Friday, October 31, 2008


So there's been a lot of hubub about the bailouts lately. People talking Socialism (half the time about Obama, but the other half about the Paulson Plan etc.) which I think is silly. We've been bailing out banks and all industries for centuries in the world. Europe is much more heavy handed, frequently interceding on the behalf of "national champions" and propping up struggling companies.

Here's a list of bailouts in the last 40 years.

Obviously before that was the great depression in the 1930s. I am somewhat worried about long term inflationary effects of all this money flooding the system, but for now at least I think it's worth averting meltdown. As long as gas is down 50% inflation doesn't exist anyway.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Vestibular System

I guess we didn't cover this to well in Bio back in the day, but i read a pretty cool article on the Vestibular system in the NY times. It says that even a couple years ago this mechanism barely got a mention, but now it's big news.

"Hold your index finger a few inches in front of your face and sweep it back and forth at a rate of maybe once or twice a second. What do you see? A blurry finger. Now hold your finger steady and instead shake your head back and forth at the same half-second pace."

The lack of blur is your Vestibular system compensating for YOUR motion but not for that of others. It's also responsible for that sensation when you get off a boat and thing it's still moving. It's also responsible for your inability to walk when you're drunk!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

2008 Triathlon Season Part 1: Races

This year got off to a rough start. After getting sick I jumped back into training too soon because I wanted to do well at the Death Valley Century this spring.

Death Valley Century 105mi. 7:31
I placed 12th in this event, probably because I paced myself well (still being a little nervous after my previous illness) and ended up facing 40mph headwinds the whole ride back.

Solvang Double Century DNF

Only weeks after the DV Century was the Solvang double. I figured I'd ride 100mi. or so every saturday and then back of the weekend before and be fine. WRONG. Around mi. 115 my knee started hurting. BAD. I KNEW I needed to stop when I couldn't even ride uphill on my bike and ended up walking.

La Jolla Half Marathon 2:22:02
So I wasn't racing this, and the time might not say so but this was a good result. It was HOT. A LOT of the people I saw start in the earlier group (8min/mi. supposedly) I ended up passing because it was 90+ degrees and humid early this day. Of course there's a TON (>2000') or climbing and descending on this course as well so it was tough.


2007 4:12:13 32:48
2008 3:20:05 26:11 04:02 01:39:43 00:03:02 01:07:04

Last year I lost my chip, probably when I took my wetsuit off so I didn't have splits. Still I know I took 6:37 of my swim time and distinctly remember feeling WAY more fresh out of the water. Having 2 lower gears helped a lot on the bike, and while I did still have some stomach problems at the beginning of the run again I still took 52:08 off from last year. That's a 25% improvement over last year's performance not really racing this event. Oh yeah, this was only 1 week after the LJ Half Marathon!

While I had been using the Fitstop for testing and felt I had improved my running a LOT on my own using that data I started using Ken's coaching services as well starting in May.

Rock and Roll Marathon 4:53:35
Granted that time looks crappy, but there were 2 silver linings to that result. I ran the first half in 2:07:35 @ 9:45 pace and indeed kept that pace through 21mi. feeling great considering I had done only 1 run over 8 mi. in 5 months (the La Jolla 13.1) and did a full weeks workouts that week with no taper. Even better was the fact that when my foot started hurting, again real connective tissue pain, not muscle pain I stopped and walked the rest of the race. This was GREAT because the pain went away after a couple of days and I was able to immediately start running again. I was proud of that move, along with DNFing in Solvang which allowed me to go through the season with no major injuries.

Chicago Triathlon
Chicago Triathlon (8-24-08) 29:28 2:08 1:15:22 2:43 59:21 2:49:03
SD International (6-24-07) 16:18 4:18 1:02:06 3:03 1:08:00 2:33:45

These races were not the same distance but the conditions were similar and they were my easiest races and courses of the year. Still the runs were 10K for both races and I even though the Chicago tri had a longer swim and bike I ran the 10K 8:39 faster this year. Not only that but I didn't "race" the Chicago tri so year on year it's a 15% improvement in just my run speed.

Austin 70.3
Cancun (Sep/07) 34:38 8:13 2:41:09 4:18 3:07:48 6:36:06
Austin (Oct/08) 29:56 3:41 2:57:30 2:00 1:45:45 5:17:52

This race was executed perfectly. I went to the site 1.5 weeks early rode the course a couple times and acclimatized. My coach had reduced my long efforts for a couple weeks and the last week no high intensity only race pace. I was feeling good! Thanks to Mark Barnett and Josh Fogelman for hosting me in Austin this week. I think having a kitchen to cook in was VERY important in my ability to eat well the week before the race.
My swim felt GREAT! I came out 5 minutes faster than last year and felt more fresh yet again. I think that is demonstrated by my faster T1 as well. I know that this year I was at LEAST as fit on the bike as last year, if not a little more but I knew that last year I went WAY to fast on the bike and had to walk the whole time. Austin had WAY more rolling hills and WAY more wind than Cancun as well so I think it was a very respectable bike split. Clearly it left me plenty of energy for the run. The run was indeed at the top end of my expectations. I had done 1hour runs at 8min/mi. pace and longer 1:30-2:00 runs at 9:00min/mi. so running @ 8:05 at the end of a 70.3 was pretty amazing.

Once again this represents a 25% improvement over last year. This was a great year. In part 2 I will discuss my training from the last year, and part 3 I will discuss my plans for next year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

VIX close to 70. S&P may be re-testing lows

I know I posted last time the VIX was over 70. If we re-test lows on the S&P but don't break through tomorrow or in the next couple days, I'm thinking we have a legit market bottom and I can stop paying attention unless we break through for a new low.

Word on the street is a couple of hedge funds blew up today, and I posted earlier about the IMs between some people working @ S&P.

Aubrey McClendon loses 1.5BILLION!

Woah. I couldn't believe this. Aubrey Mclendon of Chesapeake Energy lost 1.5BILLION dollars buying stock on margin. Excerpt from Barrons:

"Two weeks ago, such market pressure forced Chesapeake Energy (CHK) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon to nearly liquidate his 5.5% stake in the natural gas exploration company. Amid the tumbling market, McClendon sold a staggering $570 million in stock, a stake worth over $2 billion in July."


Financial Scumbags

Quick excerpt from an article I read today between two employees of S&P (a ratings agency) responsible for judging the quality of companies and their financial instruments. They basically decide whether certain bonds are appropriate for certain types of investors, and they WAY overranked a lot of assets resulting in things like money market funds "breaking the buck":

S&P Employee #1: btw-that deal is ridiculous

S&P Employee #2: I know right.. model def does not capture half of the risk

S&P Employee #1: we should not be rating it

S&P Employee #2: we rate every deal

S&P Employee #2: it could be structured by cows and we would rate it

S&P Employee #1: but there’s a lot of risk associated with it – I personally don’t feel comfy signing off as a committee member.

S&P Rated the deal.

It's from Bloomberg originally and I read it here on propublica after seeing it on Fast Money on CNBC.

Friday, October 10, 2008

VIX at 70! Dow down 350....again.

The VIX is at 70?

John McCain

John McCain just said (Wisconsin Rally on CNN 8:15Pacific):

"I will balance the budget by the end of my first term in office"

I would like to see him say how, especially without a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.