Sunday, November 30, 2008
One quick blat down Komazawa dori and we rendezvoused with David L. and Jerome. Onto the Tama and picked up speed in a four man pace line. Having got a little carried away, Chris and I realised we were without the rest of the 'team'. David L. and Jerome headed on as they were off on a different route today.
A phone call to hear not one, but two had punctured. Very unfortunate indeed. Chris and I soaked up the sun as it was a beautiful day to be waiting for people.
We all hooked up again 10 minutes later, but Chris had to head home with a wedding to attend.
So four of us off to Takao. Given the initial hiccups we made Taka in good time and stopped at the regular 7-11 for a pit-stop.
Off up the Takao 'climb' where I was making good time but had to pull over to adjust my rear derailleur which was jumping between cogs in a very annoying way.
David C. and I then crested the hill together to be presented with a beautiful view of Mount Fuji.
Unfortunately the trusty Nokia, whilst pretty good for a phone, didn't really do the view of the snow-capped Fuji much justice at all. It was quite beautiful.
We all headed on down the backside and onto my normal return route. Neville started to struggle with cramping at about the same time as myself. Quite bizarre as it was not a normal occurrence for either of us. Not hydrated enough perhaps. Ho-hum.
Got back to the Tama and one more pitstop at the local 7-11. Then hightailed it home to be back around 1pm.
Longer than I am used to on this particular route, but I guess we did leave later than last time, and the punctures etc. didn't help our average speed. Generally we maintained a good pace though.
As ever a thoroughly enjoyable ride on an absolutely beautiful Japanese winter's day.
Garmin download here. Google map as below. Hope the weather holds into December!
View Larger Map
Friday, November 28, 2008
He’s in the Little Chef at Popham, west of London, where Channel 4 is filming his attempt to help transform the ailing roadside eatery chain into a family destination for quality food.
“Come in here, come in here,” he says, and heads for the men’s room. A cameraman, a sound man with boom mike and a producer follow as we squeeze into the small place, where a young man is attempting to use the facilities and looks around in surprise.
“Can you smell that?” Blumenthal, 42, asks, and I realize with relief that he’s referring to the aroma of coffee brewing. “And listen. Can you hear?” There’s a clatter of pots and pans, as if we are standing close to a busy professional kitchen.
Blumenthal is a pioneer of the multisensory approach to food. At Little Chef, a 50-year-old chain now owned by RCapital Ltd., he’s hoping his magic will help to reverse a decline that Chief Executive Ian Pegler says has seen the number of outlets drop to 177 from 330 in the early 1990s."
Plus, read this.. Tweeting the terror at CNN.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Traffic lights, for instance, take on, for the cyclist, the status of an inflatable children’s paddling pool, temptingly reduced to half-price. You might just go for it, you might not.
It is possible, of course, that jealousy is somewhere beneath all this. The recklessly self-endangering cyclist is almost certainly fitter than you, better adjusted socially and more closely in tune with nature.
Nothing more profoundly sums up the impotence of the modern urban driver, inching along at 6mph, than being overtaken by a bicycle. No wonder drivers are in a froth about them most of the time. "
"Toyota and GM decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River.
Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.
BUT on the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.
The Americans, tired and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.
Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing. So American management hired a consulting company referred to them by the US Government and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.
The consultants advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized into 3 steering supervisors, 1 area steering superintendents, 1 publicity manager, 1 HR diversity coordinator, 1 union rep, and a rower.
They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program", with a lunch and a free company pen for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and performance-tied bonuses but that decision was held up in committee.
BUT the next year the Japanese won by two miles.
Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.
The money from all sales and all forecasted moneys saved from further competition was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India."
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
2008 Cervelo Carbon SLC-SL. Shimano Dura Ace 7800 Components. 2008 Zipp 808 Dimpled Carbon Clinchers. 2008 Zero Gravity 0G-Ti. 2008 Fizik Arione K:1 Carbon Saddle. 2008 Oval Concepts A910 Aergo Handlebars. 2008 FSA SLK-Light Crankset. Bike weighs 15.8 pounds. EBay and the current USD/JPY rate is a wonderful thing.
Cervelo - brand of choice for Team CSC and Team Positivo Espresso.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The English method a painstaking process. It begins with the European method, but while we Americans will look at a plate of meat-potatoes-'n'-veg and prong one bite of steak and munch away before sticking a portion of peas, the English insist on having a little bit of each plated element on their fork at any given time. Thus, watching an Englishman eat is watching an orchestration of planning and restraint. Without fail, they come to the end of their dinner with exactly one tiny bit of each meal component remaining, so that no bite ever must be taken without the crowning pea, or last flourish of gravy. Like the European fork and knife method, it is a skill to be learned, and to be watched with awe and aspiration."
