Friday, December 30, 2011

Cox Family News Letter Volume 41 Number 12

Cox Family News Letter Volume 41 Number 12

Dear Friends

2011 was a wonderful year for the Cox Family here in Raleigh.  Evelyn continued her volunteer work with the local chapter of The American Red Cross.  This year, Evelyn concentrated more on volunteering for Red Cross events where they provide first aid locations for public events.  This fall and winter she began to help with the Disaster Assistance Teams (DAT) again.

Zach continues to work full time but has set a definite date when he will no longer work full time (The date is 15 May 2013). Zach rode in his 14th consecutive MS-150 Bicycling Tour this year and participated in his 7th Cycle North Carolina Bicycle Tour.  He continues to visit the gym for an hour or so 5 days a week at 5:30am to swim and exercise, and gets in as many bicycle rides as he can.

Robert continues to help around the house as well as take courses at the local technical college.  This fall Rob gave up using Apple Computer products and instead built up from scratch his new (and now only) Windows-Intel computer (it really is a nice computer).

Anna and James have announced their engagement to be married in 2012.  We are all very excited about this and look forward to the wedding.

Ginny and Joe are doing grand in Berkeley CA.  Evelyn drove out to CA this summer with Anna and they had a good visit.  Anna flew back and Evelyn stayed on.  Zach flew out the last week in August (had a great visit with Ginny and Joe) and then Evelyn and Zach drove back across country together.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christopher Hitchens passed away 15 December 2011. Here is a link to a YouTube video where he discusses the 10 commandments.  At the end of the video he gives an updated version of them that do fit very nicely modern times.  Here is a link to to the text of the discussion on Vanity Fair.

And here are the updated commandments.
  1. Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or color. 
  2. Do not ever use people as private property. 
  3. Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations. 
  4. Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child. 
  5. Do not condemn people for their inborn nature—why would God create so many homosexuals only in order to torture and destroy them? 
  6. Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent on the web of nature, and think and act accordingly. 
  7. Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus rather than with a knife. 
  8. Turn off that fucking cell phone—you have no idea how unimportant your call is to us. 
  9. Denounce all jihadists and crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions. 
  10. Be willing to renounce any god or any religion if any holy commandments should contradict any of the above. In short: Do not swallow your moral code in tablet form.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Part of the Greenway (Bike Ride)

From the beautiful I440 overpass near Wade Avenue there will be a bit of greenway that extends down the inside of the beltway to Glen Eden Drive.  The greenway actually will have underpasses under Lake Boone Trail and Glen Eden Drive.  Once it goes under Glen Eden you can bike up to Glen Eden and cross over the beltway and pick up the new part again near Glen Eden Park then again parallel to the beltway but outside the beltway to the Crabtree Valley Mall area.  We rode the new part from where the it crosses Blue Ridge Road to Glen Eden.  We would have continued on Glen Eden and gone under Glen Eden and Lake Boon Trail but other bikers told us it did not connect up to the overpass yet.  When it does we will bike all the way to the Art Museum and beyond.  We got on the beltway at Yadkin Drive and Crabtree Creek and once we returned to the main greenway after riding the new part we continued up Crabtree Creek to the end then back down the creek to Yadkin and home again.  We rode a total of 18km today.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Business Model

From a note posted by my nephew on Google+

We have an iMac. It's 5 years old. Recently, Netflix stopped working on it. The operating system (Tiger) was too old. We updated the OS to Snow Leopard. Now it works again.
We wouldn't tolerate this kind of nonsense with a television or a stereo. Why do we tolerate it with a computer?

The modern business model is to force the consumer to repurchase the same object over and over again.  In computers it is S/W, O/S, H/W ...  And of course we all know what a "Subscription-Service" is.  And what a "Maintenance Agreement" is.  

Recently our 20 year old Frig. underwent what I thought was a 'minor' issue.  The repairman asked if we had the Maintenance Agreement, We said yes and he slapped a yellow sticker on it and said go get a new Frig, We did and the total cost of the swap was $75.00.  I thought that was super till I totalled up the agreements we had paid over the last 20 years and even given the odd visit from the maintenance folks they made money on the transaction.

Also about the stereo and the TV --- once they fail (in almost any way) you find at that point that the device itself is so integrated and optimized that the 'repair' far exceeds the 'replace' and you purchase the same object again.

