Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Liberating balsam

During our recent Staff Development Festival, Hannah Smith joined the rest of her team in a bit of community work.

10:00am Rowntree Park and the date was set for our Staff Festival team day! A chance to give back and support the endless task of keeping York parks green and tidy.

In all honesty, I’d never even heard of balsam until our day in the park but by the end of the day I was more than familiar with the tall stem and helmet shaped flower head of a plant which is currently invading the banks of our river.

It was a beautiful morning, the team rocked up, parked bikes and loaded all bags into David B’s Kia Venga (our very own Venga Bus for the day!)

We’d arranged to meet Jen from the City of York council who talked us through the jobs in hand for our morning's work and the various tools and safety related information. By 10:15am the team were out in the field stripping back, hammering, pulling, cutting and digging. By mid morning, thistles had been threshed, fruit trees pruned, wooden fencing repaired and lime tree trunks trimmed and tidied.

After a swift coffee break (coffee purchased from the fabulous Reading Cafe), we ploughed on and started with the obsessive  task of tackling the Balsam. Thankfully the Balsam was easily identifiable, the lanky stems extend right along the banks of the Ouse smothering all life beneath. The roots of the plant are so short making it easy to pull up and the most satisfying bit was popping the hollow stem, not dissimilar to the satisfaction achieved from playing with bubble wrap.

Having spent the morning convincing the general public we weren’t doing Community Service, the team had a picnic lunch before embarking on a walk to Bishopthorpe. After some light refreshments, the return walk brought us back round full circle to the Venga Bus.

By the end of the day, laughs had been had, hands were grubby, food had been shared and legs most definitely ached but it was absolutely worth it! A great day was had by all and one that tee’d up Friday’s events well!

Our Staff Festival

You may have spotted that we were short-staffed over a few days in July. Joanne Casey explains why.

Every year, the Information Directorate holds what we call Staff Festival. It's not quite Glastonbury - good weather helps, but we don't have to wear wristbands or wrestle with tents.

Instead, it's our annual focus on staff development, which springs from a belief that staff who are given the opportunity to boost their skills will provide a better service to our customers.

We've run our staff development events in various formats over the years - a fortnight of opt-in sessions, an all staff away day, or a week of events. This time, the event lasted three days: the first focused on individuals, the second on teams, and the third on the whole department. The overall theme was Brilliance, and how to achieve it.

As individuals, we tried to enhance our personal brilliance by selecting from activities aimed at improving the work life balance - from sessions on resilience to yoga in the workplace. Team events were an opportunity for us to get together in our groups with day-to-day work set aside; some chose to take time to look at their team mission, others arranged team building events off campus from sandcastle building to clearing weeds in Rowntree Park. Staff from the IT Support Office presented their colleagues in Customer Services with a video about their work, which is now proving popular on our YouTube channel.

The final day found almost all Information staff at Merchant Taylors' Hall, with a day long session facilitated by Darrell Woodman from The Art of Brilliance. Presentations in the morning were followed by group exercises in the afternoon. Crucially, we spent time looking at things that we could genuinely change to improve the work that we do, both for ourselves and for our customers.

Inevitably, carrying out staff development on such a wide scale meant that for the second two days the Library Help Desk and IT Support Office were running on minimal staff. We hope that this short-term inconvenience is more than offset by long-term improvements.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Mountweazels in Argleton: the phantom town on Google Maps, and the woman who never was

Tom Grady goes trapping for Mountweazels.

Have you ever been to the town of Argleton? Probably not, because it doesn’t exist and never did. But for a while you could find it just off the A59 on Google Maps. 

If you had been there, I suppose you might have run into Lillian V. Mountweazel, a celebrated photographer, known for her shots of rural American mailboxes. She never existed either but she’s in an edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia. So what’s going on? Copyright traps my friend, copyright traps.

The bustling metropolis of Argleton.
Photo courtesy of Micahel Nolan, neighbour; used under a Creative Commons licence.
Most cartographers will deny it, but it’s rumoured that they deliberately introduce mistakes into their maps in order to catch out copyright violators. Usually the ‘mistakes’ are small, like an extra cul-de-sac here or an exaggerated bend in a road there: they are calculated imperfections that identify authorship and are often known as ‘trap streets’. But the settlement of Argleton could be the boldest example yet - a ‘trap town’. Or it could just have been a genuine mistake that got corrected: either way, for a time it was on the map and then suddenly it wasn’t.

