Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stormy Nights in Hawai'i

Most people believe the weather in Hawai'i is perfect all the time. That's an urban legend. In fact, it's only perfect about 340 days a year.

We do get occasional storm fronts and "cold fronts". I put "cold fronts" in quotes because our cold fronts aren't very cold, but they usually bring rain.

We've had almost-monsoon conditions for the last two or 3 days. Here on Maui, roads were washed out and the runway lights at Kahului Airport went out for an entire evening, stranding several thousand tourists for the night. I'm sure any airport in the other 49 States would have failed over to Emergency Power in an instant, but Hawai'i has infrastructure only slightly more advanced than, say, Haiti. On O'ahu, extremely rare lightning strikes brought down the power grid for the entire island. Initially, there was more-than-usual concern about this, because President-Elect Obama is vacationing on O'ahu's North Shore. I'm sure the Secret Service were shitting bricks, but everyone else calmed down about it when Obama himself - in his characteristic laid-back style - yawned about it and said (paraphrasing) "well, I guess I'll hit the hay a few hours early tonight. See ya.".

Over on The Big Island, there was a major blizzard on the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea yesterday, each of which are slightly above 14,000 feet. Blizzards in the winter are common over there, but somehow the juxtaposition of a blizzard within sight of people surfing and walking barefoot on the nearby beach is just too exotic for many people to grasp.

The above photo is of the Gemini Dome, the observatory on top of Mauna Kea, this morning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Update on RacerMom's Daughter

The daughter of RacerMom (mentioned in an earlier post) finished in the top 5 in one of the Europa Cup races in St Moritz last weekend, the top US finisher.

You go, girl.

It's great when somebody with whom you've got a personal connection does well, but above all, you just don't want them to wind up in the medivac chopper.

Riding with Andy Hampsten

I had the unexpected pleasure yesterday of meeting, and riding with, cycling legend Andy Hampsten, the only American winner of the Giro d'Italia.

What a cool guy, a smart guy, a good conversationalist, and a fabulous ambassador for the sport of cycling.

These days Hampsten splits his time between Tuscany and Colorado. In Tuscany he puts on cycling camps for wanna-bes like me, taking them riding through the hills of wine country.

Yesterday Go Cycling Maui held its annual Christmas ride, a local fun ride/race which usually attracts about 80 cyclists and usually morphs from a “ride” into a “race” amongst the fastest guys. It's a pretty tough ride (about 2 ½ hours with almost 3000 feet vertical) so everyone who participates is a pretty serious rider. Ryder Hesjedahl, who currently rides for the Garmin-Chipotle team and rode in both the Tour de France and the Olympics last year, rode too. Donnie Arnoult, the owner of Go Cycling Maui, made a point of introducing me to Hampsten before we started as a guy who “works behind the scenes at some of the biggest sporting events in the world, including the Tour of California”. Andy seemed interested, and we had a nice chat.

About halfway through the ride, on the way out to Kahikinui, I teamed up with a couple of guys into a pace line and we caught a group of about 5 riders about a half-mile in front of us. Cycling is all about strength in numbers. When we sucked onto the back of that group, there on the front was Hampsten, just cruising along, taking pulls in what I would guess is 2nd gear for a rider of his class. Riding in a pace line with Andy Hampsten. Ah, just another day out on the roads. How inspiring. There was a car filming the action and another taking photos, so perhaps I'll wind up with a photo of me on the front next to Hampsten at some point. Hope the photo doesn't show my belly hanging out.

In Lake Louise I got some in pretty good workouts on my AT skis and skins, but that was in -20C. Most of yesterday's ride took place in drizzly, cool conditions, so I felt pretty good despite zero time on my bike in the last month. However, Maui is known for microclimates, the weather can change from rain forest to desert in a mile. When we got out to the turnaround at MM 24, the weather had cleared, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, the temperature was > 90, and the humidity was palpable. My brains started to bake, and I drifted off the back of the group. Halfway back to Ulupalakua, I knew I was in trouble. 6 or 7 miles to go, all of it uphill, and I was cramping badly, I was out of water, and although I had Endurolytes with me (amazingly effective anti-cramp pills), my mouth was too dry to try to ingest any. Like a mirage, my friend Dan, who's a pretty good rider but was driving sag (maybe he's hurt), pulled up next to me in the sag wagon and yelled “hey, you look like you could use some water!”. If my lips weren't so dry, I'd have pulled over and kissed the man. He handed me two bottles through the window. I downed one whole bottle straight away along with about 10 Endurolytes. In two minutes, the cramps were gone. I limped back to Ulupalakua without seizing up, then sat down and drank 5 bottles of water in a row.

When I got back home to Kula, it was 55 degrees and raining. Where was THAT weather when I needed it? I felt sick and faint for the rest of the day, but hey, I got to ride with Andy Hampsten.

Due to my line of work, I've met a lot of sports legends in my time. Connors, Lendl, Edberg, Evert, Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, Bode Miller, Hermann Maier, Dale Earnhardt, Lance Armstrong, Rod Laver, Toni Sailer, Sinjin Smith, Mats Wilander, Sampras, McEnroe, Billy Cunningham, Ken Rosewall, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, Vijay Singh, Patrick Rafter, Boris Becker (to name a few). I would have to say, based on anecdotal evidence, that sports legends are no more and no less douche-y than the general public. I would also say their social grace seems to grow as they get further and further into retirement. Some of the above, like Edberg and Ashe and Laver, were true gentlemen at the zenith of their careers, which is difficult, because at that stage everyone wants a piece of them, everybody wants to be their best friend.

I didn't know Hampsten when he was a star, but in retirement he seems like a truly cool fellow, and it totally made my week to have had the chance to chat him up and take a few pulls on the front with him.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Riding the Brewster Bus with RacerMom

I had a depressing conversation earlier this week with the mother of a member of the US Ski Team. I was riding the Brewster Bus from Chateau Lake Louise to Calgary Airport, and the 50-something lady in the seat in front of me struck up a conversation. Turns out her daughter is an up-and-coming World Cup racer.

I explained my “part in the school play” of World Cup, and she was fascinated. She mostly understood what I was talking about, which is unusual, but she'd seen the end-product of what I do for a living, so it was pretty clear to her. She told me her daughter (who did quite well in the Lake Louise races) broke her leg last year, and the US Ski Team wouldn't pay her medical expenses. She had the leg reduced at the world renowned Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, and the operation & rehab cost $200,000. This woman was not wealthy, by any means. I mean, hell, she was riding on a bus. With me. Mr Successful Entrepreneur. I told her I was only riding the bus because my Gulfstream G550 was in the shop. She laughed. She's of modest means, and LL was the first World Cup she'd ever seen in person.

She said she fortunately maintains a health insurance policy on her daughter, and the insurance picked up most of the costs of the daughter's operation and rehab. The money hurt, the insurance premiums continue to hurt, but seeing her daughter finally back slugging it out in World Cup dulled the pain somewhat. I was stoked for her, she got to watch her daughter race World Cup in the flesh, and her daughter did pretty well. Fortunately the daughter didn't wind up in the nets. Ski racing can be brutal, even more so because the rewards are so meager. I mean, even stars like Bode Miller and Benni Raich only earn in a great season what Roger Federer or Phil Mickelson or Kobe Bryant earn in a decent week. And Mickelson won''t be walking with a limp when he's 50. At least not from playing golf.

This year was the first Lake Louise mens/womens back-to-back World Cup I can remember where no racers left the course in the medivac chopper. Touch wood.

I have never met RacerMom's daughter, but I recognized her name of course. The mom is a real sweetheart. Smart, too. I won't reveal her name here, as this blog has been getting quite popular, and I'm starting to get some fairly substantial blowback from people offended by my enraged frothing rants. As cathartic as my rages here have proved to be, I'm going to stop naming names where possible from this point forward, because there are evidently douchebags lurking in these woods, in addition to friends and colleagues. You know who you are, motherfuckers. Go away.

But anyhow, my conversation with RacerMom made me wonder. I bet none of the other top teams make their athletes pay their own medical expenses. I bet Didier Cuche and Aksel Lund Svindal and Renate Götschl and Eric Guay don't pay a dime to get the best medical care available in their respective countries. I will research this and report back at a later date.

What RacerMom told me jived with a conversation I had in Maui on a bike ride with a male US Ski Team downhiller last year, who said the US Team refused to get him the therapy he needed to recover from a major injury, so he had to go to his parents to fund the medical care he needed to get back on the World Cup Tour. This downhiller wasn't exactly rich either, nor are his parents. He's from a working class family. He's a really great kid, and he's back and he's winning, so all I can say is any success he has couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

The US Ski Team. Sigh. Another thing - in addition to Homeland Security and TSA - to make me ashamed to be an American.

Homeland Security?

For starters, the name "Department of Homeland Security" is unbelievably lame. Sounds like an obscure "dirty tricks" bureau headquartered deep inside the Reichstag in 1941. Only a numbskull like George Bush could come up with such a dumb name.

But what really irks me about the DHS is that they suck. Let's not even talk about the Katrina fiasco. Don't get me started on Michael Chertoff. Do you want to know who's winning Bush's "War on Terror"? Here's a suggestion. Go to any departures terminal at LAX, JFK, or any major US airport at 8:00 on a Tuesday morning, and stand there & watch for a few minutes. Highly-trained TSA technicians pawing through the medications of semi-ambulatory octogenarians. Lawyers in $2500 Hugo Boss suits walking on filthy floors in their socks. Hundreds, if not thousands of people angry, bored, delayed & demeaned. Ocassionally desperate. The airline business in shambles.

We're not winning. I don't think the DHS even has the correct objective identified. I personally think the Bush Administration and DHS have done more to destroy our quality of life than any rag-tag group of terrorist diaperheads could ever do directly, and chaos is their objective, so they are winning. Look at our airports, look at our economy, look at our job market, look at our 401(k)s. The progress that has been made, has been made on a grass-roots level, American by American. I think the American people are sucking it up and "hardening the fuck up", in the words of the Australian comic known as "Chopper". For example, I predict it will be a long time before another successful hijacking of an American airliner, because anybody attempting such a thing is going to get his ass kicked by some truly pissed-off passengers, regardless of the techniques and weapons used by the hijacker. The passengers will tear the guy apart, limb from limb.

In a country where guys like Larry Page and Steven Jobs literally change the way we live almost overnight through their sheer brilliance (although I still don't like Apple products, for the most part), we wait in line for an hour, we take our laptops out of their cases, we remove our shoes, put our toothpaste in a plastic baggie . . . . . . . and we are rejected by the 1975-era scanner because our belt buckle is made from steel.

Of course, Page has his own 767 and Jobs has a G5 which the Apple Board of Directors GAVE him, unsolicited (along with enough money to pay the taxes on the gift), so I don't think those two guys are going to devoting much mental energy to airport security-related solutions. But this is America, we could solve this problem if our government really gave a shit.

One thing that makes me optimistic about Barack Obama is that only a year ago, he was flying commercial, in coach. He's been there, waiting in line, looking at his wristwatch, walking around in his socks, wondering if he'd make it home that night to see Sasha and Malia. I'm sure he remembers. I'm sure he knows how fucked up our Department of Homeland Security is. In 40 days it's his problem. Maybe he'll fix it.

If you're wondering what sparked this diatribe, it's two things.

(1) I showed up at Calgary Airport on Tuesday at 5AM for a 7AM flight. US Customs wasn't even open yet. I trudged over toward Customs and got in line. I stood there sweating in the overheated terminal bldg, muttering to myself. 5 AM and I was already having a shitty day. By 5:30, Customs still wasn't open, and I overheard two American Airlines AAgents talking in hushed tones about some sort of technical breakdown. At about 5:40, the line started to move. Barely. A DHS agent came out and announced that DHS's computers were down, and every Canadian Airport was on "manual Customs procedures for departures". I guess that's not good, because it took me almost 90 minutes to clear Customs, and I was one of the first hundred or so people in line.

It had nothing to do with Canada or with Canadians. It was 100% the fault of US DHS.

(2) After I got home, I got a note from my colleague Jim. The previous day, he'd been in the same line with a female member of the US Ski Team. She'd fractured her arm at the World Cup races in Lake Louise. She was in pain and couldn't push her baggage cart very well. She left the cart on the other side of the ropes while she proceeded through the long maze, giving it a shove along every time she proceeded through two turns in the maze. It was never out of her sight, but was mostly out of her reach. When she got up to the Customs booth, the asshat Customs Officer made her open and empty all seven of her bags because she had "left them unattended".