"WHAT is thought to be impossible in an open bidding system has happened: COE has crashed.
At the close of the latest tender on Wednesday, COE premium for cars up to 1,600cc - the mainstay of car buyers - closed at an unprecedented $2.
Motor traders were shocked. All said the market was soft, but no one expected the price to crash.
The number of bids submitted exceeded the COE supply of 1,851 by only one.
The other categories all ended much lower as well." st
As recently as 2005, class A COE went for over $20,000. Waiting for next month's auction with great interest.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Here is what it says about this blog:
ESTP - The Doers
The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.
The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.
Brain Activity: Predominantly Left side, Thinking (T) (logic & mathematics), Practical (ST) and Sensing (S) (order, habit & details)
via Greg Mankiw
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Michael Lewis, author of 'Liar's Poker', in Portfolio.com
The article runs to 9 pages but well worth the read.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The sale was completed shortly after midday, but was kept under wraps until Downing Street had been informed.
It was finally confirmed in a newsflash from the Press Association at 1.26pm.
The soon-to-be-former owner Tom Logan said: "We had given up hope, what with the banks being shits and everything.
"But then this couple turned up, had a poke around in the kitchen, fiddled with the central heating, flushed the toilet and then suddenly said, 'we'd like to buy it.'
"My wife collapsed, I got a nose bleed and the dog started howling like a coyote."
By late afternoon a large and boisterous crowd had gathered outside the detached cottage in the Home Counties village of Minchinhamptonsteadbury as Mr and Mrs Logan gave interviews to Le Monde, CNN and Japan's TV-Osaka.
Burger vans and buskers cashed-in on the celebration while quick-witted entrepreneurs sold mugs, baseball hats and souvenir flags immortalising 'The House That Someone Bought'.
Mr Logan added: "I've no idea where they got the money from. Maybe they're drug dealers. Good luck to them."" mash
Monday, November 17, 2008
"I think it would be a terrible mistake to simply write a check to the auto industry without demanding major, major restructuring of its labor contracts. Without that the money will simply go down a rat hole and the automakers will just be back again in a year or two asking for more money.
Obama has a strong hand to play here and I hope he uses his leverage. With bankruptcy as the only alternative to federal aid, he can drive a very hard bargain with the auto workers. If he caves and just writes a blank check, everyone will know he can be rolled and he will pay a heavy political price for it. If Obama shows toughness on this issue, I think it will pay enormous dividends for him down the road." Bruce Bartlett
Saturday, November 15, 2008
My PB was 53.993 which I was very pleased with. The track, located in Chiba, was both very easy to get to and much more fast and challenging than that at Motegi where we were back in September. Good day, good fun and the rain held off. Perfect.
Off topic, these three photos all from the new phone.. very impressed.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The chemist and Yorkshireman Dr John Emsley was tasked with drawing up the definitive recipe and dimensions after the society was contacted by a bewildered cook whose pudding refused to rise. [...]
He said that cooks wanting to rustle one up need to arm themselves with carbohydrate + H2O + protein + NaCl + lipids (flour, water, egg, milk and fat), said the scientists.
He also warned about the dangers of putting the prepared batter in the fridge and stresses the importance of getting the fat really hot.
Dr Emsley claims that cooks born outside of Yorkshire have a natural disadvantage and will never manage to create a truly perfect pudding. But the Society admits there is little scientific evidence to back up this particular conclusion.
"It's in the blood and instinct of people born and raised there," he said.
"You can always tell from the look and taste if the cook has the right touch and it is almost pitiful to observe the stuff that comes from some southern ovens - flat, pale and soggy much of the time."
He added: "I have seen many grim results from people who have tried to get their Yorkshires to rise. They frequently made gross errors.
After all, cooking is chemistry in the kitchen and one has to have the correct formula, equipment and procedures.
"Some amateurs even place the batter in the fridge first. What kind of foolish act is that?"."
We, well Vivienne actually, made some last weekend, hence the article. They were pretty good I thought. How typically Northern to claim you need Yorkshire genes to do it 'proper'.
The well-rehearsed choreography of girls coming in from the suburbs in their finery, tasting the good life, then snagging an investment banker to prolong the party, is yesterday's dance. An entire segment of downtown Tokyo, which rose to fame and fortune with the 2003-07 bull market, has now been spectacularly snuffed out by the crash."
A former sales trader at a large US investment bank, believes that the women of Heartland have developed a sixth sense for layoffs. “The five-year reign of the Roppongi Hills scene bred a pretty canny strain of Japanese woman. I fell in love with at least one of them. It is scary to see how quickly they've disappeared from the bars. And they started disappearing early: these girls are a market indicator to which we should all pay attention.”
