Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mistrial Answers

Finally, I know the reasons for the mistrial- apparently a juror overheard some folks discussing the media coverage of the case then proceeded to tell two other jurors. What a gigantic waste of time. Thanks to nbc29 for the update.

Mistrial

NBC 29 reports a mistrial in the three week federal racketeering trial in Charlottesville. Scouring the internet for the actual reason for the mistrial- since no C'ville news outlet currently states the reason.
The closing arguments were rough ('emotional' even acc to the news reports) so the mistrial could be a result of them. I look forward to the answer.

Logical?

Richmond Times Dispatch has this little article about the FEC fining a local firm. Seems the PAC of McGuireWoods failed to file activity reports and received a $4500 fine. The firm cites 'extraordinary circumstances' for its failure to file the reports. The newspaper goes on

"McGuireWoods is part of the legal team for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. McGuireWoods partner Richard Cullen of Richmond is advising DeLay on several fronts. The fine disclosed in a news release yesterday by the FEC did not involve matters tied to the law firm's representation of DeLay, charged in Texas with conspiracy and money laundering"

The PAC and the law firm's activities are two separate entities, but the paper links them. The statement does muddy things, doesnt it?

For one, the PAC? What does a law firm need with a PAC? Probably lobbies on behalf of the interests of McGuireWoods, which are probably similar to the interests of some of its clients. PAcs are regulated by the FEC.

Second, Delay is charged with criminal activities related to elections (however remotely), which of course are regulated by the FEC. The conclusion MAY be drawn: MW law firm is representing Delay in some capacity therefore their PAC must be lobbying on behalf of him somewhere.

Pure speculation of course, no factual basis at all for that conclusion except for the FEC link. I despise the type of journalism Richmond Times Dispatch employs in this article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tour of Georgia News

Time to plan your next vacation? What about Georgia in April? It is beautiful and some of the finest riders in the world will be there to take on the Tour of Georgia.

"The race plans to invite fifteen teams from around the world, including defending champion Tom Danielson's Discovery Channel team, Floyd Landis and Phonak, Bobby Julich and Team CSC, Levi Leipheimer and Team Gerolsteiner as well as other UCI international and continental teams."

Tour of Georgia stages announcement:


Stage 1 - Tuesday, April 18: Augusta - Macon
Stage 2 - Wednesday, April 19: Fayetteville - Rome
Stage 3 - Thursday, April 20: Chickamauga - Chattanooga, Tenn ITT
Stage 4 - Friday, April 21: Dalton - Dahlonega
Stage 5 - Saturday, April 22: Blairsville - Brasstown Bald Mountain
Stage 6 - Sunday, April 23: Cumming - Alpharetta

Dodge dropped its sponsorship of the Tour this year. The Tour organizers have not announced the new sponsor although acc to Cycling News the announcement is close. the organizers got a little lazy this year (apparently) because the race is essentially the same as previous years, staying in the North-Central areas of Georgia. One difference is a finish in Chattanooga- which is cool. Even the Tour de France finishes in different countries a few times. The Georgia stage race will be exciting, dont be fooled by the alleged laziness of the organizers. Riders know they have to be prepared for the brutal mountain stages and the wacky weather. I cant wait!

So you say, 'I would love to have a race in Charlottesville' well there is the Jefferson Cup in March sponsored by the Charlottesville Racing Club (who is sponsored by Extreme Sports). Jeff Cup is a great road race in Albemarle County that kicks off (to me anyway) the great road racing season in the Mid-Atlantic region).

Heras test results

This is old news by now; Roberto Heras's B sample test results were positive. He of course is in denial, just like they all are after these tests. See recent posts about Tyler Hamilton who continues to deny EPO use. Happily Tyler is half way through his suspension. Heras in order to make a come back will have to confess...I can always hope that these guys are not cheating and are victims of a bad test, right?
It is sad when such great riders feel as though they have to dope. Cycling is one of the few pure sports out there, it will be hard to overcome the tarnish of the cheaters.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tyler Hamilton

Cycling news has an in depth series beginning today (it is 2 part this is part 1) on Tyler Hamilton's case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. In September the Court held part 1 of the hearing, part two will be on January 10th. Hopefully a final opinion will be issued within thirty days.

