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I and an estimated 7,500 other people participated in the Chicago Triathlon this past weekend. It's billed as the world's largest triathlon, although the London Triathlon might have been a little bigger this year. The sponsor of the triathlon this year was Accenture. Previous sponsors have been Mrs. T's and originally Bud Light.

My training this year consisted of...well...nothing. Due to a knee injury, work and Mini-Me, my training consisted almost entirely of getting a new bike frame. But, I wasn't about to let that stop me from my annual reminder that I am, in fact, getting older and slower each year. The night before the race event, I went to see a friend's band, Conundrum, play and feasted on well-known pre-race foods including spinach-artichoke dip, potato skins, quesadillas, wings, fried cheese, and onion rings followed by a cheeseburger and fries.

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After the pre-race festivities, I went home and assembled my bike which I had had shipped to my parent's house. Shipping the bike is a thousand times easier than flying with it post 9/11. It's just a little more expensive since the airlines charge an additional fee to transport bikes but it's much more convenient not to have to repack it in the airport and wait for it to be specially processed by the baggage handlers.

Anyway, I finally got to bed around 1:30 a.m. which gave me a good two hours of sleep before I had to get up since my ride from the suburbs to downtown Chicago was to arrive at 4:00 a.m. All this is necessary because the transition area where you have to store everything you need for the bike and run portions closes at 6:00 a.m. and the first wave of swimmers goes out at 6:15 a.m. I was in wave 39 which didn't leave until 9:08 a.m. which left me with over three hours to kill before I would start the swim.

063triathlon1.jpg

And what a swim it was with overcast skies, air temperatures which never climbed out of the 60s, water temperature of 64 degrees and 15 mph winds creating little choppy waves...oh joy, oh joy! Thank God, I finally bought a wetsuit before last year's race. Best triathlon related purchase ever. When I first competed in 1987 only a few people had wetsuits. Now only a few people don't have them. I'll never swim in Lake Michigan again without one! Next to air temperature, it's my understanding that the water temperature near the shore is primarily affected by direction of the wind. If it's blowing toward the shore, warm surface water is pulled in raising the temperature. But, if it's blowing out away from the shore, cold bottom water is pulled up lowering the temperature.

This year wasn't the coldest swim ever though. One year the authorities (non-race organizers) stepped in and cancelled the swim due to the water temperature. There was a lot of complaining and a compromise was reached between the race organizers and the authorities which allowed the professional racers to swim the regular distance while everyone else swam about a hundred yards so as to at least maintain the facade of a triathlon rather than a duathlon. The water was so cold, I remember hyperventilating the whole way and never being able to put my head down to actually swim a single stroke.

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The swim is 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) long and starts in groups or waves consisting of approximately 150 people which allows for plenty of body contact in the water as everyone sorts themselves out. Each wave has a different color swim cap and start anywhere from three to five minutes apart. As the result of there being such a broad spectrum of abilities, by the end of the swim the water is a rainbow of different color caps.

The absolute worst thing about the Chicago Triathlon in the past few years has been the layout of the swim transition. There is almost a quarter to half mile run from the end of the swim to the transition area. The distance is so long that the race organizers have created a little-publicized mini-transition area right at the swim exit where quite a few people take the time to stop and put on running shoes rather than transverse the slippery pebble covered route barefoot, although, this year they must have swept the route because the pebbles weren't too bad. Still, running on cement with water softened bare feet is not comfortable. The joke is that the race is really a quadathlon (swim-run-bike-run) because of this.

065triathlon3.jpg

This year's 40 kilometer (24.8 mile) bike leg was a little windy and a little cool but not too bad in either respect. There was one bad accident that I know of which I came upon when a rider was being loaded into an ambulance and two other riders were being attended to who I think caught a second ambulance. When there is a dark spot on a road, an automobile driver knows (or should know) that there is likely a bump there. The dark spot having been caused by the increase in oil drops from underneath vehicles that fall due to the force of the bump. The more severe the bump, the larger and darker the oil stain on the road. When there are enough riders, cycling has a corollary, in which water bottles replace oil drops. A bad enough bump in the road will tend to dislodge poorly secured water bottles. With enough riders a really bad bump is easily marked. This accident took place at a spot (the only spot along the bike route) where there was a large number of water bottles scattered around. Right where the accident occurred, there was a two foot wide, near bottomless, 6-8 inch gap in the road seam. I imagine a rider attempted to avoid it at the last second and swerved into the other riders (just my guess).

