DTV Delivers

Big news.

Universal Sports, which is part of NBC, is going to show the entire Giro d'Italia live! I'm guessing that because Lance is riding the Giro, Universal Sports figures Americans will be interested. Down here in San Diego, the local NBC affiliate broadcasts several digital channels over the airwaves. They have their main channel 39-1, that shows full-1080p high definition TV. They also have 39-2, a weather channel, and 39-3 shows Universal Sports. Neither is HDTV, but I'm not complaining. The Tour de France is always on cable, so I have to go to a friends apartment to watch it. I'll be glad to watch this on my very own couch.

My mornings suddenly got much earlier for the next month.

Update May 9: The Giro is being streamed live online, not over the air. It is just a commercial-free stream of the Italian coverage (with inconsistent English commentary) on the Universal Sports website. I guess I read what I wanted to read. I'll take it however I get it.

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March Madness Updates

It's been a while since I posted here.

  • A month ago Melissa's parents came down to visit, and on one of the days we went to the USS Midway Museum. Here are some highlights.

Radio Room Dials

In the Officer's Mess

The Deck

  • Today on an errand I saw this egregious example of bad brodozer behavior. I saw the able-bodied owner and his able-bodied elementary school-aged son get out. I didn't bother to check if there was a placard in the windshield because I didn't have my climbing gear nor my binoculars.

Jerk Brodozer

  • I've watched more college basketball games in the last four days than I have since, well, last March. I miss watching the games in person at Haas, and I am disappointed by the mens flame-out in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. The women have already done better. C'est la vie of a Bear fan. For those of you who care, here is current my bracket which I put together in about 5 minutes, and it shows.
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Brodozers

I spent several hours today standing at the corner of El Norte Parkway and Elm Street in Escondido as a course marshal for the Amgen Tour of California. Today was the final stage of the eight stage (plus prologue) race that started in Sacramento.

While I waited hours for the brief seconds of each pack of cyclists to pass, I decided to amuse myself by taking pictures of all the "brodozers" that drove by. A brodozer is a pick-up truck that has been jacked up on shocks with huge noisy tires. They are a particularly nasty form of transportation. They are a big middle finger to the environment and are driven by young males in a very aggressive manner. One of my scariest moments on a bicycle was due to a brodozer in East County San Diego. This county is infested with brodozers, and Escondido is particularly bad.

Below are 17 brodozers I was able to capture. There were many that passed before I had inspiration to photograph them, and others I missed. It's interesting that white is the dominant color, and none appear to have been off-road recently. Note that a brodozer was the only vehicle I saw escorted off the course by the police. That brodozer needed to be told more than once by the police to get off the course. This tells you all you need to know about brodozer drivers.

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My Eddington Number is 48

A couple days ago I was browsing the internet on astrophysical topics, when I came across Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington's wikipedia page. He's best known for the Eddington limit, which describes the luminosity limit of a star as a function of its mass. Near the bottom of his page linked above, there is a description of the "Eddington number," which for any person is the greatest number of bike rides they done which have been that at least that number in miles long. From the wikipedia page:

The Eddington Number in this context is defined as E, the number of days a cyclist has cycled more than E miles. For example an Eddington Number of 70 would imply that a cyclist has cycled more than 70 miles in a day on 70 occasions.

This is very similar to the Erdős number and the h-index, which measure a scientists publishing impact. I don't have an Erdős number, nor an h-index, but I do have an Eddington number. And since I have a nice GPS database of my rides, I figured I could easily calculate it.

Eddington

Above shows two Eddington calculations, in miles and in kilometers. The curved blue line is x=y, and it's curved because the y axis is using a logscale. Where the blue line intersects the Eddington lines is my Eddington number. The downward arrows show my actual integer Eddington numbers (48 for miles, 74 for kilometers), while the upward arrows show that 49 and 75 aren't above the blue line, and thus aren't my Eddington numbers. Since the definition is in miles, my true number is 48, but the kilometer calculation shows that the number is also a function of your unit.

Unfortunately, I don't have records before I got my GPS, so my true Eddington number is surely larger.

