Monday, June 30, 2008

John McCain

John McCain is a regular guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I actually enjoy Mr. McCain's visits to the show. He often gets much more than the 5 minutes at the end that most guests on the show. Mr. McCain and Mr. Stewart do seem to like each other an the first half of the interview is always fluff but the second half tends to be more hard hitting.

In April of 2007 Mr. McCain went on the Daily Show and Mr. Stewart really went hard at him about the Iraq War. The look in Mr. McCain's eyes seemed to say "What is going on here? I thought you were my friend." and for part of the interview it seemed like Mr. McCain was not going to come back again. In fact Mr. Stewart reached across the desk at the end, offered his hand and said "Still friends?". Mr. McCain was recently a guest on the show but the interview was not nearly as hard hitting.

At the time of the April 2007 appearance Mr. McCain's campaign was not doing so well. He was out of money and it was looking like he was not going to make it to the end. Soon after this appearance though things started to turn around (Mr. Stewart attempted to take credit during Mr. McCain's most recent visit).

I have often thought that Mr. McCain and Mr. Stewart's relationship was unique. That while Mr. Stewart liked Mr. McCain he was still willing to make fun of him and Mr. McCain respected Mr. Stewart well enough to play along or at least understand the joke. Turns out I as wrong. According to article written in 1999 by Michael Lewis (A former Salomon Brothers trader who wrote two of my favorite books: Liars Poker and Money Ball) Mr. McCain does have the ability to charm the media without really trying.

I am not really sure who I am going to vote for in the general election. My past track record of voting in Presidential Elections is not really that great. There is always something that prevents me from being able to vote. I made four attempts to vote in the 2004 elections but I was moving on election day and I did not have the time to wait to vote. Each time I went back the line was even longer. If I had taken all the time I spent on the 4 different trips to the polling station I might have been able to actually pull the lever but I would wait for 30 to 60 minutes and then have to leave to address some issue with the move.This year is looking to be the same. I am probably going to have to do the absentee ballot this year.

I am not sure who I am going to vote for. I actually feel good about the two candidates. I am hoping that the race for the oval office stays positive. I am looking for the candidate that will be most willing to switch off the campaign and move to governing mode once the election is over. So far I think both candidates are even on this point.

I think that it is going to come down to economic policy. Whoever wins is going to inherit a tough situation. I am not sure I would want the job. In some ways I almost think that the best course of action is to let the markets play out with minimal intervention.

High energy costs are going to be troublesome but market economics should eventually correct the situation. However, I do not think a gas tax holiday or increased drilling is the answer. Conservation seems to be best answer. I have noticed that the number of Hummers on the road has decreased and my local Toyota dealer has told me that most Corolla's are sold before they even hit the showroom. It is not just Oil that is bullish. In fact I think that most commodities such as corn and soybean are doing well. The US farmers should do well this year which is a good thing since they are going to have to use the money to put fuel in their tractors and trucks.

Things should eventually even out. Higher fuel costs create a market for smaller more efficient vehicles (although part me thinks that this might be a good time to get a Honda Ridgeline). Mass transit and other alternative transportation options become more popular. As much as I enjoyed the $.99 a gallon gasoline we had 5 years ago I am not afraid of $5.00 either. The short term is going to suck but we might be all better off in the long term.

Hopefully, Mr. Obama starts to show up on The Daily Show since it is really the only TV show that I get my news from (I tend to read). This is probably the first year that I have been an undecided voter.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another day of sudden storms

Sunny skies are becoming a worm on a hook for me. Today I learned my lesson though. Even though the weather report said that the weather was going to be nasty it was sunny and just partly cloud so the excersize fantic inside wanted to get out for ride. My lazy side was telling me to just hang out and see what was going to happen. The lazy side was right.

I am thinking of going to the gym to work out but my needy dog cannot stand being alone when storms are coming through. In fact when I am working down stairs in my basement she bangs on the door to come down. It is kind of a new thing. Now I am starting to feel an obligation to be around when the weather is nasty.

My daughter's flight back from Greensboro, NC has been cancelled. Looks like she is getting another day to hang out with her friend.

Second Day of out running the rain

Saturday's ride was a repeat of Friday's ride. The only difference was that I got out mid day. It was hot and hazy but the weather report said that rain would be later in the day. I did learn some lessons and I decided to make it another climbing day and stay close to house.

I did get trapped into a false sense of security and I did venture out of Holmdel and into Colts Neck. As the storm clouds formed over my head I decided that I needed to correct my bad behavior and quickly turned around and made my way home. Of course I had to add a little extra mileage just increase the level of excitement.

The rain started to come down just as I was heading up to the shower. The first rain was just a summer shower. The next waves contained thunder and lightning.

The weather report is the same for Sunday as well. I am working all weekend so my riding window is very narrow. I may just head to the gym after breakfast.
I ended up watching Kevin Smith's Clerks all the way through for the first time last night. I have seen pieces of it I have never sat down and watched it end to end. I often ride on the same road that Dante and Randal take on the way to the funeral home. If you know the area you can tell that they are going back and forth on Leonardville Road. The go under the Navy Bridge for NWS Earle and then you see the Middle School on the right. You can see that they drove for a while and then turned around. The funeral home is over in Atlantic Highlands which would mean a different route. Funny movie really captures some of the culture of Bayshore (they love their hockey around here). Dante and Randal probably would have gone to Middletown North High School.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Out running the rain

By the time I got all of my work done for the day it was 6 PM before I could get out on the roads. The WeatherBug application on my computer did not have a lot of good things to say about the weather. Mostly it showed rain clouds with lightning bolts. However, a visual inspection of the skies indicated something quite different. Since I really did not feel like hitting the gym I decided to give a ride a shot. Since I missed the Thursday evening hill ride I decided that I would stay close to home and ride hills.

I planned a route out in my head. Since I have rode almost every good road in the area several times I decided that I would reverse the direction as often as I could. As is always the case with my rides I started out with a ride over Telegraph hill. When I got to the bottom instead of taking the right to Holmdel Road I took a left. As I was passing the old the Lucent (AT&T Bell Labs) site I decided to get some fast miles and I took a lap around the now abandoned facility. The goal of the ride was to head south into Colts Neck taking as many hills as I could find and then make the turn back to Holmdel and finish up with a couple big climbs.

It was rather quiet for a Friday evening. The traffic was very light (I think the $4 plus a gallon is starting to show its effect) not many riders out but lots of runners. As I was making the turn off of RT 520 I saw a couple waiting for traffic to clear. I quickly waved hello and the guy said hi to me by name. I as I passed I realised that it was one of the other riders from the Independent group. Unfortunately I only know people by the bikes they ride and not by name. I need to work on that (remembering peoples name is a skill I have not yet mastered).