But in-between, the world went slightly mad.

Despite it never existing, news of the fictitious settlement spread across the internet after it was spotted and blogged about by a nearby resident in 2008. The story was picked up by mainstream media, gained momentum, and at one point you could even buy t-shirts bearing the slogan "I visited Argleton and all I got was this t-shirt". Pretty soon, you could find job listings, hotels, flats to rent, and even a chiropractor based there. According to The Daily Telegraph “the businesses, people and services listed [were] real, but actually based elsewhere in the same postcode”. Google removed the town from its maps in May 2010 and released a statement saying that it was a simple, unexplained error. As an earlier blog post of ours explains, you can report errors yourself and get them fixed.

A real weasel. Photo by Jared Kelly,
used under a Creative Commons licence.
But the case of Lillian Virginia Mountweazel is much more cut-and-dried: she was definitely made up.

The 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia has an entry for the "fountain designer turned photographer" who died "in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine" but a former New Columbia editor explained it quite simply to the New Yorker magazine:
"It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright," Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said... "If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us."
In a neat twist, the word 'Mountweazel' has now entered general usage as a term used to describe these lexicographical traps. It is an excellent word. See also Esquivalience.

Further reading:
  1. If you’d like to know what the sky above Argleton and other non-existent places looks like, then there’s a Tumblr site for that (of course there is)
  2. More Mountweazels can be found at

Friday, 25 July 2014

War heroes, abattoirs and Scalextric. It can only mean one thing: the Tour de France is nearly over.

You might possibly have heard that some kind of bike race came to Yorkshire earlier this month. Tom Grady has taken the opportunity to gather a selection of random facts about cyclists.

Photo: Col De La Croix Fer 1989 by Steve Selwood. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.
I'm a cycling fan so I'm not yet experiencing over-exposure and was fully expecting to be burbling on in this post about the history of the Yellow Jersey and who might win it this year. But then I thought "Hmm, people can find that out anywhere...what they really want to know is pointless facts like which member of the professional peloton used to work in an abattoir, and which one is a former Scalextric Champion." So that's what this blog post is about.
  • As a young boy, the three time World Road Race Champion Oscar Freire, was also the Spanish Scalextric Champion (the history of Scalextric is touched on in this book on the shelves at the National Railway Museum)
  • Currently riding for Tinkoff Saxo, Danish professional cyclist Matti Breschel used to work as a male model in New York.
  • Before turning pro, Australia's longest serving cyclist Scott Sunderland used to work in an abattoir. He was also memorably knocked off his bike by his own team car but went on to ride at elite level for another six years.
  • Formerly one of the world's top sprinters, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov from Uzbekistan has a band named after him. I found their website, you can download some tracks for free: Two bonus facts: (1) Abdoujaparov the cyclist was nicknamed 'The Tashkent Terror' due to his ferocious riding style; (2) Abdoujaparov the band have a free song called Here's Your Free CD.
  • Winner of the 1988 Tour de France, Pedro Delgado also has a band named after him. The Delgados were from Motherwell in Scotland and released an album called Domestiques and another called Peloton - both titles are cycling references.
But this one is my favourite fact (it's also definitely true):
  • Gino Bartali was one of Italy's most famous cyclists - he won the Giro d'Italia three times and the Tour de France twice in the 1930s & 40s. But few people know that during WWII he was part of the Italian resistance - at one point he was even arrested by Mussolini's Blackshirts. 
According to reports he used his fame and unique talent to act as a clandestine courier, undertaking training rides to carry secret messages all around the country. He wore his racing jersey emblazoned with his name and "neither the Fascist police nor the German troops risked discontent by arresting him." He also hid a Jewish family in his cellar and - I love this bit - led Jewish refugees towards the Swiss Alps himself by pulling a wagon containing a secret compartment, attached to his bike. He told police patrols that it was just part of his intense training. It's a fantastic story and much of it was only revealed after Bartali's death - he believed his actions were not heroic or worthy of remembrance:
"When people were telling him, 'Gino, you're a hero', he would reply: 'No, no - I want to be remembered for my sporting achievements. Real heroes are others, those who have suffered in their soul, in their heart, in their spirit, in their mind, for their loved ones. Those are the real heroes. I'm just a cyclist.'" (Storyville: Italy's Secret Heroes)
Photo: Bartali by CiclismoItalia. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.
If you want to know more about Gino Bartali and Italian cycling, there's a great book in the Library called Pedalare! Pedalare!: a history of Italian cycling (found on the shelves at LN 6.6 FOO).

