Sunday, June 29, 2008


Some of you may have noticed that I haven't updated my web log in awhile. Here are the reasons.

Work - I'm in crunch mode at work. Basically, now that most of Adobe's products are part of a suite, I'm extra busy whenever the suites near the end of the 18-month cycle. Now is that time. After the suites ship, I'll be in cruise mode for the next year or so, and then it ramps up all over again. In the past, writers worked on several different products during the year, sharing the workload. Now, the writers work on one project, unless of course there aren't enough writers, in which case certain writers have to work on multiple products. In my case, I'm responsible for four different help systems -- InDesign, InCopy, Version Cue, and some goofy Japanese product. As compensation, I have demanded two extra phones for my desk.

Lisa - My sister has cancer -- a particularly aggressive form of lymphoma. No, it's not Hodgkins, which is highly treatable. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is still treatable, and Lisa has a good chance of surviving. Still, Lisa's cancer made me profoundly sad. She's a single mother of a 1-year-old toddler who's now undergoing chemotherapy, which is harsher than aromatherapy by a good margin. I've been meaning to write about Lisa, but the situation was too depressing and uncertain. I thought about writing other entries, but I kept wanting -- and not wanting -- to write about Lisa, if that makes sense.

Cycling - I've gone on two (2) mountain bike rides since last I wrote. One was a six-hour ride at Tiger Mountain in which I kept doing loops around the Preston and Iverson trails. Six hours is a long time to ride a mountain bike alone. I've mentioned this before, but I would almost rather prefer riding a road bike alone. Riding a mountain bike alone is actually depressing to me.

One good thing about being alone at Tiger Mountain is that I took a particularly embarrassing fall that I'm glad no one saw. It was one of those slow-motion falls that lends itself to announcers. Here's what the announcers would have said if they had been there.

Announcer 1: And here comes Bob riding up the trail. This is unusual because most mountain bikers ride up the 5-mile dirt road and ride down the singletrack trail, while Bob is riding up. Isn't that unusual, Announcer 2?

Announcer 2: Sort of. I know people who put their bikes on ski lifts to go up to the top of the mountain.

A1: Right, it's very unusual. And here goes Bob. He's riding up over a set of roots, and IT LOOKS LIKE HE'S NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!

A2: He's tipping over. I though he could pull it out, but he tipped over.

A1: He's on a downslope right now with his hand just above a puddle.

A2: Now his hand is in the puddle. Why would he put his hand in the puddle like that?

A1: I have a better question -- Why did he slide the side of his body into the puddle like that?

A2: Where is his arm strength? Where is his agility?

A1: Look. Now he just put his foot in the puddle. It's like he doesn't care anymore about personal hygiene. What's next? Will he throw himself headlong into the puddle and make a mud angel?

A2: No, he's made it out. He's swearing. He's saying lots of swear words right now, aloud.

A1: "Chit. Ducking duck. Some in a ducking birch." That's all I could make out.

A2: He's riding again. Oh, here comes someone down the hill. They just rode by.

A1: Yes, and he's gone now. That was uneventful. Let's hope Bob comes down again. That should be fun.

I also rode Crop Circles this morning while listening to Bruce Springsteen.

Music - It's official. In any desert island scenario, the Boss would make it on my list, even if it's a list of one. I just discovered an album of his called "Born in the USA."

Television - It's also official. Deadwood is my favorite television show. I'm not saying it's the best. But for me, it's the most watchable and rewatchable. It's oddly ugly in its beauty and beautiful in its ugliness.

And now I better stop ignoring the twins.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Graphic Is Worth a Thousand Words

This chart was created by a Frenchman named Charles Joseph Minard who wanted to show the losses suffered by Napolean's army that invaded Russia.

I love this graphic because it tells a story using several variables. The brown band depicts the size of the army as it invaded Russia with 422,000 men. As they travel eastward in the cold weather, the band thins as men die or run off. By the time they get to Moscow, there are only 100,000 men left. The black band represents their return journey. The line at the bottom of the graphic shows the falling temperatures during the return. That little tiny black band that meets up with the beginning of the brown band represents the number of men who made it home -- about 10,000.

After analyzing this graphic, I've come to the conclusion that invading Moscow was a tactical error.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ride Report - Flying Wheels Summer Century

The official word of the Cascade Cycling Club is that if you're fit enough to do the 100-mile Flying Wheels event, then you're fit enough to do the 200-mile STP in one day. The reasoning is that the Flying Wheels has a lot of climbing -- five big climbs to be exact -- while the STP is flat. The truth is that the climbs in the Flying Wheels event aren't particularly long or steep. My personal calculations indicate that riding the 100-mile Flying Wheels is roughly twice as easy as riding the STP.