As I am heading south I start to notice some dark clouds coming in from the west. The sun is still visible where I am and the clouds appear to be staying south of Colts Neck. I know from past experience that storms can be very tricky. The two large bodies of water (the Raritan Bay to the North and the Atlantic to the East) make things hairy in a hurry.

I was originally going to cross over Phalanx Road and head over RT 537 before making the turn back to Holmdel. Once I got to Phalanx Road I decided to make a right and start to make the turn to head back home. As I was heading West I could see that there was a line in the sky. To my right the sun was shining and there was plenty of blue sky. To my left there were clouds that almost certainly spell trouble (I could deal with rain but not thunder and lightning).

I looked down at my computer and I was a little short on my mileage. As I made the turn to start heading North all I could see was sun and blue sky so I made a decision to add a little bit of mileage. When I got the Colts Neck Municipal Center I decided to make a left and cut over to Cedar Road. This was a mistake since it turns out that Cedar Road does not come out where I thought it did. I thought that it runs north and south but it turns out that runs North West and actually brought me further away from home. I could not started to see the skies get even more threatening. The sun was still shining but I could see that the dark clouds were starting take over. I could see that the clouds were starting to fill the space between where I was and where I needed to go.

As I got to the end of Cedar I decided to hop on Boundary Road and continue to head north. I figured that I still had some time but I have thought that before and was wrong. When I got to Crine Road I knew I had no choice but to turn right and head into the clouds. The good thing is that the roads were in good shape and I could really pick up some speed. The adrenaline was really helping and I was moving a long at good clip.

By the time I got to the Holmdel border the sun was gone and the sky was dark. I was moving along at a good clip but I still and a big climb left so I was a little concerned. I was definitely getting a good workout. I made my way by Holmdel Park and got to the bottom of Telegraph Hill to start the last climb home. If I could get to the top before the rain started I was home free since it would be all down hill back to my house.

Probably the fastest I have ever rode up Telegraph. I got to the bottom, made the left onto Laurel Ave. Luckily the front gate of my development was still open and I was not going to have to stop to enter my code. By now the clouds had taken over the area. I could not hear any thunder so it was probably only going to be a rain shower. I got the bike into the garage. As I went upstairs to shower and change I heard the rain start to come down.

All in all it was a good ride. A little under 30 miles. Even without the storm clouds I would not have been able to ride the whole route that I had originally planned. The detoured through Lucent took too much time I would have run out of day light by the time I got to the hills in the northern part of the town.

I went to the 9:40 PM showing of Wanted at the Hazlet Cinema. An ok movie. If I get a chance I might write a review but it looks like I am going to be working today. I am really excited to see Hancock next week

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday Evening Holmdel Park Independent Ride Pictures

Some pictures from the regular Tuesday Evening Holmdel Park Independent Ride.

It is just under 4 miles from my house to the Holmdel Park lower lot where the ride starts from. I ride to the start but there are lots of others who drive. Picture above are 3 regular riders that come down from Woodbridge, NJ.

We have been getting new riders almost every week. This weeks ride was probably the best attended of the Tuesday evening rides. We probably had close to 20 riders go out.

It is hard to get pictures of the ride. The pace is fast and there is not much time at the stop lights.

I took this shot over my back. I think was in Freehold.

This was probably the best group ride I have been on. I did spend too much time up front but it is a training ride so I want to make myself work so I tend to move forward even when I want to stay in the back. I am still having trouble with the climbs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two Weeks. One Bike and No Car (Bike Commuting)

I found an article on Slate that chronicled the adventures of one riders experience of living without a car. The section about cycling clothes is great. The article is by Bill Gifford. Check it out.

I have included the whole article below.

dispatches: Notes from different corners of the world.

The Bicycle Diaries: Is it possible to live in America without a car? Uh, sort of.

By Bill Gifford Posted Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005, at 5:24 PM ET

"I can't believe how windy it is today," said the woman in line at the pet store.
"I know," said the cashier. Then, rolling her eyes and nodding meaningfully in my direction, she added, "and some people are riding their bikes." "Mmmm," said her customer, gathering up her kitty litter and heading for her minivan, studiously avoiding even a glance in my direction, which was difficult because I was holding the door open for her.

After two weeks of riding my bicycle everywhere, I'd gotten used to people treating me as if I were somehow not right in the head. Store clerks ignored me, old men gave me the hard stare, soccer moms avoided eye contact. After all, almost nobody in America rides a bike if they can afford a car.

But after Katrina jacked gas prices toward $4 a gallon, my Volvo station wagon was starting to seem a lot less affordable. It wasn't just the $50 fill-ups, either, but the $400-plus repair bill that resulted from the Volvo's annual state inspection, on top of a $200 insurance payment, and the costly new drive shaft that she still needs, the insatiable beast. In mid-October, under the influence of warm fall weather and a recent visit to Amsterdam, I decided to opt out of humanity's little deal with the Devil, known as the automobile. Long story short: At least I tried.

It seemed easy enough. I'm what the newspapers call an "avid" cyclist—rhymes with "rabid." I own four bikes, which I rarely use for actual transportation. Like most of the 90 million Americans who swung a leg over a bicycle last year, including our president, I rode for fitness and recreation only.

Then, last month, I went to Amsterdam for a friend's birthday party. I was amazed: Everyone rode bikes, everywhere. I saw 80-year-olds pedaling along beside young mothers with two and even three small children perched on various parts of their bikes, and dads trundling off to work in business suits and nice Italian shoes. The Dutch, I later learned, conduct 30 percent of all their trips—to work, for errands, socially—by bike. In America, that figure is less than 1 percent. We drive 84 percent of the time, even though most of our trips are less than 2 miles long. More than three-quarters of us commute alone by car, compared with just half a million (way less than 1 percent) who do so by bike, according to the 2000 Census. As a "committed" cyclist—another loaded adjective—I'd always tut-tutted these kinds of statistics.

In late October, I took a vow of automotive abstinence. I'd go everywhere by bike: daily errands, social events, even the "office" (a Wi-Fi cafe where I often work—4 miles away, over a decent-sized hill). I don't commute to an actual job, but I would go somewhere every day, rain or shine. I allowed a few exceptions, like emergency vet visits and picking up friends from the train station. Otherwise, I'd be helping to cut down on greenhouse-gas pollution and traffic congestion, while keeping myself in shape. I was well ahead of the curve: According to one survey, gas would have to hit $5 per gallon before a majority of Americans would consider walking or riding bikes as alternative transportation.

I'm not like most Americans: I have no kids to chauffeur to soccer practice, no elderly parents to care for, and I commute in slippers. I would still need to eat, however, and I would continue to go to restaurants and movies and parties and shopping. Although I live in a semirural area, suburbia is closing in on all sides, with more housing developments every year. As in much of suburbia, there are almost no services within easy walking distance: It's 2 miles to the convenience store where I buy the New York Times, 6 miles to the grocery and pet stores, 4 miles to my favorite bar. The former country roads around here are becoming busier all the time. Luckily, a defunct local railway line had recently been converted to a 17-mile recreation trail that passes fairly close to the stores I most often visit, as well as a couple of pretty good bars and restaurants. I'd be riding a lot of miles, but as it turned out, the mileage wouldn't be the problem.