To their credit, TSA now has a blog.

I'm sure most of the entries left on there by the public fall somewhere between furious rants and blind rage. I myself, uncharacteristically :=) have dropped several furious rants on them, although I'm sure you have trouble believing an easy-going guy like me could be so undiplomatic. No doubt my ragings weren't the worst of what was left that day.

Give it a try yourself. Venting is theraputic.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sweet Redemption, with a Dash of Revenge

Yesterday's womens DH was, in a word, sweet redemption. My colleagues Peter and Tobias slightly reworked the RADAR graphic to make it a bit smaller and a bit easier to read at a glance, and it looks cooler than ever. The DATA from both RADARs was great. RADAR 2, at the course section known as Gun Barrel, has been close to perfect for two weeks. OTOH, RADAR 1 (at Tickety Chutes), has been spotty. My colleague Mike, who is the most technical guy (with the possible exception of myself) on the TIMING crew and is a genuine factory-certified conehead (for me, a designation which denotes true respect), has tinkered tirelessly with the placement and aiming of RADAR 1 for two weeks and he finally found the sweet spot.

The TV show looked great. We were all stoked.

The weather sucked, and the start had to be moved down a few hundred meters to the "bad weather start", which doesn't really mean much except my other colleague Brian had to work his ass off to move all the start dreck and re-wire all of our gadgets a half-hour before the start. In the "old days", when I was starter for TAG Heuer, I kinda liked those bad weather days, because I could haul all the crap down myself (I was young and strong) and I'd re-wire everything myself, it gave me a chance to be the hero for a day. When you're starter, it's pretty rare to get a chance to be a hero. It's one of those jobs you can screw up fairly easily, but it doesn't offer many opportunities to excel. It's mostly routine, but it's kinda fun because you're on TV a lot, and you get to hang out with the racers. One time in Beaver Creek I was a hero when a forerunner literally sheared off the internal start gate mechanism two minutes before first racer. The gate looked fine, but it didn't give a start impulse and it felt funny to me as I snapped it shut. I was able to diagnose the problem immediately and since I was a pack mule, I had a spare in my backpack, which wasn't always the case in those days. Most of the other starters didn't carry a spare because they're heavy, bulky, and almost never fail. The wands occasionally shatter so you always carry spare wands, but a mechanical failure happens maybe once a decade. I grabbed the spare and got to work. When TV went on the air, rather than showing the first racer staged in the gate, they showed my ass as I knelt in the start, working furiously on setting up the replacement start gate. Quick mechanical replacement, quick re-wiring, quick re-test, the first racer was one minute late in starting, but other than that minor hiccup, the race that day went smoothly. If I hadn't noticed the squishy feel of the start gate mechanism when I snapped the gate closed after the final forerunner, the first racer would have left on time but we wouldn't have gotten a start impulse for him, so we'd have been forced to go to backup "hand timing" for the first racer and the race would have had to have been stopped while I replaced the gate on live TV. That would have been pretty bad. If I hadn't had a spare gate mechanism, the race would have been delayed for at least 15 minutes while a replacement gate was brought up to the start by snowmobile, which would have been a REALLY bad and embarrassing thing for TAG Heuer and for the entire crew.

Anyway, back to the RADAR. I heard a few of the team coaches expressed doubts about the RADAR's accuracy in the team meeting last night, which is predictable because ski racing is a sport which abhors change, even if said change is for the better. I wish I'd been allowed to answer their questions in the meeting, because I'd have made an excellent expert witness. I know a lot about RADAR, but I'd have made no technical arguments, I'd have spoken two and only two sentences. To paraphrase my colleague Doug DeAngelis, I'd have said this:

"Properly calibrated and operated RADAR readings from these very devices is admissible as prima facie evidence in a court of law. Any further questions?".

TV loves the RADAR, the fans love it, it's easier to set up than photocells, it enables us to measure speed at points of the course too dangerous for photocells. Decades of legal precedent have established that RADAR is indisputible except for cases of mistaken identity (RADAR clocks the wrong object) or mis-calibration. The former is impossible in this case, as due to safety reasons, the racers are alone on the course. The latter is very easily verifiable with a tuning fork, a procedure which we perform on a regular basis. The crime lab-certified homologation certificates for all our RADARs are in the filing cabinet in my office.

The screenshots above are the Kitzbühel-spec real-time RADAR graphics we used for the mens races.

The following are screenshots of the slightly smaller, Corvette Stingray-style RADAR graphic we used yesterday for womens DH #1:

Friday, November 21, 2008

There's No Dumbass Like a Rich, Arrogant, Ignorant Dumbass


OK....dumb, arrogant, ignorant, rich douchebags are, well, dumb, arrogant, and so forth, so let's make this a multiple choice question:


You're the CEO of a Big-Three auto manufacturing company. You're coming to Washington to beg, hat in hand, for a multi-billion-dollar bailout in front of a skeptical Congress. You're crying poor-mouth, you're vowing change in the way you do business.

Do you:

A) Pile into a plug-in hybrid prototype with the other two CEOs and DRIVE to Washington from Detroit, reaping huge publicity rewards? ("Yo Waggoner - ROAD TRIP!")

B) Drive into Washington from, say, Wilmington, in a 3-car plug-in hybrid prototype convoy, showing off the type of "green" products your respective companies plan to produce once Congress gives you the money?

C) Fly commercial in First Class?

D) Fly commercial in Cattle Class?

E) All three of you get on the telephone, order your respective Gulfstream corporate jets to spool up, and fly all three jets almost side-by-side from Detroit to Washington, spending $7500 an hour apiece on gilded transport?

Take the challenge. Depending on your answer, you may be more qualified to run one of the Big-3 Detroit Automakers than are the current douchebags.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"One Who Seems To Have No First Language"

Irrespective of factual accuracy, I think I'm a pretty smart guy. One phrase I don't find myself uttering very often is "I wish I was as smart as [insert name here]".

In this case, it is with a huge amount of appreciation (if not envy) that I state the following:

I wish I was as smart as Dick Cavett.

Pure genius in print.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Going Long on "Money Honeys"

Warning: This post is NOT politically correct.

If the old saying "as goes GM, so goes the country" has any validity, then we're all up Shit Creek without a paddle. GM just went South of $3 (down 95% over just a year ago) and Henry Paulson has, apparently, completely lost control of the $700 billion "bailout" to the point where nobody, including Paulson, knows how much money has gone where, and to whom.

