So, my web host, TextDrive, have been undergoing a bit of a re-organisation as they’ve morphed into Joyent over the last few months. As part of the morph, they’ve been telling us for ages that we’d be moving from the FreeBSD-based boxes onto shiny new Solaris Accelerators.Well, on Friday, I got my golden ticket so here’s the details on my new home… I’m sharing a Sun Fire x4100 and 4GB of RAM with only 30 other people! 10Gb of disk space, up to 50 databases and up to 50 domains! I’ve spent the last 24 hours moving my various sites onto the new box and it’s been painless. And the great thing is… it’s screaming along. WAY faster than the old FreeBSD box. Another bonus is that if the shit hits the fan and the machine does crash, it only takes a minute or two to bring back up, rather than the hour waiting for fsck to run on the FreeBSD box. Sweet.Anyway, it’s all good. Enjoy the speed boost ;-)
So, one of Jacqui’s school friends, Sally, is coming up to visit us from New Jersey with her husband, Brett. Brett’s a PGA Professional, so naturally we’re all heading out for a round of golf. Well myself, Tom and Nathan are. The girls are going shopping or something.Brett’s decided he wants to play Nicklaus North, which suits us perfectly as we’d been talking about trying it out. Now that we’re finally committed, I decided to check out the web site to see what’s in store – turns out that it’s got a rating of 72.2 and a slope of 133! Even before I tee off I’ll be losing 6 shots compared to the normal courses I’ve been playing, with rating around 66, and then it’s got a slope 10 higher than the hardest course I’ve played before!My usual round is about 101, so I’ll be hacking around for hours! My only consolation is that Tom’s usual round is about 95, and Nathan’s is 97 or so, so I doubt they’ll be too far ahead. We’ll have to come up with a handicap system for Brett though ;-)The game’s not until the first Saturday in October, so I had better spend some serious time at the driving range before then.
“[On Sunday] in mistakenly awarding a penalty, I accept that I may have affected the result of the match and for that I apologise.”‘May have’?? I think the word he’s looking for is ‘definitely’. Ah well, at least he’s got a month off to make an optometrist’s appointment.
I’m now an accomplished car thief! Jacqui managed to lock the keys in the car, only a couple of days after Nathan did the same thing. So, using a coat hanger and knowledge acquired while watching movies, I attempted to open the lock, and to my great surprise, it worked. It only took me three minutes – how reassuring!Just as well the car is a shitbox no-one would bother their arse to steal ;-)Update: turns out I literally did break and enter. Now we can’t open the driver’s door with the key. Have to open the passenger’s first ;-)
The Tour de France has been crazy this year. I’ve been doing my usual thing of watching the stages live, which in Canada means from 6.00am to 8.30am on Versus. It’s a far cry from good old SBS back in Oz, since the Americans deem it necessary to show 3mins of ads for every 5mins of bike racing until the last few minutes of the stage.Cycling gets lots of bad press for having a serious doping problem, and the run-up to this year’s Tour was no exception. The good news is that a serious effort is being made to clean up the sport and the word is now out that doping is definitely not going to be tolerated any more. Teams are making riders sign contracts which commit them to not doping, the UCI is requiring teams to promote an anti-doping stance, and to fire any rider caught doping, and they’re also requiring the riders to commit to not doping, and to agree to surrender a year’s salary if they test positive. The latter provision may not be enforceable, but there’s no doubting that the pressure is on.The sport is now in a transitional phase, with the young, up and coming riders perfectly aware that doping is not permitted at all, but there’s still been a few big doping stories in the Tour which are dragging the sport’s name through the mud again, and embarrassing many who are trying to turn things around.T-Mobile have spent the last year revamping their team after revelations surrounding Ullrich, Riis, Zabel and others who have passed through the team over the years, and have been at the forefront of the anti-doping push. Halfway through the Tour it turns out that one of their riders, Patrick Sinkewitz, tested positive for testosterone before the Tour started. Strike Three.Pre-Tour favourite, Alexander Vinokourov, has been criticised for working with Michele Ferrari, a known proponent of EPO, though he claimed he was working with him solely for his training nous. Vino had a shocker of a start to the Tour, with a bad crash leaving him with up to 30 stitches in each knee, but he produced a barn-storming individual time trial result to make up some lost time. Yesterday it emerged that he’d tested positive for blood doping after that stage. Strike Two.While watching today’s crucial Pyrenean stage at the ungodly hour of 4am, news hit the wire of another positive from Stage 11. That rider turned out to be Cristian Moreni of Cofidis, whose team must have been mortified, as they’d just signed up to be founding members of Mouvement pour un cyclisme crÃ©dible (MPCC) the day before. Strike Three.Finally, before the dust had even settled from that announcment, it emerges that the Tour leader, Michael Rasmussen, has been sent home by his team, Rabobank, and fired, for lying to them about his whereabouts in the run-up to the Tour. Rasmussen has been under fire for the last two weeks after it emerged he’d missed some out-of-competition drug tests because he wasn’t where he told his national association he would be. He claimed he was late filing the paperwork, and that he’d been in Mexico training (his wife is Mexican), but it turns out he may have been in the Dolomites all along. He hasn’t tested positive, but his team aren’t taking any chances. He’s been under suspicion for a while, and his cover story is starting to unravel, so he’s gone. Strike Four!So, there have been three guys during this Tour who performed above and beyond – Rasmussen, Vino and Discovery’s Alberto Contador. Only one is left untainted. It would appear that Occam’s Razor still applies in the cycling world…On a positive note, no pun intended, the times they are a changin’ and soon we can look forward to cyclists grimacing in pain as they struggle up the Col d’Aubisque unassisted.