That first Sunday, I hopped on a bike to go get the paper, just a couple miles down the rail-trail. I wore jeans, mistake No. 1: By the time I reached the Sunoco, I was profoundly chafed, and worse, my Banana Republic jeans now sported a black, greasy streak at about midcalf, from rubbing against the chain. It was chilly, and I was a tad hung over from a party the night before. By the time I got home, I had a raging tension headache, thanks to my hunched-over riding position.

Three Advils later, I looked at my bike with fresh eyes. It had a skinny little seat that all but required me to wear padded cycling pants when I rode. The handlebars were set forward and low, so a stretchy top was also a must—with a long tail, to avoid showing the cyclist's equivalent of plumber's crack. And it had special "clipless" pedals, which required me to wear special stiff-soled shoes with metal cleats on the bottom. Great for riding, not so much for walking. My beloved mountain bike had always seemed so comfortable on the local dirt trails. But like most bikes sold in the United States, it was an exercise machine, and not intended to be used for transportation. (There are some bikes that work well for city/transport use, including the functional Breezer, the retro-stylin' Electra line of cruisers, and the supremely elegant Bianchi Milano, which is what I'd ride if I actually lived in Milano.)

Years ago, when I commuted by bike to an office job at a magazine, I had established a little routine. It was 6 miles each way, and I made sure to ride at a slow pace so I wouldn't get too sweaty. Arriving at work before most of my colleagues, I'd shut my office door and read e-mails while I cooled down. Then I'd swab myself with Old Spice Red Zone and change into work clothes, trading my cycling shoes for the old Kenneth Coles I kept under my desk. By the time everyone else arrived, clutching their Dunkin' Donuts coffee, I was fully dressed, awake, and presentable. Then one morning, while I was locking my bike to a parking meter, I happened to see the publisher, a pudgy-fingered little man who liked French cuffs and hated bike messengers, which is exactly what I resembled at that moment. My career at that magazine ended shortly thereafter.

I've got a whole dresser full of cycling clothes. And they work well, for their intended purpose, which is exercising. I actually thought they looked sort of cool, as long as you didn't venture into the neon-yellow end of the color spectrum (or worse, purple). But as my first week carless progressed I realized that bike clothes only look good when you're actually riding a bike. The moment you stop, get off, and walk around among normally-dressed people—say, when you drop by the local Kmart and stroll about, in skintight Spandex, holding a toilet plunger—bike clothes don't seem quite so cool.

As I approached the Kmart cash registers in this early visit, metal cleats clicking on the linoleum tile, the cashier girls stopped comparing their incarcerated boyfriends and stared. Then they looked away. One studied her nails, while the other concentrated on scanning the plunger and counting change. This, I'd come to recognize, was The Silence, the awkward, get-this-over-with tension that often accompanied transactions where one party is clad head-to-toe in stretch synthetics that might not smell so great. I paid, grabbed the plunger, and click-clacked out the automatic sliding doors, to everyone's relief. And as I pedaled away, I realized that bike clothes aren't merely ugly, to normal people: They're transgressive.

So I did an extreme biker makeover: I bought baggy shorts to wear over my padded cycling clothes, to spare the sensibilities of store clerks and my fellow customers. I wore neutral-toned jerseys but kept the bright-gold nylon jacket, because it made me more visible and thus safer. I ditched the fancy pedals for regular, flat pedals, so I could ride in normal shoes. And I attached a rack to one of my racing bikes, an act of utter bike-geek sacrilege. It didn't matter: Sooner or later, I'd need to go get dog food.

Still, by the end of that first shakedown week, I was growing to enjoy my bike-bound, self-propelled life. I'd made an executive decision to ride slowly, because it wasn't fun to get all Lance Armstrong-sweaty and then stand in line at Foodland, sweating all over the broccoli. By necessity, I chose less-traveled roads, which led me to some interesting local discoveries, like a natural-foods market run by the Amish that stocked wild salmon and bison steaks. I got exactly one flat tire, on a 12-mile trek to have my DVD player repaired. Luckily I carried a spare tube—essential for any ride, as is a helmet—and was back on my way in less time than it would have taken to get my Volvo filled up and washed.

Since I couldn't carry more than about two or three bags worth of groceries, I needed to go shopping more often, but as long as the weather held, I didn't mind. In fact, I looked forward to longer trips, like a 10-mile jaunt to a local college library. The fresh air and exercise kept me alert during the afternoons, and after humping an Oven Stuffer Roaster up a 2-mile grade, there was certainly no need to go to the gym. At night, after a beer or two at the bar, I was probably safer riding on the wide, empty rail-trail than driving on the dark, narrow rural roads—and there were certainly no cherry-picking local cops lurking on the bike path.

Best of all, the bike turned out to be the hottest dating vehicle I've ever owned. One Sunday, my girlfriend and I rode to a nearby tavern for burgers and beers. We sat outside, enjoying one of the last of the warm fall afternoons and then wobbled back up the hill to our town. We got home feeling slightly sweaty, a bit tipsy, and full of adrenaline. (She opted out of the grocery-shopping trips, however, and refused to bike home from the Amtrak station at 10 p.m. on Friday nights.)

Slowly but surely, I started running low on dog food. And the thing about dog food is that the more you buy, the cheaper it is: A 5-pound bag of my pups' preferred brand goes for $12, while the 15-pounder costs $25. Plus, the 5-pounder would only last two or three days at the most, which is how I ended up in the pet store, lashing an alarmingly heavy sack of "Cowboy Cookout"-flavored kibble to my bike rack.

Once the load was secured, I set out, navigating the rather tricky strip-mall exit onto a busy state road. It soon became clear, as I pedaled along the gravel-strewn shoulder, that I had failed to anticipate the sketchy handling characteristics of a 19-pound bike laded with 15 pounds of dog food in a 25-mile-an-hour crosswind. One especially nasty gust pushed my top-heavy steed into the busy traffic lane; as I swerved back to the shoulder, the Cowboy Cookout decided to continue in a straight line, and the rear wheel skidded around, nearly tossing me into the guardrail.

That night, I went to watch Monday Night Football in the next town over. It was a beautiful, moonlit night, unseasonably warm (the wind had died down), and bright enough that I didn't even need my headlamp. As I sped home through the woods, I soon forgot about the Eagles' catastrophic loss. I crawled contentedly into bed … and awoke with a full-blown head cold. It was my third minicold since I'd started this experiment, probably thanks to all the sweating and chilling I'd put myself through.

