Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Echinacea Prevents Colds

You know, back when I first tried this remedy about 15 years ago, I was a big believer. If I felt a cold coming on, I would take echinacea, and voila! I wouldn't get sick. The problem was, it's hard to prove something that didn't happen, would've happened. You know what I mean? Eventually it got to the point where I was getting paranoid about getting sick, and popping echinacea pills constantly. I thought to myself, this can't be good... and I learned to relax.

But now, according to this new study, my balance between the fear of getting sick and a desire to prevent it is about to get rocked. Apparently taking echinacea with vitamin C can reduce your chance of getting a cold by 86%! That's a big deal.

So will I be buying bottles of preemptive echinacea again? Probably not. At least, not until I feel the sniffles coming on...

Fred Thompson is Pro-Choice?

I'm not sold on Fred Thompson the way others in my party seem to be, but I find this clip a fascinating insight into the political platform of the man no one seems to know anything about. The video also reeks of a hit piece. And if I had to guess, this particular hit piece was probably put out by Ron Paul. Ron Paul's campaign slogan should be: "Ron Paul: Ruining Perfectly Good Ideas for Years!"

Anyway, here's the video... decide for yourself. To me, it sounds like he's only advocating state rights on the matter (something I support). Regardless, it's something he's going to have to answer for. I hope he looks to Mitt and Rudy for examples on how not to handle this question.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Like iLemmings to an iCliff

I've been thinking... The people who buy the iPhone are in for a real surprise this Friday. I kept telling myself, it's gonna backfire. The thing is underpowered, has a small memory and isn't even on AT&T's high speed network. What was AT&T thinking? What are the people thinking who will actually wait in line to buy this?

Then this article got me thinking even more. (keep in mind it reads like an AT&T hit piece).

The author is right about early adopters. As someone who has for years bought the latest and greatest phone on the day of its release (who else do you know that dropped $500 on a RAZR? I even wrote an award-winning review of the phone HERE), I can tell you that hyped releases like this are buggy beyond belief, and then some. I went through 5 RAZRs in my first week of owning one. And, while it was cool to have people want to admire my phone every time I whipped it out, it would have been cooler to be able to rely on the Bluetooth working when I needed it, or the camera being able to take a clear picture. Those things were constant problems... in the beginning.

It took about 6 months for my 5th RAZR to break, and when it was replaced (for free by AT&T), lo and behold the new phone had a new OS installed, and ran better than any of the phones I had used in the first 6 months. In fact, that phone ended up lasting me close to 2 years - which is unprecedented for me (both to own a single model of phone for so long and to have it last). The new OS had all of the previous bugs worked out. And, what's more, the phone itself cost $300 less than what I had paid for the buggy original.

Lesson learned. At least, until the next great thing comes out. It may have been the iPhone, but without it even supporting something as cool as AT&T's 3G high speed network, it was a joke before even being released.

The Coming Islamic Showdown With the West

As we sit here in America with our heads in the sand, the situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate. It's no secret that I think the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be stepped-up, and that our current leadership is letting the whole thing fall apart. But the reasoning behind my opinion has never been so succinctly articulated as was done in this compelling piece from today's OpinionJournal.

Here's an excerpt:

A large portion of modern wars erupted because aggressive tyrannies believed that their democratic opponents were soft and weak. Often democracies have fed such beliefs by their own flaccid behavior. Hitler's contempt for America, stoked by the policy of appeasement, is a familiar story. But there are many others. North Korea invaded South Korea after Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that Korea lay beyond our "defense perimeter." Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait after our ambassador assured him that America does not intervene in quarrels among Arabs. Imperial Germany launched World War I, encouraged by Great Britain's open reluctance to get involved. Nasser brought on the 1967 Six Day War, thinking that he could extort some concessions from Israel by rattling his sword.
I would encourage you to read the entire article. We're sending messages of surrender to our enemies. It's no surprise they feel emboldened when they don't face consequences for their actions.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Us

I rarely get this personal on my blog, but I'm just so excited about being married to the absolute perfect woman! She's smart, she's funny, she's stunningly beautiful. It's been 2 action-packed years as of today, and I'm looking forward to an eternity with my soulmate.

