Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tour de Crawford & Peloton One

A read-out from Trent Duffy on the president's bike ride with Lance Armstrong at the ranch this morning:

POOL REPORT #1, 8/20/05:

Armstrong arrived at the ranch about 9:20 a.m., was greeted by the president, then went to the guest house, to the right of the president's house, and changed into his biking gear. The president, Armstrong and maybe 8 others (Trent was vague on the actual number) began biking at 9:30 a.m., for 17 miles. Halfway through they stopped at a waterfall, got off the bikes, and looked around.

The break lasted about 10 minutes; the president talked to Armstrong about recent rainfall in Texas. The two walked back from the waterfall, with the president telling Armstrong to be careful because Armstrong was walking down rocks.

The ride finished at 11:30 a.m. At the end, the president gave everybody commemorative red, white and blue riding shirts with Tour de Crawford on the front and Peleton One on the back. Bush also gave everybody red, white and blue riding socks with the presidential seal on the inner ankle. Then he said, "Okay, let's go swimming.'' The group apparently then jumped into the pool before lunch.

The president was dressed in his Pearl Izumi riding shirt, the same as last week. Armstrong wore his regular biking gear, and was in blue and white and shirt. Both Bush and Armstrong rode Trek bikes, type not known.

There will be a photo release from the White House of the ride. As the picture was taken, Bush said, "He's a good rider.'' There were no reporters present, although the Discovery Channel shot footage of the ride for a three-hour special on Lance Armstrong to air Aug. 26 or 27 or both.

Trent says Bush was in the lead on the ride. Others in the group included the Secret Service and Paul Morse, the White House photographer. Joe Hagin took the picture.

Armstrong and Bush have ridden together before, but Trent says he doesn't know when. They have not ridden together on the ranch. They've been friends for a while; Trent didn't know how long.

Now they're eating lunch, no menu provided.

Elisabeth Bumiller

I wonder if Lance Armstrong rode his US$10,000 Trek Madone SSLx bicycle (that's a boron-reinforced carbon fiber frame) used in the 2005 Tour de France.

Affectionate squirrels & killer squirrels

The ground squirrels at Shoreline Park are rather unusual: they are cute and affectionate!

Some of them even share their burrows with burrowing owls. It presents quite an unusual sight, a flesh-eating bird of prey sharing a burrow with a rodent.

The folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles (very friendly staff) have some unbelievable tales of "Killer Squirrels" (KS) that hurl themselves at bicyclists, often killing themselves, damaging or destroying the bicycle, and seriously injuring the cyclist. In one of the stories, it seems that they have enlisted the help of chipmunks as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Evil neocons induce stroke in traitorous mom's mother

The "vast right wing conspiracy" stoops to new lows to end dissent.

Remember to put on your aluminum foil hats and stay away from the windows.

All of us are equal, but some are more equal than others

Matt Margolis ruminates on how the perception of "Free speech and expression" only seems to go one way:

The "Unassailable" Cindy Sheehan

Since we starting discussing Cindy Sheehan's flip flopping on President Bush, and her nauseating bloody-shirt waving regarding her son's death, we've received a lot of criticism from our friends on the left. "How can you attack a grieving mother?", and "Have you no shame?" are the typical responses - usually followed by a string of vulgar insults. If you're a blogger and have written about it from the same perspective we have, you've probably heard the same stuff.

The other day, we posted a picture of Cindy Sheehan getting kissed by President Bush after Ms. Sheehan's first visit with the President a year ago. Right after we posted that picture, Blogs For Bush became the target of a massive DDoS attack. Someone, or some group, decided that they wanted to force Blogs for Bush's server to crash. My webhost informed me that Movable Type's comment script received over 10,000 requests in a short period of time.

