Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bad Shoulder

I have been a bad blogger lately. That is my fault though because I push myself pretty hard and I have to let something give most of the time. I let the writing slip when I need a break because I would rather not spend my life stuck behind a computer or television. I feel guilty for only spending 9 hours at work most days. I also get down on myself when I am too drained to spend a couple hours at night scouring the internet for interesting automotive news to post on Autoblog. I am too busy during my day to keep up with all the posts and news going on, so I have to spend time catching up before I can even begin browsing for items that have yet to be covered. Now I also have two pets (the new one is pictured above) I don’t want to ignore. They grab my attention for a significant period every night. I have me time scheduled in everyday in the form of swimming or gymnastics after work though. Generally my workout time keeps me on my toes and re-energizes me for the evening. It is amazing though how everything can turn sour when things don’t go well in the pool anymore. For the entirety of the summer my left shoulder has been killing me. It has gotten me feeling a tad dejected.

My left shoulder problems first surfaced when I was 14 years old and a freshman in high school. It was hard to process the injury back then because the pain wasn’t so apparent. I just got to a point where I could hardly get my arm to keep turning over in order to make it through a 200 freestyle. My time kept going backwards and I was so devastated. The more I tried to push, the slower I would go. I was lucky enough to find a sympathetic physical therapist however. She had been a competitive swimmer herself. She was amazed I could even move my arm because my shoulder was so impinged and inflamed. Working long and hard though, we managed to get my left shoulder back into working order. In the end it ended up being my right shoulder that I eventually had surgery on in order to relieve inflammation (internal bleeding… no big deal…).

With all my shoulder experiences every doctor has commented on my shoulder geometry. I have pronounced protrusions coming out of my shoulders that are the connection points of my clavicles. This setup apparently naturally pulls my shoulders forward, reducing the size of the pocket available for joint rotation. Of course all that easily disposes me to impingement and inflammation. The fun part is that a tiny bit of inflammation can offset a chain reaction that takes weeks, even months to recover. Since having my right shoulder cleaned out in the middle of college, it has been going pretty strong. My left shoulder is a different story though. Lately it has been causing me agony. It seems that increasing my shoulder stretching, and thus increasing my shoulder flexibility, has awoken some old scar tissue. Tendons can’t move where they wanted to, they have become inflamed and of course that has created more scar tissue. Without taking action to break up the scar tissue I am stuck in an endless cycle. That is why, despite the cost, I have said screw this and have paid a few visits to various doctors.

I am currently in the midst of my 4th week of therapy on the shoulder. Thankfully I have been able to find the exact type of treatment I had hoped for, due to the recommendation of fellow Long Beach swimmers. Over this period I have been able to get back from crawling pace to cruising. I still have no speed though and that is very frustrating. Anytime I really try and grab the water pain shoots down the side of my shoulder. It takes a few strokes to recover from that jolt in order to find the right pace again. I had sights set on many ocean races this summer, but all have been put on hold for other years. I just want to glide through the water again without extreme calculation every time I place my left hand in the water. I am giving it until the end of August to further improve its condition. If not, then I think it is about time to send it under the knife. It wasn’t difficult for my right shoulder to recover, so I know what it involves. It just sucks getting dressed for a couple weeks and driving might be a tad difficult…

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Article on FLUENT use for Speedo LZR Development

ANSYS, the company that makes CFD (computational fluid dynamics) software FLUENT has an article in their promotional magazine on the development of the Speedo LZR. You can read the article for yourself here.

As I suspected Speedo utilized New Zealand's University of Otago for their water flume and NASA for use of a wind tunnel. The media likes to play up NASA's part though, which really casts shadows the real development effort behind the suits. Also, with all the suit controversy, many people need to understand that the only real controlled modeling that could be used for the suit development was of the body in the streamline position. All the drag benefits are maximized for that position because when a swimmer's moving arms and legs are brought into the equation things get very very complicated. Once a swimmer begins swimming, it can't be certain what is going on with the fluid flow. It will be interesting to see what sort of things can come about once people start tackling the modeling layout of the different strokes at different velocities. That could take a long time though, in the automotive world there are books of papers on the subject of modeling simple parts in CFD. Regardless, there may one day be a different suit for every stroke, that would make an IM suit very interesting...

Monday, July 7, 2008

First USA Swimming was acting rediculous, now its Formula D

There is an on-going discussion on about the rules of the Formula D drift series. The discussion specifically revolves around the rules pertaining to suspension details. After an interested party submitted a link to the thread through the Autoblog suggestion e-mail I wrote up a post on the matter. As well, I have written my own reply on the issue. However, I chose to post it here and not within the original thread. I do so because I would rather not jump in on page 22 and get drowned out by the core posters.

The majority of replies in the thread have not grasped the real issue at hand. The issue is not the fact that Formula D determined the Skyline contained illegally modified suspension. It just happens to be the event that best exemplifies the ambiguity of Formula D’s rules and that is why it is referenced. Too many egos have taken hold and replies have become all about defensive measures to protect one’s character. The real discussion has gone by the way side. Use the thread was initially intended to be a call for competitors and fans to express their opinions on the vagueness of the current rule book. Formula D wasn’t established by seasoned racers, their formula isn’t perfect and there is no reason it can’t be improved upon. Their rules made sense when it was unknown what to expect from vehicles that would turn up to complete in the new series. However, now with a few seasons under the belt and most competitors returning from season to season the rules can be clarified to encompass the verity of cars the series has produced. No one may have the best answer on how to do this, but intelligent discussion can at least offer worthwhile solutions.

Anyone apart of a team that runs in the Formula D series, or even apart of a team that strives to participate in the future, should be very interested in the details of this matter. Currently the rules dictate that any aftermarket suspension components must be approved by Formula D. Any deviation from the OEM suspension design must also be approved. Therefore, according to the rules, every competing vehicle has received an approval from Formula D to run their setup. Going by the wording of the rules, any team wanting to swap parts between seasons, events, or even track sessions should get Formula D approval before doing so. If the organization is really tied up running events, how much time do they have to go around approving parts? In crunch time do you really think a team wants to deal with that hassle as well? If it only takes a phone call and a quick ok from a person on the other end, then what sort of approval system is that? How can a team be assured that their approved change is documented and communicated on the Formula D side? An approval shouldn’t happen in minutes. A suspension change request should be compared to other competitive allowances and evaluated by multiple parties before being accepted. How can a competitive field be maintained if an organization gives unbalanced, at the whim, allowances? The current means seem like an awful burden on the Formula D end, babysitting all the suspension modifications of every competing vehicle every second of every event. It doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t want to put some effort into streamlining the process. Some people want to offer a less complicated solution for all parties and that is the intended purpose of the discussion.

No other motorsport series leaves all suspension modifications up to sanctioning body approval. From club racing like NASA and SCCA to established professional series like NHRA and Formula 1 there are guidelines to work around and any deviation from the published rule book is illegal. Any allowed exceptions, due to proven competitive hardship, are published in appendices to the rule book. It would really benefit Formula D and their tech inspection process to simply better define the setup of the vehicles running in their series. The inspectors would only have to learn one set of rules and enforce them via measurements or templates rather than digging through a mystery list of approved changes. A competitor could also better protect themselves as they would have the knowledge to catch a competing vehicle bending the rules to their advantage.

Again, the whole discussion is not meant to be a blow at anyone’s character. It isn’t an attempt to bring down the organization of Formula D. It is simply meant as a means to gather opinions about improving upon the flaws of a young series. Those that can best adapt to change will survive the longest.