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9/20, 9PM





Friday, August 04, 2006
2:01 PM      

A little after 4PM yesterday afternoon, I walked up Broadway from the Halsey Street J station. Water greeted my Keene-clad feet at several street corners. Substantial puddles forced me into evasive maneuvers, and street grates sounded like waterfalls. It wasn't hard to spot the gushing spray of hundreds of gallons of water from at least four hydrants as I walked about five blocks from the train. I knew the water pressure would be low in the apartment. When I got home, I lifted the lever on the tap, and nothing came out, not even a puff of air.

I'd planned for this. After all, this isn't the first time I've had this experience. Every time the heat rises, the hydrants open, and the water withers away, at least until around sunset. I figured we'd have water again by around 9PM, and actually a trickle came back by about 6. Meanwhile, there was chilled filtered water in the refrigerator, and buckets of tap water strategically positioned around the apartment.

People who visit New York often notice the large wooden tanks with conical tops on the roofs of most of the tall buildings in every borough. Those tanks are there to provide water pressure. Water is pumped up into the tanks, and gravity pulls the water down into the apartments. Being that our building is only four stories high, a tank like that is theoretically unnecessary, but practical reality often trumps theory. On a good day, the water pressure here isn't so hot...

But heat reminds me of something else — electrical load. I'm typing to you from the cool oasis of a centrally-air-conditioned room. AC is in heavy use around the city right now, though Con Edison says the power lines in Queens didn't fail (either of the two times in the last two weeks) because of excessive load. But, when the lines fail, not only do you lose lights and AC, but if you have a roof-top water tower, eventually you lose water.

I cross my fingers that New York doesn't see another blackout this year. Perhaps we'll dodge the bullet this time around, only because the big ones seem to happen when the utility guys are essentially asleep at the switch. Right now, they know everyone's watching.


Here's a disturbing article about how ‘single use’ [i.e. designed to be used once and disposed afterward] medical equipment is being ‘reprocessed’ and reused on patients [without their knowledge] as a cost-cutting measure. The reprocessors made $87million in 2004, so they're not likely to quit doing this voluntarily. The FDA allows the practice, even though the manufacturers claim the equipment cannot be safely reused.


Speaking of disturbing,
The results of the ‘B-Sample’ test for Floyd Landis are expected tomorrow. It's likely to show the same skewed ratio of testosterone to epi-testosterone. Apparently someone on the cycling federation is leaking info (e.g. that some of the testosterone found in the sample is synthetic) to the public in violation of their own rules, but no matter... Landis is likely to be stripped of his Tour de France title, and will enter into a disciplinary process once the results are made public.

I find it hard to believe that he cheated, and I wonder about the nature of performance enhancement. If all of his prior tests came back clean, what happened? Could a shot of testosterone the night before Floyd's epic comeback even have produced the amazing comeback we saw?

A flat tire in the prologue, broken handlebars and a bike change in the second time trial, and now a positive blood test after the stage that brought him back into contention... Floyd has had a lot go against him.

Tyler Hamilton's interview about returning from his 2-year suspension seems like an eerie preview of what's about to happen to Floyd. Tyler maintains his innocence even today. I suspect Floyd will, too. But if people can continue to presume that Lance Armstrong simply wasn't caught, I don't think Floyd stands much of a chance in the court of public opinion — where allegation is generally all that's needed to destroy a reputation.


Go Jake!
Jake Stigers is a great NYC area artist, originally from Boise, Idaho, competing in NBC's Star Tomorrow competition. Voting in the first round continues until 9pm, August 7... Check Jake out and vote for him.

Heads-ups from several friends had us sitting in front of the TV for an hour, barely managing to get a millisecond's glimpse of him; a handful of frames in the first show — you hear Jake say ‘Thanks guys,’ as the announcer acknowledges that he's moving on to LA — and that's about all. Hopefully, he'll get more TV airtime in the next round.

The companion site for the show has a lot of problems. We tried logging on to vote for him the night of the show, and got nowhere fast. The site basically read ‘COMING TOMORROW.’ The idea is to watch the complete performances online, but according to an apologetic e-mail from Jake, the site crashed the first night.

Even yesterday, a lot of features seemed MIA. The puny streaming vids are not very engaging, and I don't think NBC really fleshed out the concept before they launched. It's probably not the last time NBC will butcher an online venture.

What is Star Tomorrow, anyway? We start with a competition that seems to be trying to be a cross between American Idol and, and end up with something that's more like The Gong Show... The name borrows heavily from Star Search.

Considering that the first TV installment ends with David Foster's top three picks, and you don't even see all the acts that have moved on to the LA round, I have my doubts about how a number of the artists in the competition will fare.

I just hope it works out well for Jake and the gang. It's nice to see him with the same guys that have done all those gigs around town with him. In the end, national exposure has to be a good thing, regardless of the final turn-out.


On a dark desert highway / Cool wind in my hair / Warm smell of colitas / Rising up through the air...

For the longest time, I couldn't decide whether he was singing ‘colitas,’ ‘politas,’ or even ‘poonitas.’ Once I settled on colitas, I still had no idea what they were singing about. If you believe The Straight Dope, the mystery is solved.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, there's another nice piece of trivia associated with this song:

...And in the master's chamber
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
but they just can't kill the beast...

The line above is a nod to Becker and Fagen (a.k.a. Steely Dan) who sang

... Turn up The Eagles
The neighbors are listening....

in ‘Everything You Did.’

According to Glenn Frey in a 2003 interview: ‘Apparently, Walter Becker's girlfriend loved the Eagles and she played them all the time. . . . We just wanted to allude to Steely Dan rather than mentioning them outright, so “Dan” got changed to “knives.”’ He also said the working title for the song was ‘Mexican Reggae.’

Hotel California
Steely Dan

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