Sadly, we are the target of such attacks fairly regularly... However, this attack was by far the biggest one in quite a long time. Why? Because we could prove that Cindy Sheehan's original version of her story about meeting President Bush was, well, true... that it was in fact a positive experience, and thus everything she is doing is now is the result of her being used by as a political pawn. MoveOn (and the whole leftwing circus) using her, of course, because as a "grieving mother" the left believes she should be immune from criticism. I leave it to others to figure out how posting an accurate picture constitutes an attack.

Still, the left couldn't have it; truth being like a cross to a vampire for the left. Rather than have their PR goldmine threatened, they decided to try shutting us down. The same people who think that President Bush should have a dialogue with Cindy Sheehan think that we shouldn't have a dialogue with each other about Cindy Sheehan.

We do not fear Cindy Sheehan or the movement that has risen in support of her. In fact, we welcome it They represent the far left of this country and their effort will be for naught - indeed, the more the backers of Cindy Sheehan are exposed in the public square, the more people turn away from Cindy Sheehan and the entire so-called "anti-war" movement.

The left wing of this country needs to learn that everyone in this country has a right to his or her own opinion. Trying to silence the opposition only reflects the weakness of your own position... and there is no weaker position then the one that aligns itself with, Michael Moore, and Code Pink.


I am particularly partial to this comment by Rhod, a mother of 3 soldiers, all serving in Iraq:

Leftism is turning into plain and simple necromancy. Note the Wellestone celebration, and now the exploitation of Casey Sheehan's death.

This vile and ugly charade is necessary for The Left, because in their rotten presentations, moral authority is achieved only when people suffer or die in enterprises with which they disagree. Empty of any real ideas, virtue or honor, Leftism now is a death dance around the civilization they hate, and a celebration of the rude, the ugly, the vulgar and the tasteless. Egalitarianism as self-soiling.

Cindy's Sheehan's brainless participation in the freakshow scorns her son and every other service person, dead or alive, fighting abroad (including three of my sons).


The left wishes everyone to forget that President Bush ALREADY MET with Cindy Sheehan over a year ago--a meeting that Sheehan put down in her blog as a positive and comforting experience. Later, however, for reasons unexplained, Sheehan's positive write-up and pictures (1, 2) of President Bush's meeting with her were deleted and only exist in Google's cache now. Now, put that together with this report by The, Vacaville, California. What was that about a "Vast Right-wing Conspiracy" again?


Shine on, you crazy diamond!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mega Loop Ride

Warning: dial-up users take note: many pictures (33).

Decided to take a good ride through the birthplace of mountain biking: Marin county. Today's ride is known as the "Marin Headlands Mega Loop." Total distance covered is 18.9 miles (30.24 km). Feel free to click on any of the maps, graphs, or pictures for a larger view.

Being the nerd/geek that I am, first, the maps and distance/elevation graphs. Muahahaha! You know what they say: you gotta quantify your pain! *Evil laughter*

The red dot with "S" marks the Marin Headlands Visitor Center and parking lot. It is also the starting and ending point of the ride. Access to the Pacific Ocean is via Rodeo Beach, which is a half-an-hour hike west from the visitor center.

The black dot with "M" marks the location of Muir Beach, and the half-way point of the ride. Map copyright is owned by Bike Map Dude Productions. Do not replicate.

Distance and elevation graph of the first half of the ride.
Distance in miles (1 mile = 1.6 km).
Elevation in feet (3.28 feet = 1 meter).

Distance and elevation graph of the second half of the ride.
(Yes, I like to climb).

A clearer view of the Mega Loop. It kind of looks like a squashed infinity symbol, doesn't it? The center of the loop is the end of Tennessee Valley Road, and the location of Miwok Livery Stables. Blue portions mark the fire roads, and the red portions mark the singletracks. The first singletrack is a fun downhill and the second singletrack is a punishing uphill. (Map credit: Scott Kendall).

Marin Headlands Visitor Center and parking lot. Behind the large white building on the upper left is the Marin Headlands Hostel, a good place to crash for the night at $18 a head if you are too tired to ride to the San Francisco CalTrain station @ 4th and King (960 feet climb + 12.5 miles away) or drive home.

