Saturday, September 23, 2006


I had an outstanding day today. I slept in, then as soon as I got up, I prepped my hybrid bike, loaded it onto Stella, packed a lunch, and drove over to Maryland. I've been meaning to ride further out on the C&O Canal towpath for some time now, but some of the places I want to see are simply too far to ride out and back from my house. This ride, for instance, would be about 90 miles round-trip from my front door. So, I made it into a 50-miler. An easy 50, though, since the towpath by definition has essentially no grade.

It's a great ride, though I'm glad the hybrid has a more comfortable saddle than my road bike.

I've been as far as Violettes Lock at Mile 22 before, so most of this ride was new to me. Beyond the beltway, much of the canal is drained, and it is little more than a trench alongside the dirt road of the towpath. Trees growing in it. But it makes for nice, secluded ride in the country.

The big reward at the far end (Mile 42 and change) is the "crown jewel" of the C&O Canal, the Monocacy Aqueduct. It is an amazing feat of engineering, recently restored to its past glory. I put a number of pictures of it, as well as other sights along the ride, here.

It was a very long ride, and I expect I'll be awfully sore tomorrow. But it was the perfect day for it, good weather and nothing else to worry about. Now, if I can set up a one-way ride with a pick-up at the end, Harper's Ferry beckons...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

G Love and Special Sauce

How was your weekend? Mine was fantastic. Not that anything spectacular happened - just a good, solid couple of days. I spent Half Day Friday (the good half, anyway) doing some light chores, watching some TV, and finishing The Ruins. Saturday was kind of rainy most of the morning, but I took Stella the Saab to get her emissions inspection. While she was in the shop (just two blocks from my house, sweet), I went to the Del Ray Farmer's Market across the street. I got an excellent loaf of cinnamon bread, some apples and peaches, and organic fennel sausage from the Free-Range Meat Lady. I'm looking forward to trying that.

Saturday afternoon and night I finally watched Barry Lyndon, directed by Stanley Kubrick. It's long (3 hrs), and kind of challenging since the main character is such a dick. But like it for it's technical skill, a given with any Kubrick film. I hesitate to recommend this one for everyone - but consider it. Kubrick's films reward your efforts.

This morning, I met Steph and Aaron at Fireflies for brunch. I caved and finally tried the steak and eggs that I've been eyeing for a while. The steak is served with bearnaise sauce and it was mighty fine. Of course, I wasn't hungry for the rest of the day - very filling, and very delicious. Even more enjoyable was the company. However, it was a little bittersweet since Steph is going on Temporarily Assigned Duty (TAD) to the Academy for quite some time. They've had some serious problems at the Academy lately, and she's on the task force that is going to figure out how to set things straight.

After doing more chores, I got a 40 miler in on the W&OD trail. I haven't done anything over 30 in a while, so I'm a little sore. "Pain is weakness leaving the body" and all that, I guess.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


One of my favorite pleasures is when I find a book that I cannot put down. Usually, there are a number of unfortunate side effects: I stay up too late reading, leaving me tired and unable to focus at work the next day. I skip doing chores, exercising, etc, so I can get back to that book. Nevertheless, I can think of few things I find more enjoyable. So I was very pleased this week when I started Scott Smith's The Ruins. It's fantastic.

I don't think it is a great book, necessarily. I admire it for it's elegance, but it's not really art. It's like a machine, with the plot elements and characters meshing together likes gears and cogs to move you from beginning to conclusion. But it does it so well, and you can't wait to see how it happens. Smith also wrote A Simple Plan, which he adapted into a movie of the same name which may be the most depressing film I've ever seen.

So, if you enjoy thrillers, I recommend The Ruins without reservation. And if you like that, read this: House of Leaves. It will blow your mind.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Finally uploaded a handful of underwhelming photos from the USNA vs. UMass football game last weekend. Enjoy... if you dare!

Monday, September 11, 2006


I've had some folks tell me that they can't leave comments anymore, and I'm here to tell you: "It's not my fault." Well, it kind of is.

