Monday, January 31, 2011

Quad burn

"It is 6.30am and there is a strange man molesting a large log in an east London park. A dog walker comes close before awkwardly changing direction. This strange man is me. And to be fair, it was entirely consensual.
What could bring a man to such depths?

Answer: the world's toughest ice race. I must somehow transform myself from average internet surfer to marathon ice skater, in three months, to race in the toughest ice race in the world: the Kuopio 200km ice marathon.

On 19 February, in as low as -30C, around 25 of the best endurance skaters in the world will line up. And me - a bloke who last skated at Gosport ice disco aged 14. Our mission is to skate non-stop for 200km in under 10 hours. A stupid idea? Definitely. A loophole allowed me to enter; a Finnish assumption that no one would attempt 200km if they didn't know what they were doing."

Read on... Training for the world's toughest ice race - Guardian

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Garmin Progress Summary Report - January

Count:6 Activities
Distance:649.78 km
Time:26:59:55 h:m:s
Avg Time:04:29:59 h:m:s
Elevation Gain:5,194 m
Avg Speed:24.1 km/h
Max Speed:60.2 km/h
Avg HR:134 bpm
Max HR:169 bpm
Max Distance:159.28 km
Avg Power:203 W
Median Distance:110.00 km

Sunday ride

Fantastic Lines in Japan

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mod On Tour

Seriously good photography

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bail-out

"The rain beats down on a small Irish town. The streets are deserted. Times are tough. Everyone is in debt and living on credit. A rich German arrives at the local hotel, asks to view its rooms, and puts on the desk a €100 note. The owner gives him a bunch of keys and he goes off for an inspection.
As soon as he has gone upstairs, the hotelier grabs the note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher hurries down the street to pay what he owes to his feed merchant. The merchant heads for the pub and uses the note to pay his bar bill. The publican slips the note to the local hooker who's been offering her services on credit. She rushes to the hotel to pay what she owes for room hire. As she puts the €100 note on the counter, the German appears, says the rooms are unsuitable, picks up his €100 note and leaves town.
No one did any work. No one earned anything. Everyone is out of debt. Everyone is feeling better. And that is how a bail-out works."

via BB

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sideways

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rules for my daughter

1. When on a dinner date, order the steak.

2. Let him take your coat. That’s the moment he’s been waiting for.

3. Yes, your skirt is too short.

4. Having an accent does not make him more sophisticated.

5. Learn to sew your own clothes. You’ll become a better shopper.

6. If you want to look older, try plastic surgery.

7. Keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge and ice cream in the freezer.

8. Ride a bicycle.

9. You don’t need to do anything to prove you like him. Ever.

12. Dance with your father. And not just on your wedding day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

"The princess phase, at least in its current hyper-feminine and highly commercial form, is anything but natural, or so Peggy Orenstein argues in “Cinderella Ate My Daughter.” As she tells the story, in 2000 a Disney executive named Andy Mooney went to check out a “Disney on Ice” show and found himself “surrounded by little girls in princess costumes. Princess costumes that were — horrors! — homemade. How had such a massive branding opportunity been overlooked? The very next day he called together his team and they began working on what would become known in-house as ‘Princess.’ ” Mooney’s revelation yielded a bonanza for the company. There are now more than 26,000 Disney Princess items on the market; in 2009, Princess products generated sales of $4 billion.

Disney didn’t have the tiara market to itself for long. Orenstein takes us on a tour of the princess industrial complex, its practices as coolly calculating as its products are soft and fluffy. She describes a toy fair, held at the Javits Center in New York, at which the merchandise for girls seems to come in only one color: pink jewelry boxes, pink vanity mirrors, pink telephones, pink hair dryers, pink fur stoles. “Is all this pink really necessary?” Orenstein finally asks a sales rep.

“Only if you want to make money,” he replies.

The thing about a phase is: kids grow out of it. (The marketers are counting on that.) But parents’ internal deliberations about what’s best for their children are here to stay."

Is Pink Necessary - NYT

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend

Had first 'Masters' swim at TAC on Saturday. 3km or so in the new pool was very nice indeed. Breakfast downstairs was buffet style, would have preferred a la carte as ate more than I wanted as I always do with all you can eat. Pies! Hit the office after to get to work on some tax related stuff. Took a while but was a very productive few hours. Home for tea, Milly playtime and then dinner followed by the movie 'The Town' with and by Ben Affleck via the Apple TV. Talented geezer that one, worth a watch.