Where the fun begins: Miwok Trailhead. Only 18.9 miles (30.24 km) to go before we return to the same place! Higher res picture here.

Miwok trail ascending into the mountains (observe the trail carved on the side of the mountain on the upper left). The 40+ year-old lady rider in front, a resident in the area, left me in the dust on the long ascent.

Snaking down the mountain range, from the left to the lower right, is Bobcat Trail, the grin-inspiring return journey to the Miwok Trailhead at the end of the ride.

After the steady climb up Miwok Trail, it is time for some sweet payback by taking a left on to Old Springs Trail. Alas my bike didn't stay vertical long enough for me to snap a picture. Seven of these plank bridges across an equal number of gulches lead to a fast-paced singletrack descent to Tennessee Valley and Miwok Livery Stables. You can spot two other mountain bikers in the center of the picture.

A view from one range to the next. The 2 arrows mark the next trail after Old Springs Trail. The arrow on the right marks the end of Tennessee Valley Trail. The arrow on the left indicates the Coastal Trail. Together, they make for one long grind up to the next mountain range.

Miwok Livery Stables

A large sign reminds mountain bikers to slow down: "WHOA! Bicycle Riders. Please dismount & walk your bike through the Stable area.

Further along, there are two more signs (highlighted by the red circle). The yellow one says, "WATCH YOUR SPEED!" The white sign continues the friendly message, "THIS IS NOT A @#%!ing FREEWAY!" I guess the stablehands have been spooked one too many times by speeding mountain bikers.

The red arrow on the upper right hand corner highlights the steep and tricky descent portion of Miwok Trail back to the stables. Having good brakes, a helmet, and medical insurance (with a low deductible) will go a long way in inspiring confidence here.

Tennessee Valley Trail.

Still on Tennessee Valley Trail. The trail eventually forks, with a branch off to Coastal Trail, which will reach the peak marked by the red arrow.

Tennessee Trail continues on the left to Tennessee Beach. Coastal Trail forks to the right to the summit of the range.

Took this picture specially for daftbitch.
Tennessee. Tennessee Valley. Tennessee Valley Trail. Tennessee Beach.
Get it?

Anyways, here's a prettier picture of Tennessee Valley by Bill Mains.

At the summit of Coastal Trail, looking northwards, and a view of the Pacific Ocean. The red arrow marks the location of Muir Woods Overlook.

Looking southwards now, the red arrow reveals the location of Point Bonita. Here's a nice picture. San Francisco is barely discernible in the distance.

The arrow on the right indicates the "Hikers Only" portion of Coastal Trail. Mountain bikers and equestrians have to take a detour further inland via Coastal Fire Road.

The arrow on the left points to the bay of Muir Beach.

Heading inland (and slightly uphill) on Coastal Fire Road.

5 minutes into the descent of Coastal Fire Road to Muir Beach. The houses of Muir Beach Community are clearly visible. After spot marked by the red arrow, the descent becomes steep and fast. Weekends are not a good time to bomb down this trail as there are numerous hikers and equestrians (running down hikers is bad juju, and trying to run down a horse on your mountain bike is suicide).

The half-way point of the ride: Muir Beach and community.

The return trip now. To get to Middle Gulch Green Trail one has to pass through 2 small farms. There are 2 gates that keep out foraging deer. The honor system is employed: in exchange for access (i.e. to pass through) you agree to close the gate behind you.

Middle Gulch Green Trail is a steep singletrack. Mountain bikers are only allowed to go uphill on this trail, and only in seasons other than winter. The red arrow points to the trail winding its way up the mountain.

Half-way up Middle Gulch Green Trail and looking down. You can see a man on horseback riding down the same trail. Muir Beach Community is still visible, and so is Muir Woods Overlook.

On the right hand side is the farm in the preceding picture (where the climb began).

