Hughes Blog
Thoughts on Software Development, Project Management, Parenting, and Running.
Monday, July 25, 2005
The Tour Day Twenty Three
It was the last day for the tour. All the jerseys were decided except for the Green. But Vino had other ideas. He need two seconds to move up one spot on the GC from 6th to 5th. And on the first sprint away went Vino. Levi's team covered as best as possible but they could only get one rider in front of Vino and Levi could not get by. That put them in a dead heat in the GC, but Levi held a 7/100th advantage.

Did I mention it was raining? Well this is important to note, as the tour officials called off the remaining sprint and their time values. Levi probably thought he had it sown up. Now the points for the Green Jersey was still on based on the places in the last sprint and the finish. But who was there going for the stage win? VINO! And he WON!! What a great effort. And to top it off the officials gave him 20 seconds for the stage win which vaulted him ahead of Levi in the GC. That was a fabulous end to the tour.

So Vino got the stage win. Lance got his unprecedented 7th Yellow. Popo got the White Jersey. Rasmussen the King of the Mountains. And Hushovd the Green. On the podium with Lance was Ullrich and Basso and it is amazing that these competitors could be such friends. Pereiro was awarded the most combative of the tour which I think should have gone to Vino myself, although Pereiro certainly was in the top 2!

And so ends an era. Viva Le Tour! Viva Lance!

More on the Supreme Court Thing...
Since I already opened my big mouth on the subject, why stop now?

Drudge is reporting that Sen. Clinton is planning to vote in favor of the Roberts appointment.

I find this development very interesting!

Saturday, July 23, 2005
HVAC Repairs
Thursday Fran called to report the one of our AC units had cut out. July in North Texas when the average high temperature is usually 100 degrees, is no time for the AC to stop working. The bungalow has two units one large unit for the main part of the house and one smaller unit that cools three of the four bedrooms - poor Marissa was the odd man out.

When I got home I reconnoitered the situation. The first clue was the water pouring out of the condensation drain. Second clue, the compressor was running, even though the thermostat control had been switched to OFF. Third clue: earlier this week I had changed the filters with a new type. I checked the filter and it had partially ripped out of its frame. As noted, the condensation pan held quite a bit of water.

My first conclusion was that unit had frozen up. This can be caused by several things. Low Freon is one common reason. If the filter paper was clogging up the airflow, that could also be one reason. So I replaced the filter. Then I shut down the system for while. Then I put the gauges on the unit and fired it up. It was working. I checked the air temperature; it was blowing near 60 degrees. That was good. So I let it run and cool off the house, while I watched Stage 18 of The Tour.

Around midnight, the house was finally cool and the thermostat shut the system off. Just to make sure, I went outside and checked the compressor. It was still running. The suction pipe was frosted over. It was starting to freeze up. I had missed the obvious clue in my analysis - clue two. If the compressor is running and the blower is not moving air over the evaporator, then the evaporator will freeze up. What causes the compressor to run after blower shuts off is a faulty relay on the compressor motor. On my system this is called a contactor.

Friday morning I removed the faulty part. Fran procured a new one for $15. It was installed Friday evening. And we are back to having a cool house. :-) Ahhh...

The Tour Day Twentytwo
Lance predicted big gaps in todays TT. The questions were the following: could Basso make any time on Lance? Going in it seemed unlikely The second question was could Ullrich grab a podium spot from Rasmussen or even move up and claim second position from Basso? The third question was is Lance going to go through this tour without winning a stage? Of course what we have learned from history is that anything can happen.

In a shocking turn of events, Basso came thought the first time check 7 seconds faster than Lance and 17 seconds faster than Ulrich. WOW!! But in the second time check Lance was up on Ullrich by 19 seconds and a minute ahead of Basso. Ullrich passed Basso by 34 seconds. Now thats what we expected! At the third time check, Lance was up by 32 seconds over Ullrich and 1:18 over Basso.

The pressure was on Rasmussen to protect his podium spot. Ullrich is a much better rider in the TT. This TT has some big climbs which favored Rasmussen. Sadly Rasmussen crashed early which pretty much killed any chance that he had to hold off Ullrich. Then later he had to change bikes like three or four times. Then he crashed again. Unreal. A very sad way to loose his position. But Rasmussen won Stage 9 and won the King of Mountains and contended for the podium. Not a bad performance his first tour.