Rode out of Ebisu at 8:00am this morning with Shane on his new ride, a bike recently banned by the UCI for 'psychological doping'. Bloody nice, even so. We met Pro Dave down at the Tama. Starbucks loop as usual, three and a half hours and 90km, back home by midday, just what I needed with CrossFit sessions having had an effect on the legs this week, the ride was good recovery. Shower, nap and home made salmon fried rice with a side of black bean and sweet potato chili for good measure.

Tea and biscuits sound good right about now.

Hope you had a good weekend too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Very early this morning surfer Maker Visser rode 30-40 foot giant waves in Maui in complete darkness lit only by LED lights built into his life vest and surfboard. It’s never been done before. The footage was shot from a helicopter. via DM

"It wasn’t until I saw the pictures I realized how big it was. This project has been two years in the planning and it was the scariest, but most exciting thing I have ever done,” says Visser. “Riding in complete darkness meant I had to go off feeling. I had to zone out from how you normally ride and just be part of the wave. I am so pumped to achieve something that no one thought possible and that I was told was couldn’t be done." Transworld Surf has the story.

Bucking the trend

CrossFit, dry January, better diet or all three?

CF was (5 x) 400m run, 20 Burpees, 15 Bent-over Dumbell Rows for time. Completed in 23-24mins, can't remember the exact time due to the distraction of lying on the floor panting heavily.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ideas for Milly. Part One.

via the excellent La Gazzetta Della Bici
So I'd need a few more pies, a leather suit and some dodgy facial hair. Milly, a can-do attitude. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tour Down Under Glossary

A great glossary over at the Cycling Tips blog, some particular favourites reproduced below, go here for the full list.
Cadence = the number of beers you are able to drink per hour.

Clenbuterol = marinated Spanish steak served with a sauce that tastes a bit like plastic.

Grimpeur = French word used to describe anyone skinnier than the fat person saying it.

Power Meter = a $3,000 piece of handlebar jewellery that tells you what you already know, that you’re slow.

SRAM Red = God’s way of telling you that you are spending too much on a hobby.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Starbucks Loop



Starbucks, originally uploaded by Knotty.
The original ride plan was cut short - easily persuaded - yet enjoyed a decent run out with Jamie, Dangerous-Looking Pete, Dave, Tyler, Alex and the Russian. 95km, sunny, but cold. The tailwind home was fun.

My tall mocha and sausage ciabata were yummy. The pause indoors allowed cold toes to revitalize.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Glock

"The army colonel in charge of procurement wanted a pistol that was light, durable, and capable of holding more than the eight rounds the Walther accommodated. Glock solved the puzzle with plastic. He fabricated a frame from an injection-molded polymer, a featherweight material that proved remarkably strong and corrosion-resistant. In the evenings he tested crude early versions in a basement firing range. He shot alone, using only his left hand, so that if the gun blew up he would still have his right to do mechanical drawings. In 1981, Glock filed for an Austrian patent—his 17th, so he called the gun the Glock 17. Coincidentally, it could store 17 rounds in its clip, with an 18th in the chamber. In competitive trials for accuracy and durability in 1982, the Glock defeated models made by Steyr and four other well-known European arms manufacturers. The Austrian military ordered 20,000, and Gaston Glock had cracked the gun business." Glock: America's - Bloomberg Businessweek via Spectator

A fascinating piece on Glock and it's rise to dominate the US handgun market. Worth a read.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New beer keg tech

"ANA today announced that it is the world’s first carrier to offer draft beer keg service on board. From 20JUL10, draft beer keg service is available on domestic routes.

From 20JUL10, service operates on following routes will offer draft beer keg service:

Tokyo Haneda – Fukuoka (after 1700LT)
Tokyo Haneda – Sapporo Chitose (after 1700LT)
Tokyo Haneda – Okinawa
Osaka Itami – Okinawa
Osaka Kansai – Okinawa
Nagoya – Okinawa
Fukuoka – Okinawa

Each costs 1000 Yen, only 20 cups available per flight, except Tokyo – Okinawa with flight operated by 777/747 service offering 40 cups." via JP

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bubbly

"SHANGHAI - Hundreds of hopeful tulip buyers brawled in Zhejiang's provincial capital of Hangzhou on Saturday over suspicions a tulip farmer had unfairly distributed numbers determining the order of tulips' selection and purchase.

A Dandy Holding Group official surnamed Gao declined to comment on the brawl but said the tulip farmer had made a mistake by issuing more numbers than there were tulips and promised to offer them shares in the exciting South Sea Company instead."