I’ve had a pretty lucky week this week. It started last Saturday when myself and Tom played our first proper round of golf this season at University Golf Club. Despite the fact that it’s almost 1000 yards longer than most of the courses I’d played in Australia, I still managed to shoot 101, which was a five shot improvement on my best ever round. I also managed to shoot 45 for the nine holes from Hole 7 through to Hole 15, so it should only be a matter of time before I break 100 too.On Tuesday, myself, Tom and Nathan went to play a round at Langara Golf Club after work, teeing off at 5.30pm. I didn’t play that well, shooting an 11 on the par 5 11th which I was pissed off about. However, on the next hole, a par 3, I left my tee shot about 6 feet from the pin but missed the birdie opportunity. Two holes later though, I got my first ever hole-in-one!! It was a 113yd par 3 and my PW shot bounced once and dropped into the cup, winning me $50 each from Tom and Nathan ;-)As if that wasn’t enough, we had a poker night with friends last night and I won outright, taking home $100 for first place. I was tempted to buy a 3 or 5-wood hybrid with my combined gofl & poker winnings, but I’ve only played two rounds with my new clubs, so I figure I’ll wait a few months until I know what I actually need… and until I start consistently hitting my long irons straight!!
Myself, Jacqui and a Danish friend of ours, Rikke, headed over to Victoria, on Vanouver Island, last weekend to go whale watching. We boarded the ferry from Tsawassen straight from work on Friday evening, arriving in the backpackers in Victoria around 8pm, just in time to get some food and book our place on the whale-watching boat for 9am the next day.On waking on Saturday morning we were greeted by drizzling rain, which wasn’t what I wanted to see when facing three hours in an open boat. When we arrived at the shop there were loads of great photos of orcas so I was glad I’d brought out my good camera. We got dressed up in all-weather survival suits and boarded our semi-rigid inflatable, ready to cast off. It wasn’t raining too hard, but I still made sure to keep my camera inside the suit.Once clear of the mouth of the harbour, the twin outboard engines throttled up and we were off. The sea around Victoria is sheltered from the open ocean by Washington State, so it was a nice, calm ride out to the San Juan Islands where we met J-Pod, one of the families which frequent the area.As you would expect, there are rules that commercial whale-watching operators must obey to minimise the impact on the whales, the main one of which is that the boats are not allowed to approach within 200m. Even with my 200mm zoom lens on the whales were still pretty small, so I wondered who’d taken all the photos in the shop, as they were much closer than 200m. Apparently, if the whales choose to come closer to the boat, that’s OK, but since J-Pod were sleeping when we encountered them, they completely ignored us.If I get around to doing another trip I’ll make sure to go on an afternoon boat in the hope that they’ll be a little more curious, though with the number of boats visiting them daily I’d say they’re unlikely to be bothered investigating all that often. After 90 minutes with the whales it was time for us to head back to harbour and get some dry clothes on and avoid the crap weather by heading to the movies. Before doing that though, we went to the Bug Zoo which was pretty interesting. I got to hold a Giant African Millipede, which was about 15cm long!Sunday dawned and it was still raining, throwing our plans into disarray, as all the stuff we wanted had planned to do was outdoors. After a drive around Victoria we decided to head back to Vancouver early, stopping off at the Butterfly Gardens on the way, as it was indoors. We figured we’d be there for 20 minutes or so, but it ended up being closer to tow hours. It was really interesting, as they’d loads of different species of butterflies fluttering about, along with some flamingoes and other smaller birds. Myself and Jacqui took loads of photos, and some of mine came out really well, though I was playing around with my manual settings, so the depth of field was really shallow on a lot of photos. If I’d increased it just a fraction more I would have had some awesome shots. Still, I was pretty happy with a few of them.Whale PhotosButterfly Photos
We’ve just come back from a weekend away to Whistler, for the last weekend of the ski season. Nathan and Tom went snowboarding on Saturday afternoon, Anna and Stef went for a go on the ZipTrek, whereas I went for a leisurely cycle along the Valley Trail with Jacqui. The scenery was great, with excellent views back towards both Whistler & Blackcomb. We also passed a number of lakes and all of Whistler’s major golf courses. I thing myself, Tom and Nathan will have to head up there for a round sometime.We cooked a huge BBQ on Saturday night then split up for another day of acitivities on Sunday. This time myself and Tom went MTBing on some sweet singletrack near Lost Lake. We only managed two hours though, mainly due to the heat as it was almost 32C! It felt a bit weird being back in Whistler with the temperature 40C+ warmer than the last time. We also had no water with us, being without our Camelbacks and not having suitable water bottle holders on the rental bikes. Still, it was good to get out on the bikes again.The drive home along the Sea-to-Sky highway was spectacular, surrounded by mountains initially, then slowly giving way to the ocean as we approached Vancouver. As usual, I took some photos, so check them out.[photos]
Yesterday was a public holiday, so we made the most of our time off and headed off to Deep Cove Kayak for a few hours of paddling. We were a bit worried about the possiblity of falling in, since the water here isn’t quite a tropical as Sydney (!!), so we rugged up a bit and headed off. Anna chose a particularly spectacular outfit, leading to suggestions that she’d gotten dressed in the dark ;-)After a bit of messing around getting organised, we were all on the water by 11.30, with two hours to do as we pleased. We paddled along the coast, surrounded by hills draped in fir trees as far as the could can see. Jacqui braved the risk of dunking and brought her camera along, so I have a few of her photos to show off the scenery. The two hours passed really quickly, and we were back on dry land without incident. To ensure we replenished our energy levels with a couple of beers and a huge burger at The Raven. We’ll be going back there again![photos]