Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tour de BK '06 RIde #6

It was already hitting 90 degrees today at the Jersey Shore when I departed for my fifth 21-mile ride of the summer and my sixth overall at 9:45 a.m., but I managed to put in a pretty good ride that I completed in 1 hour, 22 minutes for an average speed of 15.4 miles per hour.

The ride also put me at a total of 116 miles for the summer, leaving me 84 miles shy of my goal of 200 miles by the end of August.

What was most encouraging about today is that I didn't rest (except at stop lights and to cross busy highways, etc.). I usually stop for a few minutes when I reach the Manasquan Inlet before starting the return trip, but today I just rode through and didn't get fatigued except for one little stretch of the return trip after "dragging" another cyclist I encountered when I had to wait a few seconds for the Mantoloking Bridge to close. He dragged me down the bridge and then for another mile or two, so I returned the favor for a couple of miles before I made a left turn and he continued going straight.

Oh, on that one street with the "your speed is..." radar sign, I hit 22 I'm getting closer to another goal of going over the street's 25 mph speed limit.

For a refresher, here is my route...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Say it ain't so, Floyd

Tour de France champion Floyd Landis has been identified as the cyclist who failed a drug test during the race, according to a statement on his Phonak team's Web site.

The headline link above takes you to the story since there is understandably heavy traffic at the Phonak site.

This is just terrible news.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Landis makes it official, wins Tour de France

Floyd Landis became the third American to win the Tour de France today, crossing the finish line in Paris in the peloton just behind 20th stage winner Thor Hushovd of Norway to earn the maillot jaune

The Phonak team leader officially finished 69th in Sunday's 96-mile ride from Sceaux-Antony to the tree-lined streets of Paris' Champs-Elysées, but in a group of riders that crossed the line just eight seconds behind Hushovd, who became the first Norwegian to win the final stage and could be the first rider to ever win the Tour's opening-day prologue and also claim the final stage.

Landis completed the 20-stage race in 89 hours, 39 minutes, 30 seconds with an average speed of 40.784 km/h (25.3 mph). He lost two seconds off his 59-second lead going into the final stage, beating Spain's Oscar Pereiro by 57 seconds.

The victory gave American cyclists eight consecutive wins in the Tour de France, as Landis' triumph comes after fellow American Lance Armstrong's record seven straight Tour titles. Landis also joins Armstrong (1999-2005) and three-time winner Greg LeMond ('86, '89, '90) as the only Americans to win cycling's most prestigious event.

Landis, who suffers from a degenerative hip condition and will undergo hip replacement surgery in the near future, won this year's Tour after a disastrous ride in Stage 16, when he dropped from first to 11th place and found himself down by 8 minutes, 8 seconds to Pereiro. However, he came back strong the next day by winning Stage 17 and moving from 11th to third place, just 30 seconds behind Pereiro.

The Tour de France win highlights a very successful year for Landis, who also won the Tour of Georgia, the Paris-Nice race, and the Tour of California.

(Photo: Floyd Landis raises his arms in victory on the podium after winning the 93rd Tour de France. Courtesy of Bade, Ingrid Hoffmann, Jean-Christophe Moreau.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Way to go, Floyd!

Landis is congratulated by cycling legend Eddy Merckx after claiming the yellow jersey following Saturday's 19th stage. Courtesy of Photographers-Bruno Bade, Ingrid Hoffmann, Jean-Christophe Moreau.
Barring a disaster in Sunday's 20th—and final—stage of the 93rd Tour de France, Floyd Landis should become the third American to win the race.

Landis finished third in Saturday's 19th stage, a 35.4-mile time trial from Le Creusot to Montceau-les-Mines, at 1:10 behind the Ukraine's Serhiy Honchar, who won the stage. However, the Phonak team leader needed only to make up time on overall race leader Oscar Pereiro of Spain, and Landis did just that.

Trailing Pereiro by 30 seconds and in third place entering the day, Landis beat Pereiro by 1 minute, 29 seconds in Saturday's time trial to take the yellow jersey and build a 59-second lead over the Spaniard.

