Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Ride - 2008

Up and out this morning a little later than usual - no-one to meet at Ebisu so straight to Kaminoge to meet David at 7:40am - a bowl of porridge and 2 slices of toast for first breakfast.
Sporting my new Rapha gear - Christmas presents from za wife, za daughter and even za pups. Some toasty Winter tights, a pair of Merino socks (you have to get socks for Christmas, it's a rule) and the usual Softshell over a rather nice Merino base-layer from Finisterre.

Why all the product placement you might ask? Well, I was rather impressed with how warm I stayed given the fact that it was a mere 1C at Takao this morning. It warmed up as the day progressed and I never got too uncomfortable - a good sign of great gear. Oh, and it's my birthday next week and just in case you might be looking for gift ideas, wink wink, nod, nod.

Out on the usual Tama river route and second breakfast at the 7-11. We popped over Takao with no great effort or drama. Watching for ice in the shaded spots all the way up - it was that cold!
Inevitably Fuji(Click picture to enlarge)
Rendezvous-ing at the peak and yet again a great view if Fuji on another beautiful winter's day in Japan.
David had suggested another twist this week.. adding a second significant climb, followed by a really steep bugger.
NYs Eve cycle team(Click picture to enlarge)
Here's the guys - Tom, David & Hiroshi-san - before setting off up the steep ascent.
Steep bugger(Click picture to enlarge)
That'll be Hiroshi-san powering his way up. You can tell it's steep as in Japan they use concrete with circles as you can see. I am not 100% sure what the purpose of the circles are. I assumed they use concrete so it doesn't melt in the summer and 'slide' down. I guess the concrete circles would be to disperse water during storms? Hmm, something to investigate.
Contemplating the last curve(Click picture to enlarge)
Tom contemplating life from the top of the climb. Our descent whilst on the south side of the hill was tentatively taken. The road was covered in salt. Amazing that they had been out to a road this remote to salt it to be fair. A first for me to be cycling with salt pinging up off the wheels.
We made our descent and then handed over path finding duties to Hiroshi-san who not only was going to show me the second half of my road to nowhere but also a different route back to Tokyo. Sugoi! We first had a pit stop for first lunch.
Fixing a flat(Click picture to enlarge)
Unfortunately David got a flat mere seconds into us setting off, but was as quick as ever in making repairs.
Small suspension(Click picture to enlarge)
Over a small, yet very high suspension bridge. We climbed a fair few metres and then made our way back onto our normal return loop. Then Hiroshi-san, as promised, showed a new route home taking in tank road where Mitsubishi Heavy Industries used to test their tanks.
View from Tank Road(Click picture to enlarge)
Quite a nice view from the top of the hill, although not much heavy industry now, much more commuter belt suburban living.
So Hiroshi-san's route was a fast rolling road which again was a first for me on a Tokyo ride - it's usually flat or up. The downside was more traffic lights, the upside was that it brought us back to Kawasaki and therefore not much of the Tama river to follow home (the river route can get monotonous to say the least).
A good tailwind saw us back to David's place in no time. He was feeling the pace/distance by now, but I suspect a couple of good night's sleep are all that is required. I felt reasonably OK, heavy legs for sure and not too much sustained power available. I got home around 2:15pm after 140kms and 7 hrs riding. Not too scruffy at all and a fantastic way to end the year. My sincere thanks to David, Tom and Hiroshi-san for their company, their pace and their directions today. Happy New Year.

View Larger Map
As usual the Garmin went and did about twice as much climbing as I did.. 1100m for me today.
(Click diagram for Garmin data)

Hiroshi-san's post is here and Tom's is here and David's comments below.

James -- Thanks for the ride report. I see Tom also has one on his blog (am I the only one in our group who does NOT have his own individual blog?)

Here is a link to numerous photos and a Japanese language report by Hiroshi:

http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/yo8661/22360666.html

Also, I would highlight for other Positivo Espresso members (Michael, Jerome, Ludwig take note) the routes Hiroshi showed us (and which can be seen in detail using the GPS data posted by James).

