Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Provost Paradox

I was surprised to find myself explaining this phenomenon to multiple people over the past few months, so I'm putting it down here for dissemination and comment. Readers will wonder whether this is a specific reaction to something at Brown; it's not, and out provosts largely seem to be sound eggs.

There's a problem that plagues academic hiring. I'm sure it affects corporate hiring too, though there, the obsession with growth may mean this is considered a feature, not a bug. Still, I trust some B-school professor has given the problem a catchy enough title to write a book around it; I just haven't found it yet.

Provosts are chief academic officers of universities. Their responsibilities range from overseeing academic programs to supervising research activities, and they often control budgets and personnel to both enforce and exhort. At many universities, the president is a fund-raising, public-relations machine, while the provost keeps the academic and research programs running.

The problem is, many provosts are really just presidents-in-waiting. Positions like deanship and provosthood are ideal stepping-stones to presidencies elsewhere, so some provosts—especially those without a deep institutional attachment—are burnishing their vita waiting for the right presidential opening.

As an academic, one administrative attribute you value tremendously is stability. Innovation is terrific (and essential: the very lifeblood of quality academia) when it's driven bottom-up, for all the usual reasons that demand-driven, bottom-up activity works better than policy-driven, top-down decision-making. In some instances, of course, top-down decisions are essential, most crucially when an institution is stuck in a rut and needs shaking-up. In most other circumstances, things get iffy.

The problem is, steady-as-she-goes doesn't cut it in the job market. When you apply for that plum presidency, a cover letter that says, “Was provost for eight years; maintained quality of academic programs, sustained funding levels, ensured no drop in already-high student-satisfaction ratings” just doesn't cut it. That you obtained something in good shape and sustain that level of quality is simply not regarded as sufficient achievement, never mind that it's a tremendously difficult thing to do (indeed, much harder than sprinkling new works about campus).

The problem, I believe, has everything to do with the ubiquitous press release. A statement that says “We hired Ludwig Knickerbocker, who in eight years at Beta State U. didn't screw up anything” is synonymous with ol' Ludwig not being a go-getter; there's no tiger in his tank. Where is the pride in proclaiming such a person as your new president? What alumnus who hasn't donated before is going to start doing so now? Compare that with “created the world's first Institute for Hypodermic Psychoceramics” and you've got the alumni right where you want them.

Of course, nobody really asks Beta State what they think of the Institute. Oh, sure, there are some disgruntled faculty, but that phrase is redundant, and they're probably just upset that they weren't part of the institute's gravy train. The folks on the gravy train are, of course, ecstatic. What are the institute's long-term prospects? What did the creation plan say about evaluation? Were there any metrics? How does it score today? And do those metric make sense? You almost never see that in the press releases.

Of courae, ask any faculty member about the proliferation of Institutes and Programs, and they will respond with weary cynicism. That's because they know that long after the creator has burnished their vita and moved on, the institution will be left holding the bag (and given how conservative academia is, the new entity will never actually close, but rather will slither along in the undergrowth). And yet when they hire someone else's provost to be their president, they propagate the very culture that they, often rightly, deplore.

Out of Africa

About a year and half ago, a good friend (name hidden to protect the guilty) bought me an extremely generous gift: a pair of MBT running shoes, which cost the grand sum of about 150 GBP, a sum I'm entirely unworthy of.

What kind of shoe costs that much? One that comes with its own DVD, of course. MBT stands for Masai Barefoot Technology, and you can immediately see it all come together, the confluence of technology (Technology), its opposite (Barefoot), and its appropriately politically correct second-cousin twice-removed (Masai). MBT shoes are characterized by a curved sole—think the shape of the Nike swoosh— that make the very notion of standing stil a bit of a balancing act. The theory is immediately obvious: the sole's shape mirrors the manner in which you're supposed to place, roll and lift your feet while running, so the shoes will improve your running motion and quite likely result in less stress on the knees. And so forth: there are details about the lace fasteners, and so on, but these are all second-order attributes.

I haven't, I'm afraid, had a chance to test any of these theories. Because my friend bought me the shoes from some sort of exercise center-cum-spa in London, to which I haven't been able to return, I was entirely at the mercy of the extraordinarily unqualified fitting, ahem, sales agent, who failed to account for either the width of my feet (wider than normal) or the thickness of socks. Result: the shoes don't fit me, and I've only used them about six times, usually with painful consequences.

