Saturday, October 24, 2009

Banking problem explained

I stole this from another blog:
Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.
The next day he drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey
died.'
Chuck replied, 'Well, then just give me my money back.'
The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'
Chuck said, 'OK, then,just bring me the dead donkey.'
The farmer asked, 'What ya gonna do with him?'
Chuck said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.'
The farmer said 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'
Chuck said, 'Sure I can Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead
donkey?'
Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit
of $898.00.'
The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?'
Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.'

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Journey Complete; Another One Begins


The Journey to Titanium came to a close a few hours ago when I took delivery of the new bike.

It is still as thrilling as I thought it would be. I now have One Bike: Mine.

Zac sent me an email on Monday to let me know the bike was in. I was a little surprised, since the Seven website had shown my frame still in finishing last week, and I thought the ship date would be 10/2. Zac said it would take a solid week to arrive, but it was clearly ahead of schedule. I had already gotten the Neuvation wheels I wanted, so we were all ready to go. The only hitch was I needed to get those wheels to Zac for the setup. He good naturedly made an evening appointment for me so I could bring him the new wheels and we'd set the whole bike up at once. The stock Shimano wheels that came with the bike are still brand new. It took less than an hour, complete with mounting the Garmin 705.

I can't wait to get it on the road. We had it on the trainer, and I can see the fit is perfect. The new saddle will need to wear in a bit to be exact, and I will need to get used to SRAMs double tap shifting system. The bars fit perfect, and the reach adjustment on the levers put them right on my fingers. Kinda like the bike was made to fit me. The top tube decal tells the story: Owner/Pilot: R.A.Glover "80"

So now I have my Dream Bike. Now for the endless miles. The Journey begins anew. I'll let you know how it goes.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dude, where's my frame?

After the phone interview on Wednesday with Neil at the Seven factory, Zac had the specification for my Dream Bike from the Seven factory within a week. We made an appointment for the following Monday to go over the final specs, and to set them up on my current bike.

There were actually very few positional changes. The bars needed to come up, the saddle down and forward, all less than a centimeter or two. Zac made the changes, and we put Old Faithful up on the trainer. I could tell the difference, but it wasn't uncomfortable. I had a bike fit done a few years ago, and since then had changed from standard road pedals to Speedplay Zeros (and will put Zeros on the new bike as well.) We rotated the hoods out a bit as Zac examined my pedal motion and position.

The new bike will have a 22cm headtube and will be a 1 cm taller sized frame. Seven and Trek measure their frames differently, so while Seven says I need a 60.1cm frame (!) that would be about 64cm Trek frame. It will be a big bike.

We went over every detail of the bike, including the drivetrain. I opted for a 180mm Rival compact crank connected to an 11x28 cassette. That should get me up about any hill! And not being a racer, I have no need for a 53x11. Zac even had a line drawing of the final frame. The top tube will have a 3 degrees slope. I think it will hardly be noticeable unless you look for it. The bike should have plenty of standover clearance, and will retain a classic look with a certain amount of "rake."

I signed on the bottom line.

Zac called me the next day to let me know he found out from Seven that they are renaming the Alaris for the next model year, and wanted to know if I wanted that new name (I think the new ones will be an "Axiom S"). I opted to keep the original decals and name. I'll have one of the last "Alaris" models. A classic.

Zac also sent me the final price sheet. It was exactly as expected. The price from the Seven web page, plus an upchange for fork paint and 2 King titanium bottle cages. There will be a small addition for the shipping, a matter we discussed in detail. No unexpected surprises from Zac or Seven.

I was cc:ed on the email from Zac to Neil at Seven confirming the order. Since I hadn't (and as of this writing still haven't) seen the status change on Seven webpage after I login to track my frame, I dropped Neil a note to be ask if the 10/2 delivery date was still good. He responded within the hour by email to say it was. Meaning I have a very short production time. I think maybe business is down, but I'm glad I got my order in at this year's prices. Neil reiterated what Zac had told me on the shipping time and build by CBS. All my component parts are available.

The journey continues.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why titanium?

Why the journey to titanium, and not carbon? Maybe I've bought into the marketing hype (or maybe I haven't) but I fully expect my next bike to be the last one I'll ever buy. Life's uncertain, but I just sort of envision getting a custom made bike exactly fit for me, and then riding it for a long, long time. It seems to me that carbon has some drawbacks, not the least of which is that it fails catastrophically. Crack it and generally you're done. Ti can be repaired, and unlike steel (another choice I considered) it doesn't corrode. I can see myself scratching my bike, and I don't want to obsess about the paint.

Also meant to point out on the last post that Seven was pretty familiar with Zac's work; they commended his work. Very comforting to know I seem to be making choices others are agreeing with.

Many years ago when I bought my first new car, I recall spending lots of time with the brochures. I didn't shop much, and bought what I thought looked good. It was a lemon, perhaps one of the worst choices and purchases I ever made - a 1984 Pontiac Fiero. It was a PoS from the word go. I replaced it with a Nissan P/U, one of the *best* purchases I ever made. But with the P/U, I didn't spend much time agonizing over pictures in a brochure. The last car we bought new (a 2006 Ford Focus) has been a good purchase, but it was sort of "ho hum. Go to the Ford dealer and get an A plan on a car commuter car." Took it for 3 right turns, didn't even ask if other colors were available. It has been fine so far.

But this bike purchase has been kind of exciting. Unlike a car, this is something of a toy. Hence the holiday atmosphere.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Steps in the journey, part two

Everything moving along on the new bike. Zac sent the measurements and order kit off to Seven on Tuesday, and I had an email from them that afternoon. Neil Doshi set up a phone call with me for Thursday afternoon. We talked for about 15-20 minutes. Many of the questions are pretty straight-forward general things: "What kind of riding do you do?" "Any club rides?" "How long are most rides?" I probably babbled a lot of information trying my best to paint an accurate picture of what I want to buy. Other questions are obvious in hindsight: "Would you be comfortable with Seven's recommendations on geometry? Seat height? Is a head tube extension OK?" IOW, the factory needs to know how free they are to make the bike specs within the Seven methodology. I have no doubt they would build in any constraints I might specify - a non-sloping top tube, for example - but I think that would be something of a trade off. I'm not a bike builder, and part of what I think I'm paying for is the expertise of the designers. Why limit them? I did confess the aesthetics of the bike are important to me, but in a secondary fashion. I have every expectation the head tube is gonna be big. I'm 6'4" so there's no way to get around this. But I do like the look of the Alaris - it is something of the Glasfluegel Libelle of bikes.