I think this business model is at its core an unsustainable model and should be changed.  The changing of the model must occur and there are quite a few businesses that understand this.  The lure of quick easy reoccurring is very powerful and will not easily be dislodged.  I first noticed this model when the US Car makers designed and produced autos that would not last 100,000 miles.  The German and Japanese car makers eventually 'fixed' this but at great cost to the United States.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Greenway Spin With A New Saddle

I do not have a lot of 'seat-time' this year and my recent 200K MS-150 Tour left my seat in 'sore-shape'.

As luck would have it Evelyn just recently purchased a "Moon Saddle" so I borrowed it an put it on my bike to give it a spin.

I just did a 25K greenway ride and stopped to adjust it four times (I had no clue how to set this thing because it's geometry is so wildly different from a standard cycling saddle).

I think I have it adjusted correctly and I also think it will work grand.

Stay tuned for more exciting news as I give it (and the rest of my bicycle motor) a real workout next week.

Here is a picture of the saddle.

From Random Graphic Images
Here are the details of the 25k ride:


1:28:52time          (hh:mm:ss)

25.41distance      (km)

17.1average speed (kph)

44.2maximum speed (kph)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 MS150 Cycling Tour

National MS Society Eastern NC Chapter 2011 MS150 Cycling Tour
(My 14th Year In A Row)
To My Dear Contributors;

With your help I am now only $20.00 away from going over the top in my fund raising goal for this year's  ride!!!  


Here are the details of the ride this year:

5:15:353:36:36time          (hh:mm:ss)
119:4679.19distance      (km)
22.721.9average speed (kph)
44.747.1maximum speed (kph)

I wanted to go 240 km (150 miles) but only did a total of 200 km (the 75 mile on Saturday and the 50 mile on Sunday) in order to get back to Raleigh Sunday night to catch a flight out to a site for my work.  I got back last Friday night and am finally getting a chance to write this up.

Friday night and Saturday night I did camp, here is a post about Tenting in Union Point Park.  Because I forgot my air mattress I did have a bit of a 'hard-nights-sleep' but once on the road Saturday morning felt fine.  I got in with a few high speed pace lines (high speed for me) and enjoyed myself.  Also I saw my my old friend from when I first joined the computer industry, Gary Rohlke!  

When I got back on Saturday I also realized that "I did not know where my towel was!"  So it was off to Wall-Mart for a camping towel and one of those thin self inflating camping pads.  My night's sleep on Saturday night was much more restful (not only for the pad but also riding 75 miles that day in five hours).

Sunday was a beautiful day and I packed up the car before leaving on the tour and completed the 50 miles by around 1pm, a bit slower than Saturday but not much.  I was relaxing in the tent near the finish line and saw Blanch Dean the team captain of the MSFits and we had a good visit.

Then it was off to the car to collect my new camping towel and get a shower and head back over to the convention center for some lunch then back to Raleigh.  I got all my bike and gear stowed on and in the car and thought, "What the heck." I got in the car, went down the street and gassed up at the BP station got a big diet MtDew and a bottle of water and headed to Raleigh.

The weekend went very well, my 'seat' was not as tuff as it should be this year and I did pay for it this past week as I felt that my you know what was in a sling all week :o) 

I'll edit this post and add a link to some more pictures as I get them.

Friday, September 09, 2011

2011 Ms 150 (Tenting At Union Point)

Hear I am ... this is the first time in 14 years (all my years) that I have camped out at Union Point.  Back in the day when we biked from Clayton to Kinston then from Kinston to Emerald Island I did camp on the MS150 but never before in New Bern.

This is a grand camp ground.

Below is a picture of my tent and my number that I pinned to my backpack.  I've carted my bike to the 'bike-room' in the convention center so it is happy enjoying airconditioning.  But to be fair tonight is a beautiful, clear, cool night with an almost full moon.

After purchasing a pair of MS150 bike socks and an MS150 sweat shirt I found myself just sitting on a bench looking out over the Neuse and Trent rivers.  So I decide to try and find a place to eat.  The first place I just walked right by thinking it surely was full.  The second place was tiny and totally booked up.  So, I decided to cut through the block to check out the coffee shop that Evelyn and I have visited in the past.  The parking lot passed beside the back door of Morgans Restaurant (the one I skipped initially) so I decided to check out to see if they had patio seating.  Just as I was looking for someone to ask if they had an outside tabel ... I heard someone shout "Zach Cox!!!".  It was Nora's Sister and she was at at table with a one of her girlfriends waiting for another one to show up and invited me to hang out there.  Well three pints of Guinness later and a hamburger I'm doing fine, and I think I've done enough Carbo-Loading for tomorrow's ride.

