Monday, September 05, 2011

This Blog Has Moved.........

Effective September 5, 2011, this blog has moved here: http://themightyskunk.wordpress.com

Please update your RSS feed accordingly.

The new site has much better support for mobile devices.

Hangin' Wit Da Cousins



In Penticton, BC

Jessica (& friend)


Matthew (& friends)


Rumbling on the couch

Mountain biking with Mom & Dad on "Rusty Muffler"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bulls-Eye


US Open site: "X" Marks The Spot.

Bad Karma. The US Open hazz it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

TSA HAPPINESS!

This morning I got THE email from American Airlines:

Due to your status in the AAdvantage® program, you may be eligible to participate in a screening pilot program being tested by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this fall. The goal of this pilot program is to evaluate expedited screening processes for selected American Airlines travelers through designated security checkpoints at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and the Miami International Airport (MIA).

I registered using my Global Entry #, and received this:


We have received your opt-in submission for participation in the Transportation Security Administration's screening pilot program and no further action is needed on your part. During the reservation process, you will not need to input a Known Traveler number as your opt-in allows American Airlines to identify you as a participant in the program when submitting your passenger reservation information to the TSA's Secure Flight system.

When the pilot program begins this fall, you may experience the expedited security screening at the following airport checkpoints:

-- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) at C-30
-- Miami International Airport (MIA) next to the American Airlines First Class check-in counter

Unfortunately, to me Dallas and Miami are in flyover states, I rarely check in there, but progress is apparently, well, in progress.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Of The Most Beautiful Sights You Will Ever See.....

video

...is the sight of your electrical meter running BACKWARDS.

Especially if you live in a place where electricity costs 40 cents per KwH (in most places on the mainland, it costs around 7 cents).

Now that I've got my solar array installed, I sell electricity back to MECO all day long. At night, the meter runs forward. Hopefully at the end of each month it's a wash.

Before



The Local Boyz Arrive



Bolting The Mounting Rails To The Roof



Not much to these panels. They only weigh 50 lbs or so.


Each panel has its own inverter.




Almost finished



Kaoni wires the array into my meter.



Done. And plenty of room on the upper roof for another array if I need one.

Great News From.......TSA?

OMG. I never thought I'd commit this phrase to electrons, but my email inbox contained great news today from the Transportation Security Administration and Customs & Border Protection.

I'm not making this up.

As you know from some of my previous posts, a few years back I applied to CBP for NEXUS and GLOBAL ENTRY status. I went through the interviewing process, submitted my biometric information, and passed. And let me tell you, dear readers, it has been the greatest thing since sliced bread. I average about 15-20 border crossings per year, and I breeze through US and Canadian Customs via a biometric kiosk in 15 seconds, no matter which port of entry I am using and regardless of how long the line is. At the end of a long trip or the start of a long day traveling, it is simply wonderful. Canada has become my favorite destination, because I can use the kiosk going both ways.

Nothing makes my day more than flying home from Calgary (YYC), where the early-morning Customs line is never less than 45 minutes. I breeze through in 15 seconds. Like clockwork.

Now, it looks like TSA and CBP are cooperating (image that - cooperation within the US government) to expand this program to TSA screening. Pretty soon, a biometric kiosk will replace the strip-search-and-radiate-in-bare-feet process at select US airports.

I have 3,000,000 lifetime miles on AA and always have access to the "priority" TSA lines at domestic airports. Nevertheless, the process still sucks. Priority lines mean it just sucks a little less for me than for most people. I stand there and roll my eyes at all the clueless Ma & Pa Kettles, who fly twice a year, as they futz around with their their baby strollers, their backpacks, their bottles of water, their car keys, their jewelry, their snotty little kids' Gameboys. FUCKING DUH! Can't you read? This occurs just after a barely literate cretin, who most likely was recently was fired from a job flipping burgers, scrutinizes my Nexus card or passport with a flashlight to determine whether I even qualify to be searched.

Can you just IMAGINE how otherworldly awesome it is going to be when I can walk past all the queueing Kettles and the Barney Fifes, slap my hand down on a fingerprint scanner or shove my face into a retinal scanner, and be on my way in 15 seconds?

Oh. My. Gawd.

But I can temper my excitement by contemplating the prospect of still having to go through Heathrow a few times per year.

