Saturday, June 30, 2007

Long Rides and Random Thoughts

Did a long group bike ride. Although this was with about 15 guys, and there was some chitchat here and there, my mind tends to wander on rides like these....especially when I'm about 3 miles into a 4 mile climb up Pineapple Hill, at the end of a 50 mile day. My thoughts today turned to the Transformers Movie...I've been excited about this one for awhile, and can't wait to go see it next week. Most of the hype came when I first heard about a "live action" T-formers movie...initial thought is that it would be guys in cardboard boxes colored to look like Optimus Prime. I still think that would be a funny movie, especially if the guys made "transformer noises" as they somehow converted their boxes from robot to vehicle. The thought of the Transformers movie being only 3 days away led my mind further me thinking about one of the top 5 funniest guys I've ever known. I can't remember the guy's name, as he was just another dude at ROTC field training 12 years ago. Anyway, we had to lead our flight of 30 or so cadets around, barking out marching commands...instead of "Forward March", he insisted on the command "Autobots Roll-out". I remember him getting his ass chewed a couple of times for making a mockery of procedure, but he kept doing it, no matter who was watching. Also, instead of leading us in chants about flying an F-4 in Vietnam, or jumping out of a C-130, he'd lead us in the theme to "Facts of Life" or "Different Strokes". The guy truly didn't care when he got his daily ass-chewing. It was all in the name of humor. I doubt this guy ever actually made it into the Air Force...too bad, as the military sorely needs funny mofos like that guy. At least it gave me something to think about keep the mind off the kind of suffering you feel on a long climb.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2007 Tour

The Tour de France usually consumes my entire month of July…everything is planned around viewing of this race. Since this year’s race is only days away, it’s time to pick a favorite and some predictions down. The sport’s taken a crazy turn over the past year. Guys that would normally be favorites: Basso, Landis, Ullrich….all out of the sport on drug-related charges. It’s rather unfortunate. All of these seemed like stand-up, genuine nice guys…that was their image. They were easy to root for, and it was hard to believe they’d be cheaters. Same goes for Tyler Hamilton, a guy that was a contender…an Olympic Gold Medal winner, and a guy that pulled off a 4th place finish with a broken collar bone in the 2003 Tour.

If pressed to pull for an American, I guess I’d have to go with Levi Leipheimer. He’s been a top 10 finisher and a solid racer his entire career. Despite solid credentials, he’s never pulled off a remarkable stage in the tour…seems pretty boring. He does have a good chance at a podium finish. Discovery has a strong team, probably much better than his old Gerolsteiner team…this should help Levi with a stronger finish.

My pick this year is going to be the Kazakh rider, Alexandre Vinokourov. This guy has been impressive over the years. He’s an aggressive rider that’s taken stage wins and has placed high in the GC. In his last tour in 2005, he looked like a much stronger rider than Ullrich. He probably could’ve been on the podium if he was the team leader, with Jan working for him as a domestique. His aggressiveness always makes the race much more interesting to watch. Too bad that his team was caught up in the doping scandal last year and he didn’t get to start due to them having only 5 riders. Now he has a Kazakh sponsored team…probably a first for the Tour. If he wins, he’ll do more for Kazakhstan than Borat…well, at least in Europe anyway. Most Americans forgot about the tour after Lance retired.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Beer Sommeliers?

I'm only a week into my career as a blogger, and I'm noticing a trend...this is turning into a beverage blog. This morning I heard NPR was going to air a segment about food and beer pairing. As an experienced beer drinker and part-time home-brewer, I had to keep the radio on for this one...I usually tune out early on Sunday's for fear of hearing a second of "Prairie Home Companion", can't stomach that show.

I'm not a huge beer snob, but I do have my light beer, even if it is Heineken Light, it's still LIGHT beer. There are apparently much bigger beer snobs out there. When I heard mention of a beer sommelier, I knew the wine yuppies had made there way into the beer world.

Here's the Brewer's Association's recommendation of beer/food pairings--

Pale Ale: Wide range of food: meat pie, English cheese; great with a burger

Amber/Red Ale: Wide range of food: chicken, seafood, burgers; great with spicy cuisine

Dry Stout: Hearty, rich food: steak, meat pie; a classic with raw oysters

Hefeweizen: Great with lighter food: salads, seafood, sushi; classic with weisswurst

Classic Pilsener: Great with lighter food: chicken, salads, salmon, bratwurst

Amber Lager: Hearty, spicy food: barbecue, hamburgers, chili

Brown Ale, Altbier: Hearty foods: roast pork, smoked sausage, grilled salmon

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good Video

Check out this video. Although this is an extreme example of what a national ID card can do, there are probably some elements of truth. Marketers today compile tons of info on all of us. A national ID card could be the missing like that allows corporations and the government to do even more detailed tracking.

My brother set up a link on my Mozilla browser called "Stumble!". It takes info I provide and spits out links such as this video any time I hit the button. I can vote on its quality and it uses that data to recommend other links. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks there's some sort of marketing use. Coincidentally, I did tell the folks at "Stumble!" that I'm interested in Conspiracy Theory and Civil Liberties...they then probably forwarded my name to the FBI or DHS, to put me on "The List".

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Movement

I find it interesting that anyone can subscribe to one religion or philosophy. None appear to be universally good. Although many make a positive contribution to society, there is a considerable amount of suffering and ill-feelings that have been created in the name of religion. Seems like there's too many to choose from. I find it hard to believe that someone could jump into a belief system and accept every tenet of that system, to include al the kooky stuff. Take the Raelian group for example. How does one choose to follow a strange man such as this? Although he doesn't seem to be any stranger than Joseph Smith, Mormonism has grown to be an accepted religion while Raelians are a strange cult...even less accepted than Scientology. How do we deem one to be a bunch of kooks while we accept others? Does time play a factor? Will The Raelian Movement be a mainstream organization in 200 years?

