Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's That Time of the Year

I race bikes, and I have a blog. I am thus compelled by the Blogging Act of 1804 (actually, the Athletic Endeavor Addendum thereto) to write a blog entry about the bike racing as the season approaches.

The first race of the season is this weekend (see RutgersCycling for my official writeup). It is my first road race since Grant's Tomb last March. It is my first anything race since a rather disappointing 'cross nat's. It is in 3 DAYS.

Oh man.

I am going into this with low expectations, at least on paper. I've been pretty sick, I've yet to do any speedwork since November, and I've yet to finish a collegiate road race without getting dropped. The bar should be low.

And yet for some reason, I still have delusions of grandeur. Unreasonable? Probably (as Will is quick to point out). But oh man, I'm the fittest I've ever been... certainly moreso than last year. My legs feel great, even if my chest is full of mucus. My bike finally fits (see the following picture of me and Tsav, my beloved and now retired bicycle of seasons past, for how bad things were last year).

I have new race wheels and tires. I have the desire to tear peoples' legs off. I am excited.

Are you excited?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

mini-rant and good quote

I got a haircut today, finally. This is the 2nd haircut in a row in which I was trapped in a seat, sharp objects swirling about my head, by a hairdresser bent on keepingme entertained.

Thanks, but no thanks! This isn't a Harlem barbershop (oh man, did that come across all wrong?), and I'm not here for the social interaction... I'm here for a simple haircut. There is no need to ask me questions, nor is there any need to tell me about yourself.

I cannot stress this enough: I DON'T CARE. Not about you, not about your opinions, not about your hopes and dreams. Please let me sit in peace.

In short, today I spent 20 minutes being lectured about the different options I have with regard to leave-in conditioner, as well as the potential benefits to my hair and scalp. There are very few things about which I care less, almost all of which are actually televised on C-SPAN, MTV, and Lifetime.

On the plus side, now I look gooood.


In an unrelated story, AngryMark and I have been talking about residual cyclocross fitness... can one be a decent sprinter without having done much sprint-work, based simply on the work done all through 'cross season? Well, I happen to know someone who races 'cross and does well in crits (not Jenks). I shot an email to Mike Cody of Team JellyBelly (formerly of Fiordifrutta). We talked about fitness and workouts, but we also talked about the head game and my apprehension about pack cornering.

His response was awesome:
"you can race cross, so you can corner, end of story."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Romeo and Juliet, part 1

Now, I don't want to write about the womenfolk, and I'm sure you don't want to read my misguided opinions. Sometimes, though, I stumble across a cute math problem, and it begs a quick writeup.

The simple version of the Romeo and Juliet finds the former hopelessly smitten by the latter, hanging on her every word. However, Juliet is the stereotypical flirt, such that the more Romeo wants her, the less she wants him... and vice versa.

the math works out like this:
which works out to a nicely oscillatory solution. Depending on the initial conditions (how passionately they love(+) or hate(-) each other to begin with), Romeo and Juliet's behavior will circle endlessly along the lines of one of these circles... if a and b don't agree, it'll be a little elliptical, but you get the point.

So, when J and R are both positive, they both love each other; however, because Romeo loves Juliet, her love for him quickly wanes. Once Juliet stops loving Romeo, he wants her less and less, until he eventually hates her... it is at this point that Juliet begins to want Romeo, perhaps because Juliet craves attention or simply likes messing with Romeo's head... but I digress.

This is just a simple mathematical model, but damned if you don't see it all the time, especially with those damn wiener kids and their damn emo relationships.

Friday, February 23, 2007

on Lobsters

Who decided that it would be a good idea to eat lobsters?

Don't get me wrong, lobsters are delicious. It just seems weird that someone accustomed to eating succulent cows and chickens would choose to consume a sea monster.

Look at them! They are creepy! Why would you equate red and pinchy with delicious?

It's likely that some poor schmoe was really really really hungry, and perhaps had been living on a diet of bugs and fish, making lobsters a logical progression. Word spread among the villagers, and thusly the first Red Lobster franchise was opened. I, however, would like to think it happened because of immature peer-pressure, something like this:

(two spear-wielding cavemen standing on a beach)
Ug: Oh, man, Gar, do you see that red monster-looking thing in the water?
(Gar stabs the lobster with his spear)
Gar: Dude! I killed it!
Ug: Gross, it's oozing! I dare you to eat it.
Gar: You're crazy, Ug, crazy.
Ug: Unless you're too scared.
Gar: There's no way I'm putting that thing in my mouth
Ug: That's not what your mom said
(fade to black as cavemen continue arguing)

Oooh, or maybe it was like a prehistoric Fear Factor, where a caveman bearing a striking resemblance to Joe Rogan (not much of a stretch, is it?) made people eat things for some reason. It probably didn't make any more sense then than it does now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

aaaaand, we're back.

