Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

There was no way I could be home in the Washington D.C. area for New Years Eve without being crazy with the guys from the Teckademics Mischief video series. I had a small part in their first release and it is interesting to see how popular the videos have become. Since they don't do anything low key, New Years Eve meant a party on the entire 3rd floor of a hotel in Georgetown. Contrary to what one might think after watching one of the Teckademics videos, there wasn't really any destruction, except for the annoying party favors.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas is Over

Christmas is over so the tree and all the decorations are coming down. The tearing down part is always a lot easier than the setting up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I Got Blogged

Since things get slow during Holiday time I am going to do what I won't be caught doing very often. I am going to be a bit of a conformist and blog about the same topic as everyone else. The topic has to do with the blog widget Entrecard.

Entrecard is kind of like a trade show for bloggers. When Entrecard members stop by your blog they can drop off their card. It is sort of like a business card as it has their blog information attached to it. People also earn credits by dropping their cards at various blogs. The credits can be used to buy ad space on other Entrecard blogs. People can also reject the request for advertisement which is why I have given up on making ad requests. I am just going to let my credits accumulate and most likely not do anything with them.

The Entrecard inbox displays the information of folks who kindly stopped by and dropped off their card. It sometimes leads you to interesting blogs you would otherwise never come across. However, the unfortunate part is that the majority of the blogs are get rich quick schemes of people blogging about how they make money blogging on the internet. They are all titled as Internet Marketing. Anything with that title is an instant turn-off to me. That means the blogger has to work extra hard to make me care about their content. I don't care how many hits someone got last Wednesday at 10pm and how much money they generated off of advertisements. I want to see someone actually writing original content that is not just a rehash of the same thing on thousands of other blogs.

Anyway Entrecard has successfully exposed my blog to readers outside of the circle of people who come across my My Space page or my website. I even got a blogged by another blogger! Sam Freedom's Internet Marketing Controversy Blog recently put up a post about interesting websites found through Entrecard. I got a nice mention. I know I stated that anything with the term internet marketing in the title I usually shy away from. However, the use of the word controversy in the title peaked my interested. Damn marketing people and their cleaver use of dramatic descriptions! See the guy is actually effective.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Most Beautiful Car in the World

Tonight some members of my family opened a couple Christmas gifts. My dad got Speed, Style and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection. Consequently a discussion ensued on what we believed to be the most beautiful car ever built. My father sided with the Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder as the most beautiful car. My aunt believed the 1937 Czechoslovakian Tatra T-87 was the most beautiful automobile. I honestly had no opinion. I stated that I cannot push aside other details and focus purely on the aesthetic. Then my dad asked me what I believed to be the best engineered vehicle and I steered clear of that one as well. I needed more boundaries to make a choice.

My opinion constantly changes as new technologies are introduced. Currently I would say the Nissan GT-R tops the list. Not the De Lorean DMC-12 I posted as a picture. I had taken that picture at one point in time so I figured it was a good opportunity to actually use it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

You Said the Main Set was How Long?

I was reading this blog on and it got to me thinking that I really need to write down my views/experiences in swimming training. I have been through a lot and I believe my experiences combined with my education have provided me with a different perspective than others in the swimming world. I think there is a lot left to be explored in training methods. Coaches streamline their programs around a chunk of athletes and do not leave room for change to develop new methods, they stick with only what the past has proven to work for a few. While the blog I mentioned discusses the need to fluctuate yardage I believe entire program structures could use more new advancements/more individual alterations.

So far in my lifetime I have trained with some of the most renowned swimming coaches in the United States. I have been apart of two NCAA programs that have achieved admirable greatness in the pool. The swim teams belonged to the schools of Kenyon College and the University of Southern California and, while I was in attendance, were under the guidance of coaches Jim Steen and Mark Schubert respectively. They were both coaches with their own outlooks on training. They each had tightly structured programs based on proven advances in swimming performance. While different in some ways, for the most part, the format of the two programs was extremely similar. Training involved short stretching sessions before practice with two practices a day most days, specific sets allocated for particular days ranging from fast quality work to slower recovery sets, weight lifting program tailored for swimming needs and the use of equipment to supplement sets in the pool.