But in every bear market there's a silver lining. As I sat at my desk watching Yahoo Finance clips, drinking tea, and having my morning cry about the state of my 401(k), I couldn't help but notice the astonishing beauty and smooth, detached, cool, analytical demeanor of the bevvy of gorgeous talking heads telling me I'm completely fucked (in the financial sense). Alexis Glick, Jenna Lee, Rebecca Gomez, and Dagen McDowell of Fox Business News would look just as feng shui in a Cosmo photo spread as they do in their Wall Street / London studios, discussing the cratering economy glibly with "The Godfather of Hedge Fund Lawyers".

Where the hell does Rupert Murdoch find these babes?

The whole "Money Honey" thang started about 5 or 6 years ago with Maria Bartiromo of CNBC, who's not really that beautiful, but is witty, knowledgable, engaging, and a helluva lot easier on the eyes than Jim Kramer. Bartiromo, in fact, has personally trademarked the phrase "money honey". Bartiromo is smart as hell and seems down-to-earth, I could see her doing a sweaty strip-tease on top of a trading terminal to a funk tune after a few too many dirty martinis at the CNBC Christmas party.

Building on the success of Maria, CNBC then hired Sue Herrera, who also looks good on the air but doesn't seem to have the same raw smarts as Bartiromo.

Personal Note: I almost, literally, bumped into Herrera on a crowded walkway at the US Open a few years ago. She smiled at me as we almost did a chest-bump. She's a bottle blonde with a big Jackie-O beehive, a wide flabby ass (too much time in the anchor chair and not enough in the gym), you wouldn't look twice if you saw her on the subway. Pretty, genuine smile, though. Nice teeth. But she should avoid wearing white pants in public.

Recognizing a successful formula, CNBC then upped the ante by hiring the beautiful (and much younger) brunette Erin Burnett, who seems to be every bit as smart and savvy as Bartiromo. Burnett (to her credit) is apparently celebrating her brunette-ness. She's raven-haired and loving it, doesn't even attempt to bleach or streak her raven locks. As a matter of fact, I think Burnett might be going darker, as I initially saw her with a Rene Russo-esque reddish-brown coiff, but these days she seems to have gone almost an Alisa Milano black.

In his typical style, Murdoch is late to the game but he's going big. He hired the above-mentioned FOUR beauties for Fox Business News, each of which is more gorgeous and just as young as CNBC's Burnett. None seems to be quite as smart as Bartiromo or Burnett, and they all show traces (if you listen carefully) of high school giggly speech affectations. But, hey, when you're 26, you've got time to clean that up.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lake Louise In My Future

One of the ways I keep myself entertained this time of year is to keep track of the change of seasons at my World Cup client venues (Lake Louise & Kitzbühel) and my favorite places to ski (Snowbasin, Deer Valley, Beaver Creek).

Canadians in general, and the Lake Louise R.O.C in particular, are tough, resourceful mofo's. The Eurotrash wankmeisters at FIS bitch and moan about coming over to North America, but fuck them.....they come over here before it's even winter and get training runs and races off like clockwork at LL and at Beaver Creek (race venue run by my colleague & friend Greg Johnson). In the last 3 years, LL has hit their marks on 17 out of 18 training runs and 15 out of 15 speed races. In NOVEMBER. Meanwhile, European Club-5 member Val d'Isere has been canceled, what, 3 years running now, due to no snow?

Here's a photo of Lake Louise today, Nov 7th. They've made snow from top to bottom on the downhill course, and they are selling lift tickets to the public tomorrow.

This is what it looks like during World Cup:

In two weeks, I'll be there with my partner Ted and my team of timing geeks, setting up for World Cup. Will there be enough snow to race downhill on? Hell, knowing Lake Louise, it'll be -35C by then.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More on BirdieSync

About a week ago, Sunbird 0.9 became available. I started to install it, but then it occurred to me that it might break BirdieSync, which claims(ed) compatibility only with Sunbird 0.8.

Within a couple of days, BirdieSync released a new version which supports Sunbird 0.9.

BirdieSync is a winner. I just paid them their license fee.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AKI Wins "Pick Hit" Award at IBC

AKI just won a prestigious "Pick Hit" award at IBC in Amsterdam:


The award is for their product AKI LiveBox, a news content-creation product which automates news graphics and stored video clips, either standalone or within an ENPS/MOS workflow environment.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

BirdieSync, Windows Mobile, and Mozilla

I spent years writing application software for the elegant, excellent-for-its-time Palm OS. Unfortunately, Palm lost the war. Fantastic engineering, horrible marketing, no business savvy. This past summer I reluctantly gave up my Treo for an ATT Tilt with WM6. WM6 is typical Microsoft – horribly bloated, slow as molasses, confusing as hell. A ton of cheap / free apps available. Although pretty hopeless as a phone, the browser / e-mail client work great.

An example of WM6's Calendar, if you mark an event for a time period (say 10-11 AM) on a given day, the calendar displays a tiny caret on that day on your monthly calendar so you know you've got something going on at a glance. However, if you mark an event as an "All-Day" event (99% of mine are all-day), WM6 displays nothing on the monthly calendar view to remind you at a glance. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

The one thing that really pissed me off most about the WM6 experience was you have to BUY and use Microsoft Outlook in order to sync the Tilt with your PC. I gave M$ my $50 while holding my nose and tried it for 6 months. Outlook is also typical M$, i.e. horribly bloated, slow, and infuriating.

I just bought a new laptop and, whilst gagging as I waited for almost 1 gig of M$ Office to download so that I could install Outlook, I stumbled upon a British app called BirdieSync, which supposedly allows sync-ing WM6 with Thunderbird and Sunbird. There's a free trial, and the software costs €19.95 (about $30 US). I gave it a try.

Installs in a jif.

Difficult to configure, no doubt because M$ makes it as difficult as possible.

Sunbird blows the Outlook calendar away (duh), and of course comparing Thunderbird to Outlook is like comparing a Porsche 911 Turbo to a Buick.

A few tips:

1) BirdieSync installs a submenu in both Sunbird and Thunderbird under TOOLS. Most of what can go wrong can be solved in those menus. When the Activesync process fails, the error messages are usually pretty useless, but the answer can usually be found in the TOOLS -> BirdieSync submenu.

