Thursday, December 29, 2005's easy

I turned on the Food Network the other day, and apparently cooking is easy. I swear, in every single show they had to say how "easy" their recipe is. "Hi. Today we're making a really simple 50 tier wedding cake." "I'm going to show you how to cook a 5 course meal for 20 people in 30 minutes." Just once, I'd like them to say "I'm going to show you how to make a scale model of New York out of melted sugar, and it's really damn difficult."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Copper Mountain

Christine and I went to Copper Mountain yesterday for some fun on the snow. It was a day of ups and downs to say the least.

We almost called the trip off at the last minute because Bucket hadn't been feeling well, but in the end we decided he was going to be fine. That give us a little later start, but we still made really good time. Even with some stop and go traffic on, we managed to get to the Copper Mountain parking lot in almost exactly 2 hours.

A pleasant surprise for the day was that djcrash and netski55 called while we were on the road and wanted to meet us at Copper. We ended up getting there at about the same time too. How perfect. Perfect, that is, until we realized that we left part of Christine's telemark bindings at home. Big bummer. She decided to check out the rental equipment to see if anything would fit her, and we were in luck. After trying about 6 different boots, she found a pair that fit and she got some good demo alpine equipment to try out.

There was no new snow and the first few runs of the day were a slick with hard snow, but once the sun came out, the snow softened up really nice. It ended up being a beautiful day. We skied through lunch, snacking while on the lift, and ended up leaving around 1 in an enjoyably sore condition.

We decided to follow Annette and John to a deli in Dillon for a bite to eat before we headed home, and wouldn't you know it there was an accident on I-70. Shocking, I know. I swear, this is the number one reason why I didn't buy a ski pass this year. Even when you're on I-70 on a perfectly sunny and dry Monday afternoon, you still end up sitting in accident traffic. I was glad we were only going to Dillon, but it still took us almost an hour.

The Dyer's took us to Jersey Boys Pizza & Deli, which is apparently one of their favorite local joints. They've got all sorts of great sandwiches (hot and cold) and pizza all homemade from scratch right there. Christine and I split a chicken parm sandwich and it hit the spot. The veggie melt that John and Annette had looked equally as good. And since they're one of the few places that deliver around there, the Dyers plan on keeping them in business. I would have never known about it unless they told us, so thanks for showing me a good new place to eat when I'm up there. It sure beats sitting in traffic. Next time I'll try to make it for $1 slices and beers at happy hour. :)

When we got back on the road it looked like I-70 had cleared up, so that's the route we took (instead of Loveland Pass). We were moving along pretty good until we got about about 1 mile from the tunnel and then we came to a screeching halt. Frequently when there's a lot of traffic on the other side of the tunnel they stop letting traffic through so that people aren't filling the tunnel up with carbon monoxide from their idling cars. I only know that because it's happened to me like 3 times. It's SUPER frustrating to just be sitting there on I-70 with nowhere else to go. Once you pass the Dillon exit, there's no more exits until the other side of the tunnel.

We finally got to the other side about a half hour later, and of course the road was still pretty clogged. I had some time to kill last year on the way back from a trip, so I tried out all the frontage roads along I-70 to see where they went. I was always so frustrated sitting on I-70, watching people cruise by on the frontage roads so I had to figure it out. It paid big dividends in this traffic; we got off the highway in Georgetown and didn't get back on until past Idaho Springs. It was such a joy to see the slow traffic on I-70 and know how much faster we were going. Neener neener!

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Merry Christmas Happy Holidays.

Christmas started with Bucket waking us up so he could go outside and puke. Christine got up to let him outside, but I wasn't able to get back to sleep. I spent my morning sitting on the couch watch the Food Network and trying to revive my dead laptop while I waited for Christine to wake up. I'm usually the one who gets to sleep in, so it was nice for her to get the chance for once.

Once Christine got up, we got to work on preparing a brine solution for our turkey. We got that soaking and moved onto to fixing a tasty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and french toast. Mmmm. Finally, the anticipation was finally over and we got to tear open some gifts.

I got a ton of great stuff, including a Playstation2 with Grand Turismo, a steering wheel, and Dance Dance Revolution. Good times! I think she wants me to wreck virtual cars instead of my own. I've also been enjoying The Complete Far Side collection. Amazon lists the shipping weight as 20 pounds, and they're not kidding. These are two extremely heavy books.

The weather was so fantastic that we couldn't really stay inside all day. We rode our bikes for a couple hours in the fantastic 60 degree weather. Coming down one of my favorite speeding hills I hit 52.3 MPH. There was a cop at the bottom of the hill, but he had already pulled someone over. Bummer. I would love to get a speeding ticket on my bike for 50 in a 35.