At the finish it was Lance, then Ullrich (+:23), then Vino (+1:16), then Jurich (+1:33), then Basso (+1:54), then Floyd (+2:02). Thats three Americans in the top five and four in the top six!

The top ten in the GC is unchanged althought the order has been shuffled. Heading into Paris it looks like Basso has held off Ulrich for second but has fallen to an amazing 4:40 behind Lance. Ullrich, Mancebo and Levi all move up one spot. Vino moves up to sixth. Rasmussen falls to seventh. Evans moves to 8th. Floyd and Pereiro hold 9th and 10th respectively. An awesome tour for all and three Americans in the top 10 - probably a first for that too.

Tomorrow Paris!

Friday, July 22, 2005
The Tour Day Twentyone
Giuseppe Guerini escaped from the peloton early. He was joined by three others who were also allowed to escape. One of those was Oscar Pereiro, winner of stage 16 and was runner up in 15. In a spectacular finish Guerini sprinted at 1400 meters to go to win the stage. Pereiro vaulted himself into the top ten of the GC.

There was no change in the top five positions in the GC. That will happen tomorrow with the big TT.

Two days to go; the TT and the ride to Paris!

A spring and a rubber band
When I awoke this morning my jaw was incredibly sore. The Torture Wire was working. I dragged my butt out of bed and found some advil. Then I got a nice glass of ice cold water. The wire is heat reactive. Cold water causes the wire to contract and provide RELIEF! Sadly my body also requires caffine. And then as I fired up the espresso machine - Bam! A bracket had broken which of course released much of the tension on the wire. Thank you lord!

Dr B is only open from 8 until 11 on Fridays. So I called them and they asked me to come in. When I arrived. Dr. B told me that he was surprised that the bracket had not popped yesterday. I gotta wonder why they even sent me off. Apparently he had already determined plan B. Plan B is a spring and a rubber band.

Instead of placing a bracket on my twisted, problematic tooth, he put a spring on the Torture Wire which is aligned between the brackets on either side of the problematic tooth. Then they tied a rubber band around the problem tooth and tied it to the Torture Wire.

So without the problem bracket, the tension is way less. But my jaw is still incredibly sore.

Thursday, July 21, 2005
The Tour Day Twenty
Marcos Serrano joined 10 riders in an early escape, then capitalized on the final climb to claim a win for Liberty Seguros. Nice job.

For the top riders in GC, the script played out as it had in all of the mountain climbs. Today, Lance, Jan, Basso and stage 16's hero Cadel Evans seperated themselves into the first group. So Lance stayed firmly in control of the Yellow, seperating himself from everyone except for Ulrich and Basso. Ulrich was able to gain some time on Rassmussen and as I mentioned earlier, I have no doubt that Ulrich will move up one to two places after the TT.

For the first time since Stage 4, no riders were dropped from the race!

Three Days to go!

The Torture Wire
So sometime last fall I noticed that my lower incisor was getting a bit sore. It had become visibly damaged. The upper incisor has a crown and the lower had slowly been banging up against he back of the crown. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Chuck, my procedure happy Dentist.

Dr. Chuck said, "Chris, do you know how to solve this problem?"

I thought, well if I KNEW how to solve the problem I sure as heck would not be here!

Chuck continued to tell me that I needed BRACES. Sheesh, unbelievable.

So off I went to Dr. B, the Orthodontist. Dr. B sez, "Well ya see at your age your overbite should be 30% and you are at 80%" (or something like that.) He asked if I grind or clench my teeth when I sleep. Well how the heck would I know that?? After all, I'M SLEEPING!!! For crying out loud...

So, anyway, last November Dr. B wired up all my teeth. He also stuck this thing called a "Bitewing" on the back of one of my incisors so that I can't close my jaw all the way shut. Lovely.

Initially the braces were kind of a pain in the neck, but I got used to them pretty quickly. Although, flossing is a real PIA.

Then last March, I went in for a wire change. The tech could barely get this thing on my teeth. The very next day, we flew out to Lake Tahoe for spring break. As I left the house that morning for the airport I felt something pop in my mouth. Not one, but two brackets had literally popped right off their teeth! When I went in to see Dr. B I told them what happened but they accused me of eating prohibited foods. No really, they just popped right off the teeth. Yeah right. Sheesh. So they reluctantly put on a lighter wire after they reinstalled the broken brackets.