All that stands between Landis and a Tour victory is Sunday's 96-mile ride from Sceaux-Antony to Paris, including the traditional Champs-Élysées finish. With such a sizable lead, Landis should succeed seven-time winner and fellow American, Lance Armstrong, as Tour de France champion and join Armstrong (1999-2005) and Greg LeMond ('86, '89, '90) as the only Americans to win the Tour.

What is remarkable about Landis is that his Tour was nearly over after a disastrous ride in Stage 16, when he dropped from first to 11th place and found himself down by 8 minutes, 8 seconds to Pereiro. However, he came back strong the next day by winning Stage 17 and moving from 11th to third place, just 30 seconds behind Pereiro.

In addition, it was revealed during this year's Tour that Landis is afflicted with a degenerative hip condition and plans to undergo hip replacement surgery following the race.

(Photo: Floyd Landis is congratulated by cycling legend Eddy Merckx after claiming the yellow jersey following Saturday's 19th stage. Courtesy of Bade, Ingrid Hoffmann, Jean-Christophe Moreau.)

Cullen back as Optimus Prime: "Autobots...transform and roll out!"

This is definitely good news for fans of the "generation 1" Transformers...Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime from Sunbow Productions' animated "Transformers" series from 1984-87 (as well as the 1986 animated "Transformers: The Movie"), will be reprising the role in the upcoming, Michael Bay-directed live action/CGI "Transformers" feature.

The original voice of Transformers ' Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, will also voice the character in Paramount's anticipated big screen adaptation. Cullen made the announcement over the phone during the studio's presentation at the San Diego Comic-Con today.

Friday, July 21, 2006

GeekTube Moments #3 & #4: A look back at Steve Jobs posted an item a few days ago listing the top 10 can't miss, tech-related clips on YouTube.

I enjoyed four of the clips so much I decided to share them on TWR.

Here are the final two clips, both of which provide a look back at Steve Jobs...

Current TV 1981 Flashback: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs Introduces the Macintosh in 1984

In memory of Harry Olivieri...

...who, along with his brother Pat, created the steak sandwich, which eventually became the famous Philly cheesesteak. Harry died Thursday at the age of 90.

Here is an excerpt from a story in today's Philadelphia Daily News:
Harry and his older brother, Pat, had been selling hot dogs at a stand at 9th and Wharton streets in South Philadelphia since 1930.

It was a time when horses still plodded the streets and there was a water trough for the steeds in front of the hot-dog stand.

Pat suggested that Harry go to a local grocery store and pick up a slab of beef. Harry went, paying 7 cents for a pound.

He took it back to the stand, sliced it up, put some raw onions on the grill and, unknown to them, a legend began sizzling right there in front of them. The world's first steak sandwich was born.

Pat and Harry slapped the meat on rolls and were about to devour their meal when a cab driver, a longtime fan of the brothers' hot dogs, arrived for his meal and smelled the delicious aroma of meat frying in onions.

"I want one of those," the driver said.

"But it's our dinner," the brothers protested.

The cab driver was insistent. He was about to become the first of a long line of Philly steak-sandwich addicts, stretching through the decades and around the globe, with billions of the succulent fare devoured.

"Sell him yours," Pat said. After all, he was the oldest, and in an Italian family, the oldest sibling ruled.

Harry handed it over. They charged the driver 5 cents.

No doubt others had made steak sandwiches before and certainly thousands would make them in the future. But Pat's King of Steaks was born that day at 9th and Wharton, and its fame spread rapidly through a hungry city.

So grab yourself a cheesesteak today, bow your head in a moment of silence...and devour the sandwich in memory of a true king of steaks.

(Photo courtesy of Pat's King of Steaks.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

GeekTube Moment #2: A (funny) Microsoft retrospective posted an item yesterday listing the top 10 can't miss, tech-related clips on YouTube.

For various reasons, I felt like sharing four of the clips here on TWR. As you may have noticed, I posted one yesterday that showed Jon Stewart hilariously discussing Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' "the Internet is a series of tubes" speech during a recent episode of "The Daily Show."

