Sunday, May 31, 2009

First Ascent

Took my first trip up Bogus Basin Road this morning. I hit the pavement at 6:55 and was the fourth person to the top.

The way down was considerably more crowded, with riders staggered no more than a few hundred yards apart the whole way down. Smart to ride early.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


In Portland over the long weekend, I got to see Animal Collective at the Roseland Theater. I've never seen them before, and I was really looking forward to it.

I've never seen the place so packed. Tim and I ended up in the balcony area (there's beer there) along one side leaning against the brick wall behind the rows of seats, all full. Turned out to be a pretty good spot, as we could see everything and had access to the bar.

The show was amazing. Unfortunately, we missed the opener Grouper, which I was excited about, but we'd soon be placated by the enormous weirdness of the AC. They played a good bunch of new stuff (My Girls, Summertime Clothes, Lion In a Coma) along with some older stuff that I didn't recognize.

They also hit a lot of highpoints in between, often in roundabout ways, bleeding out of one song into a freaky breakdown that was suddenly another song. One such segue led to the night's highpoint. Fireworks, off Strawberry Jam, was for me the transcendent moment of the night, the galloping intro beat (which on the record starts at the end of For Reverend Green, which I was praying for but didn't get to hear) arising out of the noise, soft lyrics slowly clarifying out of the haze.

The whole night was cut a bit short, as Avey Tare was having ear problems and they didn't want to do an encore without him. The crowd, lovestruck as they were, were upset but took it well. And I wandered home through the lovely nighttime streets of Portland.

Big News for Boise Bikers

This just in on the KTVB website. Commuters rejoice!

ACHD wants to bring bike lanes to road near you
10:23 AM MDT on Thursday, May 28, 2009

GARDEN CITY - The Ada County Highway District Commission unanimously approved the Roadways to Bikeways master plan Wednesday night.

The plan envisions a bicycle network that provides a designated bicycle facility within a quarter-mile of 95 percent of Ada County homes. Such a bicycle facility could take the form of a roadway signed as a bike route, a bike lane, or another type of improvement.

The $250,000 Roadways to Bikeways effort began in April 2007. The next steps include finalizing ACHD's program to schedule and build the recommended improvements.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New on the Range

It'll be a mixed bag this week on Range Life. I've got some great new music from Andrew Kenney's new project The Wooden Bird as well as The Thermals, Deerhunter, School of Seven Bells, The Kingsbury Manx, Silversun Pickups, Here We Go Magic, and White Rabbit. And, of course, we'll start digging into the highly anticipated new record from Grizzly Bear.

I'm also going through the stacks and unearthing some great old stuff: Mazarin, American Analog Set, Belle and Sebastian, and Luna, among others.

Tune in 5 to 7pm mst at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Long Weekend

Heading to Portland tomorrow morning. We'll stay through the weekend and drive back Tuesday. Really looking forward to it--the weather's gonna be a perfect low to mid 70s mostly sunny, we've got TV on the Radio Saturday night and Animal Collective Monday night.

So it's 9:30. I guess it's time to start doing laundry so I can pack.

I hope everyone has a good long weekend. You deserve it. I know I do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Human Development

Human Development Reports, which is linked to the United Nations Development Programme, has put together some really cool data charting "human development."

What is human development?

It is about creating "an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests." It's about choices--about giving people choices that can let them be all they can be. Further:
Fundamental to enlarging these choices is building human capabilities —the range of things that people can do or be in life. The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and many opportunities in life remain inaccessible.
The US ranks 15th on the list of High Human Development, nestled between Austria (above) and Spain (below). Bloggers at The Map Scroll have built this map from the data:

Very interesting, if not very surprising.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan

Horner Leaves the Giro

It's gotta be tough for a rider and competitor like Chris Horner to leave the Giro d'Italia early, especially when he's going so well and helping his team so much--not to mention sitting in a pretty good position himself.

But injuries happen, and the one he suffered in yesterday's crash turns out worse than originally thought. He says, "The doctor believes I have a muscle strain, one that is bad enough that my leg is not able to support the weight of my body on or off the bike."

His final blog post is here. He'll be missed in this race, but let's hope he's back for the Tour in July.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Horner on Stage 10

Chris Horner is keeping a blog during the Giro d'Italia. He's an interesting and funny guy, and his posts provide some insights into the race that you don't get from any other coverage.

Today's post on Stage 10 is a good example of this. I wouldn't even have known he crashed had I not read this. Check it out.

