Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lumberton 600K | 2014 Party Edition

NC 4th Congressional District
Here’s how we spent last weekend. Our 4th annual Winter 600K. The route, dubbed Gerrymander’s Delight, snakes here and there before snaking its way, after 370 miles, back to Snake Road in Lumberton. 

Do not be fooled by the map. No matter which direction you’re going, you're heading toward the new, improved Garland (“Now with Subway!”).

Two years ago, we Rode to Save America. Times have changed, and idealism fades like a flag in the sun. For this year’s ride, we selected Party Option. Nine of us rolled along on what we like to call the “Pain Train” until the cold and wet claimed two. And then there were seven to enjoy a short-sleeve, snow-be-gone shadowy Super Sunday.

Capn loaded a GoPro on his Gunnar. The GoPro is especially adept at shooting Capn’s front tire.

The Conti up close and personal.

Yes indeed. Sunday morning sunrise at Sunset.

SIR rider Mark Thomas had the gall to show up and kick the local booty on two hotly contested county line sprints. On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks kicked ass in the Super Bowl. Coincidence? Or divine intervention?

Mark out of the saddle in the sun.
If you want to be entertained, spend an hour riding behind Ian and Mary F. Ian does all the talking, but still, it’s entertaining.

Capn brought a first timer, Rob the Rookie, to the big show. Next year Rob’s going to be showing us how it’s done, as we're still trying to figure it out.

What is salvation? When you’re chilled to the bone from a cold rain, it’s the Mexican restaurant on the corner near Garland. That’s twice that the owners have swung the door open late, welcomed us in and served up plates of tacos, burritos and rice and beans. We’re eternally grateful.

A big thanks to Tim for those toe warmers. They saved the day. And night. And a big thanks to Tony for the hosting and support.

Sunshine on Super Sunday in Boardman.

Postscript: a few more pictures from Capn Ende's GoPro:
Caution! Good times ahead!

See that snow? Close the schools!

Check out Wes in our NC Rando kit! We're giving the Italians a run for their money.

The Sunset Strip.

You can smell the ocean from here, but no wheel dipping on this trip...That's Rookie Rob giving  a few pointers to Mark...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tim Pons | January 19, 2005

Every once in a while you meet special people who are way damn smarter than the rest of us. I met Tim Pons at UNC-G in 1974. We both liked John Lennon and lots and lots of Budweiser. I helped him build the pyramids of beer cans that lined his dorm room walls. He was irreverent, rebellious. He could sniff out bullshit from across the room, and he was the kind of guy who would call you  on it. He helped shaped my world view, and I like to think that was mutual. I somehow convinced him to take up bike riding, and he and I had a big adventure doing a tour to Virginia Beach. Years later, when we discussed that trip, I was astonished to hear him recount all of the details, down to the name of the guy who put us up and bought us beer halfway through.

And yes, he was smart. How smart wasn’t immediately obvious to his friends, but I guess his professors in neurobiology recognized it. They packed him off to get a PhD at Vanderbilt, and he eventually landed a job at the National Institute of Health doing brain research and adding to the understanding of the phantom limb phenomenon, showing that the brain can reorganize if sensory input is cut off.

Tim later became a professor at Wake Forest University. He died on this day in 2005 from complications from liver disease.

In his honor, I’m posting audio clips from a 1979 New Years Eve Ramones show that we attended at the Palladium in NYC.  Tim, enjoy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Marriage By Committee

Here at the Dayton Chambers household (the “DCH”), we have decided to operate in committee mode during 2014. We believe a committee structure will promote both domestic efficiency and marital harmony.

Tonight, the Antifreeze Committee will meet at 7 p.m. to discuss removing two hoses from the outside faucets. The Antifreeze Committee is not to be confused with the Ad Hoc No-Freeze Committee, which is investigating why the icemaker has gone on the fritz.

Other upcoming committee meetings include:

Jan. 7, 8 p.m. With Breaking Bad having wrapped up, the Entertainment Committee will review what new series to get hooked on in 2014. Also, the TV Viewing Subcommittee will present detailed findings on who made the decision to record old episodes of Pawn Stars, despite the apparent DVR conflict with Downton Abbey.

Hygiene and Health
Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m. The H&H Committee will consider more effective methods for the handling of clean laundry. Members of the DCH report that under current protocol freshly dried clothes are typically left unfolded in baskets for one week or more. This has led to excessive wrinkling and ongoing confusion over which pile is clean and which pile is dirty. Also on the agenda: the Bathroom Subcommittee is expected to issue findings on who has been leaving the toilet seat up.