2) BirdieSync is very particular about time zones. In order to sync Sunbird properly, the time zone on your WM6 device must be EXACTLY the same as in Sunbird -> Tools -> Options -> Time Zone.

3) When configuring Activesync (Tools -> Options) the usual suspects (contacts, calendar, etc) apply only to Outlook. For BirdieSync, “Cards” means the Address Book in Thunderbird, “Events” means the Calendar in Sunbird, and “Mails” means the e-mails in Thunderbird.

4) On the BirdieSync site, there's a sentence in the support section saying “please consult the FAQ, almost any question you've got is already answered there”. I found that to be true. Getting everything syncing properly took me a solid hour of futzing around, and every seemingly complicated question I had was indeed answered (sometimes a bit cryptically) in the FAQ.

5) Unlike Palm Desktop and Outlook, if Birdiesync encounters a problem while sync-ing, it won't warn and continue. It warns and then sits down in the middle of the highway like an obstinate camel and stops dead. You must correct the error condition, then unplug the USB sync cable, then re-connect the cable, and then re-attempt sync. Not necessarily a bad thing, but different, so be aware.

Monday, September 15, 2008

AKISPORT USA Is Now Open For Business

If you're in the market for the world's best High-Definition Broadcast Tools:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Omega's Slime in The New York Times

The Swatch Group and its divisions Swiss Timing, Longines, Omega, and Tissot, are liars, cheaters, and thugs. They bribe, the commit contractual fraud, they blackmail, they falsify results, and they threaten events & other timing & scoring vendors in a massive worldwide effort to dominate the Olympics and World Cup in various sports such as swimming, cycling, and ski racing. They are kings of conflict-of-interest. And technically speaking, they are pretty lousy at timing. Their technology is, for the most part, stuck squarely in the Apollo era.

My part in various parties' battles against Swatch have been as technical backup to others fighting for an open marketplace in Olympic & World Cup sport, such as the Austrian Ski Team (ÖSV), Precision Timing of Montreal, Rolex, the Kitzbüheler Ski Club, and TAG Heuer. Much of this conflict has been fought behind the scenes.

Occasionally, some light is shed onto Swatch's slimy practices. Yesterday was one of those days. The New York Times went after Omega's slime in a big way, in no uncertain terms.

I hope this article is a sign that the decades-long efforts of Ted Savage (my partner in my winter sports group) toward technical transparency and an open vendor marketplace in timed Olympic & World Cup sports are gaining some traction. My part in this battle has been significantly smaller than his, but it has been my battle too. We have won some battles, and we have lost some too. This fight has not made us any money, rather, it has cost us both professionally and personally. But we will continue to fight for fairness, transparency, and verifiable written standards for electronic timing in professional sport.

With the kind of under-the-table money The Swatch Group throws around, this effort by The New York Times is probably just a blip. There's probably somebody over at The Swatch Group right now boxing up a bunch of $25,000 Patek Phillippe wristwatches (another Swatch brand) to send to the editorial staff at The New York Times as a "gift".

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Snow Gods Appeased?

At some point, I must have pissed off The Snow Gods. I don't know where, I don't know when, but I must have done it.

Working in the ski racing biz, The Snow Gods are important. Perhaps the MOST important thing. Except for the Serendipity Gods, of course - the ones that bite you on the ass despite development, testing, failover planning, and so forth. In the "old days", I can remember World Cup races at Snowbasin, Beaver Creek, and Vail (amongst others) being canceled due to TOO MUCH SNOW, which is sort of the ultimate accident of nature for a guy like me. I're at the mountain (sometimes via police escort because the roads to the venue may be closed to the public, due to snow), your skis & boots are there, the races are generally canceled by around 8 AM, and then you've got absolutely nothing to do for the rest of the day....except ski all that fresh pow off. On a mountain that's probably closed to the public. Your on-piste race pass gets you on any lift at any time. In a pinch you can even occasionally commandeer a snowmobile. Some of the best powder days of my life occurred (for example) during the US Nationals at Snowbasin in 1994, and again during the World Alpine Championships at Beaver Creek in 1999.

But the last few years, it seems The Snow Gods have turned against me. In 2007, I sat around with my thumb up my ass for a week in Kitzbühel in 50 degree weather, watching a week of violent rainstorms wash away what little snow remained on the Hahnenkamm DH course. This year (2008) at Kitz, I had two great alpentouring powder days just before DH training started with my good friends from the Kitzbüheler Ski Club (thanks Hermann & Micchey!!), but then the weather then turned against us; both the Hahnenkamm DH and the Super-G were run from their respective bad-weather starts, which was a bummer for all concerned.

So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I scheduled a quick dash to Argentina last week to try to get some skiing in the Andes Mountains. I figured The Snow Gods were going to hose me, so I planned to get some pleasant socializing accomplished, drink a few bottles of Malbec, and maybe get up on a few mountains to have a look around.

I guess The Snow Gods must now like me again, because out of 6 ski days in Argentina, 4 of them were freshie spectaculars. I started out in Bariloche with three powder days at Cerro Catedral. I hired professional mountaineering guides to ski with me through CASA (, because the best skiing in The Andes isn't in bounds, it's off-piste in some fairly dangerous places. We absolutely raged. Climbing on skins, hiking out of bounds, we got some of the best fresh tracks I've had in years. Many thanks to Lucas and Craig of CASA. Then on to San Martin de los Andes, a really cool little town about the size of Park City. I skied two days at Chapelco, which were pretty crappy. Bad viz, a bit of rain, a lot of fog, and out of bounds was out of the question (even with professional guides) because the snowpack was extremely unstable and two guys had been wiped out by an avalanche 4 days before we arrived.

Then - the last day at Cero Bayo. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Drove from San Martin de los Andes down to Villa Angostura the night before, and it rained like hell the whole day, the whole way. The road to Angostura was about 2000 feet below the bottom of Bayo, so I was hoping all the precipitation was snow up at the ski mountain.

It was.

