Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Catan Board is DONE!

Check out my home-made Settlers of Catan Board. I just finished painting it!

Friday, November 6, 2009



We're going to space, people! On my watch no less!

Responses to My Post

Thanks for all the responses. For those of you who don't read my blog via Facebook, I had some really nice comments from other racers in my community on my Facebook feed. Here's a few of them -- thanks for commenting guys (and girls).

Comment 1:
Yeah, you can't say that simply because he chose a drug that doesn't actually do anything makes it not as bad an offense. Tyler Hamilton received a life ban for using the same drug earlier in the year, and it's clear both knew it was illegal.

I don't like the pattern that's emerged when someone "apologizes" after getting caught, claiming up and down it was his first and only time and how sorry he is. I'm not saying Kenny ever did anything else, but in general, it seems a little overly coincidental that EVERYONE caught for doping was caught on his first and only attempt.

There's a big difference between being sorry for getting caught and being sorry simply for having acted. I see no reason to pat him on the back for "coming forward" in this way. Had he NOT been caught, but voluntarily came forward, and voluntarily stopped racing for some time, that would be a much different story.

11th hour repentance is not the same as having led a pious life even if the outcome looks the same on paper.

I'm sorry for him as an individual, but not at all as a competitor. At the most basic level racing is a huge privilege, and at another it's a source of income. What he did cuts to the core of both those systems.

Comment 2:

Kenny cheated. It was intentional, it was premeditated and the worst offense one can make in sport.

As an athlete and competitor i am offended that people would use the words "honorable" or "fair" when mentioning him. He lied and he cheated.

An apology AFTER one is caught doesn't make it any less offensive and can not give the real athletes he cheated the experience of victory that they deserve. Nor does it undo the damage to the reputation of a sport already severely tarnished.

I am outraged at his behavior and equally outraged that anyone (especially athletes or people involved in sport) would show public support of him. There are local athletes that race fair, with commitment and dedication who deserve that attention.

Comment 3:

I just think it is sad that he would feel the need to dope for masters track nats. In the grand scheme of life, it's really not that big of a deal. I guess people sometimes lose sight of the big picture... Sets a bad example that sport is only about winning. It would have been much more honorable if he went to track nats and did poorly. Isn't coaching rule #1 to focus on effort, not results? Or focus on what you experience, not so much what you accomplish?

Comment 4:
You guys are inspiring. There may be hope for the future of athletics after all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Local Dopers

Well the big news around here is local racer Kenny Williams, and his recent doping confession:

From the WSBA listserve:
To my friends, clients, competitors and USA Cycling officials,

My name is Kenny Williams and I've been racing my bike for 20 years. In June 2009 I broke and had surgery on my left collarbone. In my haste to return to the top of my game I purchased DHEA at the local Drug Store, without consulting anyone. 6 weeks later at Masters Track Nationals in Colorado Springs I was tested positive for this illegal drug. I do not deny the results of the test.

I am ashamed that I’ve done something that hurts the sport of cycling and the community of people who have become the most important part of my life. I’m facing the very real possibility that I can try for the rest of my life to regain the confidence of the cycling community and my friends, but this cloud will be with me for the rest of my life. I am not asking for forgiveness, because I am admitting to my mistake and own all the horrible feelings that come with my bad decision. I am hoping for compassion and understanding. Compassion that I never intended to hurt anyone and understanding that if I could have one re-do in my life that this would be it. As I have done throughout my whole athletic life I will fight to re-gain my reputation as a fair man, tough competitor and drug-free cyclist. You can trust me when I say that I will never take a short-cut like this ever again.

Bike racing is one of the most important things in my life, second to my wife, whom I owe the biggest apology to for being so irresponsible. I am sorry Annette. I also feel horrible about the results I took away from the other athletes that I raced against. I am very sorry to have disappointed all of them. To my sponsors and my clients, I am sorry. To all in the cycling community and my friends, I am sorry.

Sincerely, Kenny Williams
The reaction thus far (at least over internet listserves) has been surprisingly supportive: "we know Kenny fucked-up, but he's still a great guy, and he's a valuable member of our community, and it took a lot of courage to publicly admit what he did, and DHEA isn't that much of a performance enhancer anyway, and poor poor Kenny Willaims," seems to be the predominant sentiment. Maybe that's all true -- and don't get me wrong, I'm glad Kenny came clean instead of lying like a lying liar; however, I am one of those racers who Kenny displaces from the podium when he wins*. I am also trying to make a living riding my bike. The rules governing doping are admittedly inconsistent and arbitrary, but that's not the point: they're the rules goddamit, and if we all follow the rules, the sport is interesting and fun, and fair enough that I can abide. Kenny knowingly cheated, and only admitted it after he got caught. Fuck that!