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No More Tunnels

Tunnels

Tunnels

By far my favorite place to ride my mountain bike (that is reachable without driving) are the single track "tunnels" that are typically reached through Peñasquitos Park (although they aren't actually inside the park, they are on non-park city land). They are called "the tunnels" because for most of their length they are covered by low bushes and trees just over head height. There are four of them that total a few miles in length and vary in technical difficulty. Until about a month ago, they were somewhat illicit and not patrolled, now they are very expressly illegal. During the rainy season I think it's perfectly reasonable to close them. Muddy and wet ground is especially susceptible to erosion, and nature doesn't need human help to erode the ground during the rainy season. The ditch my bike is pictured in above was fairly level ground the last time I was there, less than a month ago (*).

Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that the City of San Diego is planning on closing them permanently, or at least severely curtailing how many can be used. Since the tunnels are fairly far from any road, it's only cyclists that use them with regularity, but the city feels it needs to consider all the other potential users. Cyclists are the lowest on the public land user totem pole, so you can see how this can do nothing but hurt our interests. I suspect that if they're kept open, they'll have to be upgraded so hikers and equestrians can use them, which will remove much of what is attractive about them (which is the lack of those two groups for a large part). If they're closed for environmental reasons, only cyclists will miss them. It's kind of a lose-lose situation for us.

The City of San Diego isn't full of complete idiots, there is a series of legal drag race events that take place in the Qualcomm parking lot. This alleviates the pressure of what many people want to do and would resort to doing illegally without other options. There is a similar pressure from cyclists who want quality single track trails. If trails are available, legal and fun, cyclists won't have to resort to cutting trails and breaking laws. We'll see if the city has enough foresight to recognize this.

(*) For those my friends to are familiar with Peñasquitos, if you're heading east, this is just past the big deep sandy patch where you used to have to ride on the extreme right, and just before the really rocky climb. I think it's in the center of here. The second photo above is the top of the third tunnel, the farthest north of the three linked tunnels. The riding I did do today (I didn't go into the tunnels) showed that many of the lines we rode in the summer are now completely different.

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The New Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

A few days ago while I was still in the Bay Area, I visited the new Academy of Sciences museum with my family. They just re-opened a few months ago after replacing their old earthquake-damaged buildings with a new, very unique building. You can follow those links to learn all about the "living roof" and the various exhibits.

I have some mixed feelings about the new museum. The old museum was a funky amalgamation of several buildings built over many decades. You could see the history of modern American natural museums in one place. The old section had dioramas of taxidermied animals in pseudo-natural scenes. Exhibits like lions hunting antelopes with Serengeti sounds playing on speakers. The newer sections had live animals and fish and a greater focus on education. The whole place was labyrinthine and dusty, and a well-used kind of ancient. It was never too full of people. I liked the old museum and I'm sad that a piece of my childhood is gone.

The new place is very shiny, flashy and popular. We waited for one hour and forty minutes to get inside. It might be bigger in cubic meters due to the higher ceilings, but I don't think it's bigger in square meters of floorspace. The main exhibition areas are limited to the two ends of the building, past the planetarium and tropical sphere, and the aquarium has been moved to the basement. The aquarium is quite a bit nicer than it was, with a few tanks that rival the Monterey Bay Aquarium in quality and cool curving Plexiglas, but not in size. Like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the museum pushes education on choices the individual can make to positively change their effect on the ecosphere. They have a "carbon balance", but it mostly ends up being played with by children who generally don't decide whether to buy a SUV or a hybrid car.

I found a couple things I really liked; click on the thumbnails above. Read the tag on the human skull, and take a look at a whole wall of very carefully pinned ladybugs. I took three pictures a various zooms. That may have been a PhD thesis, right there.

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Mini-Vacation – Monterey Bay Aquarium

Yesterday, Melissa and I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We were met there by my brother Adam and his lady friend Shinji, who not coincidentally decided to also see the aquarium on the same day. The aquarium has expanded since my last visit. There is now a northern wing that has fresh water otters, an "outer bay" tank and a seahorse exhibit (that was under construction, sadly). More than the last time I was there (or maybe I was too young to pay attention to things not cute), the aquarium really pushes conservation and ethical seafood consumption. They have a [set of cards](https://www.seafoodwatch.org) you can carry to help guide seafood and sushi purchases in stores and restaurants.

