28 April 2006

Bush: Raise fuel-efficiency standards

US president Bush on Thursday said he wants to raise fuel-efficiency standards on automobiles, as members of both parties jockeyed for political position on the issue of rising gas prices. Bush called on the US Congress to give him the authority to set the standards for passenger cars sold in the US as a means of reducing the nation's demand for gasoline. The president's comments were soon followed by a letter from Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to the GOP House and Senate leaders. "At the president's request, I hereby ask that the Congress take prompt action to authorize the US Department of Transportation to reform fuel economy standards for passenger automobiles," Mineta wrote. Congress first set the passenger car standard for fuel economy in 1975, and it has remained at 27.5 miles per gallon since 1990. The mileage is a weighted average of an automaker's fleet, not a requirement for individual models. Mineta said the administration would oppose any increase in fuel standards that did not include rules that would prevent cars from becoming less safe as carmakers reduced their weight to help gas mileage.

Republicans proposed an amendment Thursday that would give the Transportation Department authority to issue fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles, expand tax incentives for the use of hybrid vehicles and push for more research into alternative fuels and expansion of existing oil refineries. It would also provide most American taxpayers with a US$100 rebate check to offset the pain of higher pump prices for gasoline. However, the GOP energy package might face tough sledding because it also includes a proposal to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, which most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose. Wednesday, on the other side of the aisle, Democrats called for a new energy bill and federal legislation to punish price gougers. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats want to roll back billions in tax breaks for oil companies. On Thursday, she reiterated her party's interest in forcing oil companies to ease the burden of high gas prices. Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, called Thursday for an amendment that would suspend the federal gas tax for 60 days, which he said would save taxpayers $100 million dollars per day. He said the lost tax revenue would be covered by repealing $6 billion worth of tax breaks for major oil companies. If any of the proposals survive election-year partisanship to pass, Democrats and Republicans said they would be unlikely to affect the price of gas in the short term. That opinion was shared by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke during congressional testimony Thursday. "Unfortunately there's nothing, really, that can be done that's going to affect energy prices or gasoline prices in the very short run," Bernanke said. He warned, however, that record high oil prices remain a concern that could pose a risk to both economic growth and the inflation outlook.
(CNN 060428)

Thank gob the Powers That Be are finally looking at this as a crucial, serious issue. The arguments as to the source of high gas prices and reducing the stress on consumers are completely misguided attempts at political hot potato, but overlying all of this is the question whether it's too little, too late? Initiate the gas tax/carbon tax already! Yes, there will be economic hardship initially, but in the long run the ones that are using the finite resources will pay proportionately for their profligate lifestyles. If they can afford it, they should pay dearly for it. It's the only way to get our runaway consumption under control!!!

27 April 2006


So many things have broken on me this week, I'm not sure what to do. So much money going out.

The computer is fixed and running. We still have the crashed hard drive as a slave so that we can pull stuff off of it, so it still runs but it makes awful noises. At least we have recovered all of the personal stuff. Total bill for the fix was $260 which includes a new 250GB HD. I called Future Shop today to inquire about their warranty in light of the fact that we did the repairs on our own. Not surprisingly, the warranty is nixed if you do the work on your own. Maybe I could've gotten a replacement for free through them, but no doubt it would've taken weeks for them to do, and we wouldn't have had the chance to attempt to recover our data. In retrospect, even though I paid a chunk for extended warranty and $260 for repairs, it still doesn't seem like that bad of a deal. I'm definitely going to take everything in slightly askew for replacement before the warranty is expired, however. Fuck them.

I took my Madone and an extra Bontrager wheel into Ridley's for overhaul and repair, and as they were truing the wheel, the hub flanges snapped on both sides. Strange, but I guess Trek is covering the cost of the replacement, which is good.