Well, today was the day for the lighter wire to be removed, and the torture wire was reinstalled. Like last time, the tech fought tooth and nail (yuch, yuch) to get that dang wire installed. It actually took two of them working together to get the thing locked in today. After they were done with that, they put a chain across some of my upper teeth. I was done. And as I got up out of the chair - POW! I smiled. One of those brackets had popped off. The techs were amazed! They told me that they had never seen that happen before.


Of course its a hollow victory, as they glued that bracket back in and now as I sit here and tap out this missive, my poor teeth are VERY sore. :-(

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Tour Day Nineteen
Discovery does it again. Unreal. The peloton allowed an escape. This time Johann put two Discovery riders in the group of escapees. The result is another stage win for Discovery by Paolo Savoldelli. With the win and the huge gap from the escapees to the leaders, Discovery took the lead in the team competition! So Discovery control the Yellow Jersey, the White Jersey and the team competition. Unreal.

On the last climb the leaders in the GC broke from the Peloton. Vino then joined them and launched a huge attack to spring himself into seventh place in the GC. Vino also announced today that he is done with T-Mobile at the end of the year. In the end the leaders finished together so with the exception of Vino the rest of the GC was substantially unchanged. Lance now has Yellow Jersey 79 the second only to Merckx.

Sadly Kloden, who crashed and broke his arm yesterday, dropped out of the race today.

Four Days to Go!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The Tour Day Eighteen
I predicted that Discovery would cover any move by a top ten rider. Today they allowed number 11, Cadel Evans, to escape early. As a result Discovery forced Rabobank, Phonak and Gerosteiner to do the work in hunting down the escapees. However, the damage was done and Evans raced a spectacular race which allowed him to move into seventh place in the GC! In a spectacular finish Pereiro who was beat by George in Stage 15, used the same tactic on Evans today to get the stage win. In a sad note, Evans was riding for the memory of Amy Gillet who was hit by a car and killed while training with the Australian National Team.

In spite of some aggressive tactics by T-Mobile on the big climb, the top contenders in the GC was unchanged. Lance won his 78th Yellow jersey tying Hinault for second all time in Yellow jerseys.

The tour lost two more riders today.

Five days to Paris!

Democrats say the damnedest things...
So it looks like W is about to send his Supreme Court Nominee down to the Senate. It has not yet been announced, and already Pat Leahy is complaining! He is quoted as saying:

"There has been some reaching to Democrats but certainly not to the extent we saw during the Reagan administration or the Clinton administration,"

Well, of course, Clinton reached to the Democrats! Sheesh!

Monday, July 18, 2005
The Tour Day Seventeen
Today is the second rest day of the tour.

Review of the tour so far: Lance creams everyone.

So lets look at the upcoming stages. Stage 16, tomorrow, is interesting. It starts with a Cat 3 climb, then a Cat 1 climb, and finally an All Categories climb. But then its 70 clicks to the finish either downhill or flat. Its not unlike stage 11 when Vino broke away and stayed away for the win. If he were to try that again, I wonder if Discovery would send George or someone else to go with Vino on the break. It is also similar to stage 9 when Rasmussen made his big move. There is no way that Discovery will let Rasmussen loose again, so that won't happen! Looking at the top 20 riders, my guess would be that Discovery covers any move by a rider in the top 10. Beyond that, they will let them have a go at it!

Stage 17 is pretty much flat and will not be much of a challenge for Discovery to defend yellow. Look for McKwen to go for a stage win here.

Stage 18 is interesting as it has five climbs including a 10.1% Cat 2 climb at the finish. This will be the last chance to shake out additional time before the TT. Basso, and everyone else have given up on trying to break lance. So this stage will feature Basso trying to add time to his current second place finish and show that he is he heir to Lance. It will also feature Rasmussen trying to claw some time from Ulrich. Look for Rasmussen to attack on the final two climbs. Look for Basso and Lance to go with the Dane.

Stage 19 Starts with three climbs including a gnarly Cat 2, but then ends with 90K of flat to downhill. Discovery will cover any of the top 10 that try to get away.

