Monday, June 30, 2008

My new bike!

Here's my birthday present to myself - a new road bike. It's a Roubaix Pro, made by Fuji. It has a mix of Shimano 105 (front shifters) and Ultegra (rear) components, which means that it has 20 very smooth gears. It's an aluminum frame, with a carbon front fork and rear carbon seat stays. (Carbon, compared to aluminum flexes more, so the ride is slightly more comfortable with a carbon rear.) The whole bike weights 19.2 pounds.

I bought the bike yesterday up in Northern Virginia, and in spite of dark clouds in the sky, I was able to take the bike for a ride down the Mt. Vernon Trail, from Teddy Roosevelt Island to Old Town Alexandria - about 17 miles round trip. It was a fun ride, and it gave me another chance to hang out on the flight path of Reagan National airport at Gravelly Point Park.

All of this was following lunch with my buddy Kevin at Moby Dick's Kabob Shop. (Yup, I didn't get the Moby Dick connection either, but at least the food was good.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What I'm reading now.....

Time for a new feature here at CogentPassion - what I've been reading recently.

I'm currently into From the Third World to the First: the Singapore Story, as told by former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

I've been to Singapore twice, and am amazed not just at the city, which is vibrant, exciting, and well-run, but how just miles to the north (Malaysia) and miles to the south (Indonesia) are countries that without the leadership of someone like Lee are still backwards third world countries. As I've learned through the first ~150 pages, a lot of this is due to the iron hand of Lee. Sometimes this is good, though one can not read the Singapore story without noting the absence of liberty in Singapore.

Initial grade: 1 star of 5. It's a plodder, and at ~750 pages, it is going to take a while....

Just to catch up, here's two other books that I've finished this month:

Beyond Band of Brothers: the War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. I was absolutely riveted by the HBO/Hanks/Spielberg TV series Band of Brothers about an "average" WWII infantry company. While Winters' recollections were a big part of the TV series, there's no substitute for hearing about the story of Easy Company first hand. The book repeats many of the stories of Band of Brothers, but adds the personal perspective and many lessons and leadership.

Rating: 3 stars of 5.

The Collectors, by David Baldacci

Standard Baldacci fare, involving Washington D.C. and the Camel Club. It's not anything like his initial thriller Absolute Power, but still OK beach/deck reading material.

Rating: 2 stars of 5.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Great quotes to consider:

From "Top 10 Coaches Quotes" (linked above):

Inspiration from Vince Lombardi:

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”

Deep one, from Al McGuire: “The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets.”

And one funny, but accurate one from Bobby Knight:

“If the NBA were on Channel 5 and a bunch of frogs making love was on Channel 4, I’d watch the frogs, even if they were coming in fuzzy.”

The other 7 quotes are worth a read.....

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tim's online photo gallery

I'm dabbling with designing and hosting web pages. My first effort is to put my favorite picture online, which you can see here.

(Of course, with the advent of Flickr and other, this means I'm at least five years behind the times.)

More pages and pictures to come......

Friday, June 06, 2008

Stupid baseball tricks.....

Check out this vid of a catcher pulling a fast-one on a homeplate umpire. It's not so nice, if you're wondering.

I did this once (less obviously) in high school in about 1987 when the homeplate umpire was our assistant principal who had just given me detention after the following exchange with my feminist American History teacher Ms. Wiest:

(Ms. Wiest babbling on about how hard it was to be a woman on the Plains in America in the late 1800's)

Tim (to person sitting next to me): how come we're spending more time on this than the Civil War?

Ms. Wiest (overhearing Tim). This is more important. If you don't agree, you can tell me in detention while writing about great American woman of the Plains.

Tim: (loudly) that'll take five minutes.

That was probably my first encounter with Political Correctness. My answer was a bit too chauvinistic, and I wouldn't today shoot back with the "five minutes" remark, but I would still push back against Ms. Wiest's agenda.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Slimey (the Clintons)

Vanity Fair has a nearly 10,000 word article on the seamy, slimey activities of Bill Clinton post-presidency.

I'm glad someone is detailing the rabid and alternatively erratic behavior of BC. Here's an excerpt:

"Clinton’s temper has continued to get the better of him. By the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, he was reduced, in a Philadelphia radio phone interview, to denying that his comments in South Carolina had been in any way racially charged, and instead insisted that the Obama camp “played the race card on me.” He sputtered, “I mean, this is just, you know … You really gotta go something to play the race card with me—my office is in Harlem.” At the end of the interview, apparently unaware that he was still on the air, Clinton was heard to say, “I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?” Asked the next day by another reporter what he had meant by saying the Obama campaign “was playing the race card,” Clinton would have none of it. “No, no, no, that’s not what I said,” he erupted, as if he did not know that his earlier comments had been recorded and were all over the Internet. He added, “You always follow me around and play these little games, and I’m not going to play your games today.” It’s a nice question, just who was playing the games. When I asked a Clinton campaign official how the former president could have issued such a flat denial, the aide immediately responded, with no trace of irony, that the offending reporter had used the word “playing,” while in the radio interview Clinton had used the word “played.” I’m not sure whether that makes Clinton’s outburst better or worse, but it’s of a piece with the parser the public knows so well."

The article, though, comes just short of asking the big question: how did Bill (and Hillary) earn $109M post-presidency (when they were $12M in debt), and how did the Clinton Foundation and Presidential Library raise $500M? Here's one excerpt, though, that should give you an idea of how the Clintons have raised the money:

"Even more troubling is Clinton’s relationship with the Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra. This winter, a lengthy investigative report in The New York Times disclosed that, in 2005, Clinton flew to the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan on Giustra’s MD-87 jet for what was billed as a philanthropic three-country tour. The two men had dinner with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has held the country in a vise-like grip for nearly two decades. At their meeting, Clinton expressed support for Nazarbayev’s bid to head the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors elections and promotes democracy. That position was sharply at odds with official American foreign policy and came in the face of stinging criticism of Kazakhstan’s record on human rights from many sources, including the junior senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Within two days, Giustra’s company signed preliminary agreements allowing it to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency. And months after that the Clinton Foundation received a $31.3 million donation from Giustra that remained secret until a Giustra representative acknowledged it late last year. (Giustra has separately pledged another $100 million to the foundation.)"

The big finish, from the writer of the article, who is married to Clinton's former press secretary: "Throughout his career, Bill Clinton has justified acts of extraordinary selfishness in the name of idealism.............In the end, this is Clinton’s most grievous sin, his steady refusal to take grown-up responsibility for the consequences of his own actions."

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
Click to go to my online photography

World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous