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Transplant Athlete
Friday, August 31, 2007
  It's A Wonder

I feel really blessed that I can stand at a toilet and urinate. I am filled with wonder and amazement. Yeah, I know, on any other blog that might not make sense.

I was lucky the first time around, I didn't have to go on dialysis.

My biopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

 
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  What Would You Do?

A little over a year ago, I went to an interview at Zipp Speed Weaponry. The owner (Andy Ording) kept saying he didn't think I had the engineering chops to be successful in the position so, I shared with him an idea I had for making bikes more aerodynamic. It is probably the last place to take any significant time out of a bike and for Pro's who obsess about the locations of the seams on their kit, it would be worthwhile to them. It was a radical change and required that the bike be designed around a specially designed disk wheel to move the seat stays behind the frame, getting them out of the airflow.

I suggested he work with Softride to design a time trial specific bike with this new design because their bike had already gotten rid of the seat stays and the chainstays were the last thing left in the airflow. He suggested Cervelo because he had a better relationship with them. He thought about the idea for a little while, but continued with his theory that I didn't have the knowledge or experience to be a good engineer.

I went home and created some engineering sketches outlining my idea from his perspective and sent them to him. I tried following up, but I didn't get the job.

This year during the Tour De France, I was usually fast forwarding through most of the stages, when I happened to catch Frankie taking a look at the bikes Cervelo had supplied for the race. There on the back of the bike was my idea. The seat stays were pulled in against the frame to get them out of the airflow.

I did a quick patent search and Cervelo hasn't been granted a patent yet. Should I apply for one? Should I send a polite note to Zipp asking for some renumeration? Should I send a polite note to Cervelo asking for some compensation? Should I surrender this one to the cosmos?

 
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Thursday, August 30, 2007
  This Is One Of Those Good News Bad News Posts

First, the Good News. ABL lifted the gag order on her pregnancy. I can now blog about kid #3. During her first pregnancy, we called Q, well Q, then for her second pregnancy, we called RJ, R...SO, logically this one should be called Chris...

ABL is going through the normal nausea and vomiting and she started to show early.

Now for the Bad News. My creatinine is 2.5, a number large enough to scare my nephrologist into ordering another biopsy. He says there are two main things he's worried about right now.

  1. Rejection: He kept using the word acute (which scared me). I thought that it was chronic instead of acute. If it is rejection, they might be able to treat it with medication.
  2. MPGN. Membrano Proliferative Glomerulo Nephritis. He's worried that my original disease could be rearing its ugly head. There was no treatment for my original disease and finding a treatment for a transplanted kidney would be even harder to find.

It's important to note, that the kidney is in no danger of shutting down, if my first kidney is any indication, it could take years for this one to get to the point where I would need to go on dialysis or find another kidney. I should have a biopsy scheduled in the next week or two and I'll keep everyone informed.

 
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  Riverbend Park

I took the kids for a picnic at Riverbend park yesterday, then we went for a short hike down past the Dam. The trail follows the river, so it is relatively flat and wide. We saw a baby snake sunning itself along the trail and later when we got to the Dam, we saw a big brown water snake sunning itself just below Dam. We turned around just before reaching Great Falls and took the Upland Trail back to the Riverbend Visitor's center.

Great Falls doesn't allow bikes on their section of the Heritage trail, but Riverbend does. The area is crisscrossed with fire roads and trails. It took us about two hours to make the round trip.

 
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Monday, August 20, 2007
  Happy Belated Birthday

A reader, Chris Morrow turned "OLD" last tuesday according to his blogging wife. Unfortunately, in a couple of months I'll be OLD +1.
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Thursday, August 16, 2007
  International Competitions

There are two major events going on over the next two weeks, PBP and the XVI World Transplant Games.