What a day. Cerro Bayo had blue sky, a half-meter of fresh pow, so much snow in fact that the road up the mtn from Villa Angostura was almost closed. Almost. We encountered a traffic jam of stranded cars, but in a hilarious display of a vigorous game of "ultimate clusterfuck", anxious skiers jumped out of their vehicles (stuck or not) and pushed any stuck cars off the road so we could get up to the lifts. This is in August, mind you. While everyone else in North America was sweating their asses off, and everyone else in the sports biz in in Beijing breathing toxic air. Went huge all day long, and in fact left a lot of fresh powder untracked up there, because when they shut the lifts down on us around 5 PM, there were still plenty of freshies to be found. I was so spent, I could barely put one foot in front of the other to make it back to the car. Just to put a nice exclamation point on the day, the owner of CASA was skiing with us that day, and he shot some video of me going off, which he kindly edited into a nice snippet with music and sent to me. So here it is, sports fans: Cerro Bayo on a bluebird August day.

Guess this old bod still has a few powder days left in it.

Thanks to The Snow Gods. Whatever I did to piss you off, guys, I am sorry to the bottom of my heart, and thanks for giving me another chance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

REAL Sports Are Timed, Not Judged

There really out to be a law.


I wonder what percentage of Olympic sports are judged, not timed. They should throw the judged ones into the shit-can, where they belong.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Say Bye Bye to the US Hopeless

I just found out yesterday that for the first time since 1988, I will not be at this year's US Open. My tennis software licensee, IDS, has decided they can carry the ball without me, they do not need my onsite support.

Upon hearing the news, I admit being stunned for about 2 seconds, after which I ran out the front door screaming for joy and did cartwheels down the street.

Figuratively, of course.

I've been anticipating this for a long time. If I never go to Flushing Meadows again in my life, I won't miss it one bit - the slums, the smell, the crime, the filth, the noise. It's a horrible place, and it's a national embarrassment to hold our national championships in such a festering armpit.

I'm going skiing in Argentina to celebrate. For at least 15 years, I've had a hard-on to ski in August, but I never could do it because of my commitment to the US Open. This year, I can finally do it.

Frankly, I'm too old for the US Open now. It requires a lot of energy - psychic and physical - that I no longer have. It has never been fun, it's always been the low-light of every year, although it was an interesting challenge from 1988 to about 1998. Now it just sucks, it's a chore, and was something I dreaded every year, all year long. For 20 years I've said my typical year is divided up into the 4 months I spend recovering from the US Open, the 4 months I spend preparing for the US Open, the month I spend at the US Open, and then there's one month where I try not to think about the US Open.

A few weeks ago I flew back from Brussels into JFK, and had to take a taxi over to LGA. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, yet I was fill with loathing and disgust for that part of Long Island as we sat in traffic on the Van Wyck.

My time at the US Open is done. Yay.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I Love Technology

There are days I hate technology, and then there are days I love it. Today is one of the latter.

For four years I have carried a Palm Treo phone in my pocket. I was one of the "early adopters", and as a Palm programmer, I loved the fact that the C++ toolkit for Palm OS was free. This meant that hundreds of thousands of programmers were out there writing software for Palm OS (including me), so in those rare cases where I couldn't find a Palm program for free or for $19 to do almost anything (English-German translation, for example), I could roll my sleeves up and write the damn thing myself.

Unfortunately, Palm lost the war. The unbelievably incompetent management at Palm snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and the elegant, superb Palm OS is headed for the scrap heap.

After evaluating the alternatives, I eschewed the iPhone because (a) Apple stuff is more style than substance, (b) I didn't want to keep iTunes, which is WORSE than a virus, running on my PC in order to synch the iPhone, and (c) The iPhone is locked, so I can't use it with my European SIMs (such as A1 in Austria). Yes, it is possible to jailbreak and unlock an iPhone, but fuck Steve Jobs for fighting programmers.

So went over to The Dark Side and I bought an HTC Tilt a few days ago, which runs Windows Mobile 6. One of the reasons I chose the Tilt is because it has an internal GPS, and I had a vague idea that perhaps that would come in handy sometime.

Today was that day. This thing has already paid for itself, at least in my mind.

I am on holiday in the San Juan Islands. After a brutal week working dawn to dusk in Calgary, I brought my Ritchey Breakaway bike out here with the idea of riding my ass off for a few days. There is some GREAT riding here, however, the roads are very confusing because the islands zig-zag NW and NE whereas the roads all run E-W and N-S.

Riding with paper maps is difficult, because the maps get all soggy and fall apart in your jersey pocket. If the map is big enough to be effective, then folding it up and putting it away a few times destroys it.

What I discovered is that the Tilt is the ultimate bike touring accessory. Running Google Maps / WM and receiving data from the GPS, I just ride in whatever direction looks interesting, and when I need to figure out where I am, I just whip out the Tilt and the GPS tells me precisely. In addition, if I need to find - for example - water or a bike shop, I can just type that into Google Maps, and up pops all the choices nearby.

I had one of the most fun rides of my life today, weaving in and out of all the byzantine coves and coastal towns in and between Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley WA without the slightest worry as to how the hell I was going to find my way home. I just cruised, taking every dinky little back road I could find, and when I started to get tired, I turned around and headed home on the route dictated by Google Maps and my Tilt's GPS.

Today, I love technology.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Kitzbühel In The Summer

Dropped in on my bro's at the KSC the other day on my way back from the Czech Republic. As great as Kitzbühel is in the winter, it's ten times as great in the summer.

One of the most amazing things I found is that the KSC froze the steep parts of the course so hard for the race that there's still almost two meters of snow left on some of the steeper sections, like the exit of the Steilhang and at the bottom of the Mausefalle.

You can still see my neon green tape (with notes to Andy & Brian) on the wiring box at the Alte Schneisse.

Hermann at the Alte Schneisse.

Petra is going to scout an area for a FIS-piss tree in Kitzbühel

This is the exit to the Steilhang, where Bode skied up onto the Vexar during the 2008 DH to keep from dying. Still almost two meters of snow there.

You could still ski down the Steilhang, no problem, on May 25.

The KSC Mountain Goat stands watch proudly over the golf course. The Hausebergkante and the Zielschuss have a high "pucker factor" even in the summer.

Yours truly at the Alte Schneisse breakover.
Hermann at the bottom of the Mausefalle.

James at I1.
The top of the Kitzbühelerhorn seems to have more snow on it in late May than it did during the race.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Closest Finish

For 2008, I upgraded the entire Pit Crew Challenge timing system from 1/100 resolution to 1/1000 resolution. The teams are so evenly matched....they use the same equipment, they train the same way, they use the same coaches; like any NASCAR race out on the track, the PCC is extremely close competition.

