Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ironman St. George--Funky

The inaugural Ironman St. George is this Saturday. The already brutal event currently has a weather forecast of possible rain.

Curious to see what my fit friends have gotten themselves into, I went to IM St. George's official site.

I was greeted by this interesting header:

The mesas of Utah have arms and legs! Run for your life before they run over to your general vicinity and sit on you!

It reminds me of Monty Python cartoons where things like clouds have arms and legs.

So, IM St. Georgers, when you need to dig deeper and run a little harder, imagine one of the mesas of Utah is running after you. Because, according to the WTC, it could happen. They have pictures to prove it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stanford Tri Does Collegiate Nationals: Foaming Crotch and Other Puketastic Stories

(Note: All events below are subject to inaccuracy due to Lubbockian Water Illness. John K. did not provide access to his brain, therefore all John K. thoughts are assumptions. But probably true.)

Wednesday, April 14
: John K. (full name will not be disclosed so prospective employers will not associate JK with this event) merrily packs up his brand new Cervelo tri bike for collegiate nationals. He tosses his bike assembly and cleaning supplies into his bike box with his tri uniform and other race items.

He is ready to kick butt.

Thursday, April 15: Stanford's tri team meets at 7am to fly to Lubbock, TX, where incontinent clouds have decided to gather, freezing over and flooding the place. After being held over in Las Vegas for an hour--where Stanford tri was not allowed to deplane, and therefore lost no money--the team finally arrived at what could possibly be called hell on earth. "It's never like this here!" exclaims one of the incredibly nice Lubbockians at the front desk of the hotel. "This just started right before you came!"


John K. enters one of two "men's" rooms with other members of Stanford's tri team. He unpacks his bike bag, eager to see if anything has scratched his new baby in any way. Dawn dish soap has leaked all over his stuff.

It smells infinitely better than the water from the sink. He lets it slide.

Friday, April 16: John K. witnesses the land of a thousand lakes: Lubbock, TX. Except these lakes aren't in lake-ish locations. Instead, many of them have decided to take up residence in the middle of major roadways--roadways that each have at least 3 names, all of which are correct, only one of which is usually noted at a time on a street sign, and is usually not the name mapquest chose to indicate.

As he peers through a Dodge Caravan window--one of three Caravans in Stanford's very intimidating fleet--he tries to make out the bike course while the windshield wipers fight a loosing battle against the torrential rain.

"OK, so this is where you have a headwind," explains Coach Bruce. John K. looks at a lone tree, bent over in submission to the wicked wind. The Dodge slows to make its way through another lake. "This race could be made into just a swim!" thinks John K., a former collegiate swimmer. He is psyched.

John K. later finds out that night that race officials might force him to dismount his bike at lake crossings to wade through in his bike shoes. Should the lakes dissipate, competitors in later waves will also be forced to dismount, and walk to the other side of where the lake used to be.

John K. goes to bed, with visions of whooping Navy in his head, particularly after reading this article about what wussy, reclusive jerks the Navy team seems to be. "We really don't like interacting with the other teams," said Tyler Sharp, captain of the Navy's men's team. Well the other teams don't like you either, Mr. Sharp. John K. is going to whoop you.

Saturday, April 17: John K. wakes up just before the alarm goes off at 5:30am. He looks out the window. It is still raining. "Holy goodness, how did the clouds get so overhydrated?" he thinks. He puts on his Stanford Tri uniform, then 7 other layers, and heads out into the dark cold.

When he arrives at nationals, he realizes that he must wade through a lake to get his bike and gear to the transition area. Then he hears something horrible: the swim has been cut in 1/3! John K. is sad. He is a kick ass swimmer. As are several other men on Stanford's team. His teammate Erin is also sad. She has not been running at all and her only chance of getting ahead of her other teammates is to swim like she stole her wetsuit.

John K. can take the cold. The Stanford ladies decide it's freaking devilishly cold and outfit themselves with Wal-Mart bags. Coach Gina told them the bags would act as a wind-breaker and help keep the heat in on the bike. The ladies look classy with the plastic bags peeking out from under their tri-tops.

Coach Gina is a genius.

John K. finishes the 500 meter swim like he swatted at the water and it parted for him. Then he happily jumps on his new steed and heads out into the wind. It does not rain on him. He tucks in aero even though gale force winds try to toss him from the side. He is astonished to see Stanford's top woman walking her bike--2 flats! Oh no! John K. must win it for everyone now. He soldiers on.