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"OK," the doctor said when we settled into his examination room. "What do you want to be?"
I looked confused, so he explained.
"You want to be bigger? Leaner? Faster longer or faster shorter? More overall endurance? You want to see better?"
"Human growth hormone does that for some people. It improves the muscles in the eyes." He tried again: "So, what do you want?""
Outside Online 'Strange, but strangely alluring' ..simply fascinating.
Three enormous houses in Hampstead with billionaire price-tags are being launched in London's depleted and depressed property market with as much chutzpah as if there had been no recession at all. Jersey House in The Bishops Avenue at £40 million, The Mansion and The Villa, both in Courtenay Avenue, at £35 million and £25 million, are looking for mega-rich buyers.
At The Mansion there is a 20-seat cinema with seats covered in pony hide and a cocktail bar. It has eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a pool, gym, staff quarters and underground parking for sixcars, complete with turntable for people who can't reverse.
Outside, anglepoise umbrellas, tables and loungers are grouped in room settings around the glass-walled terraces. Inside, a super-duper espresso machine is dobbing into tiny cups on a vast marble slab with a vein like a river running through it. "The ebony in the kitchen has been hand-polished 11 times," says Anil. Did I mention the steam room, the swimming pool, the vast outdoor TV screen (handy for sunbathing while watching Wimbledon – always a problem, I find)? Oh, and the gold-leaf mosaic bathroom, his-and-hers dressing rooms and bathrooms, and the champagne bar in the bedroom.
So what is the secret ingredient of Bishops Avenue and Courtenay Avenue? The answer lies in its history. In the 1970s, the Greek King Constantine II, godfather to Prince William, bought into The Bishops Avenue just as he was being ousted by the Greek colonels. "Then the Iranians came in the late 1970s when the Shah of Iran went into exile," says Trevor. During the first Iraq war, the Saudi royal family was so fearful of invasion that it bought 11 houses in The Bishops Avenue, which it still owns, in case it too needed to go into exile. "In the 1980s, the Arabs came when the price of oil went berserk and they had money to spend," says Trevor. "More recently, we have had the explosion of Russian billionaires."
Hmmm.. maybe after next year..
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Bailouts and cheap credit are not the answer.
Reward people for saving.
Reward companies for creating jobs.
Invest in the future, rather than this hindsight, knee-jerk management of today's issues.
Jaime Caruana for Fed Chairman.
Memo to POTUS-elect.
Conspicuous cliches fell..
"A higher percentage of white men voted for Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton included.
A black presidential candidate won Latinos — the fastest-growing demographic in the electorate — 67 percent to 31 (up from Kerry’s 53-to-44 edge and Gore’s 62-to-35).
The same commentators who dismissed every conceivable American demographic as racist, lazy or both got Sarah Palin wrong too. When she made her debut, the punditocracy was declaring her selection a brilliant coup. The rave reviews for Palin were completely disingenuous. Anyone paying attention (with the possible exception of John McCain) could see she was woefully ill-equipped.
The North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the “real America” went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points. The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.”"
Well written article nytimes
If you read this blog you will not be surprised that I am very happy with this result. The moment Palin was picked was the end for the GOP. Arrogant and stupid. I am glad.
Monday, November 10, 2008
"While he started with his 2005 Tour time trialling position as a baseline for his wind tunnel testing, Armstrong acknowledged that the status quo will not cut it and that in order to be competitive, he'll have to redefine and modify his position – something he was keen to do at last week's Tour de Gruene. "Well, the rules have changed a little with regards to hand positions, but you have also seen positions change in general. Guys are going longer, narrower and trying to hide behind the hands."
"They drop the chin to toward the [front] hub. Look through the upper part of the eye and really get that whole thing (head, helmet) out of the way. All the while you have the limit on the fore and aft on the seat which you can kind of get around with a shorter seat, but there are limits on the length of the seat."
Armstrong is well aware that there is a tradeoff between a comfortable position and optimal aerodynamics. "I have this hump in my back and I can't rotate my pelvis to straighten it out," he said. "I will go longer, narrower and more behind the hands if I can.
"Last Saturday I tried a whole new position, seat back, nose of the seat up, elbows very narrow and bars low and I couldn't pedal the bike. So Sunday we went with nose of the seat down, moved the seat forward, widened the elbows and raised the bars. It was still fast but not as fast. However it felt infinitely better. So if you are five percent slower in the tunnel, but you gain 25 percent of your power back, that's what I mean about the perfect intersection of power and position." BikeRadar
Fascinatingly geeky.. imagine being fast enough to test in a wind tunnel and that it would then make a difference.