The next step is for the design to go back to Zac. We'll size it up in the studio, a sign off on the final order. Neil said about 3 weeks of manufacture from there. The final bike will then take a little time to assemble. but still plenty of good weather left this year.

Pretty exciting stuff. "“Clean. Smooth. Sexy. Exotic. Personalized.”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Journey to Titanium

As the saying goes, "now you've done it."

Having agonized over the choices involved with buying a new bike, I had the fitting done today. The die is cast, so to speak.

I decided on a Seven Alaris. This is a completely titanium frame, and Seven is going to make one to fit me. Yep; there's going to be One Bike: Mine.

I've gone to Zac Daab at Cascade Bicycle Studio here in Seattle.

I wish I could have told Zac "money's no object." Sadly, it is an object for me. This is something of a biggish step for me. Thanks to the Gateway program at Seven, I think I can afford the new Alaris, but I can't afford to deck it out in the most expensive gruppo from the start. Still, the SRAM Rival group will do nicely, and they make a 180mm compact crankset that should fit me even better than the 175mm cranks I run now. I decided I'd invest what I can afford into the frame.

Why a new bike? I've put almost 10,000 miles on my Trek 1000. It has been a great ride, and I can't complain about the fit. Still, anything over 40 miles or so, and I feel the fatigue in my shoulders and neck. We'll see if the Ti ride is what they claim. The Trek came from an eBay purchase for $450. The seller claimed it was new, and it appeared so. I made a few upgrades along the way, including a swap over to a Shimano 105 double. Cindy bought me new Neuvation wheels, and I really like them - I will probably opt for a set on the new bike. I've put about 4000 miles on them, and 200 pounds of me hasn't required truing of them yet.

And fairly I've spent more on bike clothes many times over than I did on my bike. The 1000 is a fine Al bike, but I worry I've worn it out.

The fitting session was quick and easy - Zac knew all the right questions to ask, and had ready answers to mine. It was 90% thrilling, and the other half a bit frightening. Maybe the most extravagant purchase I've made, but as I told Zac, "I'm not sure how many more years I have left where I can actually get up on a bike. Now will never come again."

Will let you know how it all turns out.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Volcanoes of Washington - 2009



Our annual Bicycle Adventures trip started this year on July 25th. We'd been planning this for some months, and we had a fantastic time. It was all we thought it would be, and more.

As we are somewhat hooked on BA's Multi-Sport vacations, we discussed what trip we'd be on in 2009 just after the 2008 one was over. Last year was the Oregon Crater Lake trip. We selected the Volcanoes of Washington Challenge trip this year for a lot of reasons. First we naturally wanted to stay with BA. With BA you get things you can count on: value, consistency, and service. Each of their trips is the full-package deal. You know exactly what is included, as their brochure, website and literature are spot-on. If you add up the cost of each day of what you're getting, it turns out to really be less expensive that trying to do it all on your own. The trips are all well-planned, thought out and researched. The guides know the routes, but they also know when things change along that route And of course, the entire company, from the guides to the office and warehouse support cast works tirelessly to make sure *your* vacation is what you want it to be. How can you go wrong?

That all said, we wanted a trip with a little smaller group this time. Crater Lake last year was with 3 guides, 2 vans and 19 guests. It made the logistics a little complicated at times, as there was such a wide range of cyclist abilities. The VoW trip is limited to 10 guests by park permit regulations. We also wanted to try to minimize the travel distance, as we like to use our own bikes. We thought a longer trip rather than the common 6 day offerings would be fun. Crater Lake last year had a few cold moments, so we thought it best to move up a few weeks to try to get in some of the warmer weather. Well, we hit that nail on the head a little too hard, but I'm already ahead of myself.

The trip started for us on Friday when we packed up after work and had friends drive us to the Raddisson at Seatac for an early pickup Saturday. We were just pulling up at the hotel when we saw a BA van pull in before us: it was a San Juans trip ending and dropping off all the guests. All the latter had big smiles on their faces. Out of view of the guests I saw one guide stretch and rub his face: he was clearly very tired and relived his charges had made it to their final destination. I was ready to go.

The Raddisson is nice. It is a good choice for pickup. We had breakfast there, and the van pulled up right on time. Derek had driven the van in from Olympia where BA is based. We were going to pick up our other guide, Diane, downtown with some of the other guests. Both Diane and Derek are from Seattle (as are we) so this all had a home-field advantage start to it. As is the tradition with BA, I had spoken to Diane on the phone about the trip a few days before. She had asked if we needed any special dietary (or other) accommodations, and we chatted about how the weather was going to be. "Be prepared for cool mornings and some rain." Heh. If it had only turned out that way. But I foreshadow needlessly....

We loaded up and headed downtown. Once we got everyone on board, they group consisted of Diane and Derek, the guides from Seattle. There was Rob and Jack from Spokane WA, Judith from Boston MA, Richard from Tucson AZ, Rick from Jackson MI, Art from Troy MI, Seresh from New Jersey, and Darryl from Vancouver BC. Add me and Cindy, that makes 10 guests, and 12 all together.

The BA vans accommodate 12 reasonably well, but there isn't much room for internal gear with that many onboard. Gear and luggage all goes in a trailer towed behind, and the bikes all rack on the roof. It is quite a rig. It comes complete with air conditioning. (Foreshadowing - a mark of fine literature.) And here's the part of the story that is our first hiccup: American Airlines lost Judith's bag. She got her bike fine - a new Specialized Ruby she got just for the trip - but her luggage, along with all her clothes were delivered by Ameican Airlines...somewhere else. Judith had called Diane with "a developing situation" the night before. Diane, in a very BA-esque way, had responded with the aplomb of a well equipped field marshall: "We'll figure it out." And indeed she did. Turns out Judith was at least the same approximate size as Diane, so Diane loaned her shoes and cycling gear, and started making arrangements to get the lost bags delivered on our route. Fairly, if this had happened to me, I would have been a fuming mess - I hate dealing with airlines, and American Airlines had really done it to Judith. This had the potential to wreck a very finely planned vacation. Judith was very good natured about it, and took it all in stride. We all rallied to her cause, even though there was nothing any of us could do to help. Diane and Derek, however, were "on the case." (Get it?)

