Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans

Katrina Flooding
Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
My thoughts and prayers are with those in NO and their families, not only residents but rescue personnel and others touched by this disaster.

This picture is a shot from, where it shows the flooding. If you follow the link to the flickr page, I've made a note on the page where I think my brother's place is. I'm hopeful that he was in an area high enough that his place isn't flooded, though he DOES live on the ground floor so I suppose is susceptible to looting, too.

If anybody has information on what's going on in the French Quarter (more specifically, the 3100 block of Royal Street), I'd be obliged if you'd share it with me. Leave a comment here or send me an email.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More on Lance Doping Allegations

An article was posted yesterday at VeloNews with the title, "Top lab official wonders if delayed testing is possible," seems to confirm my doubts about yesterday's allegations that Lance Armstrong used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France.

The article includes statements from Doctor Christiane Ayotte, director of the Doping Control Laboratory at Montreal's Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Canada's top anti-doping laboratory). Her statments include:
  • "'We are extremely surprised that urine samples could have been tested in 2004 and have revealed the presence of EPO,' Ayotte said in an interview with VeloNews on Tuesday. 'EPO--in its natural state or the synthesized version--is not stable in urine, even if stored at minus 20 degrees.'"
  • "Ayotte explained that as part of WADA's efforts to 'harmonize' testing protocols among anti-doping laboratories worldwide, the Paris lab had created the model to allow the application of 'qualitative rather than quantitative' standards when interpreting test results.'That has to be the only explanation, because otherwise, I've been a liar all these years,' Ayotte said. 'I have been instructing everyone at all of the organizations not to expect to reproduce an EPO adverse finding if more than two or three months has elapsed since the sample was originaly taken.'"
  • "Ayotte said that procedure aside, the Armstrong story in L'Equipe also raises a critical ethical question raised by the release of such data, without the possibility of follow-up tests.
    'I am very worried about the circumstnces about the way such information might have been leaked,' Ayotte said. 'We are fully allowed--and it is our duty--to investigate samples to make sure that if there is an adverse finding, it is properly reported. In this case, however, the director of the laboratory acknowledges that it cannot be deemed a doping offense because 1) the athlete has retired and 2) he is placed in a situation where there is no way to have the sample re-tested or verified.'
    'It seems to me,' Ayotte continued, 'that this whole thing is a breach of the WADA code. We are supposed to work confidentially until such time that we can confirm a result. By no means does this mean that we sweep a result under the carpet, but it has to meet a certain set of requirements.'"
So, it seems this will probably never leave Lance, but without a way to prove any of it, I'm guessing he's going to have a big libel suit on his hands.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


That was the headline seen on the front page of a popular French sports newspaper, "L'Equipe." The article, in French, can be found here. For those of you who don't feel like running it through a translator or don't remember much French, the BBC ran an article about the allegations, entitled "Armstrong denies drug allegations."

Now, as everybody reading this probably knows, I'm a fan of Lance. I'm sure he was given steroids AND some type of EPO drug as he recovered from cancer, though I also believe he did not use any performance-enhancing drugs over his 7 consecutive Tour de France wins. Even if I weren't a fan of Lance, though, as a scientist, I'd have a lot of problems swallowing this new allegation (well, this new iteration of the allegations, as these allegations have been tailing him since he first won in 1999).

Here are my reasons for thinking that this article is just more "Lance-bashing" by the French press and that the allegations are unfounded:
A) They're doing guilt by association. The BBC says, "The paper said there were 'characteristic, undeniable and consequent' signs of EPO in what it claimed were Armstrong's urine tests, carried out by France's national anti-doping laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry. The laboratory said in a statement that it had 'conducted EPO tests on samples from the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France races'.

But it said it could not confirm that any tests it had conducted belonged to Armstrong."
The key phrases, in my opinion are, "...what it claimed were Armstrong's urine tests..." and, " could not confirm that any tests it had conducted belonged to Armstrong." I know that this is France, not America, but since when has guilt by association held up as "undeniable proof"?

B) He's been tested over and over and come up negative. I've read that he has had more drug tests than any other athlete, and anybody familiar with statistics knows it's MUCH more likely to get a false positive than a false negative. Multiple false negatives are virtually unheard of.

C) In addition, the BBC article notes that, "Tests on the samples were carried out in 2004 because cycling's governing body did not start using a urine test for EPO until 2001, the paper said." SO. The TdF testing group held on to the samples for 5 years before testing?!?! Who's to say ANY of the samples hasn't been contaminated some how in an effort to smear Armstrong or any other cyclist?

D) This is SO FAR after the fact that it seems ludacris to bring it up now except to fight his image. I mean, the race was in 1999, but the samples were not analyzed until 2004 and then they waited until after the 2005 Tour de France to try to discredit Lance? That just doesn't make sense. If this testing was done in 2004, why not mention it THEN as "credible proof" (albeit wooly in my scientific opinion) of his alleged doping activities? Why hold onto it through 2005's TdF? Lord knows the French have allegated that Lance has done this for a long time, I think they'd lust for "proof."

E) Note, this came up because of something posted in one of the forums I subscribe to, where somebody asked why we don't give Barry Bonds or anybody else the same benefit of the doubt that we give Lance when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs. As far as Bonds or any other athlete involved in denying taking performance enhancing drugs and actual testing for said drugs, well, for me, the proof is in the pudding, as it were. Bonds, as far as I know (and I admit I don't know much) hasn't been tested, yet categorically denies taking performance-enhancing drugs. Palmiero denied taking them, but tested positive. It seems that of all the people involved in this type of allegation, Lance has the complete package, having been tested more times than most other athletes and testing negative and denying taking performance enhancers.
It's one thing to deny taking these things. It's another to be tested. And it's wholly another to test negative. Lance has all three, which as far as I know, no other athlete tied to performance enhancing drugs has.

Maybe I'm just being optimistic here, but I find the entire thing wooly, particularly in the age of the sample (and unknown contamination, because I *WOULDN'T* put it past people to contaminate it, even if it was thought to be secure), the lateness of the publication of the result, and the lack of credibility admitted by the study authors. Personally, I think this is the kind of sour grapes that might be used in a good French whine.

On one of the forums I read regularly (one within the online soccer management game, Hattrick), somebody posted this little bit on EPO, which I thought might be useful for anybody who doesn't know what it is: "
Why people call EPO roids is beyond me....EPO isn't anywhere related to steroids. It boosts red blood cells so your muscles get more oxygen, hence allowing them to work better longer. It has nothing to do with making muscle grow faster."

This was later followed up by "It's a fancy way of blood doping. I mean, the "old fashioned" way of doing it is to take blood out a month or so before an event, then infuse it back in just before the event. So EPO just does that without the blood bank in the middle (i.e. it does it chemically)."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Discovery Is Home

This morning, the shuttle Discovery touched down at 0812 ET at Edwards Air Force Base in California. It was as perfect a landing as was expected, and watching it on TV was a neat experience. The videographers used an IR camera so viewers could follow the landing from the orbiter being a speck in the sky all the way to touchdown, despite the darkess at EAFB. It was a beautiful landing, and I think I speak for most of us saying "Welcome home, Discovery, great flight!"

Monday, August 08, 2005

Shuttle Landing Delayed

Shuttle Discovery's landing has been waved off for 24 hours due to low cloud cover. Though conditions are "technically" GO for landing, the officials in Houston do not feel comfortable with it, based on how unstable the weather has been today. There will be 2 opportunitiess tomorrow for a Kennedy Space Center landing and 2 opportunities for an Edwards Air Force Base landing.