I was in the "sprint" group at Kenyon. That meant it involved slightly less yardage than other groups and slightly more weight lifting. It also meant little to no stroke work, just freestyle freestyle freestyle. Morning workouts occurred three times a week during the weekdays. It involved a short warm up swim, then a session in the weight room. The weight room program involved some Olympic style weight lifting, some isometric exercises with machines and a variety of abdominal crunches. Personally, I kicked ass in the weight room. I was always the strongest female and put a lot of effort into my work. Most girls slacked off in the weight room and that really did not seem to matter when it came to swimming. The real pool workouts happened every weekday evening and Saturday morning. One day a week in the pool was dedicated to quality work, that meant race distances practiced at race pace. Some other workouts were cardio base training, that meant more yardage with less rest. Every fifth workout or so was a recovery day meaning a bit of a slower pace with more rest. There was not much time dedicated to stroke work, when it did happen it was taper time, which was way too late a point to begin making any stroke changes.

I was also in the "sprint" group when I transfered to USC. However, when swimming for a known distance coach such as Mark Schubert, that still meant a lot of yardage. Morning workouts occurred four times during weekdays. They involved more equipment related sets and stroke work. Kicking, pulling, stretch cord swimming, weight belt kicking and parachute swimming was the norm. We also had workouts every weekday afternoon and Saturday morning. Two days a week were dedicated to quality work. That meant race distances swam at race pace, sometimes including the use of Speedo Fastskin swim suits. Dryland training also happened after every evening and Saturday morning workout. Three days a week were dedicated to the weight room, two days a week we did yoga and one day was pool deck exercises. Once again the weight room involved Olympic lifting mixed in with isometric exercises using some free weights and machines along with abdominal exercises. I still kicked ass in the weight room. The football team respected me and the golf team was scared of me. Yoga also helped me gain some flexibility, but not a huge amount. At USC our time in the pool involved a lot of underwater work. That was a key element really missing from the Kenyon program. I greatly improved my underwater swimming and it really showed in my training times. Also despite a little more time dedicated to out of water work, most people still half-assed it and the body was usually to tired to give it an all anyway.

These are two programs that have produced great swimmers. Both have taken good talent and put them on the top of their game. However, I am not convinced all the time in the pool is necessary. I don't think it the best approach to break someone down constantly with lengthy practices, to only give them rest before the biggest meet in expectations of the fastest performance. I believe it just leads to injuries and bad technique. I feel that cross training out of the water can be just as beneficial, if not more than length pool sets. It has been about 3.5 years since I finished college swimming. Through my current schedule, involving only swimming three time a week, I believe myself to be in better shape now. I swim a mere fraction of what I used to, but I can finish my races stronger than ever. I even often train at slower intervals. It is all owed to the work I do outside of the water. Everything I do has a purpose, a goal in mind, I won't stand for garbage yardage. I won't swim a 1,000 yard cruise just to swim in circles where my body gets acquainted with a situation not pertinent to a race. If I want pure cardio work, I go for a run.

My solution is a mix of swimming, gymnastics, running, yoga and weight lifting. Working on basic tumbling skills and gymnastics conditioning is the perfect compliment to swimming. Perfecting my balance, muscle control and flexibility have given me a better body awareness in the water. I am tuned into a balanced body position and it is very apparent if my hips or back get out of alignment. Practicing handstands, press to handstand, balance beam, handsprings and flips have enlightened me on keeping my body tense in the right places to efficiently transfer power. Intense yoga also helps with this. The direct effect of efficiently producing power is not as apparent with yoga, but it does help with muscle control for balancing and flexibility. Also gymnastics conditioning such as numerous straight leg lifts to the bar, pull ups and dips build an extremely solid core. I believe in strengthening through actively engaging muscle groups rather than total isometric weight lifting. Power in swimming is never generated by one muscle at a time, it is the whole package working together. I think it should be trained that way. That is why I love Olympic style lifting, dead lifts, squat thrusts, etc. It involves generating power through efficient technique and works all sorts of areas of the body at the same time.

My ideal training facility would feature a 50 meter pool, a spring floor, a set of uneven bars, a balance beam, a tumble track, a treadmill, a weight bar and plates. Swimming would never involve much more than 5,000 yards (or meters) at a time. A lot of time would be spent on flexibility, active and static, and muscle control. Maybe someday I will put together a training program and get some people to try it out. It would be intense, but in a different way. I think Dara Torres would dig it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Sights

It is a little chilly as the pond has frost.