I'm not sure how to explain this one. It seems silly in retrospect. I had a cold. The common cold. A rhinovirus. I'm young, I'm fit, I didn't walk around licking water fountains and doorknobs, and yet here I am, coughing up my lungs.

This common cold hit me like a ton of bricks. Monday did not exist for me. I pretty much slept from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. After a (rather gruff) doctor prescribed some expectorant Tuesday afternoon, I though I'd be better. And then I wound up on the floor, semi-conscious after a coughing-fit Wednesday morning.

So, I've been in a bed or on a couch until today. Somehow, I am also to blame for the illness of Will, Mark, and Jay. The latter two blame my blog for the contagion... I blame karaoke night. Which is why I'm not going this week.

I really really really don't like this feeling. I didn't mind all the coughing or the sore throat last week... since when am I susceptible to discomfort, anyway? But this sucks. It's just odd, going from riding just below Threshold forever to getting dizzy spells from coughing.

The much-anticipated weekend trip to Cleveland for Founder's Day is cancelled. The bicycle has been untouched since Sunday. I am weak as a kitten. I have a mountain of errands and looming deadlines.

But on the bright side, while convalescing, I came up with a couple of good blog posts, which will be appearing over the coming days.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cabin Fever Update

I rode with the Hermes kids this morning. Outdoors. The first thing that struck me is that mag-trainers and rollers feel nothing like the road. The next rude awakening is that Todd continues to be very, very fast.

But I am still sick. The wet coughing wasn't just an aftershock from some minor bug; it is a symptom of the phlegm party in my bronchi. It's like I'm breathing through a straw. For an hour I was sitting in, trying to ride easy, and my heart rate was 170. I was a mucus Vesuvius.

Thankfully, tomorrow is the beginning of an easy week. All of which will be indoors. Ugh.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cabin Fever

I have not ridden my bike outdoors in weeks. Three weeks, to be exact. I've only missed 3 training days, but I just can't seem to get outdoors. I have excuses, of course... too many deadlines and obligations to ride in the morning, too much aversion to riding in gale-force winds, too sick.

So I set up the trainer, or the rollers, and I ride. Every day. TV blaring, fan turned way up. I ride and ride and ride and stare through a TV, for hours and hours and hours. Sometimes Will rides with me, sometimes he comes back from a Hermes ride to Millstone, sees me setting up the trainer, and makes fun of me.

A realization: I have not made any forward progress in 3 weeks.

At least I have the occasional distraction. For example, this week Will and I got to ride with Chris and Sparky in their dorm, across the parking lot. It is an undergrad dorm. We trained in the common area next to the front door. It felt like we were on display. Worse, all of the little freshmens came over to talk to Chris and Sparky, both of whom were behind me, and I was on rollers! I had to fight the instinctive compulsion to turn around, over and over and over. It was fun, but ugh.

The next night, Will and I were doing 90 seconds of Light... 18 times. That was fun. Luckily, we were able to occupy our time with studying for his Physiology quiz and discussing the stupidity that is VH1. And then Will sprinted.

Will has sprinted on trainers hundreds of times that I've seen, probably thousands lifetime. This time, though, the lock-ring on his trainer could not handle the Power (in this case, capitalization is appropriate). His rear wheel shifted left and right with each pedal stroke, with greater and greater amplitude, until CLANK! The quickrelease slid out of the trainer, the bike started falling sideways, Will's left foot unclipped, the rear wheel hopped up off the metal roller, and everything stopped.

The ensuing silence, which followed what had been the jet-engine sounds of Will's windup, was eerie. He caught his breath, then inspected the damage: The tire had heated the plastic housing around the trainer's roller, and the plastic had melted. If he'd take a damn picture, I'd show you photographic evidence. I swear, though, Will's sprint MELTED PLASTIC.

Will 1, trainer 0.

On a completely different topic, I blew my nose yesterday and my quad cramped up. Explain that one.

Friday, February 16, 2007


My dear audience, I haven't been completely honest with you. It's not that I've lied, per se. It's just that I may have, er, obfuscated the truth. What I have to tell you is pretty damning, but better that you hear it from me than read it in some magazine or an interview with Dick Pound.