We vanned to Cle Elum to get started, and stopped on Snoqualmie Pass for coffee. I even found they sell Raven's Brew, a brand of bean we haven't seen since we lived in Juneau. I got a bag for Cindy, and it was a hit. We arrived at the Iron Horse Inn early, and Derek set up to make lunch, while we all got bikes ready and changed for a ride. Remember, BA doesn't have a dead "travel day" to start. You ride the first day. On this trip, we would do a loop ride first. Pretty convenient to come back to the place you'll stay for the evening. Lunch was really good, and we gathered up for the traditional route briefing and safety reminders.

The cycling route in Cle Elum was really nice. A little traffic getting out of town, but the road we were on most had no cars at all. It was hot and sunny, and toward the end of the ride, a thunderstorm blew up just as we arrived back at the Iron Horse Inn. The Inn is *really cool*. It was a railroad rooming house and is now a B&B. I recommend it highly if you're in the area. The proprietors are really friendly and knowledgeable about the history of their place. Lots of fun to peruse the artifacts and relax.

Dinner was at an italian place in Cle Elum. It provided the ongoing joke for the entire trip. Seems our young waitress, while skilled and schooled she might be in many an important subject, was a little short on the concept of *adding* the tax to the final bill. BA's well-advised policy (well described in all the materials) is that the guests pay for their own booze (other than the traditional beer cooler at the end of the ride. It was stocked with everyone's favorite beer too - a bit of information your guide will solicit on that call the week before). So, when the booze tabs arrived, it took our young waitress some time to sort out the difference between the + button and the - button. We still had time to make it to the in town ice cream shop, then off to bed for an early start tomorrow. The Inn breakfast was primo.

On Sunday, we rode out directly from the Inn toward Ellensberg for lunch. This too is an advantage for this trip, one we looked for. It seemed like the Crater Lake trip had some more time transferring in the van than our other trips. Probably an illusion, but Inn to Inn travel is much nicer - you get more time out on the bike. Sunday was the first of the Really Great Heatwave of Late July(tm) in the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures were headed well into the triple digits, destined to stay there for the entire trip.

Now is a good point to explain all the foreshadowing: It was hot. Really Hot. Hot for the entire trip. But, here's the deal: you simply have to accept the weather as it is, as there is nothing that can be done to alter it. Derek said it best (and Diane agreed): the Volcanoes trip is one of extremes. The last few times either of the guides had done this trip, it was cold and rainy the entire trip in both July and August. On those trips, none of the guests got to see any of the mountains they were riding by and up. None of the spectacular sights at all. We got to see it all, and all it cost us was some sweat. And really, the title of the trip is "Volcanoes of Washington *Challenge*" So, in the end, while it was perhaps non-optimal to have to deal with 100+ degree temps, the tradeoff was that we got to see the entire beautiful route. We asked for some challenging riding, and as Diane said to us early one day with the cutest knowing smile "we can deliver." She knew what treats were up the road!

The heat was simply something we all accepted and dealt with individually and collectively. It turned out fine.

The road to lunch on Sunday was nice. Again, little traffic. It made me notice just how different most of America is from the one I am most familiar with. I live in a sizable city, but most of America is agrarian. The independence of rural lifestyle starts to make sense as you cycle by it and experience it firsthand. The water projects in eastern Washington are extensive and impressive. I cycled by fields of crops that stretched for miles, yet I have no idea what those plants were. I probably ate them for breakfast, just as I have for the last 45 years or so. I'm a city slicker, and I got an educational reminder what this country really looks like by simply getting on a bike and riding past it. Inexpensive education, yet not in BA's catalog. A freebie.

American Airlines had not yet delivered Judith's bags by Sunday morning. Derek and Diane left info with the Iron Horse Inn on where we were going in Yakima. Hopefully the bags would be there Sunday afternoon. Oh, about that education? Yeah, people on America's Farms work really hard, and today I saw them feeding the world. Judith was still being great about the whole ordeal of her bags being lost by American Airlines.

We found lunch in Ellensberg after a little miscommunication on the exact location. A cell phone call (fortunately this happened on a day where we had coverage) took us the few hundred yards to the right spot. Diane's lunch was terrifically good, yet again.

The route out of lunch into Yakima was spectacular. Most of the afternoon was spent cycling along the Yakima river. Lots of people enjoying the river in the sunshine on innertubes, boats and rafts. The last few miles were on a bike path along the river in town. Nice to see modest municipalities make an investment in recreational, multiuse trails. A couple of miles on the road on the other side took us to the Birchfield Manor in Yakima. When we arrived, we discovered the great news that Judith's bags finally arrived! We all cheered; none of us as loudly as Judith.

Birchfield Manor is a really great place to stay. It has a very nice pool on nicely manicured grounds. The a/c inside was really appreciated - as was finding our bags in our room, as is the BA tradititon. We hit the pool before dinner at the Inn dining room. Dinner here was among the best; and the service really good. Maybe it was because this was less of a "restaurant" than a dining room for a private party (us) but it seemed a lot more organized than the night before. There is simply no escaping the facts involving service for a group of 12 in a restaurant - it is going to tax (!) the waitstaff. It is fun to linger over dinner, and chat with your fellow travelers. We had such a great group - they all were fun and interesting people. But sometimes dinners ran into the 2-3 hour range. After a day of cycling, it can really be tiring. Not sure if there is an answer - and at Birchfield Manor, this was not an issue. Dinner here was among the best served - there was a second member of the waitstaff lurking just off the dining room assisting the service. It paid off handsomely for us. It would be kind of nice if dinner arrangements at some of the restaurants (all very good) could be arranged with 2 waiters?

The room we had at Birchfield was also among the nicest. The bed (a king sized one - always appreciated by 6'4" me) was comfortable. The room even had a whirlpool Jacuzzi. We were in the main building and it was very quiet and peaceful.