By the way ... the "I'm riding for" banner has the names of my good friends Bruce and Brandt who both do have MS.  Not sure if you can 'zoom' enough to see them.

I'll post more tomorrow night.

Also ... by the way I'm posting form my super cool MacBook Pro with an AT&T 'air-card' attached :o) (how slick is that!!!!)

From 28_AUG_2011_Bike_Ride

Here is a slide show of all the pictures I've taken so far (the first few were included on purpose - Ginny and her Dad :)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day Bike Ride

Being 'on-the-road' (in a car) the past few days and not being able to go to the gym or do any cycling was starting to concern me ... the MS150 is coming up next weekend.  

So I decided to do a Labor Day Ride and here are the details:

36.27 km .... distance
19.10 kph ... average speed
54.90 kph ... maximum speed (going down Scotland Street)
01:53 hh:mm . elapsed time

This was a 'greenway-ride' and I did cut it about a km short not wanting to descend the great hill to near the WakeMed end and then just have to climb right back up that hill.

This was also a 'muddy-ride' since there were rain showers and the bike path did have a lot of sand and dirt and the small puddles of rain were just enough to make it a messy ride.  I need to go out and hose off my bike and put some oil on the chain.

Here is a picture looking at the, now far away, rain clouds:

From Random Graphic Images
and here is another one looking just to the east of the one above.

From Random Graphic Images
These pictures are taken on the way back.  On the way out when heading the other way on the board walk you climb out of the swamp and cross Raleigh Blvd and continue on down the greenway beside Crabtree Creek.  I have not ridden this greenway since the tornado passed and there is a great swath cut in the forest there where all the trees are snapped off about 20-30 feet in the air, with the trees on the other side of the creek just flattened.  That was right where the path of the tornado went.

Labor Day 2011

When I was a young school kid I used to think that Labor Day was when everyone had to go back to work after having the whole summer off. Back to work for me in those days was back to school.

Now I think it is one day off after having the whole year of working ... Well perhaps not quite ... Since, I am just completing (as of today) an 11 Day Vacation that included: 

  • A flight to Oakland CA and a super visit with my daughter Ginny and my son-in-law Joe. That included a bike ride with Ginny, helping with the purchase of a keg of Anchor Steam Beer with Joe (yum), some super pizza, and in general a great time. Evelyn was already out there having driven out earlier in August with Anna and then staying on and 'Cat-Sitting' for Ginny and Joe's neighbors. 
  • A car trip back across the United States with Evelyn on which I got to ... Visit for the first time in my life Boulder Dam --- I did take and will post some pictures. 
  • We spent a night at Lake Mead after leaving Berkeley early on Tuesday. 
  • We spent Wednesday night in Albuquerque NM a day in which we drove through a thunderstorm as we crossed the continental divide (I wonder about those drops of rain that fell on a rock so they split one half to the Pacific and one half to the Atlantic. 
  • We spent Thursday night with John Steve and Mary Nelson in Edmond OK and got to see my nephew Steve and eat some super barbecue chicken and have a grand visit. 
  • We spent Friday night in Nashville TN, and got to eat in a very nice Italian restaurant.
  • We spent Saturday night with my beautiful Daughter Anna and her fiancĂ© and my future son-in-law, James. We had supper at a super restaurant and got lots of great talking and visiting done. And had a super pineapple up-side-down birthday cake for Sunday breakfast.
  • Yesterday, Sunday was a final drive across NC via Chimney Rock NC, US74, I85, NC49 and US64 to Raleigh. 
  • And today I'm about to head out for a bicycle ride.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Bay Trail Bike Ride

Ginny and I put the bikes on the back of the car and headed out for "Albany Bulb" park.  We parked the car and headed west along "The Bay Trail" a bike trail that follows the San Francisco Bay.

Here is the route "The Bay Ride" this morning the sky was overcast because 'The Marine Layer' had not yet burned off so we were in no danger of getting a sunburn.  The route is lined by Fennel which was full bloom and smelled great.  The bike path runs right beside I80 the freeway that runs down the East-Bay. and then diverges from the freeway and continues right along the shore line.

We did the 9.02 miles in about one hour or less.  The San Francisco Bay Area is planning on a trail around the entire bay here is a link ""

Here is a photo album of Me and Ginny when we were out riding.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

BikeFest 2011 - A nice 56K ride.

After being slightly 'cooked' in the 80K "Cup-and-Cone" bike ride I did not want to repeat anything like that for this ride, so I opted for the 56K distance (vs the 100K or 160K distances).

