Thursday, December 07, 2006

Heartbreaking News

When I first heard about this story it was sad enough. A family got caught in the terrible winter weather that had struck Oregon during the Thanksgiving holiday. Rescuers found the mother and her two young daughters alive, but the father, who had set out on foot to find help was missing. The family's last name was Kim and the father's first name was James -- fairly common names.

But last night, as I was watching the news, the sad report came telling how rescuers had found the body of James Kim. His photo flashed on the screen and that's when I recognized him -- James was one of the television personalities on the defunct and much-missed TechTV network. He was one of several Asian-American on-air personalities on that network. James continued his tech career at and I would see his video reviews regularly on that web site.

As a father and a tech lover, my sincere condolences go out to his family.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I can stop my whining...

Well, I can complain no more. After 18 years as a semi-anonymous member, I am now the 2007 President (elect) of Lightning Velo, my beloved cycling club. To-date I have only held the semi-official position of newsletter editor and over the last few years I have published precious few newsletters. I guess at this point I will have little excuse for not having content for the newsletter.

I do believe that our club is at a crossroads. Some people say, "leave well enough alone," but I say, "unless you're moving forward, you're moving backwards." Our membership had been growing to ever-increasing, record levels. However, this year we had a fall off of members and difficulty in getting rider turnouts for our regular and special rides. Additionally, over the past two years, we have had to cancel some of our traditional non-cycling events.

So, in my ever optimistic style, I will try to help our club re-gain its heading and keep it healthy for the next few years.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Speed at the Beach (Photoblog Post #3)

The longest running bicycle race in southern California is the Manhattan Beach Gran Prix. Warm sunshine and cool ocean breezes make this one of the best attended races (racers and spectators) in the United States.

This year the racers behaved themselves better as the grinding of metal, carbon fiber, and bodies on asphalt was kept to a minimum. No one was able to break away in any of the races so the lycra-clad gladiators (and gladiatresses?) jockeyed for position in the last 300 meters between turn 4 and the finish line.

The big race of the day, the professional men, came down to who could lay down the most wattage after 1-1/2 hours at 30 MPH. Toyota United ruled the day.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I Don't Want to Believe This

Something is just plain wrong and I'm not sure which side of the story is fallible. Is it Floyd Landis, the modest, boy-next-door (assuming you are a Mennonite) who somehow suffered a personal failing by doing something unnatural and illegal to raise his testosterone level?

Or is it the drug testers who failed in their ability to design or perform tests that really root out the dopers?

Like Sports Illustrated writer, Austin Murphy, I want to believe that Floyd did not cheat. If he did, then I believe he should have his Tour de France victory taken away.

However, what irritates me the most is the rush to judgment by those who know little about sports, medicine, or science that Floyd is guilty based on the results of his A-sample urine test. What if the B-sample is negative? Will they eat their words (or the electrons that form their cyber-sentences)?

A couple of good articles have come out on some of the science behind Floyd's test result. First has an article, Floyd Landis positive: Was it the beer?

The other is Testosterone 101 on
Andrew Pipe, a physician and medical and scientific adviser to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports in Ottawa, says that synthetic testosterone is normally injected, but taking it in the middle of an athletic competition would have little effect in boosting performance.

"Anabolic steroids, of which testosterone is the granddaddy, can have a central nervous system effect," he said. "But anabolic steroids largely work by increasing the capacity for training and increasing the bulk and tolerance of muscles. That isn't going to happen in a few hours.

"The effect of the testosterone is not going to be experienced unless there's a very significant training endeavor associated with it as well."
I been actively involved in this sport as an amateur bicycle racer for over 30 years. I am not naive enough to think that Floyd wouldn't possibly use drugs, but this scenario does not make sense. Let's see what the B-sample shows.

Last, as in a previous entry, we need to do something to reduce the incentives to dope rather than increase the disincentives. Another article, Developing the picture: A suggested mechanism for dealing with doping in sport, has some interesting thoughts on this topic.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Toyota sales shake up Big Three

The "big three" auto manufacturers have been studying Toyota and the Toyota Production System since the early 1990s. They have had 15 years to either do as well as Toyota or to figure out how to do better than Toyota and, unfortunately, neither has happened.

Once again the "experts" who get quoted in the media (, May 3, 2006) think that Toyota has some kind of secret weapon or crystal ball:
"I don't think it's temporary," said Dave Lucas, vice president at the auto sales tracking firm Autodata. "Toyota at this point just has the product lineup and continues to pump out the volume."

Part of Toyota's strength, according to Lucas, is having a line of vehicles that boast fuel efficiency, such as the Toyota Camry and the hybrid Prius, at a time when gasoline prices are flirting with record levels.