Paris - Brest - Paris is a 750 mile Brevet that is held every four years. Wikipedia says PBP is the oldest ongoing bicycle event having started in 1891 and was around for the bicycle change over from high wheelers to the safety bikes of today. It's not a race, but at 750 miles and a 90 hour time limit, it's a true test of athleticism. The official PBP site says there will be 4000 cyclists at the start line, which includes 62 people from the DC, Maryland, Virginia area. I wish them the best of luck.

The World Transplant Games are being held in Bangkok, Thailand and some of my friends are already heading out there. Bill Wohl has been training very hard (for a dead man) and is looking for 5 trips to the podium and maybe a broken world record. Bill went into heart failure and a coma, he was put on an experimental machine to pump his blood, and his wife tried to pull the plug so she could have him declared dead for the insurance money. He eventually came out of the coma, received a heart transplant, and now is a top amateur athlete. So yeah, pretty spry for a dead guy. Go Bill!

My dad really wanted me to go so he would have an excuse to go back to Bangkok. The last time he was there, he was a lean mean Marine fighting in Vietnam. Yeah, it's been nearly 40 years, he thinks it might have changed a bit. I had several reasons for not wanting to go, SARS, Avian Flu, pollution, the expense. Transplant patients have compromised immune systems, so I'd rather not put myself in a place where I could get some exotic disease. Also, I raced once during a code purple day and it really messed up my lungs, from what I've read, besides the short term damage it also does long term damage to the lungs, so I won't race in conditions like that again. Interestingly, China is implementing some changes to clean up their air for the Olympics.

 
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Sunday, August 12, 2007
  UMCA Election Discussion

My thoughts...
Campaigning:
I'm against the managing director campaigning, but what about the BoD? Should a Board member be allowed to campaign?

Should campaigning be outlawed altogether? Here are my thoughts on that:
1) A mailing to 1600 people can be very expensive (postage alone is $672, add in either duplicating costs or printer cartridge it adds up) with RAAM expenses this year, I could not have swung that. Who wants to spend upwards of $700 on a board seat anyway? That would leave the board open to the more privileged among us.
2) campaigning by email can get messy. Candidate A sends out their email. Candidate B sends out their email but it includes something about Candidate A. Then Candidate A wants to respond...We've all seen political ads flying as it gets closer to election day imagine that as emails.
3) Campaign by phone calls? Really expensive. Not a level playing field.

Voting:
I like Marino's idea of a postcard, but eventually, I'd like to see people be able to vote by phone,online, or by postcard. They get a 12 digit code on their postcard which they can plug into a form on the website. If they lose the postcard (and 12 digit code) we send another postcard by first class mail. By making it quick and easy we'll increase voter turn out.

Candidate statements:
We'll always be restricted in size in the magazine, it's a fact of printing. If the statement, picture, whatever, fits within the size alloted and is not profane, it should not be touched by the Editor except for punctuation and grammar.

The UMCA should have a section of the website for FULL candidate statements, pictures, whatever the candidate wants. Technically this should be as easy as sending an email, so it shouldn't present any technical barriers to candidates if they have a computer. Candidates should be able to make real time updates to their statements (meaning they can do it themselves, they don't have to send it to the webmaster, who sits on it for three weeks)

Election Commissioner:
I think this is a waste of volunteer energy.

Election schedule:
Should stand as written in the bylaws.

Nomination process:
works fine.
 
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Saturday, August 11, 2007
  Seeking Input For UMCA Election Procedures

I recently agreed to serve on a committee to...well, you'll see. So, read it, and share your thoughts.

UltraMarathon Cycling Association
Charge to Committee on Board Elections
August 10, 2007

Committee members: Joe Jamison, chair, Nick Gerlich, Nancy Guth, Chris Hopkinson, John Hughes, Russ Loomis, Lou Lamoureux

Purpose: To define an annual electoral process that produces Boards of Directors capable of and committed to providing strategic leadership for the UMCA for the next five to ten years.

Principles: 1) Continue the UMCA’s governance structure as a representative democracy.