It isn't too unusual to find parts of deer carcasses.

I caught some deer running from a hunter.

The Piedmont Fox Hounds fox hunt calling it a day.

Washington View

My folks are renovating a townhouse in Washington D.C. This is the view off the 4th floor rear balcony. It will be a good spot to catch the fireworks on the 4th of July.

The house was built in 1913. My dad has always wanted a house with some history, so now he has one. However, my brother is the one in charge of the place. He is overseeing the renovations and keeping track of upkeep. It looks to be the beginning of many projects for him... I am interested to see the place when it is no longer an ugly brown all over the inside.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Ole Swimming Hole

Today I visited the Spring Hill Recreation Center in McLean, VA. It is the closest pool to the house in which I grew up. However, I did not swim there too often since it was not used as a USS practice facility until I was older and I was already content with my training facility. The team that did eventually move into Spring Hill Rec. was The Fish. Some of the kids I coached in clinics and summer league were apart of The Fish. The team quickly earned a reputation producing a whole bunch of young distance swimmers. When I was in high school they didn't really have any swimmers my age, they had a cutesy logo and a cutesy name so the older kids didn't want to join the new team. They have kept their swimmers over the years though and really built up some good ones to establish a well respected senior training group... One of The Fish's standout swimmers happens to be Kate Ziegler. She recently broke Janet Evans's long standing 1500m Freestyle World Record by almost 10 seconds. She is ridiculously fast. I am excited to she what she puts down in 2008.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Denied the Right to Fight Global Warming

Some news came across the Autoblog wires this evening pertaining to the efforts of California to establish their own regulations on CO2 emissions. I wrote this post awhile back about the lawsuit California filed against the EPA. California was using the lawsuit to force the EPA to make a decision on whether or not to give the state a waiver to create their own separate standards. Well, the response came in and California was denied! Thanks to the recent CAFE standards passed by President Bush the EPA told CARB to shove it. The EPA feels that the CAFE regulations are tight enough to burden auto manufactures through 2020 when they come into full effect. California was hoping to phase in their standards by 2016.

The press release I was directed two worded this whole situation quite drastically. The title is "EPA Denies States the Right to Fight Global Warming." Talk about over the top. Not too surprising though since the press release did come from the Environmental Defense Fund. Not getting the ability to create ridiculous regulations that create increased stress on fragile domestic automakers is not quite being denied the right to fight global warming. There are many things a state can do to limit carbon emissions from vehicles without putting restrictions on automobiles sold in the state. For instance it would be nice if California actually had a decent public transportation system, then people might not drive so much. I'm not talking about crappy buses that run over cyclists and plow through red lights. I am talking about rails. When I'm in LA I miss the existence of a quality Metro Rail System like I get to use in Washington D.C. The rail system in LA pretty much all heads to Downtown. Since I moved out of Downtown LA, I never need to go there. I would however, like to go from Marina Del Rey to say Torrance conveniently without emitting global warming gases while idling at traffic lights.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's Cold in Virginia

I flew into Virginia to visit the family for the Holidays. There is no snow but it is chilly. My dad had hoped to get me from the airport, but he had to meet with Ben Bernake. I know the country's economics are more dire than rescuing me from Dulles Airport.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm Sick

I'm sick. Without fail I get sick every year in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't matter where I am. I can be in Virginia, Florida or California, it happens. For the past week I could feel the sluggishness coming on. My throat was getting sore, the nose was backing up. I finally woke up on Friday morning feeling pretty crappy. If I sit up then my head swells up with pressure. It feels much better to lay down and tilt my nose back. This weekend has been a rather lazy groaning on the coach type of weekend.

On Tuesday I head to the East Coast for awhile. It is cold over there...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Newly Discovered Giant Google Connection

I just took a phone call from a high school best friend. She wanted to see if I had heard about a girl we had gone to high school with, Lucy Southworth. Our high school, The Madeira School, was a private school of only about 300 girls so you pretty much knew everyone there. I remember the Southworth sisters from outside of school as well though. Carrie and Lucy were frequently at the local pool. Carrie worked as a life-guard at the Hamlet Swim Club where I swam and helped coach the club team. They were both extremely beautiful, tall blondes. Lucy, like myself, was pretty quiet and geeky in a way so we didn't talk much although we probably would have gotten along very well. However, upon being questioned of whether I had "heard the news" I was concerned something awful might have happened to the blast from the past. Thankfully it was good news to be told and nothing bad!