1st for touchdown at 0408 CT
2nd for touchdown at 0543 CT

1st for touchdown at 0713 CT
2nd for touchdown at 0848 CT

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Discovery: No 4th EVA Required

Well, the thermal blanket that had been a concern is no longer a concern. Engineers ran some simulations of what might happen with the "puffed up" bit of thermal blanket near the cabin and were unable to tell if it would remain in tact or would potentially fly off during re-entry. The possibility that it might fly off during re-entry and hit (and damage) another part of the orbiter sparked questions about doing a 4th EVA on this mission, to cut off the extra bit of blanket and therefore remove the problem all together. However, after testing mockups in a wind tunnel, engineers have decided that they don't think a piece of this blanket will fly off. Thus, the need for a 4th spacewalk has been eliminated, and Discovery is 100% cleared to re-enter and land on Monday morning. This is great news, now we just need for the crew to come home safely for the first mission since the Columbia tragedy to be an overwhelming success.

Finally, YES, the various administrators in the past (probaby Goldin, most of all) SHOULD have considered upgrading this fleet of shuttles LONG before now. But, NASA's budget is fairly miniscule (a fraction of 1% of your tax dollars go to NASA funding), and I honestly believe they took an attitude of, "Well, it's still working, so why bother." I'm not saying I agree with this philosophy, but with so many other things that NASA does, I'm sure that the "functional" status of the shuttle fleet was considered to be "good enough" and thus the previous administrators wanted to spend the money elsewhere. In particular, the late 80's and 90's were an era of many satellites and orbiters to study other planets (Mars, Jupitur, Saturn), as well as increased robotic exploration of Mars. Other science going on at NASA address space survivability. There are a number of experiments going on to determine what to do about consumables (including determining how best to grow plants in 0g and how to recycle wastewater). Also, there has been a lot of ongoing research on human factors for spaceflight. This includes physiological experiments, experimenting and engineering to figure out how to do medicine (diagnostics and treatment) in space (what would happen if an astronaut got appendicitis while on orbit?), and also studing hyman psychology and experimenting with it, all in preparation for longer-term space travel. In light of this, it may be somewhat easier to understand why, with a seemingly well-functioning shuttle fleet, the administrators have opted to do other things with their money than figure out what to do next. I'm not saying it was the "right" decision, but it may be understood why it happened.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Easy" Fix For Shuttle

In today's 3rd EVA (spacewalk) of the Discovery Return to Flight mission (STS-114), astronaut Stephen Robinson was able to remove the protruding gap-filler from two places on the orbiter's belly, thereby fixing one of the biggest concerns for NASA officials prior to clearing the vehicle for the scheduled re-entry and landing. The gap-filler was some material placed between a few of the tiles near the forward landing gear to ensure that the tiles did not hit eachother during the vibrations on launch. It serves no other purpose, which is why officials gave the green light to simply removing the material. Also on today's EVA, astronaut Soichi Noguchi worked on a some minor, scheduled things on ISS. Noguchi was also stationed in a position to act as a "relay" between Robinson and ISS should direction communication between the two have failed for any reason. Today's EVA lasted 6 hours.

Though an hour was scheduled for the repair/removal of the gap filler, it took Robinson "about 12 seconds" to pull out the protruding material. That is, the material came out quite easily and did not even require the improvised saw which was constructed for the EVA--Robinson was able to pick it out with his fingers. Today's spacewalk was a first for ISS and NASA: it is the first time that the ISS' robotic arm, SSRMS or CanadArm2, was used to hold an astronaut below the orbiter, and was the first time that work has ever been performed on the belly of the shuttle while in orbit. Cameras on the shuttle's robotic arm, SRMS or CanadArm, were used to give the astronauts in ISS, the flight controllers, and engineers, a better picture of what was going on during the "repair." It was as historic as the first shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and further expands our capabilities for on-orbit repairs.

I'd like to step back and say something here, about the press coverage of this particular EVA, but before I can do that I think I should remind readers about my background briefly. I have a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. My thesis, "Analysis of Robotic Grasp Requirements for Telerobotic Satellite Servicing," required in-depth study of what humans have done in space, and what they may have to do. With this understanding, I then analyzed how robots could do similar tasks, and developed a grasp taxonomy (classification scheme) for robots. My work on my thesis, combined with my experiences in robotics and working with robots in neutral buoyancy at UMd's Space Systems Laboratory, made me quite confident that this repair operation would be accomplished. That is, I didn't expect it would be necessarily "easy," but I knew that the engineers in Houston tried their removal methods in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center, and knowing what humans are capable of in space, combined with knowledge of how CanadArm2 works and its capabilities, I was confident that this would be a successful repair.

My frustration came in hearing the press talk about it. They seemed to harp on the "never been done before" aspect of it, which considering the very nature of spaceflight, seemed absurd, or as I so often put it, "making a mountain out of a molehill." Spaceflight is not easy. EVA is not easy. There is almost nothing "standard" or "routine" about it, no matter how many times we've been to space in ANY vehicle, there is always something to be learned and something new to be done. Though I imagine that even the NASA engineers and astronauts were somewhat unnerved at the first thought of what they'd have to do, there was a fairly quick realization and acknowledgement that it was certainly possible, and not necessarily as intimidating as it seemed at first glance. I'm proud to see what was accomplished today, and I hope that the press coverage of the success of today's activities will spur further interest in spaceflight and maybe even inspire the next generation (i.e. those in elementary, middle, and high school now) to consider engineering jobs and further our national investment in the space program.

The next big task for Discovery will be to come home safely. The re-entry and landing are scheduled for approximately 04:37 US Eastern Time on Monday morning. Though the tiles, gap-filler, and wing leading-edge reinforced carbon-carbon have all been inspected, repaired (in the case of the gap-filler), and cleared for re-entry, the vehicle is still not 100% cleared. Engineers believe that a thermal blanket below the crew cabin may have been struck by a piece of debris, "possibly a paper cover for one of the orbiter's thrusters," which has caused an 8" section of the blanket to "puff up" on the hull. Right now, engineers are attempting to determine if the blanket can rip off and possibly hit the shuttle upon re-entry. However, the engineering analysis on this topic is expected to be completed and presented to NASA officials within 48 hours, so I assume we'll hear the results soon thereafter. Full details on this story can be found at

Monday, August 01, 2005

Confirmed: 3rd EVA on Discovery

With tonight's status update briefing, it has been announced that the 3rd EVA by Discovery's astronauts will include a task to remove some protruding gap filler. It was noted that the gap filler is protruding in 2 places on the belly of the shuttle: in one place it protrudes about 0.9 inches, while in the other it protrudes about 1.1 inches. It is feared that these protrusions may disrupt the airflow around the orbiter during re-entry, which may cause increased heating on some of the protective tiles. It should be noted that NASA officials do not think that this protrusion was caused or is in any way related to the falling foam from the external fuel tank. Rather, they believe that this gap filler was "shaken" loose by the high vibrations on launch. This will be the first time that a repair of this nature has been attempted.

The full story at the BBC may be found here.

Discovery Astronauts Complete 2nd EVA

Today astronauts completed a second EVA, this time repairing a gyroscope on ISS that has not worked properly since June, 2002. Gyros are used on ISS (and many other satellites) to maintain its orientation in space. The astronauts spent 7 hours, 14 minutes working, and the gyro is doing well now (despite an early glitch where a connector was not connected properly), according to NASA.

According to NASA engineers, they are not yet comfortable clearing Discovery for landing yet. There are two places where some "gap filler" material is sticking out between tiles, and it is feared that this material may disrupt the airflow around the belly of the orbiter on re-entry, causing extra heating on certain tiles "downstream" of the where the filler is sticking out, which may be more than those tiles are designed to handle. I've heard it said that the engineers want less than 1/4" of this gap filler to be exposed, though in at least one place, there is over an inch exposed. Flight administrators may call for this material to be trimmed down during the third EVA of this mission, though the issue is still being studied. In that case, one of the astronauts would work from the end of Shuttle Remote Manipulator Arm (CanadArm) and cut/file it away. The 3rd EVA is scheduled for Wednesday.