My performance in the past has been pretty good. I'm not exactly the best of the best, but I'm happy with the way I've progressed, and I know the best is yet to come. Unfortunately, I can no longer hide the fact that this performance has not been the result of hard work or talent alone.

Yes. I have been using a Performance Enhancing Substance. It started a few years back, when I realized that I was drifting behind others when I knew it was in me to be ahead. It was just so frustrating... I was tired, I was having trouble getting results... and I wasn't happy.

Ever since then, I've been dependent on my Performance Enhancer. It's at the point where I just can't imagine not using. What would it feel like? I'd probably be a different person, irritable and slow. I could kiss my awesome results goodbye. The snap, the pep, the refreshed feeling I've come to expect, even after the longest, toughest days, would be lost. I shudder at the thought.

They say that nothing's illegal until you get caught. I doubt I'll ever be tested, and even then, I probably don't use enough to trigger a positive, but why risk it? Now you know. Judge me as you will, world. I'll never give up my Performance Enhancer, just like I'll never give up my dreams.

My Performance Enhancer

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Team Time Trial

The Tour Mediterraneen, an early season affair in the south of France, give some ProTour teams the opportunity to stretch their collective legs. It also provides the perfect setting for 2nd-tier teams to see how they stack up against the big guns. Wednesday morning's opening stage was a 26.2 km Team Time Trial (TTT).

Caisse d'Epargne - Iles Balears
The boys of the Balearic Islands know how to get it done. This is what a TTT should look like... a nice, tight paceline, only the first two guys in their aerobars, the rider off to the side moving back while staying tight to the line. Poetry in motion. These guys took 1st, and pretty handily.

Ag2r Prevoyance
Also a ProTour team, Ag2r have this technique down. You've got to wonder, though: do they draw straws to decide who has to ride behind Samuel Dumoulin (in 2nd wheel in this picture). Dude is 5'2"!!! There's nothing to draft off! In other news, Dumoulin got dropped and finished 5:44 down.
The story behind the Question Mark on their jerseys has been done to death. Now, I know these guys are new to the ProTour, and I know that they had to drop a whole bunch of money on new "?" kits, but honestly, you have to wonder: What did the guy in 2nd wheel do to deserve a road bike in a TTT? All of his teammates have pretty, matching bikes. Did he sleep with the DS's daughter? I think he slept with the DS's daughter. I bet it was worth it, too.

Elk Haus-Simplon
I have never heard of Elk Haus. I think it's pretty respectable that they only finished 2:33 behind Caisse d'Epargne. However, everything about them screams "We're out of our league!" None of their bikes match, few of their helmets match, they're all over the road. It's like the Rutgers team got invited to a National Calendar race... you can sort of see it, can't you? Blake's the guy with the aero helmet, digging deep but not quite aware that there's nobody on his wheel. Will's the guy pulling everyone, thinking "god I hate time trials", and Mark (an equally capable cottage of wattage) is the guy in the back, thinking "god I hate time trials". Charlie, potentially the best time trialist on the team, decided to skip today's stage to go ride a MTB uphill for 4 hours. Seriously, Elk Haus, get it together. Oh well, at least you weren't Dead F'in Last.

Which brings us to team DFL. The name actually stands for Driving Force Logistics, but it might as well stand for Dead F'in Last, 'cause that's where these poor schmucks wound up. It's not their fault, though! I bet if team management, or presenting sponsor Litespeed, had sprung for TT bikes, or at least clip-on aerobars, they might've stood a chance. They don't even have matching arm-warmers, for crying out loud! Oddly enough, they do have matching helmets. In any event, they came in 3:46 down, in last place by a long ways. At least they beat Dumoulin.

(photos borrowed from Fotoreporter Sirotti and

Technical Writing

Okay. Technical writing is difficult. It's not like regular writing, and lord knows that normal prose is challenging enough. Informal language gives a writer so much leeway with which to dance around a statement that yes, sometimes it is possible to lose one's point in the flowery discourse; at least the wording and pacing can be intuitive.

Technical writing is a whole other beast. This isn't writing a paper for class. Nobody's going to look at what you've written and say "this wasn't great, but it was good... B plus". You are judged on a far more binary scale: Accepted or Rejected. Ideally, the merits of your work, of the underlying science or thought, would be the only metrics on which you are evaluated. Nothing, of course, is ever ideal.