Stage 20 is the final TT. Its 55K and features a Cat 3 climb at 35K. Lance has been unstoppable in the TT. Ulrich will look to smack Rasmussen back to third place. Basso will hope for a miracle that will allow him to steal the yellow from Lance. Was it two years ago that it was pouring rain for the Final TT with Ulrich crashing? (Yes see great photo of a wet Lance here.) Anything could happen on this stage. Stage 19 will be the last chance for drama in the 2005 tour.

Stage 21 is the ride to Paris. Whoever is in Yellow at the end of Stage 20, should be standing at the top of the podium at the end of Stage 21. Once again McKwen will go for the stage win and an outside shot at a third Green Jersey!

Remember ain't over until the fat lady sings, and that won't happen until Sunday.

Six days to go!

Sunday, July 17, 2005
The Tour Day Sixteen
Today was the hardest day of the tour. Team Discovery answered with the most impressive performance of this years event. George went with the early break as a tactic to put a Discovery rider ahead of Lance. That tactic assumed that Lance would pull in the break. However, Team Discovery was not too worried about any of the riders in the break. CSC then started to real them in. However it was too late as the lead group had amassed a 20 minute advantage. From that point, George sat in the back of the lead group and covered all the attacks. In the end it came down a dual with Oscar Pereiro who was riding for the pride of Spain. George had the fresh legs and easily won the sprint to the finish. Amazing!

Meanwhile the race for the top of the GC played out in a similar fashion to yesterday's battle. The big blue train led Lance through the base of the penultimate climb. Then it came down to Lance, Ulrich and Basso. Basso attacked, Lance covered and Ulrich dropped. Rasmussen was not able to hang with the leaders but caught back up with Ulrich at the top of the climb. That moved Basso into second place but Rasmussen has three minutes on Ulrich for the last spot on the Podium. In the opening TT, Ulrich finished 2:06 ahead of Rasmussen a stage less than half the distance compared to the TT in Stage 20. It would seem that Ulrich still has a very good chance to get on the podium in Paris.

The tour claimed two more riders today.

One week to Paris!

Saturday, July 16, 2005
The Tour Day Fifteen
I flew back to Dallas last night arriving home after 10pm very exhausted. This morning, Logan woke me up with the announcement that the Tour De France was on TV and I had better get up to watch it. I sure felt like sleeping in. And the Tivo was making sure that I would not miss a beat. But in the end there was no way that Logan was going to leave me alone. And good thing too - the climb in the Pyrenees broke the field wide open!

Georg Totschnig broke away with a group at 10K and was the only one to survive picking up the win for Gerolsteiner. Their group was up by more than 10 minutes, but Georg finished only 56 seconds ahead of Lance.

T-Mobile staged a series of attacks on the first big climb which left Lance alone. Could the loss of Triki from team be coming in to play? But in the end Lance was able to cover or recover from all the attacks on the penultimate climb. One the final climb, however, it came down to Basso, Ulrich and Lance. Ulrich dropped before the top. Then Lance sprinted away from Basso at the finish. Rasmussen was a minute behind Lance. So for the first time, Lance has put time against his main competitors. And we have reaffirmed that the only two who can hang on the tough climbs are Basso and Ulrich.

Tomorrow is the most difficult day of the tour. Unlike today, Discovery will need to be able to work with Lance.

Gerben L֖WIK abandoned the race today, the 29th casualty.

Thank heavens for Tivo! Today I was able to review all 20 hours of racing from last week!

Eight Days to go!

The Tour Day Fourteen
Today was a flat hot day. McEwen wanted the win to make up some points for the Green Jersey, now that Boonen is out of the race. Several riders broke out early and McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto formed at the front of the Peloton to catch the miscreants. Their work was rewarded and McKwen was able to win another stage. American Chris Horner and Sylvain Chavanel were at the front of the breakout which ended just meters in front of the line. What an amazing finish!

Lance the rest of the Peloton crossed with the same time as McKwen so there was no change in the GC.

Sadly the tour claimed the hero of Stage 10 and the holder of the White Jersey, Alejandro Valverde. Valverde apparently has had some tendonitis problems. That put Popo back in the White!

Up next, the Pyrenees!

Ten Days to go!

The Tour Day Twelve
Unlike day eleven, Discovery set the pace over the all of the mountains today and then set up Lance for a sprint at the finish. Vino grabbed a stage for T-Mobile, yet Kloden and Ulrich were not able to make up any time on Lance. Vino had a very gutsy ride leading up all three of the big climbs including the highest climb of the tour and he had a nice sprint over Botera for the finish.