Instead of over 100F temps this Saturday featured rain showers.  I am much better riding in the rain than I am riding in 100+ temperatures.  I do not know if that means I would have been successful with the 100K distance, and I am pleased with how I felt at the end of the ride and I think I've restored my confidence that I'll do just fine in the MS-240K (MS-150) come September.

I did not mount my bicycle computer so the figures below are approximate:

Total Distance (kilometers) ... 56.00
Elapsed Time (hours:minutes) .. 01:50
Average Speed (km per hour) ... 23.00

There were near 800 riders registered for the ride and it may be that most of them did show up for the ride.  The first group to leave started at 7:30 am and then others groups were let go up to around 8:15 am depending on how far you were going to ride.  I left around 7:50 am and arrived back at 11:10 am and subtracting off the amount of time I spent at the two rest stops I think 1:50 hh:mm is about right for the time I spent on the bike.  

I did not find any of the up-hills to be super hard and none of the down-hills came out to be super fast so the ride did fit me very well.  I think all but perhaps 3 or 4 of the up-hills were completely ok, which means that I shifted into my 'granny-gear' only 2 or 3 times, and otherwise stayed in my middle-gear, and only 3 or 4 times switched to my 'big-gear'.  

All these 'gears' refer to my front/big-chain-rings.  On the rear cluster I go up and down completely, while in the 'middle-front-chain-ring'. I only use the top (low) gears in my 'granny-gear-small-front-chain-ring'. So, correspondingly, only use the bottom (high) gears in my 'big-front-chain-ring'.  I suppose my minimum speed was around 10 kph while my top speed was around 60 kph.  

It is absolutely the case that I spend much more time grinding up hills than zooming down them. However because of my 'buoyancy-issue' going down hills it does even out, but makes it very hard to ride with a group because I coast down hill much faster and grind up hill much slower.  If I can change my density then I can ride with groups much better because I can peddle up hills with the group (assuming I have the same strength I have now) and will not have to break when going down hills.  This goal should be realized in about one year (9-10 months) when I hope to reduce to my maximum BMI.

Below is a picture of the returning 56K rider in his brand new BikeFest 2011 shirt.  And, it is hard to tell but the white stripe on the right actually spells out BIKEFEST2011 while the symbols on the left are the 'turn-signals' that are painted on the road.  When you do one of these type of rides you really do learn how to pick up the symbols and the 'white-stripe' is the ubiquitous road paint you see on the sides of the back-country two lane roads we travel. I've also included a picture of the cool water-proof queue sheet holder and my wrist band.

Also below is a video of 'Rest-Stop-One' the clip is blurry because I took it with my cellphone camera that along with everything else had been exposed to the driving rain shower I rode through (the cell phone is a "Casio-GzOne-Rock-Phone" which is OK being 'washed-off' and inadvertently dropped into water (something that two other flip phones I've owned did not survive).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cup And Cone MS Bicycle Ride (2011)

A nice ride. This ride featured "Helmet-Chips".  The organizer of the ride Bruce Bokish also runs a company that does sporting event timing.  Things like runs, and bike rides.  The RFID chip is embedded in some paper and stuck to the helmet of the rider or the rider's running bib.  As the runner or rider leaves the area to be timed an RFID scanner array reads each RFID tag as it passes through the scanner array field.  Then at the end of the timed course the rider or runner again passes through a scanner filed and the tag is read again.  For this ride the scanner array was positioned beside the road at the bottom of the 'Col de Lystra', a two mile climb up the front face of the Uwharrie Mountains.  Jordan lake is 216' above MSL while the 'summit' of the 'Col del Lystra' is over 400' above MSL.  As you can see from one of the pictures below Lystra Road does go right up the hill.

Here are the details of the ride:

04:10 hh:mm . Total Time
78.52 km .... Total Distance
              (1.5 km short of 80k - see below)

18.80 kph ... Average Speed
66.30 kph ... Max Speed
              (coming back down the Col de Lystra)

100+ F ...... Temp at the end of the ride.
80+ F ....... Temp at the start of the ride

I've done this ride in the past but only the short version.  Today I felt I was up to the 50 mile 'out-and-back'.  50 miles is about 80.4 km --- Today I got "SAG'ed" back to the start at the 78.5km mark.  This is the first time in all my bicycle rides I have ever been SAG'ed.  I have ridden in ove 110 degree heat but that was in  Wyoming and the relative humidity was essentially zero.  Today the relative humidity was ove 80% at the start of the ride.