So you spend a year (at the very least) of your life working on a project. You fill notebooks full of ideas, results, afterthoughts, etc. You run into problems that grind your progress to a halt, for which there are no workarounds.

By the time you're writing things up, you've overcome the worst part... that there is no right answer. Nobody designed and ran your experiment beforehand, or approached that novel the way you approach it, or whatever. The whole point of this academic endeavor was to innovate, which meant that you never had a guarantee that success was even possible.

So you've survived this far, and now you get to start writing things up. This is when you hit the ugly part, that linguistic headwind that is technical writing. Sure, it's prose, but it's terse and parsimonious and cotton-mouth dry. It can suck the life out of you, forcing you to condense a year of your life into a few pages. Those monumental problems you had to solve? They get no more than a sentence.

Everything has to be just-so. Your conclusions have to proclaim their own awesomeness, to shout from the hilltops "I AM ALL THAT IS SCIENCE!" but must do so without really using any adjectives. The shorter your work, the better, especially if there's a page limit... any room left over must be yielded to the figures, so that your audience, who will only be glancing at your writing anyway, can guess what your point was.

It's not always so painful, though (but it usually is). Sometimes the words just flow. I find this to be the case when it's the first time I'm writing up a project, when the organization and descriptions of it have been percolating inside me for weeks and months. In those cases, my fingers fly as soon as they touch the keyboard, and before I know it, I have created. Let me tell you, it feels good.

My Baby

Monday, February 12, 2007

Honestly, T-Mobile... "Mannschaft?"

Thanks to Team CSC's noteworthy successes over the past few seasons, many teams have sought to identify whatever magic bullet CSC's Bjarne Riis found to motivate his team. Last season, knowing that CSC had undergone tough army-style training over the winter, everyone from Discovery to Quickstep went paintballing, hiking, rappelling, etc to build team unity. This season, Team T-Mobile is kicking it up a notch.

The German-based team is so committed to the concept of a team that the riders' very bikes will be reminders of their responsibilities to the collective... this is no surprise, after 3 years of the Ullrich-Vinokourov-Kloden "3-pronged attack" implosions. Emblazoned on the toptube of every T-Mobile rider's bike will be the German words for "The Team", as is displayed below on Canadian Michael Barry's bike:

photo courtesy

This bold move has quickly been matched by other ProTour teams. French team Cofidis applied custom stickers to their riders' bikes, extolling the virtues of the "Men of the Team", or "l'Equipement d'Hommes".

Said veteran Cofidis racer Sylvain Chavanel, "Desole, but I do not see what you reporters find so funny. We here at Cofidis are very proud of our equipe, and we emphasize this feeling by conjugating appropriately. It is clever!" [editor: the above should be read with an Inspector Clouseau accent]

David Millar, a Scotsman on the Spanish Saunier Duval team, was less enthusiastic. "I tried to dissuade management," he explained, "but they didn't seem to get that El Serpiente de los Pantalones isn't quite the effect the other teams were going for." His teammate, Iban Mayo, held a much more positive opinion of the motivational tool. "I know that when I have my head down, when I am suffering, I want to see el serpiente de los pantalones and be reminded of the men around me."

Team Discovery, the only ProTour team whose country consists of native English speakers, commissioned a nationally-acclaimed artist to design their version of the now-ubiquitous sticker. With text reading "Euphemism for Male Genitalia", this sticker will be on sale at bike stores around the country, with half of all proceeds going to Ivan Basso's legal defense fund. When asked for comment, US National Champion George Hincapie just shook his head in disgust. Discovery Alumnus/Coach/Moneybags/Cheerleader/Camera-Magnet Lance Armstrong was quick to reply, "I just want these guys to remember what they're riding for."


This post has gotten way out of hand.

Get Down With the Sickness

I woke up on Saturday with a mild fever and a sore throat. When I say woke up, I mean did a quick self-assessment, turned off the alarm clock, and proceeded to sleep until 3pm. I read a book and watched movies all day.

The process was repeated today, although I was feeling good enough towards the end of the day that I survived 90 minutes of ridiculously-easy on the trainer. Still not 100%.

My hero

The only real effect of this, other than a day off the bike, is a completely f'ed sleep schedule. I was working on waking up earlier and earlier last week, and now I'm up at 3am after about 11 hrs of sitting on a couch.