At any rate, I wanted only one thing: soup. And I had no soup. It was 40 degrees and pouring down rain. Without a second thought, I hopped into the car and raced down to Foodland, where I stocked up on Campbell's Select Savory Chicken and Long-Grain Rice, and other necessities (like ice cream) that I'd been doing without. On the way home, I passed the Sunoco station. $2.49 a gallon for premium, I decided, was a terrific bargain.

Kevin Smith's Tribute to George Carlin

Kevin Smith wrote a tribute to George Carlin in Newsweek Magazine. Mr. Carlin had roles in 3 Kevin Smith Movies the most notable as the Priest in Dogma. There is a life size thumbs up Jesus (Buddy Christ) in Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in Red Bank, NJ.

Pictures from last week's rides

Not much new to write about. However, I have been carrying my camera on rides. I have room in my pockets because I do not have to carry a spare tube and wrench on my Tarmac thanks to the quick release wheels. There are lots of Kodak moments on my ride but the actual pictures do not really do the views justice. I can often see the Manhattan skyline at the top of some of my climbs.

The picture above was taken during the Thursday evening hill climb ride with the Holmdel Park Independent Group. I got dropped while I was taking out the camera and trying to get the picture. I eventually caught up but I got dropped again trying to get a picture of the last climb of the day. Unfortunately, the picture did not really come out very well.

The deer above are out every evening. This picture was taking Friday on a ride by myself. While it looks like it is a rural area it is actually a large vacant lot in the middle of Marlboro, NJ. I actually stopped to take these pictures. The deer just looked at me for a few minutes and then scattered. One large one got to the edge of the woods and engaged me in a staring contest.

I have to worry about deer almost more than cars since they tend to run across the road at moments notice. When then are in the woods they are not visiable even though they are only a few feet away. I often hear them before I see them. I cannot imagine hitting a deer at 20 mph is a lot of fun. The Colts Neck deer seem to be more skiddish than the Holmdel and Marlboro deer.

I took this picture as I was waiting for the lefthand arrow to go over the Sea Bright Bridge. The road is RT 36 and I am facing north. The Atlantic is to the right and the entrance to to Sandy Hook is a mile or two straight ahead. Since the Highlands Bridge is being replaced I have to cut through Rumson, NJ to get up to Mt. Mitchell Scenic Overlook.

Hartshorne Woods Park is the mountain bike destination in Monmouth County. Since I was riding by in the afternoon the parking lot was not that crowded. On the weekends the lot is usually full and the extra cars are parked along the road.

The Eastpointe Tower is next to the Mt. Mitchell Scenic Overlook. I had been told that Frank Sinatra once lived there but I am not sure if it is true. The view must be incredible from the top floors. The New York sky and the Brooklyn Beaches (Coney Island) are directly north. The Atlantic is just to the right. I lived just down the road in Atlantic Highlands when I first moved to New Jersey.

This a sample of the view from the Mt. Mitchell Scenic Overlook. I took this picture from the drive way of one of the houses on Ocean Blvd as it heads toward Atlantic Highlands. The NY skyline is in the background but my camera is not good enough to pick it up. The best part of the climb up Mt. Mitchell is the drop into Atlantic Highlands.

Due to weather and other obligations I did not ride on Sunday or Monday. Hopefully the weather is better this evening so that I can ride with the Tuesday evening Holmdel Park group.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Be Careful Out There

Bicyclist dies in Otisco crash with motorcycle

by Meghan Rubado and Robert A. Baker
Saturday June 21, 2008, 5:30 PM

State police investigate an accident on Otisco Valley Road today in Otisco where a woman was kiied when the bicycle she was riding collided with a motorcycle. Otisco, NY -- A woman died after she was struck by a motorcyclist while she was riding a bicycle along Otisco Valley Road about noon today, troopers said.

The woman in her 40s suffered serious injuries and was taken to Community General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Motorcyclist Timothy Cebeniak, 41, of Marrietta, suffered minor injuries and was treated at Community General Hospital and released.

Both Cebeniak and the woman were heading south on Otisco Valley Road along Otisco Lake near Syratisco Lane, troopers said. The woman turned her bicycle from the south shoulder into the path of a motorcyclist, troopers said.

The woman, who wasn't carrying an identification, was dressed in bicycle gear, troopers said. Troopers were working to find out her identity Saturday night.

There were no witnesses to the crash. The woman was wearing a bicycle helmet, troopers said. An iPod player was found at the scene but investigators didn't find any headphones, troopers said.

The motorcylist told investigators he didn't know how the accident happened.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


At the end of 2006 one of my co-workers told me about Linkedin. At first I was not sure how interested I was in a Web 2.0 community. After thinking about it I decided to give it a try. I was immediately hooked. In fact this week I hit 700 connections.

Linkedin is an online professional networking tool. I have heard it described as Facebook or MySpace for business workers. Your profile is your resume or CV. You invite people to join your network and you can accept invites from others. The writing of recommendations for your connections is encouraged. Your connections are visable to the other members of your network. Updates to your connections are displayed as they happen.

Colaboration between members is through a question and answers application. Members can ask questions or provide answers that displayed to the network. As will all Web 2.o sites some members are much more active than others.

Not all of my connections are friends and former co-workers. A lot are recruiters who are probably more interested in my list of connections than in me. Some are random invites from people just joining and looking to build their list of connections. In the beginning I was not super selective about who I connected with. I figured the larger my list of connections the higher the probability I would be able to connect with former co-workers that I had lost track of. I even included my email in my profile title. After a while I decided a more directed approach worked better.

One of the more interesting aspects of Linkedin is how various member of my network are related to each other. Some relationships are obvious usually member of my network have worked together at different firms. However, some are completely surprising. One of my former co-workers was connected to one of my high school classmates. I have determined that 6 degrees of separation is a very wide network and the network of 3 degrees or less is amazing.

The environment is tightly controlled to limit the amount of spam. Members are strongly encouraged not to send invites to folks that they do not know. In fact Linkedin uses the 2 strike rule. If 2 invites respond that they do not know you then you are placed in the restricted box and will need to send an apologetic email to customer service in order to have the restriction removed.

I have heard that recruiters are starting to use Linkedin instead of job boards such as Hotjobs. I am not sure how true this is but the ability to have recommendations probably helps qualify candidates.

There have been rumors that Linkedin is going to either be sold or be IPO'd. There was an article on CNNfn that talked about a new funding infusion for Linkedin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Driving out, bicycling to work is in (From the NY Dailynews)

The NY Dailynews


Tuesday, June 17th 2008, 10:18 AM

As driving becomes more expensive, commuters are going from being stuck in traffic to dodging traffic.

Gas prices have made pedaling bicycles to work an attractive alternative to driving. John Swoffard, of New Brighton, Staten Island, said he has noticed a lot more two-wheel commuters on the ferry.

"It's definitely the high gas prices," said Swoffard, 52, who has been biking to his information technology job in midtown since 2001. "We saw the same thing with the subway strike, all these people riding their kid's bikes."