Oh, and for those of you who are curious... that picture was taken last year at Xel-Ha (Mexico).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Global Warming? A Matter of Fact Manipulation

Apart from the latest clamor about the Earth headed for catastrophic global cooling, the arguments supporting global warming have been pretty straight forward: If it's 1 degree hotter in Dallas than last year, it's global warming. If one iceberg melts north of Greenland, it's global warming. If a big hurricane strikes land, it's global warming. You get the picture.

So you can imagine my surprise when I came across this article on CNN. I could tell the authors and scientists quoted in the discovery were desperate to find some way, any way to pin what happened on global warming, but the facts just couldn't be manipulated that way. It's laughable. Does anyone doubt that if this story were a matter of the lake rising, that it wouldn't have been used by a propaganda tool of the leftist, global warming psychopaths that treat every glitch in nature as a reason for you and I to give up living as individuals? Of course it would.

Oh, the irony that this lake just disappeared... How do you explain that? Oh yeah, it's global SHAKING!

I Can't Believe I Did It

Well, for the first time since I was in elementary school (and even those details are subject to debate), yours truly has entered and competed in an organized sport competition! In this case, an official mountain bike race.

Knowing how I've spent the majority of my life avoiding any kind of physical labor or effort, this will come as quite a shock to many of you. However, I can assure you, my participation was very real.

I competed in a local race series called "Wednesday's at Wakefield". It's a singletrack race through the very same trails you saw in the videos I sent around last week. The race is sponsored by the Washington, DC Potomac Velo Club and numerous other businesses in the area. There were several hundred people who competed, in several different categories. Since I've only been doing this for less than 3 months, I threw my hat in with the men's beginner category. That ended up being the largest class of racers! And while some were truly sucky, many were very, very good. In fact, I've since learned that many "expert" level riders compete with the beginners so that they can win medals. Posers.

Anyway, I got to the trails at 5pm after leaving work early. I was amazed at how many people I saw! My original intent was to watch and learn... but in the excitement, I found myself in line with the registrants, and before I could think or argue I was handing someone $20 and signing a waiver. Next thing I knew, I was strapping a number card to my bike. I was actually doing it!

The real butterflies came when I was down on the start line with what seemed like a hundred other bikers, getting ready to take off en masse like a crazy Tour de France send-off. And that's how it was. For the first minute after the shot, it was dog eats dog. There were wrecks, there was jockeying, there were swear words. But eventually, we reached the portion of the trail where everyone needed to file into single line... and then we really got going.

I was doing really well (for starting in the middle of the pack), when about halfway through the first lap of trails, I hit some mud while going about 15mph. That was enough to send my front wheel spinning sideways, and send me clear over the handlebars. I landed, hard, on my right arm and thigh. I saw some blood, but not enough to be concerned about... so I kept going! I pushed myself more than usual, and started getting cramps in strange places, but I was moving. I was racing!

By the end of the second lap (9 miles), I was ready to fall over dead. At this point, I was covered in mud (not from my fall, but from going through muddy streams and gunk from the previous day's rain), was exhausted, and had a mouth as dry as an Iraqi desert. Even though I was wearing my waterpack, it was hard for me to get to the tube while I was busy balancing and pedaling over roots, rocks and mud. So, I didn't drink as much as I should have. But still, I finished!

The organizer's computer was broken, so we didn't get the complete standings (they should be posted later today), but they listed the top 4 finishers in each category. I wasn't one of them, nor did I expect to be. But I was pretty dang proud of myself! No one had taught me how to ride, and no one was there to cheer me on (hey my wife was at a contest of her own). I did it all on my own, and didn't come in last. And I have to admit, it felt pretty dang good!

Now... lavish your praise on me!!! But seriously, today I feel like I've been hit by a truck and tossed down a staircase! So, I could use some love!

Oh, you can find pictures HERE and HERE. The action shot above is a horrible bloated picture of me on the red Specialized...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Made It!

Only one crash! I hit some mud and went flying at about 15mph... landed on my right side and scratched up my leg, hip and arm pretty good. But it could have been worse! One guy was laying on the side of the road with a broken arm or something later in the race, and I saw many, many wrecks!

Now I'm waiting for the standings...