Unlike many of my fellow bike-gamers, I don't usually get sick. Even 48 hrs of sickness is way more than I usually get. Maybe I should've knocked on wood more often? Walked under fewer ladders? Whatever. I need to wake up tomorrow feeling good as new.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I've come to learn that the good things in this world are ephemeral. Good results in the lab? Don't count on 'em. That snap in your legs that gets you out of corners fast? Gone by mid-season. Tolerance for your own facial hair? The awesomeness of a beard, like the awesomeness of anything you really enjoy, is gone in the blink of an eye.

But oh, fear not. There are some things that, if you are truly fortunate, can be constants in your life. I am so humbled, so grateful, so enamored of the good things in my life that have persisted week to week. Life continues to be worth living...

  • The "Grease Trucks". Every sandwich you make is named by a convention that would befit IEEE... Fat Knight, Fat Bitch, Fat Cat, and so on. You are open as long as the buses are running, and you never change. Whenever I am hungry, whenever my arteries feel particularly unclogged, I can turn to you for a sandwich made of Cheese-steak, Mozzarella Sticks, Chicken Fingers, French Fries, and lettuce and tomatoes. My heart aches at the very thought of you.
  • Drunk undergrad girls. I wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole. It's 20 degrees out, but you're wearing exactly enough clothing to veil the undergarments you're so eager to abandon. Your arms and legs are completely bare, but you're far too intoxicated to feel cold. As long as I can filter out the mind-numbing, vapid nonsense you call conversation, I can pretend you're a gorgeous, scantily-clad astrophysicist. Please don't ever talk to me.
  • My guys. You know who you are. It doesn't matter what bar we go to. It doesn't matter what the occasion is, or how loud the music is, or who else is in the bar. We have a great time. Life can be a pimp-slap upside the head, but a beer and a teammate just turn things around faster than you can say "Let's play the 'Do You Know Don?' game". When all is said and done, you're good people.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Call for Abstracts




  1. ABSTRACT SUBMISSION has a deadline of FEBRUARY 15th
  2. We are pleased to announce TWO AWARDS. The Awards include "Most Innovative Cure for Coughing and "PHLEGM Award for Best Negative Reinforcement Therapy". Awards will be given in the form of Lozenges.

  3. Earplugs will be provided for all Meeting participants, so that they can finally get some sleep at night.
  • The first PHLEGM will be held during March 30 - 31, 2007 at Busch Campus,Piscataway, NJ

  • PHLEGM is an annual American Society of Annoyed Roommates regional meeting. The theme of the meeting for this year is "Bridging the Gap between Roommate Politeness and Actually Getting Some Sleep".

  • Opening Remark: Dr. Ima Gonacoff (Chronic Cougher); Keynote speech: Dr. Mike Offsuks(Institute of Cough Studies) and Dr. Anita Annoyou(NIH);

  • The conference intends to provide a welcoming environment for graduate and undergraduate students to present their research and get feedback from peer students and faculty. In light of this aim, the registration will be free and people who cough a lot will be beaten with baseball bats.

Things that Get to Me

1. Having a coach who lives in Texas and has a Sugar-Momma.

"can't go outside today, riding the trainer instead. i want to ride 400m uphill, but i'm thinking that instead, i'll just do 60 or 90 sec in the saddle in a big(ish) gear at a low(ish) cadence, and that'll be my hill interval."

"That works. Why can't you go outside?? Man, it's 75 degrees nice!!!"

2. The coffee shop in the student center. They're overpriced, but more convenient than the cheaper coffee in the convenience store. Also, the convenience store coffee tastes better.

Most importantly, though, the coffee shop does not serve enough coffee. In case any of the coffee shop employees are reading this, I will address this to them: I understand that some wasteful people spill a bit out if you fill the cup to the brim and they want to add milk. Fine. They're not, however, going to spill out 1/3 of the cup, so please don't serve me 2/3 of a cup of coffee.

I got clever, though. I started asking for black coffee. Now I get 3/4 of a cup.

3. Undergrads who don't listen and don't follow directions. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gedanken Experiment - Pack Dynamics

I'm trying to decide how to start this post.

version 1:
I've always found group psychology interesting... not in the namby-pamby sense that real shrinks would be interested in, but in the dynamical sense. If you can model a group's behavior, can you predict the future state of individuals based on the current state of the group? Is the relationship periodic? Are there strange attractors that induce a subtle periodicity to apparently chaotic motion?

version 2:
It's no secret that I generally hate people. Once I've met them, we get along swimmingly, but most people strike me as self-centered, unobservant, and predictable. It's not that I think I'm any better, it's just that I'm aware of what people are like.