We are pleased to announce that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is partnering with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on a new Department of Homeland Security initiative announced July 14, 2011, that qualifies some passengers for expedited screening through U.S. airport security checkpoints.

This pilot program will be available to U.S. citizens who are members of CBP’s Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI Trusted Traveler programs. The pilot program will provide expedited screening through TSA checkpoints via dedicated screening lanes.

The United States government. Love those guys.

Love 'em.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Inspiring Story of the Boffins at MIT Media Labs

This interview with Hugh Herr blew my mind. The guy is an intergalactic boffin, a real-life Tony Stark.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/10/137552538/the-double-amputee-who-designs-better-limbs

I listened to the interview three times, just to make sure I got every word. Afterward, I ordered a copy of this:

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives

by Frank Moss



Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I Love Paul Krugman

If you're at all interested in the current economic mess and don't already read Paul Krugman's column & blog in the New York Times, I highly recommend it.

Even if you don't agree with the Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economics professor, he is a wonderfully entertaining writer and pops out gems like this one on a daily basis:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/the-pawlenty-mystery/

"I mean, as far as I can tell he’s Sarah Palin in a suit."

Priceless. Krugman alone is worth the price of my online subscription to The New York Times.

Interestingly, I've seen Krugman on TV several times, and his public persona is nothing like his literary one. On TV he is extremely shy, very soft-spoken, doesn't look people in the eye, and is almost painful to watch. He is somewhat of a Caspar Milquetoast. But on the printed page.....I just love the guy. What a brain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caspar_Milquetoast

Krugman is the inverse of, say, Jim Cramer, who is enormously entertaining to watch, but whose ideas have repeatedly proved demonstrably false and intellectually bankrupt from every perspective, over and over, for a solid decade.

Krugman personifies a (rare) triumph of substance and raw intellect over style in today's bizarro-world media hairball.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Watch!

La Niña Watch!!!!

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.html

Last winter was La Niña and, very possibly, the best North American ski season in 50 years. If not the best, then definitely top 3. PowMow got 500 inches, and us AT guys were still touring PowMow in June, over a month after the resort closed. Snowbird, which averages about 500 inches, claimed 783 inches (although we all know the Snowbird Marketing department lies like a Fox News commentator). Lifts at The Bird were still running limited service on July 4th. In the Sierras and in Colorado, the backcountry guys are STILL hiking and skiing corn, and it's August....of the hottest summer in 50 years.

NOAA has just issued a La Niña watch for 2011-2012. YEE HAAA! I've got these sitting in my garage, just waiting:

Friday, August 05, 2011

SARTALICS

At last, a universal sarcasm font.

http://sartalics.com/

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Contador Goes Down Swinging


I've never been much of an Alberto Contador fan. It's not that I "like" or "dislike" Contador; it's simply that I have a hard time relating to a fully-grown man who weighs about 125 lbs. I can't imagine what racing a bike feels like to a guy who'd get slaughtered in an arm-wrestling match by a jockey. A FEMALE jockey. I relate much better to racers like Thor Hushovd, who is 6' tall, weighs 185 lbs, and STILL wins mountain stages of the Tour de France, which is absolutely phenomenal. For those of you who have never raced bicycles, a guy Hushovd's size winning a mountain stage of Le Tour is the cycling equivalent, in inverse, of a 12-year-old girl playing power forward in an NBA game and dominating. It's impossible in theory, but he did it. Twice in the 2011 Tour, alone.

Last year Contador won Le Tour 2010 but subsequently flunked a blood test. His blood sample was found to have traces of Clenbuterol, not itself a performance-enhancing drug, but rather a masking agent. Contador claimed he injested the drug from tainted beef brought to the team dinner from Spain. This is cycling's version of the "dog ate my homework" defense. His defense was accepted by the Spanish Federation, but that verdict is currently under appeal by the UCI and WADA. Contador may still lose his 2010 Tour title on appeal.

I really don't know what to make of cycling's drug cases. On one hand, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...you know the rest. On the other hand, there is so much corruption and incompetence in the governing bodies of most of the sports I'm involved with (cycling is worse than most), to me neither side has much credibility. As a result, I simply assume those who have not been convicted by due process are clean, and those who have, are dirty. Period. So Contador, to me, is not guilty until proven otherwise.

Notice I did not write innocent until proven otherwise.

