NicoleSwan.com

I like to ride my bike.

Trois Gnossiennes

Posted on | November 11, 2008 | 4 Comments

Piano playing for me is always in fits and starts. I may go a couple months and barely glance at the piano from across the room. Then something will switch and I’ll find myself playing over an hour per day. I’m currently in the latter phase. Though I have a horrible tendency to play all music fast as I see fit, this time around I’m consciously slowing it down and trying to find the right interpretation of a song. (”Right” being what sounds good to me. I can’t be hemmed in by how so-called “experts” say a song should be played).

I’m currently obsessed with a few songs, but most of all Erik Satie’s Trois Gnossiennes. His music is beautifully haunting and, in my estimation, very open to interpretation. There is no time signature, no measures, and very little additional instruction (at least, that I understand). In short, this is my kind of composer. Trois Gnossiennes, as you might infer, is actually three individual pieces — Gnossienne no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, appropriately — grouped together. From what I’ve gathered, Satie made up the word “Gnossiennes” so no one really knows what it means or exactly how it’s pronounced. Again, loving this guy the more I read about him.

As an experiment, I fired up GarageBand, and, for the first time ever, attempted to record something. The sound is not awesome as I don’t have the proper equipment to connect my piano directly to the computer, but it was a fun experiment.

Sisterly Halloween

Posted on | November 3, 2008 | 2 Comments

As noted when it was taken, if ever there were a photo that summed up our sisterly bond, this could be it. Me being annoying, The Sister ™ annoyed.

Me and The Sister

Not only should I watch myself, but perhaps you should too.

The Sister

Hope everyone’s Halloween was great!

My Geek Box

Posted on | October 8, 2008 | 7 Comments

Geek Box of Comp. Sci. textbooks

Yes, I’m a geek. As I was finally unpacking some boxes of books and papers that haven’t seen daylight in about 3 years, I found my fun box of computer science textbooks. Data structures, SPARC architecture, C++ — it doesn’t get much better than this!

And thank god they’re now within referencing distance as one never knows when one might need a handy heapsort algorithm.

Currently Entertaining Me

Posted on | September 28, 2008 | No Comments

Part of this video is hard to watch, the rest makes me laugh every time. If you’re cubicle warrioring, you may, um, want to turn down your speakers.

Let’s be FOR Something

Posted on | September 17, 2008 | 2 Comments

I have long been “that person” who will reply all to a forwarded email — it’s not a requirement that I know everyone on the forward list — with fact check information or a disproving Snopes.com link. This one caught my radar because not only is it factually incorrect in places, it’s, well, ineffective.

Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,

We are writing to you today because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce—on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate—that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms.Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present and future daughters. To date, she is against a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, alternative energy development, gun control, freedom of speech (as mayor she brought up the question of banning books and then attempted to fire the librarian who refused), the separation of church and state, community organizing, and polar bears.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin’s political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we’ve so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we hope that you will reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and city or town and state of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called ‘Women Against Sarah Palin,’ which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience—the greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action. And please pass this message on to the ladies in your life!

VIVA!

Sincerely,

Quinn L. and Lyra K.
New York, NY
womensaynopalin@gmail.com

Let’s dissect, shall we?

To date, she is against a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, alternative energy development, gun control, freedom of speech (as mayor she brought up the question of banning books and then attempted to fire the librarian who refused), the separation of church and state, community organizing, and polar bears.

This excerpt is indicative of the entire tone of the letter. In many cases if you look up these issues, you’ll find that Palin is “for” something, but the authors of this letter decided to make the leap that she is automatically “against” a similar issue (e.g. She’s for drilling in ANWR, therefore she must be against alternative energy development). To the facts:

