Thursday, July 24, 2014

More Tour de France pics

It is the wee hours of this morning as I sit at my laptop, posting pics of the Tour de France whilst at the same time watching the concluding kilometres of Stage 17 of the 2014 Tour.

I am amazed that so many people gather and wait for so long just to see the riders pass by. . . 

A little seen sight on the television coverage, one sometimes referred to as un besoin naturel ("a natural need")

Some information:

Question: Don't riders have to urinate during a six-hourrace? 
Answer: Yes, and they do. Shortly after the start, they often stop en masse --- in English, all together --- at the side of the road. In the heat of battle, riders often urinate while continuing to race, i.e. as they pedal along without stopping.. If they do this in a populated area and are seen by the many officials who monitor the race, they are fined.
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What happens when marathon cyclists need to urinate during a race? Multi-part question follows. 
Watching the men's marathon race in Beijing yesterday and knowing very little about the sport, I saw a bunch of male cyclists stop for a wizz on the side of the road at one point. Google also tells me that cyclists may also just wet themselves while riding, which is not fun for the people riding behind them. A friend told me that good riders know how to pee without getting their bike wet, which is apparently a bad thing to do (wetting the bike that is). My questions are:
1. Is it more common for riders to stop for a wee or just do it on the fly?
2. Where does weeing on the fly sit in the realm of okay-ness? What are the rules of etiquette in a marathon race situation?
3. If some riders stop but others wet themselves, how is this fair in the race?
4. When a bunch of riders do stop for it, how to they maintain their racing order? How do they all decide they're going to do it?
5. This is the most important question: what happens for female riders? How would they be able to stop and go on the roadside? How would they wet themselves while riding without getting the bike funky?
6. What sort of damage, if any, is done to a urine soaked bike?
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I'm not a world-class cyclist -- I race at the sub-pro level -- but I have done enough long races to be able to answer your questions with some firsthand experience. 
1. Both, depending on the situation. If the peloton is really going -- say, chasing down a breakaway or something -- you can roll up your shorts and hang on to a teammate and actually pee off to the side of the bike. More commonly, though, when the race is quiet and the pace not too high, a few riders will just pull briefly to the side of the road, do what they need to do, and then work together to get back into the bunch. In really big, long races, like stages of the Tour de France, sometimes the almost whole peloton will take a brief break to pee. 
2. Totally part of the sport. In the US, public urination is against the rules and can get you disqualified, but the officials are usually understanding if you exercise discretion and don't do this when spectators are around. Obviously, if you pee on the fly, you need to get to the side of the road so you don't pee on other riders, which is NOT ok. 
3. This doesn't generally happen and it's not really a matter of fairness. If you're in a position where stopping or not might cause you to lose the race, and you had to go badly enough, you'd just go and deal with it. But that's a pretty rare situation. 
4. In a long race, racing 'order' is not relevant. If you're in the bunch it really doesn't matter if you're number 10 or number 30, it's easy to move up or move back (if, say, you want to get out of the wind and therefore do less work, you'd go to the back, if you want to challenge for a sprint or drive the pace, you'd go to the front of the bunch). You just stop, pee, then work your way back into the group. 
5. This is a bigger problem for women than men, obviously. But women's races are generally much shorter than men's races, so the need to pee is less of an issue. 
6. None. But bikes do not become urine-soaked because you generally do not pee ON your bike, you pee FROM your bike.
One other thing to remember is that in many races peeing is even less of an issue because it's often hot enough that it's hard to stay hydrated, no matter how much you drink. So you just don't have to pee.

The Cofidis rider on the right goes on the fly while his team mates assist by keeping up the cycling momentum

This year's Tour also saw a light plane travel on the ground in green fields adjacent to the peloton for quite a distance and time.  It looked like it was speeding up the runaway to take off but it remained on the ground.

You also get the nasty spectators.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More facts about famous people

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Walt Disney was scared of mice:

The irony of Mickey Mouse's creation is that Walt Disney was in fact scared of mice. However, he pictured mice as sympathetic creatures, despite people being scared of them. 