Today, I would like to share this humorous look at Microsoft history. This features Bill Gates getting hit in the face with a pie, Steve Ballmer going ape-shit crazy to Miami Sound Machine's "Get on Your Feet" in 2000, and some of those madcap moments during various trade shows and conferences when Windows shows the world how really craptacular it is.


Tomorrow, I will post the other two clips. They aren't funny, but they are very interesting clips from the early 1980s featuring Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs talks about the future of computers in 1981

Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh on January 24, 1984
(no, it's not the Super Bowl commercial).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

GeekTube Moment #1: Jon Stewart on the "series of tubes" posted an item today listing the top 10 can't miss, tech-related clips on YouTube. For various reasons, I felt like sharing four of the clips here on TWR. One is hysterical, another is funny and the other two are "historical" clips of Steve Jobs—one from a 1981 news segment and another from the Macintosh introduction on January 24, 1984 (no, not the Super Bowl commercial).

I will post all four over the next few days, but here is the hysterical one featuring Jon Stewart discussing Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' "the Internet is a series of tubes" speech during a recent episode of "The Daily Show." Even non-geeks should find the end of this clip hilarious.


Tomorrow: A comedic Microsoft retrospective.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tour de BK '06 RIde #5

In an effort to beat the heat at the Jersey Shore, I went on another 21-mile bike ride a little earlier than usual this morning. Ride time was 81 minutes and my average speed was again about 15.5 miles per hour. However, on one of the side streets I take near the beach, a permanent "your speed is" sign was recently installed. The sign said I was doing 20 m.p.h. when I went by it, but I was passing a slower-riding girl on a bike at the time so I don't know if that threw the radar off or not. The speed limit is 25 m.p.h. on that road so I would like to break the speed limit at some point this summer.

Today's ride brings my summer cycling total to 95 miles, so I am nearly halfway to my goal of 200 miles by the end of the summer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What Would You Say? (Version 3)

Well, I redid the lead vocals for this song and made some changes to the backing vocals, as well. Still not satisfied with the vocals, but I'm tired of recording them and tired of remixing them so this will be the final demo version of this song that I publish.

What Would You Say? (Version 3) - 6.3 MB/4:21

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Congratulations, Ryan Howard!

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, the 2005 National League Rookie of the Year, won this year's Century 21 Home Run Derby during All-Star Game festivities at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Monday night.

He is the second Phillie to win the event in as many years, joining teammate and 2005 Derby champ Bobby Abreu.

Way to go, Ryan!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Congratulations, Kyle MacDonald!

Who is Kyle MacDonald...and why am I congratulating him?

Well, Kyle is responsible for one of the most ambitious and entertaining projects thus far in Internet history. About a year ago, the Canadian came up with an idea to make a series of trades with the ultimate goal of trading for a house. The dream started with the most usual of red paperclip. Hence, Kyle started a blog devoted to his quest at

Kyle posted the picture of the one red paperclip on his Web site on July 12, 2005, and wound up trading it for a fish-shaped pen. The pen was traded for a door knob, which was exchanged for a camping stove. The stove was traded for a generator and the generator swapped for a Budweiser beer keg, which was exchanged for a snowmobile. The snowmobile was traded for trip to Yahk in remote British Columbia and swapped that for a supply truck, which was exchanged for a recording contract. The recording contract got Kyle and his girlfriend close to a was traded for a year's rent in a duplex located in Phoenix, Ariz.

And that's when the project began to reach epic proportions. The year's rent was exchanged for an afternoon with rocker Alice Cooper, who was brought into the project by the woman who lived in the other half of the Phoenix duplex. However, Kyle's next trade raised eyebrows among many of those who followed his exploits...the afternoon with Alice Cooper was swapped for a KISS—as in the rock group—snow globe.

There was a reason for this trade. Earlier in the process, actor/writer/director Corbin Bernsen (of "L.A. Law" and "Major League" fame) had offered a speaking role in a movie he is making as a trade item. But Kyle never mentioned the offer on his site because he didn't have anything Bernsen would really want in a trade...