2) Solicit input from UMCA members

3) Consult with Committee to Increase Voter Turnout on recommended changes.

4) Provide a level playing field for all stakeholders. In every election there are multiple stakeholders: the candidates, the current officers and directors, the chairs and other volunteers and the general membership. The electoral process defined by this committee should provide a level playing field for all of the stakeholders. For example, if an officer cannot endorse a candidate, then no one in the UMCA can endorse a candidate.

Tasks:

1) UMCA Strategy: Review and discuss UMCA’s strategy and relationship to the Board and electoral process. — Complete by August 19, 2007

2) Election Commissioner: Discuss the position of a neutral Election Commissioner to manage the election process. — Complete by August 19, 2007

3) Election Schedule: Review and discuss the election schedule in the Bylaws and consider amending the schedule. — Complete by August 26, 2007

4) Nomination Process: Review and discuss the nomination process per the Bylaws and the 2007 election and consider amending. — Complete by September 2, 2007

5) Campaigning: Review and discuss the campaigning process per the Bylaws and the 2007 election and consider amending. — Complete by September 9, 2007

6) Voting: Review and discuss the voting and ballot-counting process per the Bylaws and the 2007 election and consider amending. — Complete by September 16, 2007

 
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  What's Next?

Anyone who's glanced at my training calendar or my waistline lately may be wondering "uh, are you going to move soon?"

RAAM is out of the question for at least two years, maybe more. Mentally, I've gotten to a point where I can move on from RAAM, but a part of me will never be satisfied until I complete the race. There are so many other things I'd like to do, Mountain biking, adventure racing, hiking. I've wanted to do the Great Divide Race for awhile, but that would require a substantial time commitment to complete (the fastest solo finisher took 18 days). I don't think I want to chase something that big yet. I think I learned about this from UltraRob.

Check out the Jeantex Transalp Race, it's just 600k and it's in the Italian Alps. Here's their site and another article from CNN.

I'd like to take the kids on hikes on the Appalachian Trail, but even closer to home is the Cross County Connector. I tried taking the kids on the CCT, but it currently has a lot of singletrack, so I can't pull the trailer, we'd have to hike it.

 
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Thursday, August 09, 2007
  Digital Girl In An Analog World

While at Sesame Place, Q asked for and received a Viewmaster. She thought it was a camera and the picture disks were DVDs.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
  Man Boobs, Cutting In Line, And An Overdose Of Elmo

This past weekend, I took the FAM to Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA for a vacation. I used my Marriott Points for a free hotel room (love Courtyard by Marriott). It's been a long time since I've been to any amusement park that wasn't under the Disney umbrella, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. First of all, it has a mix of water park activities and dry rides, so most people were in bathing suits. I saw a ton of "#1 DAD" t-shirts stretched over some incredibly large bodies. Which prompted me to think, wouldn't it be nice to create a company (Victor's Secret) to supply lift and separation for all those wayward man-boobs?

Probably 50% of the women were pregnant, which is good news if you are into that sort of thing...I happen to think pregnant women are beautiful, and ABL especially so...Speaking of which...

Despite many written warnings not to cut in line, the practice was rampant, and rudeness was the order of the day. Say what you want about Disney, they know how to make a queue. We were standing on line for the lazy river and making ok progress, when an employee came down and asked us to move the line (we were still outside the corral), mass chaos ensued as people went from an orderly line to a blob. We lost several places in line. About halfway through the line two women (my age or older) pushed their way through and I told them there was no cutting. They said they weren't cutting, someone was holding a place for them. Since that wasn't allowed either, they asked, "Is that your rule?" I replied that it was written all over the park and they said, "Well I didn't see it." And they pushed my kids out of the way. The lines weren't really that long, but with the chaos, line cutting, and lack of diversions they seemed longer.

Q's favorite attraction was the cargo net tower, there were cargo nets angled from one platform to the next and cargo net tunnels, which were very hard on my knees, but a lot of fun. RJ liked the small water slide which he called "Ernie and Bert fishing"

We were using this as a dry-run for Disney later this year and here's what we learned.

