Monthly Archives: July 2005

Stars, rising and falling

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Well, as predicted, Kirsten Gum’s star, at least as measured by hits to my blog, has faded somewhat with the end of the Tour de France. (This is good — literally hundreds of you a day were scouring my site for pictures of the OLN honey, but I don’t think too many stayed for the literature.) In Kirsten’s place? A slow return to the classics, plus a renewed interest in the Dunn Memorial Bridge, and some new searches from the maturity-challenged for “Amanda Congdon’s breasts.” Amanda hosts Rocketboom, is very sharp, very funny, and is not going to show you her breasts. Ever. So get over it.

And while you’re here looking for info on the Dunn Memorial Bridge, let’s clear a couple of things up. First, the Dunn Memorial Bridge is not closed. You currently cannot get to it from the Albany side, but from the Rensselaer side, it’s clear sailing, and you can access I-787 going north or south, or connect to the Quay Street connector that runs to the Corning Preserve. Best map of the problem here. For bikers and runners, the sidewalk is still open, too. Further, it’s not the Dunn that has the problem — the ramp is up over the entire complex, and is really part of the long-forgotten South Mall Expressway.

Parker DunnAnd I won’t miss this chance to remind people of who Parker Dunn was. Private Parker Dunn of Albany was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously after the First World War. Here’s his citation:
“When his battalion commander found it necessary to send a message to a company in the attacking line and hesitated to order a runner to make the trip because of the extreme danger involved, Pfc. Dunn, a member of the intelligence section, volunteered for the mission. After advancing but a short distance across a field swept by artillery and machinegun fire, he was wounded, but continued on and fell wounded a second time. Still undaunted, he persistently attempted to carry out his mission until he was killed by a machinegun bullet before reaching the advance line.”

Bridge out

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What happens when a flyover 90 feet in the air, positioned over a major bridge, an interstate and local streets, suddenly drops a couple of feet? Total and utter chaos, that’s what. The ramp that leads from Interstate 787 to the Empire State Plaza — driving over it has always felt like you might be sailing into space, anyway — suddenly buckled and came to rest on an 80-foot support, miraculously not collapsing entirely. But now the Dunn Memorial Bridge, my main connection to the world, is closed, several other ramps and streets are closed, and there is no way to get to the Empire State Plaza by highway anymore — and my girls are going to summer camp at the State Museum. Prepare to slog.


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I have found bliss at the bottom of a bag of Chappaqua Crunch Granola with dried raspberries. Two words: raspberry dust. My motto: “Lick the bag!”


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It is hard for me to say why Lance Armstrong is the first athlete whose career I have really cared about. It is at least partly because he is so phenomenally gifted, able to do things others simply can’t. It’s also at least in part because that gift alone was not enough to make him great, and he figured that out and worked with others to create an incredible legacy. The cancer story, his incredible will and the phenomenal example he set, is a big part of it. And now this story of his dominance of the Tour de France, a record that won’t be matched any time soon, if ever.

And he had to go out wondering just a little bit if he’d made the right decision. His form this year, after some real questions in the early spring, was incredible. No one could touch him. It wasn’t for lack of trying. And once again, he won because he put together a great team . . . but when it came down to the line, Lance was the guy who pulled it off. We’ve been following him for years. My younger one really absorbed his cancer story, and used it for comfort when a family member was diagnosed (and survived). I take the admonition to “live strong” seriously. I came to athletics late in life, and it has made an incredible difference in how I feel every day, how I feel about myself, how I feel about life.

So one last cheer for Lance.

Jam packed

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Bekah portrait contrast

This has really been one of the busiest weeks in recent memory. Work has been absolutely insane, just wall-to-wall meetings separated only by sporadic crises and the shrill cry of lawyers: “I need to talk to you!” The Tour, of course, takes up all my nights, and keeps me up too late to do any morning biking (ironic, eh?) — though it is also the perfect kind of television to do exercises and stretching in front of, so July is typically my fittest, most limber month. We’ve had a bunch of things to get done — vacation plans, switching phone service, try to fix the fax machine. Lee’s been overloaded with her work, which seems to involve radiotagging truckloads of paper and tracking their movements like Mission Control.

And tucked in there was Rebekah’s 9th birthday. With nothing but a tiny Casio keyboard and a beginning piano book borrowed from a friend, she has been diligently teaching herself to play the piano, and we were so impressed by how hard she has worked at this that we decided to upgrade her a little bit and got her a full-size Yamaha keyboard — really good sound, it can imitate dozens of instruments, and it can plug into the Mac for use with Garage Band, which interested me most. She screamed when she saw it. My ears are still ringing.

Tonight, the birthday party — just a couple of friends and cousins at the ballpark, followed by fireworks and a sleepover. Should be fun.