I am still awaiting word of the results of the analysis of the reinforced carbon-carbon on the leading edge of the wings of the orbiter. This information is expected later today or tomorrow.

A good link for following along with the progress of the mission and the status updates is's Return to Flight page.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Shuttle Discovery Status Update

Lots of little upates.
First, on flight day 3, prior to docking with ISS, the shuttle's underbelly was displayed to the ISS cameras and crew, which noted the two areas of "damage" to the tiles and the thermal blankets. Today, though, Wayne Hale (Deputy Manager of Shuttle Program) has said that the engineering review is complete and that they have formally cleared the shuttle to land with regards to these areas. They successfully docked with ISS.
Second, the reinforced carbon-carbon is believed to be fine (and is continuing evaluation), and it is expected that they will get the "all clear" on that tomorrow.
Third, there is some exposure of "gap filler" material, which is ok, and they expect a full update on that for Monday.
If everything goes well tomorrow and Monday, then Discovery's heat shield will have the 100% GO for re-entry and landing.

Astronauts today completed a 6 and a half hour EVA (space walk) where they tested two different methods of repairing heat shield damage while on-orbit. Both tests went beautifully and, in some respects, might be considered better than expected (since these procedures for repair had not been tested in space before).

They've also decided to extend the mission by 1 day. Nothing really unexpected there. All in all, things look good so far, with two critical areas still to be cleared for re-entry and landing.

On another note, related to the entire shuttle fleet, it seems that Mike Griffin is quite optimistic about getting the shuttle fleet returned to flight quickly. He forsees a quick resolution to the foam problem, according to I suppose we'll see about that...(I'm not sure I believe it yet).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Shuttle Discovery OK, BUT...

...the rest of the fleet has been grounded, as will Discovery when she returns safely to Earth.

According to this article, because the external fuel tank on Discovery lost a section of foam, NASA has decided to ground the fleet. This grounding is supposed to be temporary, until they can figure out a way to ensure that foam can't fall off of the external tank. As is widely known, the shuttle Columbia was struck by a piece of foam from the liquid fuel tank on launch, which caused catostrophic damage to a section of the heat shield tiles, manifesting upon Columbia's re-entry. After the Columbia disaster, the fleet was grounded for two and a half years, and a large amount of money and time was dedicated to solving the "foam problem," making sure that foam couldn't fall off of the external tank again. Even though the foam in the case of Discovery appears not to have impacted the orbiter in any way, it still shows that the foam problem hasn't been completely rectified, and thus the cause for the fleet's grounding.

I, and a few of my aerospace engineer friends, see this as more or less a sign of the end of the shuttle program as we know it. Having spent so much time and money "solving" a problem and finding that the problem wasn't solved (and in fact may not be solvable), we expect the next focus of NASA's efforts to be more towards the design and build of a next-generation vehicle than to the repair and upgrades of the shuttle fleet. While this means it's an interesting time to be involved in the aerospace industry, it also means that we will likely see quite a bit of time between now and the next U.S. manned space mission--after all, we will need enough time to design said vehicle and then get it qualified for space, which is a time-consuming task.

What does this mean for the near-term goals of NASA with regards to manned spaceflight?
*More dependence on the Russian Soyuz capsules for ISS maintenance and supply trips.
*Probable abandonment of the Hubble Space Telescope--NASA is reasonably convinced in part due to a study by the NSF (National Science Foundation) that robotic servicing of HST is not possible. While I disagree, I would expect them to abandon hope of repairing it in lieu of planning a robotic servicing mission. Of course, if they DO plan a robotic servicing mission, I think my thesis will play an important role in the design of the robot's hands and tools.
*Vechicle design may place more emphasis on a capsule-style (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo) vehicle, which has been more reliable in the past.

Again, more updates on the Discovery itself as mission landmarks occur. It will be interesting to follow what happens with the entire fleet, too.

UPDATE!!! The BBC has a much more satisfactory article about the grounding of the shuttle fleet. Find it here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Discovery Debris?

It turns out that there was some debris that fell off of the external fuel tank during separation (when the orbiter was somewhere around 60 miles above Earth). The debris fall-off was picked up by one of the cameras on the external tank, and did not appear to contact the orbiter.

There was also a bit of debris that seemed to fall off near the tiles at the front landing gear. It is (right now) believed that this was a bit of tile from the front landing gear area, one of the hottest parts of the shuttle upon re-entry.

NASA engineers and administrators will be examining and analyzing the camera footage in the next few days, to try to determine the extent of the damage. For all they know RIGHT NOW, since we have never seen this part of a mission before (prior to this, the cameras were not in place), this could be "normal" damage that always occurs. The examination of the orbiter by the shuttle remote manipulator arm, by the astronauts on EVA (extra-vehicular activity), and by cameras and CanadArm2 on ISS will also help evaluate the extent of the damage, in addition to the ground-based evaluation of the shots captured during today's launch.

Well, we've got them up there. Now we need to get them home. Oddly enough, I haven't seen anything about this debris on NASA's website (at least, not in a quick scan), though both the BBC and CBS News have a (very little) bit on it. Seeing as I've got nothing better to do in general these days, I'll be following the mission and its key aspects, and post anything interesting up here.

Discovery Is In Space

I don't care how many times I've seen a launch, either in FL or on TV, it's always spectacularly impressive. Today's launch was no exception, and things seemed to go as perfectly as could be hoped. Congrats to all those in NASA and the various contractors who worked so hard leading up to this Return to Flight mission! Now, let's make sure we bring them back home in 12 days...

Image courtesy of

Shuttle Discovery: Take 2

Here we are, 26 July 2005, and just about 1 hour til the scheduled launch of the space shuttle Discovery (STS-114). So far, all systems are go. The engineers still don't seem to know what has caused the fuel sensors to fail in the past, but for this launch have relaxed the "GO" requirement. Now, instead of requiring that all 4 sensors on each engine are working, it is only requird that 3 of the 4 sensors on each engine are working. As an engineer, it's a bit disturbing to me that the can't figure out what the problem is. Moreover, I fear that if today's launch is successful, NASA's administrators will be willing to overlook the fact that nobody has a clue as to what is causing the sensors to fail. THAT is bad engineering, plain and simple. I understand the desire to return to flight, but at the same time, some either alternative or work-around for the sensor failure problem should be addressed, and addressed soon. As of right now, 2 of 3 scheduled tests on the fuel sensors have been conducted, and both tests were 100% successful.

Follow all the return to flight coverage via NASA's Return to Flight page.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mobile Game HoF

It seems that the folks over at Mobile Magazine have produced a "Mobile Game Hall of Fame," their list of "the 50 best mobile video games of all time." I looked over the list and must admit that there are some I've never seen or heard of...but mostly those are before my time. I've included a few selections here of games I've either owned or played, as well as some of the things I've never heard of or seen. For the full list, be sure to check out the article here.

#50. Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo DS. Haven't played this one yet, though I really want to. I'm a little surprised, though, that a remake of a Mario game made it into the top 50.

#49. Space Trader for the Palm Pilot. I've tried to play this one, and probably would play a bit more if it didn't require so much reading just to get into the game and learn it. That said, of course, it's a free game, and one I actually intend to try to play at some point. I'm glad to see that mobile gaming doesn't just mean portable video games a la Nintendo, Sega, or Sony. That is, it's nice to see some Palm, PPC, and SmartPhone games represented. Get it here if you're interested.

#46. Metroid II: The Return of Samus for Gameboy. You know, I own this. I never got into the game, and certainly wouldn't include it on a list of the 50 best of all time...