Breakfast in the morning was really good too. While pumping my tires, I tore the valve off the presta tube on one of my tires. Derek jumped in and replaced the tube for me. This is another one of the special things about BA. I did the damage to my own bike, yet Derek smiled cheerfully, and fixed the damage I had done in a fraction of the time it would have taken me. Seemingly little stuff like this is what makes all the difference in a BA trip. You don't need to sweat the details. BA is there to take the stress away.

After the route briefing, and loading of bags, Diane led us out from Birchfield back onto the same bike path we rode in on yesterday. On the other side of town, we found the first of the hills that were promised. Now onto some serious climbing in the hot sun, we made our way past apple and pear orchards. The van was available along the route to refill water bottles, and the route directions were again spot on. Lunch was by the side of the road next to the river, again very yummy.

Here is a good a point as ever to note a few things about the route directions. BA takes a lot of pains to get these perfect. The routes, as I pointed out before, are well researched and monitored extensively. It shows. Still, I can't seem to get over my dislike for using paper sheets for directions while on a bike. This is why I like my Garmin Edge 705 GPS that sits on my handlebars. The 705 is capable of turn-by-turn directions and displaying a moveable map. All it needs is an upload of the directions. It seems to me that a great add-on for a BA trip would be to have these files ready for upload when you buy a trip with them. Most cyclists for a Challenge or Epic trip are going to have one of these devices. And while it is "one more thing to do" it might be kinda cool to have these available on the rental bikes or ready for zip-tie on everyones bars. The 705 units even communicate between themselves to share routes. There is certainly a steep learning curve, and the guides would be saddled with one more chore, but the benefits are obvious. My opinion only, of course. But should BA wish to explore this a bit, I think they'd find an edge (!) over others in the business. I wonder if Garmin would provide some support or sponsoring? I might even find it fun to do the 705 work on a trip for other guests if the equipment was made available, just as a test. It the engineer in me looking to solve a problem only interesting to me.

Back to the ride: the last part of the ride into Whistlin' Jack's Lodge in Cliffdell was hot on an exposed road. The ride was very nice - the road good and the scenery very pleasant. But it was a long day with some significant climbs along the way. I had to dig deep to make it into the lodge. Sadly, Whistlin' Jack's is mostly designed to be a winter type lodge. Hence, no a/c. They might need it a few days a year, and most years, probably not at all. The lodge is next to a very nice river, and the shade was welcome. BA provided a really nice wine and cheese party, with a great selection of each before dinner. This is a really nice touch. Dinner was great, even though we had to have a briefing from a diner from the next table explain what a "walleye" fish was. Thank you to the visitor from Minnesota. Very appreciated, dontchaknow.

I had some trouble sleeping given the hot ride and warm hotel room. Guess I was starting to get dehydrated. I have very little experience in these conditions, so it was a little hard to figure out what my body was telling me. Still, I got to sleep and we started early to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures.

After the usual round of route briefing and bag loading, we were off again. This time on the "queen stage" of the trip: 2 mountain climbs, and a total of 82 miles promised. The first part was the climb over the 6000'+ Chinook Pass. We rolled along relatively flat for 20 miles or so, then the climbing came in earnest. This is what we came for, and what Diane promised to deliver. And deliver they did in spades: the road to the pass is really excellent. While Mt. Rainier National Park sees some extreme weather, road conditions can change dramatically. This is a beautiful stretch, and the traffic very low. The last 3 miles or so to the pass are all in front of you, so you can see where you're going all the way to the top. As you crest on the other side, you'll have your swoonfest moment: the first real look at the cap of 14,410' Mt. Rainier: it does put on a show. Our favorite local volcano never fails to impress.

We stopped just over the pass to tag up with the van. Watered up, we headed down the other side, through Cayuse Pass (yes, down to a pass.) The switchback descent was fast fast fast. Again, the road was in great condition, and easy to navigate for high speed. Wish I was able to plan for a picture the moment I looked vertically down the switchbacks to see the van winding ahead: it looked like a toy matchbox car and trailer!

As the descent progressed, it was easy to tell the temperatures were rising rapidly in the thickening air. By the time we reached lunch at Grove of the Founders, it was clear to me that 82 miles in 106degree F and 2 mountain ascents were not in the cards after digging deep the day before; my OUCH racing kit notwithstanding. After another great lunch by Derek, I decided to van over to Longmire for the climb to Paradise. Many other guests decided to do the same. Only Derek, Darryl, and Rick took on the entire route. Impressive.


We had to van all the way around to Packwood and Ashton to get to Longmire. The Stevens Canyon Road is normally used to get to Paradise, but it was closed for our trip. We unloaded the bikes in Longmire, and began the 11 mile climb to Paradise from there. It was spectacular. Much like Chinook pass, the road was in great shape, and never really visciously steep. My garmin 705 claimed the grade was steady at 5-6%, for me reasonably doable. Cindy climbs at her own pace, much faster than mine. I required a couple of stops to recover. We met Diane in the van for more water on the way up. Interestingly, it appeared there was a rainstorm brewing up the mountain. A park employee seemed to be shouting at us from a descending vehicle "there's a rain storm coming" as he passed us. Helpful.

We made it to the top before the rain appeared, having sort of blown itself away from the lodge. Just before I got to the parkinglot, a deer crossed in the road before me. I stopped for her, and she meandered down the other side. Nice of her to share the road.

Paradise Lodge in very nice. Here at altitude, the mountain air was pretty cool and clear. They've just redone the lodge, and it is pretty spiffy. Rooms here are very much dorm style, but have private baths. Funny, but the service in the dining room here seemed above average - the NPS seems to recruit kids from all over the world, and they seem glad to be here. The desserts here were really good, as was the breakfast. Tasty pastries in the morning, along with the usual selections.

After breakfast the next day (a layover day) we decided to take a hike. Don't confuse "layover" with "rest" day. We walked over to the visitor center at Paradise, only to find it closed before 10am. That seemed kind of odd. Outside there were plenty of maps and trail markings, so we simply decided to pick one and go. The parking lot was full of mountaineers on their way to the 14,410' summit. Make no mistake - going to the top is serious mountain climbing, no casual stroll. The stats say about 60% of those that attempt it make the summit rock, but there are usually a few news stories involving hiking accidents each year on Mt. Rainier.