We finished out the evening with some turkey, mashed potatoes, and brussel sprouts. Yes, I like brussel sprouts. Don't persecute me.

Time for bed so we can go to Copper Mountain in the morning.

First ride with the new team

The road team at Peloton last year was only 5 people strong (including me). Of those other 4 racers, two of them have switched teams, and one of them quit racing. Since it doesn't really seem like Peloton is excited about sponsoring a team this year, I'm going to join two old teammates and race with BlueSky Velo out of Longmont. Saturday was my first chance to ride with some of the new teammates.

It's a little weird to drive all the way down to Longmont in order to ride, but I figured it was a good chance to ride with some new people before they get too fast for me later in the season. :) We rode from the shop to Masonville and back with a nice side trip through Eden Valley. Eden Valley is a cool area south and west of Horsetooth, and the reservoir back there was a smooth as glass as we rode by. It was awesome.

It turns out that one of the riders (Lee) is from Rochester, and now works the same place as netski55. One of the other riders is from Toledo (my home town). Small world.

I love that I can do a 60 mile ride outside at the end of December. Colorado rules.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Intelligent Design" fails in court

From CNN:

Judge rules against 'intelligent design' in science class

From Delia Gallagher and Phil Hirschkorn
Tuesday, December 20, 2005; Posted: 1:43 p.m. EST (18:43 GMT)

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A Pennsylvania school district cannot teach in science classes a concept that says some aspects of science were created by a supernatural being, a federal judge has ruled.

In an opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Jones ruled that teaching "intelligent design" would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state.

"We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," Jones writes in his 139-page opinion posted on the court's Web site. (Opinion, pdf)

"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions," Jones writes.

Intelligent design claims the complexity of some systems of nature cannot be explained by evolution but must be attributed to a designer or supernatural being.

The Dover Area School District, about 25 miles from the state capital, sought to become the first in the nation to require high school science teachers to teach the concept of intelligent design as an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution.

"Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact," said the statement that the old school board approved in a 6-3 vote in October 2004. "With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind."

That school board mandated the teaching for ninth-grade biology classes and directed school libraries to purchase an alternative textbook, "Of Pandas and People," which advocated the concept. The town has since voted out eight of nine board members.

A lawsuit challenging the policy was brought in December 2004 by 11 parents in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State last December.

Jones presided over a six-week trial that ended last month. His decision applies only to the Pennsylvania school district.

His decision would block the school district's plan "requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID."

Jones says in his ruling that he did not doubt that intelligent design advocates "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors," but he also said scientific experts testified that Darwin's theory "in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator."

Jones -- an appointee of President Bush, who backs the teaching of Intelligent Design -- defended his decision in personal terms.

"Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist court," Jones writes.

"Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on intelligent design, who in combination drove the board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy," he said.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, "Children in public schools deserve top quality science education and freedom from religious indoctrination and today they were granted both."

In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that Louisiana could not teach creationism because it would "restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint."

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Santa Clara

I'm in Santa Clara, CA for a training class on PCI-Express this week. Hooray for getting some good job training. I guess I picked a good time to go to California, because Colorado sounds cccccccold right now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Snow Day 2

We stayed in Granby Friday night at the rental unit attached to Christine's mom's diner. We got some good home-cooked food, but best of all, we were able to bring the dogs. One of the hard things about disappearing all day for a ski trip is figuring out what to do with the dogs.

We woke up to the wonderful sight of snow falling, and I couldn't wait to get to the mountain. I've only been to Winter Park twice, and both times we've parked on the Mary Jane side. I like the parking situation there because it's a really short walk to Corona Run, which you can ski down to catch a lift or buy your lift tickets. At the end of the day it's another short walk back to the car. None of that waiting around for a crowded wet bus.

When we were driving to the resort, my board collected a bunch of moisture on the base from all the road spray. Silly me, I took it off the roof and immediately tossed it base down on the snow. I've never had this happen before, but all the water that was on the board froze and it covered my base with little ice bumps. These little bumps are like anti-wax; my board just would not slide on the snow. It was soooo frustrating. We tried scraping off the ice with ski pole baskets and had limited success, but then Christine had the idea of using a credit card. It worked, and I was on my way. Lesson learned. Don't toss your wet board in the snow.

We met up with tele-master Scot at the lift ticket office and headed up for our first turns of the day. The snow was AMAZING! I can't believe we had such great conditions in early December. We started on Derailer, which was a little steep for my liking, but still quite fun with the amount of snow that was on it. This lead us to the Challenger lift, which was considerably less crowded than the Summit Express lift we had just ridden. All of the runs on skiers right of Challenger were awesome and full of snow, so we did some laps in this area. The trees in this area are also fun for a non-tree rider like me because they're kind of sparse yet still packed with good snow.