1. a much better way around Tsukui-ko, heading over to the deserted North side and taking a (barely) paved forest road for several kilometers until joining the short climb that I "discovered" and have used regularly on recent trips. This (the "Hiroshi twist") will probably supplant other routes for future trips, except where speed is the first and only consideration.

2. 南多摩尾根幹線 (Minama Tama O-ne Kan-sen) and 小山内裏公園 (Koyama Uchiura (?) park) route back from the Rte 16 area to the Tamagawa through Tama New Town.

This route is not as fast as Yaen Kaido, but has its advantages. The park involves plenty of twists and turns on the wide path that Hiroshi reported was used to test tanks back in the WWII era, and O-ne Kansen has a good shoulder, few crossings, and involves lots of rollers -- up and down and up and down short slopes, never more than a 3-5% grade, never more than 15-25 meters elevation change, but pretty constant.

There are traffic signals that involve real cross traffic and require at least an initial stop/look -- as opposed to Yaen Kaido. But it is a rare place in Tokyo to ride "rollers" and add some more training to a ride home.

This included some familiar territory for Tom, who frequents the Machida Costco and environs with his wife, but for others, some O-ne Kansen links:

http://nakajitm.fc2web.com/kotta2003/05_07B/onekan1.htm

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B0%BE%E6%A0%B9%E5%B9%B9%E7%B7%9A

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dont' ever touch Lando's radio..



Well.. it's been a while since I posted something Star Wars related.
More here.. MovieMashUpCinema

Monday, December 29, 2008

No sheep were harmed in the making of..

Milly in the morning..

Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine

Through the jungle
Through the jungle

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caught in the light


IMG_2889.JPG, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Pepper hunting Dylan

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Can we go home now?


Can we go home now?, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Kayak queue


Kayak queue, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Predictions

"..just think about how impossible it is for your to predict what your life is going to be like in four or six years... being ready for anything is the only rational strategy. So, why exactly are you planning on the future being just like it is now, but with better uniforms?" seth

Time to reboot

"My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society — in a world where the ability to imagine and generate new ideas with speed and to implement them through global collaboration is the most important competitive advantage. China may have great airports, but last week it went back to censoring The New York Times and other Western news sites. Censorship restricts your people’s imaginations. That’s really, really dumb. And that’s why for all our missteps, the 21st century is still up for grabs."

nytimes

How did I survive?

"Alas, there is just no knowing. For the Government handed out 150,000 leaflets advising people on how not to kill themselves at Christmas, and my household didn't end up with one. I'm feeling terribly exposed. And there must be plenty of other families in the same boat.

Maybe you read this now as the only survivor of your own little festive apocalypse. Under the dining room table, naked except for a party hat, beating off the advances of your snarling, brandy-butter-crazed family dog with the charred remains of grandma's thighbone. “Nooooo!” you will be wailing. “If only I had been appraised of the stark and leafleted warnings of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, the Minister for Children, in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents!

In other words, you used to have a duty not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Now, because nanny has taken on that duty, you have a right not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Needless to say, this makes no sense at all."

timesonline

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Nice present

"Imagine two days before Christmas you get a pardon from the President of the United States. Then he takes it back the next day." jammie

Just need some tinsel


Just need some tinsel, originally uploaded by Knotty.

$21,080.10 The true cost of Christmas

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle-doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

For 24 years, PNC has calculated the cost of the items in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” if purchased at current prices. This year the bill comes to $21,080.10. Last year $19,507.19. Swan prices appear to be the most volatile causing the biggest move in the index.

Interactive chart

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ElfYourself


Seasons greetings from the Knotts :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Litt Twist

Met Chris at Ebisu, David at his house and headed - as usual - out along the Tama river. We met Tom at Sekidobashi just after 8am. and within 5 minutes Michael - the famous Japanese JCRC Road Series Champion of 2008 - had arrived too.