And for further reading: the Library subscribes to Bicycling Magazine and the Journal of Science and Cycling. You can access them for free through the Library catalogue.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Refurbishment of DL/138 IT Study area

Andrew Mowle has good news for users of Derwent's IT rooms.

This summer, one of our Derwent IT rooms, D/L/138, is being completely refurbished. During the planning process we consulted with students, offering a number of options and suggested designs and asking them to express their preferences - the responses showed that what's most important to students is increased PC provision in this area.

The refurbishment will increase the room's capacity from 28 to 38, and the space is made more flexible by the introduction of power sockets at all desks to allow you to charge and use your laptops, mobiles, tablets etc.

The room is equipped with new Stone PCs on Stone Unistands - as the images below show, the stand gives easy access to USB ports, and allows you to store the keyboard neatly out of the way if you want to free up desk space to use your own device (obviously, you should only do this if there are plenty of free PCs; when people are waiting, it's best to go elsewhere - most public areas have wifi access).

Images of Stone PC and Unistand, copyright of Stone Group.

New carpets are being fitted and the room is being re-decorated. Air conditioning has now been installed here, and also in the IT room downstairs (D/L/050). The printers will be relocated into the entrance area downstairs to make them more accessible.

The photo below, taken at the start of the refurbishment, shows the floor already stripped, the existing maroon vinyl wallpaper awaiting removal, and the mounting plate for the air conditioning unit installed above the notice board.

The next photo was taken on 18 July and shows the redecorating completed, air conditioning fitted, and desks (with power points) and chairs all in place. All that's missing are 38 PCs. Once these have been fitted, the room will re-open on Monday 28 July.

During the summer vacation, a number of other IT rooms will close to allow for maintenance work, and Estates work. You can find details at:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A sprint or a marathon?

As they complete work on the new student accommodation interface, Laura Hallett and Kathryn Woodroof provide an insight into their project management style.

Replacing a key enterprise system in any organisation comes with a fair number of challenges. You're faced with a stakeholder group reaching almost 100 who each have their own individual view on life "in the new world", existing enterprise systems to integrate with in a sophisticated manner, and project staff who have their day jobs to manage alongside successful implementation. The project to replace our student accommodation system started in September 2013. It should go live to our returning students applying for accommodation on campus, in November.

There comes a point in any project when you have to knuckle down and get on with the work of developing the product. We talked and consulted, planned and then planned some more, and then KxStudent was installed. Right, time to start moulding it to our requirements. But what's the best way of developing one of the University's essential business systems? How and where do you keep track of all of the detail and the decisions? These were questions that we hoped to answer during the project.

The University moved to Google Apps for Education in 2011. It's fair to say that most people on this project are now Googlephiles. The project team is made up of busy people from five very busy departments. Calendars being what they are, it's not always easy to get everyone together. In order to make the most of our face-to-face time, we have to communicate efficiently in-between meetings. Google Apps has enabled us to do this. The project documentation is saved on our Google Drive. Google Docs can be edited simultaneously, with a full revision history, and you can make comments or chat to your colleagues whilst editing. You can make yourself available for quick questions on Google Hangouts if colleagues are doing a testing session and you can’t make it. Google Calendar gives you an at-a-glance overview of the team’s availability and allows you to schedule repeat meetings easily.

OK, not this sort of scrum.
Scrum by David - used under a Creative Commons license
When you do get together, it's important to be efficient - never more so than in our meetings about the interface between KxStudent and SITS. The interface development has been iterative - we're on our eighth version of the specification - it can be easy to lose focus and motivation. Many technical readers will be familiar with the Scrum framework, which is used for complex product development. Whilst we have not consciously adopted the Scrum methodology for this project we do find ourselves using some of the processes sub-consciously. Our interface meetings are a bit like a Daily Scrum. We review what has been accomplished since the last meeting, discuss any blockers and agree what will be done before the next meeting. The development work itself is done between meetings (using Google Apps, of course) in what might be called Sprints. Although sometimes they feel like marathons!

