Tuesday, April 24

Odd Eye Coincidence

Earlier this month, about the same time as Chandra made his "Eye of the Tiger" post, I was riding home after getting morning coffee. Riding a bike around Ocean Shores is about as low stress as things get. You're a lot less likely to get hit by a deer than someone motoring along, and traffic is low on the massively overbuilt roads. In some ways, Ocean Shores is almost the antithesis of a "Strong Town" since it has no industry and little infrastructure beyond catering to tourists who drive here from other places.

Anyway, to get back to the story, riding home, I noticed a car behind me. Usually, the cars pass with no delay, but THIS ONE followed me for three full blocks. They even followed me onto the loop street where our house is. Next thing you know, the car, full of young men pulled up beside me. For some reason, they seemed to want to chat as they drove alongside, though not about anything in particular. Next thing you know, one decided he needed to play "Eye of the Tiger" for me on Youtube. Yup, the VERY SAME video Chandra included in his post. I really couldn't hear it very well since cell phones really aren't noted for having powerful speakers. During the song, I slowed down a bit since I didn't know these guys and I figured out having them know where I lived might not be wise. As the song concluded, they drove on by and stopped to chat down the way with someone that happened to be taking a morning walk.

And no, I didn't think to get their license number and I didn't even notice what State the plates were.

Still, it seemed a very odd coincidence...

Sunday, March 25

New Mexico's Lost Cause

Rest Stop Marker on New Mexico's Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway
Occasionally, I run across lesser-known elements of history involving the War of the Rebellion (AKA Civil War) and post them on this blog. A couple of such involved DFW-area monuments to the Rebellion. They may be revisited here and here. More strangely, the proponents of “The Lost Cause,” most notably the Daughters of the Confederacy, put up markers here and there to glorify people that had nothing at all to do with the locale. In many cases, there are relevant historical stories that the Daughters forget to mention in their rush to glorify people such as Jefferson Davis.

Last month, I ran across yet another of these markers. This one was in Southern New Mexico, a bit west of El Paso, Texas. At the easternmost rest stop on I-10, the pictured monument commemorated the Daughters calling this route the “Jefferson Davis Highway.” Yup, this is the same Jefferson Davis Highway that pops up all sorts of places, including Washington State. I-10 is an interesting Interstate that gets called all sorts of things. In California, where it starts as the Santa Monica Freeway, it is also called the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, the Rosa Parks Freeway, and several other names. I’m not sure if it will keep Columbus, as he has more recently been castigated for his Indian transgressions. In New Mexico, I-10 is known as “The Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway” in most places. Well, except at this one rest stop where Jefferson Davis still reigns supreme.

The Daughters’ original memorial was nowhere in evidence unless this is an extensively restored version of it. Instead, we were treated to something New Mexico put up to commemorate another monument. Sadly, there was no mention of New Mexico’s role in the Civil War as a place that slavery and Indian extermination might take place. Jefferson Davis’s main role in such episodes was to fire the one that most wanted to kill off Indian even more than he wanted to fight Yankees.

Flags are at Half Staff due to Florida School Shooting
To make a long story short, the Confederacy laid claim to the southern half of current New Mexico and Arizona as the “Confederate Arizona Territory.” John Baylor claimed to be in charge of things until he was fired by Jefferson Davis for ordering extermination of the Apache Indians. To Baylor’s troops’ credit, history suggests they ignored his extermination orders. General Sibley led a Confederate Brigade into the claimed territory until they were chased back out following the Battle of Glorieta Pass. FWIW, Sibley's forces included Apaches (the same tribe Baylor wanted killed off). The US then divided the territory into Arizona and New Mexico, and the Confederates went back to East Texas. We visited the site of the Glorieta Pass battle, but it wasn’t much to look at.

