Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 14 August 2006

Chicago Tribune transportation reporter Jon Hilkevich channels Cecil Adams:

The actual answer is fuzzy, depending on the location, the time of day, vehicle traffic volumes, when the walk button is activated—and luck too.
Many pedestrians refuse to press walk buttons due to suspicions they are a trick or a placebo concocted by the traffic gods to keep walkers calm while breathing fumes from tailpipes as they wait for green lights at busy street corners.
Steve Travia, IDOT's bureau chief of traffic for the Chicago area[, says:] "The bottom line is that if you don't push the walk button, the walk signal may never come up."

Of course, if you're in New York, don't bother, because 80% of their "walk" buttons are disconnected.

Monday 14 August 2006 08:03:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software#
Sunday 13 August 2006

The hypothesis that the Bush Administration (891 days, 3 hours and 50 minutes left) pumps up the volume on terrorism close to an election just got more evidence:

NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner.

So all you people who had to throw out your expensive cologne this past week? You might want to write your congressman.

Sunday 13 August 2006 08:12:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
Saturday 12 August 2006

On a day like this, when I'm slogging into the wind on Lawrence through heavy traffic and stopping...every...two...blocks for red lights, I just want to finish the ride. But then lately, even my bad rides end up surprising me. Today I did 80 km (50 mi) in unpleasant conditions and still finished in 3:11, more than a minute faster than my best 80 km time.

Next weekend: 120 km (75 mi), which, should I complete it, will be the longest I've ever ridden in one day.

Saturday 12 August 2006 18:59:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#
Thursday 10 August 2006

If you don't mind downloading 25 Mb, you can see the short video I took of the cicada who attached herself to my screen while I was working yesterday. To get the full experience turn your speakers up to 11. Those things are ridiculously loud.

They start to come out in Northern Illinois mid-June, and by mid-August they're everywhere. Then, suddenly, around Labor Day, they disappear for another year.

Someone has a cicada blog you might want to check out, if you're into cicadas.

By the way, Chicagoland, next year is our big cicada year, when Brood XIII pokes out of the ground mid-May. In 1990 they not only poked out of the ground, they covered it, generating a noise that can't be described.

I love these guys. Their buzzing just says "summer" to me.

Thursday 10 August 2006 14:58:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#
Thursday 10 August 2006 14:33:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes#
It's not every day that I set five personal records (PRs). This morning I rode 40 km (24.9 mi) in 1:29:19, beating my old PR (set Tuesday) by 2:29. The other PRs are in my expanded PR table on braverman.org.
Thursday 10 August 2006 12:06:00 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Biking#
Wednesday 9 August 2006

It looks like the Democrats will hold the Georgia 4th after all: Rep. Cynthia McKinney lost her primary against challenger Hank Johnson. McKinney has found herself in the news more often for her antics than for her legislation, as in her recent altercation with a Capitol Police officer.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman also lost against challenger Ned Lamont. Lieberman has supported the war and President Bush (895 days, 4 hours) more often than anyone else in the party—and more often than some Republicans as well. He now plans to run as an independent (of what, I wonder?) against Lamont and the nearly-anonymous guy the GOP put on the ballot as an afterthought.

The Lieberman campaigned turned silly Monday night when the Lieberman Website went down. Lieberman's people blame hackers; another story is more probable:

Lieberman's camp, whose candidate has since conceded the primary election to challenger Ned Lamont, charged Monday that the Lamont campaign was responsible for alleged cyberattacks which they said brought down their primary web site and email services. Such "dirty politics" were "a staple" of its operations, asserted Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith. Later, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein admitted to TPM's Greg Sargent that Lieberman's staff had no evidence Lamont's campaign was behind the alleged attacks.

The general election is in less than 90 days. With McKinney and Lieberman no longer running as Democrats, I think our chances of holding both seats just improved. Add to that Tom DeLay's and Bob Ney's (R-OH) troubles, and we might—just might—win the House this year.

Wednesday 9 August 2006 07:32:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Politics#
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#
On this page....
Do walk buttons work?
85 days, 15 hours and 50 minutes
Wind is hard
Another waste of time
If you're supremely bored
Ate my Wheaties this morning
McKinney, Lieberman, DeLay...don't let the door hit you
Google Earth + Anne's GPS device
Fun tricks with numbers
Weather and bike training
David Mamet on Anti-Semitism
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My next birthday 1d 15h 53m
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International 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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