21122008109.jpg

Out to Takao on the usual route following the river rather than up the main road. Pit-stop at the Takao 7-11, then up the climb.As you can see from the elevation chart, I - as usual - forgot to restart my Garmin timer and hence the step change in elevation and distance on the graph. No idea what sort of time I made today unfortunately, wasn't busting a gut but certainly had the hammer down. This didn't stop me getting summarily dropped by Tom, Michael and Hiroshi-san. Climbing work therefore needed. Oh joy.

David, Chris and I said farewell to the other three on the backside of Takao who were continuing on for a much more significant ride. You can no doubt read all about that on the Positivo website as soon as Tom or Michael have returned home this evening. David had promised to show me a couple of 'detours', or as I like to describe them 'Litt Twists', to add a little something to the normal return route.

21122008111.jpg

We added a nice climb and return back to the lake, then up the other side of the same lake - note to self, find out name of lake - from which the views were spectacular.

21122008110.jpg

Back onto the usual road and we were making good time home. As soon as we got back to the Tama, after a brief 7-11 stop, Chris put the hammer down quite forcefully and we were flying back in paceline at easily 36km/h plus. Great stuff. I bid my compatriots farewell at the bottom of Komazawa Dori and headed home.

The Garmin telling me 135km with 1400m of climbing. The distance I agree with but the climbing seems on the high side. It would explain the stiffness in my legs this afternoon though. I would think 650m-700m of climbing only. Anyhow, how many more rides before year-end I wonder?


View Larger Map

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reality bites

"The Archbishop of Canterbury questioned the morality of Gordon Brown's fiscal stimulus package, likening it to "the addict returning to the drug".

In an outspoken interview with the BBC, Dr Rowan Williams said that the credit crunch was a welcome “reality check” for a society that had become driven by unsustainable greed.

The archbishop said that the country had been “going in the wrong direction” for decades by relying on financial speculation to generate wealth quickly rather than “making things”. The downturn, he added, might force people to rediscover the need for patience if they want to build sustainable wealth.

He added: “It is about what is sustainable in the long term, and if this is going to drive us back into the same spin, I do not think that is going to help us.”

The archbishop's remarks might prove uncomfortable for Mr Brown, whose economic rescue plan was dismissed last week by no less than the German finance minister as "crass Keynesianism"." timesonline

Patience. And making things. How old-fashioned.

Commentary

"I don't think the world got any dumber. We just figured out how to leverage our stupidity to maximum effect."

free exchange

Competitive devaluation

"Think about it. To speculate against a currency - like the dollar - you need to be able to borrow that currency freely and cheaply.

Now look at what the Fed is providing to the markets: unlimited amounts of dollars at close to zero cost.

The observation comes from Reuters columnist John Kemp, who reckons that by cutting rates to nil, promising to hold them there for the foreseeable future, and promising to maintain plentiful interbank funding and liquidity, the Fed has in effect created a one-way bet against the dollar.

There’s another wrinkle stemming from the Fed’s ‘alternative’ approach to monetary policy — the huge rally in US treasuries has provided the perfect opportunity for long-term holders - like China’s State Administration for Foreign Exchange - to take a few profits. In fact, the Chinese may be one of the few participants in financial markets generally to have turned a profit over recent weeks." alphaville

This is not enough


This is not enough, originally uploaded by Knotty.

To soak up a litre of sake AND two bottles of wine

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New coat

A blonde canvassed a wealthy neighborhood looking for odd jobs. She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had anything for her to do.
"Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?"
"How about $50?"
The man agreed and told her the paint was in the garage. A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money.
"You're finished already?" he asked.
"Yes," the blonde answered, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats." Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50.
"And by the way," the blonde added, "that's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."

Burn baby, burn

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," [President George] Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse." AFP

or

"...I had to burn down the village to save it."

FAIL.

Just need a bottle of sake


Just need a bottle of sake, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Which would make the day go faster..

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fugazi

Impending doom, standing on a roof


Matches my outlook for the market perfectly..

