Monday, January 28, 2008

Hey, Google, Notice This
One of the wineries I work with, Rochioli, has a website. Maybe a few links to it will get it onto the front page in a Rochioli search?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ice and Snow in the Forecast for Portland
Get ready for some of this:
What's What, Falling Moisturewise
Is it "light rain" or "heavy drizzle"? Is there a difference? And what about sleet vs. snow pellets? Weather guys and gals throw around a lot of terms, and I realized today I haven't always been too clear on the distinctions. So I did a little search for a good glossary of precipitation. USA Today comes through:

Rain: Falling drops of water larger than 0.02 inch in diameter. In forecasts, "rain" usually implies that the rain will fall steadily over a period of time. (See "showers" below).
Light rain: Falls at the rate of 0.10 inch or less an hour.
Moderate rain: Falls at the rate of 0.11 to 0.30 inch an hour.
Heavy rain: Falls at the rate of 0.30 inch an hour or more.
Drizzle: Falling drops of water smaller than 0.02 inch in diameter. They appear to float in air currents, but unlike fog, do fall to the ground.
Light drizzle: Drizzle with visibility of more than 5/8 of a mile.
Moderate drizzle: Drizzle with visibility from 5/16 to 5/8 of a mile.
Heavy drizzle: Drizzle with visibility of less than 5/16 of a mile.
Showers: Rain that falls intermittently over a small area. The rain from an individual shower can be heavy or light, but doesn't cover a large area or last more than an hour or so.
Snow: Falling ice composed of crystals in complex hexagonal forms. Snow forms mainly when water vapor turns directly to ice without going through the liquid stage, a process called deposition.
Snowflakes: Aggregations of snow crystals.
Snow flurries: Light showers of snow that do not cover large areas and do not fall steadily for long periods of time.
Snow grains: Very small snow crystals. The ice equivalent of drizzle.
Snow pellets: White, opaque ice particles that form as ice crystals fall through cloud droplets that are below freezing but still liquid (supercooled). The cloud droplets freeze to the crystals forming a lumpy mass. Scientists call snow pellets "graupel." Such pellets falling from thunderstorms are often called "soft hail."
Sleet: Drops of rain or drizzle that freeze into ice as they fall. They are usually smaller than 0.30 inch in diameter. Official weather observations list sleet as "ice pellets." In some parts of the country "sleet" refers to a mixture of ice pellets and freezing rain.
Freezing rain or drizzle: Falling rain or drizzle that cools below 32°F, but does not turn to ice in the air. The water is "supercooled." When the drops hit anything they instantly turn into ice.
Ice storm: A storm with large amounts of freezing rain that coats trees, power lines and roadways with ice. Often the ice is heavy enough to pull down trees and power lines.
Hail: Falling ice in roughly round shapes at least 0.20 inch in diameter. Hail comes from thunderstorms and is larger than sleet. Hailstones form when upward moving air -- updrafts -- in a thunderstorm keep pieces of graupel from falling. Drops of supercooled water hit and freeze to the graupel, causing it to grow. When the balls of ice become too heavy for the updrafts to continue supporting them, they fall as hailstones. Sleet, in contrast, consists of raindrops that freeze on the way down.
Thunderstorm: A rain or snow shower in which there is lightning. Thunder is always caused by lightning. In general, the upward and downward winds, updrafts and downdrafts, in thunderstorms are more violent than those in ordinary showers.
Thundersnow: A thunderstorm with snow instead of rain falling on the ground.
Severe thunderstorm: A thunderstorm with winds of 57 mph or faster or hail more than 3/4 inch in diameter reaching the ground. Severe thunderstorms can also produce tornadoes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Presidential Trivia
Courtesy Wikipedia: "Upon Harding's death, poet E. E. Cummings said 'The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead.'"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Funny 'Blog'
It's here. (Jack Bog pointed the way.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Marathon Gods Owe Willis
Over the past several months I've enjoyed checking the site of Willis, a guy in Los Angeles who had dedicated tons of energy--physical, intellectual and emotional--to achieving a 3:10 marathon time, which would qualify him for Boston. Yesterday, he put it on the line.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Race Report: Cascade Half Marathon
I’d raced 13.1 miles many times — but all in half-iron distance triathlons, never a standalone half marathon. So a couple of days ago when I saw the Cascade Half Marathon upcoming, it caught my eye.