Hamilton has defended his innocence since he was first implicated in blood doping. Sadly this article in cyclingnews.com does not help his case. It talks about 'leaked evidence' indicating blood doping beginning in the Spring of 2003 not just at the Vuelta.

I cant imagine going through all of this if I were guilty. I suppose some people have very large egos and think they can get away with it. I hope Tyler did not dope, if he did I hope he admits it, serves his time and comes back to race like Virenque who later won the King of the Mountains 7 times in the Tour de France. A rider can come back from doping, but he/she has to admit it, make amends and demonstrate ability without the doping.

Cville News

Biscuit Run has sold for a lot of money, Cvillenews and the Daily Progress have the story. For my time, cvillenews has the laughs. For my interested readers, Hunter is the one who bought it for the outrageous sum of 46.2 million.

Perceptions Matter

Jeff Rossman's mantra is "perceptions matter" however it's not clear to me if he deals in reality. OK- Jeff is a likeable guy and he works very hard for his cause. But my perception is different than his perception. He believes since several people stood up at a City Council meeting and asked for a ward system to be put in place immediately that it should happen. I disagree. I am not opposed to a ward system.

Last night's City Council meeting was VERY long- the public hearing on the Charter Amendment contributed to the length of the meeting. The City Council ultimately decided not to ask the General Assembly to change their charter to permit ward system of electing school board members.

Jeff's perception is that there is no opposition to the elected school board therefore a ward system should immediately be put in place and furthermore the city council is out of touch. It is easy to be in Jeff's place arguing for something for which there is no organized opposition.

My thinking (not perception) is process is important. A change like the one Jeff's supporters were arguing for is likely to happen and may be the best system. But, an at large election in May fundamentally does what Jeff's referendum wanted.

My mantra is PROCESS MATTERS. That one person stood up at the meeting and professed to be horrified by the elected school board and the aftermath suggests to me there needs to be some education in the community and that the people who showed up last night MAY not represent the will of the silent majority (even if they voted for the referendum).

Jeff had the opportunity to speak three times last night. I do not think City Council by not supporting a Charter Amendment last night is out of touch. Now that we have an elected school board, a deliberate process will be important to make sure the elites (Jeff and co.) dont get their way simply because their voices are the loudest, AND MAKE NO MISTAKE their voices are the loudest. Dont buy into the hype that the Democrats dont want a ward system and the "fix is in" as Jeff suggested. I suspect the opposite is true, a ward system is inevitable. Ordinary citizens (not elected school board lobbyists) do not know what this should look like- I dont either. Hopefully after careful debate, a consensus will emerge, if not I am sure City Council will show decisive leadership and make a good decision as we elected them to do.

Daily Progress account of the evening's entertainment.
Channel 29's thorough analysis.
Cvillenews also has a few things to say- the mystery remains- what does the email say?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Good eats

As I had to be at the Paramount at 4:30 on Thursday for the two Vince Gill concerts I volunteered for, by the time the show started, I was famished. Walking in a daze to find quick, yummy food I happened upon Marco & Luca ' s Noodle Shop. The shop doesnt accept credit cards (but that is ok because everything is so cheap, you probably have the change in your car). The selection is not large: dumplings and noodles. While I sat eating my delicious dumplings, it occurred to me I was glad the shop didnt have a huge menu, the less to choose from the easier for me to make a decision. Decision making has not been my strong suit since the kids arrived.
Speaking of children, I liked that the owners children were playing in the restaurant. Very friendly people with cheap good food. My only fear is that they wont last long- so go eat dumplings and keep them in business.