Bestest car match-up ever

Hummer H3T vs. Nissan GT-R

"Is it possible, I wondered, in all the millions of miles of asphalt in this country, is there anyplace left where the quickest point-to-point route would be the path unpaved? I find my potential answer on a map of Colorado. There is no paved road that runs directly from Telluride to Lake City. According to MapQuest, it's a 166-mile drive between Telluride and Lake City, as the pavement takes the long way around. There's another way: up and over, via seasonal four-by-four trails. As the crow flies, more or less. So if a car averaged about 50 mph and an off-roader averaged about 15 mph, we might have a photo finish on our hands.

Next question: Which vehicles? For the four-by-four, we settle on the new Hummer H3T Alpha. The H3T Alpha has available 33-inch off-road tires, underbody skid plates as thick as manhole covers, and locking differentials front and rear. Also, the Alpha packs a 300-hp V-8.

For the H3T's nemesis, we choose the Nissan GT-R, quite arguably also the titleholder for the crown of "fastest car on any given road in any given condition."

We meet a day early in Telluride to take stock of both the trails and the area's roads. On the trail up out of Telluride, heading toward Imogene Pass, it's immediately clear that the Hummer will be able to make good time, as the path isn't too rough in most places. What it is, occasionally, is narrow. On the way back down, we encounter a Jeep coming up the mountain, and I squeeze over as close as I can get to the cliff wall. The Wrangler, meanwhile, is essentially treading on the edge of the clouds. This doesn't perturb the driver, who stops to chat and ask how my day is going, but it's evidently more nerve-racking for his passenger, who is peering out the window at nothing but sky. "Did you see the woman in the passenger seat?" Jason asks after I drive away. I reply in the negative. "Well," he says, "she was crying."

In my favor, the paved roads in this area have their own challenges, and after a recon drive in the Hummer, I have abrasions on both elbows, from bracing myself against the center console and the door panel on the constant switchbacks of the San Juan Mountains. If averaging 50 mph sounds easy, try doing it when you've got 25-mph hairpins, an endless parade of logging trucks, and no passing zones for miles.

Jason and I fill our respective gas tanks and meet at the trailhead at the top of town. I edge the Hummer's tires onto the dirt, Jason backs up the GT-R to the edge of the pavement, and after a quick countdown we're away, the H3T's V-8 bellow commingling with the rapidly fading scream of the Nissan's high-strung V-6.

For the first couple miles, I'm confident bordering on overconfident. Jason has a lot of ground to cover, and I'm going as fast as 40 mph, bombing along what's essentially a rough dirt road. I'm gonna Baja 1000 this sucker and beat him by a mile.

Soon, though, the trail narrows, and it becomes clear that there's a contingency I hadn't expected. It hadn't occurred to me that I'd encounter traffic on the trail. Besides the ubiquitous Jeeps and ATVs, my path becomes clogged with bikers, hikers, walkers, sightseers, joggers, meanderers, and general human speed bumps. And you can't just blow past them in a cloud of dust, because this is Colorado and people have guns.

At mile 4.7, we encounter a sign: "Recommended-high clearance, four-wheel drive, short wheelbase." Ummm . . . define "short wheelbase." There's been nothing so far that would threaten the Hummer with getting stuck, but we have affirmed that off-roading, like brain surgery and tantric canoodling, is an activity best approached at a leisurely pace. The way I'm driving, we won't get stuck, but we might well suffer concussions from bouncing our heads off the roof.

We roar down into Ouray and, after a strangely soothing mile or two on the pavement, cut back onto a trail called the Alpine Loop for the second leg of the trip. We're a couple hours in, and I wonder how Jason is faring. I imagine him stuck behind a wedding procession in some Podunk town, banging his fists on the steering wheel.

As we wend our way up to Engineer Pass, my phone rings. It's Jason. Probably calling to forfeit because he's so far behind. "Wanna give up?" "No," he answers serenely. "I'm there." No. This cannot be true. I ask how fast he went. "Well, I probably averaged seventy," he replies. "Once you're away from Telluride, the road opens up a lot," Jason explains. "I probably passed 150 cars. There were places to pass everywhere."

