Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I just spent a half hour hanging out with my friend Kim and her daughter Ava. Ava is 2 weeks old... can you imagine the cuteness? It was overwhelming.

The first thing Kim did after sitting at my table was to remove Ava from her carrier and put her in my arms. This was fortunate, because I probably wouldn't have asked to hold her. As I told Kim, I'm not afraid of babies; it's the overprotective mothers that terrify me.

Kim is very cool, though, and she had no compunctions about putting that tiny ball of humanity into my arms. She immediately fell asleep (Ava, not Kim), and also I think she pooped a little.

That girl has a kung fu grip, tiny hands and all.

Her proud, and somewhat tired, mother says that Ava is actually quite strong, and that if you hold her up, she "pedals her feet like she's riding a bike". Having volunteered to babysit, I plan on making use of our time together to teach her the fundamentals of road racing tactics, or at least how to say "cyclocross".

World Champion (discipline TBD), 2033

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

what the WHAT?

Pez, that bastion of cycling journalism, that zenith of investigative reporting, has redeemed itself, at least a bit. Correspondent Alessandro Federico, whose prose is so convoluted as to discourage even the most interested reader, has struck gold.

He interviewed a podium girl. Bless his heart.

Here's the link. I read it for the article, I swear! Not for pictures like this:
The kicker, for me, is hidden about 2/3 of the way through the interview.

PEZ: Do you study too?
Laura: I’ve just graduated in biomedical engineering.

There you have it. A lingerie model with a degree in BME. Do not not want.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


You may wonder, what the hell am I looking at? It's the wrapping paper from one of my brother's graduation gifts. Cutely enough, it is internet themed. I can't get enough. It's designed so well, with a checkerboard pattern interweaving emoticons (the smiley faces) with lolspeak (thanx, brb, and so on).

It gets better, though, much better. If we simply pan over, we find tiles that just don't make any sense.

Allow me to point out some highlights... Along with a few lols and ttyls, there are such internet classics as "www.", ".net", and of course "@". Less striking, but no less amusing, is the entire row consisting entirely of "email". While we're at it, what the hell kind of emoticon is "[ ]"?

GI Mark is the originator of one of my favorite inside jokes, wherein we would make spastic typing movements and half-shriek "MEGAPIXELS" or "TXT" or some other technology-related gibberish. Someone has unwittingly done us the great service of converting the joke into a sheet of wrapping paper, for which I am eternally in their debt... the best sort of debt, the sort that is quite impossible to collect.

P.S. I just figured out "bcnu". It's not an acronym like "lol" or "fyi". Instead, you have to read it out loud, like "l8er". Does anybody even use this one?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bizzaro Thursday

I know this post is about a week late, but I was out of the office (or, as it's better known, the student center) and the delay was inevitable.

My Thursday routine is a happily busy one: I wrap up my labwork by the afternoon, ride my bike until my legs fall off, then limp to Harvest Moon for a night of sweet soulful karaoke. It's a good routine.

Being in the Gateway City for Washington U's graduation, a good thousand miles - a kilomile, if you will - from George Street, I had to modify the routine a bit. Instead of doing labwork, I did driving work, reaching St. Louis in the rain (in all, I would spend about 10 hours driving in the rain that week).

Instead of riding my bike in the beautiful Watchung hills, or even down among the gnats of the Raritan, I rode the stationary bike in my parents' hotel. I think I know now why so few people ride bikes - those things are so painful, junk-wise, that I'd be horrified to use one with any regularity. Ambling on a treadmill next to me, a lady was describing to me the effects of menopause on her weight loss. So that was nice.

The biggest difference between most Thursday's and this one was the evening festivities. Rather than my usual pasta, I was treated to dinner with my family at Ozzie Smith's restaurant. They served New Belgium's Fat Tire ale, which was the best beer I'd have all weekend.

Evening festivities were concentrated in my brother's friends' apartment. They'd named that night the Brother Party, as everyone's siblings were in town for graduation. There was a lot of Keystone Light, a far cry from the delicious brews of Harvest Moon. We played Hockey (the drinking game, not the sport), because being compelled to chug makes the cheap beer easier to stomach (pun!).

Someone cued music on a laptop... so at least we got to sing Journey. When they played Bon Jovi, I went out for some air. Some habits die hard, I guess... and Bon Jovi sucks in any time zone.

It was a nice weekend, an odd mix of the stop-and-go, hurry-up-and-wait scheduling that follows when you're on vacation and stuck in the proverbial passenger seat. And oh, it is good to be back.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Noteworthy Sightings

Yesterday, I pit-stopped at a McDonalds. It occurs to me that I haven't seen a McDonald's PlayPlace in years, despite visits to a variety of fine McDonalds establishments throughout the Eastern United States.

The Indiana Mickey-D's at which I stopped contained the newest iteration of McDonald's attempt to let parents eat in peace... video games. There were two video game consoles set up in a corner of the restaurant. The parents get all the benefit of distracted, placated children, without any of the hassle of teaching an active, healthy lifestyle.

Hey, market forces drive decision making, right? Who am I to question the people?

In lighter news, check out this new graffiti from the pedestrian bridge over the Raritan River (just a few yards away from the swastikas).

Somebody spraypainted Dr. Gregory House, M.D.! Personally, I prefer Doug Ross, but House'll do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Go West, Young Man

14th May, 1859

Dear Internet Diary,

Today was the first day of my obscenely long journey West. I set off with a wagon full of supplies, four oxen, and my six children (Obadiah, Jebediah, Jedediah, Josiah, Ezekiel, and Bob) [read: a car with a couple of suitcases, some snacks, and my dad].

We drove from sunup to sundown, battling cruel road conditions and harsh weather and horrible gas-station coffee. No rivers needed to be forded, nor did we hire an Indian guide, but damn did it rain.

