Going Down the Pipes

A long read revisiting a 1996 article on the work lives of air traffic controllers working at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control, managing some of the busiest airspace in the world.

Tales of outdated equipment, burnt out controllers and the usual high-jinks that near constant high stakes stress levels lead to make you wonder how slapdash things can be under the hood, while appearing perfectly calm to the outside world, i.e: passengers.

Makes you wonder how much else of daily life is like a duck - calm on the surface with furious paddling beneath!

That’s what distinguishes the Men of Steel from the Papier-Mâchés. A weak controller, spotting two jets six miles apart, won’t agonize over the unused airspace. But Zack sees that gap as a chance to push more traffic, looks for a third jet to slide between the two, and then—by using visual separation—packs the jets even closer in the sky. On the final descent toward Newark, planes travel one mile every 11 seconds; Zack can’t hesitate or miss a turn, or the entire chain of jets will collapse. But he doesn’t. Like a shrewd billiards player, Zack calculates the angles that will transform his ten random jets into a 30-mile chain, then commands the pilots with unassailable authority. “Pilots are like dogs,” he says under his breath. “They can smell fear in your voice. But if you sound confident, they’ll do whatever you tell them to do.” He pauses to appreciate his handiwork—ten blips, each three miles apart, heading like geese toward the Newark runway. “Now that’s crisp vectoring!

Faking the Moon Landing

Given the weekend that’s just gone, this seems apt. How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing 😉

At any other time, such theories would have been dismissed as a madman’s raving, but America was willing to doubt in the seventies. That’s when the dream faded, when everything we’d been told began to sound like a fairy tale. American history itself was questioned, rewritten. Were we in fact the good guys at Plymouth Rock? How was the West really won? It was all recast in the afterglow of the Vietnam War, which was escalated with lies, and Watergate, when the president operated in the way of Don Vito Corleone. In other words, the space program, which began in one era, the buzz-cut age of American exceptionalism, culminated in another.

Third de France, Stage 13

Pros: Pau to Pau, 27km - Time Trial

Me: 12min @ 105%

A quick blast on the indoor trainer this morning. Thomas De Gendt managed 105% for 35:36 last night, so I figured 12 minutes was a reasonable target for me. HR monitor opted not to work for some reason, but was a solid effort nonetheless.

Heading away for the weekend shortly, so will miss Stage 14, both watching it live unfortunately, and mimicking it the next day. Back for Stage 15 hopefully, though will need to get the trainer bike ready for the road until I sort out the broken spoke.

Probably easier to do that than having to swap out brake pads to go back to aluminium wheels on my main road bike.

Me: 18.9km, 30m, 356 calories, 39 TSS.

Pro: 26.9km, 35m, 911 calories, 73 TSS

Weight: 92.2kg - CTL: 42.8 - TSB: -16.5

Third de France, Stage 12

Pros: Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 209.5km - Mountains

Me: 70km, 2x15m SST

Didn’t quite go to plan. Broke a spoke in my rear wheel halfway through the second interval, so limped home.

Me: 27.3km, 1h 4mm, 613 calories, 64 TSS.

Pro: 218.2km, 5h 19m, 5188 calories, 340 TSS

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 42.9 - TSB: -16.6

Third de France, Stage 11

Pros: Albi to Toulouse, 167km, Flat

Me: 55.7km, 5m SST

Stage 10 never happened yesterday. Had stomach issues all day, so ended up lying on the couch. Had issues last week as well, but that felt more like a reaction to increased workload and consequent increase in consumption of energy drinks and gels. Cleared up over the weekend, then felt crap yesterday. Will have to be careful of what I eat for a few days and hopefully it will clear up.

Anyway, Stage 11 was easy enough. One short effort and then cruise around to complete the required distance. I had an internet outage at home, so opted for the early bike ride while waiting for our relatively useless NBN Co to get their act together and fix the problem.

Blue skies, sun was out and legs felt good. What more can you ask for 😄

Me: 56.3km, 2h 13mm, 1232 calories, 113 TSS.

Pro: 171.5km, 4h 08m, 3201 calories, 131 TSS

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 42.4 - TSB: -12.3

Also, it would seem some locals are getting the Tour de France mixed up with my local bike track! 😆

Muzz Graffiti

Third de France, Stage 9

Pros: Saint-Étienne to Brioude, 170.5km, Hilly

Me: 56.9km, 15m/5m/5m SST

Pretty straightforward ride after my early rest day yesterday. Outside this time and off to the park for some SST intervals. Legs felt pretty good so had no issues holding the required effort, though I tried not to get carried away as there’s a lot of these intervals now over the next few days.