#43. Mattel Baseball. According to the article, this came out in 1978. I was born in '79, but have never heard of nor seen it.

#25. Sonic the Hedgehog for the Game Gear. I adored this game, and it really was the flagship game and series of the Sega line, at least in the early to mid 90's. I guess now Sonic is more of an icon, but this game was a true classic, and I'm glad to see it was placed at 25.

#23. Geocaching. I guess, to be honest, that this is a "mobile" game since it's something you do outdoors with your GPS. It's kind of like a treasure hunt, where you can go to the geocaching website and get coordinates of places to go hunt for various caches. Though I have a GPS and enjoy hiking and the outdoors, this just doesn't strike my fancy. I guess it's just not my thing.

#21. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap for the Gameboy Advance. I HATED THIS GAME! I've adored the Legend of Zelda series since it first came out for the NES, but Minish Cap was the first game in the series that I truly did not enjoy. While there was a new "trick" for Link to learn, the trick of shrinking, I found the gameplay to be tired and repetitive and got bored with the game. The side-quests were long and annoying, not so much tricky as tedious, and most of them were pale copies of similar quests in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (one of my favorite all-time games, Zelda or otherwise). This is also the first Zelda game I didn't bother to beat. After playing through all the dungeons (which were effectively all the same with the same types of "puzzles" to figure out), I finally got to the final boss and was forced to beat him in at least 6 iterations. I got bored after the first 4 or so, and just said "Screw it, I'm bored." There are only so many times you can do the exact same thing over and over before you decide it's just stupid. Can I emphasize how much I hated this game?

#19. Pokemon Red for Gameboy. I admit, I never played Pokemon Red, but I do own Pokemon LeafGreen, which is a surprisingly great RPG. Sure, there are "kid" elements, but when you get past the "kids only" image, it's a well thought-out game that includes many sub-quests and a long story line--one that happily doesn't finish even after you beat the "main part" of the game.

#12. Tamagotchi. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I owned one. I think that's all I'll say about it in particular, though you may notice how there are similar (and quite popular) games out now for the computer and Nintendo DS, including the Sims line and Nintendogs.

#11. Simon. I had a "travel" Simon, which my brother, sister, and I played quite a bit on long car drives and when visiting the extended family over the holidays. It was a great game, but I think it was a little loud for most parents' tastes. If it had included headphones or a headphone jack, I think my parents would have let us play it longer. ;)

#8. Solitaire for the Pocket PC. Though this refers to the PPC version, I think many people use their computers and PDA's for excessive amounts of solitaire. It's an addictive little game, and is (I think) one of the most popular games for the PDA in general, with an abundance of versions of it to try.

#5. Mattel Football. See my comment for #43.

#4. Bejeweled for smartphones. I think that if people haven't purchased some sort of solitaire game for their PDA, then they probably have purchased a Bejeweled game (or clone). I've whittled away the time in many doctor's offices, car repair shops, and other long waiting lines playing some version of both of these games (and Bike or Die!, which didn't make this list).

#1. Tetris for Gameboy. I heart Tetris. I heart puzzle games. Tetris and Dr. Mario were the reason that I rarely got to bed before midnight when I was in elementary and middle school. Tetris (and other games of a similar nature...currently, Super Puzzle Fighter) is always a game I come back to for hours of challenge and entertainment, especially if I'm just trying to free my mind for awhile. Tetris for the Gameboy is the reason we had to buy my mom her own Gameboy--she kept stealing mine or my brother's whenever she wanted to play, and then would hound us to see if she could get a better score than we did (and if she did, you can believe we would work at it until we set a new high score for her to beat).

Any comments on any of these? Or perhaps there's one on the list that you can't believe I didn't mention? Be sure to let me know. :)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Italian Takes Stage 19

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.

Italian Giuseppe Guerini took his second-ever stage win in the Tour de France today, by making a superb break going into the final kilometer of the stage and dropping the other 3 riders who were in his breakaway group. This is the second stage he's ever won in the Tour de France, his last stage win coming in 1999. I believe it is also his first win in any race since 2002 or 2003. Because he rides for T-Mobile, his win should keep T-Mobile on the top of the team standings, while the top 5 in the general classification will remain unchanged.

All that's left for this year's TdF is tomorrow's individual time trial and then the final stage, the ride into Paris and under the Champs-Elysee. As a side note, I'll also post yesterday's top 3 finishers, since I neglected to report on it yesterday...

Stage 18 Top 3 Finishers
1. Marcos Serrano (ESP), Liberty-Seguros, 4:37:36
2. Cedric Vasseur (FRA), Cofidis, +00:27
3. Axel Merckx (BEL), Davitamon-Lotto, +00:27

Stage 19 Top 3 Finishers
1. Giuseppe Guerini (ITA), T-Mobile, 3:33:04
2. Sandy Casar (FRA), Francaise de Jeux, +00:10
3. Franco Pellizotti (ITA), Liquigas-Bianchi, +00:10

Top 5 General Classification After Stage 19
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 81:22:19
2. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:46
3. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +03:46
4. Jan Ullrich (GER), T-Mobile, +05:58
5. Francisco Mancebo (ESP), Illes Balears

(Image from

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Discovery With Stage 17

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Another Discovery Channel rider takes a stage! Savoldelli, a new rider to the squad (formerly of T-Mobile) has won stage 17 of the 2005 Tour de France. This is great for Team Discovery, gaining more points for them in the team standings. Though Lance has yet to win a stage this year, two of his teammate's have now, which must be especially nice in Lance's final Tour.

Updates to the standings a bit later, as the peloton was at least 20 minutes behind the stage leaders at the last time check (actually closer to 24 minutes, if I remember correctly). I'll post the standings shortly!!!

Top 3 Finishers, Stage 17
1. Paolo Savoldelli (ITA), Discovery Channel, 5:41:19
2. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (NOR), CSC, +00:00
3. Simons Gerrans (AUS), AG2R, +00:08

Top 5 in General Classification After Stage 17
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 72:55:50
2. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:46
3. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +03:09
4. Jan Ullrich (GER), T-Mobile, +05:58
5. Francisco Mancebo (ESP), Illes Balears, +06:31

(Image from

Fun With Google

In honor of the 36th anniversary of the lunar landing, Google today is having some fun with their logo (as they often do when there are anniversaries of note). So, today, be sure to:
Go to
Click on the Moon in the logo
Zoom in all the way on the resulting picture

If going to doesn't work, you might want to try this link and do the zooming bit (i.e. zoom all the way in). Either way. Kudos to Google for today's fun. :)

Stage 16 Results

Been a crazy day, I spent almost 2/3 of my waking hours in the car or doing things otherwise away from my house and computer. Needless to say, I can't say much about stage 16, because I didn't get to see much of it.

Top 3 Finishers, Stage 16
1. Oscar Pereiro (ESP), Phonak, 4:38:40
2. Xabier Zandio (ESP), Illes Balears, +00:00
3. Eddy Mazzoleni (ITA), Lampre-Caffita, +00:00

Top 5 General Classification After Stage 16
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 66:52:03
2. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:46
3. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +03:09
4. Jan Ullrich (GER), T-Mobile, +05:58
5. Francisco Mancebo (ESP), Illes Balears, +06:31

Sunday, July 17, 2005

TdF Stages 13, 14, 15

Today's stage 15 was a great day for Lance's long time teammate and right-hand man, George Hincapie. He has never won a stage in the Tour de France, and today came out fighting. As a part of the lead pack just 27 km into the stage (out of just over 200 km total for today), I'm sure George didn't have any real hopes of holding on for the stage win. Whether or not it was expected, though, he certainly did, earning himself a first-ever stage win and also the first win for a teammate of Lance's since 1999. George definitely had a banner day today, leading into tomorrow's rest day. Congrats out to George!