SAG stands for Support and Gear and is run by grand folks whose job it is to make sure those on the bike ride make it back to the start.  They have pickup trucks, vans, even cars with bike racks.  The Cup and Cone bike ride was fully supported and there were many SAG vehicles. Below is a picture of the young man who picked me up.

I am in good shape but I think I did not eat properly in the days leading up to the ride.  It is always good to have plenty of carbohydrates under your belt when you take off on a serious bike ride.

Here are some pictures of the ride.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sand Castles And Kites

A day on the beach here is a video of the kite and some drip sand castle.

And here is a slide show of some still pictures of the same scene.

Dancing Up The Sun And Riding Down The Wind

This morning at the cottage I was up in time to get out and do my Tai Chi form down on the beach.  It was a beautiful morning.  The wind was a little strong from the east and the moon was full.


From Random Graphic Images
This is the view looking toward the ESE.

From Random Graphic Images
Here is the view down the beach toward the WSW and the full moon.

From Random Graphic Images
Here is a look toward the east just after I completed my form (and the sun is just behind that cottage).


Got all my togs together and took off up the island toward Fort Macon State Park 16 miles away.  The wind was pretty strong and I only averaged 17.9 kph on the way to the park, while I averaged 20.4 kph for the entire ride so the turn around was four kph. Here are the details.

02:36 .... hh:mm (time)
52.99 .... km (distance)
20.40 .... kph (average)
31.30 .... kph (max)

I met a guy at the Fort Macon shelter that overlooks the channel and he may decide to do the MS150 this year.  He is a triathlete. I'm ok with the swim and the cycle but my knees do not run.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bike Rides At The Beach

The beach cottage this year is around mile 14.5 on NC58 as you drive toward the west end of Emerald Isle.

TUE 05 JUL 2011 - A nice ride. The wind was pretty strong so the stretch from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle was slow. Here are the stats:

01:26 hh:mm (time)
25.29 km    (distance)
17.50 kph   (average)
40.40 kph   (maximum)

THU 07 JUL 2011 - Another nice ride. The wind was negligible. I felt stronger today than day before yesterday and arrived at the cottage just a few minutes before the end of today's stage in the Tour de France.

01:15.5 hh:mm (time)
25.03   km    (distance)
19.90   kph   (average)
42.00   kph   (maximum)

A NUMBER OF DAYS - Every day that I could I did get up around sunrise and walk down to Conch Point.  

Conch Point is very close to the northern end of 6th street. The city has cleaned it up and added a pier that extends out into Calico Bay.  At the end of the pier are two ramps to floating docks.  Small boats can tie up there.  And kayaks and canoes can be launched just beside the pier.   

The place is usually deserted at sunrise and I can stand on the end of the floating dock and practice my 'Tai Chi for Arthritis' form.  I purchased a music CD-ROM that is grand to listen to while I do the form. 

Here is a video of the first few minutes of sunrise on the 11th of July.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Simple Shaker Style Wall Cabinet

Finally, some time to apply the finish to this beautiful wood!

I was able to wipe everything down with the 'Tung Oil' (or China Wood Oil) and let it dry for 24 hours. Then this morning I just fitted all the parts together and took the pictures below.

I think I should give everything another sanding and another coat of the 'Tung Oil' and repeat until the finish looks good.

This project was a class put on by the NCSU Craft Center. The author of the project, David, teaches middle school and is a master cabinet maker and also works with restoration of historical projects. He gave me some of his 'cut-nails' to fix the back panel on.

The project was essentially complete at the end of the six weeks project, but sanding and now finally starting to put the finish on and final assembly has taken much longer.

The picture gallery below also contains pictures of the earlier part of the project that took place in the Craft Center. Each bit of wood for this project started with rough sawn stock and had to be joined and planed and ripped and cut to length and then the various joints cut and set together. I have really enjoyed this project.

A Simple 'Shaker-Style' Wall Cabinet

Here is a Link To A Previous Post about this project.

Here is another Link To A Previous Post about this project.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Three Peninsular Ride

This morning I did "The Three Peninsular Ride".  

I leave Fisher Street and head up Bay Street to 20th then out to Blair Farms  Point and on to Country Club Road and on to the High School.  

Next back toward town on the bike path to the hospital then across US70 to the boat launch place and down Evans Street to the Atlantic Beach Bridge.  Over the bridge then onto Fort Macon. 

Once at Fort Macon I took a short break and rode back the same route.  