By the way:

He was originally to be called Mortimer Mouse but Walt’s wife convinced him to change it to Mickey. According to Mickey Rooney, the mouse was named after himself, this happening after a meeting he had with the Disneys in the 1920’s when he was a child.

Mickey Mouse was the first ever cartoon character to talk. In the 1929 episode, The Karnival Kid, Mickey's first words were "Hot dogs!".

Walt Disney’s body or head are not frozen and cryogenically preserved. He was cremated on 17 Dec 1966. James Bedford became the 1st human to be cryogenically preserved on 12 Jan 1967.

“Girls bored me - they still do. 
I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known.”
- Walt Disney

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Is it true that the name for Oz in the "Wizard of Oz" was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence "Oz."

It is commonly asserted that when asked the country's name by a child he was first telling the story to, Frank Baum looked to his filing cabinet in the next room, which had two drawers. One drawer was marked A-N, and one marked O-Z. So he called it "Oz" after the letters on the second drawer. 

While this story has been told many times, there seems to be little evidence that it's true. Baum himself told at least two different versions of this story. Others have speculated that it comes from the "Oohs" and "Aahs" his stories produced from readers and listeners. Still others, looking for hidden meaning in the book, claim it comes from the abbreviation for ounces, or have linked it to Uz (Job's home in the Bible), Shelly's "Ozymandias," or Charles Dickens' pseudonym Boz. But L. Frank Baum's widow, Maud, once wrote to writer Jack Snow on this subject and stated that it was just a name that Frank had created out of his own mind.

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Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button.

Like any persons, except Adam and Eve, he had a bellybutton when born. However, because of repeated stomach surgery, it was sewn over.

By the way:

Alfred Hitchcock was once stopped at the French border by a suspicious customs official. Eyeing the space where Hitchcock listed his profession as "producer," the official demanded, "And what do you produce?" "Gooseflesh," Hitchcock cooly replied.

Walt Disney refused to allow him to film at Disneyland in the early 1960s because Hitchcock had made “that disgusting movie Psycho."

When Hitchcock was a boy, his father sent him to the police station with a letter. Upon reading the letter the policeman locked Hitchcock in a cell and later released him. The officer then released Hitchcock explaining, “This is what happens when people do bad things.” It is reported that Hitchcock spent the rest of his life being afraid of policemen and a constant theme in his movies of the lone individual against inept police.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The art of Jason Mecier

A follow up to the Jason Mecier portrait of Fay Wray made from junk and trash, posted in the Bytes on the movie line from King Kong, some more Jason Mecier works . . .

Jason Mecier with a portrait of Lindsay Lohan made from recycled trash

A close up of the Lohan portrait

Taylor Swift portrait made from candy

Jason Mecier with Honey Boo Boo portrait made up of trash

Close up Honey Boo Boo

Even closer on Honey Boo Boo

Barack Obama in beef jerky

Clint Eastwood in trash

Michael Jackson, pills

Amy Winehouse, pills

Steve Jobs, electronic waste

Fay Wray, trash, with detail (lips and part of the jaw)

Pamela Anderson, candy, with details

Stevie Nicks, with details

Kevin Bacon, raw and cooked bacon

Nic Cage

Another of Obama

Donald Trump

Anna Nicole Smith

Sigmund Freud

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Some Odds, Ends and Personals

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An email from daughter Acacia:

As regards aerial pic of Venice that had the caption “Venice, Spain”

You know Venice is in Italy right?

As regards aerial view of the Dubai coastline (Acacia lives in Dubai):

This is an artist's impression. The other palms aren’t finished yet. 