But in the end and in spite of Vino's efforts, there was not major change in the GC. Moreau moved from fourth in the GC to third due to his third place bonus in today's finish. Lance keeps the yellow. The rest of the Jerseys also remain unchanged.

Sadly there were six victims of the tour today. Voigt who wore yellow yesterday, finished 400 yards outside the time limit and was eliminated. Very sad. Quickstep lost two riders. Fasso Bortolo also lost two riders.

12 days to go!

The Tour Day Thirteen
Bastille Day!! It is the most important day of the tour for the French. True to the script David Moncoutie jumped out in front early, rode hard and won the stage for France. In fact three of the top four finishers were Frenchman.

With the French out in front, Lance and Discovery were able to take an easy day in the peloton. There was no change in the top of the GC.

The race claimed two important victims today. Sadly Triki Beltran one of Team Discovery's most important climbers crashed and then dropped out of the race. It will be interesting to see how this will effect the team in the Pyrenees. Also out of the race is Tom Boonen holder of the Green Jersey. Boonen crashed yesterday but was able to finish the race. However, his knee swelled to the point of no return and he was forced to withdraw. That puts Thor Hushovd into Green.

11 days to go!

Thursday, July 14, 2005
The Tour Day Eleven
Not without surprise on the road up to Corchevel, the first stage in the alps would serve to separate the men from the boys. The big blue train led the Peloton for most of the race. That was enough for Lance to put a big gap on Ulrich and Basso. It was very exciting to see Popovych hang with Lance until the last climb and then lead Lance out on a attack which allowed Discovery to grab the yellow from Voigt and blow up the rest of the field. This was even more amazing as Popy had crashed into the discovery car earlier in the race.

And in an amazing finish, Alejandro Valverde outsprinted Lance to claim the stage win as well as the White jersey. Only Rasmussen and Valverde were able to hang with Lance. T-Mobile was totally blown out of the water.

The race claimed two more riders, both from LAMPRE - CAFFITA.

13 days to go!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
The Tour Day Ten
Yesterday was a rest day.

Two Weeks to go!

Sunday, July 10, 2005
The Tour Day Nine
Michael Rasmussen had a spectacular day, leading the tour from start to finish. Rasmussen, who grabbed the Polka Dot Jersey yesterday, picked up all of the climb points today as well. Voigt and Moreau staged a great chase and left Discovery and T-Mobile behind. Voigt and CSC seized the yellow jersey - which is probably a relief for Discovery. Moreau is now second in the GC. LA is third. And Rassmussen is fourth.

Discovery stayed together with T-Mobile as well. Discovery stayed in the front of the Peloton. Unlike yesterday, T-Mobile did not attack. I think both teams were taking somewhat of rest day. Tomorrow is a day off followed by three very hard days in the alps.

It continues to be VERY interesting. Rasmussen looks very strong. Could he surprise everyone in the alps and capture Yellow? Have Discovery and T-Mobile underestimated CSC and Voigt. Both scenarios are possible. Or will the past years events play out and the battle will fall to Lance and his Discovery Team verses Ulrich and the boys from T-Mobile? I think that latter is most likely.

The Tour claimed five more riders today. That's fourteen out of the race total. Very Sadly, only the third American to ever where yellow, David Zabriski, hero of the first three stages, withdrew. He was DAL yesterday and he seemed never to recover from his crash in the TTT.

In three hours I will be sitting on a plane on my way to California where I will be all next week. I will be without my Tivo and possibly without OLN. So my reporting will likely suffer.

Fifteen days to go!

Saturday, July 09, 2005
The Tour Day Eight
Today was the start of the second week. In the first week we had two time trials and five flat stages that were dominated by the sprinters. Today's event featured the first hard climb of the tour.

For the first time in years, Lance's team was not by his side to cover the attacks that came on the climb. T-Mobile used this to their advantage by staging attack after attack. Lance covered all of Vino's moves but let Kloden go. As a result Kloden broke away and finished second and made a nice move up the GC. CSC was also strong on the climb and the finish. This means one of two things for Discovery. Either the team is not as strong as they had hoped and therefore Lance will have to do it solo, which will be nearly impossible. Or the team did not get their bikes set up properly and they will regroup and demonstrate the teamsmanship that they showed last year and they will win the tour.

