Thursday, August 20, 2009

Drinking

Did Australia really just figure this out?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trams

The mid-day trams really bring out the crazies in Melbourne...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Photo of the Day


File this under "What The Hell?" Also, focus is optional.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Photo of the Day

Mixed Use

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photo of the Day

Three today. One is me wondering why Jonathan's Boxter never looked like this. The others were just halfway descent shots.



Friday, August 14, 2009

So What?

http://www.theage.com.au/national/he-was-speeding-so-what-driver-dies-in-fiery-crash-into-shops-20090814-ek45.html

So what? Your cousin is dead. He caused $1 Million in damage. He's hurt multiple business owner's well being and source of income. He's caused emergency crews to be diverted from other projects.

So what? How bloody selfish.

Bogan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Health Care

I'm rather fascinated and perplexed by the ongoing health care debate in the United States. Neither side seems to be willing to accept any kind of middle of the road, much less have a civilized debate on it. As far as I can tell from down here in single payer land, the country is polarized. Why can't people sit down and have a meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of each side?

Despite it not being any tremendous secret where my political feelings fall, in some respects, I think the Right has a point. It's not right to subsidize people who wantonly increase their risk factors and don't contribute to the pool. And I certainly agree that fraud shouldn't be rewarded. But might there be any truth to the idea that people might want to lie less on their health insurance forms if they weren't worried of being denied coverage? I'm talking about people that actually have jobs.

Or what about, for example, a family that has health coverage through an employer for a kid with Downs. That parent is probably worried about looking for other jobs (or rocking the boat at the current one), lest they have to then explain a pre-existing condition to a new insurance company.

Being an engineer (of sorts), I enjoyed reading this article (thanks Adam), which discussed some of the probabilistic aspects of insurance, specifically the focus on the top percentages. I'd encourage everyone to read it. It's not gospel, and there are some potential holes in the logic (just as it appears CEOs twist math in their favor, I'm sure this guy does too, to help his case).

Lest you think that the bill (HR 3200) is perfect in it's current form (full text, PDF), I don't know that I agree with levying a tax on people who choose to not participate. I might suggest something more petty, like giving everyone a window to participate, and then making it prohibitively expensive (or allowing private insurance) for those who choose to not join the pool from the start (who aren't in a grandfathered program). But that's just me. I'm fine with letting people make their choice (just don't come whining when it bites you).

I guess what really frustrates me is that most people won't even take the time to read the summary, much less the full text (at nearly 1100 pages, who has the time?), and yet will go into a diatribe one way or the other.

I'm all for open, mature debate. I'll even encourage it here, to my extremely meager readership. But if anyone suggests that we need to keep the government's hands off Medicare, or that a government bureaucrat is going to be worse than a commercial one (or fails to realize that insurance companies are massive bureaucracies), I'll toss you from the debate. After all, this is my bully pulpit.

Photo of the Day

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

July's Epic Travel - Le Tour - Part Six

Stage 18. Annecy, France.

What a beautiful town. Right on an alpine lake, surrounded by mountains - I could see this as a cool place to take a holiday.

Oh, but there's a bike race on.

The teams were corralled into a paddock so the VIPs could have special access. It makes sense in terms of glad handing the high rollers (I guess) but it would have been much cooler to have each team bus fenced off so you could get a bit closer and let each team do it's own security.


As we were walking around, Stuart O'Grady rolled by rather casually.


We walked around to check out the different setups at each teams. Early riders were warming up, so we didn't see too many big names there. From what we could gather, the hotels were pretty close and riders were simply riding over when they needed to. We saw a number of riders doing this on the finish straight. But we did see plenty of bling, and Bert Grabsche, the current world TT champ warming up.




Got a peak at Dave Z's Captain America disc.


After a while, we walked over to the sign in/start house and then walked down the course a bit.



As we walked, we happened to notice that it there was a rather pretty town in the middle of the race.


Many pictures were taken here of the riders because it was easy - and sunny. I tried to get one of every team. I'm not sure if I did. If you feel your team is under-represented, just leave a job offer in the comments and I'll make sure to get as many pictures of your team as you want in the 2010 season.








I don't know if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but all throughout the race, we saw an unbelievable number of Australians. They were everywhere, every day. The only time we saw any real concentration of Americans was at the TT. I'm not sure why that is, but it's how we saw it.