We meet at a gas station in Lake City a mere, oh, two hours later. Jason is talking to an old-timer wearing a cowboy hat, explaining our ill-matched showdown. I say that I've just come from Telluride via Ouray while barely touching pavement the whole way, and he replies, "I reckon that if you two had started in Ouray instead of Telluride, you'd have got here right about the same time." Well, thanks for the advice.

I pull to the opposite side of the pumps and begin filling the H3T alongside the GT-R. My pump stops at 6.5 gallons, but Jason's keeps running until it clicks off at 9.7 gallons. So there is an upshot to my performance, after all. "You may have gotten here first," I tell Jason, "but if you cared about the environment, you'd have driven a Hummer." automobilemag

Click for more photos.. I wonder if the credit crunch means cheap(er) GT-Rs?

ZIRP

"Seriously, we are in very deep trouble. Getting out of this will require a lot of creativity, and maybe some luck too." krugman

"With the Fed having cut interest rates today to a target range of 0 to 1/4 percent, many people will be asking whether the central bank has run out of ammunition. A good question. Obviously, the next step is not going to be further cuts in the federal funds rate. But there is still more the Fed can do. It cannot reduce nominal interest rates, it can reduce real interest rates by committing to modest amount of inflation." mankiw

"The world has changed—radically, and it may change radically yet again. Exactly what does, or doesn't suffice for monetary policy in the weeks and months ahead remains an open debate. No doubt there'll be definitive answers after all this is over. The playbook for monetary policy may be rewritten as a result. But for the immediate future, it's anyone's guess what happens (or should happen) next. No doubt we'll here lots of policy recommendations from far and near. Making sense of it all, if at all, may be the toughest challenge." capitalspectator

CrapWrap

"Bored of perfectly folded paper and exquisitely tied ribbon? Fancy adding a more ‘personal’ touch this year? Then why not have your Christmas presents CrapWrapped™ at Firebox. This exclusive, uniquely shoddy gift wrapping option involves us wrapping your pressies in a slapdash fashion.

Too much offensive brown tape, untidily hacked at wrapping paper, rips in the packaging exposing the surprise underneath. Indeed, it takes a high degree of skill to deliberately wrap a present this poorly, so to confirm authenticity some tipsy bloke wearing boxing gloves and a sack on his head will slap a genuine CrapWrapped™ label on the completed mess.

A refreshing alternative to the perfectly wrapped gifts you see in sugary Christmas movies, CrapWrap™ represents a novel twist on this whole wrapping malarkey. Aww, you shouldn’t have!"

Firebox.com is paying 20 of its male forklift truck drivers and warehouse assistants to wrap presents as quickly as possible, using ugly brown duct tape and very little care. The $9 service, cheekily called CrapWrap, has attracted more than 500 customers since it launched last week. Parcels can even be dispatched in brown paper with a shoddily-tied pink ribbon. Kevin Smith, 29, is proud to be the worst wrapper at the company's London warehouse. He said: "I am rubbish. We're not given any instructions. I'm just asked to make a hash of it using lots of brown tape and making sure there are rips and untidy folds. "It's nice to get away from the normal work: cleaning, packing and moving stuff around. Wrapping is a good distraction." mr

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's called Math.

Dilbert.com

In case you've forgotten.. the story of 2008


Click to enlarge

Bankrupt

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jim Rogers, one of the world's most prominent international investors, on Thursday called most of the largest U.S. banks "totally bankrupt," and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded.

"What is outrageous economically and is outrageous morally is that normally in times like this, people who are competent and who saw it coming and who kept their powder dry go and take over the assets from the incompetent," he said. "What's happening this time is that the government is taking the assets from the competent people and giving them to the incompetent people and saying, now you can compete with the competent people. It is horrible economics."

Foreign exchange rates..

