Tuesday, December 21

A Sunday In Hell

"Arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling", some have said and I very much agree.

Now on youtube, and embedded below for your viewing pleasure. In my personal opinion this is a movie that could make you fall in love with the sport of cycling if you're not already and if you are... well, then you'll simply love it if you haven't already seen it, and if you have, well I'm sure you'd love to see it again.

A Sunday in Hell is a truly wonderful documentary following Eddy Merckx and other stars of the day on their quest to win the 1976 Paris Roubaix. A true classic if ever their were a classic sports film.

Enjoy it while it lasts films of this caliber don't often hang out on Youtube long.

on youtube

Via: Ocean Air Cycles

Sunday, December 19

Cycling Madagascar

Even though this video isn't in english (not much speaking anyway) and even though it's a fantastical 20 minutes long I'm guessing it's still going to leave you wanting more. It's perhaps one of the best tourng videos i've ever seen. And I've seen a lot.

Cycling Madagascar from Dennis Koomen on Vimeo.

We explored the southern part of Madagascar by bicycle. Our route: Antananarivo, Morondava, Antsirabe, Manakara, Fianarantsoa, Toliara. We also made two walkingtrips; Ranamafano NP and Isalo NP.
More info and pictures can be found on our website

Saturday, December 18

Ramblings on the relationship of language and thinking

From: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/transcript/

ELIZABETH SPELKE: Everybody has always talked about how language is this incredible tool for communication that allows us to exchange information with other people so much more richly and affectively than other animals can. But language also seems to me to serve as a mechanism of communication between different systems within a single mind.

== Notes ==

Ideas in the brain are like islands. Ideas of space, color, shapes, time, etc.

What connects these islands is language itself. Without language we could not connect these ideas (of space, color, shape, time, etc.) even in our own minds, let alone communicating them.

Language is not a result of the thinking being.

Language is a process the brain itself needs to think, to relate and to combine desperate ideas into one.

Hence language is not a result of the thinking being, language is the very thing that has lead to the thinking being itself.

Without language thought itself is fragmented.

Language isn't just a interpersonal communications tool, it is an interpersonal communications tool as well allowing parts of the mind to talk to relate to one another.

== What is thought without language? ==

JAD ABUMRAD: But Charles, what I’m wondering is that if language allows you to construct a though that is so basic as, “The biscuit is left of the blue wall,” what is thought without language?

CHARLES FERNYHOUGH: Well I don’t think it’s very much at all.

JAD ABUMRAD: What do you mean?

CHARLES FERNYHOUGH: I’m going to put it a different way and this involves making quite a controversial statement. I don’t think very young children do think.

JAD ABUMRAD: Like think period. (C. laughing.) Was there a period at the end of that sentence?

CHARLES FERNYHOUGH: I don’t think they think in the way I want to call thinking, which is a bit of cheat, but let me say what I mean by thinking.


CHARLES FERNYHOUGH: If you reflect on your own experience, if you think about what’s going on inside your head as you’re just walking to work or sitting on a subway train. Much of what’s going on in your head at that point is actually verbal. I want to suggest that the central thread of all that is actually language, it’s a stream of inner speech. That’s what most of us think of as thinking.

ELIZABETH SPELKE: Well on the other hand what I’m most aware of when I’m reflecting is the stuff that I can’t put into words. I think that he’s exaggerating the role of language here. Yes…


JAD ABUMRAD: This all really hinges on how you would define thinking, and Liz would say take a musician, like I’ll give you my example Bill EvanSusan Schaller: Here is a form of thought that carries you through a definite sequence of phrases, feelings, emotions, changes. And there are no words!

ELIZABETH SPELKE: But there’s something that we get access to when we gain a full natural language that we can use not only to communicate with other people but with ourselves.


Hence language is not just spoken, or written, and there is not just one form of language. There are languages of all types, for all ways of thinking... music, emotional, math, etc. In order to access some ways of thinking we must learn new languages. The language itself is the key to thought.

And what of the subconscious, is it merely "all that stuff we can't put into worlds"... is it simply which we cannot make literal or verbalize?

If nothing else, this explains why I like to write, writing creates understanding, it opens new doors of perception. Only by externalizing ideas by putting them down on paper, or designing them into objects can one turn them over and gain new perspectives on them, if only by time, but also if one creates physical manifestations of thought through sculpture or indeed the design and creation of tools then one can actually physically turn over these manifestations of thought and gain new perspectives on them.

This also has wider ramifications. In a world where people are constantly writing and conversing online on forums on topics of obscure interest... because for the first time the Internet gives that tuba player in a town of 110 in Idaho an audience who can fully appreciate and understand their work... well suddenly we are through writing re-enforcing the connections between "islands of knowledge"... thus the Internet allows for a huge evolutionary step forward in the world of thought.