Apparently Lucy Southworth just got married to Larry Page of Google fame. A quick Google of Lucy's name turned up pictures of the couple, of course. I threw in one of the images although I don't know the source origin. I will just leave it at the fact that it came from Google, because honestly that is most likely the original source anyway. I still recognized Lucy and she is still tall, blonde and beautiful. She is also an extremely intelligent woman, going to undergrad at UPenn not to mention her other achievements. It is always pleasing news to hear about Madeira grads who have done something with themselves (not because Lucy married a billionaire, but because she matters and she wants to make a difference). I do believe the school groomed us to achieve great things. It has taken a good bit of time, but it certainly helped me be more confident in my career.

I also learned that Carrie Southworth is a model and actress in Los Angeles now. It seems that she lives in my neighborhood as well. Madeira connections can be interesting sometimes. I have probably seen her in passing and had no clue.

One Fast R32 GT-R

The R32 GT-R pictured above is nicknamed Big Nasty. Some recent dyno pulls of the car can be viewed here: GT-Rs in the USA Blog
Tonight it should be doing some 1/8th mile testing at Irwindale Speedway.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm a Supermodel

One thing I love about swimming, and a reason I will continue with it as a form of exercise until my death, is that it opens up opportunities to meet new and interesting people. When I first arrived in Los Angeles I began swimming with the masters group at USC. I was easing back into training after having shoulder surgery. I figured masters was the best place to start. One of the swimmers I met in the group was Louis Lesko, a USC graduate and photographer extraordinaire.

Through Louis I learned a bit about a whole different world. He has traveled the world and worked in all aspects of photography from fashion to commercial and movies. Despite Lou's worldly travels we have kept in touch over the years. At one point he called me up because he had an idea for a shoot and needed some help in executing it. I happened to have nothing better going on so I became the subject of Lou's vision. The image below is what came out of this adventure.

Photo Credit: Louis Lesko

The photo's intentions are to illustrate how technology can be a distraction to our creative juices. While laptops, cellphones, iPods, etc. can be a source of inspiration, they usually just act to steal our focus. Communication devices have become too much of a clutch for so many people.

Recently Louis Lesko published a book. It is titled Advertising Photography: A Straightforward Guide to a Complex Industry. It is available on and comes highly recommended. I absolutely love how Lou put a swimmer on the cover. That is completely like him, he finds swimming beautiful. On top of featuring swimming on the cover Lou has also included my picture within the book's pages. I am just a few pages away from the likes of Keanu Reeves and Alicia Keys. The subject matter of the publication is all about setting up photoshoots and photography usage rights. It is actually content on which I need education as it pertains to the blogger world. Hopefully I have followed fair use policies in using Lou's images in this post.

Pink Miata

It may be hard to see from the picture, but the above image is of a pink Mazda Miata. I spotted it last night while driving home from gymnastics. There are not many things that make a statement quite like a pink Miata. I was curious as to the gender of the driver, but I was never next to them to catch a glance. If it is a girl that drives the car, there are not many straight guys that would want a ride. If it is a guy that drives the car then I think it is almost pretty certain they must be gay. It is one of those times you just have to accept the stereotype. I highly doubt a straight guy could comfortably drive a pink Miata.

There was a Top Gear Episode where Richard Hammond test drove a pink Nissan Micra. He put a paper bag over his head while driving through his hometown. He then proceeded to leave the car on the side of the road. A pink Miata fits in the exact same category as a pink Nissan Micra.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Swimming on the Internet

Swimming being a low profile sport, especially in the United States, doesn’t allow for much scrutiny when it comes to reporting news. Only a handful of swimming related media outlets exist on the internet. None are a part of some giant media conglomerate with extensive international circulation however. The largest is now probably Wasserman Media Group since their scope encompasses more than just the sport of swimming. That doesn’t mean the group holds high standards for its news reporting though., a swim blog that is part of the Wasserman clutches, has been berated multiple times for directly copying content from the next most prominent swimming news source, Swimming World Magazine. While some information might come in the form of pre-written content (ie press releases), that does not mean it is acceptable to directly post it without referencing the source it came from.

