Wednesday, June 27, 2007


No, this beautiful dog, Old Hemlock Rangeley, isn't our crazy little Vizsla-pants -- but he is an Old Hemlock dog. Currently I am reading Catherine Harper's 1998 biography of George Bird Evans -- and due to a couple of minor coinicidences, decided to a) post a picture of a dog descended from his particular strain of DeCoverly setters, and b) write a few words.

The coincidences are simple: I had no idea George (and later his wife, Kay, who passed away just a couple of months ago) had lived in NYC as a younger man. His first apartment is less than two blocks from where I work on the Upper East Side; once he and Kay had married, they first lived on E. 11th St... which was less than a block from the Dean & Deluca that I was having a morning coffee at today.

Unlike numerous other outdoor writers, George wrote prolifically AND wrote beautifully throughout his life. I am lucky to own a couple of George's books -- both of them signed, but more importantly, both inscribed. Even in something as relatively disposable as an aphorism to go with one's autograph, George was able to capture the essence of the relationship between a dog, a human, a gun, and a bird. I have a copy of Troubles with Bird Dogs (1975) inscribed as follows: "Each of us seeks his paradise; the lucky ones find it with a dog and a gun."

The city is hot. And despite the new air-conditioning units in our house, the heat makes me think of cooler weather, the russets and golds of fall, and the sound of wings beating retreat.

OOOOOH: Happy Birthday, Mum!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

WWTBD? part 2...

What would Turkmenbashi do? Slap himself in the forehead for not thinking of this first.

Mrs. Aksoltan Ataeva, Turkmenistan's Ambassador to the U.N., said: "Ashgabat wasn't built in one day. We can't expect the United States to become a post-Soviet autocracy riddled with croneyism, insider dealings, and a flagrant disrespect for basic rules of law overnight. We are proceeding under the assumption that there are possibilities for U.S.-Turkmen relations that simply did not exist a few months ago."'

She also remarked off-camera that Evan Feigenbaum was clearly too smart for his own good. And that she wished the Supreme Turkmen had thought of electing his own supra-legal Attorney General while he was still alive.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


What would Turkmenbashi do? Roll over in his grave.

From the International Herald Tribune: "The president (Turkmenbashi's succesor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov), for his part, has hinted at change, including allowing a small number of public Internet connections in the capital and calling for improvements in the country's hobbled educational system." The next thing you know there'll be gold teeth and disco music back on the streets of Ashgabat. Wonder if you still have to recite the (dead) Supreme Turkmen's poetry to get a driver's license?

The article contains one of the sanest quotes from the State Department I've read ever: '"Rome wasn't built in a day, and we don't expect that Turkmenistan is going to turn into a Jeffersonian democracy by next Thursday," Evan Feigenbaum, deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, said in an interview by telephone before Fallon's delegation arrived. "We are proceeding under the assumption that there are possibilities for U.S.-Turkmen relations that simply did not exist a few months ago."' (With logic like that Mr. Feigenbaum is probably going to be fired shortly for 'performance reasons.')

As for Kazakhstan: it's one thing to have yourself declared Supreme Turkmen for ever (that probably automatically elevates itself into a realm of 'crackpot')... and thankfully Team Astana have their act together. Nevertheless, politics in the capital Astana is reading like an episode of Days of Our Lives... divorces by fax, alleged coup attempts, kidnapping...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

messing with our tiny tiny minds...

This whole team is just messing with people. I feel as though the Dauphiné Libéré was just a big training ride for the whole Astana team... 'okay, Andrej, today is the day you win; Tony, tomorrow it's you...' And while much may be made of his losing time in the mountains, Alexander Vinokourov reminded everyone today that he'll win when he feels like it.

Cadel Evans had yet another great podium ride. I hope he gets a good Tour this year, he's so close to being outstanding. Now whether Christophe Moreau can get anywhere in his national race, that remains to be seen.

In other news: had a nice afternoon shooting sporting clays with Ed. Now if I can just figure out the best way to hit either a) long loopey battues or b) rabbits, I'll be most of the way there.

And in honor of my pop here's a great picture for FATHER's DAY: me and the man back in September, 1969, when we lived in Malta. We're in the square in front of St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina; our house looked into the square, as well. From what I gather, I used to love playing on the cannons.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

doing good...

It was nice to see in the NYT that philanthropy is still alive and well -- and however one analyses the psychology of it, it's nice to see folks who have had successful lives give back something.

I met Kathryn Davis very briefly once -- and have met her son, Shelby Davis, several times. Her husband's, his father's, business acumen clearly provided them with a privileged life. However as Shelby would repeatedly say, life should be broken into three phases, where one 'learns, earns, and returns.' His family's foundation has given millions to try to educate successive generations that "war should be outlawed as a means of settling disputes."

Here's to you, Mrs. Davis. I hope you get those 5 more years you've been thinking about -- and that they're full of life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

big adventures...

Momo and I had a big adventure to celebrate his second birthday. We drove up to a game farm in western MA to hunt chukar for the morning. Phew! Hard work for man and dog.