How about that finish? .0002 Second advantage. Wow. Pieter Weening attacked Kloden at the finish. Very Exciting.

Popovych lost the white jersey to Karpets. That's probably a relief for Discovery, as they can better concentrate on winning the yellow. It should also bring Illes Balears to the front of the pack - which will in turn help Discovery.

The tour claimed five riders today, and eight have withdrawn to date. Sadly Christophe Mengin, the hero of Stage 6 was unable to start today.

15 Days to go. Things are getting VERY interesting.

Friday, July 08, 2005
The Tour Day Seven
McKwen picked up his second win. That makes two for both McKwen and Boonen. Fabian Wegmann had a nice breakaway which allowed him to capture the Polka Dot Jersey.

Lance once again navigated around several crashes and stays in yellow with no change in the overall classification.

Tomorrow the mountains begin. Yippee! Now the real tests begin.

Once week down. 16 days to go.

Thursday, July 07, 2005
The Tour Day Six
It was an exciting finish. Christophe Mengin broke out early and was holding off the peleton with 800 meters to go when tragedy stuck. He crashed into a hay bail. Vinokourov who capitalized on the Mengin's breakout and also on his crash finished second. For that Vino picked up a few seconds and moved up the overall classification to third position. Lorenzo Bernucci handled the final turn better than Mengin and Vino and came out with an unexpected win.

Tomorrow the race heads to Germany. Watch out for T-Mobile.

17 days to go!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
The Tour Day Five
It was a nice day of racing. McKwen had a great sprint to make up for his penalty on Day 3 when they officials relagated him from 3rd to 186. Frankly I think that judges got it wrong.

There was no winning breakaway so Lance will keep the yellow for another day.

18 days to go!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Our Money and our Daughter will go to....
....The Dallas Texans.

Marissa has decided to go with the Texans. She did yield in her initial inclination to pick Everton. She decided mom and dad both seemed to favor the Texans, and maybe they know a thing or two more about important decisions. There is good news and bad news in that. The good news is that Marissa apparently still believes that us parents aren't as dumb as we look. The bad news is that I had hoped to win her over with an intellectual argument. The whole contractual thing is too much pressure for kids of her age anyways. And it really was freaking her out a bit.

The Tour Day Four
As predicted, it was an incredible day for the team time trial. Very sadly, Zabriskie crashed with 1500 meters to go. That was an ugly way for him to lose the yellow jersey. Discovery won the team trial by a mere 2 seconds putting Lance in yellow with George and Chechu in second and fifth overall. Popovych is in sixth and has captured the white jersey. They set a speed record for the TTT. And of course they have won the TTT for an unprecedented three times in row. CSC came in second and they still look like a very tough team for Discovery.

It appears that there is a kink the armor of Team Discovery, with Lance determined to hold the yellow all the way to Paris. However from post race interviews it seems that Johan Bruyneel seems not inclined to defend the yellow. As I recall last year Lance won the yellow at the TTT and it was in the next stage that they gave The Yellow to Voeckler.

I think it is smarter to let another team defend the yellow until they get to the alps.

Marissa gets her second contract
Today Marissa was offered a contract with The Dallas Texans 95 Girls White Team. So now we have to quickly sort out if accept this one or the one we received from Everton. It's always better to have choices in these matters. However, now we have to make a decision! Marissa likes the kids on the Everton Team. I like the parents on the Texans Team. I suspect that the players on the Texans team are better, but I only know three of them (well four if you count Marissa). I don't know any of the players at Everton. Soccer America have picked the Texans in their top 10 soccer clubs in America two years in a row.

Decisions, Decisions....

Monday, July 04, 2005
Small Engine Repair
I mentioned last week that I had done some work to the lawn tractor. One thing that I did not mention is that I had changed the fuel filter. Earlier this week Fran mowed the grass and when she was done she mentioned that fuel was pouring out of the filter. So yesterday I got a new filter and some gas and I replaced the fuel filter once again. The one I used last week was not genuine Briggs and Stratton AND it had been hanging on my pegboard for years. Yesterday we got the stock replacement for the tractor just to make sure it would work.