Climate Change: An Interesting New Angle

It's all in the way you put it. So how about this:

"Any effort to further delay the world’s transition to a sustainable energy economy or to launch an aggressive response to global climate change is a national security threat."

In other words, if you ain't going green, you hate Democracy, and Liberty, and Freedom, and all those other things that those who wrap themselves in false patriotism have been throwing in the rest of our faces ever since 9/11.

This is the thesis of "Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security,” which is the work of the Military Advisory Board of the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA). Check out the full article at

The further down this road we go, and the more people of renown or consequence who hop on board, the more those in resistance seem like outliers and obstructionists pursuing nothing but their own financial gain or security. There is no intelligence or rational thought left on the side of the climate change deniers. There's only a question of how long it takes to educate/coerce/pummel the laggards into enlightenment.

Damn, Danilo

Maglia Rosa wearer and previous Giro champion Danilo DiLuca put in a solo attack at the end of the longest stage of the 3-week race today to cross the line alone and in front. This amazing effort at the end of such a brutal stage shows DiLuca to be the one to beat.

Of course, there are still a few who stand a chance. Levi can make up all lost time and then some over the course of 2 ITTs, and I expect him to do so. DiLuca may have looked like he was opening up a lead today, but in reality he was just limiting his time trial losses ahead of time. Smart move. Will it be enough?
Meanwhile, Lance hung tough, if losing a bit of ground in his support role. Same for Horner. Loqvist lost big, as did Cunego, Basso lost a bit less but still significant time, and Mick Rogers has kept himself near the top of the standings.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Levi Sitting Pretty

Levi Leipheimer has been quietly riding himself into a perfect position for a GC pounce as the Giro d'Italia heads into the Italian Alps on Tuesday.

As John Wilcockson spells out in VeloNews, Leipheimer has not only held fast to the top riders in this year's tour, he's also got two aces up his sleeve: He always gets stronger in the final week of a grand tour, and his specialty, the individual time trial, is still to come, twice.

With that kind of ammo saved up, eyes are certainly shifting toward Astana for some big moves in the coming days--and they won't be focused on Lance Armstrong. Well, actually, they probably will be, but odds are he'll be super-domestiquing for Levi.

It's gearing up to be a hell of a week 2.

Addressing Climate Change

There's plenty of disagreement about pending legislation on climate change. The Waxman-Markley bill is certainly not perfect, and it falls short of the sweeping change that many environmentalists were hoping for, but it might be our best bet at getting something serious on the books.

Krugman even comes out in support of it today, albeit with some hesitation.

I think Obama is walking the line pretty effectively on this one. Cap and trade can work--it works for acid rain--and it's at the least a big step in the right direction. Add to this a new international agreement and we're really getting somewhere.

Even if it ain't perfect, it beats the hell out of Bush.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here's some good news

Broken Social Scene is recording as a unit again. It's been nice getting into the solo project material, but none of it's excited me as much as when they're all in it together.

Read all about it at Pitchfork.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Friday

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike Week Block Party

Tonight, on the Basque Block here in Boise, Idaho, there's a big bike to-do. The folks at the Boise Bicycle Project and Boise Bike Week are throwing a party down on Grove between 6th and Capitol.

There'll be beer and food, of course. But also lots of fun and games, along with a Frankenbike competition (I already know of a tiki-bar-bike and a sofa-bike, each of which warrant attendance just to see them), bike polo, an Alley Cat race, and lots of other funness.

Boise Bike Week is one of the cooler sponsored events in town, so if you haven't already participated, get down there tonight and check it out. The weather's gonna clear and it's gonna be a nice night for it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It can be done, even in the suburbs

This article in the NY Times offers something to think about. A car-free town. Brilliant.

Sure, it's Germany, but still. There's no reason why these sorts of car-free enclaves can't start sprouting up all over the US, too. Just takes a bit of foresight, effort, and commitment.

Connect them to larger cities or industrial areas with public transportation and you've got a workable model here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1 Billion Gallons?

There's a startup in California claiming that by the year 2025, they could be producing 1 billion gallons of algal fuel per year. This from a fascinating article in Wired. The company is called Sapphire Energy, and they're not short on ambition.

“Fuel from algae is not just a laboratory experiment or something to speculate on for years to come,” Dr Brian Goodall, a Sapphire vice president, told the New York Times. “We’ve worked tirelessly, and the technology is ready now.”

A couple airlines have used their fuel in pilot programs so far, and the promise of this technology is pretty powerful.

