I like riding, and I like data. I also like getting faster, so with the encouragement of a friend who offered to coach, I bought a power meter for my bike to facilitate more directed training.
In order for this to be useful, though, I also needed to establish a baseline of my maximum sustained effort. Cyclists call this the Functional Threshold Power. The truer test is an hour long ride where you go as hard as you can for the whole hour, leaving nothing in the tank.
That’s obviously unpleasant (you’re alone) and hard to gauge (am I going to fast? too slow?), so the more common approach is to do a 20 minute test and multiply by .95, which is what I did today.
This isn’t the sort of thing you want to do on public roads, obviously; fortunately, Houston has Memorial Park and the Picnic Loop, which is a closed, paved track available for public use. When the weather’s nice, you see lots of riders on it, but also walkers and whatnot. Anyway, it’s close enough to the house that I used the ride over as a little warmup, and then started the FTP test as soon as I hit the entrance to the track.
After 20 minutes, I backed off, exited the track, and rode home.
So, can you see the part of this graph from Strava that represents the 20 minute test?
Exhibit A, the 1980 video for Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” — a great song, to be sure:
Too bad about that video, because HOLY CRAP it’s kind of amazing this effort didn’t kill the whole notion of music videos in its crib. After about the 5th or 6th time I realized the shot was directly and literally mirroring the lyrics, I started making notes. Follow along if you dare.
0:20 “laying everybody low”
As the Romeo actor saunters down a stylized hallway, actors he passes collapse to the floor.
0:47 “He’s underneath the window”
He is underneath a stylized featureless wall with a high window, in which our Juliet lounges.
1:03 “…the dice was loaded from the start”
A disembodied hand shakes and releases dice. The dice have Romeo and Juliet’s faces on them!
1:09 “…and you exploded in my heart”
The Romeo die explodes.
1:18 “…the movie song…”
New set, invoking a movie theater MST3K-style with patron silhouettes in front below a screen. Juliet is on the screen.
1:38 “..come up on different streets”
Romeo and Juliet sashay towards the camera down two parallel, stylized hallways — separated by a wall, natch. Is nothing is too on the nose for this director?
1:57 “…fall for chains of silver”
I think we have our answer.
1:59 “…chains of gold…”
We absolutely have our answer.
2:05 “…pretty strangers…”
A smiling, handsome man in a cheesy fedora rolls by in a T-top Camaro.
2:22 “…when we make love, you used to cry”
This guy makes Brian De Palma look subtle. It’s a tight shot of Juliet’s eye and a single, absurdly large tear. Obviously.
2:28 “…there’s a place for us”
Two folks enter the movie theater set, and take the only two seats left. At least the two people aren’t together, and aren’t Romeo and Juliet, so progress, maybe?
2:38 “…just that the time was wrong”
We’re still in the theater, but the film stops on a shot of Romeo trying to speak to Juliet — but the film stops, and the celluloid burns away! Tragic! Edgy! (And, I assume, completely baffling to millennials.)
2:52 “I can’t do the talk like the talk on the TV”
JESUS CHRIST JUST SHOOT ME. It’s a shot of woman’s disembodied legs wrapped around a small television, on which we see a nose-down shot of a male actor rapidly moving his mouth around as if he’s talking.
3:14 “All I do is miss you”
Our Romeo has fallen from a height and is splayed out, miserably, against a wall. This may seem like progress, but you will be disappointed, because it’s just a setup for what comes next.
3:17 “…and the way we used to be”
Juliet magically fades in, lounging beside him, and then fades away again.
3:23 “and keep bad company”
Romeo is still splayed out as before, but is now surrounded by a several sets of standing legs.
3:27 “kiss you”
Kisses mean lips! The shot cuts briefly from Romeo’s splayed form to a tight shot of Juliet’s lips, then back to Romeo, over and over.
3:39 “…used to cry…”
Improbably enormous tear shot repeats from 2:22.
3:46 “there’s a place for us”
We’re in the theater set again, but now it’s just R&J seated front and center watching a film of themselves lying on a rug together all cozy.
3:56 “it’s just that the time was wrong”
The movie versions of our heroes vanish, leaving the poignantly empty rug.
At The Daily Beast, re: Mr Page’s baffling testimony, in an article with the fanTAStic title “The Strange Pleasure of Seeing Carter Page Set Himself on Fire”.
Watching Carter Page immolate himself and incriminate a half dozen of his colleagues from the Trump-Putin 2016 campaign has been a strange, almost guilty pleasure. Profoundly disconnected, socially awkward, and reeking of late-stage virginity, he gives off the creepy Uncanny Valley vibe of a rogue, possibly murderous android or of a man with a too-extensive knowledge of human taxidermy and a soundproofed van.
The whole piece is a gold mine, actually:
The delta between Trump’s imagination of himself and the brand image that he desperately wants to sell is always wide; he’s the “billionaire” lout playing the Manhattan sophisticate who gorges on fast food. He’s a man with a lemur wig and a five-pound bolus of chin-wattle who think’s he’s irresistible to women. He’s the serially bankrupt master of the Art of the Deal. The TV talk show character who snuck into the Oval Office on a tide of Russian influence and now thinks he won on the merits.
Recent testing showed they were still failing to find “threatening items” over 80% of the time in randomized tests.
We can expect Congress to yell about this, and the TSA to change procedures some trivial amount in an attempt to “improve,” but that’s the wrong lesson here.
Here’s what we know:
The TSA just failed another test by an enormous margin.
The TSA has failed these tests repeatedly for 16 years.
This means the TSA is absolutely not stopping most “forbidden items” from getting on planes.
And yet, air travel is absurdly safe.
The only intellectually honest conclusion here is that the TSA is utterly, completely pointless. We’re spending billions but failing to stop even trivially “forbidden” items. Those items make it onto planes. Nobody dies. The TSA has never foiled an actual plot; all they do is confiscate liquids and nail clippers, and generally increase the hassle factor of flight.
Their efficacy in thwarting airborne terrorism might be debatable if they were shown to do even a C+ level job of their mission, but here we see the truth: They’re crap at their job, have ALWAYS been crap at their job, and yet air travel is absurdly, mind-bogglingly safe — and that safety has nothing to do with the TSA, and never has.
Security is always about balancing access with safety. We put up with some hassles in exchange for value. The TSA provides no value, but is constantly ramping up their hassle. This is a bad deal, and we need to end it.
End the TSA. Now. We’ve wasted billions on security theater in the last 16 years, and we have nothing to show for it except angry travelers and long lines.
I am reliably informed that, last evening, the collection of millionaire athletes ostensibly based in Houston defeated a similar squad based on Los Angeles, and as such now engage in a break — I think it’s two months? — before starting the entire process all over again.
This calls into question the meaning of such an event, but you’d never know that from the city’s reaction.
I will, however, have to rejigger my maxim regarding big-time Houston sports, which heretofore I assumed were banned from championships by the Illuminati. The only exceptions up to now have been the ’94 and ’95 Rockets, and I think we can all understand how the Conspiracy was caught flat-footed by the utterly improbable development of Michael Jordan forsaking the Bulls and going to play baseball in Alabama for two years.