The ranks of bikers has increased 75% citywide since 2000, with 110,000 daily commuters at the beginning of this year, according to Transportation Alternatives.

"The annual costs of a car in New York City are $5,500, versus $263 for a bicycle," noted group spokesman Wiley Norvell, adding that the figure doesn't include gas.

Bicycle shops said business is rolling.

"We've seen much more stuff selling that would fall into the commuter category," said Charlie McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat in Soho.

Bicycle sales are up 5% this year, compared with an 11% drop in car sales, according to a report by Merrill Lynch.

If fear of $5-a-gallon gas is pushing commuters to pedal, the city is doing its part to facilitate the trend. The Department of Transportation plans to add another 200 miles of bike lanes in the city before 2009, including a Ninth Ave. bike lane with barriers.

The easier the city makes it to bike, the more people will do it, Norvell said. "If you build it, they will come," he insisted.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Trip to Trackstar NYC

I have been meaning to visit Trackstar NYC for some time. However, it just never seemed to work out for me. I was in Midtown Manhattan attending the SIFMA Technology Conference. I had some time to kill before the Savvis Reception so I decided to take a subway downtown and make a quick stop to checkout the track bikes.

The shop is located at 231 Eldridge Street which is about 1 block south of Houston (pronounced House Ton) Street. I am never sure which train to catch but I knew the 4 5 6 went into that general area so I decided to head east on 53 St to the Citigroup Tower. I caught the 6 to Houston and then walked 5 or 6 blocks east to Eldridge. As I got to the corner of Houston and Eldridge I notice the entrance to the F train. The F train goes underneath Rockefeller Center which is just south of were I attended the SIFMA show. Going back was going to be easy.
Trackstar NYC sells nothing but track bikes and is a big part of the messenger bike culture. I am not really into the whole bike culture thing but I do like the look of a track bike. The drop of the handle bars and the simplicity of the machine just appeals to me.

Trackstar carries several brands including Javelin, SOMA and Cinelli. Lots of parts to build out a real nice track bike. They even had a carbon track handlebar from IRD.

I have had my eye on a Red SOMA Rush. If I ever decide to upgrade my Langster this would be the bike I would get. However, I am afraid that adding front and back breaks would ruin the line of the bike so I may have to just admire the bike from afar.

This LOOK was calling my name. I am not sure if it is a real LOOK. It might be an older model.

I really wanted to get the black Brooklyn Jersey but I have already spent enough money on cycling gear. I need to pace my self.

If I lived closer to a velodrome I would seriously think about getting a dedicated track bike. The two (Lehigh in Pennsylvania and Kissena in Queens) that are near me are still a 90 minute car ride.

Thursday Evening Hill Ride

I brought my camera for the Thursday ride. In the past I have brought it but forgot to take pictures. These were taken in front of 4 JG Winery in Colts Neck. We were regrouping after messing up on a right had turn.

The Thursday evening ride is a hill climb day. The route is always different although the hills are usually the same. It leaves at 6 PM and is back at Holmdel Park by 8 PM at the latest.

I miss taking the Langster but it is fun to ride at an A+ pace. I have decided that I am more of a sprinter (probably a leadout guy if I was on a team).

I need to practice my shift. I try to anticipate the terrain but I think I sometimes shift a little too soon. The new 11 - 23T cassette is working out much better. I am not losing as much between each gear. I am also learning to hang out in the back when I need to rest. This is something I have not done in the past.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Attended the SIFMA Technology Management Conference

This week the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) held its annual Technology Management Conference at the NY Hilton on 6th Avenue. This used to be called the SIA show but the name was changed recently. It appears that the SIA show is dedicated to Snowboarders now.

This show is a great opportunity to see all of Wall Street's technology vendors in one place. It is also a great opportunity to network. Many of the vendors have invite only receptions after the show hours are over. The better your contacts the higher the probability that you will receive an invite to socialize while enjoying free food and drink.

My schedule did not permit me to attend last year but this year was going to be different. Since Wednesday is the only full day of the show I figured it would be the best day to attend. I put on a shirt and tie (too hot to wear the optional jacket) and took the 9:22 AM Middletown train to New York. A chain reaction caused the train to breakdown at the Holmdel - Middletown border. A truck pulling a backhoe hit the Laurel Ave bridge triggering a stop signal on the tracks which cause the electric train to stop in a deadspot. We ended up have to wait almost an hour for the diesel Bay Head train to come up behind us and push us into a live spot. No electricity = no air conditioning. At least the temperatures were not nearly has high as they were on Monday and Tuesday. I am becoming an expert on stalled trains since I have been on more than my fair share over the last couple of years.

The last time I attend the SIFMA show I was interested in Order Management System (OMS) and Execution Management System (EMS) vendors. This year I had no real agenda but I thought the show might be a good opportunity to get a feeling for the mood on Wall Street these days. I was also interested in seeing how the various vendors were reacting to the rapidly changing needs of their customers. Also, would the attendees be potential customers looking to fill current needs or would they be newly unemployed tech workers looking for their next opportunity.

As much as I look forward to attending the SIFMA show, walking through the doors is a little intimidating. Almost like walking into a party and not know a soul. All the vendors are looking to talk to attendees but I do not want to look like an idiot. Since most of the vendors have gifts that they are giving away the show is a little bit like an adult version of Halloween (there are even costumes at some of the booths). A lot of attendees are going from booth to booth asking for the free gift and leaving. I really want to talk to as many people as I can so I will not take a toy unless I have had a meaningful conversation one of the people working the booths.

A couple of times I found myself in the booth of a company that I had never heard of before that created a product that was out of my comfort zone. Years ago this would have been tough for me but I have found that there is usually something in my background that is similar and I can use that information to ask relevant (at least to me) questions. Some people are more patient with me than others. Some do not see the value in wasting time talking to a consultant. I wish my blog would entitle me to a press pass I might get a little better access.

I usually stay away from the big booths like HP, Sungard and IBM. The smaller specialized vendors seem to have a better pulse on the market place. They usually staff their booths with the people who have built the product. They will often take time to talk. I sometimes wonder if I will see these companies represented at next years show since you are never sure how well funded they. Some have expensive products that are being sold into a small niche.

After a while I decided that my personal theme would be GRID computing. On my second round of the exhibits I started to search out companies with a GRID computing product. One of the more interesting was from a company called GemStone Systems. I spent some time with a gentleman by the name of Santiago Martin-Romani who explained his company's product and answered all of my questions without once rolling his eyes. Since I had just completed a design of GRID implementation for another client Mr. Martin-Romani confirmed that I made the right choices.

My personal networking results were somewhat mixed. While I did not run into many old acquaintances I did meet some new people who turned out to be very interesting.

Every year I run into David Sawyer. In past years David has been manning the BT Radianz booth but this year he was helping out in the Savvis booth. David told me that David Montanez one of our former co-workers from Salomon Brothers was also attending. 15 minutes later David and I ran into each other. Mr. Sawyer had invited us both to the Savvis reception later in the evening so we both agreed to catch up then.