Before leaving for Banff in May, I decided to go for a quick run in the morning. For reasons not worth elaborating, I decided to do the run in the MBTs, and without socks. (The latter is less daft than it sounds once you accept the initial premise, seeing as that's the only way I can fit my feet into the shoes.)

I was doing quite well for the first several minutes until I began to feel a slight itch in the rear of my right foot. After a while it got rather irritating, as if a small, sharp stone had gotten wedged. Squriming my foot didn't seem to move the stone at all so, at the end of a mile, I stopped to investigate. A goodly surface, about the size of an American quarter, had lost its epidermis and was raw, pink, bleeding flesh.

There was only one natural course of action. I took off the shoes, in the best puss-in-boots fashion put one on each hand, and proceeded to run the mile back Oh, the irony.

For anyone tempted to smack down several Dead Presidents for MBTs, don't let this tale dissuade you. I'm sure they have wonderful reasons for making the backs of the heels chafe. They certainly can't be blamed for selling their wares prominently through incompetent outlets. The DVD alone may be worth the price. But I must warn you about one more unexpected side-effect of wearing MBTs.

Two winters ago we visited my wife's family in Williamsburg, Virginia. Kathi, her sister Jodi, and I went for a run through the historical area, and ended up in the cheese shop(pe?). As we traversed the store I heard a rather delighted squeal from behind, in stereo. I turned to find a mother-daughter pair, looking for all the world like they listed a spa as their home address, staring in delight at my legs. My ego deflated slightly when I realized they were actually staring at the bottom of my legs. We made eye-contact and they proceeded, mother taking the lead, “Ohmygawd! Where did you get those from?” After several rounds of exchange in which they revealed the celebrity status of MBT trainers at their spa, one of the distaff pair finally let it drop: “We've nevah seen those on a man before!”

Caveat emptor.

I Know I Knew a Knee

In late 2005 I started to take up running. After two winters on a bike trainer in the basement, I was jealous of people who could actually do outdoor things in the winter—in shorts! Running is relatively convenient compared with cycling, especially where I live, so when spring arrived my feet stayed firmly planted on the ground, instead of clipping into pedals. And thus, what began as a winter substitute turned into cross-training and then slowly morphed into something I nearly admitted to liking. (The admission comes hard in part because having been asthmatic into my teens, running is truly harsh on me.) The day before we left for Edinburgh in November 2006, I ran my first sub-7-minute mile.

By spring 2007, the entire length of my left leg felt about twice as old as the rest of me. I had some persistent pain in that foot; then along the thigh; and finally the knee got so bad I couldn't sit with my knee bent for more than fifteen minutes. In restaurants, I had to find a table where I could stretch out my leg, as if fractured and in a cast. I was very close to going in to a doctor, and had begun steeling myself for the inevitable knee surgery.

As an experiment, starting in the beginning of May, I decided to give up running cold turkey and focus solely on cycling. At first all those old pains persisted, and manifested themselves on the bike. But then, about 500 miles later, I noticed that they were...completely gone. My left leg feels as good as my right, both feel excellent, and I write this message having just spent four continuous hours almost motionless on a plane, knees bent, without the slightest trace of pain.

It's well-known that running is usually harder on the knees than cycling (though a badly-configured bicycle can be just as bad or worse). I'm also lazy about warming-up and the like; clearly, people run marathons on end without anything like the problems my feeble efforts engendered. But it still amazes me that cycling can not only be so much less bodily stress, but that it can have helped effectively cure my knee. Maybe I can sink the cost of that surgery into a new bike instead!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If Your Name is Michaels, My Name is D78#*xj

Kathi is decorating her office with large prints of some photographs from our recent trips. We were recently at a craft (chain) store named Michaels to buy the frame materials, and one of the photographs required a custom order. The young man at the frame department took our order, had us pay for it, and asked us to fill in our contact information.

I wasn't firing on all cylinders that afternoon, but it still struck me as odd that they wanted details like a street address. What were they going to do—mail a 24x36 border to our house? Besides, we had already pre-paid for the item, so it seemed it would be our problem to take delivery, not theirs. (Indeed, the form Kathi was filling had some legalese about how Michaels would hold the ordered item for only sixty days or so, further confirming that now that they had our money, it was now our problem, not theirs.)