Took this picture for crufty.
The road is Shoreline Highway 1, the portion of Highway 1 north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I think an AWD would be awesome to blast up those curves, dude!

Having endured the brutal climb up Middle Gulch Green Trail, I am greeted by Coyote Ridge Trail and a foggy view of Marin City and Tiburon in the distance (left red arrow). Lower down, on the right is Miwok Livery Stables, my next checkpoint.

A picture taken by someone else on another--clearer--day reveals Marin City, and across the bay to the peninsular, Tiburon.

Getting off Coyote Trail, and on to Miwok Trail for the descent. Observe how the trail literally drops off the picture as it enters the steep section.

Sorry, no pictures of this section as I endo-ed twice (I was too sore).

While descending the steep section of Miwok Trail, I had to remind myself verbally and aloud during the technical portions to "LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO! AND NOT AT THE GAWDDAMN ROCK / HOLE / RUT / PILE OF GRAVEL THAT YOU WISH TO AVOID!"

Of course, after flying over the handlebar twice, I got the hang of it. As a result, I am quite adept at somersaulting over the handlebars and landing on my back now. *BUMP!* *Boing!* *Aiyee!* *Flip* *SPLAT!* *Groan* *Taa-daa!*

After the steep and tricky descent down Miwok Trail to the stables, and across Tennessee Valley Road, it's time for one more climb: Marincello Trail.

It was 6 PM when I reached the juncture of Bobcat Trail and Marincello Trail. Notice the fog coming in. It's starting to get cold and windy. Luckily, with the exception of 2 short climbs, it is a fast and thrilling fire road descent from here. (With regards to the sign, I am actually headed in the opposite direction. I.e. bike-legal part of the trail).

Descending Bobcat Trail. Red arrow reveals my destination: Marin Headlands Visitor Center and parking lot. It looks really far away, but at 45 mph (72 km/h) downhill, down wide fire roads with long sweeping turns, I was there in under 4 minutes.

The black arrow points out a "Hikers Only" portion of Coastal Trail descending from Hill 88 (elevation 960 Ft), a vista point across the Golden Gate Bridge. Behind the range is the inlet to the bay, Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco.

In the final approach to the trailhead, a curious Gray Fox sitting in the middle of the trail greeted me. He retreated into the grass before I could get my camera on him though.

Back at the parking lot of Marin Headlands Visitor Center with my trusty steed, Ivy (with her NOS fork). The body of water is Rodeo Lagoon, which joins the Pacific Ocean one season a year--during the deluge in winter. The strip of sand between the lagoon and the ocean is Rodeo Beach, a popular area for local surfers. The cluster of buildings is Fort Cronkite. The Lagoon Trail leads to the sandbar between the lagoon and the ocean.

A comforting feature of doing rides in this immediate area is the proximity of Marin Headlands Hostel (less than a 1/4 mile ~ 300m away). I was tempted to shell out $18 and crash there for the night instead of fighting to stay awake and driving 90 minutes / 60 miles (96 km/h) home.

An old picture by Robert Campbell provides some sense of reference: the red arrow on the right points to the location of Point Bonita. Immediately below the red plus sign marks where the Marin Headlands Visitor Center is. Left of the same sign is the Marin Headlands Hostel. You can see Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo Beach. The 3 rows of buildings make up Fort Cronkite. Golden Gate Bridge needs no introduction, and neither does San Francisco. Treasure Island is visible, and beyond is the east bay (Berkeley, Oakland, Union City, etc.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

It's not my fault. It's never my fault. It is always someone else's fault.

George Bush's neighbor finally had it with the peaceniks squatting outside his property, blocking the road, and making a general nuisance of themselves. (Ever notice how peaceniks are like roaches? Utter pests, living off others, and making a mess wherever they amass.) So, today, he rattled them with two shotgun blasts--on his own property.