The upgrade came in handy. In the Skills competition, the Top 10 in each discipline were covered by about 1.5 seconds.

Here's the Lynx image of the closest finish - 2 vs 31. Decided by 0.052 seconds.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's NASCAR Time

In Charlotte for the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge. Always a trip to parachute into NASCAR world for a few days. Started things off by going to my favorite soul food restaurant, Mert's Heart and Soul, with Trampass & Brandy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


It's over, and I'm back home.

A special shout-out to my friends GaryB from Pa'ia, GeorgieP from Melbourne, and Leonard from Palm Beach. All three of these fine fellows sent me notes of encouragement during the 8-day ordeal called the Amgen Tour of California, which kept me going and reminded me to keep updating this blog. Sharing this experience with friends is what this blog is all about.

Here are some screen-shots of my work during the ATOC. Many of you who watched the broadcasts have already seen these, but you may not have known it was me pulling the strings behind the curtain.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Disaster In the Making?

The ultimate stage of the ATOC could be a disaster. It's been pissing down rain for 24 hours, the Rose Bowl is a soggy mess, and there's been talk that the roads up in the mountain passes in the middle of the stage are icy. Up until a few minutes ago, I heard the race jury were considering scrapping most of the stage (the mountainous run-in from Santa Clarita) and just running a crit around Pasadena.

The NEP production truck is leaking - right into the switcher. Will the aircraft containing the cameras and the wireless be allowed to fly? That's another critical question of the hour.

This is a classic example of why bike racing is nowheresville in the US. Americans like their sports run under tightly controlled environments. If somebody is going to risk a lot of money on a television production, it must not only be a good close contest, but it must finish on time and within a tightly scripted envelope. Bike racing, on the other hand, even under the best of circumstances, is simply a big string ball of chaos.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Santa Clarita

If there's one good thing about my participation in the Tour of Calif, it's the fact that I get to drop in for a few hours on my sister, my parents, and my nephews. Yesterday after the Solvang TT I drove to Santa Barbara and took my sister's two sons, Christo and Tyler, both of whom are students at Cal Santa Barbara, out to dinner. It was a quick but fun visit. I also did laundry at Christo's apartment, which helped both my logistics and my state of mind.

Today is, in my opinion, the best stage of the ATOC. We stay at the Hyatt Valancia, which is the nicest hotel of the tour, and the finish area is literally 10 meters from the hotel's parking lot. So last night I got some decent sleep in a decent bed, and was able to wake up leisurely, since the hotel is right at the finish line and the race started at 11 instead of 10.

Today the riders are racing from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita through the mountains. It's a murderous climbing stage and the weather is deteriorating, but right now we're an hour from the finish and the rain hasn't started, so the finish may look decent on TV. The forecast for tomorrow's final stage is terrible. Windy with heavy rains.

Word among the worker bees is that the event is going no further North than Santa Clarita next year. Due to atrocious weather ruining several stages this year, there will be stages in the San Diego and Palm Springs areas next year instead of the San Francisco area. I'm sure Levi will be disappointed that he can't ride into his hometown, Santa Rosa, next year, but the Santa Rosa stage has logistical and design problems and has been a lousy stage every year anyway.

Solvang has been a nice time trial every year, so I'll be sorry to see that one go. But the hotels in Solvang blow, so my aching back will perhaps be happy if it winds up in a hotel with better beds at a more Southern TT next year.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Intermediates via eVDO

The eVDO intermediates via web services actually worked quite smoothly, and they made air quite a bit. It really was held together with bailing wire and chewing gum, as Bruce told me he was right on the edge of eVDO coverage and his POST updates timed out about 50% of the time. The internet coverage here in the TV truck sucked too, so my GETs were timing out about 25% of the time too. Nonetheless, it was great information and the director used the hell out of it. Check for the "12K Time Check" graphic, for example, in the final segment with Millar's and Leipheimer's intermediate time.

Solvang Intermediates

The good news is the satellite guys got the satellite VPN going yesterday, as a proof-of-concept. I e-mailed my TTWare timing software down to one of their technicians in LA. He was sitting in one of their mobile units idling in the parking lot of their offices near LAX, running TTWare. I was 300km away in San Luis Obispo, running TV graphics to the 1/10 second from his data. It was cooler than hell. Tracy and Eric, the satellite guys, were stoked. There was about a 3/10 second latency, which is amazing considering every UDP packet send out by TTWare has to travel 22,000 miles from LA straight up to a satellite, and then 22,000 miles straight down again to me in SLO.

The bad news is that Jimmy B, the race organizer, decided not to pay for the satellite service today for the Solvang TT. It's a bummer, but I can't say I blame him. For a one-hour tape-delayed show, real-time on-air running clocks for the intermediate is a cool luxury but hardly a necessity. Even if we ran live timing via the satellite link all day, probably only 3 or 4 racers at the intermediate would make air in such a short show. Hell, with the weather forecast looking so bad, we probably won't have any video footage from the time check anyway, because the RF video links have been spotty at best.

So what we're doing is this. I'm sending my colleague Bruce out to the 12k Time Check with a laptop PC running TTWare, and an eVDO modem. He's going to time the intermediate with TTWare, and my TTLiveToWeb software plug-in will update one of my test servers back at my office in Hawai'i. In the truck, I've written an interface to grab the XML off my test server back in Hawai'i via a web service and shove it into one of my character generators to build intermediate rankings. The commentators and PA announcers will browse their laptops to my test server to get a page of rankings. The rankings page has an AJAX refresh every 10 seconds, so the intermediate results will be close to real-time.

As long as the eVDO keeps working, and as long as I don't have a power failure back at home (very likely, since Maui has power failures almost every day), it should work adequately.

I won't tell you what the URL of my test server is, because it's just a crappy old T23 Thinkpad sitting on my desk in my office, and it can't handle much traffic. Maybe next year I'll use a commercial server so FOS (friends of Skunk) can follow along with the live timing.

If you see any intermediate rankings on the broadcast tonight, you'll know it worked. It'll look something like this.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mid-Thursday Update

Today the stage comes down the coast on the PCH past Big Sur, potentially one of the most picturesque stages in cycling. However, it's been pissing down rain all day, it's nasty cold, and the riders have been grinding away into the teeth of a 30 mph cross-headwind. Just an ugly, ugly day. Right now it's looking like the peloton will probably wind up being well over an hour overdue into San Luis Obispo.