Here are the details:

02:56 hh::mm .... Time
59.29 km ........ Distance
20.20 kph ....... Average Speed
54.60 kph ....... Maximum Speed

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bike Ride (And A Jammed Shifter)

At least it wasn't stuck in the highest gear, see this post for that story.  I am wondering if I may need a new shifter since I took it to my local bike shop for a complete tune-up over-haul and this was the result on my first outing after that.

This morning I took off on my North Raleigh Loop Ride and was feeling strong.  I was about 10 miles out getting ready to cross US70 on Ebenezer Church Road and noticed I could not get my rear gears to change to a higher gear.  I was able to shift to a lower gear but not higher.

This situation got worse so when I got to Westgate Road I decided to cut over to Leesville and ride down to Millbrook then back home.  

Once again my bike was reduced to a three speed.  Except this time I was in the lowest gear on the rear cluster.  I was thankful for that when climbing those hills from Leesville and Millbrook up to Creedmore and then on Millbrook at Leadmine Creek up to North Hills Drive.

Here are the 'stats' for the ride:

01:32 hh:mm - Total Time
29.50 km ---- Total Distance
19.20 kph --- Average Speed
58.90 kph --- Maximum Speed (I think I hit this twice once crossing Crabtree Creek on Ebenezer and once crossing Leadmine Creek on Millbrook.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


My sister, mentioned in an email that the college, where she is a librarian, has a baseball team that is doing well this year. She wrote in part:

"... Mt. Olive College is doing very well in the national college baseball competition this year. If it weren’t so hot, I might almost be tempted to attend today’s game in person.  I understand it is on the Internet, tho’.
I watched part of the Ken Burns “Baseball” series on PBS earlier this week, & quite enjoyed it. I didn’t have to watch the long stretches when nothing much is going on, just the exciting bits when Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, or Pete Rose were hitting home runs, or making fantastic catches.

I think I finally understand something of how the “designated hitter” rule works, tho’ I don’t think I will ever fathom the true inwardness of it.
I was interested to hear about the origin of “The Curse of the Bambino.” Do you suppose it’s finally broken, since the Red Sox have won a World Series? I can understand why a legend like that gets started, especially when I remember hitting my only home run, playing softball at the old elementary school in Mt. Olive.
I couldn’t wear my glasses, as athletic glasses didn’t exist at the time, so I was lucky to see the pitcher, let alone the ball. I swung more or less at random, & actually hit the ball into the outfield. I stood there gaping at the ball, until my teammates’ yells to “Run, Gwin Lee, run!”  reached my ears, & I took off on my first & last home run.
It was exciting after the decent obscurity of the outfield. There were very few hits that came my way, given the limits of our batters & pitchers, so I was mostly a spectator in our softball games.  I do remember playing 3rd base, on occasion, when we were really short on players ..."

Gwin's post got me thinking about baseball as an abstract game in terms of symmetry, and rules, and events.  Here is my response that explains the game:

"... I do expect "The Curse of the Bambino" is truly broken ...

However, if you do want a good solid curse then you can not do better than being cursed to loose constantly against one of the best teams in your league. And this was just the situation Boston enjoyed. "Normal Team vs Super Team" implies normal team must be cursed since it looses against Super Team so often, and no one wishes to self label as normal while at the same time labeling their rival as super. Once you throw in the "Self Fulfilling Prophecy" effect the curse is well established.

Baseball I think is a wonderful sport. It is very symmetric. Each team is given precisely the same number of opportunities. Each team must struggle to break the built-in symmetry. And the game is NOT OVER and extended in a symmetric fashion until the symmetry is broken.

The whole point of the games is that a man must throw an object at a precise location with as much or little force as he deems necessary while another man must attempt to disrupt that throw by deflecting the object with a wooden stick.

There are many prizes and penalties in Baseball during the play of the game. The game can be characterized by them.

Each time the thrower manages to get three throws past the fellow attempting to disrupt his throw then the prize for the thrower is to send the fellow back to his bench where he must wait his turn to try again.

The thrower and his team mates conspire against a single player of the disruptor team (and in some cases up to three of his team mates).

That single player attempting to disrupt the throws must strike the thrown object with his stick in such a fashion that it is placed in a location that no one on the opposing team can retrieve in the time it takes for him to change his location from his initial position to one of four precisely located positions, in order (the forth position is the same location as his initial position). If he can do this, his prize is that he can stand among the players of the other team at one of the precise locations until he is able to advance to the next of the the four locations in order, or is forced by events to return to his bench.