== the traffic jam at the door of language and thought ==

JAD ABUMRAD: It's a little bit maybe like that experience you might have at a nightmare New York club. We’re you’ve got like thousands of people in a tiny space and everyone’s trying to push their way out, and they’re like, “God, let me through the door. Get out of my way!” It’s just like this

JAMES SHAPIRO: Throng of images, sounds, conceits, thoughts, ideas. And they are providing the pressure that's needed to produce words.


JAD ABUMRAD: You know what?


JAD ABUMRAD: This makes sense to me, this interpretation. And not just for Shakespeare, for anybody. Certainly the guy we met at the beginning Ildefonso.

ROBERT KRULWICH: Who just learned words for the first time.

JAD ABUMRAD: Yeah. I mean as you move through the world if you're sensitive at all and your observant, you're gonna get filled up with all of these things which you have to express but can't until you get those words. Then…boom! The door opens.

The entire transcript is at: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/transcript/

The original audio post is here: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/

And the direct link to the mp3 is here: http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/radiolab/radiolab091010.mp3

Saturday, August 28

This is why you are (not) fat. : pics

On the tip of a passing bike tourer I started keeping an eye on the reddit.com bike forums. Couldn't resit posting the bellow image.

Monday, August 16

I'm an uncle x2 now :)

Congrats to my brother Joe and his wife Anni!

I'm now an uncle two times over now, and soon to be an uncle x3. :)

P.S. I love the monkies

Monkey Chair

More on the Verizon HTC Incredible Froyo 2.2 update

According to Ozcarguide, whom I'm not all that farmilliar with, the latest verizon update for the HTC Incredible which is expected out any day now will not only include the Android 2.2 Froyo update with Flash and tethering among other things, but full 720p video recording which would be absolutely great.
"In case you don't already know, the 720p video update which was suppose to happen last week had been paused, possibly to have it rolled out together with the Froyo update. In addition to the Android 2.2 update, now HTC Droid Incredible owners can enjoy 802.11n Wifi, Verizon 3G Wi-Fi hotspot, 720p video recording, Amazon's MP3 store and a few other fixes.

Update: The tweet is now being claimed as 'officially unofficial' as it is from Verizon but not endorsed directly by corporate. A minor technicality if you ask."

Sounds GREAT but there have been so many claims of release dates and features I'll believe it when I see it. :)

Update: IC Tech News also seems to confirm that the Verizon HTC Incredible update is coming out this Wednesday August 18th and will have tethering and 720p video recording.

The much anticipated Android 2.2 update or popularly known as ‘Froyo update’ is most likely to hit HTC’s Android OS on August 18. The much awaited Android 2.2 update will bring numerous benefits to the HTC Incredible users in the form of 720 p recording feature, mobile hotspot functionality, faster page downloads, better OS performance and lot of other significant features for business users and general customers. The upgrade also brings Flash 10.1 and USB tethering to Droid Incredible.

With the upgrade the Droid users can use a PIN number to unlock their phones and can choose to use phone’s voice recognition feature now available in many languages. The 2.2 update also enables Google search and YouTube apps to get directly installed on the SD card of the phone instead of internal memory. Users now get an access to global address list and new exchange calendar support. The business users too find the Froyo updates handy while locking their phones. The update also allows phones to be wiped in case of a theft or loss.

The Droid Incredible users find the mobile hotspot functionality especially useful as it allows them to use the internet on a laptop or any other Wi-Fi device via virtual hotspot. The update 2.2 also supports the latest mobile Flash video codec. In addition, the Incredible owners get a new boot up animation when the mobile is turned on.

Again this all sounds absolutely great, but I'll believe the release date, the 720p video recording and the tethering when I see them. :)

Sunday, August 15

Can't wait for Android 2.2 Froyo

Android 2.2 is rumored to be coming out in a few days for my Verizon HTC Droid Incredible. I can't wait!

Nice little blog post on PC Mag on the new release:

Hands-On: Flash for Android and Android 2.2 "Froyo" | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

The big ticket items I'm looking forward too are the huge speed boost and full support for Adobe Flash, meaning I can have full unencumbered access to all the video on the web.

I'm also hoping it will fix a few minor annoyances I have with the phone such as the screen dimming / undimming erratically when I'm on a call.

Another big ticket question is will it fully support tethering so I can use it to connect my laptop to the Internet when on the road or has Verizon has somehow disabled the feature? It's supposed to be a key feature of the Android 2.2 release but cell phone carriers like Verizon are infamous for disabling features that don't suit their fancy so I'll believe it when I see it.