While filling, Kathi noticed that she was signing an extremely generous waiver regarding what they could do with the information. She asked the frame clerk whether she could avoid providing all this information. He said he wasn't sure. Meanwhile, I noticed that the text included an express option for restricting distribution of the data. I asked how we could invoke that option. He wasn't sure about that either, but hesitantly asked whether we'd like to speak with a manager. He was slightly taken aback by the vigor with which I said yes.

The manager arrived. We explained the situation. She was two parts surprise that anyone would care (doesn't everyone love catalogs full of kitchy “crafts projects”?) and one part flummoxed. She didn't seem to entirely understand what we wanted. I pointed her to the line on the contract offering the opt-out (it wasn't an opt-in, natch). Her next two sentences would infuriate any privacy-conscious person: first, “I've never had anyone ask for that before” followed (much worse) by, “I have no idea how to do that”. In other words, Michaels cares so little about this that not only do they have an opt-out rather than an opt-in, they haven't trained their staff—not even their managers—how to enact it.

Points, though, to the frame clerk. He thought for a moment and said, “Now that we've placed the order, how about if I go into the database and erase that data?” The manager looked even more confused, but having no good argument for anything at this point, she consented. Of course, it's impossible to tell whether that will have any effect; for all we know, the moment the order was placed, our address had been zipped out to twenty different purveyors of schmaltzy catalogs. Time will tell.

Slow-Motion Sports

American football is my canonical example of a slow-motion sport. By that I'm not referring to the long pauses between action (what George Will famously likened to committee meetings), and obviously not to the actual plays, in which numerous people with the speed of top sprinters charge in several different directions all at once. Rather, I'm referring to the fact that what you see is not what you necessarily get: before you can cheer for a touchdown, you have to check whether a flag was thrown on the 40-yard line because someone whom you've never heard of who had nothing to do with the play grabbed the jersey of someone else you've never heard of who also would have had nothing to do with the play—save for the jersey-grabbing, which has now nullified the play itself.

Every sport has or is acquiring slow-motion elements. Cricket and tennis now have action-replays that can make or nullify a decision. But these are invoked rarely, and when they are, the result is usually dramatic (in cricket, especially, the uses are sparing and important enough that the official replays are tenser than the play itself). And outside a small set of events there are no fouls or replays, letting stand what you saw as what happened.

Mind, I don't mean “slow-motion” as a pejorative. There is a certain kind of fan for whom that very indecision is part of the charm of the sport, and it leads to a kind of dramatic tension of its own. So be it. That isn't my point here.

What I did want to point out is that we've rapidly acquired a new slow-motion sport: cycling. It used to be that nothing matched the primal immediacy of a mountain stage: a small handful of the most talented riders struggling up an HC climb, attacking and dropping, standing and delivering. The pain was real because the context was real: you didn't need to refrain from delivering a glancing blow because you weren't sure of what flags were flying elsewhere on the field of play. You didn't need a photo finish: the difference in finishing times was in the order of minutes. For an aficionado, there are few more dramatic things in all of human activity.

That's still what happens on TV, but the outcomes have become entirely detached from the action. Who's dirty, who's clean? Who's going to have irregular blood or inhuman testosterone? From Hamilton to Landis to Basso to Petacchi to Vinokourov, what frustrates me most is not watching and wondering “Are they clean?” but rather wondering, “Should I be applauding?”. After all, tomorrow may say today didn't happen, or even next year may say this year didn't happen.

To me, then, the real tragedy is that what has gone out is not trust: that was never there. What has been lost, instead, is the immediacy, the directness, the decisiveness. Cycling has become a slow-motion sport—an ironic statement about an activity in which men and women climb impossibly steep pitches at improbably high speeds—where decisions are made and then unmade over what is, relative to the action itself, geological time. That, to me, is the truly incalculable loss. By the time we watched the finish of Stage 15 on a one-day delay, we'd already heard about Vino's (supposedly) failed dope test, so watching the play was surreal, and about half the comments by the commentators sounded cruelly ironic.

Meanwhile, though, I'll still be getting goose-pimples watching Alberto Con(ta)dor fly out of his saddle like—indeed, even better than—a certain Texan, and hope he won't go the way of all the other climbing prodigies of the past few years, from Iban Mayo to Alejandro Valverde to, perhaps the most dramatic of them all, Damiano Cunego, who rode like Marco Pantani on the way to his Giro win and has subsequently never demonstrated that same form (hmm...).