Update 10 miler

Three solid weeks of running three times a week. :)
Not every run is a struggle, but it is not easy. Running on Locust Ave is fun and challenging- walking the hills dont seem like such a big deal, but there are quite a few. If I think about actually running 10 miles, I want to curl up and eat bon bons. So I have to think about the actual run I am doing. So far, the program is working- every week I feel stronger and can run longer. And I still feel amazing after every run.
Now if we can find time for Chris to ride ...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Job search

The Brazen Careerist column in the Hook has some interesting comments this week. She points out based on a study she read that most people would prefer to have an incompetent leader that they liked than a hard worker who they didnt like. She goes on to detail what makes people like you. Fascinating, really useful.
Then this AM I was reading the Business section of the Post- this nugget resonated. Apparently "friends and family approaches to hiring are common, according to an unscientific poll."
So companies dont hire the most qualified because they hire their friends who help keep the unqualified people in their job even though they are incompetent. I am sure this resonants with all of us. I suppose the moral of the story is simply because people like you doesnt mean you are qualified to do your job...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Downtown Mall

OK we all love it, but two issues today as I head out to volunteer at the Paramount this evening. Why are there no Record Stores on the Mall? Are they still called record stores? There are so many book stores (and great ones) and the Corner has such a bad parking situation, wouldnt it be great if Plan 9 put a store on the Mall? Or any other independent store. I know there is an obscure music shop on Market street (is that still there?) can I buy relatively mainstream music there? THe hunt is on.
Second issue, Sunday nights are not good for the quick take out eater on Downtown mall, as far as I can tell your choice is Christians, which is good but it doesnt accept credit cards and I never have any cash/checks. Even CVS closes at 8 on Sundays, that is very early especially when shows are going on at the movie theater and Paramount where potential customers are.
This is not to complain, merely observations, I love it down there.

Cycling

Jens Voight interview .
Voight is Ivan Basso's teammate on CSC. Ivan of course is my favorite to win the Tour de France. Voight represents riders in the Pro Tour governing body. He has some interesting insights into the Pro Tour, shortening Grand Tour races (Giro and Vuelta mostly) and new markets for cycling races.

I enjoy the Pro Tour idea, it makes things slightly more comprehensible for newcomers like me. Unfortunately for me, the US has no Pro Tour races and only one team (Discovery) among the 20 teams represented in the Pro Tour. (Although I maintain CSC should get more US coverage because it is an American company- the team calls itself Danish-why I dont know). More disasters for fans and potential fans is the lack of coverage by MSM. I plead with WP regularly to report on cycling news particularly Grand Tour events besides Tour de France. I know there is a market for this news having witnessed the mass of racers in the mid-atlantic racing circuit.

Happily the Tour of Georgia has been upgraded to Hors Classe.
"The Tour de Georgia cycling race is now the only Hors Classe rated race in North America, thanks to an upgrade in classification from the world governing body for the sport. The Union Cycliste International (UCI) has approved April 18 - 23 as the dates for the 2006 Tour de Georgia and elevated the event rating from a 2.1 to its top Hors Classe (2.HC) rating, the highest outside of Europe. "In just three years the Tour de Georgia has set the standard as one of the top professional races in North America," said Gerard Bisceglia, CEO of USA Cycling. "USA Cycling is pleased that the UCI has elevated the status so that it receives special attention internationally. The rating is significant to continue the recognition the event deserves from athletes, media and spectators with a global focus,"
I hope some channel covers the racing season next year.

Lost

Sadly, my perfect recording system failed during the Lost hour. We caught bits and pieces of it. I am still not clear how we learned Goodwin (Godwin) was 'other' despite searching the web to locate good recaps. EW has the best sardonic recaps (you may have to subscribe to get the reviews), I highly recommend those. TVWithoutPity has ok recaplets the day after the show and lengthier ones usually the day before the following weeks show.