...until he came across the KISS snow globe.

You see, Bernsen is a huge snow globe collector. How huge? Apparently, he owns more than 6,500 snow globes. And Kyle traded Bernsen the KISS snow globe for the movie role.

And on Wednesday—one year to the day that the red paperclip first appeared on his blog—Kyle will realize his dream of trading that one red paperclip for a house.

The city of Kipling, Saskatchewan, has offered Kyle a three-bedroom house in exchange for the movie role...sort of. The town is going to take advantage of the publicity surrounding the project and stage an open "American Idol"-style audtion for the movie role. In addition, the town is going to erect the world's largest red paperclip to mark Kyle's achievement.

So, congratulations, Kyle MacDonald. Well done!

AP Story: Blogger's quest ends with keys to house

Weekend Wrap-up

I have wanted to post a couple of times this past weekend, but just never got around to it. So here is a wrap-up of the weekend.

Tour de BK '06 Ride #4
I rode another 21 miles on Saturday, averaging 15.5 miles per hour in what were really ideal cycling the 80s with cloud cover and hardly any wind at all. That brings my total amount of miles logged this year to 74. I would like to reach the 200 mile mark before the summer is over.

Geek moment: "Doctor Who" season finale
The second season of "Doctor Who" wrapped up last Saturday with a brilliant finale that pitted the Doctor against longtime foes, the Cybermen and Daleks, and featured the last regular appearance in the series by companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). Here's a clip of the first 9 1/2 minutes of "Doomsday." The last 4 1/2 minutes or so are classic "Doctor Who," with a standoff between the Cybermen and Daleks.

Kevin Barry continues to shine in Braves' bullpen
Rider's Kevin Barry pitched four more scoreless innings of relief for the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, allowing no hits while striking out five and walking one. Over the first three games of his major league career, Barry has yet to surrender a run while giving up two hits and two walks while striking out eight in nine innings of work since making his major league debut with three scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium on June 25. His efforts were noted in this Braves Report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Pirates" plunders box office, takes down Spidey
Despite reviews claiming—among other things—that it is a "Bermuda Triangle of bad," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" took in an estimated $132 million during its three-day opening weekend, shattering the previous three-day mark ($114.8 million) held by 2002's "Spider-Man." What is funny about this is that in the current season of "Entourage," the fictional "Aquaman" movie took down Spidey's box-office record. I had seen some people criticize that element of the storyline since it seemed rather outlandish. Well, guess what? If "Pirates" can do it in real life, then a fictional James Cameron-directed "Aquaman" can do it in a TV show.

What is even more interesting is that a third "Pirates" movie is expected by next Memorial Day weekend...just a few weeks after the spectacular-looking "Spider-Man 3" opens on May 4. The movie industry is going to be flying high next May.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A whole new way to watch a ballgame

I was going to head out to the Jersey Shore last night so I could stay at my parents' place and go on a bike ride today. Well, I'm still heading out there today for a bike ride, but my plans last night were changed by a phone call from my friend Jimmy.

Jimmy has a pretty good job that every now and then gives him access to tickets in the second row of Citizens Bank Park...RIGHT behind home plate. Well, just before 5 p.m. yesterday, Jimmy calls and asks if I want to go sit in these Diamond Club seats to watch the Phillies play the Pirates...and post-game fireworks! Now, he has offered me chances to go before, but for one reason or another I could never make it. This time, though, I was all in.

The photo above was taken from my seat, which, by the way, is wider than the normal seats with padding and extra leg room. And there is also a cup holder and small tray between each pair of seats to hold the food and beverages you can get by placing orders with the servers that wait on you hand and foot. So Jimmy wound up giving me a very cool day-after birthday gift. Thanks, Jimmy.

Of course, he may have totally ruined any future trips to the ballpark for me. I mean, I can just see myself at a game up in the terrace level and waiting for somebody to bring me my food and drink before realizing, "Oh crap...I have to get it myself? What is up with that? And why is the field SOOOO far away? Ugh."

