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Saturday
Jan112014

Creativity and Child’s Play

People will sometimes say to me, “I wish I was creative.” We all start out creative; a child’s imagination is pure creativity. The problem is the creativity gets educated out of the child. 

A child will approach an adult with some fantastic story and the adult immediately shoots it down with, “Oh that’s not true, you made that up” when probably a better response would be, “Did you make that up, that’s really a cleaver story.” (Typo left in place, see comments below.) 

Children need to be taught the difference between fact and fantasy, but encouraged to be creative because what is writing a novel but making stuff up and writing it down. In other words child’s play. 

In the above video, (Which is not only informative, but also entertaining. ) Ken Robinson describes creativity simply as, “Having original thought that is of value.” He also talks about a need for change in schools, universities, and in industry, where creativity is discouraged. 

I also recently learned that cursive hand writing is no longer taught in schools. If nothing else a child needs to learn how to sign their own name in cursive script. I am hearing stories of teens and twenty year olds only able to print their name. A person cannot go through life without signing their name on documents, checks, etc. If schools won’t teach this it is up to parents and grand-parents.

The above video can also be viewed on Ted.com

 

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Friday
Jan032014

Winter Cycling Gloves

 

For die hard cyclists who train right through the winter, or maybe those who commute to work each day in all kinds of weather, a proper pair of winter cycling gloves, is a must.

I recently had the opportunity to try out two pairs of five finger winter gloves made by Castelli and Louis Garneau. 

The first pair I tried were the Castelli Diluvio Deluxe Gloves. (Picture left.)

Different than the usual approach to glove making, these are designed for keeping your hands warm, not only in cold conditions but cold, wet conditions, like winter rain or sleet. 

Made from neoprene, the same material wet suits are made from. The kind used by scuba divers and surfers.

The Castelli Diluvio Deluxe gloves are constructed from 3mm neoprene. The gloves insulate in order to keep out both wind and cold temperatures, but are thin enough that the wearer can feel the brake levers and gear controls.  

The design of these gloves is somewhat unique. Most gloves when not being worn lay flat with the fingers straight. These Castelli neoprene gloves when off the hand have the fingers pre shaped and curved.

When the gloves are put on the hand, the wearer’s fingers naturally take up the position they will form when wrapped around the handlebars or brake hoods. With the fingers pre curved in this way the neoprene material on the inside of the fingers has less of a tendency to bunch up.

A textured grip on the palm (See right.) makes sure the rider’s hold on the bars remains secure at all times, even in wet conditions. The glove has a long cuff that extends about four inches up the wrist, long enough to tuck into the sleeve of a jacket. This is very important because the blood flow to the hand needs to be kept warm in order for the hands to be warm. 

Because moisture can accumulate from sweat, is a good idea to turn the gloves inside out after a ride to allow them to dry, and disperse any smell that may accumulate. The gloves need to be hand washed and air dried.

These gloves are stylish and good looking. The company’s logo graphic is on the back of the hand, along with the Castelli name. A nose wipe strip on the back of the thumb, made from a soft fleecy fabric is a useful addition.

Although few materials excel at defeating the cold as well as neoprene, this material will keep out a light drizzle, it is not completely waterproof. However, like a wetsuit which is also worn next to the skin, the more water you encounter, the warmer that the gloves become. The Castelli Diluvio Deluxe Gloves come in the color Black and in the sizes Small/Medium, Large/X-Large, and XX-Large.

 

The second pair of gloves I tried were the Louis Garneau LG Shield Gloves. (Picture left.)

I am told that of Garneau's five-finger gloves, these are the warmest, and offer protection from wind, rain, sleet, and snow.

Unlike the Castelli neoprene gloves that are made from a single layer, the Garneau Shield Glove retains warmth by using layers of different materials.

This is accomplished by combining a 3M Drytex lining with varying thicknesses of Thinsulate interlining. There is more insulation layers around the fingers and less at the palm, which makes sense.

The exterior of the gloves is constructed of Garneau's Breathable Twillwave with a fully waterproof and breathable Hipora membrane.

There is a small ventilation panel in the middle of the palm (Pic. Right.) designed to allow sweat to evaporate.

A Faux Leather Amara palm, which fully extends inside all fingers and thumb, has strategically-placed foam padding at the base of the palm.

This glove has a soft nose wipe on the back of the thumb, and a Velcro tab to adjust the wrist closure for a snug fit. (See picture right.)