My general feeling is that both the attendees and vendors are cautiously optimistic. The turmoil in the financial markets often creates opportunity for new systems. Even though much of the current crisis was created on Wall Street is going to be up to Wall Street to correct. While some old line names such as Bear Stearns and possibly Lehman Brothers are going to disappear there are other firms waiting to step in an fill the gap with new ideas. There is definitely a demand for better risk analysis tools as well as improved systems for pricing derivatives. The downside is that many firms do not have the necessary cashflow to invest the required capital. Some firms are just fighting to stay in the battle.

As I was resting my feet waiting for the Savvis party to start I noticed Rob Stavis standing next to me. Mr. Stavis is a former Salomon Brothers employ who ran the Government Arbitrage group after John Meriwether left. I wanted to speak with Mr. Stavis but he was on the phone and I did not want to interrupt him. Especially since I only really know him from sharing an elevator at 7 WTC.

As Mr. Stavis ran out to catch his cab I noticed a woman going through a pile of brochures. I asked her if she was going to read them all tonight. She said no because she had already read them. She must have sensed my disbelief since she came over to prove to me that she had read them and had mastered the content. It was a brief but interesting conversation.

I also ran into an independent Financial Analyst while waiting for the Savvis party to start. This gentleman told me that his business was doing well but he thought that some of the larger firms were going to continue to have problems. When I made the comment that most of these companies have made lots of money over the past years he responded with the comment that they will probably give back way more than they earned. I am not sure if that is true but the current events seem to indicate that it could well be a correct statement.

I caught the 8:03 PM Bay Head train. I left New York feeling like I had a productive day. I even managed to squeeze in a quick field trip to visit Trackstar NYC. See my Yelp review for the results of that adventure.

Rutger's Lacrosse joins Syracuse and other Colleges in the Big East Conference

After much speculation it has finally happened. The Big East has created a Lacrosse League. Rutgers University will be one of the teams. The other teams will be Syracuse, Providence, St. John's, Villanova, Notre Dame and Georgetown. Rutgers already plays lacrosse powerhouse Syracuse as well as St. Johns and Georgetown on a regular basis. One of the big upsides is that the league winner will get an automatic bid to the NCAAs.

League play will not begin until 2010 so Rutgers will have another year to build its young team

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Hot Tuesday Evening Ride with the Independent Group

The Weatherbug application showed that the temperature in Holmdel, NJ was above 100 degrees. I was trying to decide if I really wanted to go out the heat. The ride starts at 6 PM so it was not going to cool down much before the start. I decided that I would go out for an easy warmup ride and then swing by Holmdel Park to see who showed up for the ride.

The warm up was about 12 miles. Even though I took it easy I still climbed Telegraph Hill and Holmdel Road around the back of Holmdel Park. These are the highest points in Monmouth County.

When I got to Holmdel Park there were only two other riders in the parking lot. Since it was already close to 6 PM it looked like it was going to be a sparsely attended ride. This was fine with me since I decided that evening's ride was going to be a no twitch ride. I was going to stay in the back and if things got to crazy I was going to just fall off.

Just as the 3 of us got ready to hit the road a couple of other riders showed up. I think we had 7 riders all together. It turned out that some of the other regular riders had decided to go over to Sandy Hook and take advantage of the breeze blowing off of the Atlantic.

I followed my strategy for the first part of the ride. I dropped back on one of the early climbs but I caught up on the next downhill. After that I was able to stay with the group.

As we made the turn to return back I started to feel better. Some of the other riders were starting to fall to the back. As I hit Dutch Lane I team up with another rider who told me that he was feeling surprisingly well. He wanted to ride fast and since I know the route I agreed to kick it to the next light. I figured I would catch my breath at the light but the rider wanted to see how the next stretch would go so I got in line and off we went. We had a good pace but it was not that much fun for me. My body was aching. I figured that I would get a few minutes to rest at the next turn.

The first group caught up with us quicker than I expected. I originally thought we would return as a group but another rider joined us and the 3 of us started to pull away from the rest. We ended up screwing up the left hand turn and I lost contact with the other two. I was going to push up the medium climb and catch up but I decided to let them go so I shifted into a smaller gear and set a reasonable pace for home.

In the end I got 42 miles in. I can live with that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Watching CNBC (Rising Oil, Falling Dollar and Lehman Brothers)

I used to be a regular morning CNBC watcher. I was a big fan of Squawk Box. Lately, I am finding it harder and harder to watch it. This is kind of a shame since the market events that we are currently experiencing are very interesting. I think the problem is that the reported events are hitting me in the wallet almost immediately.

I have been telling people that this is a reverse of the events of 1998. Then I was the market data manager for Bank of America Securities and I had a front row seat. While most of the US was concentrated on the possible impeachment of President Clinton I was watch the world almost stumble into global financial meltdown (Asian Flu was the term used at the time). The numbers that flashed across my screens were very frightening. In fact when the spreads of the US treasuries widened suddenly I got a call from the Head Corp Investment Trader asking me to confirm the data that was being displayed.

There were some key differences in 1998. Since the global markets were in pain money was flowing into the US market and the economy was pumping because of consumer spending. I think things must of looked good if you weren't looking a Financial Market Data all day. I remember hoping the Congress would do the right thing and not impeach the President. It would have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Things have certaintly changed. After cranking a long the US economy has finally started to come to a halt. It was inevitable and we have experience a much longer period of economic growth than was expected. We had cheap money, cheap fuel and real estate went from experiencing slow steady growth to exponential growth. Only the first time home buyers really had any worries but since everything was going up there was no real worries. Besides the newly available mortgage products would help everyone buy the McMansion of their dreams.

Unlike 1998 the current market is creating lots of pain for most Americans. It is almost instaneous. Oil futures spike on Friday and we spend the weekend paying record prices for gas. The number of foreclosures increases significantly and the moving trucks show up unexpectedly at our neighbor's house.

As I ride my bike I notice all of the for sale signs. Especially on the new construction. It was sign that so many builders were willing to build multi-million dollar spec houses. I have always wondered where these buyers came from. How many of these spec houses started out with qualified buyers that decided to walk away from the contract?

As a NY based IT expert the disappearance of Bear Stearns and the possible disappearance of Lehman Brothers affects me since there are less firms available to buy my services. This is certainly cause for concern.

On the other hand I think there are some positives.

  • Rising fuel prices will do more for the environment than all the Al Gore PowerPoint presentations and Benefit Concerts. At $4 plus a gallon there is a market for alternative forms of transportation that just did not exist at $1 a gallon. In the short run there are probably less cars on the road and the Hummers are being parked. I expect that there will not be a big investment until the high prices have been around for a while because if prices fall as is expected we will be right back to our old habits. I know that I have my eye on the big Audi SUV or a Honda Ridgeline but I think my next car is going to be something even smaller than my Infiniti G20.