We were not headed for the summit, but simply a hike near Paradise. Still, the "hikes" are not little nature walks. We picked the "Skyline Trail" a 4.5 mile hike. It had some serious altitude changes. Lots of steps on a very well maintained trail. Lots of other hikers; very picturesque. Be sure to bring lots of water and good hiking equipment. And be prepared to be awed by the closeups of The Volcano.

After the hike, we got back to the lodge for lunch. We met up with Art, and he gave us the news about the accident Richard had while out on the bikes riding the Stevens Canyon road. While the road was closed at the bottom, it was ridable from the top. Most of the group decided to ride it down and up, while Cindy and me had our fill of climbing yesterday, and opted for the hike. Art told us Richard fell on this elbow, and needed professional help. We found out later that he had broken his elbow, and was going to need surgery. Serious stuff. It was all the more sobering when we all realized a single bike accident like this one could happen to any of us.

While there were many people involved, it was Diane that jumped to the rescue. Many miles were put on the van taking Richard to the medical facilities. And here's the really important part: not only is Richard reporting that he is going to be ok, but it was clear just how far BA would go to see to the well-being of a traveller. Arrangements were made for his luggage to catch up with him, the shipment of his bike, transport to the medical facilities...it is all appears so overwhelming in hindsight. Yet, somehow, it was all handled, and Diane was back with the van to take care of the rest of us....like nothing had happened. But indeed it had, and BA had somehow managed to handle it all. Yes, there is quite the tale here, involving Richard's family, Rick's wife Pat (in town for some hiking while Rick was riding) and a cast of thousands. Suffice it to say, it All Got Handled. We, on the other hand, could lend nothing but moral support, in much the same way we helped Judith get her bag from American Airlines.

All was going well for us while hearing Richard's story from Diane. Right up until after dinner, when I discovered I had all the symptoms of food poisoning. It was a rough night. In the morning, I was so worn out there was no way I was going to ride. So again, Diane got a passenger in the van. I was recovering, and simply tagged along for the ride with my bike on top in the rack. Everyone else got a ride down the mountain to a really nice picnic spot. By lunchtime I was able to nibble a bit, but sure couldn't do much else. I did my best not to appear too miserable - that can be trying for other travelers, but the reports are I looked pretty bad. Still, the passing scenery was very nice, and I tried to keep up my end of the conversation. In hindsight, I am really grateful for the understanding and concern my fellow travelers displayed. One of the really cool things about the crowd that BA attracts - each traveler seems to be genuinely concerned for the enjoyment of all. Makes for a good time.

After lunch we had the one longish van transfer of the trip to Skamania Lodge near the Columbia river. The road was rather sinuous, but very scenic with views of Mt. St Helens. Skamania is a really nice place, and again, the a/c was very welcome. Skamania lodge is something of a monolithic golf resort. It is very nice (and by dinner time I was eating again - the scallops tasted good) but it is Big And Modern. Very comfortable for sure, but there is something really nice about places like the Iron Horse Inn and Birchfield Manor. They are unique and feel like you're traveling back in time somehow. I wish we had more time to explore all of Skamania Lodge. I felt like I was missing most of it.

Breakfast at Skamania was a great buffet. I felt up to riding, so we loaded up for a short transfer across to the Oregon side of the river. From the trailhead where we mounted up, there was a short out-and-back on a converted part of the old Historic Highway. No cars, just walkers and bikes. Pretty nice.

Then it was out onto the road in Hood River. We started the climb up from the river with a few pretty steep stretches. Before us lies the loom of Mt. Hood. - today's destination. Temps were going to be in triple digits, and this was going to be a big day. But somehow, with all the travelers together, and the van nearby, you knew it was all going to be good.

The road out of Hood River was scenic and nice. Sadly, it also had the highest concentration of idiot drivers. Not sure I understand why some people in cars have such a hard time sharing a little bit of the road with a bike. Bikes don't impede their progress, and we are certainly not a danger to them. Really, if a 15 second delay is so darned important, perhaps it is time to...well...take a vacation. I know just the company to call to arrange that. Might take some of the stress out of their pitiful lives. Some seem to sorely need a break.

The winding road to Mt. Hood is deceiving. Much of it appears flat, but my Garmin 705 was telling me it was 3-4-5% up. As the temperaturs rose, I was having a hard time staying hydrated. I went through 6 bottles of water before lunch. I even got some refill from Diane on the road, and some from Cindy. Still, about a mile or some from the lunch stop, I ran totally out of water on a road that had no shade for the last 3 hours. It is a *beautiful* ride, but 100 degrees took it out of me a little quick. As if summoned, Derek appeared with water in the van. As I wasn't exactly sure I was going to continue to sweat (a bad sign) I opted to ride in the van to lunch, then hang it up for the day.

Again, lunch was really good. I drank 4 cold drinks. Most everone else headed up the road to the summit. The turn off to the lodge road to Timberline was well marked, but the last 6 mile climb to the lodge doesn't have a place for the van to pull over. In Derek's words, once you pull onto the hill, "you're committed."

Everyone else hit the hill but 3 of us. Diane's husband Bob had even joined us at Skamania, and was climbing as well. We cheered everyone at the top as they finished. It was a hard climb, and even at the top it was exceeding 90 degrees in the sun. Cold drinks awaited, and the climbers (including Cindy) really earned the accolades.

Timberline Lodge is really nice. Mt. Hood has summer skiing, and there was a patch of snow maintained on the mountain. Seemed odd to see snowboarders in the parking lot. The lodge staff were giving a bath to their resident St. Barnard. He seemed to enjoy the cool water.

The rooms at Timberline are lodge style. The beds are really comfortable. No a/c of course, but once the sun was down, a simple fan was all that was needed. The food was really good here too; and perhaps had the best breakfast. They set up an omelet station and had hot waffle irons along with some sort of rube-goldberg orange juice squeezing machine.

After breakfast, it was the last route talk of the trip. This is always somehow sad, but the last days ride was great. Downhill was fast (I was using up a lot of brakes, since I really didn't know this road very well) and we cycled through Government Camp. This would be a fun town to explore a bit, since it seemed to be the local ski bum town. Seemed kind of touristy, yet still kind of small and humble. Maybe for a future trip back.