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Email from Byter Doug as regards the post on Napalm Girl and Paris Hilton:

Hi Otto, 
It’s a very interesting Bytes, as always 
I have mixed feelings about the picture of Paris Hilton. On one hand, she is a private citizen, with all the expectations of privacy that can be reasonably expected. On the other hand, Paris Hilton relentlessly and aggressively seeks out publicity, which she then converts into personal financial gain. It’s therefore a bit contradictory to seek to maximise publicity, yet expect privacy. It’s either one or the other. 
I also disagree with the comment that there weren’t any pictures of the war in Iraq. In fact, there were many, many pictures taken by regular soldiers (as well as professional news organisations). One of the differences is that quite a bit of military technology has gone into reducing the power of weapons, in order to minimise civilian casualties. The emotional impact of the 1972 picture is in part due to a civilian family being destroyed by a military mistake. In contrast, in Iraq and elsewhere, an Allied bomb could destroy a building and leave the buildings in close proximity relatively undamaged. 
Of course, mistakes happen and civilians are killed even now (e.g., those four Palestinian children accidentally killed while they played on the beach). However, a Western army wouldn’t drop napalm close to civilians nowadays. Technology has improved quite a bit from the 70s, with a corresponding reduction in civilian deaths. The results are better for the civilians, but worse for the newspapers. 

Thanks Doug.

Is Doug right, that there is less newspaper coverage because technology has improved the ability to detect, target and kill?  Or has the military also become media savvy?  Or both?

From Wayne as regards Napalm Girl:

This is one part of that era that I have never forgotten.

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From Byter David as regards the joke about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson camping:

The Lancashire comedian Les Dawson -- --
used to tell a joke obviously influenced by your first Sherlock joke: "The other day I was gazing up at the night sky, a purple vault fretted with myriad points of light twinkling in wondrous formation, while shooting stars streaked across the heavens, and I thought: I really must repair the roof on this toilet."

Thanks David.

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From Nadia as regards the views of places from above:

Hi Otto, 
Bourtange, Vlagtwedde, Netherlands  
Check out Palmanova in Italy. Same sort of design. Was there in May this year. As you drive around the outskirts of Palmanova, you can't see it from the road, apart from a couple of modern buildings, which some "clever" town planner thought was a good idea at the time. 
See attached photo. Sorry about quality, taken with iphone. 

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From son Thomas, as regards the story about Cecil Chubb buying Stonehenge as a present for his wife Mary, who didn't like it so he gave it to the nation:

Mary Chubb’s a bit of alright, isn’t she?


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From spouse Kate (yes, she does send me emails) in response to Sue’s comments last week about songs sung by her dad on long driving trips, including “Stewball”, with the following link:

Stewball was the first song I learned on the guitar when I was about 12 - warbling away to that and to "feeling groovy" was much more fun than practising classical pieces.

My wife was surprised that I had never heard the song, nor heard of it.

Apparently Stewball, aka Skewball, was a racehorse that won numerous races in England and Ireland in the 18th century. The song is about a major race when Stewball beats the mighty favourite, a grey mare. The oldest recorded broadside lof the song is 1784, the real Stewball was foaled in 1741. The song came to America in 1829 and was adopted and sometimes varied by slaves in the Southern states. 

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Byter Charles Z mentioned last week that he is from Pennsylvania. This prompted Sue to write:

Interestingly, my Dad was born in Pennsylvania in 1902!

Btw #1
Pennsylvania, meaning “Penn’s woodland”, was the subject of a land grant by Charles 11 to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. The grant refers to Pennsylvania by name.  Contrary to the wishes of William Penn, who wanted it called New Wales or Sylvania Penn was embarrassed at the name, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself but King Charles would not rename the grant.

Btw #2
26-year-old William Penn receipt from King Charles II of the charter to Pennsylvania in 1681 was as repayment of a debt owed to his deceased father Admiral Sir William Penn, who captured Jamaica and defeated the Dutch navy. A student at Oxford, William Penn was expelled for having his own prayer services in his dorm room instead of attending the Anglican chapel. Penn converted to Quakerism and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. His colony was a “holy experiment” for persecuted Europeans, one of the few original colonies to accept Mennonites, Amish, Catholics and Jews. Emphasizing his plan of Christian tolerance, William Penn named the city “Philadelphia,” Greek for “Brotherly Love.” History records that since William Penn insisted on treating the Delaware Indians honestly, paying a fair sum for the land, his city of Philadelphia was spared the Indian attacks and scalpings that other colonial settlements experienced.

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One final item, as the FIFA World Cup fades into the memory, some internet images referring to Brazil's loss to Germany 7 - 1:

Brazil's new flag

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