World Record

Austrian Manfred Ruhmer has again set a world record in freeflight. For years, he was the unbeatable world champion in hang-gliding cross-country competitions (shortest time to goal, often in excess of 100 miles per round, 4-6 daily rounds in a row). Since he thoroughly and indisputably dominated and conquered that world, he turned his attentions a couple of years ago to foot-launched light sailplanes. He flies a Swift Light, a lighter design variation of the Swift, designed by Steve Morris, a hang-glider pilot and aeronautical engineer right here in the Bay Area whom I run into from time-to-time. 483.1 miles, from morning launch at Zapata, TX to an evening landing at Lovington, NM. This breaks Robin Hamilton's record of 425 miles, set from Zapata last year. His only power was the thermal-generating power of the sun, and in fact, where normally they only decide to go if they've got a decent tail wind, Manfred needed to leave in a couple of days, so it was make or break and he flew the distance with a significant cross-wind component. Noteworthy is that Manfred also holds the flex-wing hang-glider world record of 432 miles, which he set from Zapata in 2001 and...


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Nothing New Here

Warren Weyer isn't too happy about a new Arizona ballot initiative designed to get more trailer trash than ever before out to the voting booths come election day. Look on the bright side, Warren; as concerns voting, it just makes explicit what has always been implicit.


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Quick Photo Note

I figured it would be better to organize my several hundred photos of the Europe trip first, and then I could refer and link to them as I write more about the trip. I've had a Club Photo account for years, but I hate it (too slow, especially since I pay for it) and haven't bothered to look into alternatives. Organizing the myriad photos on three or four computers into one cohesive whole is always something I'm going to get to... Somebody -- my brother, perhaps -- told me about Google's Picasa, but when I first looked, it appeared that publishing was via a Blogger blog, which, since I clearly already have a blog (and I'm very happy with TypePad), that didn't interest me a lot. TypePad has photo-album capability, but I'm not too excited about making the blog that personal, right front-&-center, and photo albums will quickly gobble up my disk-space allotment. But now, Google offers an alternative called Picasa Web Albums, and it all looks very cool. I downloaded Picasa and it immediately went to work finding and organizing every image on both hard drives. Organizing is really simple, and when I get to it, I'm sure publishing...


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Well…

...I've got no problem with embedding at all, and think it's one of the cleverest ways to deliver video clips yet. So here you go: Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life Clip 1 (Intro) Clip 2 (Interview with Mike Wallace) Clip 3 (Conclusion)


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Word

What more can I say? I'll say this, though. There needs to be more effort on everyone's part -- from the reporters to the documentarians -- to get names and name them in bold. I just love the idea of some of this shame sticking (thanks to Google) for years and perhaps decades to come. Maybe, just maybe, when these cops start googling their own names and the names of co-cops and find themselves in the first page of results in so shameful an expose, they'll start thinking twice about their behavior. I doubt it, but I'll be happy to be wrong. Update: Here's another one, via McElroy.


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One Less Idiot

Yea, I'm going against my oath not to blog political stuff until my Eurotrek reflections and photos are done. So shoot me. Anyway, who said this? "At this point, I rationally chose to abandon the Leftist philosophy of my youth, because it no longer adequately explained how the world really worked. With my Leftist interpretation of the world now shattered, I looked around for alternative explanations for making sense of the world. "I stumbled into reading Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand—I read all of them. I said to myself, "Wow, this all makes sense. This is how the world really works. This is incredible." Then I became Laissez Faire Books best customer for the next five years. I think I read every book in their catalog. If any of you in the audience have written books, I have probably read them." Would you believe John Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market? Read the whole thing. One less idiot is always a good thing. Come to think of it, while in Europe, I became quite fond and accustomed to the "Euro-breakfasts" served in all the hotels. Pastries, bread, cold cuts, fruit, cereal, yogurts. Stuff like...