When we were down in Tucson, I bought a replacement skewer transmitter and mount for my Mavic Wintech computer. Everything was working fine up until last weekend when I finally decided to install everything. Now the computer doesn't work at all. I think something is wrong with the computer as opposed to the transmitters because it is not reading ANYTHING, and when it goes into sleep mode, it doesn't display the time like it used to. I know it's been over two years since I bought the thing, but the guys at Calgary Cycle want to help out. If I can find the bill of sale, they can probably try and get a replacement through Mavic. Otherwise, I am probably going to be stuck having to buy a new one. Commitment to previous investment, indeed.

On top of that, some of my other 'personal' possessions at home have broken as well, and are requiring another shelling out of cash to replace. Hmmmm....

Is anything else going to break? Frick.

There is some good news though - I got word last week that I have been selected by Zipp for the 2006 athlete sponsorship deal. I'm getting a Canadian pro deal through them for the year - which means cheap(er) equipment! I've already put in an order for several wheelsets and accessories.

I've just realized I haven't really posted anything since Easter. I still have lots of pics to sift through and post. There has already been a weekend in between! Last weekend was fun. My curling mate Aaron's farewell party was on Friday at Vicious Circle. We had a lot of fun and the story ends up in a hot tub at the Westin at 3am. Please email for more details! (heh heh) Saturday Joe and I met up with Doug, Darren and Jeff for some drinks at the Backlot and then we were supposed to meet Jerome and Bruce at Ming. We got a call from them enroute that they didn't wait for us and headed home. So we ended up going there anyways, and later on Jon and James Purdy popped in from the Ship and Anchor and had a few with us. Joe and I headed home after stopping at Thai Thai for subs. Sunday was the first CBTL registration day at the track, so that took up most of the afternoon. Pretty quiet weekend.

Tonight is the second night of CBTL registration, and this weekend is the first race event of the 2006 season, the Bicisport ITT and Crit. Should be fun now that the weather's looking to be warm and sunny. Yay. Wish me luck!

26 April 2006

The Lorax

From Wikipedia:

The Lorax is a children's story written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. The tale chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax (a "mossy, bossy" man-like creature), who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler.

The book is commonly recognized as a parable concerning industrialized society, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler (whose face is never shown in all of the story's illustrations) and to the environment as the Lorax. This story is often used in environmental science classes to teach the tragedy of the commons.

The Lorax is arguably Seuss' most controversial work, having been banned in some schools and libraries for its political content.

The Once-ler was a businessman who ran his company with the exclusive goal of increasing its sales and profits as rapidly as possible, a common practice in a corporate market economy: "business is business and business must grow". In the process he ignored the long-term sustainability of his business and environmental concerns such as biodiversity and habitat loss. In his old age he tells a curious boy about the splendor of nature in his youth and the growth and crash of industry at the far end of town.

Discovering the potential for profit in a lush forest of Truffula trees, the Once-ler began clearcutting it to mass-market Thneeds (odd-looking but versatile knitted garments) made from the Truffula tree tufts. The Lorax popped out of the tree stump of the first felled Truffula, and declared himself to "speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues".

The Lorax vehemently protested the destruction of the Truffula forest, stating that the Once-ler was crazy with greed and that his business was destroying the Truffula ecosystem, causing mass migrations of native fauna, including the bear-like Barbaloots and species of fish and birds. The Once-ler didn't listen; he continued clearcutting the trees and dumping industrial waste into nearby ponds. Eventually the Once-ler's thneed business consumed every single Truffula tree, eliminating the truffula forest ecosystem and putting his own company out of business. The Once-ler's relatives abandon him, and the Lorax flies away, leaving behind a small pile of rocks inscribed with the word "UNLESS".

With age the Once-ler has come to realize the folly of his ways and the importance of conservation. Speaking to the boy in the story, and directly to the reader, the Once-ler explains that "unless" people took an active and caring role in their environment, "nothing is going to get better, it's not". The Once-ler then gives the boy the very last Truffula seed, telling him to grow a new tree and eventually a forest and protect it from unsustainable industrial practices, and that then perhaps the Lorax and his animal friends would return.