I haven't been reporting on the TdF lately, which is purely a result of trying to re-read the Harry Potter books prior to the release of book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Thursday I re-read book 4 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Friday was spent with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book 5) and Saturday, I went to Barnes & Noble at around 9:30 a.m. to pick up my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I was able to finish the book in about 8 hours of disjointed reading, and am now back in full action to cover the final week of the Tour as they race into Paris. In case you weren't following the stages very carefully, the results from stages 13 and 14 were as follows...

Stage 13 Top 3 Finishers
1. Robbie McEwen (AUS), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:43:14
2. Stuart O'Grady (AUS), Cofidis, +00:00
3. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Davitamon-Lotto, +00:00

Stage 14 Top 3 Finishers
1. Georg Totschnig (AUT), Gerolsteiner, 5:43:43
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, +00:56
3. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +00:58

And, finally, today's stage 15 results, as well as the overall General Classification after today's stage. There's been a little bit of a shake-up at the top, as Lance now has over two and a half minutes on the second-place rider.

Stage 15 Top 3 Finishers
1. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, 6:06:38
2. Oscar Pereiro (ESP), Phonak, +00:06
3. Pietro Caucchioli (ITA), Credit Agricole, +00:38

General Classification Top 5 After Stage 15
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 69:09:59
2. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:46
3. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +03:09
4. Jan Ullrich (GER), T-Mobile, +05:58
5. Francisco Mancebo (ESP), Illes Balears, +06:31

(Image from

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bastille Day at Le Tour

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
This year's Tour de France has been relatively frustrating for the French. The French riders haven't done very well overall in this year's Tour, and that upsets the French fans on some level. It seems almost appropriate, then, that on Bastille Day--a holiday in France similar to Independence Day in the US--that a Frenchman should win. Indeed, today's stage 12 victory went to David Moncoutie of the Cofidis team.

Some important withdrawals of note, between yesterday and today. Jens Voigt, winner of stage 9, was unable to finish within the time limit in stage 11, so has been eliminated from the competition. Tom Boonen, who was the sprint leader (green jersey) as of the end of stage 11, apparently woke up this morning with a very swollen knee and was advised by the team doctor that riding today could cause long-term damage to his knee, so he did not start. He'd been in a few crashes over the first week of riding, and I think those crashes finally caught up with him. Finally, Manuel "Tricky" Beltran, a Discovery Channel rider, was in a crash during today's stage and was forced to withdraw from the race with a head injury of some sort. This will be the first time since 2001 (I believe) that Lance's team will not finish with all 9 riders, so I imagine there will be a little sadness and disappointment with the Discovery team tonight. Unfortunately, randomness in cycling is part of the nature of the beast, and sometimes random crashes do happen and require riders to pull out.

With Tom Boonen out, the green jersey will now go to Thor Hushovd of Norway (Credit Agricole). Lance finished with the peloton, about 10 and a half minutes after Moncoutie crossed the line. It seemed almost as if most of the leaders stayed back with the peloton today, knowing that today was a good day to recover from yesterday's mountain stage. The leaders of today's stage were far enough behind Lance and the other top riders in the GC that it was no threat at all for Lance et al to take it easy and finish 10+ minutes back.

Stage 12 Top 3 Finishers
1. David Moncoutie (FRA), Cofidis, 4:20:06
2. Sandy Casar (FRA), Francaise des Jeux, +00:57
3. Angel Vicioso (ESP), Liberty Seguros, +00:57

General Classification Top 5 After Stage 12
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 46:30:36
2. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +00:38
3. Christophe Moreau (FRA), Credit Agricole, +02:34
4. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:40
5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Illes Balears, +03:16

(Image from

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Discovery Delayed Until...?

According to an article at CNN, the launch of Discovery is going to be delayed until at least Saturday. According to an article at the BBC, however, the launch has been delayed until at least Monday. NASA's Return to Flight page agrees with the CNN page, that the next chance for a launch is Saturday. Either way, all this really means is that they're not sure what is going on with the sensor, and where the problem lies exactly. It may lie in the sensor itself, which would require moving the shuttle back to the VAB to fix. The problem may lie in the wiring to the sensor, a problem which can be fixed while it's on the pad, or the problem may lie in the telemetry FROM the sensor, another problem that can be fixed while the shuttle is on the pad. Hopefully by tomorrow they'll have a better idea of what the problem is exactly, where it is, and how to fix it, and a new launch date and time will be announced.

Shuttle Discovery Launch Delayed

Today's scheduled return to flight for the space shuttle Discovery (STS-114, scheduled for 3:51 PM ET) has been scrubbed. Though weather was becoming a concern, they had to scrub the mission because at least 2 of the low-fuel sensors on at least one of the three shuttle engines was malfunctioning. Each engine has 4 of these sensors, and all must be working for the mission to be a go.

Depending on how easy it is to fix the sensor problem, Discovery MAY be able to launch tomorrow, sometime in the 3-4 PM ET time frame. If it can't launch tomorrow, Saturday will be the next opportunity, and after that, Tuesday. They can't launch on Friday because if the mission can't go off tomorrow, the fuel in the shuttle will have had a chance of degradation and will need to be replaced. This would happen on Friday if Discovery doesn't launch Thursday. You can follow the coverage of the return to flight over the next few days by going to either NASA's main site or to the Return to Flight page.

CNN is reporting that it was only 1 sensor in a set of 4 on one engine that was faulty. Either way, it was about 2 hours and 45 minutes before launch, and, without knowing exactly why the sensor was malfunctioning (and if it was/is a problem that might occur to the other sensors, too), they didn't want to risk it. MSNBC is currently reporting that if the sensor itself is faulty, then the shuttle will have to be rolled back into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). If that happens, the next attempt won't be until 9 September (due to the relative position of ISS and the launch window to be able to dock with it). More details as they become available.

(Image directly from

Vino Takes Stage 11

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Bouncing back from a disappointing stage 10, one of Lance's main rivals, Alexandre Vinokourov came out today with a vengence and was able to take the stage. Though Vino's lead was as large as 3+ minutes at times, the final time gap between Vino and Lance was only 1:15. Vino started his attack in the 28th km, and neer let go. He did come down to the final sprint with the Colombian Santiago Botero, but managed to pull out enough energy for the win.

Top 3 Finishers, Stage 11
1. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile, 4:47:38
2. Santiago Botero (COL), Phonak, +00:01
3. Christophe Moreau (FRA), Credit Agricole, +01:15

With Vino's win (and subsequent time bonus), he's moved up a bit in the GC, though Lance remains on top, 38 seconds in front of Mickael Rasmussen.

GC Top 5 After Stage 11
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 41:59:57
2. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +00:38
3. Christophe Moreau (FRA), Credit Agricole, +02:34
4. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:40
5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Illes Balears, +03:16

Lance's main competitors, including Basso, Vino, and Ullrich are in 4th (+2:40), 12th (+4:47), and 9th (+4:02), respectively.

(Image from

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Valverde Takes Stage 10

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Today's stage at the Tour de France brought with it what most analysts and enthusiasts expected: a charge by Lance Armstrong and the Discovery team to show their dominance in the mountains and put some time between Lance and his main competitors.

What wasn't expected was the performance of some of the younger riders, including stage winner Alejandro Valverde. I personally didn't expect Lance's main competitors to fall out as they did, either, but that's a testament to how hard Lance was pushing.