Danielson just abandoned. Half the Gerolsteiner team never showed up for sign-in, as there's a virus going around amongst the riders. The same virus knocked Farrar out of the race yesterday while he was in the yellow jersey. I felt bad for him, he seems like a nice young guy, and he was absolutely over the moon on Tuesday at the podium presentation. I like to see young athletes getting some props to encourage them, especially bike racers, because this sport is just so unbelievably hard. People who haven't raced just can't begin to conceive how truly harsh this sport is. I'm a lowly Cat 4; part of the reason I keep racing is because it always amazes me how hard I have to train and how hard I have to race just to finish 25th out of 40 guys. Every race is a rediscovery of how unbelievably hard this sport is.

We have very limited footage today because the aircraft relaying the video signals have had problems staying in the air due to the atrocious weather. The reason I've got time to post an update in the middle of the day is because we have no pictures at all at the moment, so everyone in TV world took a break.

At least lunch was good here in the TV compound. Chef's salad today, my favorite lunch.

For those readers who get VERSUS network, don't expect much of a show tonight. Even if the pictures were perfect (and they are far from it), there's no racing to show. The riders are just out there hudded together, trying to survive.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week.

The Madonna Inn

One of the few highlights (at least for me) of the Tour of California is my 10-hour stay at the Madonna Inn. In case you didn't read last year's ATOC blog, Madonna Inn is a Motel-6 quality hotel in San Luis Obispo which has transformed itself into a tourist attraction by decorating every single room in a different theme, most of which look like they were rigged out by Liberace or Elvis in 1965. It's a hoot.

Last night my room was #151 "Sugar And Spice", and it looked like it was decorated by a teenage Marcia Brady. Pink walls, baby-blue bathroom tile, and a brown velour couch. And of course, the room next door was "Everything Nice". Gawd knows what the hell THAT one looks like.

Actually you can see precisely what "Everything Nice" looks like right here:

Yesterday it was supposed to be raining, but the finish in San Jose was brilliantly sunny and gorgeous. Today we're in SLO, and the weather is supposed to suck. I wore my Spyder soft shell ski gear, which is totally waterproof, yet breatheable. Warm enough to wear on the slopes, but breathable enough to wear on a plane. Great stuff, I recommend it.

Tomorrow is the Time Trial in Solvang, so the TV show is very dependent on me. Timing graphics are everything in a TT. Our timing graphics during the Prologue in Stanford were 100% spot-on. If I can do that again tomorrow, there will be a lot of smiles around here.

The satellite guys here are trying to rig up an experiment; they're going to try to extend our VPN out to the mid-way time check (about 10 km away) via satellite so that I can do live timing graphics from the INT as well as from the finish. These satellite guys (Strategic Television) are very, very bright and technically adept, so I think they just might pull that off, and it will be way cool if they do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

San Jose

Three stages and we're now 10 miles from where we started. Tomorrow's stage, Modesto to San Jose, brings the riders back to a spot about 10 miles from the start of the Prologue last Sunday.

Two pretty crappy hotels since I last wrote: the Holiday Inn in Sacramento and now another crappy Holiday Inn in San Jose. But, hey, I arrive exhausted to the point of incoherence, I sleep for a few hours, and I'm gone. The Abu Dhabi suite at the Raghead Inn would make little difference to me.

It rained today and the racing sucked, but Cipollini got third. He almost won the damn thing. He was right there in the hunt, as aggressive as ever. Pretty cool for a 41 year old guy who hasn't raced in three years. I admire him.

This "Rock Racing" is quite an outfit. Their team car is a Hummer limo, and their podium girl is a rent-a-slut in studded motorcycle leathers. If anyone can appreciate that sort of thing, it's Cipolini.

I'm having problems with Matt, the graphics coordinator. He's worked for VERSUS on six Tours de France. He demands things "because that's the way we do it at The Tour". However, the way VERSUS does a lot of things at The Tour are just plain wrong. 180 countries take the graphics & results from the ASO as-is, and one does their own - Versus. Versus's graphics suck, and Versus is a joke to the people at The Tour.

Today Matt had me re-write a clock program because he didn't like the way it looked. Then when the Producer & Director saw Matt's "revised" look, they told him to shove it up his ass.
I wasted an hour of programming in the middle of a show.

Fred's Lynx photofinish system displays results in a cycling-specific format like this:

1 Boonen 4:04:09
2 Bettini same time
3 Cipollini same time

Matt demanded that my interface program display stage standings "the way we do it at the Tour". Like this:

1 Boonen 4:04:09
2 Bettini +0.00
3 Cipollini +0.00

Well, Fred and I KNOW the guy responsible for all photofinish & results at Le Tour, a fellow named Gerald. Fred called him, and Gerald said Matt is full of shit. ASO displays their photofinish results like this:

1 Boonen 4:04:09
2 Bettini M/T
3 Cipollini M/T

M/T stands for même temps, or SAME TIME in French.

So I worked for a few hours on a program which does things Matt's way, but Matt is wrong and it looks fucking stupid.

Monday, February 18, 2008


The Prologue went perfectly for us. Graphics perfect. Timing perfect. As for things beyond our control, the site (Stanford University) is awesome, the weather was perfect, it was just a great day.

Things can only go downhill from here, I fear.

Stayed at the Hotel Flamingo in Santa Rosa last night. Trust me on this....if the Hotel Flamingo is on your list of places to visit on your Winnebago tour of the US, remove it. Enough said.

I took off from Stanford around 5:30 and was asleep by 8:30, then was onsite in downtown Santa Rosa around 8 this morning. Having my own car is definitely the way to go on this tour, from a sleep and relaxation standpoint. My roommate, Bruce Braesemle, arrived at around 11:30 and was out the door at 6:30, so he was at the hotel for a grand total of 7 hours. I on the other hand had a much better night, having utilized our stellar room at the Flamingo for a whopping 11 hours.

Here are some pikkies for your amusement.
This Toyota Camry is my steed for the week. Great having a vehicle which, in and of itself, is a credential.

Meet Jill. She gets coffee. This is actually a very bad photo, she's gorgeous, and dresses very nicely.
Doping control. No further comment.

The finish straightaway at the Prologue. Note the perfect weather.

RF antennas on the snorkel lift.