Among other things I've been putting off setting up a computer next to the TV to use as a media center because once I can run Flash on my Android phone I can use it as a full blown media center. I will even have a number of options to control it including VNC and potentially a bluetooth remote though I'll likely stick with VNC since I tend to work on my laptop or at least keep it handy when watching tv.

The idea of using my Android phone as a media center is no small potatoes thing, it was on the original reasons why I got the phone

1) full web access
2) camera
3) GPS
4) media player

While full Flash support completes the Android phone's capabilities as a full on media player / media center even without the ability to watch video in Flash I use applications like Pandora and Slacker to listen to music constantly at work. I think my data usage was 3.5gigs last month, so obviously these are a couple of my most used appications right next to google's Gmail app.

Ironically I've not yet bothered to put my extensive MP3 collection on it and may not so long as applications like Pandora and Slacker suit my needs.

I've also become fond of an application called BeyondPod which is a podcast aggregater for Android. I've not yet been able to fully utilize it yet because of a few probably minor bugs but I have been using it to follow some of my favorite podcasts like MTBcast's coverage of the Tour Divide (the mountain bike race down the great divide).

I'm hopeful that in the future applications like Boxee will come to Android and further enhance it's ease of use with an integrated media playing experience.

Welcome to my new url

You've found me again. Welcome to my new blog url, blog.mmeiser.com.

I've been using google's blogger platform since 1994(ish?) and google had end-of-lifed some of the older features I was using to support my blog at mmeiser.com/blog. Most specifically FTP support which was a primitive and resource intensive mechanism for keeping a blog up to date anyway. I also wanted to take advantage of many of the great newer features in google's latest blogging platform.

The design shell of the new blog will continue to look a little crufty, but I should start updating regularly again.

I've also been able to move my complete post archive since 1994 over to the new location which has some added benefits like being able to bring a little transparency to the archive with search and browseable tagging / categorization.

I'll eventually get my archive back up at mmeiser.com/blog again or at least redirect urls to their new location. Just have to make some DNS configurations.

Peace, -Mike

Sunday, February 21

Anatomy of a meme: Epic Beard Man

Below are random media theory thoughts (b.s.) on a recent viral video phenom referred to as "epic beard man". In other words... most people won't care to read this.

Re: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/epic-beard-man

It's interesting to note that the modern phenom of image and video remixing may be part of a higher purpose. Through remixing video becomes codified and formalized as a form of language.

Through viral memes we are identifying / citing / developing a formal video based language combining multiple types of audio and visual information.

This new language is in many respects the same as written, spoken and visual language. However what is most interesting is this phenom in combining different types of language which include literal (i.e. spoken word) and abstract information (i.e. body language) thus becoming a sort of complex meta-language.

If only on a basic level parallel audio visual cues (often pertaining directly to the human condition) are through memes such as "Fail" or the "play it off cat" identified and classified.

It is in a way a game of audio visual "go fish" that teaches us a whole number of things not only about oft repeated patterns but also different universal aspects of the human condition.

What's more there's the fascinating prospect that out of negatives such as the above linked to conflict commonly referred to in the "epic beard man video" and others we can see some evidence that there is potentially a new means for establishing consensus on a cultural / moral code.

To be specific the original maker of the video receives negative feedback that is to some degree from an active organized group campaign called Anonymous regarding her own actions in instigating the fight and and racial tensions. Such statements as "kick his white *ss" and the use of the term "pinky" to describe the white male.

She then feels the need to acknowledge and address through a follow up video those specific issues which others feel are outside the boundaries of some cultural / moral code.

In her response we are seeing how on low level new moral issues / boundaries can be identified resolved and codified.

In viral memes we are seeing a new social phenom. It is the meanings and ramifications of these phenom that I find so fascinating.

Update: On the other hand the visual meme generator is absolutely chuck full of racist comments. :( http://memegenerator.net/Epic-Beard-Man

Tuesday, February 16

Trans Wisconsin! 550 miles of ultra-endurance mountain biking goodness

It's official! The 550 mile Trans Wisonsin has been announced, registration is open, and I've already emailed my registration! See you there!
The midwest's first multi-day, self-supported mountain bike race! These types of events have been popular for several years in the west. It's time we begin to develop this form of mountain bike racing here.

Registration is open! Race day start is June 18th, 2010. To enter you need only to send an e-mail with your name, age, and address as the only information needed.

For more specific information on the race, check out the race details page.

TransWisconsin will follow the 550 mile Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail from Wisconsin's southern border with Illinois to the northern most tip of the Bayfield Penninsula, finishing on the shores of Lake Superior.

Along the route riders will travel through the distinct geographical regions of Wisconsin and towns settled by trappers, farmers, and fisherman. The trail will vary between gravel road, two-track, ATV trail, singletrack, and an unfortunate bit of pavement.