The stage started fairly typically--a few guys tried to build a lead for themselves, while Lance et. al. stayed with the peloton. Soon enough, though, before the last climb of the day (a category 1 climb), the peloton caught the leaders, and from there, the Discovery Team took over. They lead the pack, setting a fairly quick pace. One by one, riders started dropping off the back of the peloton, and eventually Lance had the front of the peloton, along with Popyvich, Hincapie, and some of his main rivals.

Cranking along, Lance eventually broke out into a lead with Alejandro Valverde, Mikael Rasmussen, and Francisco Mancebo. Towards the end of the climb, though, it became just Lance and Alejandro, and Valverde was able to out-sprint Lance at the top for the stage win. Lance got the same time as Valverde, and Rasmussen and Mancebo (from Valverde's team) came across the line 9 seconds later.

Of course, the same could not be said for Lance's main competitors including Ivan Basso, Alexandre Vinokourov, and Jan Ullrich. Basso finished the stage 1 minute and 2 seconds behind Lance, having been a part of the main lead group for most of the final climb. Ullrich took over a minute more, crossing the finish 2 minutes and 14 seconds behind Lance, while Vino didn't cross for more than 5 minutes after Lance did.

Top 3 Finishers, Stage 10
1. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Illes Balears, 4:50:35
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, +00:00
3. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +00:09

The large lead that Armstrong's pack gave themselves lead to quite a bit of a shake-up in the general classification.

GC Top 5 After Stage 10
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 37:11:04
2. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +00:38
3. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +02:40
4. Christophe Moreau (FRA), Credit Agricole, +02:42
5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Illes Balears +03:16

Of note, Jan Ullrich is 8th, 4:02 behind Lance. Vinokourov is 16th, 6:32 off of Lance. Finally, Beloki is 21st, 8 minutes and 31 seconds behind Lance. Things are looking good so far, early in the 2nd week of this year's Tour.

(Image from

Sunday, July 10, 2005

TdF Stage 9: Jens Voigt Takes Yellow Jersey

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Today's stage 9 saw the King of the Mountain, Mickael Rasmussen, jump out to an early lead and then hold it for the entirety of the stage. He began his attack in the first 5 km, and was able to hold his lead to win the stage by just over 3 minutes. Congrats to Mickael!

Perhaps of more importance, however, to those following Lance's progress, is that today he gave up the yellow jersey to Jens Voigt of CSC (pictured at right). Voigt joined the group chasing Rasmussen, and formed an intermediate group, finally crossing the line 3 minutes, 4 seconds after Rasmussen. Going into the day, Voigt was 1 minute behind Lance, and since Lance finished another 3 minutes behind Voigt (with the main pack, +06:04 off Rasmussen), Voigt will wear the maillot jaune on Tuesday's stage 10. This isn't much of a worry to the Discovery Channel team. Voigt is known more as a sprinter than a hill-climber, and I think that Lance et al expect that he'll tire himself out and that they can get the yellow jersey back in the mountains. The team still considers Lance's biggest competitors to be Vinokourov (1:26 behind Lance) and Ullrich (1:36 behind Lance).

As expected, David Zabriskie pulled out of the TdF today. Though he did start, he pulled out early in the stage. This isn't exactly as a surprise--with his injured ribs, he can't breathe very well, making long-distance cycling a difficult prospect. Hopefully he'll bounce back from this injury and have a good finish to the season, and we'll be able to talk about him again in next year's TdF.

Top 3 Finishers, Stage 9
1. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, 4:08:20
2. Christophe Moreau (FRA), Credit Agricole, +03:04
3. Jens Voigt (GER), CSC, +03:04

General Classification Top 5 After Stage 9
1. Jens Voigt (GER), CSC, 32:18:23
2. Christophe Moreau (FRA), Credit Agricole, +01:50
3. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, +02:18
4. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN), Rabobank, +02:43
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile, +03:20

(Image from

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stages 7 and 8 of 2005's TdF

I've been sort of busy these last couple of days, and haven't had a chance to do as thorough updating as usual on this year's Tour de France. Today's stage 8 was a first glimpse of what the mountains might be like--it started with four category 3 climbs, and ended with a category 2 climb. Unfortunately for the Discovery Channel team, the final climb was a bit disappointing. Lance had to go it alone, as the rest of his team was either too tired or just not paying attention to what was going on, and got dropped on the climb. Hopefully, they'll figure out what went wrong today, fix it tomorrow, and get some good rest on Monday, which is the rest day.

Other notes of interest today include:
-Pieter Weening was able to win the stage by an insanely small margin over Andreas Kloden: 0.0002 seconds. A photo finish and computer timing chips on each bike had to be used to determind who won the stage. What is nice about Weening's win is that he was one of the ones who started an early breakaway in today's stage, and for the first time in this TdF, one of the people in the initial breakaway actually captured the stage.

-On a bit of a sad note, David Zabriskie really struggled today, finishing in last place, 51 minutes and 12 seconds behind Weening. This time was within 1 minute of the time he needed to finish by or else be forced to retire/withdrawal. It's obvious that his ribs, injured in the crash during the team time trial and aggravated in one of the stage 6 crashes, are really bothering him. Let's face it, when you have injured ribs, it's hard to breathe as deeply as you need to, and that just saps your energy and ability to do endurance racing. I expect that he'll probably drop out soon (I actually have my doubts as to if he'll even start on Sunday's stage 9). As it stands now, he is 179th out of 180, 1 hour, 1 minute, and 13 seconds behind Lance.

-After today's stage (and the disappearance of most of the Discovery Channel team in the last climb), the top 5 in the GC is a bit different than it's been in the past. Results from the last 2 stages and the GC as of the end of stage 8 are below.

Top 3 Finishers in Stage 7
1. Robbie Mc Ewen (AUS), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:46:00
2. Magnus Backstedt (SWE), Liquigas-Bianchi, +00:00
3. Bernhard Eisel (AUT), Francaise Des Jeux, +00:00

Top 3 Finishers in Stage 8
1. Pieter Weening (NED), Rabobank, 5:03:54
2. Andreas Kloden (GER), T-Mobile, +00:00
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Illes Balears-Caisse D'Epargne, +00:27

General Classification Top 5 After Stage 8
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 28:06:17
2. Jens Voigt (GER), CSC, +01:00
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile, +01:02
4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, +01:07
5. Ivan Basso (ITA), CSC, +01:26

Thursday, July 07, 2005

After Crash, Bernucci Takes Stage 6

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
The weather for today's stage really set the stage for an interesting finish. 600m in front of the finish line, a combination of the wet road, a 90 degree corner, and crosswalk paint yielded some precarious conditions for a final sprint. As might be expected, this did in fact cause a bit of a wreck right before today's finish. Some riders were able to slow down enough to take the turn without falling, and some actually unclipped and put a foot down to stay upright, but many riders did completely wipe out at the turn, and many riders were held up a bit because of the pileup at the turn.

In the end, Lorenzo Bernucci of the Fassa Bortolo team was able to stay upright and power down the straight after the turn, taking the stage. According to the rules of the TdF, because the wreck happened in the final 3km of the stage, everybody in the main pack (that was about 7 seconds back from the leaders) will get the same time--that is, the winning time plus 7 seconds.

Stage 6 Top 3 Finishers
1. Lorenzo Bernucci (ITA), Fassa Bortolo, 4:12:52
2. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile, +00:00
3. Robert Forster (GER), Gerolsteiner, +00:07

Today's result shakes up the top of the general classification just a bit, as noted below.

Top 5 General Classification
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 17:58:11
2. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, +00:55
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile, +01:02
4. Jens Voight (GER), CSC, +01:04
5. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, +01:07

Of note, Ivan Basso is currently 9th in the GC, at +01:26, and Jan Ullrich is 13th at +01:36.

