Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 2013

All the discussions whether the "Muur of Geraardsbergen" or "Bosberg" should be part of the Tour of Flanders (Ronde Van Vlaanderen) aside, the last edition today has become much more of an NBA basketball game. Nevertheless all the scoring back and forth, the excitement of an NBA basketball has been reduced to the last 2 minutes. Either the game is dull where it has been decided early on and the point difference is large throughout the game. Or it is a game of time-outs, fouls, free throws or 3-point shots in the last 2 minutes. Just tune into the last 2 minutes.

That's how today's Ronde Van Vlaanderen felt as well. That's also how last year's Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the first year on the new course, felt as well. Seventeen hills and we all have to wait until the last two for the excitement: Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.

We knew it was going to be between Cancellara and Sagan. But with exception of Jurgen Roelandts, who did attack a little earlier, and Tom Boonen who had to abandon the race early on after a crash, where were the other favorites? Chavanel? Voeckler? Van Avermaet? Paolini? Why didn't they attack early on? Your names don't even show up on the post race interview lists.

It is only the second time the new course is used, but let's hope that in the coming years, we don't have to wait until the last 20km to see some action.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Three times is a charm

This is the third time I am packing up all my belongings. The first time was when we moved in our little house. The second time was when we replaced the popcorn (acoustic) ceiling with smooth ceiling and repainted the entire interior. This time I am packing up all the rooms to have the old carpet replaced by Brazilian cherry wooden floors. There were other packing and unpacking episodes, but they were smaller in size: i.e., when we unpacked lots of inherited belongings from our friends who were moving back to Europe. Or when we had to pack up the bathrooms, and the kitchen when we remodeled them.

This is day two of the packing. I expect at least one more solid day of packing and moving remaining. I am doing it all by myself, while the rest of my gang are vacationing in Argentina. I could have used the extra hands. It is however much more troublesome to live in a place with four while it is all packed up. All I need, is a small bag with a change of clothes, a toothbrush, a comb and my laptop.

I've gone at it systematically, starting with cleaning out the garage, where all the stuff somehow needs to fit. Next I started with the kids' rooms and then the living room. How can so much stuff fit in such a little house?  A couple of observations:

  • It appears an enormous amount of stuffed animals survived the last trip to the slaughterhouse (Goodwill). 
  • We got to do better and clean out old toys. I am pretty sure the wooden train tracks have not been used in years. 
  • Lego is everywhere. 
  • So are the little hairbands. 
  • How many purses and little bags can a little girl have? Wait don't answer. I know, as with shoes, not enough. 
  • How many clothes can a little girl have? See previous answer.  
  • Cleaning out and packing up my daughters room, you learn a lot. For example, she loves to tie many toys together and is quite skilled at it. Note to mom: no more yarn for her! 
  • Time to institute the law of Conservation of Toys: want a new toy, get rid of one first. In this house the total number of toys shall remain the same. 
  • And finally, there should be a law that all mattresses come with handles.
Tomorrow I am taking a break from the real work to go back to my day job. A quick peek and I am looking at over 200 emails and a bunch of meetings. I love my other (packing) job. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Introducing the next generation to slide guitar

As we were perusing the camping equipment at REI, a new song came on the radio.

"Listen, Listen dad", my son said excitedly, "do you recognize the song?"

It didn't take me much to recognize the slide guitar from the Allman Brothers Band. (I learned on YouTube the song was called "Jessica".)

"Who?,  my son asked, "No dad, this is the theme song from Top Gear."

Of course! I must have heard it a hundred times by now, as we watch the UK shows over and over. Even though the gang of three lost all credibility after the infamous Tesla episode.

Sure, I may pretend to know all about the Allman Brothers now, but about 15 years ago, my answer would have been the same as my son. But that all changed one infamous Sunday night at the Paradise Lounge in San Francisco. It was a few months after I watched Rush, a movie about undercover narcotics agents played by Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Little did I know that Will Gaines, the drug lord in the movie, is played by Gregg Allman.

Back to the night in the Paradise Lounge. It was close to 1:30am Sunday night. Closing time. My roommate, his girlfriend and myself were one of the few remaining patrons finishing our drinks. As we were leaving the place, a group of well dressed folks walks in. The gents were in tuxedos and the ladies were all dressed up in elegant gowns. Intrigued they were let in at this time of the night, we dragged out feet leaving and hid in the back against the wall. The doors closed and everybody inside was asked to stay back, away from the windows as the SFPD was making sure all bars, clubs and lounges had emptied. There must have been perhaps 15 patrons and about 10 of the fancy folks. About 30 minutes past, when the fancy folks opened their cases and pulled out a bunch of instruments. They got on stage and started jamming. They seemed to know the owner of the place. The band sounded beyond awesome. My roommate could hardly contain his excitement. It took me a couple of minutes to recognize the front man: "That's the drug dealer!", I shouted, just as they paused between songs. A little chuckle here and there. But indeed it was the drug dealer. We were enjoying an almost private concert by no other than Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers band.

And thus a budding guitar player got introduced to the slide guitar at REI.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Strade Bianche

Since Omloop het Nieuwsblad, the races have been somewhat of a dud. Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was canceled because of weather. The next major race was Strade Bianche. The race over the beautiful white gravel roads of Tuscany started of great. I picked up a few interested twitter feeds with great pictures from the parcours along the way as well: @TourdeJose and @Soigneur_zegt.  Following the races from California isn't typically a problem following the feed recommendations from or on As the race went into its final kilometers towards Siena, the sports-livez webstream was cut short because of the Real-Barcelona soccer game. What a bummer! It took out all of the fun of watching the race.

Image: 2012

Moreno Moser, winner 2013 Strade Bianche
Image 2013 PodiumCafe