The gloves are warm and comfortable, and provide a good grip. Reflective piping on the back of the glove, (See above left.) provides some added visibility, when giving hand signals in the dark.

The Garneau LG Shield Gloves come in sizes Small through XX-Large and comes in a nice shade of black.

Both pairs of gloves are excelent quality, and performed well, although I did not get to try either in extreme wet conditions. Of the two I would slightly favor the Luis Garneau gloves, but for no reason other than they had a more familiar feel.

Note: After you click on the links to Evan’s Cycles at the beginning of each separate review, the glove prices can be set to your local currency at the top of each page.

 

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Thursday
Dec262013

Take a look at what is in your energy bars and sports drinks

Energy bars have become the standard and convenient way for cyclists to carry food when racing or training. Used by professional cyclists in events like the Tour de France most amateur cyclists and weekend warriors follow suit, not even stopping to look at what they might be consuming.

Protein shakes have become popular among body builders and other athletes as a way to lose fat and pack on lean muscle. A whole new Sports Nutrition industry has sprung up, and a lot of misinformation is being fed to athletes along with the food products.

Most meal replacement protein shakes and energy bars contain Soy Protein Isolate. (Read the ingredients label.)

"Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean, making it 90 to 95 percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free."

On the face of it that might seem okay, but like all highly processed foods, it has little or no nutritional value left. The same with “High Fructose Corn Syrup,” another ingredient in many energy bars. It is corn processed until all that remains is pure carbohydrate and again very little nutritional value.

Some energy bars have the ingredient “Organically Grown Brown Rice Syrup.” This sounds much better than “High Fructose Corn Syrup,” but again it has little or no nutritional value, and is just the sugar or carbohydrate isolated from rice instead of corn.

The problem also with brown rice based products is that many of these are grown in fields that were previously used to grow cotton, and were sprayed with arsenic as an insecticide. This arsenic stays in the soil for years, and is absorbed by the rice.

Arsenic also occurs naturally in some soil, the problem is that rice absorbs arsenic more readily than other plants. Even if it is not enough to kill a person, ask yourself, do you even want to consume even trace amounts of this poison?

Soy too can be highly toxic. What makes soy products even worse is that 90% to 95% of soy grown in the US is Genetically Modified. It is modified to withstand the herbicide “Roundup.” This means the fields can be sprayed with this widely used weed killer and it will not kill the soy plant.

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle. "It's an endocrine buster," says UK pathologist Stanley Ewen, "that interferes with aromatase, which produces estrogen."

It is especially dangerous to females and unborn children. There can be miscarriages or birth defects. Men and young boys can experience Gynecomastia. (Breast enlargement, or man boobs.) Some men experience decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.

There is a lot of information on the subject of processed food on the Internet. I have provided a few links in this article, these in turn link to many more. Far be it for me to tell people what to eat, but I am finding it is not always a good thing to believe blindly what the food, and sports nutrition companies tell us.

I’ll agree that energy bars are convenient, but I have stopped using them altogether. I drink filtered tap water, and take electrolyte tablets to replace the lost salts and minerals. For the most part I have stopped consuming any highly processed food.

You might consider limiting energy bars to their use when racing only. If you are consuming them on a daily basis even when not riding, ask yourself what nutritional value are you getting? And worse are you slowly poisoning yourself?

When I started racing back in the 1950s and 1960s, there were no energy bars. My mother made me a solid rice pudding with raisins in it, sometimes a bread pudding. I would cut this into pieces and wrap in foil or grease proof paper.

Three ounces of deli roast beef has 24 grams of protein, a beef sandwich has as much protein as the average protein bar. On your next long ride, try taking some cold boiled potatoes. Small, bite size, boiled so they are soft enough to bite into, but not so soft they break or get squished in your pocket. Carried in a plastic bag they are easy to munch on as you ride.

Potatoes have a high glycemic index, which means they are quickly turned into energy. They are a nutrient rich source of potassium and vitamin C. Make sure you eat the skin because that’s where most of the nutrients are.

You can also make your own energy bars, that way you know what is in them. Some natural foods like bananas, potatoes, are not as compact as an energy bar, so I have gone back to what I did in the 1950s.

I carry a musette on my longer rides. (Left.) This can be folded up and put in my jersey pocket when empty. We used to call them a “Bonk Bag” for good reason, but thinking about it, it is more an “Anti-Bonk Bag.”