I noticed that has a Site Meter link at the bottom of the page. I followed the link hoping to check out their traffic report, however that was not available to see. I did notice the list of top Site Meter websites though. It just so happened that number 10 on the list is a site for which I write, is owned by one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, AOL/Time Warner. One can imagine that such a large corporation has something to lose if one of its employees is negligent with their reporting. Oftentimes news is reported in the form of a press release. For such things a brief summary with some commentary is constructed, then the full press release is pasted in the post italicized and the source is noted. All images are either captured personally by the authors or they are supplied by companies for editorial use. does not reference any sources for the information it reports. I agree that it is a shady tactic. Editorial posts do not need sources, however if you begin reporting information on major corporations or organizations without giving a source and your story effects the stock market for the day, prepare to take the windfall.

Swimming is definitely not like the automotive industry in that there are gigantic corporations whose worth can be affected by journalists. Perhaps it could get that way though, Speedo is a company with something to lose. I really hope to see swimming media become more significant. First people really need to clean things up and get it together with modern times. There is so much technical information involved in swimming and I don’t see anyone exploring it. The print media coming out of Sports Publication International (Swimming World Magazine) typically has some more in-depth articles, however their circulation is abominable. There is no way for it to reach the general masses or even general fitness enthusiasts.

This post was brought on by a couple recent posts on other swimming related blogs such as Tony Austin’s SCAQ Swimmer Blog and the Texas Swimming Blog. They are both gathering more and more attention with their content. I think it is a very good thing for the sport. I like the opinions that get expressed. I may not agree with everything all the time, but it creates debate which is a wonderful thing. I hope they keep it up as it keeps swimming more grounded.

Amazing, I wrote this post today and now it seems that Timed Finals has taken to noting their sources as this was recently posted: I suppose it is a start...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Surge Monster

When the pressure ratio between the air inside a turbocharger and the atmosphere increases, but the flow rate through the turbocharger remains low, surge occurs. While the concept of surge is a rather complicated tasked to explain, it can be easily identified as a swishing noise. There are certain size turbochargers when mated to particular engines that are known producers of surge. A good example is the use of twin HKS GT-RS turbochargers on an RB26DETT engine. You can really hear the surge at low rpms. For this reason the GT-RS has earned the name surge monster.

While working for a turbocharger manufacturer I had made the request to marketing that a cutesy company mascot would be cool. A lot of Japanese companies have all sorts of products branded with their cutesy logo that people go gaga over. In particular Tein is a company that has endless amounts of marketing material featuring their cartoony damper mascot. I even have a stuffed version of it that I call Dampy. One day I decided to take matters in to my own hands and I created a rough drawing for the Surge Monster.

I am not quite sure yet what the Surge Monster will represent though. Surge is not a desirable function. A turbocharger submitted to excessive surge operation experiences high thrust loads which can lead to failure. Surge is not something to glorify. I want to say then that the Surge Monster is a champion of surge. He exists to educate and prevent. A proper turbocharger size match and realistic power goals keeps surge at bay. However, the Surge Monster could be the bad guy. He could be the evil Surge Monster that creates this undesirable function. Then the purple dinosaur can come along and defeat the evil Surge Monster with his education on turbocharger sizing and engine building.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Yamuna Body Rolling

I have had this chronic hamstring problem for a few years. It started when I made it a priority to greatly increase my flexibility. I made use of my frayed knot (pretty much a thick rope) to stretch my legs. However at one point I got a bit overzealous and pulled my right leg too far. That was miserable to recover from and my stretching did not progress too far with the methods I knew how to employ. Eventually I began adult gymnastics and my flexibility increased enormously. However between all the stretching and rest days something pissed off the right hamstring again and it has been feeling crunchy for awhile. It gets particularly annoying during running when the hamstring decides it just does not want to contract anymore. I finally said enough is enough and went in for some physical therapy.

I am so glad I gave in and sought therapy because I learned about Yamuna body rolling. You take a little air filled ball and roll it around under your own body weight. It is just the right size to get into key areas. My hamstring kept getting inflamed because it was under a lot of stress in the center of the muscle. As I kept forcing the stretch it would pull from the center, not distribute the stretch throughout the whole muscle. With the Yamuna ball I can stretch certain muscles a little bit at a time throughout the whole length of the muscle. It gets the muscles stretched without all the strain concentrated in one area. I am excited to now add it in to my routine. We'll see if it can help me achieve my middle splits sooner than later.