Just read this, "Riding is a great form of therapy for me. If you ride on your own, it’s a great to chance to reflect on what’s going on in the rest of your life. I’ve solved some significant problems in my business when I’ve been out riding alone. When you ride with other people the experience is completely different. Of course it’s social but you talk to people much more than you would normally. There’s something about the shared experience that enables you to open up to them. I always get back home with such a sense of achievement. I’m refreshed, I feel like I have a new head on, a new mind." at Rapha via Positivo.
Couldn't agree more.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Looking up the river where on a clear day you'd see Fuji.. a bit cold and grey today though.
Bryon, Chris and I headed out at 6:30am from Ebisu station this morning for a ride up the river. We headed out down Komazawa Dori, up the Tama river, then across the bridge above to get onto the Arakawa river en route for Hachioji. At 8:00am (40km) Bryon and Chris u-turned, both having appointments to keep back in town at 10:00am. I kept on. I got back onto the road at Hachioji and headed for Mount Takao. After a brief stop at the Takao Seven-Eleven, I carried on, over Takao and then back along Route 413 which after a nice blast down Route 20 got me back to the bridge above, a 50k m or so loop. The last time I had come back this way was after the Fuji Hill climb and I was following a vague memory only, however not a wheel wrong and I looked up a few kms away to see the bridge towers with great delight. Back across and all the way along the Tama again to Route 2 which was my road back to Takanawa. Home at 11:20am. 5 hours in the saddle, 120km, one small climb, not too shabby at all.
Garmin details here..
Google route below...
View Larger Map
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Currently, Mattel, the maker of Matchbox toy cars is bigger than General Motors, the maker of Chevrolet cars (and Buick, Pontiac,GMC, Saturn,Hummer, Saab and Cadillac).
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
So.. left the office yesterday around 1pm to go the the British Embassy to register Milly's birth and apply for her passport, which is needed forthwith in order to get her Japanese visa. I don't think she'll be locked up as an illegal but it will be a lot less hassle should we want to travel to HK or Phuket this Christmas/New Year. British Embassy were as efficient and helpful as always. I handed in the paperwork and the relevant forms.
Consular Officers need to see the following original documents (not photocopies) for (British) Birth Registration and Child Passport Applications:
1. Child's hospital birth certificate
2. Child's Ward Office birth certificate (please see number 5 regarding Birth Registration with the Japanese Authorities). In Japanese, this is "shussei todoke juri shomeisho";
3. Parents' marriage certificate and, if appropriate, evidence of the termination of any previous marriage of either parent;
4. Long-form UK birth certificate(s)* showing parents' details or British Adoption Certificate(s) for the British parent(s) or, if born outside the UK, documentary evidence of claim to British nationality, e.g. naturalisation or registration certificate;
5. If one parent is Japanese, a photocopy of the family register ("koseki tohon"). [If the child's birth is already shown on the family register, you do not need to provide the ward office birth certificate under item 2 as well. However, in this case you must send us an original certified copy of the family register bearing the ward office's stamp - a photocopy is not acceptable];
6. Both parents' passports (except for Japanese nationals).
*The long form version of the birth certificate to obtain information on the place of birth and occupation of the child's grandparents.
All is going very smoothly.. I pay.. Yen43,330 (crikey).. and head for the next point on my to-do list. On the way I get a very polite call from the Embassy saying that on second review they have noticed we are missing the "shussei todoke juri shomeisho". Correct.. I have no idea.. anyway, they helpfully tell me to go to the Shinagawa Ward office to get said form, saying they will speak to whomever as required if I need the help.. cool.
Off to Aiiku Hospital to pay Milly's hospital bill. A cool Yen1,090,080 with Yen200,000 deposit taken into consideration. That'll be a few airmiles then.
Quick call into Flat Takanawa to collect Milly's alien registration card, and on to the Ward office, where yet again the service is exemplary. I think the ward office employs a large number of retirees who are usually very genki indeed. Get my shomeishos and call Ota-san at the Embassy just to double confirm it is the correct form. Been there and done that before! It is, and she will let the guard know that I am on my way back to the Embassy to drop off the form outside of office hours.
Back on the bike and arrive at the Embassy 30 minutes later. Drop off the forms and head back home via the Kaiser bakery to collect a sandwich or two for Joli who was feeling a bit peckish. Me too! Joli has an appointment at the Tokyo Medical Centre at 5pm. We find out that this is re-scheduled to Saturday and so I finish on the sofa with a cup of tea. Smashing.
All done on a single speed (48x16x700c for you bike geeks). These bicycle couriers have nothing on me.. fit buggers though.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Brazilian Grand Prix
How exciting was that then??