The race is held near the town of Turner, five or six miles southeast of Salem. That’s an easy freeway hour from my house. And God bless the organizers, the race was set for the sane hour of 9:30 a.m., so I wouldn’t have to get up real early. And the clincher? A forecast calling for dry, cool and calm weather — perfect for running.

Of course, having come up so suddenly, there was no specific preparation or taper for this race. And that’s as it should be. It’s January and January is all about building the base—not going for PRs—for Ironman CDA. To that end, I’d been cranky out lots of 8-12 mile runs the past month, and riding the bike trainer four or five times a week for an hour or two a spell.

Up at 6:30, out the door by 7:15, into the gloom. This is what happens here when the rains stop in the winter: big-time fog. I was struggling and worried the first few miles of the drive, but then things got just enough better to make driving only slightly challenging, vs. frightfully difficult.

Race HQ was at Cascade High School, on the flat farmlands of the eastern Willamette Valley. When I arrived, it looked like the sun was popping out, but by race time the fog was back. I started with a long-sleeve technical shirt (Napa Valley Marathon 2007), a windbreaker zip vest and gloves, but ditched the windbreaker after about half a mile. It was chilly, maybe high-30s, but completely and utterly calm — couldn't beat it.

How hard to run, though, that was the question. I didn’t want to kill myself in this race. I knew I could run a lot faster than my triathlon halves — best of which was a 1:50:07 at Vineman in 2003 — but didn’t want to redline it to the point that I’d be trashed for a week or so. Heck, I need to do two or three 10-milers and a 15 this week.

So I went out at about 7:15 pace, tucked behind a group of guys, one of whom, it became apparent, is a high school track coach, and another who coaches at a college. Their conversation about the upcoming season and who might have scholarship potential kept my mind occupied for nearly the first two miles. Then I slowly cruised past them, feeling pretty good about that 7:15 pace, which, over the course of the 13.1, would bring me home in an hour 35.

With the fog, there wasn’t much to see on the run. We were cruising on mostly straight, flat country roads, headed out and back. At around five miles I hooked up with a lanky dude who didn’t seem offended when I said it wasn’t fair that I had to take two strides for every one of his. My pace had fallen off a bit on miles 3 and 4, so it was good to have someone to help keep me moving along pretty steadily, and he did, and we chatted from time to time.

There was a clock at the halfway turnaround and if I remember correctly it was just ticking past 48 minutes when I rounded the pylon. I was a little disappointed at the time, and also didn’t like the way the slow down, sharp turn, and speed up of the turnaround got me out of a rhythm. (Pretty whiney, eh?)

The next couple of miles were uneventful, but I got back into my rhythm and felt pretty comfortable. Then around the 8-mile mark I noticed how great I felt. I didn’t feel like I was working that hard. So I picked it up a little bit. James, the guy who’d been with me, stayed for a while, then fell off. For about three or four miles I felt amazingly strong. It occurred to me that I might be able to make up the time I had lost to my 7:15 goal pace — without killing myself. Clearly, I’m fitter than I have been, certainly fitter than I have been at this point in a season. Plus, I think the conditions helped a lot. The calm and cool was great, but the fog also made it easy to tune things out and run with great focus. I don’t know Zen meditation, but when I sink deep into a run, the world falls away. The running is everything, but at the same time it’s not even there. It’s weird.

Anyway, that didn’t last. Things started to ache — left calf a bit, left hip. The last mile and a half or so was work. I kept pushing, but stayed under control. I wanted to bust 1:35, and when I passed the 13-mile marker, I knew I would. On my Garmin, I ran 1:34:51. Officially, it was 1:34:52.5, good for 62nd out of 397 runners, and 8th among the 35 45-49 men. Especially gratifying was that I pulled off a negative split for perhaps the first time in a long race, coming in under 47 minutes on the second half.

The Garmin was a hundredth or two ahead pretty much each mile, but it had great receptivity the whole way and without many sharp turns, it’s figures are trustworthy. I figure the discrepancy is a result of my not running the shortest route (crossing from one side of the street to another to avoid an approaching car, etc.).