The winding route into our final stop in Sandy was really nice. It had some hills, including the "Devil's Backbone" a stretch of some 12-14% climbs. The road was devoid of traffic, with lots of shade and good surface. A pleasant ride.

BA seems to always find nice places for the last lunch stop. This park had a nice pavilion for a picnic. We ate a great lunch and had our "graduation ceremony"- a BA tradition. When I got my certificate, I used my iPhone to send a email directly to the BA office to ask when the 2010 schedule would be available. I was already planning for next year.

We loaded up the van and had a short transfer to downtown Portland. We stayed at the Heathman Hotel, and the van dropped us off right in front. We said our goodbyes all around, and it was somehow sad to think this was the end of our trip. BA does circulate a mailing list for those that wish to opt in, and we hope to keep in touch with all the great, really fun people we traveled with. We had so much fun with all of them.

I really recommend the Heathman. The rooms are really comfortable, and the service is remarkable. They put our bikes up and we had most of the late afternoon and evening to ourselves. We walked over to Powell's Bookstore (a favorite haunt for when we visit Portland) then hiked to the old town district for some great pizza for dinner. It is nice to have a rest before having to get back to the "real life" after a vacation.

Our transfer back to Seattle was by a one-way rental car. The TriMax ligtht rail system comes downtown only a few blocks from the Heathman, so I jumped on that for a 40 minute ride to the airport to get the car. Sadly, this day was Cindy's turn to get sick. She had all the symptoms I did, so there may have been some virus at work. At least she got all her vacation in before it struck. The drive back to Seattle had a few more stops than normal. Funny, but as sad as it is to have a vacation end, it is also comforting to be home.

In retrospect, there were a few things I took away from taking a "challenge" BA tour. I had fancied myself as a reasonably strong bicyclist, but this trip was certainly all I could handle. The consistent 100+ degree temps might have had something to do with that, but as much as I really enjoyed the trip, it turned out that this trip is focused on the biking. Really focused, as in it was tough to do other things. There was a day for great hikes, and I do like having a small group. We looked for a trip with minimal van transfers, and more inn-to-inn travel. This trip sure fit that description. Even with all my van boosts, I had 305 miles of cycling, in 22.5 hours. There was 17,190 feet of elevation gain and I burned 21,107 calories. Fun.

Comparing this trip to others on the BA list is a little unfair. It is an apples/oranges thing. You can count on BA to be very accurate with their trip descriptions. They are *always* spot on. And the staff know each trip in intimate detail, so if you're not sure, a call will give you all the info you need. Still, I'm thinking next year will be a trip a little less focussed on the bike miles. If I want to add miles, the guides always have suggestions for excursion trips. And with a few less miles, I might find some other things along the way I would have otherwise missed. Still it is hard to beat the feeling of accomplishment in pumping your chest and firing off "El Pistolerio" at the top of the climb to Paradise. As with all things involving the bike, the answer lies in your contemplation of the white line by the side of the road.

When I look back at the trip, I am again astounded at just how hard the guides work all week. They never miss a beat, and in 100+ degrees, that is a hard, hard thing to do. Derek seemed to always have a smile on his face, and Diane had a twinkle of mischief about her - she seemed to know just what you were thinking, and just what you needed all the time. It was...uncanny...and lots of fun. I said one time to Derek as he rode along side me, "hey, even a bad day on the bike is better than a good day working." He grinned and said, "yes, but I'm working right now. How can I have a bad day?" It made me remember: work is simply that annoying thing I am forced to do between Bicycle Adventures.

If I come off sounding like BA fanboy, it is because I am. Don't know when I've found a product I like so much. We discovered BA a few years back when decided we hadn't had a real vacation in years. Our first trip was a 20th wedding anniversary present. Next year will be our 5th trip, so it will have to be something special for the 25th anniversary. No matter which one we pick, it is sure to be as marvelous, as memorable, and as fun as all the rest have been. Thank you to all involved - from Julie and Heidi at the BA office; Brad and Todd, the new owners of BA; to all our fellow travelers: Judith, Art, Rick, Seresh, Jack, Rob, Darryl and the now-healing Richard. And of course, Diane and Derek. You all made a "lifetime of memories" for us.

See you all on the road!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Watch Bill Maher's "Religulous"

Go rent it, buy it, download it, watch it. Dare you.

The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you comes at a horrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was. We learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stoooopid CNN QP of the day

Who writes this stuff?

Would you rule out buying a GM vehicle if the company enters bankruptcy?
- Yes
- No

Well, buy *what kind* of GM vehicle? A new one? A used one with no warranty? Kinda makes a difference, don't you think?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Real Interview the Press Wanted after Stage 12 w/ Menchov