  • Against a woman’s right to choose — I guess this is another way to say she’s pro-life (which is true). It seems the writers of this letter resorted to the tried and true abortion debate method of using incongruous language — “pro-abortion” vs. “pro-life”, “pro-choice” vs. “against woman’s right to choose”. Both equally ridiculous.
  • Against environmental protection — It’s true that she’s fought against endangered species protections for certain species, but she has also recognized climate change and created a subcommittee to address climate change in Alaska. So this claim is half true if we’re being optimistic.
  • Against alternative energy development — I haven’t read anything to suggest she’s against alternative energy development. Palin does support the opening of ANWR, but one does not automatically beget the other.
  • Against gun control — It’s true that she’s a longtime NRA member and supports the constitutional right to bear arms. Again, I can not find a specific reference where she says she’s against gun control.
  • Against freedom of speech — I can only assume this refers to the oft-quoted Wasilla librarian debate. The real circumstances indicate she didn’t attempt to ban books, or at least not so explicitly, and especially not the book lists that have circulated in some places. In short, this statement is a leap at best.
  • Against separation of church and state — Apparently this conclusion is made from Palin’s various remarks that creationism could be taught alongside evolution. However, she also noted that school boards should not be pushed on the subject, but to leave it open for discussion.
  • Against community organizing — I can only assume this refers to her RNC speech comments about Obama’s time as a community organizer. I’ll allow that this was a stupid statement, and I’m a fan of Jon Stewart’s take.
  • Against polar bears — She also hates kittens and kicks dogs. But, I guess if fighting to keep polar bears off the endangered species list equates to a hate of polar bears, then this one is true.

Ms. Palin’s political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we’ve so demonstrably benefited from.

I hate, hate when someone presumes to speak for me as a woman. Neither side of the debate should attempt to, but especially not with such obviously biased and inflammatory language as this letter contains.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

The fact that this letter is addressed to “fellow lamenters” should be a quick indicator of the ineffectiveness of such a “women against Palin” campaign. I agree that Palin is a poor Vice Presidential choice. The chance of me voting for the McCain/Palin ticket is quite slim (get out the micrometer to measure this one), but yet I bristle at this email. One, don’t start a “movement” based on loose interpretations of the facts. Two, preaching to the Democratic choir is not likely to be effective. A movement to get women who wouldn’t have voted for McCain/Palin anyway to speak out against Palin? Wow, how revolutionary.

I was also pointed to this petition started by the same group. While the text of the petition at least showed an attempt to shore up the language (although, I’m not sure what’s up with the pic of Cheney), it remains a ridiculous petition. What does this accomplish? Why not put energy into campaigning for Obama? Why be negative when you could spend the same time and energy attempting to make a real difference?

I guess it’s just easier to be against something instead of for something.

Data Gathering

Posted on | September 12, 2008 | 3 Comments

Now that my bike computer features an inclinometer, I can’t help but have a sick fascination with seeing it tick upwards. The miles I’ve put on my bike have been ridiculously low since the Copper Triangle, hovering around maybe 75 miles per week, but I finally headed out for a solid 50-miler on my favorite loop last Sunday. Of course, that loop includes a trip up Rist Canyon, prime territory for a rising inclinometer reading. Rist didn’t disappoint. The numbers:

Distance: 49.92 mi
Time: 3:38
Avg. speed: 13.6 mph
Max. speed: 46.6 mph
Total elevation gain: 3955 ft
Max incline: 21%

The last couple miles are super steep — my computer didn’t tick below 9% much preferring to stay in numbers like 9, 12, and 14. On the steepest section of all, I saw it hit 24% before settling on 21%. Fun times. I love that in the warped world of Rist, a 5% incline can be considered a “rest.” Hearing gunshots near the road was a nice kick in the pants to get up the last mile as quickly as possible. (Is it hunting season? What the hell?). Man, I do so love to climb.

There’s wasn’t much else of note the rest of the way home, other than getting honked at by an SUV somewhere near Horsetooth Park as I was kicking it around 20mph. I hereby apologize for delaying that car by 3 seconds in my attempt to save my own arse from a gravel-y meeting with the pavement.

Rock Racing: An Analysis

Posted on | September 7, 2008 | No Comments

Aw, hell. The Garmin-Chipotle guys dominated the US Cycling Pro Championships road race all day last Sunday only to lose a 110-mile race by an amount easily countable in millimeters. I first felt disappointment that one of the G-C guys didn’t win, and, secondly, I thought “Why did it have to be a Rock Racing guy that won?”