Jan. 9, 8 p.m. The Nutrition Committee will investigate reports that the latest box of Cocoa Puffs went stale before it could be fully consumed. The committee will draft recommendations, including the possible use of clips or glass jars, to prevent other occurrences in the future. Also on the agenda: Discussion -- what’s in the Tupperware bowl in the back of the fridge?

Science & Technology
Jan. 15, 5:30 p.m. New business: The committee will weigh the cost effectiveness of DNA testing to determine which of the three dogs has been pooping on the back porch.

Finance Committee
Jan. 26, 3 p.m. PowerPoint presentation: Why our 401K is now a 201K. The committee will also sort through the “mail bowl” to determine whether any 2013 tax records are missing and if the water bill has been paid.

Sports & Recreation
Feb. 1. 8 a.m. Should the DCH invest in a “29’er?”  CANCELLED per request of committee member Chambers.

Lawn Committee
Feb. 3, 8 p.m. The Backyard Subcommittee is expected to issue a report on the decision to reseed the backyard in light of the relatively wet winter and the resulting muddy pawprints on the kitchen tile.

Long Range Planning
Feb. 15, 6 p.m. The Christmas Card Planning Subcommittee will meet to address reports of disappointment in the 2013 Christmas card -- dubbed the “Three Wise Dogs” edition -- for its perceived lack of creativity in comparison to previous years.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Oh Sh%t Moment In Eureka

This may be the most startling roadside historical marker you'll ever see in North Carolina. We passed it yesterday on Al Pacer's Pacer 200 permanent, which runs from Zebulon to Greenville, NC. The sign is at the halfway mark in Eureka. I mean, EUREKA!

Aside from the very cool name and the adopted nuclear family, Eureka is like a hundred other small towns in North Carolina, with boarded-up businesses on the main street and convenience stores anchoring the corners and a collection of junked construction vehicles and cranes at the local salvage yard, just outside the town limits, and a few charming wood frame homes on the side streets.

I've been here before. Buddy Dan did his first ever century to that town so he could finish up and shout "Eureka!" Except he was too tired to do much shouting. But the town is good for those kinds of moments.

Back to that historical marker. You can tell it was written by a committee and edited by some boss up the food chain. Crisis averted? That doesn't really do justice to what happened about a half century ago. The sign should read: HOLY CRAP! WE JUST ABOUT GOT VAPORIZED!

The story began when a B-52, in distress and heading to the nearby Air Force base in Goldsboro, disintegrated in mid air and fell out of the sky while carrying two nuclear warheads, crashing into a nearby tobacco field. Three of eight crew members lost their lives, with several ejecting to safety. The crash site is actually in nearby Faro, but Faro is just a road and a turkey farm or two, so Eureka got the sign.

The "two thermonuclear bombs each had enough power to leave a crater a third of a mile wide and exterminate all living things within 8.5 miles of its ground zero."  And guess what? One of the damned things was a jostle and a bump away from exploding. Here's more from Wiki:
Three of the four arming mechanisms on one of the bombs activated, causing it to execute many of the steps needed to arm itself, such as charging the firing capacitors and, critically, deployment of a 100-foot-diameter (30 m) retard parachute. The parachute allowed that bomb to hit the ground with little damage....
The second bomb plunged into a muddy field at around 700 miles per hour (310 m/s) and disintegrated without detonation of its conventional explosives. The tail was discovered about 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground. Parts of the bomb were recovered, including its tritium bottle and the plutonium.
According to nuclear weapons historian Chuck Hansen, the bomb was partially armed when it left the aircraft though an unclosed high-voltage switch had prevented it from fully arming. In 2013, Lt. Jack Revelle, the bomb disposal expert responsible for disarming the device, recalled the moment the second bomb's switch was found. “Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, 'Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch.' And I said, 'Great.' He said, 'Not great. It’s on arm.'"
Excavation of the second bomb was abandoned as a result of uncontrollable ground-water flooding. Most of the thermonuclear stage, containing uranium, was left in situ. The Army Corps of Engineers purchased a 400 feet (120 m) circular easement over the buried component. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill determined the buried depth of the secondary component to be 180 feet (55 m), plus or minus 10 feet (3.0 m).
So basically, there's still a nuke buried out there under the cotton field.

In September, the Guardian newspaper published declassified documents that showed we were one faulty switch away from a nuclear catastrophe.

The official essay about the Eureka marker is worth a read.

And there you have it. Eureka: the little town with one of the most celebrated "oh shit!" moments in history. And with a nuclear bomb buried in its backyard to back up the claim... Eureka! Widespread disaster averted....