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Eurotrek 2006 – Wrap

It's a wrap. Got back yesterday to SFO about 12:30 a.m. Home by about 2 a.m. We had been informed by phone and email that it was 100 deg. F in our condo. I'd left the A/C on, set to 82, so that means my intermittent A/C issues aren't resolved in spite of several things I've done. Dave, my super-brother, was good enough to head over to the condo about 6 p.m. to follow a couple of simple trouble-shooting steps and he got the A/C going. Later that night he drove the 50 miles up to SFO to pick us up and get us back home. By that time, six or seven hours later, it was down to 80. Combined with the fan, good enough for sleeping. Ironically, we'd had lots of A/C issues along the way in Europe. More on that later. Alright, the plan is that I want to spend some time filling in the blanks for the trip, offering up some commentary on Europe -- the culture and the politics -- and upload and annotate all the photos. This is a fair-size project and the deal I've made with myself is to abstain from political blogging until...


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Eurotrek 2006 – Bumped

First time ever in all my travels going back over 20 years. We've been bumped and are sitting in wait at Charles de Gaulle, our non-stop to San Francisco having departed. Instead of arriving back on the west coast at noon on Monday, it's now another 5 hours until we leave Paris, on to Washington-Dulles, two-hour layover, and then on to San Fran -- arriving about 12 hours later, at midnight. What fun. The upside is that they've given us a travel voucher for 1,600 Euros, which works out to about $2,000 worth of travel on Air France or KLM. So, perhaps a Christmas-time trip to Papeete, Tahiti, is in order. Alternatively, we can take 1,200 Euros in cash, about $1,500. That's what I paid for these tickets in the first place, so for 12 hours of inconvenience, I'm not too unhappy. Besides, overbooking is all part of the deal and you know (or should) going in. Off to lunch on Air France. Then perhaps I'll have some time to post some travel experience updates. On y va.


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Eurotrek 2006 – Moblog Germany

Waiting for my order of 3 (Not one. Not two.) varieties of bratwurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes. Yumm. We're at Martin's Brau in Freiburg.


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Eurotrek 2006 – Mo Moblogging

Great view of Brunelleschi's Dome from the rooftop bar (where to look for me) of the hotel.


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Eurotrek 2006 – Moblogging

My wife Beatrice catching up on email this very minute at the hotel in Florence. Won't she be surrised in about a minute when I tell her to check my blog.


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Eurotrek 2006 – Update

We're in Florence, as the photo of Brunelleschi's Dome (Wikipedia article) I sent from my camera phone attests. I got lots of photos, which I'll organize and publish once I return. My last update, over the weekend, was from Nice, which we used as a base to explore the area by car -- Canes, Antibes, Villefranche-Sur-Mer, Monaco, etc. We dined in Villefranche that night. One of my favorite places in the south of France going way back. Oh, yea, we also did an afternoon in Saint Tropez (and yes, the Gendarme de St. Tropez building is still as it was in 1964) on the way to Nice. I used to live just an hour from there and I went often. Can't get enough of looking at those yachts tied up in the harbor. Upon departing Nice we took the auto-route and headed straight for Italy and it's Cinque Terre region. I was due for three days of relaxing on the beach, so we decided to forgo Rome this trip and take a breather. We chose Monterosso and I loved just about everything about it -- especially the part owner of the hotel we stayed at. 35 years on the job...


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Eurotrek 2006 – Phone Blog

From my Treo. Waiting in line to see Brunelleschi's Dome in Florence, Italy.


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Interlude: The Stupidest People on Earth

Interrupting my vacation commentary for a brief sideline... Go laugh your ass off. I actually grew up around some people this fucking stupid (which necessarily includes anyone who reads those "Left Behind" books). Morons. (Beck)


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Eurotrek 2006 – Now What?

I just now realized that the entry right below this one seems to have gotten itself unpublished after I'm sure I published it. So, if you were one I'd sent a link out to and it didn't work, it's there now, though it applies to what was going on three days ago. Franky, this is a piss-poor travel log. I'd had grand designs of publishing along the way, but I think that desire was based on the ability to publish from anywhere at any time -- which is certainly cool -- and not on a particular desire to share continuously. So you get the mish-mash, for now, but I promise to do a better writeup -- if not soon -- when I get back home. There will be a few hundred pretty good photos too. Those who remember the Kauai trip know I take decent pics. Right now we're in Nice, which is a bit of a disappointment. I'm not sure whether it's because it has changed from 15 years ago, or just because it's a holiday (Bastille Day, yesterday) and the whole stupid world is here and the local restaurants are catering to such stupidity by being stupid. Well,...