"The pound slipped to as low as 89.40p against the euro and is now down 21pc from the start of the year, when you needed 73p to buy a euro. " telegraph


Any plans to move back to UK back on hold then :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rainy Sunday Morning in Tokyo

so took some Milly shots.. arty-farty black and white.. click the photo for more

On the t-shirt shopping list


"Made for children by children".. perfect :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A milly eye view


A milly eye view, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Nursing a mild hangover to say the least after the Bounenkai, I took Milly and the dogs down to the river for a walk. Milly seemed to enjoy her time in the Baby Bjorn, all tucked up inside her winter clothes. Like her mum, she gets cold hands, but we managed to keep them reasonably toasty. A weekend highlight amongst all the party-ing.

Ian, me, blag


Ian, me, blag, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Ian, who is sadly leaving the team after 8 years, Myself and Blagoj enjoying - from the looks of things - a glass of beer, a box of sake and I think another beer. Sad to see Ian go after so long as a colleague and friend.

After-party


After-party, originally uploaded by Knotty.

This is at Orange in Midtown. We did the BGC Bounenaki at Botanica, then moved onto this bar afterwards.. 300 people was an impressive turnout.. was really good fun, and glad to see so many people having a good time given the market conditions at the moment. A good excuse to blow the doors off I think.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chav Nativity

This is the full text of the play, understood to have been downloaded from the internet, that pupils were given to read and learn in a drama lesson at school:

"Pupil One: Do you hear what we 'erd, right, there's this bird called Mary, yeah? She's a virgin.

Pupil two: Wossat then? A train?

Pupil three: She's not married or nuffink. But she's got this boyfriend Joe, innit? He does joinery an' that. Mary lives with him in a crib down Nazaref. Well anyways, one day right Mary meets this bloke Gabriel right.

Pupil two: Gabriel? What sorta name's that den?

Pupil one: Dunno, sounds Chavvy to me.

Pupil two: Innit! Bruv.

Pupil three: She's like 'Ooo ya looking at?' Gabriel just goes 'You got one up the duff, you have.' Mary's totally gobsmacked.

Pupil two: Innit?

Pupil one: She gives it to him large 'Stop dissin' me yeah? I ain't no Kappa-slapper. I never bin wiv no one!'

Pupil two: Yeah right! Bet she was a right goer.

Pupil three: Well, see the thing is she hadn't bin wiv no-one. Honest! So Mary goes and sees her cousin Liz, who's six months gone herself. Liz is largin' it. She's filled with spirits, Bacardi breezers an' that. She's like 'Orright, Mary. I can feel me bay-bee in me tummy and I reckon I'm well blessed.

Pupil two: Think of all the extra benefits an' that that they are gonna get. Mary goes 'Yeah, s'pose you're right.

Pupil one: Mary an' Joe ain't got no money so they have to ponce a donkey an' go dahn Beflehem on that. They get to this pub an' Mary wants to stop, yeah?

Pupil two: No surprised, I'd wanna pint an all.

Pupil one: Nah, to have her bay-bee an' that.

Pupil two: What, have the kid in the pub? That's outers, people in the pub having a quiet pint then in comes this bird screaming and hollering 'n stuff. Put me off me drink that would!

Pupil three: Shut up will ya! See the fing is there ain't no room at the inn, innit? So Mary an' Joe break an' enter into this garridge, only it's filled wiv animals. Cahs an' sheep an' that.

Pupil two: On that's gross, near turned my guts that as!

Pupil three: Well then, these free geezers turn up, looking proper bling wiv crowns on their 'eads. They're like 'Respect, baby-bee Jesus,' an' say they're wise men from the East End.

Pupil two: What Minty and the Mitchell brothers?

Pupil one: On shut up! Joe goes: 'If you're so wise, wotchoo doin' wiv this Frankenstein an' myrrh? Why dincha just bring gold, Adidas, and Burberry?'

Pupil two: On yeah, that's proper stuff to give to a kid.

Pupil three: Well. Then blow me, some Welsh bloke's turn up wiv a sheep, well it's all about to kick off when Gabriel turns up again an' sex he's got another message from this Lord geezer.

Pupil two: Shoulda used his mobile, he sounds a proper nutter.

Pupil three: Shut it! Anyways he's like 'The police is comin an' they're killin' all the baby-bees. You better nash off to Egypt.