We were working a relatively narrow strip of land, maybe 300 yards wide, but maybe a 1000 yards up a hillside, with a defunct cornfield at the bottom, and then both deciduous and coniferous trees extending up the hill. Most of the understory was ferns and brambles, not too savage, but hard work on a fairly still, warm day. They had put out 15 chukar -- which were in great shape for farm-raised birds. And they were twitchy. If they had any line of sight on you, these birds either ran like crazy or just got up and flew. Tough work for a young dog on a not especially great scenting day.

We had 13 flushes, 6 of whom immediately flew out-of-bounds. Out of respect for the birds, and to keep His Majesty honest, I also didn't shoot any of the birds he wasn't on point for -- and so I took only 6 shots claiming three birds. I can't do one of those cool Venn diagrams that would tell you how many how many of the out-of-bounds birds he got a fair point on, or if I failed to take any shot at a bird he'd located on point. In any case, we went up and down the hill several times.

We're home now and we're tired.

Momo is very pleased that Team Astana went first and second in yesterday's Dauphiné time-trial, and that Andrej Kashechkin now stands in first-place after today's hilly silliness.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

nazarbayev's dream come true...

For those caring about cycling, Team Astana (named after the capital of Kazakhstan) has named their preliminary team for the Tour de France. I can only imagine that Premier Nazarbayev is as giddy with excitement as I am... eager to see Central Asia claim a major victory in a sport previously dominated by 'continentals.'

Six of the nine-man team have either a) won the Giro d'Italia outright, b) won stages in the Giro, Vuelta or the Tour de France, or c) had top-3 overall finishes in the Giro, Vuelta, or the Tour.

And at their head is the Golden Man of Astana, Alexander Vinokourov. He's scarey good... and if his previous team, T-Mobile, hadn't made him self-destruct, he could have won this race in the Lance-era. I love the picture of him with the toddler, taken at a criterium race in Almaty (the former capital of Kazakhstan -- and a city I'm lucky to have visited even if it was a little like Denver meets Las Vegas in a Mad Max movie). Nice to see someone wearing a kolpak hat in honor of the event.

So far the Dauphiné Libéré hasn't revealed too much... Levi Leipheimer can time-trial, Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd haven't quite found their strides as sprinters yet, and Tom Danielson has a weak stomach. Bring on the hills and lets see what everyone else is made of.

On another note: Momo and I have a big adventure the next two days. There'll be pictures and dramatic narrative to come.

Oooh, and I think we'll hunt test him for the first time in September. Maybe he'll be up for a direct attempt at Master Hunter! Yoiks. That will take some work though.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

turkeys and men in spandex

The weather has been nicer for the last few days, not too hot to start and rising relatively gently over the course of the day... combined with a little higher humidity and it seems to make scents particularly profound. The picture is from a couple of days ago... but the Mominator has been throwing shapes like this ever since then.

The slightly scarey and funny story of the last two days was Momo's tracking of a turkey in the park woods. (For all the possible jokes about bird-dogs in New York City, Momo has had his first whiffs of pheasant and woodock in our woods. His first point at four months old was on a turkey back up in Maine.) He was with my wife who says that he got the scent, began to alternate points and a slow creep forward, when all of a sudden she saw a turkey ahead of him. The turkey then realised His Majesty only had a slight weight advantage and charged him before taking off into a tree. Needless to say he was a bit surprised! Turkeys, like herons, also seem to be perfect evidence for the 'miracle' of flight, apparently.

On a different note:
One of the traditional fine-tuning warm-ups for the Tour de France, the Dauphiné Libéré, begins this morning (EST). A mini-tour of sorts it features time-trials, sprints, and some beefy climbs over the course of its week. Alejandro Valverde will be there, as will the mercurial Kazakhstanis, Alexander Vinokourov and Andrei Kashechkin. Hopefully we'll get to see if either Levi Leipheimer or Tom Danielson of Discovery has what it takes to be more than a great support rider, but a team leader in their own right. Or maybe Cadel Evans will suddenly materialise as more than just a great top-10 rider, or Denis Menchov... all very exciting really.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

happy day

Today is is His Regal Majesty's Birthday! Hoorah. Momo is two years old today. He's quite the character -- and as soon as I figure out how to post video on here (without using a web-based hosting site), you'll get to see some of it.

The first pic is of him when he was just three months old -- and roughly three weeks after he had joined Meg and me. It's really funny to look at his puppy pictures and see his face and his personality on such little, stumpy legs. The second picture is of his first birthday, also in Maine, and I'm guessing from where we are shortly before/after he had romped around with Lida, his first true love (even though she's one of those German shorthair pointers). Even though they've only seen each other once in the last nine months, they whined with joy when they saw each other.

Anyways, this is our little boy turned clown prince. Wish all your dogs a happy day on his behalf!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

warm + sticky

Perfect for a dessert, but not so good for dogs and their humans. Blah. It's neither super-hot nor disgustingly close, but it's definitely taking the energy out of the day. I think it's time for the Mominator and me to take a nap before our afternoon run.

But it's now official: after not losing enough time in yesterday's final time-trial and not crashing in today's final stage, Danilo di Luca is the winner of this year's Giro d'Italia. Sadly, for me, I didn't pick him to win in my fantasy cycling league. (Hopefully neither did Dan or Mike.) In any case, he had a great spring, winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and now this. Brilliantly done.

Now our thoughts turn to the mini-tours that largely serve as tune-ups for the Tour de France: the Tour of Switzerland, the Dauphine Libere, and others.