Friday, July 20, 2007

Being Flogged to in Multiple Tongues

Well, I never would have guessed, even five years ago, that my Web-based mail program would be showing me ads in...Hindi. But अब मैं हिंदी में advertisement पढ़ सकता हूँ. The first one? हवाई टिकेट, correlated with an article on India's reintroduction of Jumbo passports forwarded from the Deccan Herald. (Well, I hope all that came out right. My fonts are fscked.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Playing to Stereotypes

I was walking around Harvard Square today when I saw a beggar seated on the ground, cardboard placard in front of him, facing the Harvard gates. Something about him looked immediately familiar, though I knew I had no reason to know him. In a second, it registered. He was wearing a Brown (University) t-shirt.

The Most Boring Country in the World

As readers of my book reviews may have noticed, I have a habit of reading books about, or from, a country before visiting it. Since I'll be in Denmark in September, I'm of a mood to find books that will help me understand the country better.

I was at the Harvard Book Store this AM, and looked around their notable travel section. Nothing. Barely even a guidebook, much less literature or travel writing.

But I did notice a pattern: most travel books (with a few predictable exceptions; more on that below) seem to be written about places outside the temperate zone. It is perhaps unsurprising: the travel writing genre thrives on the life in extremis, and your odds of this are better if you're either parched or frozen to death. If the odds of your dying are nil, publishers don't appear to be interested.

Intrigued, after lunch, I visited the Globe Corner Bookstore, a fabulous store dedicated to travel. I knew there would be too many books there (and I would have too little time) to validate my conjecture, but surely they would have what I was looking for. Helpfully, the Globe combines travel guides with related writing, which is generally an most agreeable arrangement. But I again came up short: Peter Høeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow and a work by Karen Blixen, whom you better know as Isak Dinesen. But Blixen was writing about...Africa! Oh dear.

Later that evening we stopped by the Wellesley Booksmith, on the main street in Wellesley, MA, just around the corner from the college. Pattern: dead on. Every store had a few exceptions, such as a large number of books devoted to Ireland or France—for fairly obvious reasons. But even by this standard Wellesley seemed extreme: I'd guess that about a quarter of the books were about France, and a large percentage of those were specifically about Paris (this is not a given, with the strength of the year-in-Provence subgenre). Please infer your own stereotypes.

But this brings us back to Denmark. I hope my Danish friends don't take this poorly: There's something to be said for not being noticed. At the very least, it seems to mean that your weather isn't extreme enough to kill anyone off. The rest of the world should be so lucky. Perhaps people less fortunate dream about a life as placid.

I'll watch a few more Dogme 95 movies, I guess (though how many can one take?).

Addendum: Olivier Danvy kindly pointed me to the travel section on Amazon. I was embarassed to not have thought of that already, and wondered what treasures I would find there. Well, I got through the first three pages of entries under Books > Travel > Europe > Denmark. In numbers:

Two relevant items: a book about Hans Christian Andersen (A River, a Town, a Poet), and Mary Wollstonecraft's letters written during a short residence in Scandinavia.

Travel guides (a term I use broadly to include maps, language guides, and generic national guides): 23 to Denmark; 21 to Copenhagen; 6 to Scandinavia; one cycling map.

One book I couldn't classify: Journey through Denmark (travelogue?).

Novels: two copies of Out of Africa, and one book by Hans Christian Andersen.

Other travel guides: Netherlands (2), Finland (7), St. Petersburg (1), Tibet (1), the US state of Maine (1).

Finally, Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved (1), Appointment in Jerusalem (1), and books about adventures in mountains and/or ice but not set in Denmark (3).

So, I'm afraid it only reinforces my point. Two (or three) books of the kind I was looking for, compared against four books in the fire-and-ice genre, all set elsewhere.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Climb to the Vista Point for the Clouds

The Charles River Wheelmen (CRW) organized an excellent ride today called Climb to the Clouds. The name is a bit of an exaggeration: the highest point in the climb is Mt. Wachusett, a ski station in central Massachusetts. But it is a ski station; the hill gains about 1100 feet over four miles, though this hides a few ridiculous pitches. That, combined with the warning that the course was very hilly and definitely not for beginners, made it undeniably tempting.