I'm not sure why anyone would want to follow Rael. He does appear to be an accomplished man--French race car driver, singer/songwriter, messenger of Elohim. Take a look as his website, you can read about The Raelian Movement in 37 languages. I'm not sure what kind of contribution they make to society, but at least in Hawaii, they keep a patch of highway clean.

Here's an excerpt from Rael's bio...I sure wish he could introduce me to this scientist, just like I wish Joseph Smith put those famous plates in a museum for the rest of us to see.

"On December 13, 1973, his life dramatically changed when he met one of the scientists who created us and was forced to abandon that passion. However, in 1994, some 20 years after his famous encounter, at the request of many Raelians who wanted to see him racing, Rael accepted to take the wheel of a professional sports car once again and participate in internationally renowned competitions. Sponsored in part by the first interpretation center of the UFO phenomena in the world, UFOland, Rael followed his passion while still promoting the messages given to him by our creators."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ass Water

This is a corollary to the previous post. For all the good drinks you can find in the Kona district (Kona Brewing Co microbrews and coffee), you knew there had to be an evil beverage to balance things out. That stuff is called Kava. We rolled up to Kanaka Kava (an author's pick in Lonely Planet's Big Island guide book) after much debate on whether we should try this stuff. There were serious locals sitting at the bar, no tourists...a rarity in Kailua-Kona. So we decided to share a glass. At that point, we realized that you must drink in bowls and the bartender already poured 2 bowls for us. Not only does it look awful, it tastes horrible. The barkeep told us it's a great muscle relaxant and not to worry if our mouth goes numb (which it did). I had to man-up and I choked my bowl down. It definitely relaxed me for the rest of the day, making the 2hr drive to Volcano NP very mellow. I guess it balanced out all the coffee from earlier in the day.

Moral of the story is that if a guidebook tells you a drink is an 'acquired taste', come to expect Ass-Water.

Here's Kanaka's website...they show you how the stuff's made. I should've read this a little better before our trip.

Kanaka Kava

Coffee Snob

Received the greatest gift for Father's Day--a 4 cup French Press Coffeemaker. Coffee snobs are right, this is the ONLY way to make a good cup of coffee. We recently did a coffee driving tour of the Kona coast, visiting 2 coffee farms. Shown here is a bag of Holualoa Coffee Company's Peaberry...that's 100% Kona handpicked beans. Only 5% of the cherries on a coffee tree are peaberries...that's right, this is the "champagne" of coffee. If you don't believe this stuff is any better than your Maxwell House drip coffee, come over and we'll do a Pepsi Challenge. Below are links to the 2 farms we visited...can't wait for the next trip

Holualoa Coffee Company
Kona Blue Sky Coffee Company

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Attended a lecture recently given by the head of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. For the most part it was a boring talk about Hurricanes and Hawaii, lots of meteorological talk. At the end, he gave a pitch for hurricane preparedness, and your need to stockpile supplies for a 5-7 day period. Coincidentally, I'm reading "The Road" (yes it's the latest Oprah book club book, but Sonya pulled the Oprah sticker off to get me to read it) which is about a post-apocalyptic period...really makes you think about survival. I've decided to build a kit, but this is proving to be a very daunting task. First, you can't focus on just one scenario. Each scenario has its own specific needs. Sure, there are some basics like food and water. But what good does a 5-7 day supply of food do you if there's a sudden "oil crash" and this overcrowded island is effectively isolated? Once Costco runs out of food, it could take weeks or months before someone sails out here with a resupply. There's no way Oahu can feed everyone on this island with its limited usable land resources. If I stockpiled more than 5-7 days worth of food, I must think about defending this food source. So, is it necessary to have a weapon? For long term survivability, I think seeds would be a sure bet, but what if there's a nuclear event and all the soil is contaminated? Or how would I ensure looters stay out of my garden? That brings me back to the defense concern. Not only do you need supplies, you need secure supplies and a defense plan.

At some point, we would see mad roving gangs wearing old football pads and spiked collars. They'd terrorize everyone else. Seems like you'd be guaranteed some sort of safety as a member of the group rather than some ordinary civilian. How do I make sure that I end up in one of these groups? Do I include football pads in my kit? Should I have my growing children try on new sets every year, so that when the time comes, their bandit gear isn't ill-fitting?

Too many questions here. Maybe I should just do what the majority of the population does...make a run on Wal Mart or Costco when a disaster is imminent.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Saw this sign on the big island last week. This guy is the Cannabis Sacrament Minister...sounds official. I have lots of questions about this religion, and not all are answered on its website. Who ordained him as Cannabis Sacrament Minister? Why haven't I already heard about the Christ-Cannabis connection? And the big question...why don't more pot smokers join this ministry? Their claim is that you can smoke marijuana legally for religious purposes. Having never touched the stuff, my education in the subject is limited to Cheech & Chong movies and Dr. Dre's album "The Chronic". So I look to others for the I can come up with is that one who smokes pot really doesn't care about the legality. Although they'd like for it to become legal, they'll do it anyway and don't need the religion to justify. Thoughts?

First Blog

This is my first blog post. Maybe I'll write more later when I have something interesting to say. Maybe I won't have anything interesting to say, and this will be another item sitting out in the "blogosphere" that will only be read when someone does a web search for "strap" and comes up with my site. What would someone be searching for in a Google search for "strap" anyhow?

Oh yeah, the picture is of a piece of poop we found in our bathtub recently. Don't you hate it when that happens?