This morning when we got up Fran told me the house smells like gas. Crap. So I looked in the garage and sure enough there was a huge puddle of gas under the tractor. So I put in some gas and tried to see where the leak was. It was not coming from any of the hoses, nor was it coming from the filter. It was dripping off the bottom of the muffler. After puzzling about this for a few minutes, I decided that the float valve was stuck. I took off the float chamber and cleaned the valve. I hooked up the gas and tested it, and it all looked good. I zipped it all up and fired up the motor.

It sputtered and ran, then died. It was still dripping gas from the muffler. This was a real puzzler. I unhooked the gas from the carb. Still dripping. How is that possible? Finally I decided to take the carb apart for a thorough cleaning. The first thing that came off was the intake housing, which has a vent to the crank case.

Hmmmm, maybe the gas was coming from the crankcase. I checked the dipstick, and sure enough the crankcase was full of gas. There is no PVC valve on the mower, so when the float valve stuck the gas siphoned right into the crankcase. Mystery solved!

So I drained the crankcase; put in new oil; cleaned the carb. Zipped it all up and then the moment of truth - it runs! Yippee!!

Then Fran says, "please do finish with the weed eater while I mow." Drats.

The Tour Day Three
Dekker staged a great breakaway which resulted in a great chase to the finish. He also captured the Polka dot jersey from Voekler.

Boonen had the phenomenal sprint to the finish for the second day in the row locking him in the front of the Green Jersey Competition.

USA keeps the yellow for another day.

Tomorrow is the team time trial. Discovery will attempt to put Lance in Yellow. CSC has a very good time trial team. They will try to keep the Yellow to themselves.

Go Lance!!

21 days to go!

Marissa gets a contract!
This just in, Marissa has recieved a contract with the Everton White Team. I think Fran and I both have a preference for Marissa to sign with the Texans. But, they must offer her a contract first! Marissa however, wants to play for Everton. She loves the coach and she really likes the players. This team does not look to be as strong as the Texans Club, however. I love seeing Marissa fired up about the team, though!

So plan B is complete. Plan C is out the window. Now we just need to see if Plan A is going to fall into place. Unless, Marissa convinces Fran and I that Plan B should be Plan A!

Exploring Free Agency
J asked:

> I don't understand why she has to sign a contract at her age. Is it that competitive?

I started out with a reply in the comments section, which was becoming lengthy, so I decided it was worthy of a post here.

At age 10, players must either play on recreational teams, or competitive teams. In competitive soccer, a player must commit to one team for a year. Hence the contract. The North Texas Rules can be found here. I have included the appropriate paragraphs at the bottom of this post. It really is pretty nutty - but the bottom line is that Marissa is a Free Agent and our experience is not unlike pro free agents in any other sport who are trying to find a home!

Marissa has the skill, but she lacks size. On her last rec team she was the leading scorer. But at the competitive level, she is too small. She is somewhat handicapped by a June Birthday (the age groups run from Aug 1 to July 31), which makes her the youngest on her team. She is generally the smallest as well - a gift that she recieved from her mother. Many of her coaches have had a problem with her size. The Genesis coach noted her size as an issue in his decision to cut. As I mentioned yesterday, he picked a player that Marissa outplayed in practice, but was literally twice her size.

I don't think that Genesis team was a good fit for us. I liked the coach, but I did not like ANY of the parents and Marissa only made friends with one of the kids. When we went out to the Texans, all of the parents were real friendly and we were all swapping stories about the various coaches our kids had played with. It really felt like family. Joe Lawson has a great reputation as a development coach too.

I have confidence that she will make a team and I just hope that we find a coach that will work with her. Bruno Ferretti, who was coaching her at Longhorns was wonderful. Its just a real shame that we could not put together a team under Bruno.

As I tap this out, Marissa is up at Everton, checking them out. I expect Everton is our Plan B, if she does not get picked up by the Texans. I saw that Solar, still has some spots for U11 Girls, so that might be Plan C!

I can't wait for July 10 to come and put an end to the madness!

From the NTSSA bylaws:

Youth players may only be registered with one NTSSA sanctioned team at any given time during the soccer year. The soccer year will coincide with the soccer year of the United States Soccer Federation. Youth players may change teams during the year in the following manner: NOTE: Read Rule 4.7.

1. Member Associations who reserve the right to reassign players at the AssociationÂ’s desire may reassign said players and re-register the new teams by filing with the Registrar of the State the new team roster. All reassigned players are considered "transfers" for rostering purposes.