He blasts through T2 and out onto the modified run course--2 laps of the sprint course instead of one out and back. The race director decided to do this to keep runners from having to run through one of the newly formed Lubbockian lakes. But in doing so, he added 1/2 a mile to the run.

John K.'s teammate Erin is pissed. "Is this a single out and back?" she asks Coach Bruce as she nears the end of the first out and back. It feels like she has been running forever. "No, double!" yells Bruce. Erin wants to smash something.

But John K. is having the run of his life. It feels great. And smells unusually clean. The smell seems to be wafting from his crotch. He looks down to see a mountain of foam forming in that region. "Oh my goodness!" he says to himself as he tries to inconspicuously wipe it off and toss it to his side. "I hope nobody saw that!"

Coach Gina saw that. She didn't want to think about what the white foam around John K.'s crotch could possibly be. "Just look at his face and cheer," she said to herself.

The foam will not stop. As soon as John K. wipes away some bubbles, new ones form, amusing his competitors and confusing spectators. John K. is relieved there is no race photographer. Nobody in Lubbock really wanted to go outside today--the only people outside are the crazy, spandex-clad, crotchal-foaming triathletes like John K.

John K. crosses the finish line and is elated. He kicked ass. He prevailed against the worst conditions known to triathletekind. He can now find his transition bag and take off the foaming pants before the rest of his team ever gets to see the foaming crotch phenomenon.

John K. later finds out that Stanford's top female double flatted. And that one of his teammates accidentally placed his bag--complete with ID--in a look-alike Dodge Caravan headed for AZ. And that that teammate must get interrogated by airport security to get on the plane back to San Jose. And that his female double-flatted teammate lost her plane ticket.

And that 1/2 of his team will come down with exploding puke within the next 24 hours, presumably from swimming through Lubbockian swamp water. Or from drinking it from the hotel tap.

But, John K. thinks to himself, it was the awesomest weekend ever. His team placed 8th overall in the nation despite the evil weather, his foaming crotch, and the loss of his team's top female competitor.

His Stanford teammates are the best he could ever have dreamed of, even though he knows they spent all of Saturday night betting how much meat he would consume at a TX bbq.

Plus, he got a supercool race t-shirt. (Ladies' shirt below.)

John K. goes back to the farm happy and fulfilled. And excited that collegiate nationals will never again be held in Lubbock, TX.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stanford Tri Survives Collegiate Nationals

It was freaking freezing, but we're all still alive and in various stages of thawing out.

Here are some photos, race report to come when my brain thaws:
All smiles before heading back to the hotel après race.

Jamie models the latest in post-race warming tri fashion.

An entire hallway full of disassembled bikes.
The people who somehow got a room between us all love us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Photos from Collegiate National Triathlon Championship


Traveling in style.

Yeah pasta!

Team "whiskey tangos." Bike name on front.

Representin' on the back.

Collegiate National Triathlon: FREAKING RAIN

It finally stopped raining in the Bay Area on Wednesday. Cyclists and triathletes were elated. Then 14 members of Stanford's Triathlon team jumped on a flight to Texas where it has nonstop poured since we arrived last evening. The only sunny-looking thing was the Clemson team who walked into the lobby in hot-orange overalls with nothing underneath (except sports bras for the girls). Hot.
(Trainers on a plane! It took a while to explain to TSA that they were not hot-green weapons.)

Lubbock does not have a drainage system which makes this rain adventure even more exciting. We drove through several lakes to get to the race start, which was originally the only lake nearby.

Columbia's tri-team is down the hall from us at the Overton Hotel--a fact I learned while doing a hallway warm-up run. The 10th floor is long enough to make a few laps count as a shake-out pre-race run.

We've also set up "dueling trainers"--2 Kinetic trainers facing each other--in the hall. It smells like bathroom out there. Despite the stench, sweat, and large amount of practically naked college kids milling in the hallway, the hotel manager didn't say a word while we did our trainer rides. In fact, Garrett walked out of his bedroom in his tightie-blackies, and asked the business suit-wearing manager if he had a master key so Garrett could get into the other boys' room.

Triathletes are awkward like that.