The plan today was to go hard and leave early, but it was hard to drag ourselves off the mountain. It's not too often you get conditions like that, but alas, we had some prior engagements and had to leave. If I had taken the correct run, it would have been a very easy trip to the car. Unfortunately for me, I got a little greedy and took one the runs I hadn't ridden yet, and it dumped me a little further away (and downhill) from our car. Oh well. The run was so worth it!

Here I am invading Kuzca's space


Scot making turns

Monday, December 5, 2005

Snow Day 1

The snow report on was taunting me daily last week and it finally got the best of me. Before I left work Thursday, I told my boss I'd be taking a snow day on Friday. :) Christine and I both had a free lift ticket from going to see the Warren Miller movie, and this seemed like the perfect time to use it.

After dinner, I put the ski rack on the new wagon for the first time and started getting things ready. I started keeping a list last year of all the various equipment that I needed for ski trips to keep me from forgetting things (I have a bad habit of forgetting things like my goggles, snowboard lock, and various other little items) , but it turns out that it also helped me gather up all my gear for the time of the season. Packing for the first ski trip of the year is always a bit of a chore because my gear isn't all gathered in one spot yet, but my packing list made the chore a little less painful and I was sure I wasn't forgetting anything.

Waking up to an alarm clock is no fun, but it's somehow a lot easier to wake up for a ski day than it is a day of work. :) We left the house around 7 and didn't hit too much traffic on our way to Copper Mountain. The Eisenhower Tunnel area was slow due to snowy roads (chain law was in effect and Loveland Pass was closed), but that's to be expected and Christine piloted the Subie beautifully. At least everyone was driving civily. It drives me crazy when the weekend warriors tailgate or weave through lanes in that kind of weather just to get to the mountain a few minutes quicker.

After a quick lesson on how to use my new Dynafit AT bindings, we we on the mountain; Owen and I on skis and Christine on her snowboard. The first run was sort of a disaster for Christine, because she was reminded just how much her bindings stink. They kept popping open so she wisely chose to go back to the car and put on her telemark skis. In the meantime, Owen was beating me up on the bumps by taking me down a double black. I wouldn't say I was smooth or anything, but I made it down in one piece. Good to know I can still make it down the mountain on skis. I was really happy with my new gear, especially the boots. They fit leaps and bounds better than any other ski boot I've worn. Even with it being pretty cold out, my toes stayed nice and warm. By the end of the day, I was feeling a lot better on my skis. I still feel like I'm working harder than I need to, but hopefully I'll get more efficient with time (and tips from my skiing buddies).

I always forget how much I like Copper. It's got a good layout with a lot of great terrain, plus the Center Village is a fun place to hang out for a beer and some snacks after a hard day of skiing. Even though there wasn't as much fresh powder as we expected (sorry to be a snow snob), we still had a great time playing around and dusting off the off-season cobwebs. I can't wait to go back when there's some more snow and even more terrain open. If our current snowfall trend keeps up, we're in for a killer ski season.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Paris Report

After a short (albeit frustrating) week, I couldn't wait to leave and get down to the airport. We had allowed plenty of time to get to the airport, but going 20 mph down the highway wasn't making either of us really excited. We were happy when the speeds picked up, and we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The parking lots at the airport were pretty full for the holidays, but we were pleasantly surprised to see that the check in and security lines were very short.

My first trans-Atlantic flight went pretty well. It was a big 777 plane and every seat had their own TV to keep us occupied. The food they served was actually quite edible, and it even came with a little bottle of wine. The wine (preceded by a Jack & Coke) were enough to make me sleepy so I could get sleep that I was told would be necessary so I could stay up when I got to Paris. The only real problem was the screaming kid that I don't think shut up the whole time. I’m glad I brought earplugs.

Christine demonstrates proper usage of a travel pillow

Before I knew it, they were serving us breakfast and preparing to land in London. We only had about an hour at the London airport, so we just breezed through to our connecting flight. The flight to Paris was less than an hour, and I managed sleep the whole time. The arrival in Paris was a little of a culture shock since I don't speak the language, but having Christine there to translate was a huge bonus.

I got my first glimpse of Paris traffic on our bus ride to Montparnasse, and it's crazy. I was most shocked by the motorcycles and scooters weaving through traffic. I don't know if it's legal, but they were always splitting lanes (riding between two lanes of cars). I guess it's somewhat okay on the highway, but it looked super dangerous in the city. It's kind of like Boston, in that there are streets going everywhere and people generally don't know exactly where they're going. So you have cars making last minute decisions to turn, which is horrible when you're on a bike trying to pass them.