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I feel a bit bad for Jan Ullrich, who after all is absolutely one of the top athletes in the world, but whose perennial batterings by Lance Armstrong have left him the butt of some pretty cruel jokes. And, after a brutal stage in which he really gave everything he had, he was riding down the mountain (one presumes in a car) and was stopped by the gendarmes. Hey, we kid the Germans! All is forgiven!

Check out Graham Watson’s incredible Tour photos. Good Tour coverage here as well. Though no mention of “Kirsten Gum naked.” Shame on all of you! (To think it is one thing; to search it, another thing entirely.)

So far, so yellow!

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The stages in the Pyrenees just about killed me — so many attacks, Discovery Channel team falling back on the first day, Lance having to work like mad to keep his rivals from gaining on him. But man, what a payoff — he pushed back everybody, including Rasmussen, who was starting to look like a threat. We got to see Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich fight it out on the slopes for kilometers and kilometers. We got to see Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) weep like a baby after winning the stage — even on the podium, he was so overwhelmed. And we got to see George Hincapie, after 9 Tours, finally get a much-deserved stage win. He’s always been a one-day race winner, and while he’s strong in the mountains, he hasn’t been there at the finishes. This time he got in a breakaway that stayed away, and while I thought he had gone too soon for the finish line, and that Pereiro would be able to answer, but he couldn’t, and George sailed across that line. Well done. And that finish puts Lance 2:46 ahead of Basso, but there’s still six more stages where anything could happen.

I am not Kirsten Gum’s love slave!

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Apparently the sight of Kirsten Gum in pigtails (and a form-fitting polo shirt) at the Tour yesterday was too much for most redblooded men in America, and they all ran to my site in search of pictures of Kirsten. Again, shame on you. You’re really messing up my site statistics, for one thing. I don’t get you people anyway — you clearly don’t know how to use Google Images, or you wouldn’t be wasting your time on my blog. Besides, doesn’t the phrase “I ran into Kirsten Gum in the bathroom and helped her fix French style hair scarf” sound more promising?

And while I have never met Kirsten Gum in my life, I would have to imagine that, like most women, she would take at least some offense at the search request “Kirsten Gum killer rack.”

Le Tour, and a tax-free metric century

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Just occurs to me that we head in to Stage 10 and I haven’t even written about the Tour this year. I can tell you that as long as the words “Kirsten Gum” appear on my weblog, I will never be lonely — searches for the OLN anchor hottie, who made the switch from big blonde to shaggy brunette sometime after ski season, have doubled the traffic to my blog since the Tour started. Of course, no one stays to read anything, because they’re hoping I have naked pictures of Kirsten, and must be very confused when their search brings them to the random rantings of a middle-aged lunatic. If I did, I certainly wouldn’t post them. No gentleman would. Do you people have no scruples?

So far, it’s been a great Tour. Discovery Channel certainly look like worthy successors to Postal, despite a little miscalculation the other day when they hit the first hill, the attacks came fast and furious and Lance was left alone to deal with them. They rode the team time trial brilliantly, though CSC would have certainly at least tied had David Zabriskie not taken a nasty fall in the final clicks. Lance did the honorable thing and refused to wear yellow the next day until Jean-Marie forced him to. Much less twitchy tour than the last couple of years — maybe the 3km rule has helped (it used to be that anyone who crashes within the last 1km got the same time as the group he had been with — now it’s 3km, making for less of an urgent rush to get to the line for those who aren’t going for the stage win. People have been calling for this for a couple of years, and it seems to have made for some safer finishes.

Before the rest day, Lance had slipped out of yellow — by more than a comfortable margin, to my way of thinking. He’s counting on Voigt of CSC to be unable to compete in the high mountains — something Voigt himself admits he wouldn’t be able to do. But still, CSC has got to want to keep that jersey. Rasmussen rode so strong, out alone just about forever, and it’s got to be that Discovery are sure he spent himself and won’t be able to climb, either. In any event, today’s the first day in the mountains (haven’t watched it yet), and coming off a rest day, it’s bound to be interesting.

In celebration, I did my own Tour de Saratoga and Washington Counties today — a tax-free metric century or, for the normal-thinking, 92km. Nice average speed, too. I was going to go for the full metric century, 100km, but baby, my legs were fried. It was up over 92 degrees (33, for my Canadian friends), I had been going for a high cadence and high speed (for me) the whole time, and the last 8k or so made my quads cry, so I just finished when I got to my car and was happy to finally be done. A lovely day, other than the heat and sun, and I discovered a lovely funky little cafe / health food store / gift shop in Schuylerville, General Schuyler’s Pantry. The kind of place I keep wishing were in Kinderhook, but isn’t — turns out it’s been up north the whole time! Had a good croissant, a big cup of iced coffee, a little chat with one of the owners, and a very pleasant little break. Highly recommended.