Or..

"SHANGHAI - Hundreds of hopeful homebuyers brawled in Zhejiang's provincial capital of Hangzhou on Saturday over suspicions a property developer had unfairly distributed numbers determining the order of apartments' selection and purchase.

A Dandy Holding Group official surnamed Gao declined to comment on the brawl but said the developer had made a mistake by issuing more numbers than there were apartments and promised to open an additional building for sale."

COIF

"Being a contrarian means having a healthy dose of skepticism.  It’s necessary in the trading world.  Contrarians don’t take things as they come.  They don’t chew and swallow every morsel spoon fed to them by the media.  They don’t blindly act on every analyst research note.  In a world where every thesis can be slanted with near-ideal scenarios, few roadblocks to success, and a long-term trend in their favor, a critical mindset is required to temper all the BS.

Great contrarians are invaluable team members and collaborators.  They force you to consider counter arguments by highlighting perspectives you may not have considered.  They tend to dig deeper in their analysis than average, especially when the consensus is heavily against them.  This contrarian persistence has uncovered information that may have never seen the light of day (see Enron, WorldCom, etc.).  They can be inspiring in their fearlessness, conviction, and bravery, armed only with their due diligence and intellect.

Not all are contrarians are created equal.  In my experience I’ve come across three types of contrarian:
  1. The Natural Contrarian.
  2. The Trained Contrarian
  3. The COIF
The Natural Contrarian has skepticism and intellectual curiosity from birth.  They have a competition in them that drives them to “take the other side” when they know they’re right.  One of the defining characteristics of a Natural Contrarian is that they know where to pick their battles.  The work hard to confirm or disprove their thesis and aren’t afraid to walk away when proven wrong.  Contrarian opportunities are intuitively obvious to them, and being right in the face of the consensus comes naturally.

The Trained Contrarian is different in that skepticism is not second nature to them.  They force themselves to be more skeptical and to against their naive and trusting tendencies.  They can become even better at spotting contrarian opportunities than the natural.  They work much harder and dig deeper into their analysis than the naturals — not only to prove their thesis, but to convince themselves.

A terrible condition exists for those that take contrarianism too far.  They make it a part of their identity and wear their cynicism as a badge of honor.  The identity of being a skeptic determines how they view all events in life and business.  Give them any consensus and they will fade it.  Present them with any situation or opinion and they will argue against it.  They see the world as perpetually incorrect.

New term: COIF, (Contrary Opinion Indifferent to Fact) (Pronounced kwäf)

The main difference between contrarian and COIF is that the COIF doesn’t hold the same standards for logical and intellectual analysis to see if they’re correct.  They carpet bomb cynicism because their internal contrarian gauge is uncalibrated.  The kiss of death is when COIFs have been correct enough times by simply betting against others that they believe that “betting opposite” is all that is required for success.

Contrary does not equal correct, although it can appear so in the rear view mirror.  COIFs appear right more than wrong because they are unafraid to take bold stands against popular modes of thinking.  Being right about something as serious as a financial crisis can appear critical and timely after the fact if the observer doesn’t realize that they are dealing with a COIF.  Being correct about big events is addictive and being a COIF offers a high probability of doing that.  If you bet against everything you will be right about many things.  More importantly you will be right about things that many others were wrong about.  They will wonder what the COIF saw that they missed, and to them the COIF looks like a hero/genius.

Contrarianism needs to be tempered with fact.  Cynicism can only masquerade as intelligence for so long.  There is a time to be a contrarian and, believe it or not, a time when the consensus is actually right.  You do NOT need a COIF on your team, because they’ll never be able to tell the difference."

Are you a COIF? - Dynamic Hedge via AR

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Debt of Nations

The price of insurance against Irish Government debt default. via ZH


  • "There are no absolutely safe sovereigns — ‘rates analysis’ has to be done simultaneously with ‘credit analysis’ for all sovereigns, including the G3.
  • There are likely to be several sovereign debt restructurings in the euro area (EA) in the next few years. Liquidity support should not stop this; only permanent bail-outs would.
  • The sovereign debt crises of the euro area periphery interact with banking sector weaknesses throughout the EU. Both need to be addressed for a lasting solution.
  • Ireland’s financial support package will buy time, but does not address the fundamental insolvency issues of the consolidated sovereign and banking system. The Irish case also highlights the need for an EU-wide bank special resolution regime (SRR).
  • Portugal is likely to access the EFSF soon.
  • The current size of the liquidity facilities looks insufficient to prevent speculative attacks or even to fund Spain completely for three years.
  • EA break-up remains extremely unlikely and would be an economic disaster.
  • EA exit looks irrational for fiscally weak euro area members, such as Greece.
  • A viable and dynamic EA requires i) a much larger liquidity support facility, ii) restructuring of the unsecured debt of EU zombie banks and recapitalisation of the systemically important ones among them, iii) restructuring of the debt of insolvent EA sovereigns."