If it isn’t obvious, I don’t like Rock Racing. Sure, it was Tyler Hamilton wearing the R/R kit crossing the line just ahead of Blake Caldwell. Tyler Hamilton, a guy who will forever carry a cloud of suspicion around him. But I really don’t know what I think about his deal, and as a reader letter to VeloNews put it “it’s so easy to be an armchair critic and forget that real people have to experience the impact of the statements of others.” Essentially, I’m not as bothered by the guy who won as much as the team he rides for. And, honestly, I’m not sure why Rock Racing annoys me so much. So, I’m doing an analysis — longbloghand style, in enumerated fashion.

1. Michael Ball - team owner. — He is obviously an intelligent, ambitious, and successful entrepreneur. And, I truly appreciate his support of cycling and various charitable causes. However, his “style” makes me bristle. In an interview with PezCycling he quips that “if you work for me you’ll cry, crack or get stronger!” Sounds peachy! Where do I apply? (Actually, Mr. Ball, you could use a web developer, but I’ll get to that.)

2. The kit is ugly. — Cycling team kits are no stranger to the awkward balance between acceptable and questionable, and often highly questionable, design. Such is life when trying to find each sponsor an acceptable location for a logo. However, in true Michael Ball fashion, the Rock Racing kit boldy leaps right into ugly territory. I will say that it’s nice that one can tell that the kit is actually designed, but that doesn’t keep it out of ugly territory. And remember, ugly design doesn’t come cheap, so be prepared to drop over $200 if you want a jersey of your own (god forbid).

3. The website is, um, not my favorite. — I’m a web developer, so, like it or not, this could get long. However, before I get all negative, I will say that it’s coded cleanly and has many nice design touches. But on to the laundry list:

  • A splash screen that serves no apparent purpose. Splash screens are rarely useful or necessary. Even less necessary is requiring website viewers to make an extra click through a page with no content save for a Rock Racing logo that is only slightly larger than the one displayed on every single page of the website.
  • A black background with low contrast header and link text. I accept that a dislike for black backgrounds on websites may be a girl thing, but at least make the text on the site be a high contrast color so it’s easily readable.
  • It has a marquee. Fine, I’ll acquiesce that’s it’s not as bad as circa 1995 marquees. However, at least have it scroll the correct way.
  • The repetition. As of shortly after the race, “redemption” was plastered no fewer than three places on the main page. (Aside: Is that really what they want to attach to Tyler’s win?)
  • The photos under Galleries on the main page aren’t linked to the larger version. One has to go to “more photos” then find the photo to view at a larger size. In that same vein, the Press & News headers aren’t linked to the full news item.

4. I’m very obviously not its target market. — The Rock Racing brand with its dark, skull and crossbones motif, dark website, and its ceaseless attempt at “edginess” is not one that appears to be targeted at the late 20s, female demographic. Honestly, I don’t think Rock Racing could brand itself in a way less appealing to me. I even ventured in to read the R/R forums and found none of my kind there either.

5. No personal attachments to any team riders. — I can’t say that I really follow any of the guys on the team and thus have no attachment to their success or non-success. Most of the names are familiar, yes, but I’m not invested.

6. Discretionary irrationalness. — It’s been established before that I have a tendency towards small amounts of irrationalness. I accept this.

Again, I’ll say that I appreciate anyone investing in cycling, and Michael Ball has certainly done that. I just think the “bad boy” image he has created for the team is not for me.

The obvious quandary, though, is what to do when a racer I really do like ends up on Rock Racing. As often as guys change teams, this is bound to happen not too far in the future. Crap. I’m not going to think about that right now.

keep looking »

Dreams

To live in a bike friendlier world. To create the greatest collection of fabulous shoes ever assembled. To see a viable third party in US politics. To get local Rio team riders to acknowledge existence on road.

Get the feed

Search

  • Worth Reading