Am I disappointed in Kenny's actions? Of course -- he's lost a lot of my respect.

Am I glad he got caught, and hopeful he'll serve a ban from competition? Absolutely, that's what cheats deserve.

Will I race against him once his ban is over? Without complaint -- he's admitting his wrongdoing and is prepared to do his time. Once he's done I'll gladly line up next to Kenny Williams again (and with a great deal less resentment than I feel towards dopers who also happen to be lying liars).

I'm not through digesting this news, and I'm sure most of the Northwest cycling community isn't either, but I will say that it's not fun to be reminded of how immediate ethical problems in sport can be. Doping, as Kenny Williams proves, is not a problem confined to "the pros."

Call me naive, but I just want to put my head down and train hard, and prepare well, and want it badly, and have that be enough to be the best.

*Example: here's the finish photo from the Seward Park season closer (thanks, the weekend after Masters Track Nats. I remember being off the front for the last half-hour of the race, only to get passed by a hard-charging Kenny Williams in the final turn of the final lap.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen....

I present to you the 2010 Blue AC1, the bike of the Hagens Berman Elite team.
This should complement my (now fully built) Blue Triad nicely.

That's the new BB30 bottom bracket that thing's got there. As everyone knows, it's better when it's beefy.
Internal cable routing. Nice.
Aero seatpost. Very nice.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Long Overdue NASA Pictures

So roughly three weeks ago, I made a trip to Houston with my girlfriend to attend a wedding. While we were there, I had the luxury of going to the Johnson Space Center, and seeing all kinds of awesome NASA stuff. I won't explain how we got to do some of the things we got to do, but let's just say my tour of NASA included a lot of things your average tourist doesn't get to see.

For starters, here's part of the astronaut training facility. It has mock-ups of every module found in the ISS.
Here's a little model of the ISS. There are (and have been for years) human beings continuously living in space. We're really neat animals, no?
Here's the mock-up of the space shuttle.

I got to fly the simulator for the space shuttle. This was the same sim used to train astronauts for decades. Since it was built in the early 1980's, it is powered by a refrigerator-sized computer with about the same processing power as a cell phone -- however, according to the technician who fired the thing up for me, the physics of it are quite good (even if the graphics are a little wanting). I got to practice several simulated landings, some of which resulted in the simulated astronauts actually surviving.

Next we see one of the humongous Saturn V rockets that took astronauts to the moon. The sheer size of this monster was downright staggering, especially when compared to the payload; the little lunar module could have easily fit inside our living room, but it took a rocket longer than a football field to get it to the moon.

Then we went to old-school mission control -- yes, the one from Apollo 13.

And after that, we got to see new-school mission control for the ISS. Holy shit, how things have changed! I was blown away by how cool the place was -- it put every evil villain's command center that ever came out of Hollywood to absolute shame.
Notice how the number of screens each flight controller has to look at has tripled since the Apollo days. These people are some of the best multi-taskers I've ever seen. Not only does everyone pay attention to the big screens projected on the wall, as well as the six (or more) flat-panel screens at their desks, everyone is also listening to upwards of fifteen simultaneous voice conversations, or loops! See that orange and black screen to the flight controller's left in the picture below? That's the screen which controls the headsets, and determines which loops the flight controllers can hear. The guy working the ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support Systems) station is listening to about twenty conversations right now.

Note: while I didn't get to snap any pictures of this process, I did get to "blow something up." I got to fire off an NSA (NASA Standard Initiator), which resembles a spark-plug, except it's packed with high-powered explosives (basically the stuff that makes C-4 plastic explosives go boom, without the extra crap that makes it "plastic"). Those NSA's are used all throughout the space shuttle, 102 of them every launch to be precise, to preform all sorts of useful tasks. They deploy parachutes, separate rocket thrusters, blast off nose cones, and much much more. The amount of explosives in each NSA is pretty small, less than the volume of an eraser on the end of a pencil, but it made a much bigger bang than I was expecting, and I jumped pretty high once it detonated, much to the delight of the people watching (who, knowing much better what to expect, were all standing a solid ten feet further back from the explosion than I was). Next time, I'll be ready for it.