1 7:13
2 7:11
3 7:20
4 7:29
5 7:21
6 7:15
7 7:11
8 7:18
9 7:01
10 6:56
11 7:01
12 7:08
13 6:55
Last .1 1:15 (.23 miles on the Garmin; 6:13/mile pace)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

There's Got To Be an Easier Way
From the Southeast Examiner, here in Portland:
She said that as a counselor at the Rosehaven Women's Shelter she once tried without success to find overnight shelter for a 60 year old woman. Failing, she spent hours helping the woman relocate the bridge she was sleeping under.
Big Apple Daily Still Hearts Us
Along with the Yankees, City Government, the Banking Industry, the Presidential Primaries and maybe a couple of other things, I do believe The New York Times now has a beat called Portland (Ore.) Cycling Issues.

Friday, January 11, 2008

His Record? Here's His Record (Now Let's See Yours, Hillary)

Hillary Clinton, in her campaign's continuing effort to mischaracterize Barack Obama's record, is quoted as saying this week: "[Barack Obama] was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president. And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Bad Turn
I've not commented on the Democratic race because I've been feeling pretty good about most of the candidates. Each of the major contenders struck me as a vast improvement over the incumbent. True, I was rooting for Barack Obama, but I wasn't speaking ill of anyone. But now, now that her candidacy is at risk, we're seeing how desperately Hillary Clinton wants the presidency and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get it.

First there was the New Hampshire mailer alleging Obama was soft on choice, based on his "present" votes (instead of no) on Illinois legislation while in the Illinois Senate. In fact, Planned Parenthood had endorsed the "present" vote -- which amounts to a "no" in Illinois -- as a tactic to protect vulnerable Democrats. People in Illinois familiar with the situation were stunned at the audacity of the Clinton campaign in trying to twist the truth on Obama's abortion record.

Then comes the Social Security mailer. Man, if Obama gets the nomination, the GOP will use this one in their slime campaign against Obama. Obama has suggested that while keeping the Social Security tax cap at its current $102,000, we may have to tax income OVER $200,000 or $250,000 in order to maintain the current benefit structure. Income between $102,000 and the new, higher limit would not be taxed. So IF you make over $200,000 (or $250,000 or whatever the number ends up being), your Social Security taxes might rise. Based on this, what does the Clinton campaign say to New Hampshire voters? "Barack Obama. A plan with a trillion dollar tax increase on America's hard-working families." Yeah, those hard-working families who pull in a quarter-million a year. Meanwhile, Clinton suggests no plan at all for shoring up Social Security. Her position, according to the mailer, is to "address Social Security without putting burdens on hard-working families or seniors." Hmm. Sounds like what Obama is proposing.

The really sickening thing about this is that one the bravest things Bill Clinton did as present was raise income taxes soon after his election. The early-90s tax increase was key to setting us on a road to budget surpluses later in the decade. Bill Clinton pulled this off despite the attacks of Republicans -- attacks that sounded precisely what we're hearing Hillary Clinton use on Barack Obama today.

I don't suppose it matters to her, but Hillary Clinton should know that this sort of thing will lead to her getting drubbed come November. There's a core of Republicans who will never vote for her, so she can't afford to lose any Democrats. In fact, she'll need to draw in new voters to the fold. Savaging Barack Obama is only going to drive people away -- potential new voters, and others (like me) -- who have always voted Democratic.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Race Report: First Run

The year got off to a fast start. Not as fast as I had hoped, but that really wasn’t the point, was it. (The point? How about: Doing something I love as another year begins!)

As most of you were getting a good buzz on with glass of wine No. 3, I put on my tights and a few layers, hopped on the MAX – free from 8 p.m. until closing time – and headed downtown for The First Run & Walk. I was participating in the run part, a tidy 5K. Good crowd on hand at the World Trade Center plaza, many folks huddled around the gas heaters with temps in the mid-to-high 30s and some gusty east winds blowing from the gorge. A little warmup, a gathering of the forces – maybe 1,000 people? – and then the countdown. At zero, we yelled those three words that are traditionally yelled at midnight on December 31 and off we went. I had 20 minutes in mind, though I had no right to. I’d run 30 miles in the past four days and did a couple hours on the bike trainer and walked about four miles earlier in the day. At the turnaround I was right at 10 minutes but I couldn’t quite hold the pace, finishing on my clock in 20:18. Not bad. By spring, 10 pounds lighter, I’ll do 5K in 19 minutes. Yeah! What the hell, let’s add that to the list of goals for 2008, to go along with a good Boston showing, solid Ironman performance, and who knows what else comes down the pike.

UPDATE – Official results are in.
Time: 20:15 (6:31/mile pace)
Age group: 3/44
Men: 42/418
Overall: 47/933