The interface will be completed and signed off soon. But whilst it's the end of this phase of the project, I'm sure it won't be the end of dynamic and collaborative working. We'll take our favoured approaches and the lessons that we have learnt and apply them to the next phase - web development.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Parish library collections at the York Minster Library

Maria Nagle reveals some of the parish library treasures held at York Minster.

While York Minster is home to the largest cathedral library in England, not all of the collections it houses are owned by the Chapter of York. 

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, many of Yorkshire's surrounding parishes deposited their own book collections into the Minster Library for safekeeping, as they did not have the space or necessary environmental conditions required to safely and securely care for their books. These collections provide a fascinating insight into the interests and reading habits of not just clergymen, but also their parishioners.

Many parishes benefited from large collection donations from local noblemen or prominent figures, which often held unexpected treasures and items not usually associated with religious libraries. For example, James Davis's donation to Riccall Vicarage Library in 1886 contains a large collection of travel literature exploring locations as far afield as Algeria, Iceland and Brazil, as well as those closer to home. Collections such as these would have often been accessible to parishioners and some view parish libraries as the informal predecessors to the public libraries of today.

Some of the Riccall travel books
Over the years, over 1500 books have been deposited by surrounding parishes and each collection has its own story to tell. Some have battled through the elements in their journey here; a small collection of five books is all that remains of Bubwith Parish Library. They had been gifted with 689 books in 1747, but throughout the years these had been used to light the vestry fire! This discovery prompted the parish to deposit the remaining volumes in York Minster Library in 1892 for their preservation.

The surviving volumes of the Bubwith collection
Some of the books that have made it this far still bear signs of past use and indeed, misuse. The woodcuts in this 1516 missale from Stainton Vicarage have been slashed, possibly as an act of Reformation iconoclasm against Catholic iconography. The clean cut suggests an act of destruction that was perhaps more demonstrative than wilful, as the image is still very much visible.

Slashed page in the Stainton missale
Others bear the marks of more traditional use: this book from Hackness church on the sacrament of the Eucharist was once owned by the celebrated Elizabethan diarist Margaret Hoby. The annotations supplement the pious life recorded in her diary with her interactions with religious texts; several books from the Hackness collection contain them, providing further insight into the life and reading habits of an Elizabethan puritan.

Page bearing Margaret Hoby's handwriting, Hackness collection
Currently, a project is underway to review these parish collections and the agreements for their deposit in York Minster Library. The project aims to create a reliable record of the deposits through examination of their original agreements and the creation of a thorough inventory. Although the majority of these collections are discoverable online on Yorsearch, some have eluded cataloguing for various reasons, including staggered deposits and split collections. This review will help update our records of these deposits and direct the collections' future uses in agreement with the respective parishes. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to discover the stories behind the collections and the long-forgotten treasures hidden within them.

For more information contact the Library staff at

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Someone wants your password

Joanne Casey would like to know how we make everyone a little bit more suspicious.

There's always someone trying to steal people's passwords...

...and sadly, there are always people who allow them to do it.

A recent phishing email.
The URL doesn't link to -
your best bet is to mark it as spam.
It's pretty normal these days for emails to arrive in our inboxes purporting to be from 'York Admin', 'System Administrator Team', or similar.

These messages may warn you that your account needs to be validated, alert you to withheld emails, offer you an upgrade, or give you access to a shared Google doc. They include a link, which might appear to be a genuine University URL, and if you click on it you'll be asked enter your username and password.

These emails are always a scam - their sole aim is to steal your password.

Lots of people already know that, and lots more are suspicious enough to check with us before they respond. But each time one of these phishing emails is targeted at University email accounts, we see people hand over their username and password, which means that we have to disable their account as soon as we become aware that it's been compromised.