I have a confession: I wasn't sure I wanted to do Wachusett. Not the ascent, which I definitely wanted, but the descent, which—like many others in New England—is riddled with narrow roads, tight curves, frost heaves, and cracked pavement. Combined with how much my bike has been rattling lately (and rattled especially vigorously the last time I came down that way), I wasn't looking forward to doing it in a bunch.

So when I set out my gear last night, I laid out my very flash Nalini bike shorts, a bright red. My reasoning was simple: I felt morally obliged to negotiate Wachusett on account of (a) being in a ride called Climb to the Clouds, and (b) knowing I'd spend the rest of the day sacked out watching the first real mountainous stage of the Tour de France. And I knew that once I'd worn the Nalini, I'd really have no choice in the matter. Once you talk the talk, that is, wear the wear, you've got to walk the walk, that is, ride the ride.

It proved to be an exceptional ride. It was hilly as promised, and with the odd mile of awful pavement, mostly on very good roads. By taking it early on a Sunday morning I was able to avoid most of the traffic. There were two or three very fast descents, one long and screaming (the Wachusett payback). Some of the climbs were long hills that demanded that you settle into a steady tempo, others were short, widing roads whose length you couldn't estimate; there were a few genuine quad-busters.

Aside: someone in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has a perverse sense of humor. At one point on Wachusett, coming out of a false flat, the road turns to the left and pitches upward sharply; it rises up and touches you in the nose, as Phil Liggett might say. And just there this humorist has seen fit to inscribe the instruction, SLOW.

But perhaps the best part of it was the CRW organization. They were superbly organized, firm but friendly, manned perfectly good feeding stations, and had arrowed with exceptional attention. Even someone who demonstrates nearly functional illiteracy when it comes to following arrows (e.g., me) managed the ride without a wrong turn. That is something they can brag about.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Using Bad Marketing to Hide a Weak Product?

So there's this new company that runs movie downloads over the Internet. They're advertising during the Tour de France coverage. I'm interested, and want to check it out.

Except, I can't for the life of me remember exactly what their name is. It's either Vengo or Vango, and because they pronounce it in the French fashion (the ‘n’ is muted), it's difficult to be sure. Only at the very end, and only for a brief split second, do they show the URL.

I visit It's a generic NetworkSolutions page. Okay, so someone's parking it. (But why not the actual vendor?)

So, clearly, it's But all that has is a corporate logo and “coming Soon...” [sic]. Huh? So why are they running TV ads?

After a while I finally determine that they're actually Vongo. What does their home page offer?

  • the software download
  • “View TV Spot” (yeah, right...)
  • “View Free Movie Clip” (better...)

But click on the crucial link, “Learn More”, and you get a Flash animation of three ridiculous people labeled “parking”, “shrink” and “funeral”. You have to choose one of these three to get a tour of Vongo.

Well, I don't want a tour, I just want the facts. “Ask Vongo” takes you to some strange combination of FAQ and interactive question answerer with an excessive amount of gratuitous JavaScript (e.g., links look like normal text until you mouse over them, then suddenly turn into blue the problem), all crushed into about 10% of my screen acreage. Clicking “How do I download Vongo?” starts off promising. Then the voice turns bizarre: “If you Click Open, the .exe file will not save on the customer's computer and you will be able to begin the installation” and stays in this voice subsequently (talking about “the customer”). The next sentence is,

If you click Save the .exe will save on the customers cusotmer, once the .exe is saved oyou will have to double click on the .exe to begin the installation.

[sic]. If you start trying to traverse the questions you rapidly get lost in this little q&a box, because there are no navigation mechanisms. (When people complain that browser features like the Back button are “accidental elements”, you feel like dropping them into this kind of interface and saying, “navigate away, buddy”.)

Anyway, amongst the “fundamental design flaws [that] are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws” (in Ted Nelson's memorable phrase), is this: deep in the bowels of this ridiculous information area you find out that they not only have DRM (not surprising), but that it limits you to a mere three devices. That means a couple with, say, a desktop and laptop machine each, and a fifth device that connects to the TV, are out of luck.