(Image from

Delayed TdF Stage 6 Coverage Here

I've switched over fom OLN and the TdF to watch CNN and see what's going on in London. I'll probably post results from today's TdF stage here later, but for now, my thoughts are with those in London and their friends and families.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Robbie McEwen Takes Stage 5

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
I didn't actually see today's race (yet, I plan on watching the replays on OLN), but a quick look at the TdF site and VeloNews says that Robbie McEwen (pictured at right) took this stage, edging out Tom Boonen. Sorry that there's not much else I can say, but not having seen it, it'd be hard to comment with any credibility.

Top 3 Finishers:
1. Robbie Mc Ewen (AUS), Davitamon-Lotto, 3:46:00
2. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick-Step
3. Thor Hushovd (NOR), Credit Agricole

Lance finished with the main pack, meaning he will also get the stage-winning time, leaving the top of the GC unchanged.

General Classification Top 5:
1. Lance Amrstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 13:45:12
2. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, +00:55
3. Jens Voight (GER), CSC, +01:04
4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, +01:07
5. Jose Luis Rubiera (ESP), Discovery Channel, +01:14

(Image from

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

TdF: Zabriskie OK

According to this article at VeloNews, x-rays on Zabriskie showed no broken bones, and it is expected he will start in tomorrow's Stage 5. Watching it live on TV, it looked like all of a sudden, he just spontaneously fell. One minute he was in the paceline, the next he was skidding sideways and falling. People assumed he clipped a wheel in the paceline, though now it seems that the blame is being placed on a skipping chain. From the VeloNews article,

"CSC roared down the final, twisting descent into Blois through a series of sharp S-turns but the team split coming through the final corner. A small gap of perhaps 15 feet opened between the leading riders and Zabriskie, Roberts and Ivan Basso.

Zabriskie stood out of the saddle and glanced over his right shoulder. And then disaster struck. His front wheel slipped out and the yellow jersey went careening to the asphalt.

The actual caused of his crash wasn't certain. The roads were dry and it appears Zabriskie didn't puncture, and Roberts said Zabriskie didn't clip a wheel. "I'm not sure what happened, whether his chain jumped or his foot slipped. We were accelerating after coming through the corner and maybe it threw him off-balance," Roberts said. "It's just bad luck for Dave. It's an awful situation for him."

Zabriskie fell hard on his left side, narrowly missing the fenced barriers and a French policeman standing just inside the course, who was forced to jump out of the way when Zabriskie's red bike went clanging past.

Roberts and Basso narrowly avoided crashing into either Zabriskie or his bike. The two frantically chased back on.

"It was a miracle that Luke and I didn't crash into Dave's bike," Basso said. "We have to accept what happened and it's too bad for Dave. Now I am 1:26 down on Armstrong, but this Tour doesn't start for me until the Alps."

Zabriskie got a bike change and rode alone across the line, his yellow jersey ripped and torn with blood on his elbow, shoulders, hip and knee. Team doctors gave Zabriskie two stitches inside the team bus. Subsequent X-rays showed no broken bones.

Later, the young American said, "I'm not happy with what happened but that's life. I'm extremely disappointed because we were very, very close to winning the stage and I was close to keeping the yellow jersey."

Riis said, "I don't know how it happened. We had six seconds on Discovery with two kilometers to go. The others waited to see what would happen and I yelled at them to keep going to the finish as fast as they can, not to wait. If Dave hadn't crashed, we could have won the stage."

Seems to be pretty unlucky for Dave, as he'll be one sore rider in tomorrow's stage. I'm glad to hear, though, that he's mostly alright and will be pushing on.

TdF Stage 4: Team Time Trial

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
It was a crazy day of team time trialing today at the Tour de France. As is becoming a familiar routine, Team Discovery started out fairly slowly, but sped up considerably as they raced through the course. They started second to last, with Team CSC starting last, 5 minutes behind them.

This wasn't exactly a surprise, as it was expected that DSC and CSC would be battling it out for first place in the TTT. The big surprise, though, was that CSC's Dave Zabriskie, wearing the yellow jersey, took a spill almost literally within spitting distance of the finish (with 1.5 km to go).

At the finish, though, DSC finished 2 seconds faster than CSC. Zabriskie's crash means he won't get the same time as the rest of his team, thus Lance takes over the overall lead of the TdF, and will don the yellow jersey.

Top 5 Team Finishes
Discovery Channel 1:10:39
CSC +00:02
T-Mobile +00:35
Liberty Seguros +00:53
Phonak +01:31

Top 5 in General Classification After Stage 4
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel 9:59:12
2. George Hincapie (USA), Disocvery Channel +00:55
3. Jens Voigt (GER), CSC +01:04
4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC +01:07
5. Jose Luis Rubiera (ESP), Discovery Channel +01:14

(Image from

Because of the crash, there is a rumor circulating that David Zabriskie has broken some ribs and may have to pull out of the TdF. I'll try and get confirmation on that. If it's true, it's sort of sad. Zabriskie was having a great start to his Tour, and to have to pull out for such a weird crash...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Stage 3 of Le Tour

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
In today's stage we saw Erik Dekker (Netherlands, pictured at right), of team Rabobank, take the lead in the King of the Mountains competition by a point. He will wear the polka-dotted climber's jersey in tomorrow's Stage 4. Dekker showed a lot of heart, taking the lead with 27 km to go and pressing as hard as he could to retain that lead, especially in the last 5 km, when his lead was only 5-10 seconds. Inside of 2 km, he was caught by the peloton, though. All said and done, though, he put forth an amazing effort.

After an insane and incredible sprint finish, Boonen takes his second stage of this year's TdF. David Zabriskie finished in the main pack, as did Lance Armstrong, so Zabriskie retains the yellow jersey, while Lance remains in second. Lance's other main competitors also finished in the lead pack, so leading into tomorrow's Team Time Trial Stage 4, the general classification remains mostly unchanged.

Because of some rough actions in the final sprint, Robbie McEwen, who technically finished 3rd in the stage, was stripped of his 3rd place finish, and instead Stuart O'Grady was given the 3rd place.

Stage 3 top 3 finishers:
1. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick-Step
2. Peter Wrolich (AUT), Gerolsteiner
3. Stuart O'Grady (AUS), Cofidis

General Classification after Stage 3:
1. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, 8:48:31
2. Lance Amstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, +00:02
3. Laszlo Bodrogi (HUN), Credit Agricole +00:47
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile +00:53
5. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel +00:57

(Image from

Sunday, July 03, 2005

TdF, 2nd Stage

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Tom Boonen, of team Quick-Step, has won the 2nd stage of the 2005 Tour de France. Both Lance and Jan Ullrich finished with the lead pack, +0:00 off the winner. David Zabriskie also finished in the lead pack, so will retain the Maillot Jaune for tomorrow's stage 3.

The top 3 finishers for Stage 2 were:
1. Tom Boonen (BEL), Quick-Step, 3:51:31
2. Thor Hushovd (NOR), Credit Agricole, +00:00
3. Robbie McEwen (AUS), Davitamon-Lotto, +00:00

General Classification after today's stage:
1. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, 4:12:27
2. Lance Amstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, +00:02
3. Laszlo Bodrogi (HUN), Credit Agricole +00:47
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), T-Mobile +00:53
5. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel +00:57

Of note, now Jan Ullrich is 12th in the GC, at +01:08.

(Image from

Saturday, July 02, 2005

David Zabriskie Takes the Yellow Jersey

David Zabriskie
Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
It wasn't Lance that will wear the yellow jersey tomorrow. Instead, it will be another American, David Zabriskie, who rides for CSC. (though is a former USPS teammate of Lance). Final results will be coming soon, as soon as I can find them at the official TdF website, the OLN site, or VeloNews. Photo is from the Lance Armstrong website, and is admittedly an old photo.

