Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tour blues, grammar and electrical tape

Okay ... like every other person downunder who follows the sport of cycling, I'd been hoping Cadel Evans would be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat. But -- like anyone who knows a thing or two about bike racing (and I do), I knew he had a 1% chance of working the mojo. So I'd describe today's Tour blues as "disappointed but not at all surprised." Message to Cadel: "Good on you, mate, bloody good try ... and get yourself onto a stronger team next year!"

Because, like it or not, winning the Tour de France is a team effort. You can't do it on your own -- but Cadel sure had to try, and he got to within a couple of minutes of it. He had almost no support from the rest of the Silence Lotto riders, and -- what a surprise -- after the trial by ordeal of the run through the Alps, there wasn't enough left in the old legs for him to ride the wheels off the leaders in the individual time trial. He's a great rider; he's not Superman.

(It also didn't help that this year's Tour course is the most gruelling I've ever seen; and I've been following cycling for ten years or so. The route through the Alps was designed by a career sadist.)

Having said all that, cheers to Team CSC for their performance ... it takes a TEAM to win the Tour, and they've done just this. Carlos Sastre had all the help in the world in setting up this win, but -- hey, nobody ever (to my knowledge) chewed chunks out of Lance Armstrong for winning seven times while being surrounded by the strongest team in the world. You remember the familiar sight of a yellow jersey surrounded by blue ones, driving the peloton like the Intercity express? This is how tour wins are made, and what's sauce for Lance is sauce for Carlos --

It'll also be sauce for Cadel in 2009, when he shows up next July with a strong team.

Other events in the Mel-o-sphere are equally exasperating. There aren't any, and the lack of them makes for a certain inability to tell Sunday from Thusday. I think it's Sunday today. I'll have to check the calendar and make sure. The car just had a brief flirtation with the RAA Roasdide Service, but it turned out that four square inches of electrical tape fixed the problem, so we're almost event-free there, too. (Not that you actually want the kind of event where you wait an hour for a tow truck, put the car in the workshop for a week and pay five hundred bucks to bail it out. Electrical tape? Bring it on!)

Work-wise, all progresses smoothly. Have been contributing to the 'write a novel' website which is growing rapidly now (not online yet; I'll give you the URL when she goes up). Mind you, I never realized what a boring subject grammar is, till I had to sit down and quantify a few specific chunks of it. Good gods, it's better than a handful of sleeping pills. Insomnia-stricken Heath Ledger (rest his soul) should have skipped the doctor and talked to a librarian. "Yes, ma'am, can you give me a really good book on grammar. Something that explains every nuance of the language." He'd have been asleep in three minutes. I certainly was, trying to quantify and explain a couple of bits and pieces of English grammar. I fell face down into the keyboard on at least two occasions.

In the next few days, however, things might get a tad bit interesting: apparently, we're expecting a major, full-on truckers' strike. Those in the know are giving the major supermarkets about three days, and gas stations about the same, before the shelves are empty and the bowsers are turned off. A few days later, the old song 'The Pub with no Beer' will turn out to be strangely prophetic.

Frankly, I'm supporting the truckers. The government is doing its usual, ridiculous stuff, while truckers are being worked to death and underpaid. (If politicians worked a tenth as hard, or earned the pay truckers get, they'd quit the job ... always supposing you can call sitting on your duff in Parliament House and sleeping through people's speeches 'working.' It's not quite the term I would use.)

Sorry: I'm talking politics here, and I confess, I've taken a vow of political silence. Every morning I stand in front of the mirror and repeat four times, "I will not blog about politics." And here I am doing it. Again. Mea culpa.

Look out for the sample readings from AQUAMARINE, hopefully tomorrow, on the blog here (later on, for the website upload). The book is ready to go, and is just waiting for some final formatting and the Lulu publishing process ... which takes a little while and can be frustrating indeed. Font issues. We went through hell and high water with the NARC books, but lately we believe we've discovered a way to make absolutely certain the fonts are fine, before uploading. To forestall the Q&A, the ABCs are, it's done in the IBM PC, after DOC to PDF conversion, concerning EPS formatting of PDFs, before the FTP, to make sure TT fonts don't beome SOBs, FO without trace, and turn up DWI in NSW three weeks later.

There, that made everything pellucid. Right?

In short: nothing's happening right now, and I'm going out to make a pot of coffee.


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