Finally, the last leg of the triathlon was the 10 kilometer (6.2 miles) run jog slow jog. It was especially fun given my utter lack of training. The weather did clear up a little and the sun even peaked out briefly during the run. It culminated in my worst finish ever, but it was still a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Thank you Harry for driving (I always fall asleep on the ride home) and helping with logistics. I couldn't do it without you. I promise to be there for you when you finally get around to doing the Sprint Triathlon.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

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To be continued Monday...

Posted by Don | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0) |

Just a quick note regarding the ongoing political correctness of the mainstream media. With the downing of the two Russian airliners, the news will be awash with reference to "Chechen Rebels" or "Chechen Separatists" who appear to be responsible. What you won't hear much of is that "Chechen Rebels" are Islamofascist Muslim terrorists.

The mainstream media won't hesitate to sacrifice truth in the name of downplaying the very real war this nation and all non-Muslim people of the world are facing. Why? Because the majority of the American people believe one presidential candidate is far more capable in leading the fight against such radical extremism and that is not the media's candidate of choice. Therefore the most important issue of our time must be downplayed by giving Muslim extremists a sanitized name in order to obfuscate the real story.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Aug 26 2004

Just a Moth

While snapping some shots for my flower posts, I came across a moth so I took a picture of it. I was surprised by how well the shot came out; the depth of field, the lighting, the focus, all came out just right. I have no idea what kind of moth it is (illiud latine dici non potest).

061moth.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0) |

While creating the prior post, I played the video a number of times while clipping excess footage from the front and back ends and converting it from avi to wmv which reduced the file size by 75%. As is often the case when I'm working on the computer, my cat, Joey, was in the room napping. Joey is incredibly good natured. In fact his vet, who specializes in cats, said that Joey was the best tempered cat he had ever seen.

While I was upstairs editing the video, Joey jumped up on the table between me and the monitor, which he has never done before, and poked his head around the sides of the monitor looking for the growling cat. I picked him up and put him down on the floor and that was the end of that.

Later that night while I downstairs, I heard Joey meowing repeatedly and continuously. I don't remember him ever doing this before and I assumed he had gotten locked in a closet or something and wanted out. I went upstairs where the meowing was coming from and there he was, standing on the computer table meowing at the dark silent monitor. Obviously, the video had some impact on him!

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

My sister has a nineteen year old Siamese cat named Chin Lee. Despite being hard of hearing with poor vision and arthritic, he has managed to maintain a his wonderful disposition as you can see in his video if you click on the nice kitty below.

060chinlee.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1) |
Aug 22 2004

Google Ranking Drops

Ack! The site's fallen to 16 on Google for Danz and to 1,121,986 on Alexa overall. OK, so I don't really care that much, but it is fun to watch and try and figure out what Google is up to. It must really drive the people who actually rely on Google rankings to send traffic to their commercial sites nuts when they see their site jump up and down for no apparent reason.

I did finally notice that I had not included keyword and description meta tags in the main index blog template. I have remedied this which in theory should boost the site back up Google's ranking.

As evidence of how screwy Google is, the site currently one rank above Danzfamily.com is a new web hosting company who's site is "under construction" and which does not contain the term "Danz" or anything close to it anywhere on its site--go figure.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

Here are some Double Wave Blue Vein Petunias (Petunia) in a planter on our backyard patio:

059petunia.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |

According to Alexa, Danzfamily.com ranks in the top one million of all websites for the amount traffic.

The Alexa ranking is based on a three month average and Danzfamily.com is currently 935,392 out of all the websites tracked by Alexa which is a lot since they claim to have a web crawl of 3.5 billion unique URLs.

Oh, and the Google ranking of Danzfamily.com for the search term "Danz" is now up to 7.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

Drew had his nine month checkup yesterday and measured in the 90 percentile in height and 70 percentile for weight.

That's my boy!

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

Thanks to his Aunt, Drew got the Family Aquatic Center (Community Pool to us old folks) all to himself! Here he is lounging in the zero depth waters, guarding from a lifeguard chair and showing off his mastery of the giant frog.

057drewaquadic.jpg

I don't know who had more fun, Drew or his Aunt.

058drewswimaunt.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |
Aug 12 2004

Drew Visits Grandma

Drew had a great time recently visiting his Grandma in Illinois.

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The little Midwestern boy has now been to Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

056drewstates.jpg

(Map created with World66.)