So maybe Vengo/Vango/Vongo knows more about their interface than I thought after all. Except I can't really decide whether tear out my hair (“shrink”) or slash my wrists (“funeral”) is more appropriate.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Affiliates' Program for Travel Sites

An application we're developing has a good advertising opportunity: people who view a certain page we publish are almost certainly going to want to make very specific (corresponding) travel reservations. We have a pretty good guess of the dates of arrival and departure, and an even better guess of the destination airport. We can thus, as a first approximation, pre-fill most of that information on their behalf. (Contrast this to travel sites such as the Continental Airlines ticket purchase interface: after you purchase a ticket it asks whether you'd like a room or car; at least as of recently, if you clicked on either of these, you had to enter your data all over again, despite having just purchased a ticket.)

It appears you can use ITA Software's Matrix with pre-filling: most of the useful fields are exposed. Sadly, all this does is search, because the interface doesn't let you actually buy a ticket.

More importantly, in return for referring customers, we'd love to get a referral kickback, just like's Associates program. And from what I can tell (on the authority of some people in the know), there doesn't appear to be any such facility at all.

It seems like a pretty good service that benefits all three parties (the site users, the travel sites, and us), and yet none of the major travel sites seem to offer such a program. (The person of authority I spoke with suggested it's because their margins are piss-poor, though it's not then clear how they stay in business at all.)

That Must be Why They're Called “Specialized”

I was looking at the Owner's Manual for my Specialized Decibel Helmet, and came across the following line amidst the usual swarm of disclaimers:

Failure to follow this warning could result in serious personal injury, death by strangulation, death.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Indoor Wilderness

We returned from Austin last week to find that a long-neglected onion, relaxing in the fruit bowl, had turned into this:

This hasn't happened to our onions before, so I wonder exactly what was different about the circumstances this time.

It's no surprise that onions produce baby onions, but there's a wild organic beauty to scallions in the raw that you simply don't see in their tamed, bunched supermarket form. (And they made for a tasty addition to today's lunch.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Feeling Blue

Since my Bike Friday is in for repairs, I've begun to overhaul and put some miles on my old Specialized. Two years in the basement on the trainer—and not much maintenance before that—have left it in a fairly bad state. But over an hour of washing (with Kathi's help), and a few more (lighter) rounds of that since, have made it ship-shape. While I immediately notice my dislike of the sub-105 Shimano parts, and miss my 50T chainring (I'm back to mashing a bit in my 53T), overall I've been putting on some miles quite comfortably.

One problem with reviving a bike that's been in a basement too long, though, is that you don't know what really works and what doesn't. Last Friday, after a 25 mile ride, I was making the last turn before home when I went down comprehensively. I suffered very little external injury, so initially I was more confused than anything else. (A construction worker nearby asked whether I was okay and, when I replied in the affirmative, he responded, “That was spectacular!” It was immediately clear that he's never seen a real bike crash.) While taking inventory, I noticed that my front tire was...half-flat. So I'd had a very, very slow leak that had gotten progressively flatter as I bumped around town, and on that final hard right turn the tire just buckled.

It turns out that I'm actually quite bruised in various places inside. My friend Laurie Heller recalled that she'd had a similar experience: some of her worst injuries were from her slowest crashes. Due to various internally bruised parts, I can now primarily only ride in the drops. At the very least, I feel quite silly plodding along to school in the morning in that position.

One casualty of my fall was my bar-tape, which was anyway beginning to unravel. Four years ago the bike began with a Specialized Phat Wrap, which is surprisingly comfortable. Two years ago (after another fall) I switched to yellow Cinelli cork: less padded, but a lovely feel. Today I got a Deda Elementi blue wrap. This officially proves that my biking color is blue: blue glasses frame, blue shoes, blue gloves, and now blue wrap. I've realized the reason is because I don't like green, there's too much macho red on the roads already, and yellow is pretentious (or can appear that way).

The Deda tape is a thing of beauty:

(The actual tape is darker than the photo suggests.) Those little dents are just the edges of the logo, which is under wraps. The attention to detail is fantastic: the sticky strip is just broad enough, the color is sublime, it feels like it isn't there, and the package includes both tape for the end and a little supplement to wrap around the back of the hoods.

Once I was done wrapping, I proceeded to install the end plugs. I was about to just shove one in when I noticed it has the Deda ‘D’ logo on it. I stopped, rotated the plug a quarter turn to orient it properly, and only then pushed. That's what beautiful design inspires you to do.