  1. We are definitely flying - 2 hours of "are we there yet?" will be much easier on my nerves than 14 hours of "Are we there yet?"
  2. We are staying on the property - This way we can quickly and easily get back to the room for lunch (the kids wouldn't eat any of the food at the park) and a nap (they were so worn out by 2pm that they couldn't go any more).

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  Why Does The UMCA Matter?

The UMCA sanctions most ultra-distance events (mostly the long events), what that means to me as a racer is if I want to participate in the races, I am required to be a member. The US Cycling Federation has a similar policy that anyone participating in a sanctioned race must be a member. The organizer of the race gets access to low cost insurance and free advertising space in the UMCA newsletter.

A yearly membership gives me access to the races and a magazine that looks like it was printed on a fax machine. The information is usually good, but I've been a member so long that some articles seem to be recycled versions of older articles. I could buy a race day membership that would give me access to that particular race. So, you can see, I have limited options if I want to race.

There is one other long distance group Randonneurs USA (RUSA), but they sanction randonneuring events which are not races.

The UMCA has been decidedly America-centric up until recently, so there has been some talk of creating a world governing body for ultracycling, after all, why should someone in England or France or Slovenia join a US organization (taxation without representation issues, lack of UMCA sanctioned events in their home country, and an english language magazine - basically they don't get anything they can use for their 25 Euros). The organization stalled and most likely has died on the drawing board.

A friend of mine recently asked, "Why not create an alternative organization?" While it would be possible to create an alternate organization, I'd like to see if the UMCA can be saved first. A new organization would need to put out a better quality magazine, recruit members fast, and would need to recruit the 12 race directors for RAAM Qualifiers to switch their races to the new organization. This is not an easy task and is best used as a weapon of last resort.

 
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
  I Say We Take Off And Nuke The Entire Site From Orbit

In the middle of the election, Joe Jamison quit the UMCA. He was so fed up with the bickering and apparently Fred Boethling threatened the Board with a lawsuit that he resigned his position on the Board, withdrew from the election, and quit the UMCA. The Managing Director then commented on what a sad day it was and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for driving Joe out of the UMCA.

After the election results were counted, Joe quietly accepted a seat on the Board. Nobody has been able to explain why. To my knowledge, Joe has never recanted his statement. He has never apologized, no one in the Board or the Managing Director will answer questions about his resignation. Joe Jamison needed to "Man Up" and not accept the position, but that would have allowed Chris Kostman to get on the Board and John Hughes does not want that.

Now, Joe Jamison has gone from being a quitter to the President of the UMCA Board. John Marino would like to be included in the Board meeting where they discuss the recent election. Joe is requiring John Marino to write a letter, get it notarized and send it by USPS describing exactly and in detail what UMCA bylaws were broken. This sounds like John Hughes ("It may have been unethical, but I didn't break any rules") is trying to set the playing field as well as delay Marino until after the Board meets. It's funny how rules are used when they are convenient and discarded when they are not.

Chris Kostman recently reminded me that there is one more position open on the Board. The 15th seat was supposed to be appointed by a vote of the RAAM Qualifier Race Directors at the same time as the main election, but that position is still open, nearly a year later. Once again showing corruption or incompetence.

When will this end? In my humble opinion, we need new leadership in the UMCA to wipe the slate clean, "Under New Management" style to wipe away the sins of the past and move forward. If John Hughes and the Board continue to operate in business as usual mode, the UMCA will not survive. I see John Hughes piloting this one into the ground and wondering where the hell the ground came from.