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Mini-Vacation – Hearst Castle

The Hearst Castle is ridiculous. The architecture and the history of the people who visited it are quite a spectacle. And of course I think it would have been grand fun to have visited it when William Randolph Hearst was alive and the place was hip and hopping. I was wondering with Melissa over dinner if I became silly rich could I invite movie stars and political leaders over to my remote ranch? Probably not. We did both agree that if we were to build on that site we would have had more of the buildings and common areas facing the grand view. As it is, many of the rooms, like the dining room, have no view.

Before we went to the castle we looked at some tide pools. Melissa even found a hermit crab wandering in between the rocks.

Tomorrow we will see the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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Mini-Vacation – Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Melissa and I are taking the slow route up to the Bay Area for the holidays. Tonight we're staying in Santa Barbara, and we'll visit the Hearst Castle tomorrow. For dinner we ate at a decent Mexican restaurant on State Street. Afterwards we walked down State Street looking at all the shops and restaurants. It's clear that the economy has started to hit Main, err... State Street America. Despite the Christmas decorations, and the huge tree in a left-turn lane, there are quite a few empty stores and others going out of business. I guess now is the time to start a new business cheaply in Santa Barbara - as long as you can weather the current economic storm.

More tomorrow!

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Rainy San Diego

It's been really rainy and a bit cold here in San Diego so far this week. Here are some pictures I took today of the rain, and a couple of our xmas decorations.

Rainy

Rainy

Rainy

Rainy

Rainy

Yes, that's a bike work stand in the foreground.

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Tour of California Disappointment

Below is the map showing the just-released 2009 Tour of California stage 8 route. And I'm disappointed. I thought the stage would end on the top of Palomar Mountain, but it is simply going to pass over the top, circle back around and finish in relatively boring Escondito.

ToC 2008 Stage 8

Just like when the race goes through the Bay Area, I am familiar with much of this route. The race starts in Rancho Bernardo, and heads east on Highland Valley Road. That road has several nicely steep sections that kick my non-professional racer butt. I'm sure that the pros won't charge up those hills so early in the race, but their pace would drop me, no doubt.

They go up the hard side of Palomar which is a world-class climb. It is every bit as hard as the Tour de France cols I've climbed. In February the top of Palomar can be quite cold (sometimes it even snows) so the temperature changes along the route could have an effect on the race.

I wish the race organizers would have given us the grand spectacle of a mountain-top finish. I am grateful, however, that they've finally dipped below the Los Angeles divide.

Oh, and I can't forget to note: parts of the race go through Indian reservations, so the racers can get their gamblin' on, if they feel like it.

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Corvallis Photos

Here are some photos from Corvallis. There aren't any truly spectacular photos, but the fall colors in town and on campus were nice.

Fall Colors

The outcome of the Cal/Oregon State game was disappointing, as you can see on our faces.

Sad

Everything in Corvallis and on campus is beaver-themed; he jumbotron in Reser stadium is called the "Dam Cam."

Dam Cam

On Sunday Matt, Tona, Jenny and I walked around campus.

Matt, Tona, Jenny, Stephen

Campus is quite nice with many brick buildings and leafy tree-rimmed quads. The weather was great on game day, but cold and overcast on Sunday.

Matt, Tona, Jenny

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Losing in Corvallis

The Bears lost to the Beavers today. Another season of mediocrity for the Bears is confirmed.

Reser

I attached the GPS to the window on the plane from Oakland to Portland. Check out the speed (it's in M.P.H.)!

Fast

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By Popular Demand

Voltron retrieving:

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Work Buddy

As a computational astrophysicist, I can work pretty much wherever there is an internet connection (except the San Diego public library, but that's another story), so at least a day or two a week I work from home. And when I do, I have a little work buddy who sits by my chair waiting for me to throw a foam ball across the apartment so she can fetch it (seriously!). I try to ignore her so I can get work done, but as soon as I even look at her:

She's cuter than my work buddies at school, of course.

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