Sapphire, which has drawn backing from the likes of Bill Gates and the Rockefeller family, isn’t shy about talking up the benefits of fuel made from algae, saying it delivers 10 to 100 times more energy per acre than corn-based ethanol, which has gone out of fashion because it’s derived from food crops. Algae also uses less water
than corn and can be grown on non-arable land. Another big benefit: algae sucks up lots of CO2. According to the Biodiesel Times, algae-based biofuel is considered carbon neutral because CO2 generated in its use is offset by what’s consumed during production.

Plus, the biofuel doesn't require an overhaul in infrastructure. It goes right in vehicles on the road right now, it can be sent through pipelines and pumps just like petrol. And that's all without even considering how much CO2 a big field of algae, way out in the ocean or on a big tract of non-arable land, could remove from the air. Check out the article in Wired. Pretty exciting stuff.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome to the Late 80s

I'm getting this. The Stone Roses are reissuing their debut record, and I'm gonna buy it.

True, my original copy of this CD, perhaps still my best-ever blind-buy, went missing years ago and I never got around to replacing it. But even if I still had it, I'd consider getting this reissue, if only to try and get all excited about it all over again.

Besides, just look at that splatter paint cover. How could you resist? With the lemons on it? Please.

And another thing: I bought this CD in it's original form, so my copy never had "Fool's Gold" on it, which always felt like a bit of a rip off. At long last, I have sufficient justification for buying it a second time.

Boise In Recovery

Very interesting article in the NY Times today about Boise's positioning for economic recovery, viewed as sort of a microcosm by which to measure recovery on a national scale.

It gets into the good (elements of a compact city, small businesses, quality of life) and the bad (sprawl and more sprawl, speculators looming catastrophe for Micron) of the present while shying away from perhaps a too-local focus on answering our big questions, like public transportation and the glut of housing developments standing half-finished.

But it is ultimately a small glimmer of hope, and right now that's nothing to sneeze at.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Just Back from a Ride

A wonderful thing about Boise: This is how I get to spend my lunch hours.

You can't really see the snow-capped Owyhees in the background, but they're there, and it's a hell of a view right now.

Vande Velde In the Spotlight

Very nice piece about Christian Vande Velde in the NY Times. It's so great to see this guy emerge as a strong team leader. And not just because his hometown is right next door to mine. Because he's a nice, humble guy who's paid his dues working for the superstars and is now getting his own shot at big wins.

He might not be as explosive or dangerous as Contador, but he's steady and he's consistent and good at all facets of a grand tour. I think he's got a shot at doing something really exciting in France this July. I'll be sporting the argyle in his support.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Eulogy for John E. Hess

I'm posting the text of the eulogy I did for my dad just as I wrote and said it. As you might imagine, writing it was the easy part.

Eulogy for John E. Hess
by Christopher Hess

Thank you all for coming. I'm Chris, the fourth of Jack Hess' five sons, and I'm gonna try and get through saying just a few words about my dad.

One of my dad's greatest concerns, and likely a concern of many of us sitting here, is that when he died, his memorial would be sparsely attended. Looking around this room, I know that all our assurances to the contrary were justified. My family is grateful for that.

So I guess my purpose here is to explain what sort of a man he was. Where do you start such a task? My dad loved to fish. Sometimes he hated it, too. And he had the same relationship, though a bit more intense, with the game of golf. He liked to fix things around the house, take care of his lawn, play with his dog. He was a great reader, a dedicated fan of the Cubs and the Bears, both the joy and the bane of his daily existence. But these are the trivial details. Mostly, my dad lived for his family. My mom was the single most important thing to him in the world, and getting her to marry him his finest achievement. She changed his life--saved it, even, he told me on more than one occasion, and I believe him. I think all my brothers would agree with me on that. He loved her with an intensity and a gratitude and a wonderment at his good fortune that is seldom seen in this world. His total devotion to her is a model for me in my own life. We should all be so lucky to fall so completely head over heels, to live so well, to love so hard as he did.

He was also a dedicated father. If there is one thing of which me and my 4 brothers could be certain as we grew up, it was that our father loved us. That he would always ALWAYS be there for us. Every baseball or soccer or football game--though his attendance was sometimes cut short by his tendency to get kicked out by the umpire or referee for his overzealous support. When that happened, as it did more times than I could count, we would know that he could be found at the playing field's legal limit, his green and white lawn chair parked just outside the left field fence or the other side of the goal line, cheering us on, mutely from that distance, believe it or not, until the game was over.

