I woke this morning to odd rhythmic buzzing sounds coming from several electrical
devices around the apartment and a nervous-looking flicker in all of the lights.
realized the problem was occurring throughout my apartment building, and decided
to take a walk down
the street. Porch lights along the block told the tale that the problem affected
my entire block at the very least. Whatever was going on, it didn't look like
Shortly after I returned home from my little tour (somewhere around 6:30 this
morning), I heard an explosion, and figured that the flickering had been caused
nearby. I expected the lights to go out, but they never did. Still, the voltage
fluctuations were bad enough to interrupt my DSL connection for about
half an hour.
About five minutes after the explosion, two fire trucks arrived. From their
sirens, I had a sense that they must have stopped nearby. I returned to the
street, and found that just a block away, a very large steel manhole cover
had been blown up and onto the street.
I've seen the
aftermath of three of these transformer explosions now. When they go, the explosions
are shockingly powerful. In one case, the manhole cover came down and trashed
two parked cars. In another, the intense heat of the ensuing
fire burned two or three parked cars completely, and melted the tires
of several others. That same fire even melted the glass lighting globes on
the front of
These things are buried under the sidewalks and streets all around the city,
and when they fail, they often fail catastrophically. If this thing had happened
around 8:30 instead of 6:30, the results could have been tragic.
A Veritable Sports Vesuvius
After 8 stages, the Tour de France takes a rest day today, a collective sigh
that coincides with the culmination of the World Cup of soccer (football, if
you're European), the Wimbledon championships, and the 20th anniversary of
first time an American won the Tour — could Lance have timed his string of victories
and his retirement any better?
Interestingly, the guy who won yesterday's stage is a Frenchman with an Italian
last name (Sylvain Calzati). I wonder if the World Cup finals stirred up any
internal conflict... In Manhattan, some serious fans of the Italian World Cup
in effigy on West Broadway.
Even the riders on the Tour had World Cup fever
— a bunch of them took early shuttles from the race to the rest day location,
just so they could watch the match. Over the last couple of weeks, it was
amazing to come upon substantial crowds gathered in bars and even appliance
gather around a TV screen and watch the
World Cup matches.
The Tour has had a rickety feel this year, the first time in many years where
a handful of dominant players have not emerged after three or four stages.
I have my doubts about whether Ullrich would have had a win in him, if he hadn't
been eliminated before the start — in this sport, you only have so many years
in top form. Jan spent most of those years as ‘Lance's bridesmaid,’ as
the broadcasters like to refer to him.
The pundits pegged all the wrong people
for the time trials, and many of the
to overcome. It's a drag that there won't be a team time trial this year.
The TTT is one of the coolest events in cycling.
Another cool thing in this Tour has been watching Australia's McEwen win stages
2, 4, and 6. The guy really does seem to come from nowhere, and by the time
you win three stages, it becomes pretty clear that you're no fluke.
And with all that said, I'm still planning to watch the drama unfold. I've
been in front of the tube for each and every stage so far. I suspect that this
year's winner will be a one-time champ. That really doesn't make
the event any less intriguing to watch.
I never was bleeding-edge,
but I used to be an early adopter. I suppose in some arenas, I still am, but
I'm a big believer in letting the technology shake out these days. I have a
G4 quicksilver machine, having watched the G5, the G5 dual, and the G5 quad
roll by. I'm in no rush to own an Intel Mac, but I figure my next machine will
be some sort of multi-processor Intel machine.
It was only when it became clear that my local video store's inventory of
VHS offerings was in decline, that I finally hauled off and purchased a DVD
player. It turned out to be an opportunity to upgrade my VHS machine at the
same time — I bought a combi-player.
The biggest selling point for me, was
that I could use S-video for all my signal sources. I'd seen the clear differences
between composite, S-video, and coax cables in my own system. The combi-player
allowed me to use S-video instead of coax for my VHS playback. My old tapes
look like new.
You might be saying to yourself ‘hey, there's HDMI and component video.’ You'd
be right, but my large screen TV (bought about the time that rear-projection
sets were just beginning to come down in price) only takes S-video and composite
The end result is that I'm really happy with how good my video looks, and
I don't really care that it's not the most current technology. It just works,
it looks way better than average, and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.