Citibank Global Economics View - The Debt of Nations

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coming of Age Day

Bank Holiday Monday and the answer to the previous posting was a CrossFit session at 8:45am. We did a WOD based on one from the main site posted a few days ago.

Five rounds for time of:
10 Wall climbs
10 Toes to bar
20 Box jumps, 24" box

"Wall climbs." Lie face down, feet against a wall, perform a push-up, walk your feet up the wall whilst walking with your arms towards the base of the wall into a handstand, touch chest to wall, walk back down again. And repeat.

"Toes to bar." Hang from a pull-up bar, touch toes to the bar. And repeat.

"Box Jumps." Self-explanatory with full hip extension on top of the box.

So...

Obviously there was some 'scaling.'

5 Wall Climbs or 10 x Plank (Hold for 10sec) with a Press-up and a Downward Dog for good measure.
5 Toes to Bar or 10 Knees to Chest
10 Box Jumps

As usual we did some trigger point and mobility warm-ups before the workout. I managed one set of 5 Wall climbs then had to do the secondary exercise for the next 4 rounds. The hardest part was returning back to the ground. Not confident enough in my ability not to fall on my head. As for Toes to Bar. Hahahaha, fat chance. Fat being the operative word here. Knees to Chest sufficed. Still hard. Box Jumps I could do. Phew. Despite some challenges - or perhaps due to them - I am really enjoying these classes. Recommended.

http://chikaracrossfit.com/

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Biju Tani Tastic

Today's ride covered 160km, 1600m of climbing, some usual roads, some new roads, some up, some down, a 1C low at the start around 8am, a 12C high mid afternoon and some great company from The Russian, Dave and Tyler. Sunny blue skies as usual, dry and cold. The highlights were a Fireman parade, big ring ascent of Odarumi, a steep climb up Biju Tani, some rolling terrain back to Route 20 and a fast return to the Tama. Feeling pretty cooked, but the Priya order is in. The question is CrossFit, swim or sleep for tomorrow's bank holiday?



Hai, cheezu

The Russian

BijuTani Entrance

Biju Tani

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Friday, January 07, 2011

Expect deflation

"THE debt crisis has presented investors with an extremely awkward dilemma. Debt ratios, relative to GDP, are so high that it seems unlikely that most developed economies can grow their way out of the mess. That leaves the unappealing options of default, Japanese-style stagnation or rapid inflation to erode the real value of the debt burden.

Selecting the right portfolio to take advantage of these different scenarios is very difficult. An inflationary outcome would encourage investors to buy commodities and sell Treasury bonds; a deflationary outcome would suggest the reverse. Equities might perform better than government bonds in the event of inflation, but might still deliver negative real returns as they did for much of the 1970s. Cash may provide security but offers virtually nothing in yield.

Mr Shilling thinks that investors should own long-dated Treasury bonds. He thinks that the yield on the 30-year issue, currently around 4.5%, could fall to 3% or below, as it did briefly in 2008. In addition, investors should own high-quality corporate bonds, stocks with solid dividends and those exposed to consumer basics, such as food. He also believes that the dollar will do well, given that it is undervalued in purchasing-power-parity terms and that other regions, notably Europe, face big debt problems of their own.

Many of the world’s economic problems, from weak American housing and European fiscal weakness to global economic imbalances, have not gone away. Debt has simply been transferred from the private to the public sector. The latest growth figures may be just a blip: even Japan has had some strong quarters in the past 20 years.

Inflating away the debt is still an option if the authorities try hard enough. A portfolio exposed to the long-term debt of a government that has just opted to cut taxes in the face of a trillion-dollar deficit would suffer heavy losses if Mr Shilling turns out to be wrong."

Betting Big on Bonds - The Economist

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Polisux

'nuf said.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dark Matter of the Universe

"The American degradation of the sublime into the irrelevant takes place only slightly slower than the speed of light. Berners-Lee was facilitating an endeavor to explore the possibility of Adam contemplating his navel. What we ended up with is a narcissistic bulletin board for the inane.