Our phishing advice poster:
click to view full size
We take various approaches to this:
  • If possible, we block access from the campus network to malicious websites - but this doesn't help if people are at home or elsewhere when they click on the link.
  • We include information about spotting and dealing with email scams on our website, in our user guide, and in flyers handed out at Freshers' Fair and Staff Induction events.
  • We post advice on our Twitter and Facebook feeds
  • When there's a phishing attack underway, we send warnings to departments for circulation to staff and students
  • We've produced a poster that departments can display on their noticeboards
But we know - because we keep having to block accounts - that people keep falling for these emails, and we'd love to find out what else we can do to make sure this message reaches everyone in the University. How do you think we can tackle this? What's the right way to make sure everyone is able to spot a potentially dodgy email? We'd welcome your thoughts and comments below.

Find out more about spotting phishing attacks and other email scams at:

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Neuton Project (no, that's not a typo)

A guest post from Hannah Jeans, an intern from the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past who worked with us on the Neuton Project

This year marks the 600th anniversary of the re-founding of York’s Minster Library, when in 1414 the cathedral’s treasurer, John Neuton, bequeathed his book collection.

There had been a library connected to York Minster before: Alcuin is well-known for his part in building up the cathedral’s library in the eighth century. However, this library was destroyed when the Danes sacked the city in the late ninth century.

YM MS.XVI.P8 fo. 1r
A page from one of Neuton's manuscripts, still held in the Minster today.
Click to enlarge image.
Neuton was the son of a local merchant, and probably attended school in York before going on to study law at Cambridge - he may well have been taught at the Minster school. He was clearly an avid book collector: at the time of his death he had built up a collection of around 100 manuscripts. He left a large proportion of these to the Minster, but some also went to his old college, Peterhouse, in Cambridge. The books he left to the Minster show his wide range of intellectual interests, including theology, history and law. Over the centuries this collection was added to, but unfortunately few of the original manuscripts now survive.

Neuton's bequest stimulated the creation of a library building to hold the cathedral’s books. The original medieval library building, completed just a few years after Neuton's bequest, was attached to the south transept, above what is now the gift shop. The ground floor was used for the Minster school. In the nineteenth century the library was moved to the Old Palace, where it remains today and the space is now used for choir practice.

To mark this anniversary, an online resource is being created, covering Neuton’s life and his bequest, and the wider context of late medieval York and the Minster. There will be contributions from various academics; images of the few remaining manuscripts that belonged to Neuton; and the website will aim to put Neuton and his bequest in context of the longer-term history of the Minster Library. Some very interesting and cutting edge research has already come out of the project. In a great piece of detective work, Sarah Brown, head of the York Glaziers Trust, has identified where in the Minster she believes Neuton was buried.

The website will be an excellent opportunity to view images of medieval manuscripts, which are normally not that accessible for the wider public, and to learn more about the long and rich history of the Minster Library.

John Neuton and the re-foundation of the Minster Library featured in the Cathedral Libraries and Archives in the British Isles ‌Conference in July. For more information visit:

Thursday, 3 July 2014

How to cycle as fast as Bradley Wiggins...

A special Tour de France guest post by Dr Phil Lightfoot - Department of Physics

Unfortunately for my employers, the best ideas always seem to come to me en route to and from work, while cycling to the University on my mountain bike.

Temporarily disconnected from the web, my thoughts are forced inward and my imagination begins to wander. Despite the fact that the design has failed to significantly evolve in over 100 years, bicycles still represent the most convenient and efficient means of human powered transportation.

Photo: Bradley Wiggins, by Surrey County Council.
Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.
But why has bicycle design appeared to stagnate while the technology associated with motorcycles has consistently developed? What is the limiting factor and what can be done to overcome it? The answer regrettably is hitting cyclists in the face daily.

The average speed of winners of the Tour de France in the last 10 years is 24.9 mph. My highest recorded average speed along 8 miles of quiet country roads between the Physics department and a very disgruntled hungry cat stands at 19.5 mph. At first glance it may therefore seem within the realms of possibility that I could dedicate every fibre to pushing the envelope and bridging this small speed differential.

Sadly physics has other ideas.