Tuesday, March 13

Moderation EVEN in Portland

I Count TWELVE Bike Racks at this Portland, Oregon Ikea Store. Thank Goodness for iPhone "Panorama" Photo Mode!
Seen at the Ikea Store, adjacent to Portland International Airport. Count the number of BIKE RACKS in the photo at the top of this post. This is a store that isn't easy to access by bicycle, and few of its items lend themselves to being carried home by bike. I suspect this is in excess of even Portland's municipal code requirements.

We recently bought a bed at the Grand Prairie, Texas Ikea and it took all our Subaru could carry to get it home. The Grand Prairie didn't have any bike racks out front that I was able to notice. OTOH, if you want to buy a set of new living room furniture and bring it home by bike, might need a lot of cycling friends, though I suspect that if you brought along a dozen or more friends, at least one would be willing to watch the bikes. Perhaps the Portland Ikea would be willing to donate one of their racks to their Texas counterparts?

Wednesday, February 7

Falcon H, Bubba

Liftoff is 5:26 into the Video - They're Going to Make Space Exciting Again!

When I was just a boy, we went to the Moon. Shortly after I graduated from high school, we went to the Moon for the (until sometime in the future) last time. I vividly recall the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. That was nearly 45 years ago. Almost a Half Century. On occasion, I wonder if we have peaked and are on a long, slow decline like that which resulted in the demise of the Roman Empire. Even to this day, the Saturn V Rocket remains the most powerful launch vehicle that mankind has ever produced. At launch, it put out just under 8 million pounds of thrust and put as much as 310,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. In the times since before any of my children were born, newsworthy space travel consisted of Space Shuttle explosions.

However, events such as yesterday's SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch give me hope that our greatest times may still lie ahead. While the Falcon Heavy has less than half the payload of the Saturn V, it is a major step back into the Future. SpaceX is a company that I've never worked for, though I worked in what is now their Hawthorne facility when Northrop produced 747 structure there and I also worked for Rocketdyne when they were designing the Space Shuttle engines. John Glenn was a part of our extended family and my father worked on the Saturn V for Boeing. I pay a lot of attention to what goes on with humanity's reach into space. You might say it's in my blood.

The movie, "The Right Stuff" had a phrase spoken when someone did well. I recall it as "Fuckin A, Bubba!" Well, now we can say "Falcon H, Bubba." It may be more polite, but it is entirely accurate and we can all look forward to seeing what comes next. I know that SpaceX is planning a larger rocket, known as the "BFR." I won't speculate on what BFR might be an acronym for, but I'll guess it is in the same spirit as the bubba comments in "The Right Stuff." When the BFR launches, we will finally go beyond what we accomplished with the Saturn V back in 1967.

Yup, perhaps our best days DO lie ahead, though probably none of our astronauts that went to the Moon will see mankind first set foot on Mars.

Sunday, January 28

Pay Attention to Motorcyclists

From Youtube

This morning, I saw a motorcycle video that has direct application for how we bicyclists can better operate more defensively (safely) on the road. The video is embedded at the top of this post. While I think the whole video is well worth a watch, it gets down to brass tacks about 2:07 in.

The video, at top, concerned how motorcyclists might operate in order to reduce the liklihood of a motorist up ahead pulling out or making a crossing turn (left turn for us in the US or right turn for our compatriots that operate on the wrong side of the road). I don't know if it might help with following traffic. I suspect not.

This accident is often called the "SMIDSY,' (Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You). The counter to this was termed the "SIAM" (SMIDSY Identification and Avoidance Maneuver." While cyclists ususally ride slower than motorcyclists, most of the other items in the video apply. I've experienced SMIDSY situations myself, such as one related here. The video does not address the greater probability of experiencing a SMIDSY in the dark. It DOES touch on high vis vests, noting that they might add to biker camaflage by breaking up the biker's outline. I'm not sure breaking up the outline really hurts visibility, but it's a point I'd never considered before.

At bottom is another video, focused purely on the SIAM - which the videographer calls the "SMIDSY Weave." The relevant maneuver starts just twenty seconds after the start of the video. It was made in the US so the sightlines are more what I'm used to seeing. It DOES help if we pay attention to motorcyclists!