If you've been dreaming of an Ultra Race here in the Midwest, look no further!


Disclaimer: this event has been organized by my brother Joe!! Thanks Joe! You rock!

Monday, January 25

Alone Across Alaska: 1,000 Miles of Wilderness

"A solo journey across northern Alaska. Features grizzlies, caribou, moose, wolves, Dall sheep, as well as spectacular scenery."

Alone Across Alaska: 1,000 Miles of Wilderness from bucktrack.com on Vimeo.

Stumbled on this while doing some research on packrafting. What I loved most about this was the original route planning which combined hiking and rafting (though technically not packrafting) to follow the Brooks Range divide in Alaska. I haven't seen or heard of anyone else attempting this and Bruce did it solo.

George Christensen, Earn Local, Ride Global

George Nov. 2009 near Zhengzhou China

From the Chicago Reader.
George Christensen, a 55-year-old bike messenger, likes to set challenges for himself. In 1975 he sat through every inning of every game in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. In 1991 he made 73 deliveries in one day, a record for Chicago bike messengers at the time. Last spring he attended 70 movies in 12 days.

But of all his serial obsessions, one stands out. Any bicycling enthusiast might take one long trip of 5,000 or more miles. Some take two or three. Christensen has taken 15. He's also done at least one 1,000-mile tour every year since 1977 and more 300-to-500-mile trips than he can count. At this point, he says, "It takes several days of jogging the memory to shake them all out."

Since 1989 he's been a messenger with Cannonball, now called Dynamex. He works only in the winter--he says there are fewer pedestrians to contend with and the money's better because fewer messengers are working--and the rest of the year he tours. He says sometimes on a frigid January morning a downtown office worker will ask sympathetically if he's all right. He isn't insulted. He knows you don't see many white-haired bicycle messengers, especially in the winter. "If I tell them a little bit about myself," he says, "they're relieved." Then it's his turn to feel sorry for them. "I feel like I'm out there riding around the Loop asserting my freedom, going by buses with all these people that are comatose and people sleepwalking down the sidewalks. And I'm intensely alive out there, alert and sensitive to every little stimuli.

You can read the rest at the rest of the article at chicagoreader.com or check out George's blog at georgethecyclist.blogspot.com

The Third & The Seventh, an architectural video

Is still find this hard to believe but apparently this amazing video was done 100% with computer graphics. CGI has come a long way since I was in school.

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

.Fullscreen it, please.

A FULL-CG animated piece that tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subjects
are already-built spaces. Sometimes in an abstract way. Sometimes surreal.



|Modelling - Texturing - Illumination - Rendering| Alex Roman


|Postproduction & Editing| Alex Roman


Sequenced, Orchestrated & Mixed by Alex Roman (Sonar & EWQLSO Gold Pro XP)

Sound Design by Alex Roman

Based on original scores by:

.Michael Laurence Edward Nyman. (The Departure)
.Charles-Camille Saint-Saƫns. (Le Carnaval des animaux)

Directed by Alex Roman

Done with 3dsmax, Vray, AfterEffects and Premiere.

EDIT: Original MP4 torrent if you're interested. Thanks to Brennan ;)




Thursday, January 7

A six minute view Trans American bike route

The possibilities of ultralight touring are affecting me in strange ways since I finished putting together my new frame bag system.

let's call this the "sub 34lb touring machine"

I can only describe it as an itch that I haven't been able to scratch due a nasty cold made all that much worse by the fact that it's snowing heavily out today and I soooo love to ride in the snow.

In fact there's a little voice in my head saying, "to hell with it you're almost over it anyway, it's time to go out and play!" I shall not be able to resist this voice much longer and I suspect I will find myself on deserted back roads riding my Surly Cross Check in gently falling snow by the moonlight (or LED) sometime this evening.

Is it so wrong that I was watching this video by Bret Taylor composited from photos taken every five minutes of his entire TransAm ride (via Bike Bits) and all I can think is "look at how beautiful those roads are... you could definitely ride that entire route with some 25mm skinnies, a composite frame and ten pounds of base gear".

A million thanks to Bret. I can think of absolutely no better or faster way to get a complete overview of the road conditions along the entire TransAm route then Bret's video. Scratch that... without Brett's video there's absolutely no other way to get a sense of road conditions.

Other then Bret's video there's only instinctual "map sense" based off of years of reading maps, planning and riding routes in different areas of the country and perhaps google maps.

I can't imagine how long it'd take to overview the entire route in Google's "street view", even if the entire route were entirely covered by street view. Google Earth is cool for a terrain overview but not road conditions. The only thing that can give you a sense of road conditions is to see the actual road.

4000 miles of road condensed to just over six minutes and set to some good music. Good stuff.