UPDATE: Standings weren't available because of a computer glitch, so they only had the top 3 people in eacg category available. I'll have to wait until the results are posted online. One thing is for sure... I didn't come in last!

Getting Ready to Race

I don't know what I got myself into, but in just over an hour I'll be racing in my first ever mountain bike race. Pray I don't get killed... Or come in last!

This is the local "Wednesday's at Wakefield" races that are sponsored by the Washington, DC area Potomac Velo Club.

It's my first race, ever.

Take a look at the beginning section from the starting line. This is where the butterrflies really start to kick in.

Magellan Would Be Proud...

...or at least insane. This is a comical comparison of many different in-car navigation systems and their voice guided instructions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oui, Oui... We Look at Blackberry!

As if the US Government doesn't have anything better to do than spy on the French government through their Blackberries. "Heau heau heau! Le plans for world domination with ze better and ze bigger cheese must be kept from Monsieur George Bush! Oh, non!"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Here Come the Suicide Bombers

It was only a matter of time. In the 70's and 80's, they killed us overseas. In the 90's they expanded their operations to larger targets. At the turn of the millennium, they focused on large, dramatic attacks which culminated with 9/11. But was that all radical Islam had in store for the West? Of course not.

Now, hiding in training camps in the badlands of Pakistan, a new breed of radical Muslim terrorist is emerging. This new crop of recruits won't be headed to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem... these guys are headed to shopping malls, transit systems and public places near you - here in America.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Temple

My wife and I on a trip to the Washington, DC temple.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Viva la Skylab!

It may be all over for the International Space Station. Just like the ill-fated Skylab station that went crashing to Earth in the 70's, the ISS might be taking its own doomsday plunge in a few months if scientists can't get past the finger-pointing game and come up with some solutions.

The main computer that controls flight and life support on the station is failing, and its Russian manufacturers say it may have a "fatal flaw." Even though I think the ISS is a joke as far as technological achievement is concerned, I'm a huge supporter of the space program. And unfortunately, if this station dies, the space program will die with it.

Billions of dollars have gone into this money pit - money that could have been spent upgrading our Shuttle fleet or gone into a deep space exploration program (in my mind, infinitely more beneficial programs). So, if the ISS decides to take a crap in the Indian Ocean sometime next year, politicians the world over will use this as the perfect excuse not to fund any new space programs for a while. And once the money is out of the budgets, it won't be coming back anytime soon. All of this excepts China, which will become the world's space leader in 10 years if we don't take this seriously.

So, if I may change a famous quote from a good TV show for my purposes here, and suggest: "Save the space station, save the world!" OK, so it may not be that dramatic, but if the space station, and thus, the space program dies, so will humanity's will for exploration. Like everything else, the risks that have served to enrich our species will take a back seat to safety. That's not to say being safe is bad... but when it interferes with mans spirit of discovery and self-improvement, we'll be about as well off as cavemen who never left the cave.

And as if to further decry the futility of our work in space, CNN doesn't even have a single story about this fiasco on their main web page - not even in their space section. Unless the the station is saved... space travel will be synonymous with the muffler bracket of a '79 Pinto.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Great Ride at Wakefield

So, I learned something really cool yesterday. If I open my cellphone, start the video recorder and stick the phone in one of the forward facing pouches on my backpack, it faces the trail for a perfect (well, almost perfect) video of my trail riding.

Take a look for yourself! Also, I'd love it if someone could edit these with some music, and crop out my hand movements at the beginning of each video. Because the bag covered the microphone, there is no wind noise, but there's a lot of heavy breathing...

The video was taken while I rode the north portion of the yellow trails at Wakefield park, in Fairfax County, VA. It's one of the best singletrack trails in the area for mountain biking.


Mitt Romney Leads New Hampshire

In a surprising gain (although not so surprising if you heard the guy speak... he's great), Romney has pulled ahead of all of the competition (including Fred Thompson, who placed 4th) in New Hampshire polling.

CNN reports:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has jumped to the head of the pack of 2008 Republican presidential contenders in New Hampshire, according to a CNN/WMUR poll out Tuesday.