Christine enjoys some Freedom FriesChristine says hello to Paris

After we settled into the hotel, we headed out so we wouldn't be tempted to sleep. The first order of business was a river cruise down the Seine. It was a little rainy, but the boat was covered and we could still see things pretty well. We wandered around the Eiffel Tower area a little bit before heading back to the warmth of the hotel, stopping for a bite to eat at the local brasserie. That was an interesting experiencing in translating menu items. I ended up with a ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette and a glass of Nouveau Beaujolais.

Our first order of business Friday morning was a trip to the Eiffel Tower. We lucked out with the weather, because the skies cleared up and we had a pretty awesome view of the city. It's interesting how the architecture is different. A lot of the buildings sort of form polygons with courtyards in the middle. It made everything look like the overhead shots of the Pentagon. From the tower, we walked over to the Hotel des Invalides, stopping on the way for a ham and cheese crepe. Yummy.

View from towerEiffel Tower
Eiffel TowerRyan eating a crepe

Invalides is where Napoleon is buried and it's also a really cool military museum. They have an amazing collection of weaponry and clothing that dates back several hundred years. The United States is a relatively new country, so I've never really seen so much stuff that is so old (except for art at a museum). I mean, there we were looking at military artifacts in a mansion where Napoleon used to live.

On the recommendation from one of my French coworkers, we then went to the Musee des Arts et Metiers. I wish we had some more time there, because it was really cool and we had to skip some stuff at the end. I really like seeing the early mechanical calculators that Pascal invented. Some other cool things were: an experimental setup that was used to measure the speed of light, automatic looms that read punch cards to weave patterns, a Cray supercomputer, and displays showing how the Statue of Liberty was built. Very cool museum.

Army MuseumOld computers at Arts et Metiers

I had made a reservation at a super stylin’ hotel for Saturday night (The Hotel du Louvre), so we checked out of the Libertel and dropped our luggage with the concierge our new hotel. We intended to go climb up the Arch de Triumph, but it was closed due to weather. It was actually snowing in Paris (a rarity especially in November), so the top of the arch was slippery. The sign posted at the monument actually said it would be open "later". Nice and specific. We killed a litte time before our room was ready by doing some trinket shopping on the Rue de Rivoli. We had some friends that requested cheezy Paris trinkets, like miniature Eiffel Towers, and we were happy to oblige.

Our Louvre roomA view into The Louvre

We stopped back at the hotel and our room was ready. Such a nice room with a big king sized bed and a balcony looking at the Louvre. We could actually look out our window and into the balcony. It was hard, but we forced ourselves to leave and walked across the street to the Louvre. Neither of us are big art museum fans, but we felt like we needed to make the obligatory trip to the Louvre. The main order of business was to see the Mona Lisa, so that’s where we headed first. After that, we went to Venus de Milo and glanced at everything else in-between.

The Louvre pyramid entranceWinged Victory
Venus de Milo

By then it was time to get reader for dinner and a special trip to the Eiffel Tower afterwards. We were dismissed from our first restaurant choice because we didn’t have a reservation (even though the place was practically empty). With so many restaurants around, it was no big deal to wander around for a bit and find place on a side street. There were some French people eating there, so I guess that’s a good sign.

Christine's tasty dinner

After our dinner we took the Metro over to the Eiffel Tower for a nighttime trip to the top. Brrr, it was cold up top. We walked around the observation deck and stopped on the southwest side, where I proposed to Christine. I think she’s going to accept, but she’s currently still weighing her options. :)

Self portrait after the proposal

Unfortunately, we had to check out of our high class hotel on Sunday morning. We left our bags with the concierge and went over to another of Paris’ famous sights, Notre Dame. It’s amazing that a building of that magnitude could be built in the 1300’s. From there, we took the short walk to the Isle of St. Louis where we enjoyed some hard cider and a chocolate & banana crepe at one of my mom’s favorite creperies (Le Sarrisan et le Froment ). Yum!

Notre DameNotre Dame

We then picked up our luggage and transported it to our new hotel near the Arch de Triumph. As usual, when we came up from the Metro we didn’t know which way was which, and we didn’t know of the streets around the circle was the one we were looking for. Christine watched the bags as I walked around the circle looking for street names. I felt pretty silly when I suddenly saw the huge Arch de Triumph, which is the direction we were looking for.

Our room at the Hotel Elysees Ceramic was your pretty standard room, but when you stepped out onto the balcony you could see the Arch de Triumph. We were pretty close to it, so we decided to walk on down and venture up to the top. After climbing the long spiral staircase and visiting the collection of Napoleon artifacts, we climbed out onto the top of the Arc for another great panoramic view of the city. Again, we were lucky and the sun came out for our visit.

Balcony viewView from the Arch
Arch stairs

We had to make is sort of an early night so we could get up early to catch our plane. Our vacation was over. :(