I recently upgraded from using the normal Blogger framework to the new Blogger Beta. It made it easy to make some layout changes, adds labels to posts, etc. However, it seems since I now have a Blogger Beta account, I can't leave comments on regular Blogger sites, and folks who use regular Blogger cannot leave comments on mine, unless they too trade up to Beta. Google says that this will be addressed, but nothing has happened yet. The workaround I use is to leave comments as a "Guest" user, and just manually add my name and a link back to here. Technology is a double-edged sword.

I had a very productive weekend. On Saturday, I visited Kirk, Melissa and Kolton in Annapolis. They have a kick-ass apartment right across the street from the Naval Academy where Kirk is teaching. We all went to the Navy vs. UMass football game, which was pretty great. We got a very low flyover from some S-3 Vikings, and watched the Brigade of Midshipmen march on to start the game. And the contest itself was a good one - Navy barely managed to pull it off, 21-20. Many, many turnovers, and some spectacular reversals of fortune. After the game, we went to downtown Annapolis for dinner - one of maybe two places I know where every bar serves a solid Dark and Stormy. I don't go to Annapolis often, so it a nice change of pace; next time I need to remember to take my camera out around town to get some photos of the old buildings, sailboats, etc.

Sunday also went well. I finally got some... stuff... to kill my crabgrass, so that got sprayed down. I got a new mailbox installed, so my letter carrier doesn't destroy all my letters trying to fit them into the matchbox-sized box I used to have. And I refined some details on the replacement duct-tape wallet I made Saturday. Not a day of earth-shattering accomplishment, maybe.

More impressively, Steph competed in the Iron Man Wisconsin race, in and around Madison. I followed her progress online, and she finished in 13:22:10. Apparently in quite punishing conditions, temperatures in the 50's with rain all day. It doesn't sound bad at first, but when's the last time you spent 13 hours continuously running in the rain?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Save Room for the Desert

After doing some yard work and visiting Steve and his family down in Springfield yesterday, I met Steph & Aaron in Silver Spring for dinner at Mandalay, followed by Lawrence of Arabia at the AFI Silver. I had been to Mandalay once before, with Nessa, and it was as good as I remembered. Really tasty, and a huge selection of dishes.

The movie was fantastic. I've seen Lawrence plenty of times before, but always on TV or DVD. Seeing it on the big screen, especially at a restored movie palace like the Silver, is really the only way to do it justice. The cinematography is epic in scale, and the 40 foot screen puts it on spectacular display. It is a taxing movie to watch at the end of a full day, though. They started a little later than they advertised, so we were watching from 7:20 until 10:30 or so. When the 15 minute intermission started. After which we powered through another hour or so. I gave Steph & Aaron a ride home, and got home myself a little after midnight.

It was a long movie, epic in every respect. I recommend it without reservation. And then you should read more about T.E. Lawrence and the Arabian Campaign in WWI. So many of the contemporary issues in the region started with that war and its aftermath. That is the mark of my favorite kind of entertainment, be it movie, music, television, or print: something that drives you to go out and learn more.

Understanding is joyous. -Carl Sagan

Saturday, September 02, 2006


A few minor changes today. I've added the new post labels now offered by Blogger, as well as using the hierarchical Archives menu. While I was at it, I tweaked the layout a little bit, which meant I pulled an Orpheus and descended back into HTM-Hell this morning. But I managed to get the random image generator up and working again, which was my real goal. Moving everything else around was pretty simple, actually. I hope to continue modifying the basic template to make it a little more visually interesting.

We've gotten quite a bit of rain over the past few days, but nothing like the Deluge 2006 rain earlier this summer. Enough to keep my lawn from completely dying. And the much cooler air that came with the rain is very welcome. Once it dries out, it will be ideal weather for long bike rides.

In a happy coincidence the rains coincided with the arrival of my new Simpsons - Season 8 and Arrested Development - Season 3 DVDs. If you didn't watch AD while it was being broadcast, put it on your NetFlix queue or give it a chance somehow. It really lends itself to DVD viewing - so much hidden background humor that demands a quick hand on the pause button. Maybe it isn't for everyone, but I think it is brilliant. So the rainy weather gave me a chance to curl up in front of the TV and tear through the whole thing in 3 nights.