Romney, who led New Hampshire’s southern neighbor from 2003 to 2007, drew 28 percent support in the new poll. Giuliani and McCain were tied for second at 20 percent, while 11 percent backed Thompson, who set up a campaign fundraising committee June 1.

What if We Get Nuked?

A morbid question, to be sure. However, it is something every American should have asked himself at least once - especially since we live in an age where the possibility of a terrorist obtaining a nuclear weapon and using it in an American city is growing higher each year.

William Perry, former Secretary of Defense under the Clinton administration has a few interesting things to say about this subject. How would we be affected? What decisions would we need to make? Those of us in the DC area need to be mindful of such things.

Perry says:

"Only the federal government could help the country deal rationally with the problem of radiation, which is unique to nuclear terrorism and uniquely frightening to most people. For those within a two-mile-wide circle around a Hiroshima-sized detonation (in Washington, that diameter is the length of the Mall; in New York, three-fourths the length of Central Park; in most cities, the downtown area) or just downwind, little could be done. People in this zone who were not killed by the blast itself, perhaps hundreds of thousands of them, would get radiation sickness, and many would die."
Most of the time, if not all of the time, I would argue for reduced federal involvement during a disaster. It's not the place of the federal government to take the role of first responder, and (depending on the scale and advance warning) it's unrealistic to expect them to respond to every tornado and hurricane. That's traditionally the responsibility of the state. However, I am inclined to argue in favor of a federal leadership role in the aftermath of a nuclear attack - for precisely the reasons listed in the above quote.

The fear of a nuclear attack is something I grew up with as a kid in the 80's. I was familiar with most Cold War doomsday scenarios. Fortunately, mutually assured destruction (MAD) made such "end of life as we know it" scenarios less likely. This new threat, on the other hand, scares me even worse.

Terrorists want to kill us. I know that's a huge surprise, but they do. Osama bin Laden himself has said he wants to kill 4 million Americans. What better way to accomplish this than to detonate a nuclear weapon (or two, or three) in an American city? What's worse, is that the timing of such an event is unpredictable. And when it happens, as Mr. Perry points out, the citizens in this country are going to go nuts with panic.

If we don't prepare for such an event - mentally, physically and spiritually - our way of life (as we know it) will change in its aftermath, and I can guarantee you it won't be for the better.

Something to think about...

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Fred Thompson Effect

What is it, exactly, that many conservatives find so appealing about Fred Thompson? Please don't assume that because I am asking this question, I am somehow anti-Fred. I'm not. But even if I wanted to opine about the guy, I couldn't. I just don't know a whole lot about him. So my question really means, does anyone know much about him?

I know he was in a lot of the movies I enjoy. He was a senator, too. But I was working on the Hill when he decided not to seek reelection. Where were the conservatives then? I don't remember anyone begging him to stay. So why is it that now he's seen as the "next Reagan"? What's wrong with Giuliani, McCain or Romney? Are they that bad (conservatively speaking)? OK, maybe the first two...

George Will has a few thoughts on this that I find to be very enlightening. He asks, where's the beef? - more or less. Here's a sample:

Some say he is the Republicans' Rorschach test: They all see in him what they crave. Or he might be the Republicans' dot-com bubble, the result of restless political investors seeking value that the untutored eye might not discern and that might be difficult to quantify but which the investors are sure must be there, somewhere, somehow.

One does not want to be unfair to Thompson, who may have hidden depths. But ask yourself this: If he did not look like a basset hound who had just read a sad story—say, "Old Yeller"—and if he did not talk like central casting's idea of the god Sincerity, would anyone think he ought to be entrusted with the nation's nuclear arsenal? He is an actor, and, as a Hollywood axiom says, the key to acting is sincerity—if you can fake that, you've got it made.

This is, of course, all about another actor. Republicans have scrutinized the current crop of presidential candidates and succumbed to the psychosomatic disease Reagan Deprivation. It is, however, odd that many Republicans who advertise their admiration for Reagan are so ready to describe Thompson as Reaganesque because he ... what?
I couldn't agree with this analysis more. And, I'm worried we may be throwing away a good, yet underrated candidate because we want someone "just 'cause he sounds cool." I guess time will tell...

The Road to Hell is Always Paved With Good Intentions...