Dinner is at 6:30 tonight. Race starts at 9am tomorrow (I'll be going off around 9:30.) Do an anti-rain dance for us!

You can follow me on Twitter for more current Nationals weekend updates: eberesini

Lubbock weather forecast (right now: rain, high 54 tomorrow)

Dueling trainers!

Yep! We're in Texas!

Friday, April 9, 2010

AT&T Doesn't Want You to Marry Outside Your Area Code

Maybe they're conspiring with your mother-in-law to get you to stay in the same city where your husband got his first cell phone at the age of 16. (OK, nowadays, 8?) AT&T is way behind the times when it comes to family plans.

A few months ago, coachubby and I decided to take that final step into coupledom: getting joint phone accounts. A family plan, if you will. (More accurate: couple plan.)

Being frugal, we tried T-Mobile. Within minutes, my AT&T number was "ported" over to T-Mobile. Ta-dah! Instant crappy coverage. I lasted through one week of having T-Mobile drop my important reporting calls before I convinced coachubby AT&T was the way to go. (That way, some day, when I'm not a student, I could easily switch over to a fancy schmancy iPhone.)

"Since you just left, we consider you a win-back!" said the sales lady while Coachubby and I watched Olympic cross country ski racing on the store's flatscreen.

Sweet. Activation fee deactivated.

"Would you like to keep your numbers?"
"Yes indeed," I said.
"Ok, write them down for me so I can port them over."
I begin to write: 480-
Coachubby begins to write: 765-
"Uh oh," says the lady.
"What-oh," says I.
"You have different area codes."
"That's right. Mine's from Phoenix, his is from Indiana. We don't want to change our numbers."
"That'll put you in two different billing categories. I can't put you on the same plan."
"Are you kidding? We're together on T-Mobile right now. They did it within minutes. AT&T is way better than T-Mobile, right?"
Lady vanishes.

Coachubby and I watch more olympics. Way better than watching it on my computer. Or on an iPhone. Not that I would know.

Lady returns.

"One of you would have to switch your number because you have to be in the same billing area."
"Not it," says I.
"Hey!" says coachubby.
"OK, then, it's off to Verizon!" says I, like one of those really annoying customers who thinks the salesperson cares whether I buy her plan or not--and who thinks she has any power to change AT&T's entire archaic billing structure while I sit and watch the Olympics for half an hour.

Coachubby and I go to a Verizon store, and 10 minutes later, have new phones and the numbers we've had since college. (Believe it or not, padre still has my cell phone from high school, which looks more like a fashionable defense mechanism than an electronic device. Remember clip-on phone covers that match your clothes? Padre has a butterfly phone.)

I'm going to guess that Verizon and T-Mobile bill according to the zipcode where the bill is sent, not according to phone number. Nobody changes their number when they move anymore. That is an ancient practice only remembered by a generation that I am not a part of.

So get a move on, AT&T! Because someday, when I decide I want to be able to scan barcodes with my phone and figure out what's playing on the radio in seconds, I might need to switch to your network.

Or get a Google phone.

That's right. That's a customer threat that you should listen to, because I'm not the only one making it--people have been ticked off about your anti-family plan since 2008. And 2009.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Don't Tell Sportswriter Joan Ryan She Can't

...because she will. In fact, she became a sportswriter because people told her she shouldn't. Take that, haters!

In 1985, 25-year old Joan Ryan walked into the locker room of the Birmingham Stallions, a franchise in the now-defunct United States Football League. Ryan was not looking for a boyfriend. Or trouble. Or a peek at the male athlete anatomy. She was looking for answers from star-player Joe Cribbs so she could file a game story for the Orlando Sentinel on time.

Ryan pushed open the locker room door and walked in, focused on finding Cribbs. Everything stopped as all eyes turned to Ryan, just over 5-feet tall, standing in the entry in a skirt with her notebook in hand.

She turned to a player who was cutting tape off his ankle with a long-handled razor.

“Where’s Joe Cribbs’ locker?” Ryan asked, her face heating up with anxiety.

No response. All she could hear were players’ taunts and jokes made at her expense.

She turned to other players, asking the same question.

No response. Instead, Ryan felt something on her leg. She turned to see the handle of the razor making its way up her calf to the hem of her skirt.

Ryan yelled at the player, and whirled around to see several players—and a man in a red sweater—watching, laughing.