Pupil one: Joe goes 'You must be monged if you think I'm goin' down Egypt on a minging donkey.'

Pupil two: Wouldn't get me on no minging donkey. Went on one at Margate in the summer, it proper stunk.

Pupil one: Will you give it a rest? Gabriel sez 'Suit yerself, pal. But it's your look out if you stay.' So they go down Egypt till they've stopped killin' the first-born an' it's safe an' that. Then Joe and Mary and Jesus go back to Nazaref, an' Jesus turns water into Stella.

Pupil two: Wicked! Wherdya hear about all this den?

Pupil one: Dunno, can't remember.

Pupil two: Well what yous getting for Christmas this year?

Pupil three: Dunno, perhaps a bita bling. I don't see wat all the fuss is about Christmas, it's just an excuse to get stuffed and fall asleep in front of the telly innit?

Pupil two: Yeah bruv. Innit?"

telegraph

Parents were not too happy..

Making sense of Canada

How do you get a one-armed man out of a tree?

Wave to him.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Outside in december


Outside in december, originally uploaded by Knotty.

Thirsty thursday, sitting outside, in december!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holy Escalade


Click the photo to enlarge, but this is the NYT reporting on the congregants of the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit praying to save the auto industry. Looks like the bailouts are going forward, but it will remain to be seen if that will save the US auto industry. It will not IMHO. Praise the Lord!

Reasons to like Japan No.339 or Bah humbug!

"I really, really want to like Christmas. It would make my wife deliriously happy if I did, so I try hard every year. But I lose the battle every year.

I feel bad about it, because I know it upsets my wife, and it's not her fault that her holiday has gotten so overblown by society at large. She probably dislikes the commercialization of Christmas even more than I do, because it's a holiday that has some fond memories for her. Unfortunately, though, until retailers wake up and realize that nobody, anywhere, wants to hear "Little Drummer Boy" or "Here Comes Santa Claus" six times a day for a month, and that people are just as likely to buy their merchandise even if they don't have seventy Christmas trees all around their stores, the forces against my willpower will remain too strong." via geekdad


Even though the stores here go overboard on the songs and the decorations, Christmas isn't celebrated by the Japanese. Whilst you cannot escape from it, we are certainly not drowning in Christmasness and it's commercialization. I'll be working Christmas Day, the stock market is open as normal ("working" really.. with all the other global markets shut, the Nikkei doesn't normally move much, or so we hope!) and I relish it. This will all change OBVIOUSLY as soon as Milly becomes more aware. I hope I can survive it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Next stop Canada



GM's open letter to the American public..

New advertising..?



Click photos for linkies..

Tough times ahead

Kunstler is (still) concerned..
"The broad American public voted for "change" but they thought that meant a "changing of the guard." Out with the feckless Bush; in with the charismatic Obama... and may this American life now continue just as it ever was. The change actually coming will be much more than they bargained for, namely our transition from a wealthy society to a hardship society. The sharp break is a product of our years-long failure to reckon with the energy realities of our time.

Obama has announced his intention to kick off a massive "stimulation" program when he hits the White House "running" in January. Early indications are that it will be directed at things like highway repair. If so, we will be investing long-term in infrastructure that we probably won't be using the same way in ten years. But I doubt there is any way around it. The American public can't conceive of living any other way except in a car-centered society.

Stimulus aimed at perpetuating mass motoring will be a tragic waste of our dwindling resources. We'd be better off aiming it at fixing the railroads (especially electrifying them), refitting our harbors with piers and warehouses in preparation to move more stuff by boats, and in repairing the electric grid. Unfortunately, our tendency will be to try to rescue the totemic touchstones of everyday life, things familiar and comfortable, regardless of whether they have a future or not.

Obama would be most successful if he could persuade the public how much more severe the required changes are than they currently realize, and inspire them to get with program of retrofitting American life to comply with these realities." cfn


There is some comfort in knowing that Volcker will have Obama's ear
..

"Volcker is back, tapped by Barack Obama as a special economic advisor.