Huxley saw a world where consumption and entertainment numbed society into a false state of bliss. Warhol and Koons exploited the ordinary’s magnetic attraction to fame. Are we to believe the tidal wave of retiring Boomers will be granted their entitlements by a generation of self absorbed Gen-Yers playing Farmville and Angry Birds? The internet is a little slice of serendipity cast off when great men dared to think about heavier things. Facebook is the Dark Matter of the universe."

The Singularity and Facebook - The Big Picture

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Winter of our Disconnect


"'It's weird when you have to text your kids to come to the dinner table," says Susan Maushart. At the end of 2008, she was anxious about the amount of time her three teenagers spent transfixed by technology.

"My concern," she says, "was that we had ceased to function as a family. We were just a collection of individuals who were very connected outwards – to friends, business, school and sources of entertainment and information. But we simply weren't connecting with one another in real space and time in any sort of authentic way."

Maushart, now 52, decided to take action. She initiated what she describes as an "experiment in living" and banned all technology at home for six months. Her family was to discover life without computers, the internet, games consoles, TV or mobile phones (although, kowtowing to the realities of the modern world, her teenagers were able to access screens at their friends' houses and in school). They were to be abruptly weaned off minute-by-minute Facebook status updates about their latest bad hair day.

Initially, the main objections came from other parents. Maushart says that most of her children's friends' parents seemed to believe that Anni, Bill and Sussy would become either "social outcasts or idiots". Upon receipt of Maushart's out-of-office email stating that she was no longer online, many of them assumed that she'd had a nervous breakdown. She puts this unexpectedly "wild" reaction down to a feeling of tacit judgment: "It made them uncomfortable because it made them question the choices that they were making."

Anni, Bill and Sussy confronted boredom – something that they were previously unfamiliar with because of their endless access to online entertainment. They found out that it made them resourceful. Indeed, their mother thinks boredom is fundamentally important in terms of creativity: "If nothing's wrong, you're never motivated to change, to move out of that comfort zone."

She also believes that modern teenagers are more accustomed to it than they realise. "Today, kids are often low-level stimulated when they're online," she says. "It's kind of like running a low-grade fever. I draw the parallel to never really being hungry either. They snack so much that they're not ready for a proper meal. That lack of boundaries, that 'blobbiness' ... it's not a good way to live."

The move hasn't meant her family remain app free, however. In terms of their technological habits, the aftermath of the experiment is not one of Thoreau-inspired idealism. "To be completely honest," she says, "there are days when I think nothing has actually changed – except that we had this wonderful period, this six months where we were living a different kind of life."

However, despite these bad days, she insists that there have been permanent changes. Because they'd come to understand how it was interfering with their social life, her older two teenagers have both taken holidays from Facebook, albeit not permanent ones. Bill sold his gaming console to buy a new saxophone and Anni still prefers to study in the library, in a social networking-free zone. Sussy doesn't surf and chat online through the night, but this is more through maternal enforcement than volition."

I Took My Kids Offline - Guardian

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Ekiden 2011

For an explanation of the Ekiden and a review of the ride 2 years ago, see here.

Set off today at 7:55am to meet Shane and Dominic outside Shinagawa Station. We headed off towards Yokohama for a rendezvous with David, James et al, making good use of the sections of the road already coned off by the local constabulary. We got to the meeting point a little behind schedule and checked messages. Our compatriots had headed on, so we set out to catch them at their rest stop. Having achieved that, they continued and we then stopped for refreshments. We made good time along the coast to the Odawara rendezvous, a little more refueling and then off up to Motohakone. I was expecting very little in terms of performance today, being a tad short of sleep and aching of limbs from a couple of workouts earlier in the weekend. I made my way up the climb in the Lanterne Rouge position, but it went by reasonably quickly, helped by the crowds and the weather. It wasn't long before I was rolling through the race finish area, joining my mates, then we were off to get lunch. We got inside, warmed-up and had some soba. Lurvly. All done with lunch, we decided on a Mishima exit strategy. We descended out of the mountains and got to the Shinkansen station in plenty of time to catch a 15:49 back to Tokyo. Another Ekiden done, the crowds were fun, the closed roads better, the weather cold but not as bad as previously, the company spot on. Pace was brisk and so I was a bit amiss in taking snaps this time round.

I did get one of ALL the motorcycle rozzers which I missed last time round.




And also, one of Pro-Dave enjoying a Pringle, Japanese-style.


Here's a Flickr Slideshow using David and Ludwig's photos from David's write-up on the Positivo website here.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

1/1/11 11:11am

Happy New Year!