anyone investing in cycling, and Michael Ball has certainly done that. I just think the “bad boy” image he has created for the team is not for me.

The obvious quandary, though, is what to do when a racer I really do like ends up on Rock Racing. As often as guys change teams, this is bound to happen not too far in the future. Crap. I’m not going to think about that right now.


Boulder Roubaix

What better way to spend a Saturday than at a bike race, right? In this case, Mother Nature decided to bless the day and the previous 36+ hours with a steady rain (and snow in the upper elevations of Colorado). The Boulder Roubaix course is 75% hard packed dirt so this made for some delightfully (I can say this because I wasn’t racing) muddy and slick conditions.

My friend Brian was racing in the men’s cat 4 race. Friend Tracy was a course marshal, while I manned the feed zone and served as one of an estimated 12 spectators. Rain poured steadily all morning. It was a true field test of my rain gear, which passed with flying colors by the way. Water was rolling off me, so you can imagine what this rain did for the roads.

Boulder Roubaix - Woman climbs up a hill on the course

Check out the dirt on this woman’s bike. She managed to keep her kit way cleaner than a lot of riders. I think this might be the women’s cat 4 winner, so perhaps it’s because she was always out in front. All the riders were ridiculously dirty.

Boulder Roubaix - Pro peloton

Luck was on the pros’ side as conditions vastly improved prior to their start. Look at all those clean kits.

Boulder Roubaix - Feed Zone

At one point, I was directed to establish a feed zone “somewhere near that white mailbox.” This is what I later figured out must have been “the feed zone.” Hmmm…

I had a lot of fun cheering for the riders, doing what I could to make them feel better about slogging through rain and mud. All the riders were amazingly polite — at least half said “thank you” while another quarter gave me a nod of appreciation every time.

All in all, a fun bike race.

Biking Olympics

Olympic men’s road race internal conflict

I’m just going to throw this out there: I’m fighting feelings of disappointment in the Olympic men’s road race. I’ve thought about this all day, had an email back and forth with a friend about it, ranted to a coworker, and continued to mull over it while I did some weights at the gym. What’s bothering me you may ask?

53 DNFs.

Contador, Freire, Hunter, O’Grady, Voigt, Zabriskie, Efimkin, Schumacher, Ciolek…what the hell?

Before you jump to the comments and tell me how stupid I am, here’s a few things I “get”:

  1. I get that this race was quite possibly the race from hell — long, hot, tough, smoggy, and lacking spectators.
  2. I get that some of the guys sacrificed themselves for other team members.
  3. I get that some guys are thinking about the ITT.
  4. I get that the race is only two weeks after the end of the Tour, which follows a long, hard season including Paris-Roubaix, the Giro, and spring classics.
  5. I get that most of these guys probably still have a couple major events left on their ’08 schedule.
  6. I get that the race is not the biggest world stage for cycling like it is for so many other sports. Most likely an elite cyclist grew up dreaming of winning the Tour de France while the elite swimmer grew up dreaming of gold at the Olympics.
  7. I get that it doesn’t pay the bills.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care. IT’S THE OLYMPICS. At least finish it, you know? That’s all I’m asking. And how many guys from domestic teams back home would have loved to be there?

And now for some positives:

  • Fabian Cancellara. Duh. This guy is bad@$$. He didn’t “save” himself, he frickin’ went for it. And I’ll have a hard time not cheering for him (at least a little) in the ITT.
  • I’m throwing out some props to Ryder Hesjedal. He did a lot of pace setting in a break group and still finished.
  • Props to Julian Dean. He’s a sprinter for Garmin-Chipotle, but he found his climbing legs and hung in there for 54th. Nice representation for New Zealand.
  • And, yes, I do appreciate Leipheimer’s and Vande Velde’s strong riding. Thanks Levi, Christian, and George.
  • The women’s race. Slogging through rain all day and only 4 DNFs. And it was fun to see the pure joy of Nicole Cooke when she won.

So am I irrationally annoyed with this race? Please do attempt to make feel better about it.

Update: Okay, I think I’ve officially worked through this internally. Official ruling?: Irrational annoyance. Carry on.

Biking Olympics Rant

I didn’t really want to watch the men’s road race anyway

My non-Intel iBook is apparently not cool enough to watch the streaming video coverage of the Olympic cycling events.

No Streaming Video for me

Now this just ticks me off. Chances are good it would still work on my system, but I’m being specifically screened. That’s annoying. And that’s bad form NBC.

Update: A little research tells me that they require Silverlight 2 for the streaming video.  Unfortunately Silverlight 2 doesn’t support PPC Macs, and, thus, no video for me.  Jerks.