Still fuming about the incident the next day, Ryan went through the Stallions’ media guide and identified the man in the red sweater; he was the Stallions’ president, Jerry Sklar.

“I said to myself, ‘These people really don’t want me to be writing sports,’” Ryan said. “’Theyreally don’t want me here.’ And so that was the moment I decided I really wanted to be a sportswriter.”


The third of six kids—three boys, three girls—Ryan was born in the Bronx, New York, then lived in New Jersey until her family moved to South Florida when she was 12.

“I was introverted,” Ryan said, “but I was extremely competitive.”

Her mother worked at Entenmann’s Bakery as a cashier. Her father, Bob, was an air conditioning draftsman, and his daughters’ softball coach.

Bob remembers Ryan loved to read, but she was also “a great line-drive hitter.

When Ryan was about 13 years old, she played a softball game at a family reunion in New Jersey. The teams were Bob’s family versus his wife’s family.

“One of the guys there was a blowhard kind of guy who thought he was pretty good,” Bob said. “Joan was plying the field, and this guy hits a wicked line-drive to left field. Joan sticks up her glove and catches the ball, and this guy couldn’t believe it—his mouth dropped to the ground.”

Ryan said the best advice she ever got was from her father, when he was coaching her in softball.

“He always told my sisters and me, ‘When you step on that field, it doesn’t matter how good you are. You have to convince yourself that you’re the best player on the field,’” Ryan said.

She used this strategy when she began her job as the first woman in the Orlando Sentinel’s sports department in 1982. She would need the confidence—even if she were faking it—to help her overcome the “painful introversion,” Ryan said, that kept her behind the editing desk throughout college and the beginning of her career in journalism.

“I’d be sitting in the press box or ringside with the giants of sports journalism, and I could convince myself for that period of time during the game that I was as good as any of them,” Ryan said.


Ryan, one of only two members of her family to attend college, graduated from the University of Florida in 1981 and immediately went to work at the Orlando Sentinel as a copy editor.

“I loved it. It was like getting a window to the world in that I knew what was going on and was the first to find out all this stuff,” she said.

But she realized in order to move up at the Sentinel, she would have to become a reporter. She thought the sports section would be a fun place to work, and wasn’t aware that no other woman had worked there before.

Bit by bit, she said, the sports department gave her small stories while she worked as an editor. Bit by bit, she worked at overcoming her own introversion so she could report more effectively. “I found it’s way more fun outside the office,” she said. “I realized that the notebook was my passport—all of the sudden, with that notebook in my hand, I could ask anybody anything and they’d answer me.”

Jan McAdoo met Ryan while McAdoo was also working for the Sentinel, in the online news department. McAdoo was going through a break up with a boyfriend when a Sentinel colleague suggested she move in with Ryan, who was looking for a roommate.

On Dec. 1, 1983, McAdoo moved in with Ryan. They have remained friends to this day.

McAdoo remembered Ryan’s 1985 struggles with the Stallions, because the locker room episode was highly publicized after Ryan wrote a story about it for the Sentinel.

The publication of the locker room episode “was a turning point for women in sports reporting. She was becoming part of the players’ world, breaching that invisible line of ‘You don’t cross here if you’re a woman.’”

Ryan said that “99.9 percent of the reader responses, both men and women, were ‘You slut! What were you doing in the locker room anyway? If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!’”

But, McAdoo said, Joan “didn’t get intimidated, she stuck with it.” The buzz surrounding Ryan’s article was “pretty exciting,” she said. The phone in their shared home was “ringing off the hook—she must’ve done 20-30 interviews for radio stations.”

Later that year, Ryan moved to San Francisco to become a full-time sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.


Barry Tompkins was covering Wimbledon in London as a sportscaster in the mid-1980s when he knew he was going to marry Ryan.

She walked into a London restaurant to meet him, after they had dated on and off for several months whenever he was in San Francisco.

“It was just one of those magic moments,” Tompkins said. “She’s independent and really smart. I just love the way she handles people and treats people—she’s just a really good person.”

It’s this goodness, friends and colleagues say, that makes her an effective reporter.

Ann Killion met Ryan while Killion was working at a public relations firm in San Francisco. Killion, now an award-winning sportswriter herself, counts Ryan as one of her inspirations for getting into the business.