Setting aside the world of lycra for a moment, let us consider petrol-powered transport:
  • A Bugatti Veyron sports car uses 987 horsepower (hp) to propel it to an impressive top speed of 267 mph;
  • But a Ford Fiesta needs only 99 hp to reach roughly half that speed. 
  • Perhaps the best evidence of basic physics at work was the top speed of 172 mph set by a 78 hp Moto Guzzi motorcycle in 1957 (it was almost 20 years before that speed was reached again in racing). 
  • This feat was attributed not to the power of its engine but to the aerodynamics of its design. 

Isaac Newton is largely responsible for deciphering the associated physics. Basic Newtonian mechanics states that at top speed the net force propelling a vehicle forwards must equal the net force dragging it in the opposite direction. Therefore in order to increase top speed without any increase in supplied power, the forces of drag must be reduced.

So, to relate that back to bicycles: drag associated with cycling is made up of rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag. The force Frr due to rolling resistance is given by the relatively intimidating expression (below) in which Wf and Wr refer to the weight acting through the front and rear tyres and P is the pressure within them. The constants a, b and c depend on a number of factors such as the road surface, bearing friction, tyre construction, surface temperature and the ‘knobbliness’ of the tread pattern.

The only good news is that rolling resistance can be significantly reduced by decreasing the weight of the rider and bicycle, increasing the tyre pressures, and reducing the contact patch made between the tyres and the ground. Tour de France racing tyres for example are triple the pressure and a third the width of the tractor tyres fitted to my bicycle. The riders too are approximately half my weight.

Aerodynamic drag is a result of the viscosity of air, a boundary layer forming around the bicycle which affects pressure distribution and disrupts the smooth laminar flow. This disturbance creates an area of high pressure directly in front of the rider - reducing forward velocity.

Alexander Vinokourov.jpg - Wikimedia Commons.
Used under a Creative Commons licence.
Perhaps a little surprisingly however, the shape of the rear of the bicycle/rider combination has a greater effect on drag than the shape of the front because of the turbulence created as disturbed air falls into the partial vacuum created. As is equally true for aircraft wings, the optimum shape in order to reduce aerodynamic drag is widest at 20% of its length and then tapers by 10 degrees from there rearwards. This explains some of the weird and wonderful shapes of helmets and bikes you see in professional time trials (it doesn't explain the colours however).

The figures above demonstrate airflow around (a) the torso of an upright commuter, (b) an unprotected head, and (c) the aero-helmets commonly used by time trial racers. Any sharp variation in profile leads to the onset of turbulence, the air unable to follow the contours of the shape generating a partial vacuum which further upsets flow. 

The total aerodynamic drag force in newtons is given by the following expression for which v is the speed in m/s and A is the projected frontal area in m2. The drag coefficient Cd  depends on the shape and surface smoothness of the object and the nature of the medium through which it travels. Cd  is 2.0 for a flat plate perpendicular to the air, 1.0 for a smooth ball, 0.3 for a sports car, 0.7 for a mountain bike and anything down to 0.2 for a race bike and professional rider.

VeloX3.jpg - Wikimedia Commons. Used under a Creative Commons licence.
Incidentally, it is always the case that a compromise must be reached between the drag coefficient and the projected frontal area, a streamlined flow necessitating a more bulbous shape. For example the current unassisted land speed record for a bicycle of 83 mph was set in 2013 by VeloX3, a recumbent design encased in a large aerodynamic faring.

This information provides us with a key insight. First however we must revisit Newton who determined the relationship between power P in watts, speed v in m/s and propulsive force Fdrive in newtons given below.

The current motor-paced record, in which a cyclist rides directly behind a powered vehicle shielding the rider from the effects of drag, stands at 167 mph. This indicates the dominance of aerodynamic drag. If we neglect rolling resistance and equate the forces of aerodynamic drag and propulsion we arrive at the following expression. Remember that if the propulsive and drag forces balance, there is no net force and so v will represent top speed.

The specific values aren't as interesting as the relationship between power and top speed which suggests that in order to double top speed, a rider must supply eight times the power. I can cycle at 20 mph and Wiggins and the other professionals can easily cycle at 25 mph; however that 5 mph difference between commuter and pro-racer corresponds to almost double the power output. Not even a grumpy cat is able to provide sufficient encouragement for me to span that divide!

Not the author's cat. Picture courtesy of

Professional cyclists vs. a big dinosaur [infographic]

As the Grand Depart draws near, Tom Grady has uncovered some important facts.