Bush neighbor takes aim at 'doves'
Shotgun blasts startle anti-war protesters

Monday, August 15, 2005; Posted: 1:35 a.m. EDT (05:35 GMT)

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- Anti-war protesters outside President Bush's ranch here were startled Sunday by gunshots fired by a Texas rancher frustrated by the group's presence.

"Well, I'm getting ready for dove season," Larry Mattlage, 62, told reporters of the shots fired around 10 a.m. (noon EDT). Asked if there was an underlying message to the shots, which he fired harmlessly into the air, Mattlage told a reporter, "Figure it out for yourself."

The protesters are led by Cindy Sheehan, a California woman whose son was killed in Iraq, and who has vowed to remain outside of Bush's ranch until the president meets with her. She and other anti-war protesters set up a makeshift camp in Crawford more than a week ago.

"Would you want someone invading your house for a long time and blocking your view and blocking your road?" asked Mattlage, a six-year resident of Crawford who said he had originally been sympathetic to the protesters' cause.

"They as American citizens have a right to march, to protest."

But throngs of anti-war protesters have parked on his land and set up portable bathrooms on the rural road that runs by his property. At times, the protesters, their numbers swollen by crowds of reporters, have blocked the road, he said.

Sheehan said protesters have been "good neighbors" to the people living near Bush's ranch.

"If the neighbor is tired of having us here, he should talk to his other neighbor, George Bush, and ask George Bush to come out and meet with me, and then we'll leave," she said.


This is the typical liberal evasion of responsibility.
How is this any of George Bush's neighbor's problem?
Why does he have to do the protestor's bidding and talk to George Bush to come out and meet the protestors?

Picture this. A bunch of people come and squat right outside your property line, or, even on your land. Making a general nuisance of themselves, blocking your access to your own home, they tell you that unless you be party to their agenda, they will not go away. What does that sound like?

How would you feel if I come to your home and put portable toilets on the sidewalk, right outside your property line?

I guess those portable toilets came in handy for those peaceniks shitting in their pants when Mattlage fired his shotgun.

What CNN doesn't tell you is that Sheehan and her protestors have been there for 5 weeks. Click on the video link on CNN and notice that the footage doesn't show the size of the crowd. Neither does the article mention that they have been there for 5 weeks and counting. CNN also neglects to mention that Sheenan's family does not support her activism.

For another perspective.

While he said he "sympathized" with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, he refused to visit her peace vigil, set up in a tent in a drainage ditch outside the ranch, and sent two of his aides to talk to her instead.

Privately, Bush has met with about 900 family members of some 270 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The conversations are closed to the press, and Bush does not like to talk about what goes on in these grieving sessions . . ..

Newsweek article, courtesy of MSNBC

There is real grief, and there is the media circus. It may appear that Cindy Sheehan has mistaken showmanship for sorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Which animal are you?

You're a Wasp!

Brutal and dangerous, you are capable of wreaking havoc on others with little remorse. You love mud and seem to appear out of nowhere whenever people find a bit of wet dirt. You have a fierce temper and don't mind resorting to it whenever people get in your way, especially by hogging all that wonderful mud! Your home is where your heart is, but is also relatively flimsy and ugly. You are almost unquestionably white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant.
Take the Animal Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

With regards to the last sentence: wrong, wrong, wrong, on all 3 counts. Weak attempt at a lame pun too (i.e. WASP).

Better a wasp than a bee, I guess...

Consider the following excerpt from Chapter XVII of The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli:

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Think of a butterfly. How easy is it for a child to carelessly rip its wings and legs off, one by one, for nothing other than amusement. The butterfly is helpless. The child never learns its lesson. Now consider if the butterfly is a wasp, or a hornet. How much more likely--and quickly--will the child learn to respect the insect?

Pain is sometimes necessary.
Pain is sometimes good.
The promise of pain secures peace.

And, by the way, I am not sprouting anything original here--consider who else expressed a similar sentiment.