2007 STP - 200 miles, 13 hours riding time, gentle rollers
2008 Flying Wheels - 100 miles, 6 hours riding time, rollers and hills

The ride starts at Marymoor Park near the Microsoft campus in Redmond. It goes through what we writers call bucolic scenery in which we head through rolling farm lands and pass through quaint small towns like Duvall, Snohomish, and Carnation.

The ride starts at 8:00 am. I wanted to end the ride early in the afternoon because both my brother and Robert's family were coming back to town. Unfortunately, there was a huge line of cars waiting to park, so I didn't get on the bike until 8:15. I rolled along for a couple miles when it hit me -- I didn't lock the car door. In fact, I think I may have left the passenger door wide open when I was putting on my bike shoes. Here's one of the nice things about getting old -- you know who you are and how your mind works. I knew if I didn't turn back then, I'd have spent the entire ride obsessing about my ransacked car with a dead battery. So I turned around, locked the car, and started the ride all over again.

At the 15-mile mark, I reached the first rest stop. I thought about not stopping because I had ridden only 15 miles -- actually 20 miles if you include the turnaround -- but I wanted to see if I could get a map since the course wasn't marked. And what I saw was the best stocked rest stop out of any ride I've been on. It had twenty kinds of energy bars, various power gels and glu shots, bread and bagels for making PBJs, cookies in packages, pop tarts, and all kinds of sports drinks. Unable to resist the siren song of "free stuff," I loaded my pockets and took off.

I rode another 60 miles when I decided to attack. I blew by a few startled cyclists, and then rode to the finish line. At that point, I drove home. And that is the end of this account.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Leadville 2008 Training Update, Part V

I have mixed news to report. On the positive side, I have avoided all the colds and flus (and pneumonia!) that have hit the family, so I've been able to do my favorite training rides.

The 7 Lakes of Seattle. I've done a couple of 80 mile rides around Lake Washington, which I called the 7 Lakes of Seattle. Please understand that my definition of "lake" is somewhat loose in that I refer to the Pacific Ocean and the Sammamish River as lakes. It just has a better ring than "7 Bodies of Seattle Area Water." I think we can all agree on that.

The 7 Hills of West Seattle. This 25-mile ride takes about 2 hours. I loop up and down the biggest hills within ten miles of my house, pushing hard on all but the first climb. While this ride hammers my legs and lungs, it doesn't quite simulate doing the 9-mile climb up to the top of Columbine at 12,600 feet.

Bursting. Twice a week, I sprint for quarter-mile stretches or climb hard up hills. I hope this is moving me from commuter shape to racing shape, because people in Myrtle Edwards Park stare at me.

The Red Hook Ride. One of my favorite rides is to Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville. I leave early in the morning, ride 60 miles, and then Wendy and the boys meet me in the car. Once I went on a little bike ride with the boys while Wendy and Kim hit a couple of nearby wineries, but all the other times I just throw the bike on the back of the car and we eat and drink at the brewery.

On the negative side, I still weigh 180 pounds. Unless I go on a crash diet, which is highly unlikely since food is so readily available in our society, I'll be doing the ride as the Before guy in one of those diet commercials. It will be a jiggly ride.

Then again, on a positive side, Fatty has agreed to let me race on his light mountain bike. It won't be as comfortable as my full-suspension SystemTM, but I need to be built for speed, not for comfort. The lighter bike will help compensate for the fatter body.

Then again, I haven't been riding my mountain bike this year. I haven't gone on a single mountain bike ride in Washington since October 2007. That's not good, because Leadville is a mountain biking race, not a road biking race. In fact, I need to pull my mountain bike off the wall in the garage and see if it still works.

Estimated Time If Leadville Were This Weekend - 13:00

Estimated Leadville Time If Training Continues As Is - 12:05

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama Wins!

As an official Democratic caucus member, I am pleased to inform you that Barack Obama has just won the Democratic primary! Huzzah! The last time I wrote about the primaries, I was saddened by the whole Reverend Wright affair, announcing that I was pro-Hillary. In my madness, I forgot the one critical thing that I kept harping on in previous months -- he didn't authorize the Iraq war. Hillary did. As did Kerry and Edwards and a bunch of other frightened politicians.

Here's what Obama said in 2002, before the war:

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

For that reason alone, I should have been for Obama all along. I'm sorry for ever wavering. Forgive me, reader. And forgive me, Mr. Obama.