"Toyota seems to have the product available when people want them," said Lucas.
American business leaders, automotive and other industries, need to wake up and start thinking systemically. They need to start understanding why the corporate culture of Toyota is the true competitive advantage that will make Toyota a leader in whatever industry they choose.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Smell of Burning Hydrocarbons (Photoblog Post #2)

One of my vices is my passion for motorsports. It's a passion that I largely satisfy in front of the tube, satiated only by the exhaust cacophony emanating from my surround-sound system. However, my inability to frequent the race track only heightens my experience during my rare visits. My body vibrates and the part of my brain connected to my olfactory nerves relishes in the fumes of dead dinosaurs.

I found a solitary spot on the circuit (that was flooded with humanity) where one could see the cars above the protective fencing. Clear shots of the cars as they enter the turn, braking hard, then, under full throttle, accelerating down the long back straight. Fun at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Photoblog Post #1

It was a Sunday afternoon in March in sunny Southern California -- Angel Stadium to be exact and we were getting ready to watch a baseball game. But it wasn't sunny (or warm) and the Angels weren't playing. The United States team was getting ready to face the team from Japan in the World Baseball Classic.

The stadium was pretty full (even though the skies were threatening rain) and the crowd was very enthusiastic. Their enthusiasm was most evident in the national flags of the competing teams, the Stars and Stripes and the Rising Sun. Chants of "U-S-A" competed with "Go Ja-pan" as the game started.

Japan took an early lead but the United States came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 6th, 3-3. Then came the 8th inning. Japan had the bases loaded with 1 out.

The play-by-play reads, "Akinori Iwamura flies into double play, left fielder Randy Winn to catcher Brian Schneider to shortstop Derek Jeter. Tsuyoshi Nishioka doubled off 3rd." The play-by-play doesn't record the controversy. Tsuyoshi Nishioka ran home on the long fly ball from Akinori Iwamura. The scoreboard read, "Japan 4, United States 3." Then something very strange happened, the officials ruled that Nishioka had left 3rd base too early and was out. The run came off of the scoreboard (keeping the game tied) and Japan's inning was over.

In the end with fans waving flags furiously, the United States won in the bottom of the 9th inning. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Alex Rodriguez singled and Randy Winn scored the winning run.

Also, it never rained (hard) in Southern California, or at least in Anaheim.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Team Roadmeister

This is a very cool blog for those who aren't totally obsessed by bicycle technology. I hope these guys do well at their district time trial championships. I also added a link to their site in my links section.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Finally got my first racing miles of the year on my legs yesterday evening. Rode the world famous, Tuesday night training series at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, California. Achieved my standard goals for the first race of the season: (1) Stay upright and (2) Don't get dropped. Number 1 is not as easy to achieve as it sounds. Unfortunately a clubmate didn't stay upright as the pack entered the last turn. Fortunately, for him, his injuries are relatively minor, but, as I understand it, quite painful.

So now it's time to get a bit more serious about achieving my goal of a 40 Km time trial in less than 60 minutes (my personal hour record).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cycling and Leg Hair

Some of the responses to a leg shaving question on a cycling forum are just way too funny.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Heras suspended and stripped of Vuelta title

I can't believe that there is so much pressure to cheat (yes, cheat) in professional cycling. Here is another rider that I want to believe is innocent but I keep having a harder and harder time believing their denials. Roberto Heras rode a great Vuelta, but was it a drug-aided win?

As I said earlier, we have to get to the real root cause of the problem by eliminating the motivation to take performance enhancing drugs. Deterrence through drug testing is obviously not enough. In fact, we need to create an environment where athletes are motivated to be clean -- not motivated to figure out how to cheat.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow Split

Well, for some reason this took me by surprise. I am interested because I am a fan of both, but that's as far as it goes -- interested. However, there is some pretty harsh stuff on the web, here and here.

Anyway, I hope that their futures apart from each other go well.

Monday, January 09, 2006

"Experts" Don't Understand Hybrids

This article in from the AFP news agency further shows that many automotive experts don't understand hybrid technology or the intelligence of many American consumers. The article notes:
A big barrier to the sales of hybrid vehicles is the high sticker price. The hybrids on the market currently cost on average 3,500 dollars more than their gasoline equivalents. It would take most consumers years to recoup the initial cost in terms of gas savings.
How much do leather seats cost? How about DVD players? Both are well over $1,000 and both are popular options (as can be seen by their availability in many passenger cars, SUVs, and (gasp) trucks). How do consumers calculate the return on investment for leather seats?

Also in the article, Standard and Poors (truly renowned for their automotive expertise) noted:
"We believe that diesel vehicles could provide a compelling alternative to hybrids," Standard and Poors said in a recent report. Diesel engines are about 30 percent more efficient than gasoline engines and offer significantly higher fuel efficiency.
Diesels and hybrids are not mutually exclusive. Diesels may not be totally compatible with the starting and stopping of current hybrid systems (although they might be compatible), but no one has ruled out the possibility of a diesel-electric hybrid (versus the current gas-electric hybrids). Hybrids could even be based on fuel cell technology. The key feature of hybrids is that the recoup energy that would otherwise be wasted during braking and over-production of power by the engine.

Basically, all of these "reasons" to downplay hybrid technology are really reasons to maintain the status quo or sell existing, standard technology.

Where I've Been