We also saw good representation from shops that have had a direct bearing on my life.



After a while we turned around and walked back past the start and got some sandwiches (with an amazing amount of fresh butter) and went to the finishing straight. This was basically the only time we saw the finish line or podium. We set up farther down the road, and when it was time for the podium ceremony, you couldn't get there. More on that later.



And so, we watched riders in the final 500 meters for about two hours. Pretty amazing energy, and I'm sure that the riders appreciate having so many people cheering for them. The fans were remarkably supportive of everyone, too. While someone might cheer particularly loud for their favorite rider, everyone got a yell of encouragement.





In the end, as everyone knows by now Contador had an amazing ride, and won the day (and took a big stride towards the overall). As soon as he went by, we (and everyone else) started moving to the podium. Things were going pretty well until we got directly behind the VIP grandstand, then it was total gridlock. People were getting mean, pushing, shoving and swearing. Somebody passed out and the paramedics had to try to get to them. It was actually amazing - on two accounts. On the one hand, people went total mob mentality. It was horrible. On the other, the Tour organizers should be ashamed of themselves. Had they rotated the podium 180 degrees, they would have had an essentially endless field to house spectators. You wouldn't have the masses of people trying to get through such a small bottleneck. It really was pretty poor planning. Oh well. I guess that was the real downside of the whole trip.

After a quick dinner at the lovely Le Ramoneur Savoyard and a quick trip to the patisserie, it was back on the train to the hotel, for a quiet night. The next morning, we had to get up at about 4am for a 4:30 drive back to Zurich from Chambery, and an end to the trip. My trip didn't really end, as it then took me five days to get back to Oz, but that's how it goes.

Whew. Trip report finally over. I'm sure I left things out, but it's good to get it down. Christian Prudhomme sent me an email and said that I won the lantern rouge for bloggers. Next year I get to wear a red number on my camera. But hey, like I said, if anyone wants to pay me to take pictures and/or write up their team, I'm all ears.

Hopefully I'll be back to put that red number on.

Photo of the Day


Brimstone

Not surprisingly, the bottom fell out a few minutes later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Photo of the Day

July's Epic Travel - Le Tour - Part Five

Where were we? Stage 17, I think?

Bourg-St-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand. We had to drop Kelly off at the train station to go back to Geneva before Erin, Jonathan, and myself went to the slopes of the Col du la Colombiere. Things were going well until Kelly found out that train service wasn't as frequent as we thought, and the bus got her there as the flight was going wheels up.

Damn it.



Despite that blunder (sorry Kelly - we really felt pretty bad all day) the three of us rolled on to the race (what else can you do?). No real trouble driving up - just an eight euro nougat bar... and a cop that wouldn't let us go up the mountain. We thought we were early enough to drive most of the way up the mountain. A cop told us otherwise. Then Erin tried to object. Then he got all whistely (one with the whistle and the gesticulation). So we just parked and walked. Trouble is, we were some 15k from the summit.


So, we adjusted plans, like all good explorers, and after forging rain, town, and lunch, set up shop on the descent into Le Grand-Bornand. It wasn't the climb, or the top, but it was still cool. I mean, the rain had passed (no more eating in some unfinished garage), the people were cool, there was a great backdrop (the Alps), and we had three bottles of (amazingly) cheap French wine. We made it reasonably far up the slope (to the 5km banner). It was far enough.


Not Roubaix.



So we consumed our bread, meats, cheeses, and wines, and watched the mountains. It was good way to wait for the publicity caravan, which showed up, and provided us with copious amounts of cheap kitschy crap ranging from pens to hats to salami. Some came home. Some didn't.












While we were waiting for the race, I had a nice "chat" with this gentleman.


I say "chat" because I don't speak French, and he doesn't speak English. I roughed through asking him if I could take a picture of him and his bell, then asked how to describe his bell in French (forgot within 60 seconds; thanks linguistic brain). He told me this and (I'm sure) more. A few minutes later, he came over, and was explaining (we think) how the cows wear them because there are no fences and at night you can't see cows, but you can hear them. I'd believe it. That bell was the size of a good size pumpkin. And not an Australian pumpkin (butternut squash).

Then a bit later, the race came through. I won't try to narrate it. We're talking about a race that happened weeks ago. VeloNews can fill you in if you've been living in a cave.

Enjoy the pictures.