2. Youths who play on teams which will be involved in state and national competitions as well as inter-association play may only change teams during the soccer year in the following manner:

a. Obtain a written release from the team with which he was last registered during the soccer year. NOTE: Player must use NTSSA "Player Release Form".

b. New team must complete Add/Transfer/Delete form on a transfer player; pay a transfer fee set by NTSSA in order to register a transfer player on new team; and submit form and fee to their Home Association.

c. The player's home association or the association within which team plays, must file with the State Association the Add/Transfer/Delete form and proper release forms.

3. Youth players will become "free-agents" on July 1 providing their team is not registered for any tournament or competition in July. No USSF player application, club contract, or any agreement may be signed before July 10 for the coming seasonal year by or on behalf of competitive players desiring to change teams for the following soccer year. Competitive players returning to the team on which they played the immediately preceding soccer year may sign a contract to return to their team beginning July 1. Any player signing with a team other than the team they played on in the immediately preceding soccer year before July 10 may be declared ineligible for the team. NOTE: Exceptions to this rule may be made by the Youth Commissioner when an entire association has an earlier registration.

Definition of "Free-Agent": A free agent is a player in the U-12, U-14, U-16, and U-19 age division who desires to try out or be selected for a competitive team between July 1 and August 31 of the present soccer year. A free agent does not need a release from his team to try out or be selected to play on a competitive team.

NOTE: The "free-agent" rule applies only to those players trying out or being selected for competitive teams. The rule does not apply to movement of players in the recreational leagues.

Sunday, July 03, 2005
Marissa cut from Genesis
The skies were clear and the sun was out. In short it was blazing hot on the soccer pitch today. Marissa's first tryout today was with Genesis. She was out in the sun for two hours at the end of which she was cut for the last spot on that team in favor of a girl twice her size and half her skill. Marissa, who is not the least bit egotistical, could not believe it. She told me that she was a better player than most of the girls on that team - which is actually true.

From there, we drove across town to the Dallas Texans practice, where I met Joe Lawson for the first time. It turns out there are two girls on the squad that Marissa already knows (she knew no one on the Genesis team.) The parents are super. The coach seems great. This really feels like the right place for Marissa. She was invited back for practice Tuesday which is when they will make a decision. I hope she gets a spot there. Marissa played for an hour with those girls - so three hours out in the sun for her. That's a bunch.

After practice, her Longhorns coach, called and directed us to Everton. They have openings on thier second team. Just in case, we will go check that out tomorrow.

Logan's coach knows the Everton staff pretty well, so I called him up to see what was going on there. He recommended Rod, Everton's coach so that's a good sign. He also directed me to FC Dallas. Marissa used to play for FC Dallas, so we know that situation. Fran is not that keen on the club, but I have to say that I like their founder and president, Tony Bily, who would be the coach of that group.

Contract signing Day is July 10. I will be glad when we get this settled.

Marrissa's Soccer Tryouts
July 10 is competitive soccer signing day. Marissa has been attending tryouts for two teams: Longhorns and Genesis. The Longhorns do not look like they will be able to make a team. We had missed the first day of Genesis tryouts, while we were are at Longhorns. That was a mistake as they gave away 15 contracts. Yesterday, day two, Coach Rollin told me that he kept one contract for Marissa, but there were three other kids who were going to compete for it. He seemed perturbed that we missed the first day of tryouts. He said that he would make a decision today. Based on that Fran talked to a Coach and Manager for the Dallas Texans White Team. They have 10 girls - so Marissa will go there if she does not get a contract with Genesis.

(Update 8/1/06: Corrected a typo)

The Tour Day Two
It was not a bad day today. Voeckler had a very nice move to capture the Polka Dot Jersey. Lance stayed out of trouble and keeps second in the overall classification. The USA keeps the Yellow Jersey.

22 Days to go!

Saturday, July 02, 2005
The Tour Day One

USA finishes four riders in the top 6. Lance finishes second. George fourth. Floyd Sixth. And Zabriskie first! CSC is going to be tough this year. Its hard to tell whats up with Ulrich. Is he hurt from his crash yesterday? Is Lance that much faster than Jan this year?

23 more days will tell!

Friday, July 01, 2005
The Tour Starts Tomorrow
Hot Damn!

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