21 April 2006

Data loss update

I talked to the computer technician that is looking at our computer last night. It appears the hard drive physically crashed. I'm not sure how much of the data on the drive is retrievable, but it's fairly certain that at least a chunk of it will be permanently lost. There was around 100GB of data on the drive. The biggest loss would be three year's worth of pictures, all of my web site files, cycling documentation, and of course the porn. I hope we luck out and retrieve the stuff that was really important.

On the bright side, we're getting a new 250GB hard drive put in so we can work hard to fill it up with crap too.

Let this be a lesson to you: "Don't put off backing up today what you can wait to back up tomorrow". Or something like that. In other words, don't be a lazy sot and plan to do it tomorrow. That goes for living in general, too.

19 April 2006

I feel so vulnerable...

*Sigh* So the home 'puter blowed up real good last night. I was attempting to plug my work support laptop into the powerbar and accidentally hit the cancel switch. The computer blinked off. I tried to restart it but it was looping between the DOS startup and the initial Windows XP startup routines. It appears I have fried the connection between the motherboard and the harddrive, since the operating system was still trying to access the main startup files on the harddrive, but couldn't. Joe tried resurrection as well, but now the machine won't even turn on. So it's a trip to the repair shop for good 'ol Bessy. My life in general will be put on hold until this is resolved. Hopefully I'll be back online by the end of the weekend....

15 April 2006

Happy Easter!

I know you've all seen it before, but merry happy Easterover anyways.

Brooks Newest B&B

Brooks newest bed and breakfast - wouldn't you be PO'D to come home to this???

The guy that lives here is in Fort Mac working, he has a good sense of humor - I hope.

His 'buddies' made this sign in his front yard. The posts are cemented in the ground and it cost over $500 to make. It is illuminated and the one hand goes back and forth and smacks...

They actually put this sign up on the guys front lawn while he was away and it stayed up while he was away this month.

Thanks for the pics, Jon!

Liza Minelli belongs in the crazy house

A clips reel of Liza Minnelli's various outbursts on the March 15, 2006 episode of Larry King Live. Homegirl is wild.

Thanks for pointing me to this, Bruce!

12 April 2006

The REAL Monster Profile

Your Monster Profile

Brutal Terror

You Feast On: Tofu

You Lurk Around In: Sewers

You Especially Like to Torment: Your Evil Twin

Ooh...wait...I like this one better:
Your Monster Profile

Wild Vagabond

You Feast On: Fried Chicken

You Lurk Around In: Swamps

You Especially Like to Torment: Cops

...or this one...
Your Monster Profile

Basilisk Slimer

You Feast On: Fingernails

You Lurk Around In: The Empire State Building

You Especially Like to Torment: Cops

I question the validity of this test too, Sara and Jon! When ARE the scientists at Blogthings going to devise an accurate monster profiling test?

11 April 2006

I'd Do Tom Boonen (alternate title: Bend It Like Boonen)

The Tom Boonen fan club was in agreement this week, "Yes, we'd do Tom Boonen." There are even plans to get the complementary t-shirt. Indeed, I was VERY serious when I proclaimed this. This man is unstoppable - he's 23, and destined to become the next Eddy Merckx of cycling. Amazing. And hot!

Boonen wins the Ronde van Vlaanderen

The other four Europeans I'd do:
2. Alessandro Petacchi
3. Fabian Cancellara
4. Danilo Diluca
5. Alejandro Valverde

10 April 2006

Deserted in Arizona

Great trip, great times. 750km in seven days. A total of 20,000 plus feet of climbing. And lots of beer and gellato to boot.

Biosphere 2 - Sunday

Kitt Peak - Monday

Saguaro East National Park - Tuesday

View to the north from Saguaro

Windy Point, en route to Mt. Lemmon, Friday

San Pedro Vista

Flying over the Grand Canyon

Another view

For Jon