Anyway, last week Contador was climbing some ungodly mountain in Le Tour (I think it was Col du Telegraphe or Alpe D'Huez, I forget the exact spot), in the midst of a massively gutsy uphill solo attack, and a maniac wearing surgical garb and carrying a fake transfusion bag ran up beside him and gestured like he was giving Contador a transfusion. Contador soloed on. But then the guy reached out and grabbed Contador's arm, and Contador clocked him right in the face.

I've never tried to punch anybody while riding a bike up a steep mountain road, but I've tried to do other things from that position (put on a jacket, take off a jacket, throw a water bottle at a menacing dog) and - trust me on this - doing almost anything other than controlling the bike is extremely difficult. Contador didn't flatten the guy, but I think he got his message across. And he didn't crash. Didn't miss a beat.

I could get to like this fellow Contador.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NEW PLANKS!

My latest attempt at purrrrrfection: Dynafit Stoke, 191 cm, 134/108/122, 24.8m radius.

I currently own about a half-dozen pairs of skis, but my 188 Coombas (right) are by far the best skis I've ever been on. Nevertheless, I carry on a never-ending personal vision quest for something better. Not because the Coombas aren't insanely great, but (A) because I can, and (B) The fun is in the discovery.

I mean.....even the guys who married Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson eventually got divorced.


Early-rise tip. Not as radical as "rocker" tip, but the efficacy of rockers whilst climbing on skins is controversial. The Coombas have conventional tips, although the more recent "CoombaCK" model has full rocker.




It's The Stoke, eh?


Designed in cooperation with Greg Hill, a backcountry legend from Revelstoke, British Columbia.

Trust me. If you're a real skier and you haven't skied Revelstoke......go there. Soon. And whilst you're there, ski Rogers Pass too....if you dare.


Specs written on the tail of the right ski.

Hergestellt am Österreich

Austria. Where skiers are REAL skiers, and sheep are afraid.



A Canadian flag maple leaf on the tips, in tribute to Greg Hill and Revelstoke.


Pre-drilled, reinforced inserts for Dynafit bindings.

Dynafit has redesigned their touring heels for 2012, and the 2012 touring bindungen are not available yet, so I'll just have to wait a few months to get my hands on a pair of FT's.


Mounting instructions for Dynafit bindungen. No drill needed. Just a screwdriver.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Really, REALLY Cool Engineering Project

A 200-mph, remote-control model car.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/remotely-hobbyist-takes-control-of-a-tiny-200-m-p-h-super-car/#

I wonder how the speed is captured? You'd have to put your photocells directly on the tarmac. At 100 m/s, the vertical tail fin isn't large enough to trigger a circuit closure in an average photocell, even with the potentiometer settings maxed out. At half a meter long, even the entire fuselage would still be a mighty small object to capture with a photocell at that kind of speed.

"Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood."

Show them how truly pissed off you are, in iambic pentameter.

Shakespeare's most vitriolic insults:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/17/shakespeare-insults_n_900193.html#s309660&title=You_should_be

No wonder the Poms were so appalled by John McEnroe. They hadn't heard anything like his infamous "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS, MAN" rant since 1616.

Monday, July 11, 2011

PLANKED!


For those of you who may be wondering what my ingenious nephew is up to these days, he's finishing up his PhD in computer science and is well into his 2nd summer fellowship at Microsoft Research.

Beats the hell out of skateboarding around the US Open site, dissing umpires.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Weird

Prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, I had a difficult time explaining to my friends on Austria Ski Team how in the great State of Utah ("the beehive State"), one can walk into a store at 3AM and walk out with a fully automatic submachine gun and a case of ammo, but it is impossible to walk into a convenience store or supermarche and buy a bottle of beer.

Well, sports fans, in Utah the situation has just gotten weirder.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2081565,00.html

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Most Expensive Golf Shirt In The World?

Joe Saward, my favorite F1 journo, posted this mind-blowing photo on his blog today.

http://joesaward.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/img_0837.jpg

Currently the Louvre is hosting an exhibition entitled “L’Art de l’Automobile", featuring Ralph Lauren's personal car collection. Joe stopped by to see it.

He (as I too would have done) just about fell over when he saw the price tag on this ordinary cotton golf shirt with some ostentatious embroidery.

For €125, it better come with a blowjob from a gorgeous French girl.