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    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Landis in question for doping??!?!?!?!?

    Phonak confirms Landis rider in question

    The Phonak Cycling Team confirmed Thursday that Tour de France winner Floyd Landis is the rider who submitted a positive "A" sample following the 17th stage of this year's Tour de France. The UCI revealed Wednesday that the anti-doping laboratory at Ch√Ętenay-Malabry in Paris discovered an "adverse analytical finding" in a doping control taken during the 93rd Tour. "The adverse analytical finding received on Wednesday morning relates to the first analysis and will have to be confirmed either by a counter-analysis required by the rider, or by the fact that the rider renounces to that counter analysis," the UCI statement said. A positive "A" sample is only the first step in the process and does not constitute proof of any rider's use of performance-enhancing substances.

    The Phonak Cycling Team issued the following statement Thursday, confirming Landis as the rider in question:


    The Phonak Cycling Team was notified yesterday by the UCI of an unusual level of Testosteron/Epitestosteron ratio in the test made on Floyd Landis after stage 17 of the Tour de France.


    The Team Management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result. The rider will ask in the upcoming days for the counter analysis to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake in the confirmation. In application of the Pro Tour Ethical Code, the rider will not race anymore until this problem is totally clear.

    If the result of the B sample analysis confirms the result of the A sample the rider will be dismissed and will then pass the corresponding endocrinological examinations. Please understand that we cannot at this time give you more detailed comments.



    More about doping in the 2006 Tour DAY France.


    The UCI revealed Wednesday that the anti-doping laboratory at Ch√Ętenay-Malabry in Paris discovered an "adverse analytical finding" in a doping control taken during the 93rd Tour.

    <---- Is it one of these guys?
    Please no. The European press loves a scandel as much as any news agency. Once a decade, they try to derail the tour on doping. Other reports show that the Astana-Wurth team which had five riders implicated in Operacion Puerto was cleared. That means that Vino's chance at taking the tour was derailed for NOTHING! This guy should have placed on the podium! --->


    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    The Next Lance?



    This guy, Levi may be Discovery Channel's next Lance. If no one knows, Levi used to be on the old US Postal Squad that became Disco.

    Next years Tour de France will be another shocker. With people like Jan Ullrich trying to get cleared of doping problems, Vino who will be as combative as possible, and now Levi and Discovery, get ready to be on the edge of your seat again.

    Today, word was released that one of the cyclists at the Tour had one of their blood samples test positive for some banned substance. Wow. Could a tour that was already rocked due to drugs be rocked even more? Well, in the next few days we will know who had to cheat to compete. These guys are at the top of their game and are driven at times to maintain their high placing or level of competition. Why dope?

    Back to Levi. With an entire team behind him, his chances of standing on top of the podium in Paris next year skyrockets. However, look at the horrible time trial that Levi rode. This next season, he definately needs to spend a little more time on the TT bike and get rid of all excuses to lose eight minutes to the first place finisher of the ITT stages.


    On other news... I am interested in getting the new SRAM Force/Rival components for my bike. Right now, two major companies control ALL of the high end cycling market: Shimano and Campy. I have been a Shimano rider for a long time...ever since I started racing bikes. However, I am displeased with the cost of the components and sometimes the weight of the components. SRAM is moving into the arena with two groupos that offer better pricing and usage together.


    I AM A STUDENT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! CHEAPER... lighter... stronger parts are what I call for my bike!


    Americans Dominate French Tour

    As you know, I love the Tour de France. I like cycling, but I'm not good at it, and I love watching the tour. Dunno why. This year, with the moving and all, I haven't posted about it, but hopefully AnonCyclist will stop worrying about my great Texas/Vietnam logo or med school applications and fill us in on the state of cycling (since he is a cyclist).

    Floyd Landis was not the race favorite in May. He wasn't the race favorite in June. Only after Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and some other big names were barred from competing because of the blood doping scandal, and some bad accidents at the beginning of the race dashed the hopes of one or two others, did Landis move from a potential top 10 finisher to a potential winner--and he didn't disappoint.
    That makes 11 in 21 years ... They're probably sick to death of the Star Spangled Banner

    In fact, there's a theme here. Americans don't like cycling nearly as much as europeans, but we can kick their trash IF we are NOT healthy. There have been three winners of the tour--Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong, and Floyd Landis. Greg was shot and nearly killed right after winning his first Tour de France.
    Over forty shotgun pellets ripped through Greg's body, lodging not only in his back and legs, but more critically in his small intestine, liver, diaphragm, and heart lining. While waiting for rescue, his right lung collapsed and he lost three quarters of his blood supply. A cell phone, a police helicopter and nearby hospital that specialized in gun shot wounds saved his life. Because of the dangerous locations, surgeons were forced to leave over thirty of the pellets imbedded in his body.
    He came back from this adversity to win the Tour in 1989 and 1990 before retiring.

