Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Tuesday 8 August 2006

I've put my biking stats (such as they are) on my personal homepage, http://www.braverman.org/. This morning I rode with Anne's Garmin ForeRunner 201, offloaded the XML with Garmin's free software, then downloaded shareware a German programmer named Martin Goldmann to convert that to Google Earth's KML format.

The result: You can now download my track and plug it in to Google Earth.

Tuesday 8 August 2006 12:28:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Biking#
Monday 7 August 2006

If you live in the Central Time Zone and use American-style dates, it is now 8/7/06 5:43:21. (Thanks to Anne for this one.)

Monday 7 August 2006 17:43:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | #

I have decided (by executive fiat) that the "weather" category includes "bicycling." Even though I biked hither and yon as a kid, I kind of lost my passion for it until recently. I'm getting it back, though I still haven't gotten anywhere near the performance I could muster 15 years ago. I just dug up some notes showing that exactly 20 years ago today, I rode 28 km (17.3 mi) in 48 minutes, averaging over 34 km/h (21.1 mph) the whole way. Looking at the other rides recorded in those notes, that was about my average speed then. Today I'm happy to hold 25 km/h (16.1 mph).

Of course, I had a much faster bike then. Angela asked what I'm riding now: it's a Jamis Coda, which is great for running around town but not so great for the kinds of training I've been doing. Actually, riding that thing is like running in jeans: kind of slow, but it builds character. Here it is, shortly after I got it in 2001:

Next season, I will have a road bike for road rides. Oh yes. It will be mine.

Speaking of next season, I have three goals for the next three years. Here they are, time-stamped and in writing, soon to be slurped into the Wayback Machine so there will be no backing out:

  • This year, to complete the full 161 km (100 mi) North Shore Century (since the last two years I did the Metric Century of 100 km or 62 mi);
  • Next year, to complete a relatively easy[1] multi-day ride, like the 547 km (340 mi) SAGBRAW or the 365 km (225 mi) Katy Trail; and
  • In 2008, to complete either RAGBRAI (759 km, 472 mi) or GRABAAWR (788 km, 490 mi).

[1] SAGBRAW is an "easy" ride because it averages only 90 km (56 mi) per day over flat ground, unlike RAGBRAI and GRABAAWR that average 110 km (68 mi) per day and actually have hills.

That's the plan. I'm in the last few weeks of training for the North Shore Century, so expect more photos of far-off destinations between now and September 17th.

Monday 7 August 2006 16:46:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#
Sunday 6 August 2006

Excellent op-ed today by playwright David Mamet. He argues that anti-Semitism, not the Jews, is the problem:

There is no "cycle of violence." Israel wants peace behind the 1949 armistice borders, with some relatively minor variation. There is no indictable "disparity of force." Israeli civilians are being bombed. Hezbollah knows where the Israeli military bases are, but chooses to bomb civilians. Hezbollah puts its armaments exclusively in the midst of civilians. The Israeli aim is not to invade Lebanon (Israel left Lebanon) but to force Hezbollah to stop killing the Jews.
That the Western press consistently characterizes the Israeli actions as immoral is anti-Semitism. What state does not have the right to defend itself—it is the central tenet of statehood.
The Jews are not the victims of bad PR. They are the victims of anti-Semitism.
Sunday 6 August 2006 13:30:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Saturday 5 August 2006
As part of my training for the North Shore Century, I set out today to ride 100 km (62.1 mi). I went south, into the wind (so I would have a tail wind for the more-tired half of the ride), and for only the second time in my life rode to another state.
Saturday 5 August 2006 15:18:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#
Friday 4 August 2006

The six-day heat wave in Chicago finally broke Wednesday night, giving us delightful summer weather yesterday, but another heat wave is coming. We don't know when, of course; but it's looking more certain that human-caused climate change will give us more frequent and more severe weather events:

While it is impossible to attribute any one weather event to climate change, several recent studies suggest that human-generated emissions of heat-trapping gases have produced both higher overall temperatures and greater weather variability, which raise the odds of longer, more intense heat waves.
Last week, Paul Della-Marta, a researcher at Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, presented findings at an international conference on climate science in Gwatt, Switzerland, showing that since 1880 the duration of heat waves in Western Europe has doubled and the number of unusually hot days in the region has nearly tripled.

Fortunately, fewer than 900 days remain in the Bush Administration, but those days include two more summers plus what's left of this one.

Friday 4 August 2006 09:06:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics | Weather#
Thursday 3 August 2006

In the continuing saga of Jew-hater Mel Gibson, a Jesuit priest wrote in Tribune op-ed today (reg.req.) that the Jewish deputy arresting Gibson was "the most Christian" in the whole story:

After the arrest, James Mee said that he held no grudge against Gibson and didn't want to see Gibson's career suffer, even though he's the guy in whose face Gibson spewed his invective. Despite that, this Jewish fellow gave Gibson a little lesson—a parable you might say—about Christian forgiveness.

Oy. Perhaps he showed Jewish forgiveness? Or maybe, faced with a drunken idiot, perhaps Deputy Mee merely showed professional restraint?

Thursday 3 August 2006 11:49:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Wednesday 2 August 2006
Following up on my earlier post, I should mention a possibly-not-religious nut from academia. Fortunately, his 15 minutes are nearly up. I heard him on NPR this morning, because, well, they sometimes roast nuts on the air. The Tribune also picked up the story.
Wednesday 2 August 2006 11:18:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Two related stories about religious fundamentalists appeared in the news this week. First, it turns out that Mel Gibson really is an anti-Semitic religious nut who believes millions of witnesses somehow hoodwinked the world about millions of murders.
Wednesday 2 August 2006 09:49:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Tuesday 1 August 2006

From guest blogger Sean:


About Chicago's recent weather—today the temp in Oneida is expected to hit 36°C (97°F). Some areas will likely see 38°C (100°F) or more. I don’t think I've ever seen it this hot in this area before, not in almost 36 years. But after last summer, which was the hottest average summer yet, we really don't want more heat here.

At least we aren't merely baking, though; we're broiling: July finished with an official monthly precipitation total of just over 10 inches. In one month. My tomato garden is now a rice paddock. The water table around my house has risen to just below the two-foot mark. And yet the NWS is telling President Bush the evidence for global warming is "inconclusive?" Excuse me, when upstate NY has already seen over a dozen 32°C (90°F)-plus days this year as of August 1st and this much rain, and the Midwest is another Dust Bowl, and the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica continues to erode at an alarming rate, I think there's more than enough conclusive evidence for global warming. How much is human-caused and how much is a larger natural global cycle, now that's the real question, but come on, I think we can draw some very clear conclusions here.

On another and unrelated note, we picked almost 9 gallons of blueberries last week and we’ve just started harvesting blackberries from the pasture—over 2 gallons there yesterday and we can expect many, many more over the next month. The apple trees—which I aggressively pruned—are bearing a nice harvest of fruit. Too bad my tomato plants are flowering at less than half size and speaking Vietnamese. Well, that means next year we create raised beds with better drainage. And dig out the pond as planned.


Sean is a teacher and farmer in Oneida, N.Y.

Update, 18:00 UTC: You can see more of Sean's agony at the experimental Weather Now history page.

Tuesday 1 August 2006 08:57:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#
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David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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