Santa stuffed a little bicycle odometer/speedometer thingy (called a 'cycle computer' on the packaging) in my stocking a few weeks ago so now I am able to measure more accurately the distances I cover when biking. Since I was born with flat feet and I can't run very well (even in high school the smokers would beat me in the mile. I could barely do it in under 10 minutes then), so biking is how I exercise.

It turns out my standard route is 10.9 km, or about 6.5 miles, round trip. I had estimated about 5-6 miles going by the mile posts on the path and then adding in the route to the path that runs along the river and is only about a 1/2 km from my house. The terrain locally is fraught with hills and it's uphill to my house so it's a hard 10.9 too and it's steep enough that I have to walk some of it on the return trip home. Some parts of my usual ride are difficult to maintain a 20 kph speed.

Anyway, the device is called a 'cycle computer' because it also tracks your speed, distance, average speed, calories burned, tells the temperature, and a few other things. On my last ten-point niner, the computer said I burned 355 calories which doesn't seem like a lot. I think taking the terrain into account, I can add at least 75 to that. Still, though, 430 calories is only a few beers or a hot dog. I know you burn calories throughout the day doing the daily things one does and little things can help. One thing I never do is take the elevator. Four floors or less, I walk it, unless it's a situation where the elevator is the only option, or I have the kids and strollers and such with me.

In the warmer months, I try to bike at least three times a week. In the winter and early spring, I have to sneak in a ride when weather permits. Exercise is important. More Americans should do it.

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NFL Picks 
If you care, here are my picks for the games this weekend:

New England over Jacksonville (take Jax and the points on this one)
San Diego over Indianapolis

Seattle over Green Bay
Dallas over New Jersey

Of the four NFC teams left, I like none of them. Seattle would be "rootable for" except for the fact that Holmgren is waaaaay overrated. I have to root for the New Jersey Giants <shudder> to upset Dallas but I don't see it happening. I have no beef with any of the AFC teams left some hopefully an AFC team will win the Super Bowl.

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Boo Hoo 
I certainly erred when I compared Hillary's campaign to the Titanic. Hillary is human after all, and like some humans, especially those under the age of ten, she realizes that crying is an acceptable way to get what you want. However, no amount of crying would have saved the Titanic from disaster and as an aspiring president, Hillary must learn that crying rarely saves human lives or capital. Weeping and sobbing may work on the people she bussed in from Massachusetts and Maine to vote in New Hampshire, but it won't work when trying to defend this nation from enemies, domestic and foreign, and it won't work as a foreign policy tactic either. Of course, crying and tantrums will likely work when persuading some of the more feckless (Reid, Pelosi) members of Congress so she can play that card again to get her way on some issues; that is, if she's elected.

So, what did I learn?

1. I must improve my Gimping skills.
2. Never ever count a Clinton as out. It's 1992 all over again.
3. She will make the Obama campaign look like the Titanic, especially after the kiss of death he received from iceberg John Kerry.
4. On second thought, who cares who John Kerry endorses?
5. I need to stop picking on her. The more I do, the stronger she seems to get, even if that strength is built on tears.

Foreign policy doesn't work like this:

HC: "boo hoo, please don't test another missile"
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Mrs. Clinton, we must protect ourselves from evil American imperialism."
HC (weeping): "but you can hurt people with those things. It's not fair! You need to take an anti-bullying class. These focus groups have done well here in the US by turning everyone into a wimp. You should try it; it brings out your sensitive side."
MA: "No."
HC (stomping and hissing): "It's not fair, you meanie! Why won't you listen to me?"
MA: "Well, now, since you starting stomping and crying, I guess I'll change my mind. I'll cancel the missile program. Tea tomorrow? And sign me up for one of those classes, too."
HC: "Tea? sure, just don't tell Bill. He gets so jealous when I socialize with foreign men, especially those who are just as subservient to their master, like he was to me for those eight years. Between you and I, though, don't tell anyone I said that. To the American people, I call this 'experience.'"
MA: "Ok, will do, and if I get out of line again, just throw another tantrum and I'll remember my place."
HC: "Sure thing; gotta run; heading down to Texas today to throw a few hissy fits to secure the border. Later, I'll call Hu Jintao up with my sob voice and work on that trade deficit."

So it goes. Boo hoo.

The road to the White House is tough, but not half as tough as being the President.

Oh, and I don't pick on her because she's a woman. I think we, as a nation, are ready for a woman president, but she isn't the one.

And, imagine the ridicule someone like Condi Rice would face if she cried like that! Once again, Hillary knows how to play the media and she played those cards perfectly and, in turn, the voters bought it hook, line, and sinker. Either that, or the non-New Hampshire residents she bussed in really put her over the top.

