Tuesday, November 18, 2008

QoS Index

Now that i'm studying economics i've learned that economists are fond of acronyms and graphs correlating lots of things together. Sometimes just one graph isn't enough, so they line up four or even six graphs side by side and draw lines from one graph to another to show how stuff like fiscal policy will affect interest rates or inflation or price level or employment (unless you're a neoclassical economist and believe we're always at full employment) or any other number of things. It makes my head hurt because i'm not used to seeing the world in graphs like this, but in an attempt to become better at it i have developed my own way of indexing the correlation in my life between quality of sleep and number of papers to grade. I call it the Quality of Sleep index, or QoS for short. It's really very simple. The higher the stack of papers, the lower the quality of sleep.

For example, this is the stack of papers that was recently on my kitchen table. As you can imagine from the height of the stack, i have not enjoyed real quality sleep for the last few days (nor have i had time to post on my blog). My students are fond of blaming me for having too much to grade. They say if i didn't assign as much, i wouldn't have to grade as much. True, but you wouldn't learn as much either. I think i'm going to have to create another graph or means to measure this and correlate it to the Q0S and try to establish where the point of equilibrium lies. Economists are also very fond of finding the point of equilibrium.

At any rate, the stack is much smaller tonight, so i'm looking forward to a good night's rest. Unfortunately my writing students have two more papers due in the next week, so the reprieve is short lived and as the stack of papers grows higher again, my quality of sleep will once again decline.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

DC lied to me.

Before the race today DC told me he hadn't ridden all week and wasn't feeling that great. Then he went out and killed it again, two weeks in a row. I'm not going to believe him anymore.

A few vids from the A and 35+ A races and the super-muddy run up.


video

video
video

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes we can!!

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes


Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?


I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

CX is fun (and muddy)


It was perfect blustery fall this morning when i got up and took the dogs out, but by about 11:00 it started to clear. The clouds parted here and there and the sun poked out a little and i thought we might have warm temps again for our race, but about 20 min. before start time a big cold front rolled in and brought more wind and rain. I was drenched before i had even finished a warm-up lap.
The race started really well for me, for about the first 500 meters. I got a good sprint off the line and was sitting right behind DC and Pasternaky coming into the first transition from dirt road to single track. With about 15 guys chasing hard behind me i laid it down sideways and skidded across the grass. Another guy t-boned my bike and did a beautiful endo right over the handlebars. Amidst the mayhem i grabbed my bike and jumped back on, but was now in about tenth position as opposed to 3rd. For the next three laps i worked hard and made my way back up to about 4th or 5th. I had come around a few guys on a straight away and had only one more guy ahead of me before i was in 3rd. I was sitting on his wheel into a tight, muddy corner and he went down, and i went down right on top of him (i know a few posts ago i said i didn't believe in karma, but this has made me reconsider).
While i was picking my bike back up, the six guys i had passed all swept by me, and i was playing catch up again. The crash had caused my front wheel to burp, however, and my rear tire skewer to come loose, so i rode half a lap with a low front tire and a loose back tire until i could get to the pit and change bikes. By the time i got going again i was out of contention for a good finish, so i just tried not to get caught.

TW flatted out on the first lap, but she got to hang out and cheer with this guy.



And super props for the superamiga support crew who came out in the cold, wind and rain to bang pots and pans and cheer me on, even while i was bringing up the rear of the pack.


Despite the lousy finish, i was bummed when i realized that we are more than half way through CX season. Only five more races! What a downer!

Oh Yea, but the worst part of the day was that my hot water heater went out yesterday, so i wasn't able to go home and take a hot bath. I was tempted to get in the hot tub, but was too dirty (it's amazing how much of that mud can get through your clothes). Instead i just opted not to bathe at all until i get the hot water heater fixed tomorrow. Probably doesn't matter much anyway because i spent most of the day before and after the race cleaning up the mucky, stinky basement which had been flooded by the leaking water heater.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CX is fun (and bloody)


I'm not gonna lie, RMR has never been my favorite venue for a CX race; too much gravel, no single track. Even after the new course today, that continues to be true. So far this year the venues have been great, but i wasn't real fond of the thick gravel and motocross woopdeedoos (ok the woopdeedoos were kind of fun, but the gravel sucked). They moved the course from winding around the oval to the motocross track (and gravel parking lot and then some more of the gravel parking lot), and although some aspects were better, it definitely didn't favor my strengths; actually accentuated my weaknesses, namely that i'm a lousy technical rider. The gravel took lots of riders out today, including TW who models her post-race legs in the pic above. Despite going down a few times, however, she still managed an impressive showing of 3rd place, even after upgrading to the women's A group.


video
The run-up and up and down (watch the third guy's technique for the 2nd barricade).


The nasty gravel corner that took out countless riders (though by the time i took this pic at the end of the day a lot of the gravel had been pushed away from the corner making it a lot cleaner than it had been for most of the races).

The run-up and down.