Distance ended up well down on what was required as I’d been adjusting my saddle before heading out and had forgotten to re-attach my saddle bag with my puncture kit. Only realised after the intervals as I left the park to complete the filler distance, so opted to turn for home lest I get a puncture and have to call J to come pick me up 😊

Me: 35.4km, 1h 22mm, 776 calories, 83 TSS.

Pro: 179.5km, 4h 45m, 3201 calories, 196 TSS

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 41.7 - TSB: -15.6

Early Rest Day

Various things got in the way today and I didn’t get time to get out to ride my version of Stage 9, plus I couldn’t be bothered riding indoors again, so instead I opted to bring forward the rest day. It’s not really due until after Stage 10, but so be it.

The weekend has been pretty good for recovery. I’ve done as little as possible, apart from the required rides. J’s away in Sydney so I’ve taken a leaf out of the cat’s book and spent the majority of my time lounging around the back deck reading. Seems to have worked. Legs are still sore, but HRV has not recovered to normal levels, perhaps showing that I’m coping OK with the increased training load.

Speaking of which, here’s my training load graph since I started the Third de France.

Week 1 Training Load Graph

Blue is the long-term fitness line, which is slowly increasing. Yellow is the fatigue line which is taking a more rapid dive. The lowest dashed pink line is my “you’ll probably pick up a bug” line - if my fatigue line stays below that for more than a couple of days, there’s a very good chance that I’ll get run down and pick up a cold or something. Basically it’s my ‘take a rest’ warning line.

Anyway, so far so good. I’ll continue with Stage 9 tomorrow and then skip the rest day after Stage 10 to get back on track.

Totals for the 8 stages so far: 14h 43m, 420.8km, 801 TSS

Third de France, Stage 8

Pros: Mâcon to Saint-Étienne, 200km, Hilly

Me: Thomas de Gendt Intervals

Barnstorming ride by Thomas de Gendt last night, kicking off a breakaway with De Marchi, Terpstra and King and then gradually dropping them all before holding off a chasing peloton for the win. De Gendt doing what he does best.

Another day with lots of climbs, 7 in total, which meant lots of intervals again. I normally based my efforts off Mike Woods, but he hadn’t uploaded to Strava so I chose to base off De Gendt’s file instead. I opted for the same effort, but half the duration of each of the seven climbs.

9:30 @ 92%

6:20 @ 95%

8:10 @ 100%

6:15 @ 86%

6:20 @ 100%

5:50 @ 95%

2:20 @ 115%

Definitely not fit enough to attempt the full duration of his efforts yet! Ride went well, legs weren’t too bad though my right knee was getting tight towards the end of the ride. Need to do some more stretching.

That’s the worst two stages out of the way, six and eight. There are hard stages later in the Tour, but not 7 intervals in the one stage. Two more days to go to a rest day. Looking forward to it now!

Me: 53.2km, 1h 33mm, 1061 calories, 127 TSS.

Pro: 204.5km, 5h 16m, 5879 calories, 386 TSS.

Weight: 92.2kg - CTL: 41.7 - TSB: -15.8

Third de France, Stage 7

Pros: Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône, 230km, Flat

Me: 77km, 5m SST

Quite sore legs this morning, though HRV was back to normal. Lunch didn’t agree with me and it was pretty gusty out so kept putting off going for a ride. Supposed to be 3hrs cruise, but couldn’t be arsed today so eventually opted for an hour on the indoor trainer with a sprint finish.

Me: 33km, 56m, 557 calories, 44 TSS.

Pro: 239.2km, 6h 27m, 3488 calories, 169 TSS.

Weight: 92.1kg - CTL: 38.9 - TSB: -14.6

Sand Scarcity?

Nature has an article pointing out that time is running out for sand - demand is increasing beyond available supply and there’s very little monitoring or oversight into what is the world’s most extracted resource. As you’d expect, extraction is vastly outpacing the natural processes which create sand.

Desert sand grains are too smooth to be useful, and most of the angular sand that is suitable for industry comes from rivers (less than 1% of the world’s land). This extraction of sand and gravel has far-reaching impacts on ecology, infrastructure and the livelihoods of the 3 billion people who live along rivers. For example, sand mining on the Pearl River (Zhujiang) in China has lowered water tables, made it harder to extract drinking water and hastened river-bed scour, damaging bridges and embankments.

This is the earliest warning of a potential problem and the article goes on to recommend a number of steps to deal with the situation, starting with improved monitoring to get an accurate assessment of the sand trade, both legal and illegal.