Rants and Raves

The Last Train to Zona Verde – ****

The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African SafariThe Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I coincidentally started reading this while friends were traveling in Namibia and posting pics online. It was interesting to see their tourist posts and safari pics while at the same time reading about the area in Theroux’s book. It was like reading a behind-the-scenes account of what could be happening there.

Overall it was a sobering look at parts of Africa. The main points of interest to me were reading about Angola and the Portuguese, the effects of charitable giving, Theroux’s aging, and some anecdotes that I had forgotten about in South Africa: Amy Biehl’s death and a Bono story.

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Why so salty?

I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner, but I finally went to the local home brew supply store and bought some Burton Salts (named after an English town that has a particular brew affected by its water supply – wiki). Home brewers use the salts to condition water to make ales in the style og Burton, but as a non-brewer you can dissolve the salts in water to make mineral water in your selzer bottle or sodastream.

Although I could have used the spreadsheet that the Khymos blog has (see this lengthy article) and made my own particular mix of salts and minerals, I decided to go the lazy route and just get Burton salts.

I may try the custom route later, but I was curious to see if the Burton salts would even work. They did. I can now make better mineral water and my hope is to convince someone to stop buying so many expensive bottles at the grocery store and to get a sodastream and salts instead. But we’ll see.

semi-interesting pics:

1 after putting in 1g of salts into 1L of cold water and

2 then after 5 mins of waiting (the water gets even more clear after carbonation)

salty-water salty-water2

Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever – ****

Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy EverWheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever by Reed Albergotti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading Reed and Vanessa’s book after being introduced to it via a SFCC (and Fatcake club) event where Reed spoke to us about the book and answered questions a few months ago.

I actually finished the book in the evenings after I’d catch up on this year’s Tour. It’s amazing that some of the same names are still involved with the sport, but it’s their lives so it shouldn’t surprise me too much.

What did surprise me is how much of a dick Armstrong is. The level of cover ups and money shifting and other stuff is astounding. The strong-arming teammates, etc… ugh. Just read it.

If you’re not into cycling it may take a bit to get ramped up and know who the major players are, but it will be worth your effort. The authors do a good job of explaining who everyone is with their backstories with good anecdotes. It’s a real life soap opera.

There’s even overlap in today’s news with some Olympic (Russian) athletes being caught doping, some problems with the labs in Rio, some MMA athletes being caught this week in Vegas, etc…

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A Death In Brazil – *****

A Death in Brazil: A Book of OmissionsA Death in Brazil: A Book of Omissions by Peter Robb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up a copy of this book at Green Apple. The copy I picked up was misplaced in the used mysteries section and I just assumed I was grabbing a fictional mystery set in Brazil. As you can read from the other reviews, it’s a historical account of Brazil and how it’s present (up to the early 2000s) is tied to its not-so-mysterious past.

I had been reading a lot about Brazil recently and this was right up my alley. It’s odd how just picking up a book randomly at the bookstore winds up being tied to the present day woes Brazil is going through- The Rio Olympics problems, World Cup funding shenanigans, Dilma’s impeachment and Lula’s resurgence, and so on.

A Death In Brazil will catch you up on the country’s past and how it’s tied to today.
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Tour de France Logistics – Cycling Podcast

I know most people aren’t in to biking or the TdF, but if you are then you should check out this behind-the-scenes episode from the Telegraph Cycling Podcast.

Most of the episodes are about specific stage races but they have periodic episodes under the Kilometer 0 section that are bike-related, but not to specific races. That’s where the episode I linked to above is posted.

The episode I linked to is an interview with a truck driver and it’s pretty interesting.

Other Kilometer 0 episodes of note are when they talk to the riders about what books they’re reading (ep6) and an interview with Paul Smith about fashion (ep8).

One other thing- The Cycling Podcast does a great job of covering women’s cycling. They may not dedicate a lot of episodes to that, but when they do it’s very in depth and they have good interviews.