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Eurotrek 2006 – Où Sommes-Nous?

Where are we? Arles, France, at the Bouches-du-Rhône (Rhône river delta). Here's the Wiki-article as well. We headed out from Cadaques, Spain yesterday, hugging the rocky coast, but arrived in France pretty quickly. We then hit a stop or two with the French side being roughly the equivalent geography. That changed pretty quickly as we got into the plains, river deltas, small inland seas and such. Boring. So -- and this is the point of all this -- I kicked the car up to 90 mph (140 kph; but the limit is 130, which is about 80 mph) and off we headed towards Avingon. It's a city were the center is completely within the walls of the ancient Roman city. Alas, tough to get a hotel, etc., so we headed to Arles and are actually in a Best Western, of all things. Today we're going to check out the Roman Arena and Theatre here in Arles, then head back to Avignon to check out Le Palais des Papes. (Aside: I've yet to talk about the car we rented. At the Hertz counter at Charles de Gaulle, I was quickly persuaded to take the Mercedes for a about a 50% increase...


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Eurotrek 2006 – Week One of Three

We're right here now; Cadaques, Spain. I'm quite surprised how much I've been enjoying Spain -- at least this northeastern portion of it: Catalonia. I've got a lot, a lot to write about -- going back to Paris, actually -- but it's been go go go and when we've stopped I've not felt like writing. I had good opportunity back in Sant Pol, with killer WiFi, but opted to spend the day at the hotel pool, reading. One thing is that we've been doing as the vacationing Spaniards do, which is to say: napping in the afternoon; going out to eat about 10-11 pm; staying out until 2 am; and sleeping until 9 or 10. Wouldn't want to make a life of it, but it has its logic in the context of a Med vacation. Speaking of Internet connections: I am amazed. To say that they (France and Spain, so far) are miles ahead of the U.S. in connectivity is laughable. They are light years ahead. I've not had less than a 4 of 5 signal since leaving Paris. Nowhere. No. Where. This includes out in the middle of nowhere, over the Pyrenees, darting in and out of these coves...


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Eurotrek 2006 – Interlude

Been driving hard. Once we left Paris, late in the afternoon of Thursday, the 6th, it quickly became apparent that nothing would suffice except the beauty, peace, and wondrously calming environment of the Med. Like this: We made it to Toulouse that night, scrounging a hotel across from the train station at 1 a.m. The next morning we continued on, over the high Pyrenees, through Andorra, and on to Barcelona. It was getting late and I was in no mood to search for a hotel there, so we headed north along the Med and finally found a nice place. Then we ate at about 10:30 p.m., but being Spain, this is normal. Locals were arriving after us. Anyway, we're at this tiny little village of Sant Pol, just one step up from Sant Feliu de Guixols. Our lodging, the look from the terrace in the photo above, is right under the "Sant Pol" label you see at that Google Maps link. Dinner. I've catching up to do, which I'll do tomorrow. We're here for two nights.


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Eurotrek 2006 – Day One

Random bits So the flight was a little over 10 hours, not 9 as I'd been thinking. I never sleep on airplanes, and it's always odd when arriving in a completely different time zone to just continue on without the benefit of a refreshing sleep. It was hot and muggy in Paris as we arrived at around noon of the 4th. Got through immigration, got the car, and then got lost in the 8th & 9th arrondissements looking for the hotel. These old cities aren't based on a grid as are most American cities, so it's difficult to keep bearings. The map was pretty useless, so I initiated a search pattern and after 30 minutes or so, stumbled upon a street I recognized and made our way. We got about three hours of sleep, got going around 7 pm, and had dinner in a tiny little Italian place just down the street. Excellent service and food. I reflected on why I'm so damned impatient with American restaurants. With the exception of the rare few, they simply do not get it right. The presentation and the timing is always off. This is one of the things the French are famous for....


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Independence Day

I actually read about some well-known conservative blogger nitwit referencing the U.S. Constitution -- the document that rescinded American independence -- in celebration of this day. Anyway, here (in case you've never read the actual founding document of America...).


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