Monday, June 30, 2008

Latest on Landis

In the latest--and last--option for Floyd Landis, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed the appeal that Floyd Landis had entered to keep his 2006 Tour de France title. He was stripped of that title for elevated testosterone. I for one have always maintained that Floyd was innocent. This decision does little to change that opinion. I don't have any personal insights or insider info that makes me think this, just a gut feeling and a few questions:

1) Doping before the biggest race of the year, I can see happening. Doping DURING that race, knowing that if you win (even a stage win), that you'll be tested? No way.
2) Doping by taking testosterone--which doesn't even kick in immediately--and is the easiest performance-enhancer to catch, since it's been around longest? No way.
3) I just trust Floyd. I'm not sure why. He's not even my favorite cyclist. I just trust that he's been honest. Until he comes out and says "I was lying all along" (which I don't think is coming), I will believe Floyd.

I really believe he was a victim of either faulty testing or some sort of conspiracy against American cyclists--who, with Lance--had dominated the TdF for eight years straight.

Floyd Landis--MY Tour de France 2006 Champion.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Current Temperature in Hell: 34 degrees Fahrenheit and falling?

If you're familiar with the UK weekly "The Guardian" then you're aware that their M.O. is usually to bash the U.S., and over the last eight years, to ridicule, belittle and besmirch the Bush administration. That's what makes this column all the more unexpected.

It basically sums up--from a much larger pulpit--what I've felt all along: George W. Bush, although not perfect, has been right on the War on Terror in general and the pursuit of al-Qaeda elsewhere in the world. He understood clearly, post-9/11, the threat that islamists would pose to freedom and democracy worldwide, and took the fight to their yard. A few excerpts:

The theocratic barbarism responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers was driven not by what America and its allies had done, but by what we represented.

He continues:
The most fundamental decision in western security policy in the past seven years has not been the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It has been the recognition that the most voluble adversaries of western society are not merely a criminal subculture, and still less an incipient liberation movement. Rather, they are a reactionary, millenarian and atavistic force with whom accommodation is impossible as well as intensely undesirable.

Read the entire article. It's not a pro-Bush honk, but a seemingly objective look at the overall Bush policy of pursuit in lieu of passivity.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm (not) Old

Well, I officially had a terrific birthday yesterday. It all started with a thrashing at the hands of three friends in doubles tennis at 6:00 a.m. We played one set, which my partner and I dropped 7-5. Then we switched partners for set two--which my new partner and I dropped 6-2. I was officially a loser by 7:45 a.m. I headed home with my racket between my legs and Carrie took the kids down to DK, bringing me home some delicious jelly-filled doughnuts. With losing now a distant memory, I looked forward to lunch plans with a different group of amigos at the local Chicago Dog joint. Polish dog, french fries with celery salt (that's good, by the way) and good conversation made for a nice birthday midday. Got some work done in the p.m. and then about 6:15 we went out as a family for dinner. We ate so much--and then they brought out my birthday dessert (a foot-high mudpie piece with hot fudge all over it)--that we still have a completely uncut birthday cake in the kitchen--seriously. We blew out the candles on it (ha hah---only 6) and no one wanted any because we were bloated. The kids hooked me up with a t-shirt that has their hand prints on it and says "hands down our daddy is..." on the front, and "the best!" on the back. Got socks a belt, a couple of CO2 tire inflation guns for my bike and the day was complete.

I have the bestest family in the whole wide world!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Just a short note about my awesome Father's Day. On our way home from California this weekend, my wife asked me what I wanted for dinner on Father's Day. Without hesitation, I requested one of her awesome paellas. So there I was today, surrounded by good friends and an incredible wife eating one of my favorite foods. Remember, Carrie doesn't even eat paella. The only reason she learned how to make it was because I love it so much. If you ask me, she makes the most delicious paella on the planet. Anyone who disagrees with me is free to take a taste. That ought to shut them up!

Thanks, honey!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Last Night I Partied Like it Was 1985

As you can see by the stellar image quality from my Motorola Q, last night I stepped back into my high school days and did something that I've only done on a pair of occasions now since I told myself in 1993 that I wouldn't ever do again: I went to a rock concert.

Strike that. This was no ordinary rock concert. This was my second go-round (the only band I've ever spent concert ticket money on twice) for Rush. On the ride over, my three concert-mates (and neighbors) and I were trying to do the math as to the age of Geddy, Alex and Neil. Their first album was released in 1974. If they were 17-18, that puts them in AARP range now. Of course, they're Canadian, so maybe it's CAARP, but you get the picture. Let me just state this for the record: THEY STILL ROCK.

Watching these "old" men run around on stage, play their music (my buddy Jake says each has a doctorate in music), work the crowd, inject some emotion and basically blow the roof off the arena was pretty cool. This was also the first go-round for me seeing parents bringing their kids to a concert that wasn't sponsored by the Wiggles or Nickelodeon. Nate told me today that he wanted to go "to the concert next time." Well, if the energy Rush displayed last night was any indication, he may be taking his kids.

They started off the set with Limelight, and ended it with YYZ (I think...they threw in A Passage to Bangkok somewhere at the end). They played a bunch of stuff off Snakes and Arrows, their latest studio album, and then gave the mass of humanity what they wanted with Tom Sawyer, Spirit of Radio, a nice long Neil Peart drum exhibition (anyone who says he's not the best drummer on the planet is obviously smoking some sort of illegal substance and should be beaten about the cranium), the Trees, Subdivisions and many other darn good songs.

Biggest disappointment: NO songs off Power Windows. Only one off of Grace Under Pressure (although it was "Between the Wheels" which is excellent). Only one off of Hold Your Fire...and in my opinion, not the best one (but again, a good choice with "Mission".)

Some cool things: As they headed off for an intermission, Geddy says, "since we are no longer "sprrrrring chickens" we need to take a short break." Frankly, I couldn't stand for the nearly three-hour set anyway, and needed a "sprrrrring chicken" break, too. In between sets, they would run this little video story with the bandmembers as the actors. The opening sequence had Alex in bed dreaming of snakes, awakening in a sweat. He leans back and says "honey, I had a dream about snakes. Why am I dreaming about snakes? Honey?" Neil Peart emerges from the other side of the bed--they look at each other and scream. Then they run a bit about Tom Sawyer with the South Park cartoon. Cartman has long Geddy hair and sings, "Monday warrior, today's Tom Sawyer, he floated down a river with a black guy." Then he says "that's what the book says, I read it...and I'm Geddy Lee, I'll sing whatever lyrics I want." It's that kind of stuff that helps you realize that this trio gets it. They're not self-righteous egoists. They're musicians. I really liked Alex's acoustic/electric solo--and during Neil's extended drum work, the pictures in back paid homage to Buddy Rich.

You know what the coolest thing about them is? They play music. Sure they let their opinions come out in that music, but it's not in-your-face politics, just make-you-pause stuff. And they didn't cuss all night. In fact, I've never heard a cuss word in ANY of their songs. No sex. No swearing. Just good music played by three guys who know their way around their instruments. If I could pair them with Kepa Junkera on some sort of something, I'd be in music nirvana.

I'd go see them again. Tonight. If I could.