Reading all the buzz about last night's show I am firmly in the Ana Lucia hater camp. Admittedly, I suspect the producers want me to feel that way. The other camp (no pun intended) believes the John, Jack and Sayid group are annoying and hate them. Not sure how you can continue to watch the show and hate that group. I didnt like Ana Lucia from the beginning because when we first saw her with Jack at the airport, I knew she would be alive on the island and I dont want her to end up with Jack. I like the complex relationship between Kate and Jack. Next week's previews look like Kate is going to be over the top to see Sawyer...how else will Lost survive without fits and starts?

The little I gather the others take 'good' people like the children. The others have not taken people in original camp therefore are they all bad? Good and bad being all relative.

Next week I will be diligent in recording properly (and plenty of room on the DVD RW).

Good Divorce?

I am on my lawyer soapbox. (only information, not advice, you should contact a lawyer if you have a legal problem):
Custody is court determination of what is best for children.
Parenting is deciding between two people who cannot live together anymore, what is best for their children. Sometimes, divorcing parents dont know that a court doesnt have to determine custody. An agreement about custody, visitation and support issues can form the basis of an Agreed Order and easier transition for everyone involved. The people who win in divorce battles- lawyers (and thank you).

Good divorces appear to be moving into the mainstream. Uproar over recent studies and books confirm what most children of divorce know- no such thing as a good divorce.

Lets be honest, people are still going to get divorced, amicable separation and divorce is preferred. I hear many folks say they are not themselves upon separation, it is an inherently selfish, introspective time (I suspect). Children/dogs/houses/401(k)'s become the next battleground for the fighting couple.

However, if the spouses can agree not to do anything crazy (a big if) there is a possibility of agreement on even the most contentious issues. Seek advice from an attorney (I am always grateful when an adverse has made such a consultation). Friends who are not family law attorneys are not good sources of advice, the law changes rapidly. Hopefully the attorney will provide a realistic assessment of the situation, be wary of an attorney who tells you things that seem too good to be true (not that there are any of us like that).

Negotiations are a back and forth; if at first you dont succeed, dont close the door to further negotiations. Also, you cant have everything. Virginia is an equitable distribution state. No matter what you think of your case, a court may not and probably will not see it entirely your way (no matter how terrific, expensive your attorney is).

There are some awful situations out there so clearly this is simply my opinion, not legal advice. Your situation may or may not be conducive to negotiation/mediation.

Torture Redux

For years (ok my whole life) prior to this Bush administration, I never considered torture an issue. I do not remember the Vietnam War and Gulf War I didnt really seem like war in the traditional sense (few POWs, POWs grateful to be caught, no POW terrorist allegations, never used the term 'unlawful combatant'). I assumed like most high school/college students that US followed the Geneva Convention against torture. Moreover, I was taught US held the moral authority against torture.

Briefly the arguments we may have been taught: United States seeks to be the standard by which other countries judge their own actions; we dont want our soldiers to be victims and perhaps if we dont torture, our enemies wont torture; finally, can democracy really prevail when torture is permitted against enemies (which can be defined as anyone in the minority of the democracy)?

Fast forward to this week's news. Newsweek has cover story about torture featuring John McCain, the Senate continues its debate on the prohibition of torture, cruelty, and inhumane treatment, and Iraq military is accused of torturing Sunni captives in Baghdad. Iraq Minister says that last bit is exaggerated "saying only a handful showed signs of abuse." Oh good, I feel better.

McCain poignantly balances the intelligence community needs with the reality of using this methods to gather the intelligence. It simply doesnt work. The administration demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature in assuming cruel interrogation techniques will make the US safer. From McCain's website: "Nevertheless, the administration has held that the prohibition does not legally apply to foreigners held overseas. They can, apparently, be treated inhumanely. This means that America is the only country in the world that asserts a legal right to engage in cruel and inhumane treatment. What this also means is that confusion about the rules becomes rampant again. With this simple amendment, we can restore clarity on a simple and fundamental question: Does America treat people inhumanely? My answer is no, and from all I’ve seen, America’s answer has always been no"

I will even give the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt that they are not purposely trying to anger me with this issue, they sincerely believe it will help. Two issues remain, what about our international obligations under the Geneva Convention AND the safety and wellbeing of our captured soldiers?

