Great News About Circuit City

…and here’s some terrific news from Forbes about how Circuit City’s rotten mass firing of experienced (and higher-paid) staff, in favor of untrained teen scum, has totally failed!

The company has floundered after experiencing a devastating third quarter loss, reported last December 21, of $207.3 million, or $1.26 per share, from $20.4 million, or 12 cents per share, the same period of 2006. The losses came after Circuit City fired 3,400 experienced workers to replace them with lower-waged workers.

Oh yeah, and if you bought Circuit City stock on the strength of that earlier report (that they were just massively and deliberately laying off older and more experienced staff, in favor of a crack team of doofi), then I’m really, really glad that your stock has plummeted to a quarter of its year-ago value.

Read about the layoffs, in The Christian Science Monitor:
“When a layoff is the reward for experience”
April 16, 2007

Read about the losses, in Forbes:
“Circuit City Fights To Keep Current”
February 26, 2008

Only Partially Foiled (75-Mile Training Ride)

It’s two weeks until we have to ride 100 miles, with about 5,000 feet of accumulated climbing, at the Solvang Century. Our training rides had been thwarted, again and again, often by the weather, which has picked this year to rain and rain. This week’s forecast: rain, Thursday-Sunday.

Egads, and we’d only done 55 miles last weekend. Not what I call a proper pre-century shakedown cruise.

We had hoped to ride 75 miles in the mountains near my house, but the weather mocked us with temperatures forecast to be in the high 30’s, only climbing up to 46 by noon. Yuck. And what if it were foggy? Mountains are high!

So we made a last-minute change for Ron’s neighborhood, hoping to pound out 85 or so miles in rolling hills.

We got off to a fairly early start at about 7:40 am. Here we are in our cold-weather regalia:

Ron Traver. The long pants are just new, bought special for today’s ride in the bitter cold weather
(possibly as low as the 50’s, brrr!)

Me. Those long sleeves that I have on can be slipped off and packed up if it warms up. It didn’t.

We only stopped for restrooms, flat fixing, a bagel with fixings, a cookie, and some Skittles.  Man, those things are so awesome when you’re about 65 miles into your ride. But no real rests for the sake of it at all; we always had some purpose in mind, whenever we stopped:

Here, we stopped to pursue The Feats of Strength. And it’s not even Festivus!

I match Ron’s feat (even exceeding it, if you consider that my bike’s frame is solid steel).

We wound and looped our way around the Conejo Valley, and were just about to set out on the final leg of our trek when I felt a raindrop. Hm, it was only supposed to be a 20% chance of rain at this hour, though rising to 40% in just another two or three hours. Oog, there’s another one, and we’re still almost 10 miles from home.

So we bailed, and high-tailed it for Ron’s house, except that by the time we made it back, the rain still hadn’t materialized, so we did a few quick laps in Lynn Ranch to bring the total up over 75 miles.

Ron foolishly stopped eating his bicycling food for the last 10 miles or so, hoping to switch over to a post-ride dinner and glass of wine instead, but had to give up and eat one of my tiny bags of Skittles 1.5 miles from the end. It’s funny how your body can just hit empty like that. The analogy is completely apt: you stop as suddenly and as finally as a car that has run out of petrol. But the Skittles did their usual magic, and (very) shortly we were pumping our way towards the finish line.

And we both feel great today, just no problem at all. I could have ridden again today, no worries.

Oh, yes, and Ron crushed me again with another snappy 1% victory (rats!):

      distance:    75.6 miles
  total ascent:   1,233 ft

Tom's Cycle Computer:
      distance:    75.6 miles
   saddle time: 6:00:13       (not counting stops)
 average speed:    12.6 mph   (not counting stops)

Ron's Cycle Computer:
  saddle time:  5:56:58       (not counting stops)
average speed:     12.7 mph   (not counting stops)

From Start To Finish:
 elapsed time:  7:30:00       (counting everything)
average speed:     10.1 mph   (counting everything)  

Well, that 10 mph elapsed will get us back to Solvang by 4:00pm, if we start at 6:00am. It will still be light out, which is the Important Thing. But ooh, Solvang has about another 3,800 feet of climbing. Better do another big ride next week. They’re getting easier each time! Stay away, rain!

“Eek! Raindrop!”