 
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  Top 6 Actors I Wish Were On Eureka

  1. Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender) - Ideally, he shows up for one episode as Jarod Einstein, solves a major technical problem and then disappears never to be heard from again.
  2. Tom Baker (Dr. Who) - The first time we see him he pops out of a phone booth at the back of Cafe Diem followed by Sony's Aibo. He knows absolutely everything and teaches Warp Dimension Physics at Eureka High.
  3. Dwight Schultz (Star Trek: TNG) - Most people know and love Dwight for his role as Howling Mad Murdoch, but I think his tortured Reg Barclay would work well on Eureka.
  4. Christopher Walken - That dude scares the crap out of me. I think Evil Scientist is right up his alley.
  5. Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) - She can scatter my atoms any day.
  6. Jeri Ryan (Star Trek Voyager) - You know you want to see her back in that Borg outfit!!!

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Monday, August 06, 2007
  Galacticly Stupid

George W. Bush recently signed a "wiretap without warrant" bill into law giving our "intelligence professionals" the ability to wiretap "foreign" phone and internet calls without requiring them to get judicial approval. I'm all for going after terrorists, but not at the expense of my civil liberties. If the so-called "intelligence professionals" want to wiretap someone they should be forced to get a warrant. Allowing them to wiretap without a warrant is just an excuse for the "intelligence professionals" to be lazy and/or incompetent, because they don't need to collect any actual evidence.

Speaking of lazy and incompetent, it seems that US taxpayers have been paying the Iraqi insurgents to attack our troops. We have equipped the Iraqi police force with weapons and body armor and one third of that equipment has been "lost" by the Pentagon. This isn't a handgun or two, the same people claiming to be responsible enough to wiretap without a warrant have lost 110,000 AK47's, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 pieces of Body Armor, and 115,000 helmets, which are most likely in the hands of insurgents right now being turned on our troops. I guess if you really want the war to continue the best way to do it is to arm both sides. Way to Go George Bush!

 
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Friday, August 03, 2007
  Dig 'Em

Post RAAM, I've been indulging in a few things that've been off limits for the past couple of years: Beer, Sugar Smacks, soda, etc.

Did you know a serving of Sugar Smacks is 27 grams? Did you also know that a serving contains 15 grams of Sugar? By my math that means it is 55% sugar. If you've ever had puffed wheat or puffed rice, you know that they don't weigh much by themselves, but double the weight by adding 15 grams of sugar and you've got Sugar Smacks. Yum.

Luckily I've convinced the kids it's an adult cereal (despite the cartoon frog on the box) and they wouldn't like it.

 
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Thursday, August 02, 2007
  Did People Blindly Follow "The Lee Mitchell Letter?"

UltraRob brought up a good point, did people blindly follow "the Lee Mitchell letter" or did John Hughes and company call in some favors? There's a third option and as the Psychic Cyclist (TM) I will predict OJ Simpson style "If John Hughes Did It".

I'm not saying he did stuff the ballot box, because there is absolutely no proof, but it would explain a few things and at this point, he's already shown that he would cross the line to stay in power. So, how do you stuff the ballot box and keep others from doing the same? First of all, you have to make it hard to stuff the box. In John Hughes case, for this election, he required that any member wishing to vote, had to sign a waiver of liability (which is a whole issue in and of itself) or have a signed waiver on file. Requiring a signature to vote discourages others from stuffing the box and let's face it, it would have been really easy to stuff the box the way the election used to be run.

Now, how do you stuff the box yourself? If you have the list, then you know there are a group of members who don't have a signature on file. You have your co-conspirators fill out a signed waiver for the member, so the signature matches or you let your co-conspirators copy the signatures directly from the waivers to the ballot. This is a hell of a lot easier than creating a direct mail piece and certainly cheaper. What do you think, Are John Hughes & Co capable of stuffing the ballot box or did they just call in a hundred favors?

 
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  This Is Just Wrong

I've already detailed how contentious this recent UMCA election has been, but this is just wrong...

I just received an email from Tom Buckley, the president of the UMCA Board. Apparently, the incoming Board members (not the outgoing members) voted to certify their own election results?!?!?!

 
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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