 

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Tuesday
Dec172013

Lewis Fenno Moulton

Moulton Parkway is a super highway in Orange County, California, that runs from Crown Valley Pkwy near Laguna Niguel north to Irvine where it becomes Irvine Center Drive. It was named after Lewis Fenno Moulton, a wealthy cattle rancher who owned 22,000 acres of land that was much of the area where Moulton Pkwy. runs today. 

I was surprised to learn that the Moulton Ranch was still operating as a cattle ranch in the Aliso Viejo area as late as 1968, (See picture below.)

As early as the mid-1700s the Moulton family were prominent in Colonial affairs in New England, and Lewis F. Moulton’s great-grandfather was General Jeremiah Moulton who served with distinction during the Revolutionary War.

The General’s grandson J. Tilden Moulton who practiced law, moved to Chicago in the mid 1800s and later became Editor of the Chicago Tribune. His position at the newspaper brought him in touch with many prominent politicians of the day. Abraham Lincoln was said to be a personal friend.

J. Tilden Moulton had two sons, the youngest being Lewis Fenno, the subject of this story, who was born in Chicago in 1854. Lewis F. Mouton’s mother was the former Charlotte Harding Fenno. (Hence her son’s middle name.) She was a descendant of Samuel Fenno was directly involved in the Boston Tea Party that sparked the Revolutionary War.

According to this account which is quite old and published while Lewis F. Moulton (Picture right.) was still living, so therefore I think more accurate.

Lewis Moulton’s father died when he was quite young and his mother moved the family back east to Boston.

At 20 years old, in 1874, Lewis F. Moulton took the long trip to California. He didn’t go across land like most, he took a boat to Panama, crossed the narrow strip of land by train. He then took another boat to San Francisco.

He later moved south to Santa Ana where he worked on a ranch. He prospered and in time began sheep ranching in partnership with another man. In 1895 at the age of 41 he bought the 22,000 acres that would become the Moulton ranch in the Laguna Hills. Lewis Fenno Moulton died in 1938, he was 84.

A hard working man, who built his own empire, but no doubt coming from such a prominent family he had help along the way, if only by his credentials alone. His elder brother, Irving F. Moulton was Vice President of the Bank of California.

(Above.) Alicio Pkwy in 1968. This road intersects Moulton Pkwy. 

(Below.) The next 3 pictures are Moulton Pkwy. in 1977.

Footnote: I am no direct relation to this Moulton branch of the family, as far as I know. Moulton, (Pronounced Molton.)  is a fairly common English name. There are at least three towns in England named Moulton, translated from the old English it means simply, “A place where mules are kept.” This is probably where the name originated. So people get named after places, and later places get named after people, like Moulton Parkway.

 

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Monday
Dec092013

Amgen to stop making EPO

Amgen the company that manufactures Epogen, otherwise known as EPO is to scale down and eventually stop production of the drug over the next twelve months.

Epogen is a legitimate medical treatment that increases the red blood cells in patients with certain cancers and kidney disease.

Used illegally by pro cyclists and other athletes, it also increase red blood cells, thereby carrying more oxygen to the muscles, resulting in a huge boost in performance.

I have always found it interesting and fascinating that Amgen sponsors the Tour of California professional bike race each year.

Is this a mere coincidence? At what board meeting did someone suggest that a company that makes medication for very sick people would benefit, and boost sales by sponsoring a professional bike race?

Amgen, based in Longmont, California is shutting down production of Epogen because of a steady decrease in sales over recent years. Figures went from 2.6 billion in 2009, to 2.5 billion in 2010, to 2 billion in 2011. (Note that is Billion with a “B.”) The decline in sales is still falling with current quarterly earnings down 3% on last year’s sales.

I am not speculating as to why Amgen’s sale of Epogen is declining, I am simply asking why? Are there less sick people needing the drug, because that is not how patterns in a population’s health usually go. There may be fluctuations up and down from one year to the next, but not usually a steady decline.

Is it yet another coincidence that sales have declined since 2009, over the same period that professional cycling started to clean up its act? And is it possible that illegal sales of EPO could run into Billions with a “B?”

These are simply questions I am asking. I do not have the time or resources to follow up on this story. But it would be interesting to go into Amgen’s financial records and follow the money trail, and find out where all that Epogen went.

 

Here is the link to the Amgen closure story. 

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