Bike Ride Amid a Flock of Mopeds

Ron and I have been trying to have a big mountain bike ride for weeks now, and it has just been one thing after another. Rain, injury, you name it. I almost had to cancel this one, because I was sick as could be on Friday and Saturday mornings, but always seemed to feel better in the afternoon. Weird. And come this morning, I felt great, and the weather was perfect, so…we rode!

This was the same 55-mile ride in the mountains near my house up to the Angeles Crest, down around the Rose Bowl grounds, and back via La Tuna canyon that we had done a few times before. Nice ride, if a bit grueling.

I took a few pictures of one of the more interesting and scenic stretches. But be sure to read past the pictures, because there’s mopeds, man, mopeds!

Josephine Peak, our Nemesis. You can see one of the roads cutting horizontally through its middle. Yes, it’s going downhill, but we have to climb up to that.

Josephine Peak again, with the second bridge [on our ride] over the Tujunga Canyon Wash.

Detail of the bridge. Note trees underneath, and tiny car on left.

Downstream from the bridge. Those are trees in the middle there, not shrubs.

Upstream from the bridge. Not a lot of water coming from the dam! I like that terracing on the right.

It’s me, looking thinner than ever (205 pounds), yay!

Ron. Little did he (nor I) know that he would trounce me today.

Because he did trounce me. Well, we spent about 5 hours peddling our bicycles, and he beat me by two and a half minutes, about 1% faster (I know, the shame.)

One really neat thing was that I am no longer as slow on the downhills as I used to be: now that I weigh as little as John Blackburn did when he and I did the Angeles Crest ride together, I too was able to sail down the Angeles Crest Highway for twenty-one minutes without touching my brakes, except for prudent slowing immediately before the blind curves. Quite a change from even the Mt. Wilson ride, where John chastised me (from 500 miles away) to “Savor gravity‚Äôs gift!”

While on La Tuna Canyon, we were surrounded by the Moped Army, come from all over the country for the Los Angeles Moped Rally. It was indescribable — hundreds of young people between the ages of 15 and 30 or so, all riding mopeds, many apparently vintage, still with their pedals, and in various states of repair:

After they had passed, I kicked myself for not getting a picture. But taking your own pictures is –so– ten minutes ago. Here’s a whole photo album that a fellow named Ugly Rudy has already posted to web about this weekend’s L.A. Moped Rally, which gives you a pretty good sense of what it was like to be surrounded by them (actually, it sounded like being in the middle of a pack of model airplanes, or what I imagine an angry swarm of hornets to sound like):

A small fraction of the many moped rallyists. Click on the picture to see more photos of the rally.

And finally, the inevitable stats:

      distance:    54.4 miles
  total ascent:   4,100 ft

Tom's Cycle Computer:
      distance:    55.8 miles
   saddle time: 5:06:50       (not counting rests)
 average speed:    10.8 mph   (not counting rests)
previous speed:    11.1 mph   (not counting rests)

Ron's Cycle Computer:
  saddle time: 5:04:37       (not counting rests)
average speed:    10.8 mph   (not counting rests)
previous speed:   11.1 mph   (not counting rests)

That’s funny, Ron and I both fell from 11.1mph in our immediately-previous ride (different rides for each of us, because I rode this route while Ron was out for repair), and both fell to 10.8mph, at least, as claimed by our respective cycle computers.

“Eek, Mopeds!!!”

Study: Fat People Cheaper To Treat (‘Why?’)

From the Netherlands, a study showing that fat people (and smokers!) spend less on health care, and cost less to treat, even for systems with socialized medicine.

And can you guess why?

Oh, it’s because they die way sooner. Those pesky thin non-smokers just live and live; they’re very annoying.

The researchers found that from age 20 to 56, obese people racked up the most expensive health costs. But because both the smokers and the obese people died sooner than the healthy group, it cost less to treat them in the long run.

On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years, and obese people lived about 80 years.

The point of the study being to debunk the myth that reducing obesity will reduce national health care costs: “We are not recommending that governments stop trying to prevent obesity, but they should do it for the right reasons.”

Read an article about the study, from the Associated Press.
“Fat people cheaper to treat, study says”

Read the study itself, in the Public Library of Science.
“Lifetime Medical Costs of Obesity: Prevention No Cure for Increasing Health Expenditure”

“They’re cheaper! Isn’t that splendid? I think that’s splendid!”