Using our covered wagon's tape player (it's a fancy wagon), we've been listening to a book on tape. It is Sharpe's Escape, from Cornwell's Sharpe series, and if you enjoy military historical fiction from the Napoleonic era (and who doesn't?), then this is one of a few series I can recommend to you.

So, greetings from Indianapolis, or rather a Days Inn just outside thereof (was that grammatically correct? let's assume that yes it was). 715 miles today. Oof. My poor oxens!

Tomorrow should be a shorter travel, a measly 250 miles. Maybe I'll be able to jog when I get to St. Louis, so my legs don't totally atrophy.

Wish me the luck, my beloved anthopomorphized Internet diary.

Yours sincerely,
Don Theninja, Esq.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Aaah, tabula rasa

This is one of my favorite things to see:
Who would you like to be today? it asks. The obnoxious brat who indulges in hyperbole, perhaps, or maybe the heartfelt sap-monger just dripping with humility. Something in between, for a change of pace?

What game would you like to play today? Try to write a race report that isn't identical in every way to every race report written by every bike racer ever, that's always a challenge. Then again, it might be nice to write a post about science, about my research or some article, that isn't profoundly boring to anyone who isn't obsessed with my little niche.

The game boils down to writing a post that doesn't bore, confuse, or offend the majority of my audience... a task made all the more difficult - and resultantly fun - by the blankness of the blank slate.

I can lie, I can wander, I can waste as much or as little space and time as I want. I just can't write about my students, girls, or anything related to the chamois area... this is a civilized society we live in, after all.

It's my little sandbox, and I get to build whatever type of castle I want. It's my little corner of the universe, internet-wise. There's no editor, no adviser, neither deadlines nor grades. Oh man, this is nice.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Physics and Cycling

Will called me the "worst scientist ever", because I get excited when data fits my hypothesis. And when poorly-fitting data turns out to have been improperly measured.

Will, who majored in Physics at the Ivy League school which he attended, seems to forget how ridiculous his major is. Let's remind him.

A cyclist has to overcome all sorts of resistances in order to progress. There's the wind, there's gravity, and there's friction, to name a few. A quick glance at the physics of cycling lets us relate all of these resistances to the speed of the cyclist in order to calculate his power output.

From AnalyticCycling.com:
P / v(t) - ½ A Cw ρ v(t)2 -
(mr + mb + mfw + mrw) Crrg -
(mr + mb + mfw + mrw) Grade g -
Cx0fw ρ v(t)2 π dfw2 / 8 - Cx0rw ρ v(t)2 π drw2 (1-RS)/ 8 =
(mr + mb + mfw + mrw + 4lfw / dfw2 + 4lrw / drw2) a(t)

Not so simple, is it? Nobody ever said physicists are dummies. Awkward, pompous, smelly jerks, maybe, but certainly not dummies.

Among physicists' noteworthy accomplishments, such as the nuclear bomb and proving the existence of black holes, is a sleight-of-hand maneuver that would make Houdini jealous. They took the above equation, did a little hand-waving, and reduced it to this:

P / v(t) - v(t) - 2 g - π / 4 v(t)2 = 8 a(t)

(which, if AnalyticCycling would let me, should further reduce to P / v(t) - v(t) - v(t)-2 - 1 = a(t), but it won't, so forget it)

I don't have a Power Meter, because I don't have $600 to spare. What I do have is a watch and an internet connection. I recently did a 1 kilometer time trial up Washington Rd. Thus, my average speed, and my weight, are the only measurements I know.

In the grand tradition of not-at-all-lazy physicists, I will set everything else equal to 1. Thus, we find, using AnalyticCycling's online calculator:

My power output (albeit for less than 5 minutes) was...


wait for it...

6,810 Watts.

That's over 100 Watts / kilogram. 15 times higher than Lance's! ProTour, here I come.

Using numbers based in reality, as would any good scientist, we find that my Watts / kilogram wass...

my own business. Suffice it to say: ProTour, here I do not come.

My next post will consist entirely of pictures of various dinners I've consumed. In conclusion, up your nose with a rubber hose, Will.


Today I rode Second Bridge.

Notice how this route goes almost exclusively along rivers.

During most seasons, these roads are fine, if a little chilly. Pretty, too. Around this time of year, though, riding along rivers means riding through cloud after cloud of gnats.

I don't mind swatting the little buggers out of my arm hair, even when I have to do so with great frequency and gusto. The line, though, is drawn at slapping my face to get them out of my beard.

After beating myself silly for two hours, all while trying to breathe with my mouth closed and blink the dead bug out of my eye, I realized that it is high time to shave.

So tonight I shaved.

Once again, I miss my beard.

Despite the forecast of rain, I need to get outside again soon. A month of bearded riding in the sun has given me mild tan lines on my face, and it just seems silly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kobe Stone

The following post is not exactly vegetarian-friendly. Avert your eyes, you tasters of tofu, you connoisseurs of curd, you lovers of legume (I could go on)...

The Noodle House, on Rt 1 South in North Bruswick, is pretty good as far as restaurants are concerned. They're going for an air of classiness that one wouldn't normally find at a strip-mall restaurant near a cineplex, but their food is rather good.

I ordered the Kobe Stone Lamb. What the flip is a Kobe Stone, you ask?

Ta da!!!

They give you a heater, on top of which sits a stone, on top of which you put raw meat and cook to your liking. You can flavor with their dipping sauce (of which I'm not really a huge fan) as much or as little as you please.

This basically boils down to playing with your food. Yes. I am a fan.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who's seen me cook that I did indeed burn my fingers with almost compulsive frequency.

In summary:
Would dine again!!