Vive memor quam sis aevi brevis.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Denmark Strait. 24 May, 1941

 To: Admiralty
From: HMS Prince of Whales

HMS Hood has blown up

HMS Hood, considered the pride of the Royal Navy, was lost this day in 1941 during a brief  battle with the German Kriegsmarine's DKM Bismark. 1415 men were lost in an instant. There were three survivors.
       In the battle, HMS Prince of Whales was heavily damaged and was forced to withdraw. The Royal Navy eventually hunted down Bismark and she was sunk 3 days later.
      Hood was sometimes called the most beautiful ship (if any weapon of war could ever be considered thus) in the Royal Navy, but she suffered from a serious design flaw: her decks were not sufficiently armoured, leaving her vulnerable to plunging fire. This flaw led to her demise. On the fifth salvo from Bismark, a 15 inch shell penetrated her deck abaft her stacks and exploded in the after magazine. The resulting blast tore Hood apart and she sank in about 2 minutes.

   The three survivors were Midshipman William Dundas, Able Seaman Bob Tilburn, and Ordinary Signalman Ted Briggs.
 In 2001, the wreck of HMS Hood was found, and a plaque in honour of her crew was placed beside her on the sea floor. Ted Briggs, the last surviving crewman, was given the honour of releasing the plaque. Mr Briggs died in 2008.                       


HMS HOOD at anchor at Scapa Flow

Ship's crew, 1940
Last known photo of Hood, taken from Prince of Whales, 24 May, 1941.

The end as seen from DKM Prinz Eugen. Smoke from Hood's blast on the right, Prince of Whales making smoke on left.


Tuesday, 6 March 2018


What little snow we've had this winter is gone, except for a large pile on the north side of my town's multi-story parking structure- stuff that was scraped off  the top level by the plough and won't be gone until June.

In many places the road along the fog line is liberally sprinkled with glass from jettisoned beer bottles- it's a minor miracle that i haven't punctured yet.

i used to wonder how so much brown and green glass wound up on the road until i witnessed some yahoos tossing out their beer bottles so as not to be caught with open liquor in their car.

i'm not sure what makes me angrier- the fact that people are consuming alcohol whilst driving or that they feel entitled to just toss their trash along the roads.

When i ride in more rural parts, i see a lot of beer cans and 12 pack cartons strewn along the right-of-way. One time i remarked to a riding companion that the overwhelming majority of those cans were from one or two of the more common brands of "light" ("Lite?") beer.  He pointed out that the reason for so many light beer cans being tossed was that they were ashamed to leave evidence in their cars that they actually drank such dreck. i mean, if you're going to drink beer, drink real beer. Ah well...

Along with the beer cans and bottles, i lately notice an alarming number of hard liquor bottles out there. Empty 750ml vodka and whiskey bottles are frighteningly common. When i find myself on an evening or nighttime ride i especially worry about this.

Among of the odder things i've seen are vanilla extract bottles. At the last couple of years' 3 Speed Tours there were dozens along the shoulder of Wisconsin 35. i wonder if under-agers were spiking their soda with the stuff...  How's that for desperate?

It's depressing to me that so many people feel it's okay to scatter trash along the highways and streets. i have on a couple of past occasions been able to scoop up someone's trash and toss it back to them at the next stoplight, but i don't think i'll do that any more since i never know who may be packing heat.

Of course, not everything i encounter on my rides is useless. Last Sunday i found a crisp dollar bill in the gutter- yea me! For some reason, 12mm box wrenches are a regular find, as well as the occasional pliers and other small hand tools... i once came back from a brevet with a claw hammer in my seat bag. You miss these sorts of things when behind the wheel of a car.


Sunday, 4 March 2018

March Forth

The Order of the Day...

March comes in on clumsy feet,
 Kicks the trash cans down the street,
 Spills some garbage on the lawn,
 Blows the rest to hellandgone,
Knocks the branches off the trees, 
Gives the power lines a squeeze, 
Then March leaves and as it goes 
The sun comes out and then it snows.

-Richard Thompson (1957-2016.) 

My favourite poem of the season; from one of my favourite cartoonists, who is sorely missed.

 i did obey the Order of March Fourth today. It was a typical atypical late winter day here- a bit warmer than average and sunny. Of course, i forgot the sunscreen, but i probably got more windburned than anything. i dodged pedestrians and other riders on the MUP around Busse Woods, riding out on Molly, my Mercian path bike, pedaling every kilometer in a 66" fixed gear. Eight weeks to the first GLR brevet... so much more work to do.

Bridge over Higgins road, Busse path.

 The west bridge of the Busse Woods MUP was built a couple of years ago over Illinois route 72. The previous path used a crosswalk at the intersection of 72 and the frontage road of IL53/I-290. It took a fatality at that intersection to get the state to put in this overpass. The intersection can just be seen in the distance between the railings.

i usually avoid MUPs, but it's early season and the path wasn't yet completely overrun with skaters and dog walkers. It was also downwind from home, just in case i got a bit wonky on the ride back.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Road Rides Cancelled Until Further Notice


                                                             Stay tuned for updates.