Ryan is “very personable, she’s super-smart. She’s the way all good reporters should be: very detail-oriented. She gets to know people and they like her and that’s why they end up telling her what she wants to know. She has a very personable style,” Killion said.

McAdoo described Ryan’s reporting style a little differently.

“She’s a pain in the ass,” said McAdoo. “She asks the same question 14 different ways. She’s intense, and that’s why she’s so good. She makes people comfortable and is a good listener.”

When Ryan and Tompkins adopted a son in 1990, Ryan knew it was time to plan her exit from the full-time newspaper business.

“I always knew I wanted to be a mom,” Ryan said. “I knew I was giving up something, but I was happy to.”

Ryan traded daily newspaper work for motherhood, and soon found herself reluctantly thrown into the world of book writing.


“If I ever decide to write a book again, lock me in a room until I get over it,” Ryan said to Tompkins in the early 1990s, while she was working on a book about women in Olympic figure skating and gymnastics.

A literary agent had approached Ryan following the publication of a series of articles Ryan wrote for the Examiner about young women in Olympic sports.

Ryan said she was coerced into writing a book proposal—she did not really want to write a book. Once she started getting rejections, however, she decided she really wanted to write the book.

The book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, came out in 2005 to critical acclaim. Sports Illustrated named it one of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time.

“I lived in fear that I had made some factual error” in the book, Ryan said, since she had not played either sport. One of her proudest accomplishments as a journalist, Ryan said, is there weren’t any factual errors in the book.

When Ryan covered gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics for the San Francisco Chronicle, she found out people on the gymnastics circuit referred to her exposé of elite gymnastics as “the book.”

“I was like the devil in gymnastics circles,” Ryan said. But she knew she was right to publish the book, because former gymnasts would come up to her during her book tour and say, “Finally, somebody told our story.”


“I haven’t written sports for over 10 years,” Ryan says while she sips a cappuccino in a quiet back room at Perry’s on Union Street in San Francisco, one of her and Tompkin’s favorite restaurants. Her hot pink nails and cropped red hair blaze against her black ensemble.

It has been 15 years since she published Little Girls, and 12 years since she published Shooting from the Outside, a book she co-authored with Stanford women’s basketball coach, Tara VanDerveer.

But Ryan never stopped writing. She recently published a book about her family’s struggles after her son suffered massive head trauma from a skateboarding accident.

And sports have never been cut completely out of her life.

“Somehow we always go back to what we’re good at, and what we’re comfortable with,” said McAdoo. For Ryan, that is sports.

Ryan currently works for the San Francisco Giants as a media consultant, and if the rumors are true, she will soon start working on a book about baseball.

“I always consider her a sportswriter first,” said McAdoo. “When I think of Joan, I think of sports.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gunshot Detection Technology Triggers Controversy

Everything you ever wanted to know about Big Brother watching you...or at least your discharges...

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

A computer screen lights up with red dots showing where shots were just fired in East Palo Alto, Calif. A police dispatcher sees where the incident occurred and listens to the sound of the shots to rule out false alarms, like backfiring motorcycles or firecrackers. Then the dispatcher calls squad cars to the scene.

This is ShotSpotter’s acoustic gunshot detection and location technology in action. ShotSpotter’s main competitor, Safety Dynamics, invented a system that works differently, but with the same goal: to alert public safety officials to the location of a crime involving firearms within seconds of the discharge.

The systems themselves, however, have created political and cultural controversy among law enforcement officials and members of the public, who believe the cost of the systems outweighs the benefit, that the systems’ existence raises privacy concerns, and that the systems’ accuracy is questionable.


Founded in 1995 in Mountain View, Calif., ShotSpotter bases its technology on acoustic data similar to that used by geologists to locate earthquakes. A minimum of three acoustic sensors is placed on poles and rooftops in a high-crime area. When a shot goes off, the sensors send data to a computer that determines through triangulation, or how loud the shot sounded to each sensor, where the shot came from. The ShotSpotter system costs $300,000 per square mile covered, plus a flat annual maintenance, update, and retraining fee of 15 percent of the purchase price.

“That kind of money could be better spent on hiring more police officers,” said Dr. Tom Nolan, associate professor of criminal justice at Boston University, and 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department.

CLICK HERE to read more.