So let me get this straight... We have absolutely no definitive proof that humans are causing, or can even reduce global warming (in fact, there is mounting evidence that global warming is natural and good for the planet), and yet we want to set a precedent for penalizing human behavior based on theoretical science?

Denver is trying to do something noble. That is, to clean up the environment. Now, I have no problem with that (who would?) so long as it doesn't hurt individual liberty. However, the rationale being used in Denver to regulate human behavior is dead wrong.

So what, any unproven idea can be used as justification for new taxes and regulations, now? And don't tell me it's better to err on the side of caution, because in science there is no such thing. It's either true or false. We don't know on which side caution lies until we start to prove facts. For now, all we should be doing is asking people to change - not compelling it through force.

I suppose the moral of this story is that it's OK for the government to go into your wallet, house, yard, and even threaten your very freedom (see what happens if you refuse to follow these government mandates) as long as they stay out of your womb. Gotta love them lefty double standards...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Jericho Goes NUTS!

Looks like the same company (CBS/Viacom) that turned down $30 million in cash to save Star Trek: Enterprise was convinced by 25 tons of peanuts to save another good show, Jericho.

No thanks to me, this time.

Going NUTS!

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Fans trumpeting the cause of CBS' canceled drama "Jericho" have caught the network's ear.

CBS, deluged with calls, messages and shipments of nuts signifying viewer displeasure, is reconsidering its decision, a source close to the production said Tuesday.

Cingular (AT&T) vs. Verizon vs. T-Mobile vs. Sprint...

Since I am a huge geek when it comes to having the latest and greatest in cellphone technology, many of my friends often come to me with questions about wireless networks, plans and gripes. I received one such question yesterday about T-Mobile vs. Cingular, and have decided, in the interest of benefiting humanity, to post my "official" reply about wireless technology, and why I choose the way I do, here for all to enjoy. So, without further adieu...

I happen to like Cingular (now AT&T), but I'll always be impartial when deciding what I want. However, the things that I value most lead me to continue service with AT&T. So, this email will lean in that direction, FYI.

T-Mobile has great plans and cool phones, but their coverage does have big holes, which are, ironically, covered by AT&T as a roaming signal for T-Mobile. T-Mobile is also behind every cellular carrier in terms of Internet access. The fastest speeds their network can handle are lightyears behind Cingular and Verizon (even Sprint). They will not be at the speed AT&T currently operates until 2009.

A friend of mine was on T-Mobile for 2 weeks and absolutely hated it. Too many dead spots, he said.

AT&T is rolling out the fastest wireless Internet in the world later this summer. That means, with the right plan you could dump your home ISP and have wireless Internet on your computer that would work anywhere you had cell service - all at cable speeds. Pretty cool, huh?

I can't speak to T-Mobile or Verizon, but my experience with AT&T's customer service has been awesome. Also, AT&T offers upgrade bonuses after a year, and they subsidize a greater portion of the cost of their phones. In the end, the costs all even out with other carriers.

Oh yeah, AT&T also has rollover minutes. That means, anything left over from your plan at the end of your billing cycle gets carried over to the next month, and so on. That has saved my butt on the months I've gone over.

Also, with free mobile-to-mobile calling, and with a good third (probably more) of the population on AT&T, you can use a plan with fewer minutes and never go over. I have the 450 minute plan and haven't gone over in a year - mainly because most of my calls go to other AT&T customers. So, in that respect, my plan is pretty cheap. Same goes for texts.

More positive: AT&T operates on dual-band GSM. This means your phone will work anywhere in the word, will have a SIM card and will have better building penetration (indoor reception) than other single-band GSM carriers like T-Mobile.

Negative: AT&T doesn't work in the Washington Metro (subway). But then, it's nice to have a time out from the 'ole electronic leash once in a while...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Atop the Trail at Lake Accotink

Just grabbing a snack on my epic ride!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Culture of Hypocrisy... and Corruption.

According to Drudge:

Sources tell CBS NEWS that Democratic Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA) will be indicted this afternoon on more than a dozen counts involving public corruption. Jefferson has been the subject of an ongoing probe in which FBI agents allegedly found more than 90-thousand dollars in cash in his freezer. The Justice Department is expected to unveil the charges later today... Developing...
Oh, the irony!