It was amazing standing at my seat at a Major League Baseball game and actually hearing the "Star-Spangled Banner" come out of the singer's mouth before hearing it echo through the ballpark's public address system.

Granted, the Phillies lost 3-2, but what else is new? The good thing, though, was that the game was over in about 2 1/2 hours and the fireworks were over by 10:09 p.m., so at least it was an early night. By the way, the fireworks were great, as usual...except for the choice of music. What the heck does Kelly Clarkson have to do with either baseball or patriotism...or even good music?

(Sorry, Musar girls...just don't get the whole K.C. thing.)

Anyway, here are more pics from the game...

New song: "What Would You Say?"

I finally got around to writing lyrics and recording vocals for one of the two songs I wrote during Memorial Day weekend, when I was basically confined to my apartment thanks to car problems. Hence, the instrumental "Untitled 2006-05-27" has now become "What Would You Say?"


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nineteen Forever

What does "Nineteen Forever" mean?

Well, it's a title of a kick-ass song from Joe Jackson's underrated 1989 album, "Blaze of Glory."

So why "Nineteen Forever?"

Well, it includes this lyric:
You better believe it - you know my dream's still alive
You can love it or leave it
But I'm never gonna be 35

And, today, I turn 35.

That line of the song always stuck with I was supposed to accomplish something by the time I reached 35. If so, I guess I have a year to do something meaningful...before I hit 36.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tour de BK '06 Ride #3

Just a quick update...rode another 21 miles Tuesday in 88 minutes so my average speed was around 14 miles per hour. Still not great, but it was good to log about 53 miles on the ol' bike over the extended Fourth of July weekend.

I'm hoping that by the end of the summer, I will feel up to taking on the 36-mile round trip between my parents' place in Toms River, N.J., and the Point Pleasant Beach side of the Manasquan Inlet. That route would look like this:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stupid Quotes of the Day: Fourth of July Edition

In case you haven't heard, the state of New Jersey has effectively closed for business thanks to a political showdown over the state budget.

That means no lottery in New Jersey. Now, while the lottery's revenue supposedly goes toward services for the elderly and higher education, it's really not a big deal that there isn't a lottery for the time being.

Then have these New Jersey residents who are quoted in this article from The Times (of Trenton):
The hiatus of lottery sales has become an inconvenience to Trenton residents like Michael Dell, who have to leave the Garden State to buy tickets.

Standing yesterday outside of the Pennsylvania News and Tobacco shop in Morrisville, Pa., Dell said he couldn't believe the state would allow the budget crisis to get this far.

"The state's actions have taken a toll on our residents. It's very inconvenient to have to go across the river just to get lottery tickets," Dell said. "It takes time out time of your day that you don't normally plan for."

Here's the thing, Mr. don't HAVE to go across the river just to get lottery tickets. You could simply NOT play during the hiatus.

Here's another one...
Waiting in line to purchase a Powerball ticket, resident Joe Camarana said the absence of lottery ticket sales is annoying, but he doesn't plan on letting government disputes prevent him from playing the lottery.

"They'd have to break my legs to keep me from buying these tickets," Camarana said.

OK, that kind of language screams "gambling problem."

Just wait until these people realize the casinos in Atlantic City are going to be closing at 8 a.m. Wednesday because they need state regulators to operate.

And don't think they can just go to a race track and bet on the horses. The state's race tracks were shut down, too.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Oh, Michael Bay...please don't screw up Transformers too much

Ever since the announcement a couple of years ago of a big-budget, live-action/CGI "Transformers" movie, I have been excited to see it finally come to the big screen. And with Steven Spielberg as executive producer, what could possibly go wrong? Right?

Well, Michael Bay was hired as director...that's not a good sign.