This administration has shown contempt against all things related to international obligations (germ warfare, aid for poor, Kyoto treaty, ICC jursidiction over peacekeepers. The United States has a history of rejecting anything that smacks of foreign control over American policy. The Geneva Convention was different.
In order to protect our soldiers, the United States must follow the spirit and wording of the Geneva Convention against Torture. In order for our values to spread, we must be the standard against which other countries judge, we must not carve out niches for opportunities for torture.

I would like this issue to go away again so that my children do not have to know a United States that would seek to torture in their name for their security.

Giro d'Italia

Giro officials rolled out the stages of next year's race. According to cycling news, climbers love the race course.

"Giro organiser RCS had planned a split final day, with an 11km mountain time trial on the Ghisallo, to celebrate the inauguration of the Ghisallo museum on the same day. The time trial was to be followed by a 116km road stage into Milan." ProTour officials have rejected half stages, the organizers say they will celebrate the inauguration another way.

Wonder where you can watch the Giro in May? Stay tuned...certainly Chris will find a way to get it online.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ten Miler Training III

I am now officially up to a mile, which as Chris pointed out is a third of the way to my 5k race on New Year's Day. I feel good starting my third week on the program. I love the commercials for Ragged Mountain Running Shop, a good Charlottesville institution, not sure whether the shop had commercials before, but this one is cute.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ratings so Bad, Show so good.

This is just sad. From CNN, Arrested Developmenthas finally met its maker. Too bad, I really enjoy that show. I cant imagine people are going to remain loyal to Prison Break for the next six months of reruns.
Lisa DeMoraes talks about the demise of Arrested Development in her column this morning (although first you have to read about Terminator).
I look forward to the rest of AD episodes.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

School Board News

Acc. to NBC 29
"On November 21st, Charlottesville city councilors will hold a public hearing on the subject of ward systems"

The voters have to be involved in the setup of an elected school board every step of the way. Let's see how sausage is made and go to the City Council meeting to be part of the process (I hope it isnt too gory).

Recruiting for quality school board candidates needs to start now- do we have any suggestions? Has anyone expressed an interest? How does the City feel about a ward system? The current Council is at-large.

The Registrar, Sheri L. Iachetta is quick to point out the Justice Department has to approve any changes in the at-large/ward system- does anyone have any doubt they would approve any changes?

When was the last time the Justice Dept rejected a localities system based on civil rights concerns?. According to MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN CITY OF CHELSEA,MASSACHUSETTS AND THE UNITED STATES "The usual and appropriate remedy for at-large methods of election that dilute minority voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is the drawing of districting plans that do not dilute minority voting strength" The Memorandum of Understanding between the locality and DOJ requires the locality to institute a ward system for its school committee so the Hispanic vote is not diluted. Looks like DOJ would approve of a ward system so long as the minority vote is strengthened not diluted. Would this be a positive change for the City?

Books

Driving all over Virginia yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to NPR a lot.
Two books really piqued my interest. The first story described the book Silver Spoon is an Italian cookbook with over 1200 pages/2000 recipes in it. This is apparently one of the staples of Italian cooking, the cookbook that everyone gets for the wedding. The cookbook sounds like a great tool for all kitchens, although it appears to have some rather obscure food (zucchini flower-its all the rage, but where do you find them?)

The other story on NPR involved the book- Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel (photography) and Faith D'Aluisio.
The authors followed families all over the world for a week to see what they consumed. At the end of the time, the families posed for pictures with a week's worth of food. Fascinating stuff. The best food the authors had, acc to the NPR story was in Greenland where the seafood was very fresh.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Arson.