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Aug 12 2004

Pioneer Plaza

On a recent trip to Dallas, we visited Pioneer Plaza next to the Dallas Convention Center famous for its bronze statues of 40 longhorn cattle herded by 3 cowboys on horses created by artist Robert Summers.

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052pioneerplaza.jpg

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As the saying goes, if you're not first...the view is always the same.

054pioneerplaza.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

Danzfamily.com currently comes up number 8 in a Google search for "Danz." A few years ago the site was also in Google's top ten results for Danz, but then Google reworked its algorithms and the site dropped almost overnight to the 30s and 40s from where it has slowly crawled back over the past year or two. One reason it's not higher is that I don't particularly mention "Danz" very often. So please excuse me now if I throw in a gratuitous "Danz" here and there--Danz.

Most annoying is the fact that the site's search result placement would be significantly higher for every search engine if there weren't so many people worldwide that think it's cute to use "Danz" with regard to things associated with "dance." And, don't even get me started on the jerk guy who's first name is Dan and last name starts with a Z who apparently thought it was cool to register Danz dot com. I know every time I type f-a-m-i-l-y when I'm logging in somewhere, I think about how cool it was of him to do that--/sarcasm.

Speaking of logging in, here are a few tidbits from my web statistics report for Danzfamily.com for the month of July:

Sessions served: 17,215
Hits made on server : 188,136
Time spent by all sessions : 1,900,645 seconds (22 days)
Bandwidth : 2,285,952,370 bytes (2.28 gigabytes)

Oh, and one more thing: Danz.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

There is a limited ban on federal funding of new embryonic stem cell research. The ban on federal dollars does not affect some sixty existing embryonic stem cell lines or any adult stem cell research. Nor does the ban affect any category of privately funded research done through drug companies, non-profit foundations, or any other entity.

Accordingly, no research...or, rather, no legitimate research, will be affected as the pool of research dollars is unchanged. The federal restriction on funding merely reallocates federal dollars to adult stem cell research and research involving the prior existing lines, while private dollars are redirected to the narrow category of new embryonic stem cell lines which, by the way, must come from newly destroyed embryos.

Think about it...if there really is something to this embryonic stem cell research, the multi-billion dollar drug and pharmaceutical companies will invest in it. How much would a cure for cancer, diabetes, or freaking baldness be worth? If the research is legit...the private dollars will be there. Additionally, non-profit organizations are available to fund non-financially rewarding research.

Between the drug companies, private foundations and the federal government...no one is stopping any research. There is merely a re-division of where the dollars are coming from and going to...the research pie remains unchanged.

Imagine a group of taxpayers saying they don't want their taxes to go to the war in Iraq. OK, Uncle Sam prints them off a spreadsheet showing them that all their tax dollars are going to entitlement programs while other taxpayers foot the bill for the war. Everyone's happy...but nothing changes...same thing as with stem cell research.

Additionally, I must address Ron Reagan's (son of President Reagan) comments during the recent Democratic Convention. It is most unfortunate that Ron saw fit it take advantage of his father's illness and death to make misleading statements about an issues his father, an ardent pro-lifer, most likely would have disagreed with. Here is just one statement of Ron with the previously sanitized truth added in brackets (with a little assistance from National Review Online):

"Now, imagine going to a doctor who instead of prescribing drugs, takes a few skin cells from your arm. The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed. A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cell's nucleus to begin dividing [actually, create a new cloned human embryo], creating new cells [embryonic development] which will then be [destroyed and their cells] placed into a tissue culture. Those cells will generate embryonic stem cells containing only your DNA [and mitochondrial DNA from the egg], thereby [theoretically] eliminating the risk of tissue rejection."

It's sad that Ron can't be an advocate of his position and still tell the full truth. Much like partial-birth abortion advocates hide from graphic descriptions of that barbaric procedure, Ron failed to mention the fact that new embryonic stem cell research involves human cloning (also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer), killing new living embryos and that researchers are currently having much more success utilizing adult stem cells than embryonic stem cells.

Let me repeat because this is important: New embryonic stem cell research requires both human cloning and the killing of living embryos. This is still going on unaffected by any federal ban in the private sector. There simply is a ban on the funding of such activities by the federal government.

Finally, to illustrate the greater success of adult stem cell research versus embryonic stem cell research, here is a scoreboard showing the number of current treatments which have resulted from each:

Stem Cell Treatment Scoreboard

Remarks of President Bush on Stem Cell Research, August 9, 2001.

Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |