Saturday, November 13, 2010

Graduations of MTB Fail

1. You have to put a foot down for balance. Also know as 'dip'

When we ride technical trails like the Tapeworm in Renton we count dips. You get minus one point for every time you have to put down a foot for balance a plus one point for every obstacle you ride that you could have ridden around. My personal best (twice) is no dips and all but one obstacles. Not because I could not ride it, but because I always overlook it.

2. Don’t lose bike. Both feed down.

This has happened for me too many times to count, however, the most clear example of this kind of fail is on the steep technical rock sections of Tiger. There are sections which I have never seen anyone actually manage to ride up. But you also don’t really fall. You just head at it and eventually have to give up and put both feed down.

3. Lose the bike but don’t fall

My best example of this kind of fail was on a ride at Paradise. It was dark, I did not have a light, I was alone, cold, and really just wanted to go home. I took a shortcut and my bike got stuck in mud and disappeared under me. I walked through the air, landed on my feet, ran a bit and stopped. Picked the bike up and rode on.

4. Lose bike and you are on the ground but don’t get hurt.

This happened to me riding downhill on Mount Hood. It was Sunday, race day, and I went down on my first practice run but I did not realize just how much till much later. It felt like a category 3 fail, but after my second practice run when I pulled up to the camp, and started taking my gear off, I noticed that I had dirt on all of my left leg and all of my left arm. I would like to thank our sponsor 661. Without 661, this would have been a category 5 or 6 fail.

5. Fall and get flesh wounds

This has happened a lot for me but is best exemplified by a cross country ride at Duthie Hill. Well, it was a night of mostly cross country, but we also did this intermediate jump line and I tried a line I normally don’t take and paid for it. My left leg and arm were quite bloody but nothing serious. Just flesh wounds. Took a bit of paper towels to be ready for dinner but all good fun. Still have the scars.

6. Fall and get hurt and you are limping for more than a day but less than a week. Bruises.

It was a Thursday night ride. It was dark. Autumn. Steep. One of my favorite spots near Seattle and someone had dropped in before me and I thought I could catch them so I let go of the brakes. My front tire got caught in a root and I went down hard, my left leg caught between the frame and the handlebars. By Saturday evening I could sort of walk normally again. By Sunday morning I felt alright. As of this writing, two weeks later my leg is still blue and yellow from the bruises but the hurt has gone away.

7. It really hurts. You aren't out of riding, but walking or lifting things is annoying for a couple of weeks

Port Angeles (PGA) Downhill. Race run. I let go and go too fast through a rocky section. I go down. Slide through the rocks and my knee protection slides down. I got up again as if this had been a category 5 fail but fell twice more during that run. Turned out I had gotten really badly hurt on the top of my knees and I had a terrible time driving the four hours home and did not walk normally for at least three weeks. Worst thing is I had another category 7 fail at PGA earlier in the season where I really hurt my left arm.

8. You are out for a bit. Can ride with pain killers, may have permanent nerve damage

Ever extended yourself beyond what you should be doing? I have. Duthie hill. Had been practicing on Semper Dirticus jump line and wanted more. Went to the DWB jump line and dropped in. The first part is easy and forgiving but the first big step down is preceded by three small bumps and I just could not get enough speed to do the step down. Eventually I figure the bumps out and did the step down. I was super excited. Whoo'ed as I went through the air and was just happy so I did it again and again. On the third time down I was so happy that I forgot to pay attention and just continued over the next double, came in super nose heavy and crashed very very hard on my front. My gear took most of the impact but my front right upper leg got badly injured. Eventually a big something appeared on my leg, filled with some kind of fluid. It has since gone away but I have almost no sense left in my upper right leg. This was a Tuesday. On Friday I went to Port Angeles for my first time down hilling ever and got the category 7 fail on my left arm in practice. I was out that Saturday but raced Sunday. Not a good week for riding in my book although making that step down felt good.

9. Break something and you cannot ride for a while. May need surgery

I have fortunately not ever been in this category but Larry whom I ride with broke his collarbone at Whistler, Eric has broken his foot, Al has broken both his collarbones, and Clinton is due for surgery on his arm soon. So not at all unlikely. I will try to remain rubbery as I will much rather have a category 8 or 7 fail than a 9 or above.

10. Fully or semi paralyzed. You will probably never ride again.

I have fortunately never hear about anyone to whom this happened on a mountain bike. Its probably because of the protection we wear. Again I would like to thank our sponsor 661 for saving my bacon on more than one occasion. I have seen this happen for people on skis and rock climbing, but when I flew 8 feet through the air and landed on my head against a big log, I walked away pretty much unharmed because I was wearing a 661 helmet.

11. Death

Death happens a whole lot less in mountain biking than it does in for instance rock climbing and mountaineering. I think this is due to two factors. We are never that far off the ground so the impacts are smaller, and we typically wear a decent amount of protection. Personally I wear a lot of protection, but even some of my 529 team mates who do not wear a whole lot of protection, still wear a helmet, kneepads, and some body armor when racing downhill.

So Tired of Zombies

Went to Portland. Walked around Powell’s bookstore. Saw way too many books about Zombies. My theory is that a zombie outbreak is near and that the government is preparing us to deal with it through mainstream culture propaganda. And my opinion is that if you don’t know how to deal with zombies by now, its your own fault. Now stop publishing the manuals already.

For reference:Destroy their heads. It does not make sense that mindless creatures die when their heads are destroyed, but that is the rule. Shoot them in the head, chop it off, cleave it, or burn them whole.

Bring machete, stakes, hammer, and guns. Shotguns are preferable, hand guns require more precision and you will be under stress. Eventually you will run out of ammunition and that is where the machete and stakes + hammer come into play. You want to rely on the machete to chop heads off or in rare but lucky cases where you are on the other side of a wire fence, use the stakes + hammer to execute the zombies.

Last word of advice: don’t get bitten, and don’t get sentimental. If your loved ones gets bitten, they are dead. Kill them. Unless the invasion is Haitian zombies there is most likely no cure. Haitian zombies can get cured by killing the witch doctor. If you feel lucky and think its an epidemic, tie your loved ones down really really really well and leave them. Survive, find a cure, survive some more, and cure them.

Now before you go any further, make sure to read up on Vampires and Werewolves. Same theory, same opinion.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Office on Windows Live

I am impressed. Genuinely and profoundly impressed. The Office integration into Windows live is solid. Read all about it here:

Yes, I work for Microsoft and specifically in Office but rest assured that as a true MS employee I am probably more critical of MS than anyone on the outside. Given how much people dislike Microsoft I am very hesitant to call something great unless I seriously believe I would think the same did I not work for the company.

Office on Windows live is solid and very cool. The editors are great. Being able to share and edit a OneNote with friends is fantastic. I am going to use this a whole lot.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

1,2, or 1.5 languages?

Friend of mine recently told me he admired my ability to switch between languages without notice. He is American. I don’t find switching languages, sometimes mid sentence, to be strange. I am not American.

The interesting thing to me is not the ability to speak more than one language or being able to mix, but that some phrases always are said in your non-native language. Like the word “nice” being adopted in Danish: “Det er for nice” –> “It’s too nice” –> “it’s awesome”.

For a lot of the world that is our current language. A mixed bag. BUt it’s not new. There is a reason there are so many French words in English (magnificent, marvelous)

This Korean pop video illustrates how a lot of us non-Americans think and speak.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Great Video Experiment

Go to and spend 3 minutes. When they ask you for the address of the place you grew up, provide it.

I haven’t been back for years and it was amazing to see my childhood town incorporated into the video.

I think that is one of the better ways to draw in people I have seen in a long while.

I think I might watch it again.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

Sway is a great book not unlike Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. It further details that we are irrational beings and I cannot help but like the book because it affirms me in my long held beliefs. Yes, like most other people, I listen more to opinions which I already agree with, than with opinions that I don’t agree with. The entire news industry is based on that behavior. The authors of Sway call that the diagnosis bias.

The three main topics covered in the book are Loss aversion, Value Attribution, and Diagnosis bias.

Loss Aversion

We value what we have more than what we could get. If the price of eggs go up the sales fall 2.5 times as much as the sales would increase with a comparatively fall in price.

Value Attribution

We imbue objects and people with qualities base on first impressions. That is why you want to be well dressed for that job interview.

Diagnosis bias

We label people. Most interestingly, we act our labels. In order to succeed at work, its in your best interest to be labeled a ‘rock star’ because then you will start acting like one. Yes, smiling also makes you happy. At least as much as being happy makes you smile.


The book website

SWAY- The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior - Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman


A couple of reviews/Summaries

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Iphone screen broken. Is it more valuable now?

The day after the ipad was announced, my iphone tried to commit suicide. I synched it with my PC and it decided it was time to start from scratch and would not synch. Instead all content got erased. I had to basically format it and start all over.

Yesterday, my iphone decided it was not enough and leapt out of my hand onto the concrete floor and the screen broke.

The touch screen still works just fine although you can feel the seams as you use it


I am at Interactions10 in Savannah, GA and had been to two great talks about how our relationship with objects change over time. Richard Banks presented a talk called “The 40 year old tweet” on how we imbue meaning into objects that reminds us of special occasions or periods of our lives and went on to talk about how we also have that relationship with at least some digital objects. Matt Cottam presented a talk on “Heirloom Electronics” in which he discussed how time adds patina to objects and how that seems to make them more valuable to us. Both great talks.

Today I have taken extra special care of my iphone.

I am afraid I might break it more, so I take it out of my pocket more slowly than before. I touch it more gently so I don’t break the screen more.

I have also started to notice new things. Like the button in the middle. It is obviously not part of the glass surface, but I had never thought about that before. Also, the phone has become more a thing in itself. I suddenly look at it differently, it means something new. Before it was just a glittery tecno object with little soul, its only purpose being a portal to the contacts and information made possible by the applications. Now, it draws attention to itself and I look at it without turning it on. Examine it even, and I have begun thinking about other ways to make it more personal. Maybe i will try some acid or some burning on the back of it to see what it can take?


I  guess I will try to fix the screen because after all, even though it’s got a lot more personality now, it is no longer able to really serve its original and primary purpose, but if I end up buying a new one, I think I will keep this one around, if for nothing else, as a reminder of my trip to Savannah.