There are may penalties in Baseball. The thrower only has six attempts to throw the object to a precise location. If four missed throws come before three correct throws then the fellow attempting to disrupt the throws is allowed to proceed to his prize at his own pace. Seeing the fellow attempting to disrupt the throws just walk to his initial prize can be frustrating to the thrower.

The fellow disrupting the throws must do so in a precise fashion; if the disruption does not result in his arrival at his specific prize location before the object being thrown is retrieved he must return to his bench and wait his turn to try again. Seeing someone from the opposite team retrieve the object he managed to strike with his wooden stick right out of the air will result in his immediate return to his bench could be frustrating to the fellow disrupting the throws.

An interesting rule is, in his attempts to disrupt the thrower, the disrupter may attempt to strike the thrown object and miss it entirely.  Such an attempt is deemed to be a correct throw by the thrower no matter its accuracy.

One of the most interesting rules of Baseball is that the team attempting to disrupt the throws of the opposing team may, in theory, continue to do so for for an unlimited time; until and unless three of their team are returned to the bench. The tension of such an event in terms of frustration on the part of the throwing team and elation on the part of the disrupting team is such that the disrupting team always falters and the throwing team will retire them to their bench.

When this event occurs the teams change roles and the throwing team becomes the disrupters while the disrupters become the throwers.

If there is just enough symmetry breaking on the part of the two teams to keep things even, the tension of the game builds and builds throughout the allotted number of side changes. Everyone knows that there must not be symmetry at the end of the allotted number of side changes. If the symmetry is preserved then another side change is allotted.

Only when the symmetry is broken at the end of the allotted number of side changes or at the end of an extra allotted side change is the game over.

The explanation of how to determine which side can claim that they were responsible for the broken symmetry of a game and thus claim to be the winner is well beyond the scope of this explanation. Suffice it to say that there are extremely precise records kept of each event that occurs during the play of a game and they are constantly being poured over by the officials in charge. These records are updated and posted on a large board for all to see.

This posting of the records allows everyone at the game to see whether the game is symmetric or not at that moment. If it is not symmetric then by just glancing at one pair of all the numbers being posted tells you which team could claim victory if the game ends with that asymmetry.

Almost every thing a player does (the thrower and disrupter and others) is updated as an item of record keeping. These records are meticulously kept across the entire history of not only a single game but an entire year by player and by team. Additionally the records are kept for all time across all the years of recorded playing time of the game.

People who are not actually at the game but instead listen at a distance to someone reporting the play of a game are regaled by the instantaneous recounting of this record as each event of the game occurs. Listening to such a report allows one to imagine that he or she is right there watching the entire proceeding. While there is no substitute for being at a game and seeing it unfold before you, the experience of listening to it remotely can be just as exciting.

We all know that a single game and even a single side of a game can, in theory, extend forever. The disruptor side can continue to build up broken symmetry forever. The game itself is symmetric and after the allotted number of sides are taken it must continue with extra pairs of sides until the symmetry is broken. The thrill of watching this occur and hoping that the team that you vicariously identify with will be responsible for the broken symmetry of the game is very exciting.

The players themselves train their entire childhood to excel at the game, those talented few who get to play for some team are rewarded with enormous sums of money for their efforts, as long as they are successful at helping their teams win. Also, they are dismissed without any feelings of remorse if the record keeping indicates that they are not successful. The teams themselves persist across the years. They may change owners and cities where they play but the teams themselves persist as entities.

The officials who keep the records and who decide on how the events that occur during the play of the game should be recorded have as their only concern that the rules of the game are fairly and symmetrically enforced for both teams. One of the cardinal rules of the game is that the players and their coaches and managers may not dispute how the events of the game are interpreted by the officials. For example if an official declares that the thrown object was correctly or incorrectly placed without the disrupter striking it with his stick then that declaration is final. If an official declares that a disruptor did arrive or failed to arrive at his prized location before the object he struck is retrieved then that decision is final.

A violation of this cardinal rule can result in the player or coach or manager being ejected from the game entirely and his team must get along with out his help, for that game. Even the spectators of the game must abide by this rule but are given the liberty of shouting their opinion of how events should have been interpreted. The players and coaches and managers are allowed to object and attempt to get an official to change his mind about how a particular event is interpreted but such an objection must be polite and brief, and almost never causes the official to change his mind

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

These Are Some Socks!

Now These Are Some Socks!

I got a gift certificate to REI from my sister (who wrote this card
When I did a search on the REI site for 'socks' it did not take long to make my decision.