When he dropped us off at a practice, or at school, or wherever we needed to go, he would insist on a hug and a kiss goodbye--even when we were teenagers and should have been mortified by such public displays of affection. My friends from college still marvel that I could have such a close relationship with my dad. That I wasn't too embarrassed. But I never thought twice about it. That's the way he was, and I loved him for it.

Work, for my dad, was nothing but a means to an end. He worked his ass off, sometimes long hours and sometimes at the expense of other things, but not because he needed it or loved it, or even liked it. In fact I'm pretty sure he hated it almost every day. He did it to provide for his wife and to offer his kids the chance to have it better than he did. A comfortable home, an education, food on the table, heat and light and the faith that all those things would be there the next day and the next. When he struggled, he insulated us from it. When he hit it big, we all felt the good times. We were never rich, but we always had more than we needed. In that way, though flawed as every person is, he came as close to perfection as a person can.

From him, and from my mom, I learned about character, the importance of it. Character is doing what's right, even when it's not the easy or profitable or most comfortable thing to do. Character is putting the people you love before yourself. It's taking the hard road so that the ones you care about can take the easier road. Character is not just providing--it's being there, always. It's keeping the people you love together, both in the sense of being home for dinner at 5:30 every single day no matter what, and in the sense of being a person that your brother knows that he can count on without even having to think about it .

So here's a fishing story. One time, fishing for salmon out on Lake Michigan in our 19-foot boat, called Placebo, a fairly calm day turned rough. We watched the weather closely, and when it started looking bad, we moved to pull in our lines and head in to shore. But the storm came faster and harder than we thought it could. The swells rose and rose until they were tossing our little boat around like a toy in a bathtub. Eric, whether from a hard night or from laying over the engine housing pulling up the downriggers, was in the back, doubled over and shedding his breakfast. (Dunkin Donuts, every trip.) John I believe was also sick, but I don't remember for sure. I was under the canopy, up front, holding on hard to keep from being tossed and talking nervously to my dad to keep from getting too scared. That was a bad habit of mine. Still is. But no matter how high we were thrown or how hard we were slammed down, wave after wave, miles out from shore, I know that I never doubted that we'd get back to Burnham Harbor safely. (Obviously, we did, and I'm pretty sure that was one of the last trips before that boat got sold.) Maybe my confidence was just a kid's sense of immortality and inability to grasp true danger. But I think it was really just complete and unflinching faith in my dad, in his strength and his wisdom and his all-consuming drive to take care of his sons.

I know my dad was afraid of dying. He fought death way too hard for me to think that he accepted the simple truth that he was headed somewhere better, somewhere with no pain or heart problems or physical limitations. Somewhere outside the restrictive cage that his body became in the end. His spirit was too young for such a decaying shell, and I could tell that over the last few years he had trouble reconciling the two. He was afraid, as I'm sure many of us are, that things he'd done in his life would keep him from the end that he sought right here in this church, with many of you, and out there in the world, living as rightly as he could. Pastor Randy, who my dad considered a great friend, and to whom my family is profoundly grateful for his support and vigil during this really tough time, joined us in ensuring him that he was wrong, that the errors or transgressions of his life were no worse than those of any other human being. That he overstated his wrongs and underestimated the impact of who he was and of the things he did right. Looking out into your faces, I know we were right to insist. I know he was wrong to be afraid. But he was human. A flawed, loving, frustrating, devoted, willful, kind, caring, strong, wonderful human being. And though I'm not sure in my own mind where exactly he's gone, I know in my heart it's not where he was afraid to go, and I know in my soul that he is in a better place, free of pain, watching over us, loving us, taking care of us, and cheering us on, as he always did.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Back in Idaho

Seems like a long time since I've been here. It's really nice to be home.

I was in Montgomery for 2 weeks. I got to spend a lot of time with my mom and brothers, which made it bearable. My dad died on Thursday, April 30, at about 11am, of complications from heart failure.

Here's his obituary, in the Montgomery Advertiser, line breaks not included, about a third of the way down the page.

I hesitate to go into this here. I gave the eulogy at his funeral, so I think I'll go ahead and reprint that instead. Soon.

Meantime, I'm behind on a whole lot. Music, the UEFA semis, Obama in Europe and South America, the overwhelming insanity of daily life. But rather than catch up, I believe I'll just start new. I'll update the travel blog one of these days--seems like about a year since that trip to Croatia at the beginning of the month--but other than that I'll just move forward. Seems like a good idea.