So last year, for a class project, I did a quick and dirty numerical analysis of a group model to answer the question: What happens when a Cyclist rides his bike into a Marching Band? This wasn't, by any means, a hypothetical. During 'cross practice, the band would always walk right across our course without paying any attention to the sprinting cyclists. One week, Charlie rode right through 'em, and I drafted off him. I had experienced it first-hand, but could I demonstrate that a group of people behave like a fluid?

Now, the last thing I want to do is use math. Ever. Both Navier and Stokes can go to hell for this little gem. They may be more elegant, they are certainly more computationally efficient, but differential equations just don't seem to have any place in my misantropic experiment.

Instead, let each individual live by simple rules. Let them be aware of each other (or, for fun, limit that awareness). Delay their reaction time. Make them decide poorly. You know, make the problem realistic.

One example would be a two lane interstate. The speed limit is 65... it should take everyone an average of 60 minutes to go 65 miles. But Jenksy wants to go 80, and Mark's poor car can't get above 50. Ideally, they will both travel at their desired speeds, never interfering with one another. If Mark, for some reason, is in the left lane, he'll recognize Jenks' approach and get out of the way before Jenks has to brake.

But what if there's a truck blocking Mark's merge? What if some drivers recognize relative speed with less acuity than others? What if we introduce cell-phones? Alcohol?

The possibilities for stupid drivers trying to mess with our universe are boundless.

Let's go more 2-D. How about a supermarket? Everyone has the same vehicle. However, there are so many different goals, different speeds, different levels of awareness, etc, etc. We could probably model the behavior of a group of shoppers, proving that grocery shopping is unnecessarily frustrating.

I think the most difficult version of this idea to set up and code would be a peleton. Ask any racer, these things are dense, ever-changing swarms of cyclists. They all have the same goal, they all have the same capabilities (more or less)... pretty much the only thing separating one from another is how willing one is to take risks. There are a few simple rules that could govern a peleton... no half-wheeling, holding the line, limited time in the wind. Beyond that, though, this would be a fantastically chaotic, indeterminate system.

My hypotheses are as follows:
  1. The Highway experiment has been done before, and better, and there are entire scientific journals dedicated to just such modeling.
  2. The Supermarket experiment would be quite chaotic, but the overall behavior of a simple model would look very much like molasses being stirred.
  3. The model would fail (ie, two or more riders would get too close and crash) almost immediately, and no matter what simplifications I tried to introduce, the simulation would never even come close to real-life behavior.
If you're wondering, last year's experiment, in which I modeled the Marching Band as a fluid, had a very profound conclusion: They're as dumb as air.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Crazy Japanese Robots

My prediction: World War 3 will involve some combination of conventional weapons, guerilla warfare, and Crazy Japanese Robot soldiers.

exhibit a: the Stair Walker

exhibit b: Asimo, the running robot

and the mack daddy of them all, exhibit c: Giant Robot Exoskeleton

Not to worry, though... we Americans have our own answer to the various Messrs. Roboto

Friday, February 02, 2007

First Aid Class

As an officer of the Rutgers University Cycling Team, I was required to attend a First Aid course. I was pretty pissed about it, and there was even a blog post brewing in my mind all day. This course would be a waste of my time, there are EMTs and ambulances at every race, every guideline was completely intuitive, and goddamnit there are better things I could be doing.

FarmerAndy and I showed up and proceeded to zone out. The instructors gave us gauze to practice dressing wounds; we separated the gauze into individual strands to kill time. The instructors showed us Red Cross videos; we made sarcastic comments about them, mostly whispered.

It was just as boring as we expected. Until some kid walked into a wall.

That's right, some poor bastard excused himself to go to the bathroom, walked towards to the door, lost consciousness, and slammed face-first into a wall.

It was awesome.

It probably doesn't speak well of the rest of the class, semi-trained first aid people that we were, how we just stared at him like he'd just given birth. We wondered if it was a stunt, trying to get our attention by reproducing the "medical emergency" we'd just been talking about... we stopped wondering when the paramedics came.

I'm pretty sure this isn't irony, 'cause English majors are always talking about how the term irony is so often misused (cue the comment from NTW). There's probably some more appropriate term in a liberal artist's lexicon. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

There is one term that clearly fits this situation. Schadenfreude. I was amused by what happened, and I'm not ashamed!