I've beaten this dead horse enough. It's too early in the year to discuss this coming election. I fell into the trap.

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New Clinton Campaign Poster Unveiled 

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"Man Using GPS Drives in Front of Train" [Link]

The irony of GPS is that it may help you get somewhere, but that doesn't mean you know where you are, but someone else might. If you got somewhere without the aid of GPS, you likely know where you are. Being able to read mile markers on highways and studying maps helps greatly. Personally, I feel GPS in cars is unnecessary. Granted, there may come a day when all cars do the driving for us via some GPS controlled system. No thanks.

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I found a site that will generate a map of states you've been in. I gotta get to Vermont so I can at least get every state that is completely east of the Mississippi.

Some visits have been drive-throughs like Alabama and Connecticut and two have been airports only (Detroit and St. Louis) but since the airport is in the state, it counts. I've worked in five states - PA, NJ, OH, KY, and IN and lived in two. I'd love to buy retirement property in western PA, WV, or western MD. Maybe someday...

I love looking at these fifty united States and visiting them and enjoying the unique characteristics and people and places each state has and this uniqueness and identity we have with the states we live in truly is what makes us united.

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Section 111 
...was where my seat was in tonight's Flyers-Maple Leafs game at the W------- Center (no plugs for Banks on my blog); good seats, 13 rows back from the right-side goalie face-off circle. Flyers won 4-1 to break a losing streak.

L----- did a promotion during the game in which our entire section won a free radio-controlled toy car. Instructions were to pick it up near section 120 after the game. However, many from our section went to pick up their prize during the 3rd period and by the time I got there, which was after the game, they were out. There were about 20 or so people upset with this and the security staff blamed L----- and I do too as they should have made sure they had enough for everybody; either that or they weren't scanning tickets or marking them off as people got the cars. The center staff eventually gave us a paper to fill out our name and address and said that they will give it to the sponsor's rep. and hopefully send us our prize. It's not the item but the principle so I put my name and address down. If they indeed pass the paper along, I'd guess there is about a 20% chance I get a toy car, 50% chance I get a gas card or something else that would likely make me buy something in order to get something or some discount, and 20% I get a letter from the company. I can't say I believe anyone will get the paper we filled out so I will probably email someone on the Flyers and complain.

Otherwise, the game was fun. I hadn't been to a hockey game for a few years and almost forgot how fun the games are.

Incidentally, it's $10.25 for a 16 oz Yuengling and a hot dog. Traffic getting into the Center was a mess. There must have been something at the Spectrum too. Overall, it was a fun night out.

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Merry Christmas 
Yes, I know, Christmas is still a few days away and, in fact, it's not even winter yet. But, I've been saying 'Merry Christmas' to people and, amazingly, I haven't been beaten up, boycotted, or scolded on being intolerant. Maybe schools, businesses, and the news (it's Christmas shopping, not Holiday shopping) can try the same thing. What are they afraid of?

To be fair, I've have seen places print or say the word Christmas. Home Depot, L.L. Bean, Kay Jewelers, and Giant food stores have all said it on a TV or radio ad or printed it in a sales flier or catalog. I am sure there are more but I know it's not the majority.

Maybe there isn't a war on Christmas after all. It may be more of self-censorship by those who've been made to feel bad for who they are or where their roots are. I don't think non-Christians, at least in this country, really are waging a war on Christmas. So, that being said, enjoy your Christmas and, if you don't celebrate it, enjoy the federal holiday on December 25th, which happens to be called Christmas. Maybe it's not a religious holiday anymore, but it's still an American holiday, like it or not, and there is a reason why it is a holiday. We can practice any religion we choose. Schools and employers will allow us to take off from work or miss class in order to observe important days in our respective religion's calendars. All religions are tolerated in the U.S. but sometimes you wouldn't know it by how some entities go through great effort to avoid the term Christmas.

Speaking of holidays, I wonder what would happen if someone started printing - "school closed - Civil Rights Leader Day" instead of "school closed - "Martin Luther King Day." Why not? We've neutralized holiday's before; like President's Day, officially neutralized (effectively putting Lincoln and Washington in with Carter and LBJ) and, unofficially, Christmas is being neutralized too, mostly by people with Christian roots. "School closed - Civil Rights Leader Day" won't fly but "school closed - Winter Break" glides with ease.

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When the Boughs Break 

Thanks to Township Cooling and Icing, one of our pine trees lost a lot of weight last night. There are at least three major limbs there and maybe five to ten smaller ones; not counting sticks and minor branches. I haven't counted officially yet as I didn't want to spend too much time under the tree as there also appears (not in the picture) to be a few broken limbs high above that have yet to fall.