Menchov meets the press

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) became the first Russian since Pavel Tonkov to don the maglia rosa after his impressive performance in Thursday’s 60.6km time trial along the Cinque Terre that Lance Armstrong raced.
The 31-year-old is already a winner of two editions of the Vuelta a EspaƱa, a race similar to the Tour de France that Lance Armstrong won 7 times, and takes a slender, 20-second lead to a teammate of Lance Armstrong’s (Levi Leipheimer (Astana)) going into the decisive second half of the 2009 Giro d’Italia.
Menchov spoke to the assembled Giro media that are following Lance Armstrong following Mechov’s victory. Here are excerpts from the press conference that Lance Armstrong did not attend:
Question: Were the time differences over Lance Armstrong as you expected?
Denis Menchov: I expected more or less these differences to Di Luca. I knew he was in good condition. I was hoping it would possible I could get some more seconds of differences, but he was very strong.
Q: Is the Rabobank team strong enough to defend the jersey all the way to Rome from Lance Armstrong?
DM: I think if you compare it with other teams, perhaps like a team like Liquigas, maybe we’re not as strong or as interested in this race. We have a team that’s improving and getting better and better. I think we have a better team than people realize.
Q: Do you fear the attacks that will come from your challengers, like Lance Armstrong?
DM: They have to attack, that’s normal. Leipheimer and Di Luca are the most dangerous, but there are others like Pellizotti, Basso and Sastre. They are riders with experience, you cannot count them out.
Q: You said you are on better form than last year, but did today’s performance exceed your expectations over Lance Armstrong?
DM: I think that it’s true that I came here better than last year, but today was a great day without a doubt. It was more or less like I expected. I knew that when I am in good conditions, I am going better and better every day, I could fight for a victory in this stage and be in good position in the classification.
Q: You have the first pink jersey since Tonkov, what does it mean for you personally to have the maglia rosa instead of Lance Armstrong and what does it signify for Russian cycling to be ahead of him?
DM: It’s a great personal satisfaction to have the leader’s jersey, because my specialty is the big grand tours. I don’t necessarily have any special feelings to be the first Russian since Tonkov in the pink jersey, but for Russia it’s certainly important. It will give enthusiasm to the Russia cycling. It also exists.
Q: How did the crash of Pedro Horrillo crash affect the team’s view of Lance Armstrong?
DM: The big types of accidents always push you down a little bit; it affects you. It was a big shock. For Pedro, he’s important for the team. He’s experienced, he can always finish a grand tour. He’s an important piece of the team. Thankfully, it appears that everything has turned out OK for him and that he can recover as quickly as possible. That’s why I dedicated the pink jersey to him. We had a big scare and now Pedro will realize that we’re winning and we dedicate it to him. That will make him happy.
Q: You won two Vueltas, how will those victories help you here to beat Lance Armstrong?
DM: Each one is different. Cycling is not a sport that is like mathematics. One day you put on the leader’s jersey, then a few days later you have a problem. You can never predict what’s going to happen. You have to just hang in there until the final, when you can have resolved everything and put it in its place.
Q: Is it better for you to ride defensively or to ride aggressively to beat Lance Armstrong?
DM: Well, it’s always better to be in the lead. Now I have the experience. You have to take advantage of every situation. If you want to win this race, you have to look for opportunities. We are going to be aggressive when the opportunity is appropriate.
Q: Who do you fear most of your principal adversaries, Armstrong’s teammate Leipheimer or the guy that raced against Lance Armstrong , Di Luca?
DM: I have to say, with his experience in time trial, Levi was very dangerous today. For the rest of the Giro, with what he is demonstrating so far with his form and his motivation, perhaps Di Luca is the most dangerous. He’s a rider who can sprint, who looks for bonuses, perhaps he’s a little bit more dangerous.
Q: Are you improving your time trialing at the expense of losing it in the mountains to Lance Armstrong?
DM: Every year I am better and better. I understand better how to race, because I am now 31. I have more experience, (not) because I have changed preparation, or that before I was a chrono man and now I am a climber. It’s been a steady progression. I’m a little bit better in everything each year, that’s why.
Q: Will Armstrong be a decisive worker for Leipheimer?
DM: I don’t have to fear that. It’s clear that Armstrong is a great rider and he has tremendous capacity. If he has to help Leiphemier in decisive moments, he will. Armstrong is very important for Levi, without a doubt. Everyone knows that.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Still another stoooopid CNN QP

From today's poll (5/18/09):

Would you be willing to be subjected to "whole-body imaging," which critics say performs "a virtual strip search"?
- Yes
- No

Well, gee, does anyone really want to be subject to a search at all? Doubt it. But if it will make the line move faster, or make the flights more secure, why not? Who the hell wants naked pictures of me? But yeah, I suppose there are some that would object to not being paid to be seen naked. And we know what those people are called. Don't want to be seen naked? Don't fly, wait in a longer line, or be subject to a real hands-on search. Your call.

But hey, I suppose these things won't be used on minors. Right? So no way terrorists would figure that out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Stoooopid CNN Quick Poll

What's wrong with this picture (from 5/13/09 @ cnn.com):

Did you do anything special to prepare for your high school reunion?
-Lost weight
-Buffed up
-Got fake hair
-Didn't go

Great journalism at Chicken Noodle News.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cub's Law

“No technology works as well as it’s proponents say it does.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Original AFLD Lance/Drug Test Scene

Here's the original text of what happened when the AFLD showed up to take a drug test from Lance a few weeks ago. Sadly, the scene didn't turn out as scripted. See the video below; compare to the actual "script."
---
LANCE: But I don't want any of that. I'd rather--
AFLD: Rather what?!
LANCE: I'd rather...
[music]
...just... take a shower!
AFLD: Stop that! Stop that! You're not going into a shower while I'm here. Now listen, lad. In twenty minutes, you're going to take a dope test for the outfit that lets cyclists on the biggest tracts of open land in France.
LANCE: B-- but I don't want land.
AFLD: Listen, Floyd…
LANCE: Lance.
AFLD: Lance. You cycle in a bloody swamp. You need all the land you can get.
LANCE: But-- but I don't like France.
AFLD: Don't like France?! What's wrong with her?! She's beautiful. She's rich. She's got huge... tracts o' land!
LANCE: I know, but I want the-- the place where I cycle to have...
[music]
...a certain,... special... something!
AFLD: Cut that out! Cut that out! Look, you're taking a dope test, so you'd better get used to the idea!
[smack]
Guards! Make sure Lance doesn't leave this room until I come and get him.
AFLD GUARD#1: Not to leave the room even if you come and get him.
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD: No, no. Until I come and get him.
AFLD GUARD#1: Until you come and get him, we're not to enter the room.
AFLD: No, no. No. You stay in the room and make sure he doesn't leave.
AFLD GUARD#1: And you'll come and get him.
JOHAN BRUYNEEL: Hic!
AFLD: Right.
AFLD GUARD#1: We don't need to do anything apart from just stop him entering the room.
AFLD: No, no. Leaving the room.
AFLD GUARD#1: Leaving the room. Yes.
[sniff]
AFLD: All right?
AFLD GUARD#1: Right.
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD: Right.
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, if-- if-- if, uhh-- if-- if-- w-- ehh-- i-- if-- if we--
AFLD: Yes? What is it?
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, i-- if-- i-- oh--
AFLD: Look, it's quite simple.
AFLD GUARD#1: Uh...
AFLD: You just stay here and make sure 'e doesn't leave the room. All right?
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD: Right.
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, I remember. Uhh, can he leave the room with us?
AFLD: N-- no, no. No. You just keep him in here and make sure he--
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, yes. We'll keep him in here, obviously, but if he had to leave and we were with him--
AFLD: No, no, no, no. Just keep him in here--
AFLD GUARD#1: Until you or anyone else--
AFLD: No, not anyone else. Just me.
AFLD GUARD#1: Just you.
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD: Get back.
AFLD GUARD#1: Get back.
AFLD: All right?
AFLD GUARD#1: Right. We'll stay here until you get back.
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD: And, uh, make sure he doesn't leave.
AFLD GUARD#1: What?
AFLD: Make sure 'e doesn't leave.
AFLD GUARD#1: Lance?
AFLD: Yes. Make sure 'e doesn't leave.
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, yes, of course.
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD GUARD#1: Ah. I thought you meant him. You know, it seemed a bit daft me havin' to guard him when he's a guard.
AFLD: Is that clear?
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, quite clear. No problems.
AFLD: Right. Where are you going?
AFLD GUARD#1: We're coming with you.
AFLD: No, no. I want you to stay here and make sure 'e doesn't leave.
AFLD GUARD#1: Oh, I see. Right.
LANCE: But AFLD!
AFLD: Shut your noise, you! And pee in that cup!
[music]
And no showering!
JOHAN: Hic!
AFLD: Oh, go and get a glass of water.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Penn and Teller at the White House