  • The falling dollar helps sell US made products in the global market place. Too bad we do not have much to sell since much of our manufacturing has already been moved off shore. Even core US brands such as John Deere and Carrier have been building there products offshore for years. In fact the Honda or the Toyota has a good of chance of being built in the US as does the Ford or Chrysler product.

  • The Real Estate market was going to correct sometime. We probably enjoyed several more years than we should have. Maybe there will be some lessons learned. Probably not.

  • Failures such as Bear Stearns and maybe even Lehman Brothers should generate some short term opportunities for the integration (IT and Business) experts. There might be some lessons learned here as well.

I realise that this posting does not really fall under Music and Sports but it might be classified as Adventure since it is certainly going to be interest to see how it all settles out. I decided that everyone else is a pundit so I might as well give it a try.

I am hoping to attend the SIFMA Technology and Management Conference at the New York Hilton this week. The theme of this years conference is Managing IT in Financial Services During the Credit Crisis. It will be interesting to see what the various vendors have to show.

It is Hot Out!!

It seems like I only recently posted with the headline "It is cold Out" (I know I wrote it but I cannot find it to link to it). I spent all winter riding dreaming of the warm weather that I knew was on the way. I guess it falls under the category of "be careful what you wish for".

Both Thursday and Friday were perfect days for riding but I got involved in upgrading my laundry equipment so they became rest days. I did go to the gym on Friday evening to make sure I got some training in (not really sure what I am training for). I knew the report predicted hot temps all weekend but I did not expect it to be as bad as it was.

I think I would have been OK if I had got out early both days. I woke up on Saturday morning at 6 AM and I decided that I really did not feel like riding with the Colts Neck group so I figured I would sleep until 7 AM and get out by 8 AM. Unfortunately I did not wake up again until 9:30 AM. I then I went into ride avoidance mode. I made coffee, ate breakfast, surfed the Internet (thanks Al Gore) and then wrote a post on my blog.

By the time I got out it was close to 1 PM. Just as the Sun was at its highest point. When I went to bed on Friday evening I had a 60 plus mile route laid out that started as the Freehold ride I have been taking a lot and then would head over to Long Branch and then maybe over Mt. Mitchell Overlook. Yeah na!!

As I was heading up Dutch Lane on my way back into Colts Neck I started to think that it might be best just to take it back home and keep the ride at about 35 miles. I was keeping a good pace but I was suffering. I snaked my way over to Phalanx and then made to turn to return to Holmdel.

As I was heading back I started to think that a smoothie from Smoothie King in Red Bank would hit the spot. I also noticed that the chain on the Tarmac needed to be lubed but I did not have the right lubricant at home (the stuff that I use on my Langster was not the right stuff) and that would mean that I should swing by Bike Haven to correct the situation. The original plan was to head home, get my car and hit both Smoothie King and Bike Haven. As I hit RT 537 I decided using the car was the wrong thing to do and I pointed my bike toward Red Bank.

I tried to maintain a good pace into Red Bank. I stopped at Smoothie King, got a PowerPunch Plus and sat on one of the benches. I then made my way over to Bike Haven. Said hello to Garrett and Cliff. Got the right lube and then programmed my way home.

The final leg home was painful. I was in a little gear most of the way. Probably not even a C pace. By the time I made it home I rode about 46 miles. Not as long as I planned but I did avoid taking the car on a errand which is a step in the right direction.

I had big plans to get up early again on Sunday. I did get out of bed but I did not get out on the road. In fact I did not end up riding until 5:30 PM. I took the Freehold ride (I am getting tired of riding it) and got in about 35 miles. For the most part the pace was slow. I did get it cranked up on Dutch Lane but for the most part I found myself in a little gear. The temperature was close to 100 so I guess it is expected.

It is supposed to be hot most of this week. I think I liked riding in the cold better.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bicycle Commuting

I am not doing to well at my attempt at bicycle commuting. For the most part my only conservation is that I am not using the car as much as I used to. The 2 - 5 hours of cycling a day helps but I still use the car for short errands.

From a distance standpoint there is no reason that I why I cannot run to A&P, Barnes & Noble, Target, Best Buy and Pet Smart on my bike. From a safety stand point there is a lot of reasons. I would have to ride Laurel Avenue which is the main road connecting the Parkway with Rt 35. The shoulders are narrow but the biggest problem is that the road goes from 4 lanes down to 2 lanes underneath the NJ Transit bridge. Folks driving cars have been kill here.

While Holmdel - Middletown are not exactly bike friendly due to the terrain. There are couple of other towns in the area that I probably would never have to take my car except during bad weather.

Fairhaven is my favorite (the picture above is my Langster in front of Bike Haven Bike Shop). It is a borough located on the Navesink River between Red Bank and Rumson. Fairhaven is not hip like Red Bank and not uber weathly like Rumson. In the summer it Fairhaven has a real American Small Town vibe going on. From a biking stand point is has all kinds from the local folks riding on there beach cruisers to the hard core roadies meeting in the parking lot of Acme. Since Fairhaven has a vibrant main street (Actually called Fairhaven Rumson Road) most errands can be accomplished with a short bike ride. Anything that is not found in Fairhaven can be found in Red Bank or Little Silver.

Little Silver is another of the boroughs that I feel is very bike friendly. In fact most of my bike rides end up going through Little Silver at some point. I have even had to take shelter under the overhang of Walgreen's. Little Silver shares a border with Red Bank, Fairhaven and Rumson. It also has a NJ Transit station in the middle of town which makes it very commuter friendly (take one of the morning express trains and you can be in Midtown NY in little over an hour and the locals will take about 90 minutes). Little Silver has a main street that has everything you would need. For hard core shopping The Grove in Shrewsbury is a easy ride.

As the price of gasoline increases I am sure we here in the US will start to get more and more bike commute friendly areas. I have heard Matt Murray of WHTG's G-Rock Morning Show talk about starting a Bike Brigade. He even suggested that a bike lane be created on the Garden State Parkway.

I am not sure that a bike lane on the Parkway is practical since it was really laid out for cars going between North Jersey and the Jersey Shore. Bike commuting only works for distances of under 10 miles. However, there are some things that could be done to help. Here are a couple.

  1. New Jersey Transit should have a bike car on its lines like CalTrains does in California. Now that NJT has double decked cars it should be possible.

  2. Places to leave your bike while you are shopping.

  3. If the higher cost of fuel drives does drive down the number of cars on the road maybe it will be possible to carve out more space for the bike commuters. Less potholes and road grim.

Of course nothing will be done until the demand is proven. The oil bubble will burst eventually but in the mean time it might be interesting to take the opportunity to explore alternative methods of transportation. It actually might be fun.

Bike Habitat in NYC has some ideas about bike commuting.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Project Management on the Home Front

I had a little infrastructure upgrade project going at my own house. While the project was a success it had some of the classic qualities of most projects.