For perspective, that Little Tykes house measures exactly 48" at the peak. Luckily, nothing other than our neighbor's hedge was damaged. That tree usually loses a few limbs over the winter but this was by far the worst. I can't move these limbs myself. I will probably lasso them and pull them out with my truck. As for disposal, got me. It would take me all day with a chainsaw, at least.

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Weather News 
The weather is the news locally. Predictions of snow and sleet today have stirred everyone into a panic. Schools are already closed and yet not a drop of precipitation has fallen yet.

In other (non) news, another tropical storm season has passed with little fanfare and no major storms hitting the US. I am sure Al Gore is upset about this, as he is abroad again blaming the US for things we can't control. After another year of dire predictions, the eastern tropical storm season was, fortunately, another dud.

I recently caught parts of the Weather Channel's 100 Greatest Weather Moments and I take issue with a few rankings. First, they rank Global Warming as number one. Global Warming is climate and not weather and that's like saying the earth's 'climate' is the most significant weather event in history. Well, duh, thank you Mr. Obvious. Additionally, who's to say that in ten or twenty years the warming won't change back to cooling? Secondly, they put Hurricane Katrina at number two but the Johnstown Flood of 1889 at 40. The Johnstown Flood, and ensuing fires, destroyed the city and killed about 20% of the city's population. Katrina killed about 1500 which is terrible, but it could have been worse and it certainly wasn't 20% of the people in her path and it certainly did not destroy New Orleans; she was badly battered and bruised, yes, but not as badly as Johnstown was. Imagine if a flood and fires destroyed a US city today, no matter how small or large, and killed 20% of its residents? It would be a Blame Bush Fest like none that has ever been seen before! In fact, the pollution that would accompany the blame Bush parties would certainly be more damaging to the planet than any hurricane or flood could ever be. The hot air from Al Gore's mouth itself would raise the earth's temperature three degrees C.

As for the flood, some will blame the club members and their negligence for the dam burst but one must blame Mother Nature too. Just like we can blame man for failures in New Orleans, the weather still played a major role. One major difference, though, people were warned about Katrina days in advance. The people in Johnstown got no warning at all.

I would move the Johnstown Flood of 1889 up closer to Katrina with both in the top ten; probably top five but not one and two. I don't think I would include Global Warming at all and that may well leave the weather predictions for early June of 1944 in the English Channel and French coast as the most important weather moment in history.

I still like the Weather Channel and find it informative and useful but I think their 100 weather moments was slanted some.

Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, et al, are all Mother Nature's way of telling us we don't have the influence we think we have.

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Oh, Christmas Tree! 

I relaxed my self-imposed fifteen-day rule (don't get the tree until at the earliest, the 10th) and took the family to choose and put up our tree yesterday. I think it looks good.

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Another Dud 
Which dud you ask?

1. The Eagles losing to the Seahawks and pretty much eliminating themselves from playoff contention.

2. WVU falling flat (yippie!) to Pitt on Saturday. What an awesome game! That was Pitt's biggest win in years. Awesome! It's not as sweet as a win over ND or PSU but I'll take it. Since Joe refuses to play Pitt, WVU is the rivalry right now.

3. The doom and gloom forecast of snow, ice, and freezing rain for yesterday which, of course, turned out to be about half an inch of snow, no freezing rain, or ice. Maybe Township Warming neutralized the storm. I went to the store on Friday, like I always do, in the morning to beat the panic that would unfold in the afternoon. Saturday I realized I was low on rock salt and decided ride it out with the little bit I had because there was no way I was going to the store on the first of the month with a forecast of bad weather. It turns out, I only used a little salt on the front steps because, as I suspected, the storm was nothing more than a brief annoyance. I'll give them some credit though, they were right about the wind forecasts for today; gusts to 45mph they say and it sure is windy right now.

4. The economy? Wait, GDP rose 4.9% over the third quarter, beating estimates. Not only can't weathermen get it right, economists can't predict very well either and it seems they are (well at least the news is) rooting for a poor Christmas shopping season to boot.

5. Windows Vista? So that's the buzz. I haven't used it other than helping with some out of the box setups for a few people. Someone commented to me, referring to the look and feel of the desktop, that "it looks like the Mac." All I know is that I'm happy with Slackware. Slackware 12 with XFCE is much faster than any XP machine I've ever used. I would assume the same holds true when compared to Vista.

Number one - oh well, there's always next year. Good to see number two happen. The hype in number three usually happens and number four is just wishing thinking of doom and gloom by the MSM. Number five - looks like Vista is turning out to be a bona fide dud.

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