The way I see it, if you are going to wear socks and sandals your socks should stand out.
My other pairs of socks that I wear with sandals are hand knitted (by Evelyn).

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Haunting 10 Mile Ride

Sunday was such a beautiful morning, Evelyn and I decided to load up the bikes on top of the car and head out to our favorite cycling path; The American Tobacco Trail Bike Path (A Rails To Trails Project).  I rode Robert's Trek 6000 mountain bike which goes very well on the crushed, packed limestone of the bike path.

This bike path goes from around New Hill NC to downtown Durham NC.  We typically get on the trail at the second Wake County parking entrance about 5 miles from the New Hill end.  We then have the choice of riding back toward the New Hill end or north toward Durham.  Both are beautiful rides and we wind up going between 10 to 18 miles total.  This day we traveled toward New Hill.

When we got to the parking lot we heard what sounded like a loud distant mournful tone.  At first I thought it was some sort of machinery.  Evelyn said she mistook it for the warning siren at the nearby Sharon Harris Nuclear  Plant.  It was neither it was the song of the Cicada.  Usually it is a high pitched whine but these Cicadas have a lower mournful tone.  We recalled that Cary NC even put out a press release this year about the Cicadas Song.  They only come out ever ten years or so and this years bloom is quite large and to folks who have not heard this particular song it can be alarming.

As we rode through the Tunnel-Of-Green that is the ATT cycling trail along this stretch, we found the temperature just right and the grade of the trail very slight either up or down with a few flat spots and the constant, seemingly distant haunting song of the Cicadas to all combine to be an almost fantasy like atmosphere .  The Cicada's song lent just the right air to the lonely woods-ride.

I got a picture of a worn out Cicada along the trail and once we got back to the parking lot I found myself ducking as one headed across the parking lot straight toward my head.  I took a couple of pictures of this one where it landed in a nearby tree.

Here is a link to the pictures for this ride.  And here is a short video of the ATT where you can hear the sound in the background.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another Bike Ride (And A Broken Cable)

My 'Good-Old-North-Raleigh-Loop-Ride'

I left this morning a bit before eight o'clock and everything went grand.  There was one small 'glitch' at the 35.5km point.  My rear derailleur cable broke at the shifter.  And I was at the intersection of Durant Road and Honeycutt Road.  

I was at the bottom of one of the longest and steepest climbs of the loop.  And when the rear cable breaks the gears go to their 'resting-position' which is the absolutely highest gear.  So I got off the bike, pulled the cable loose and pulled it while manipulating the rear derailleur to a middle gear and wrapped it around the nut that holds the seat post in. 

That gave me a three speed bike and as I got closer to Falls of the Neuse Road the cable slipped and the gear shifted back to high gear.  So I stopped at the filling station at the intersection and did a better job of securing the cable to a fixed 'middle-gear' and rod my three speed bike back home.

I though I would be clever and just replace the cable but I can NOT figure out how to actuate the shifter, I worry that something is loose inside and I'll be taking it to the bike shop today.

Here are the stats. for the ride

distance ... 45.25 km
average .... 19.50 kph
max ........ 60.30 kph (Down Hill on Ebenezer Ch Road)
time ....... 02:18 hh:mm

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank You Dear Sister

Awwww.... (See Pictures Below)

Thank you for the sweet birthday card ...
At some time on Sunday 15 May 2,011 CE 

I will have completed 64 years of my life ...

And you and I will be twins for the next 9 days ...
And then you will have completed SIXTY-FIVE years of your life ...
(sorry could not resist)

But don't worry I'll be there next year this time ...
And to close:

When I get older losing my hair, (Already DONE!)

Many years from now, (Or not :-()
Will you still be sending me a valentine (My favorite sister almost always sends)
Birthday greetings bottle of wine? (Got the birthday greeting :o)

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me, (Easter lunch :o)
When I'm sixty-four?

oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo
You'll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah) (65 to be exact)
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.

You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride. (American Tobacco Trail!!!!!)

Doing the garden, digging the weeds, (That would be you, sister)
Who could ask for more? (Really!)
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage (I'll commute from MHC to EI on my bike)
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear (oh my!)

We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave (and Rachel)

Send me a postcard, drop me a line, (got it this afternoon --- and it was SUPER!)
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away. (NO WAY!!!! I swam 1,825 yards this AM)

Give me your answer, fill in a form

Mine for evermore (I Love you, my dear sister!)
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I'm sixty-four? (Sure looks like it to me!)