Over the past few weeks, details about the vital Autobot character of Bumblebee have emerged. For the uninitiated, Bumblebee from the toy line, comic book, television show and the spectacular, animated "Transformers: The Movie" from 1986 always looked like a yellow VW bug in vehicle mode. However, from things I have read, VW apparently no longer wanted to be associated with a weapon of war—albeit a fictional one—and had declined to license a VW bug version of Bumblebee in recent years. This is probably the reason the movie will show Bumblebee with another vechicle mode...the upcoming version of the new Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, I guess they had to change the vehicle mode for Bumblebee, but I would still like to have seen him as a smaller car. A Cooper Mini, perhaps? But, no...Bumblebee is now a muscle car.

And here is a partially transformed Bumblebee...

But I can live with that, I guess. I just hope Optimus Prime isn't changed from a tractor-trailer to a minivan.

Then, the "Transformers" teaser trailer was released a few days ago. And while I like the premise, it is filled with a bunch of inaccuracies. When you have so much wrong over the span of a 1 minute, 45 second teaser, it makes you wonder how much is going to be wrong with a full-length movie. Here is the "Transformers" teaser trailer from YouTube:

OK, here are the problems. First of all, the Beagle 2 probe that is mentioned in the teaser was a real-life, British-designed and constructed Mars lander that crashed on the planet's surface. As far as I can glean from the materials I have read, it was not a rover like the American-made Spirt and Opportunity rovers that have been rolling along the Martian surface for years now. There was a "mole" component of Beagle 2 that was supposed to crawl along the Martian soil and grab samples from beneath the surface, but it wasn't anything like a full-size rover depicted in the teaser.

Also, the "mission control" voices in the teaser are decidedly American, even though Americans had nothing to do with Beagle 2's launch or mission. Again, this was a British program that launched from the Russian spaceport at Baikonur in Kazakhstan so the inclusion of American voices in the teaser just doesn't make any sense.

And then there are the visuals that are supposed to appear like images from the Martian surface. The teaser producers didn't even take the time to make the Beagle 2 footage look like it was taken on Mars. It looks they got some footage in a southwestern U.S. desert and quickly added the raw footage into the teaser.

So while I'm looking forward to seeing a live-action/CGI version of "Transformers" from a technical standpoint, I feel Michael Bay has missed the point again...all explosions, effects and action...and no story...and no logic...and no heart.

UPDATE - 7/4/06, 10:32 a.m.
Well, looking at some message boards led me to Michael Bay's news blog, which says that none of the Beagle 2/Mars storyline will be in the movie. So that's a good thing.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tour de BK '06 Ride #2

Went on a little ride of about 11 miles today to see a friend of mine. My right knee was killing me from yesterday's 21-mile jaunt and I learned the hard way that most of the roads I took to get to my destination had pretty decent inclines on them...and any acceleration I picked up on the declines were short-lived thanks to inconveniently placed sharp turns or stop signs.

The ride there took me 20 minutes and the ride back took me 30, so my average speed was only 13.2 miles per hour, which is pretty pathetic for me normally, but I was riding rather leisurely so I guess that's not too bad.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The sky is falling...

...well, it's not the would be more accurate to say that planes are falling out of the sky. Two of them, in fact, needed to make emergency a couple of miles of each other here at the Jersey Shore. Of course, they were sign-towing planes...a fixture over the beaches in the summer.

I apparently just missed seeing one of them, but I turned off the road before I got tied up in the resulting traffic. I did see an ambulance rushing to the scene, but figured it was just a typical automobile-based accident.

Anyway, this Asbury Park Press news update gives a brief description of the emergency landings and this image from Google Maps shows the two locations of the incidents. The green pinpoint marks the first emergency landing while the red one shows where the second plane came down.

Tour de BK '06 Ride #1 update 2: Done

Back in the VUE after approximately 21 miles on the bike. The return trip into the wind and with tired legs took 49 minutes, so my total ride time was 84 minutes (I took a 15-minute break at the Point Pleasant Beach side of the Manasquan Inlet to rest and post update #1). That means I was averaging 15 miles per hour, but I'm usually closer to 18 miles per hour.

Not bad for the first ride of the year, but my bike and I both need work.

Tour de BK '06 Ride #1 update: 1/2 done

To the inlet in 35 minutes.