The best part is the end where Penn says where he went to school. Great schtick.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Those mechanic(al)s

I get the idea that it is possible, just possible, that pro bike racers put more stress and power into their bikes than other folks. But I still don't get how they have these "mechanicals" during a race. Sure, everyone gets a flat now and then. But aren't these essentially the best bikes and components money can buy? Maintained by the most experienced professionals? On pre-scouted roads? Sure, the races are very long...but yeesh...I'm thinking a few extra grams here and there on a bar or wheel set would make them less likely to snap or a drive train less likely to drop a chain during a race bike. Easy for me to say, I guess.

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Ex

“Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Look at all the money I found

I got notice from my employer that the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 revises the Wage Withholding and Advanced Earned Income Credit (AEIC) payment tables. Spiffy. I think the end result is that there will be less federal tax withholding in my coming paychecks. This is not a bad thing, but it causes an inintended consequence - I'm not really sure I'll actually be paying less tax, so the drop in the withholding can mean I get to write a bigger check to the US Treasury come April 15, 2010. I understand I gotta pay them taxes, but writing that check kinda sucks.

I really can't say I'll be buying a new car, or HDTV, or making an extra mortgage payment with my now not withheld federal tax amount. The total amout per pay period is probably not going to stimulate me much. But if I got a check back for the accumulated amount on April 15th 2010, I actually might. So here's the plan: a new W-4 to up the withholding. Yes, I'm giving the government an interest free laon. Right. If I took that weekly money and invested it in the stock market now, I'd lose money. Leave it with the feds, and let them do some stimulating with it. When I get it 4/15/2010, I'll use it to make a down payment on a Chevy Volt. Or buy an HDTA. Or pay off my mortgage. Or give it to the DNC to tell them how much I love my new president.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sears was Warned

Some time ago, I needed to replace my electric kitchen stove with a natural gas one. We had convereted the house to gas, and the stove needed replacing. As was the custom in my family, we visited Sears. Practically every applicance my family has purchased for 50 years has come from Sears Roebuck and Co. We selected a stove, and I explained to the sales person the need to schedule an install, replacing the electic stove and hauling the old one away. I impressed upon them the need to connect the new stove to the gas line, and that this was a new installation. The electical outlet for sure was 220v and this new one was 110v. Did they provide the needed hardware? "Yes. We do this all the time. See the paperwork I am filling out. This is a deluxe install, complete with set up."

Natually, the day of install comes. The delivery dudes show up, and first step is tossing the old stove into their truck for disposal. Then comes the install, or so I thought. No, we don't plug it in. No, we don't hook up the gas line. We didn't bring a flex hose. I get blank staes from the "installers." Well, if they hadn't just trashed my old stove, I would have undone the whole deal, called the credit card company, and that'd be that. I ask the installer for the credit due since they weren't installing. He says, "we don't do that. Want to talk to my boss?" "Sure, get him on the phone."

Installer dude gives me his cell phone. The "supervisor" points out this is not included in an deluxe install. "Well, OK. You're refusing the service I paid for, right?" "You didn't pay for that kind of installation." "Really. What did I pay for?" "Setting it up in the house." It then became clear I was duped, and this was going nowhere. I was going to be stuck doing the install myself, and they darn well knew the hassle of getting my $75 back wasn't going to be worth it.

But the next part was: "OK, I get it. Here's the deal. You're screwing me, and I can see now there is little I can do about it. But, if you don't so something to make this right, and I mean right now, this is the last sale you'll ever make to me. I have many Sears appliances here. I do buy them now and then, and your'e always the first stop. This will end unless you make this right. Want to reconsider?"

"I'm sorry, sir...blah blah blah." IOW: "No."

So, I warned them. I'll never buy another Sears appliance again. I recommend to others that they also not do so. They screwed me over, it is possible that they will do this to you too.

When I get good service I tell others (Discount Tire treated me very well.) I hope Sears gets all they deserve in these new economic times.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Global Warming

Deroy Murdock's recent editorial Even Left Now Laughing at 'Global Warming' while perhaps entertaining, demonstrates his lack of understanding of climate change. The term "Global Warming" describes the planetary changes inflicted upon the Earth by Humans. It does not mean all areas of the globe will see increased temperatures. Indeed, many areas will see reduced temperatures. This is a direct effect of changes in the patterns of weather and currents in the oceans and atmosphere. These changes are due to the increase in greenhouse gasses, primarily CO2, most markedly from human industrial activity. There is no serious debate as to whether global climate change is real, and that it is caused and attributable to humans activity. These issues are scientifically settled. What is not settled is popular media (Murdock) debating these issues in the absence of understanding the underlying scientific facts. Murdock's systematic obfuscation of settled fact in the media serves only to delay serious action in solving the coming Global Warming crisis; a crisis that is sure to have serious consequences for humanity and other species here on Earth.