Arson interrupted a conference I attended last week in Virginia Beach. The Hilton hotel did a good job trying to placate us hungry, cold guests even though it had nothing to do with the fires.
Three fires were set on three different floors. I stayed on the 14th floor, where one fire was, another on the 6th and the 2nd. Pretty scary really since the police had to go room by room to look for the suspect(s) who they feared were still in the hotel. Officials still have not arrested anyone.
The sprinkler system did not go off in my room despite the fire being caddy corner to my room (it was started in the maid's area where extra towels etc are kept). I was impressed with the sprinklers.
I was on the second floor (I didnt see anything except employees with fire extinguishers) when the fire started. NOW- I go everywhere with my cell and wallet. Thankfully I did have my room key so when I was allowed to my room 4 hours later, I could retrieve my 'necessities'
Otherwise I had a fabulous time at the beach. I got to run on the sidewalk (this Saturday I run a mile!) and hang out with fun colleagues, oh and I learned a lot!

Yeah TV!

Lost is new tonight. The start of sweeps month for the series. Looks like a suspenseful show.
Gilmore Girls last night seemed to be what fans have been waiting for. Television without pity recapleter gives it an A- BTW- I dont get the WB, but since I am addicted, I get my information on the internet
Prison Break- I read a USA Today blurb that this show will have a cliffhanger (shock!) then not have another new show until ... MAY (sweeps)! SO I am rolling back my addiction to this show. TV EXECS- DONT DO THIS TO FANS-it is rude. I have not watched Monday's show so I havent read the article I hyperlinked here.
SO far I havent fast forwarded through too much of the collision on General Hospital- but I can see it getting old quickly.

Cycling

Roberto Heras who won the 2004 & 2005 Vuelta a Espana has been suspended by Liberty Seguros because he tested positive for EPO in his A sample. He denies using EPO; as does Tyler Hamilton. Tyler knows how expensive, time consuming trying to establish innocence is, proving a negative is hard to do.
While I am not a Heras fan since he abandoned US Postal, he is clearly a talented rider, I hope his B sample is negative so he doesnt have to endure the horrible appeals process. It has been years since Hamilton's alleged positive sample- the suspension period will be up by the time the decision comes down.

Some much to say

I have been extremely busy this week therefore I have lots to say, but not enough time to say it.

Yeah Tim Kaine! While I wouldnt have choosed him as my heir apparent, I am grateful he won. Kilgore was a truly uninspired choice for the Republicans.
I see a bruising primary battle in 2010 for both Dems and Republicans if McDonnell wins. If Creigh wins, I hope he can appeal to the whole state in the next 4 years. Bolling is not a good choice for Virginia. How did so many people who voted for Kaine, vote for Bolling. Byrne and Bolling are polar opposites, so are Kaine and Bolling. I suppose I answered my own question.
Yeah David Toscano- was there any doubt.

Is the day after the election for thinking of the future elections? Or is it for celebrating/mourning the just past election? I say let us have a moment or two to breath, Christmas shop, gather for Thanksgiving, then lets get down to the business of politicking again. Even the Senate Judiciary committee set the Alito hearings for January, surely we can put aside campaigning for next year till then?

Well to answer the question for the elected school board- probably not since Schilling will no doubt bring his ward system proposal again at the next City Council meeting. As for other offices lets take a break.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election Day 11/8/05

The ads will go away after today. We can enjoy radio and tv again after today. I voted, did you? I actually volunteered this morning at the polls. I really enjoyed meeting some folks who voted and volunteered early. Jennifer Brown came to my polling station and shook hands with some voters. I appreciate it when unopposed candidates take the time to campaign.
I always have a good day when I can exercise my constitutional rights.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sweeps

Soap sweeps start at the beginning of November, February and May. This month on GH will likely be full of action and drama. I am looking forward to prime-time sweeps storylines too- especially Lost.
Having said that, I will be without my DVD recorder (so sad I dont have TIVO anymore) for the coming days. At a conference in Virginia Beach at the new Hilton. I am hoping the hotel is awesome. I get to run on the board walk on Thursday morning (yeah). There will be lots of business to attend to, but hopefully a lot of reconnecting with folks I havent seen in awhile. Stay tuned...