  • Multiple strategies

  • Scope Creep

  • Budgetary pressures

  • Unavailable Resources

  • Doubts from stakeholders

  • Potential Cancellation

Two weeks ago my Maytag Neptune Front Loading Washer stopped functioning as designed. It would wash the clothes but would not spin them properly which meant that they were extremely wet when they went from the washer to the dryer. This caused the drying time to increase considerably. Also I did not want to risk washing anything that was delicate or expensive.

I originally figure that the problem was with the belt or the motor. It seemed to spin correctly in the early cycles but just went through the motions in the final spins. I called Maytag to setup a service call and I discovered the following.

  • The Maytag Neptune Washer had been part of class action suit that had been settled by Maytag in April of 2005

  • It was going to cost $75 to for a service call

  • There was going to be an additional charge for getting the washer fixed that was unknown but based on past service calls with other appliances I was looking at a total charge of $275 to $500

  • Even though I had the same complaints as listed in the Class Action Suit I was not going to be able to participate in it. I was now on my own.

The washer/dryer unit came with the house when I bought the home in November 2004. The suit only covered purchases before August 2004. I did not have the original purchase information. Also, I needed to have filed a claim by August of 2005.

The original plan was to test the repair strategy and spend $75 to get an estimate of the total cost of repair. However, this plan was not so obvious since:

  • I was not happy with the washer and I have been wanting to get new equipment. Since it was a want rather than a need the decision was always postponed. Now it had become a need.

  • The estimated cost of a new washer would be around $400. Which means that the $75 service call was almost 20 percent of the cost of a new washer. This was actually a low estimate since the cost of a washer was going to be closer to $900. However, the actual cost of the repair would have been closer to $300 and the original logic would still hold.

  • The service company did not honor the original schedule and called to reschedule the appointment for the following week

  • Best Buy is only 1.5 miles from my house so it would not be hard to investigate an alternative strategy of buying a new washer

As part of my risk mitigation strategy I took the rescheduled appointment and went over to Best Buy to investigate my options.

The original plan was to get a Maytag top loading washer and keep the current Maytag Neptune Dryer. It quickly became apparent that the original $400 estimate with for a 3.2 cubic foot washer that was not close to being large enough. I was going to need at least a 3.8 cubic foot washer if not a 4.0 Cubic Foot. Best Buy did not have a lot of top loading washers on display (just like most dealers these days) but the salesperson showed me some options on her computer. It became clear that my estimate was low and I was looking at $800 plus for a right sized washer.

I started to look at all new equipment and I noticed a Frigidaire Front Loading Washer/Dryer that was on sale for $1100. There were a couple of factors pushing toward replacing both the Washer and Dryer (classic scope creep).

  • My background in IT Infrastructure has taught me that once one part of a solution starts to fail the dam has broken and there will be more failures coming soon. Light bulbs are the same way. If you are going to replace one you might as well replace them all because you will soon replace the rest of them.

  • Best Buy was offering 18 months of no interest financing which relieved some of the budgetary pressure

  • My cycling gear cannot be tumbled dry and the LG dryers have an rack that allows for air drying. Swim suits and rash guards require hand washing as well.

I did not go with the Frigidaire because it was only 3.5 cubic ft and I did not like the buttons on the front panel. I was going to with Samsung models but they were on back order and I did not have the time to wait (the project needed to be completed before I had to start traveling again for work). I had my eye on the LG products and I quickly noticed a model that fit my budget. In fact the price for the dryer was for the gas model (gas usually is an additional cost but ends up being cheaper in the long term).

Even though I had decided that the purchase of a new Washer/Dryer was the right direction (I called the original service call while I was in Best Buy) I did have some doubts. I had originally schedule the equipment to be delivered on Sunday and installed on Monday but I changed it to delivered on Thursday and installed on Friday. This gave me some more time to think about it.

I had doubts all week long but the delivery came on Thursday evening and the gas dryer was installed on Friday morning. So far everything is working fine. I missed my Thursday evening ride but I will make up for it over the weekend. The first load of clothes was all of my riding gear.

The biggest downside of the whole project is that I have a line of credit at Best Buy. Not a good idea for me. In fact I can hear a 40" HDTV calling my name.

The Tarmac Gets New Gearing

For some reason the Specialized Tarmac Comp is delivered with a 11 - 28T cassette. I think that this is one of the problems I have been having on the hills. I can maintain the pace on the rolling flats but once I shifted down to make a medium climb (I was OK on the long climbs) the drop was to much and everyone sailed by me. I need up using all of my energy trying to catch back up to the pack.

I rode with the Tuesday Evening Group this week. I was telling them about my ride and they all suggested a new gear set. I called Bike Haven and they had a 11 - 23T Ultegra Cassette in stock and could install it for me while I waited. Garrett the head mechanic is very knowledgeable and got me setup quickly.

I did not get a chance to try it out yesterday but I am going to try to get one in this evening. I need to get a lifting day in this week since I have not been to the gym since Monday. It is going to be hot (Low 90s) on Saturday and Sunday so I will need to get up early and bring plenty of water.

I also adjusted my Park Repair Stand so that I can mount both the Langster and Tarmac using the seat post. I gave the Langster a little bit of love by lubing up the chain and giving it a wipe down. I need to take try and take the Langster out on a least one ride a week. I was thinking of using it on Thursday Hill Climb ride.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I hate getting dropped

I rode the A/A+ no drop ride that leaves from Colts Neck today. It is a 60 + mile ride. It is a 10 mile ride from my house to the start. I did OK for the first 30 miles an then I started getting dropped on the climbs. I lost the group and then I was done.

I really expected to do better. I have put the mileage in on the Langster but I am finding out that it does not matter. I am starting to think that it comes down to form and technique. I am not sure the kind of strength training I do helps out as well. Even though it is mostly muscle mass I am still carrying about 20 to 30 extra pounds. It also did not help that I was not hungry when I got up so I left the house without eating breakfast or having my morning coffee. I do not want to make any excuses.

At about the 40 mile mark I decided it was time to go off on my own. As the train went by me I told the last guy that I was turning around. It really was not fun and I knew that no matter what I was still going to ride 80 plus miles. The group leader came back to check on me since he was concerned that I did not know my way back. I assured him that I was used to riding by myself and I that knew the way back. Although I did get lost one. I crossed over RT 195 and I thought I had gone to far and missed a turn. I asked a jogger how to get back to Freehold and she gave me the directions that got me back on the right track.

I knew was not really all that lost since I could see the roller coasters of Six Flags Great Adventure. I did know that I was a long way from home. The drive to Six Flags always seems to take forever.

When I got back to the house I had logged 82.3 miles. I will am going to have to map the ride out on Map My Ride (I have yet to ride the loop to Spring Lake that I mapped last week).

I have not given up. I am going to keep trying until I get the hang of it. I am hoping to find a good training partner.