Preliminary Results:
1. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, 20:51.84
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:02
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), T-Mobile, 0:53
4. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:56
5. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Credit Agricole, 0:59

Tour de Lance?

Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Le Tour de France starts today, meaning that today Lance starts his quest for a seventh straight TdF win.

As a cyclist, a fan of cycling, and a Lance supporter since the early 90's (when he was just an up-and-coming young American and, frankly, was a bit of an asshole), you can bet I'll be watching daily and updating here.

Currently it's almost 12:30 PM ET and I imagine Lance won't be starting until a little after 1 PM ET.

I'll have the day's final results posted here sometime after the day is done.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sailing into Baltimore!

sailing 033
Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
Yesterday, my dad, my friend Elisa, and I sailed on our boat, Daydreams, into Baltimore's Inner Harbor. While my dad and I have sailed into the harbor before, we've never docked. Yesterday, we did just that--$5 for four hours, certainly better than paying garage fees for parking a car!!!

Anyway, on this boat trip I was playing somewhat of a tourist, snapping shots whenever I could. The day was a little hazy, but it was still a great day to be out on the boat. Clicking on the picture will take you to a bigger version of the shot. Or, you can check out the photostream for the trip. While you're there, check out the rest of my pictures at flickr. I have some newly updloaded ones, so enjoy... :)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Gender Equality in Video Games?

Final Fantasy II imbalance
Originally uploaded by terpkristin.
This shot is one I took of my early party in my current game of Final Fantasy II, which I've been playing lately on the Gameboy Advance SP via the Final Fantasy I & II Dawn of Souls game.

While playing, I happened to notice that the female in my party was way behind (in terms of HP) my male party members. At the time, the first male character had 447 possible hit points, the other male had 583, while the female had a paltry 209. "Where's the gender equality in that?!?" I wondered.

Yes, I KNOW that how much HP you gain in this game is about how much you get hit and thus having her in the back row meant she got hit less, thus gained fewer HP.

The imbalance still amused me, particularly in light of more recent Final Fantasy games, where the female characters are quite powerful; for example Yuna in Final Fantasy X. For what it's worth, I've played quite a bit since that shot was taken, and Maria has been moved to the front row. Currently, Firion has 1521 HP, Maria has 1228, and Guy has 1807. Maria's still a bit behind the "boys" as it were, but she's got the best weapon skills (ice bow!) and is currently the only party member who's adept at Holy, so she's still pretty badass.

I still find it interesting, though, that Final Fantasy II, first published in 1988, incorporates weaker women than current games do, when compared to the men of the game. The video game evolution of gender equality does seem to mirror the "real life" evolution of gender equality...any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

More Star Wars

After seeing the previous post "Star Wars Episode III," a friend sent me this Star Wars spoof, produced for your amusement and education by the Organic Trade Association. Again, it was good enough that I decided to pass it along to you, my dedicated readers. For this one, be sure the volume is turned on on your computer. May the farm be with you...

Star Wars Episode III

First off, I've got to say I hate Star Wars. That said, I saw this at a message board I frequent and it was too good not to pass along. Enjoy!

Star Wars Episode III, The Backstroke of the West
(copied from which was down last time I checked)

i saw revenge of the sith last weekend at a local theater with my friend joe who was in town on business. it was much better than the first two movies and a fitting end (err.. middle) to the star wars saga.

the next day i was walking past my friendly dvd salesperson and decided to check out the revenge of the sith. i was assured the quality was good and for 7rmb why not give it a shot.

aside from the counters on the top of the screen and a distorted perspective it was ok- not high quality but watchable. the captions were a direct english translation of the chinese interpretation of what the script was saying. it varied from being somewhat close to the script to being 'far far away'....

amazingly enough, the beginning scroll is mistranslated even though the words are right there on the screen!

'the backstroke of the west' is the english translation of the chinese title, which i'm not entirely sure is the 'official' title.

count dooku talks tough.

that's chancellor palpatine speaking, talking about obi wan.

general grevious gets some bad news.

the general considers punishing his troops.

sounds like something yoda might acually say... maybe.

troopseses!!! (Kristin's note: LOTR/Golem, anyone?)

anakin gets frustrated with the jedi council.

this seemed completely random until i figured out that 'jedi council' was being translated into chinese then back to english as 'the presbyterian church'.

i won't post any spoiler screen shots for those who haven't seen the movie yet- this is a memorable scene towards the end of the film. needless to say, obi wan wasn't actually speaking like yoda in this scene.

captions they be, mistranslated they are.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


About two weeks ago, I happened to be driving on Centennial Lane here in Columbia/Ellicott City and noticed that a house had, in Christmas lights, made out the number "1649" on their fence. I didn't think too much about it at the time...I figured it was a house number or something.

Today I drove by the same house again. Today the number was 1670. All of a sudden, it clicked: this person is keeping track of the US death toll for the war in Iraq. It's one thing to hear about a specific attack or set of attacks injuring or killing 8-10 soldiers. I mean, it's still awful, but it can be easy to forget the magnitude of what's going on. Seeing those Christmas lights was a painful reminder of how many lives it truly is--something that's too easy to forget in the nightly news.

I've never been "for the war." I assumed that the Bush regime was lying to the American public before invading, and I 100% believed it was a mistake to go in. That DOESN'T mean I don't support the troops. It's certainly not their fault we're embroiled in this mess, and I respect what they do. Regardless, I want to see a quick resolution or end to the mess in Iraq, and for our soldiers to come home. Is this what it felt like during the Vietnam era, to scroll through the obituaries and lists of the dead to see if anybody you know has been killed in a pointless war?

It's time to face facts.
BushCo lied about WMD and Sadaam's ties to al Queda.
1669/1670 (numbers vary depending on source) brave US men and women have given their lives so far (courtesy of this page and Specials and of
There is no exit strategy for getting our troops out of there and back home.
Most of the al Queda terrorists involved in 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia. Note we will NEVER invade them because of oil.
The US cost of war (in dollars, not lives) is rapidly approaching $200 billion. 2E11 for you engineering types (source

So, these were my thoughts as I finished my drive back home. Then, I went over to FOFC, a message board/forum related mostly to sports that I frequent. Every now and then somebody posts something with a political bent. Tonight was one of those nights. Already frustrated and emotionally charged because of 1670 Christmas lights, I read about something called the Downing Street Memo. This is a recently declassified document from the UK, outlining their pre-war plans for involvement in Iraq and at the same time pointing out some dubiousness of US intentions. Though this document has been public for about a month over in England, the media here hasn't picked up on it. Now John Conyers, Jr., a representative from Michigan, has a petition going. The petition asks for Bush to respond to questions about this memo, which so far he (and his entire regime) refuse to do.

The time to act is now. It may be a Republican-controlled Congress, and because of that we'll never get him impeached like we all know he should be, but at least we can start to get some answers. Or, at least, more lies. Please, read the Downing Street Memo (the link I have for it is through the UK Times Online, if that link is dead, a Google search of "Downing Street Memo" will return a bunch of hits). If you, like me, would like BushCo to answer questions that arise in part because of this memo, please visit Conyers' site and electronically sign the petition.

And, if you're looking for more information and facts about BushCo and what you can do, please check out the following:
The Democratic National Committee
Mark Morford's columns at the SF Gate

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Got Email?

Through Lifehacker today, I came across an article entitled "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People With Email - Pt. 1," and it quite honestly made me chuckle. If I had a penny for each email I've received that violates the "rules" that Bert lays out...well, I probably wouldn't have to look for a job anymore.

If you, like many, tend to receive emails that break these "rules" from so-called friends, feel free to pass it along to them as a "friendly reminder" of how not to drive other people bonkers.

If you're one of those people that tends to send these sorts of emails...well, take a hint please.