His concerns go to the very core of how America lives and how Wall Street operates. A child of the Great Depression and a man of legendary personal thrift, Volcker thinks Americans have been living above their means for too long.

"The market was being run by mathematicians who didn't know financial markets," he said this year after the crisis struck.

He warns people not to expect an easy ride. "It's going to be a tough period," Volcker said in a speech at the Urban Land Institute in late October. "But when we dealt with inflation, it laid the groundwork for 20 years of growth. I'd like to see that happen this time."" lat

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mic Rage

"Karaoke rage is not unheard of in Asia. There have been several reported cases of singers being assaulted, shot or stabbed mid-performance, usually over how songs are sung.

Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” has reportedly generated so many outbursts of hostility that some bars in the Philippines now do not offer it on the karaoke menu anymore. In Thailand this year, a gunman shot eight people dead after tiring of their endless renditions of a John Denver tune." nyt

Be careful out there..

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Road to Nowhere

It's Sunday, 6am, the alarm is going and I am nursing a mild hangover. Having agreed to meet the guys at Ebisu at 7am, I obviously can't roll over and go back to sleep. Dressed and upstairs with a bowl of porridge, its looking like another clear day but only 5C. It's going to be cold with the wind chill on the bike. Plus heading out toward Takao and the mountains means colder still. Definitely a day for full length leggings and both double socks and double gloves.

In Ebisu, who do we have? Bryon, Michael, Alex and Chris. Hmm, no Ben or David, but late night email has shown they are not coming. 7:10am, let's go. It's the usual route, so nothing new, it's definitely cold and we are all thankful to be wearing hats under helmets. Off up the river until it's time for Chris to u-turn and head back, we get to the Tama crossing point and Bryon's is heading on for a few kms more.

By the Tama

Alex, who has head-faked himself for this ride since Thursday, decides to bail as well. Too much partying the last few nights, the season is upon us! So it's Michael and I heading off to Takao. The pace drops a little until we find something that is not busting a gut, but clicks the kms by. Arrive at the Takao 7-11 for a pit-stop (coffee and a sando for me) at 9:10am. No records broken, but we've made pretty good time for the first 50kms. We roll out of Takao and head for the hill. I'm looking at my hands and one is a blue glove the other is the black thinsulate 'over' glove. Bugger I've left my other Assos glove on the hedge at the 7-11. Back I go, Michael continues up. At the 7-11 there is no glove. So I take off the blue glove and see that I have, in fact, put the black one on underneath. Odd. A little tired?

and then there were two

Anyway, it's back on the road and the chase is on. 5.4km climb, 2min, 3min head start? I try to take it steady, but the competitive edge takes hold. Keep the cadence high and spin those cranks. It's cold. 1C here, and definitely feels it in the shade. Cars coming by with frozen windscreens and the like. It must be less than 1km to the top when I finally see Michael. Bit of a push and sneak by him. 16:12, not my quickest, but you need to push hard on the early stages for a quick time. The same stunning view of Mount Fuji as last week and we are off on the descent. I suggest we try and new route to the norm, and although there a lot of signs indicating it'll be a dead end - well, a lot of signs in Japanese that I cannot read that would seem to indicate road closed or something - we give it a go anyway. Guess what? It's a dead end. Big gate closing the road.


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Ho hum, back we go. Back on the main roads and into the groove. Speed is good, always 30+kms, we're making great time. Back over the Tama and to the next 7-11 for another pit-stop (Aquarius for the water bottle, ham/egg sando for my belly). Michael suggests we have a little sit in the sunshine on the banks of the river. It's a beautiful day.

clear skies

A group of recumbent bikers arrive. 6 or 7 of them. Silly people.

contraption

One even has fairing.

close-up contraption

They set off before us, but we overhaul them quite quickly and start to relish the final push for home. Avoid the dog asleep on the bike path and finally up Komazawa Dori to Ebisu. Pats on the back for both and home by 12:45. Pasta for lunch and a nice hot shower.

Damn good bike that Trek.

Garmin details
The Road to Nowhere

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