    Armstrong's saga is well-known, and provides a great springboard for politics which many people predict he will get into. Maybe we will see a Governor Armstrong in Texas. Anyway, his fight and victory over cancer, return to cycling, and domination of the world's toughest race and most talented racers, turned into seven consequtive yellow jerseys and an explosion of cycling interest in America.

    But then he retired and the French breathed a sigh of relief that an uncouth American would not win their tour again. Boy were they wrong. Out pops Landis, who rides on an arthritic hip that will be replaced in the next month or two. He bonks, is in 11th place and 8:08 back entering the final mountain stage, and proceeds to go for broke--ending up third, 30 seconds behind Oscar Pereio, who he beat during the time trial to win the Tour de France.

    That makes 11 in 21 years. Those Frenchies have gotta hate us. They're probably sick to death of the Star Spangled Banner.


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    Monday, July 24, 2006

    What's up with Texas? Does it now have....

    What's up with the Texas picture in the upper right hand corner? It looks like it has a massive gastrointestinal tract. I can see it now in the headlines:

    "Texas eats up all of the resources of Oklahoma.

    Sends the trash into Mexico."

    Well, who really knows? I think I have used more question marks in this post than I have in the last 4 weeks of filling out medical school secondaries. HA HA.

    Next headline for Texas. In the latest magazine stand at the Wal-Mart grocery side of the store you find this headline:

    "Keep energy costs down, fry on the hood of your car and use the inside for an oven!"

    Well, I don't really know if the temperatures are as high in Texas as they are in Houston. With 100% humidity, you should be able to see the moisture move out of the way of your hand as you try to fan yourself in the middle of the day.

    Have fun. And keep the ear bleeding!






    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Robbing Walmart

    First, I'm sorry that the posts are few, far between, and irregular. Life is crazy right now as my wife and I look for a house in Houston. I promise things will become more regular as life settles down.
    trying to rob Walmart in the middle of the day ... is just plain stupid



    Two days ago my wife and I ran to Walmart, on the corner of FM 529 and Hwy 6, to pick up some tennis balls for her tennis class. She needs only 1/2 of a credit of PE to graduate from BYU, so she's taking a tennis class at the local community college. Right as we are walking in the front door, out comes a tall, big-boned caucasian woman with long brown hair pulled up in a pony tail in her upper 30s. She's wearing a black dress with white designs on it, and it catches my eye because she is booking it out of Walmart and the dress is slipping off her right shoulder.

    "Geez, what's up with her?" I think to myself.

    Immediately she yells, "Go! Go!" to a tall mexican man, upper 30s to mid 40s, short black hair, standing next to a blue chevy cavalier that is parked right outside the front door in the fire lane. The woman dishes off her shopping cart to the man who proceeds to dump large boxes into the open trunk. They looked to be electronics of some kind.

    At the same time, out runs the poor older Walmart lady who checks purchases and gives carts at the door.

    "Stop! Stop!" she cries. "You can't take that! Stop!"

    "Outta my way!" screams the brown-haired woman at a smaller blond lady with a child, convieniently standing near the car. Then she ducks into the passenger seat.

    "Do you want me to get the license plate?" asks the blond woman to the Walmart employee.

    Within seconds the mexican man slams the trunk closed and hops into the drivers seat. The car looks like a mid-1990s (1995?) blue chevy cavalier, license plate # Z34 JHT. The tires squeal and he peels out right as another Walmart employee, a man runs out with pencil and paper.

    I walked inside with my wife and that man, giving him the license plate number, but he didn't want my contact info. Then another Walmart employee, a middle-aged Asian woman, came to see what was the matter--probably the manager. At that point I figured I'd done everything I could and commenced shopping with my wife. However, the whole day I kept replaying the scene over and over again, digesting it. When it happened, it happened so fast I could hardly react. My first thought was get the license plate # and make/model of the car, so I did, yet the rest of the day I wondered if I should have done more.

    I dunno, but I do know that trying to rob Walmart in the middle of the day, when packed with witnesses, and with the cameras they have at every door and in the parking lot, is just plain stupid.


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    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Jury Duty

    No sooner do I step foot in Texas but they haul me into a court room for jury duty. Actually, I was summoned months ago while in Vietnam, but obviously I'm not going to fly back to Texas for three hours of civic duty...so I postponed it. I wonder what I could have done had I stayed longer in Vietnam??

    Anyway, I was actually excitied to go to jury duty this morning. My wife and mother thought I was crazy, but they predicted it, because of my fascination for all things legal and political (yet I am not going to law school...).

    Harris county jury duty consists of two parts: dumb & boring, cool & interesting. Unfortunately, all I will tell you about is the dumb and boring side. I showed up at the courthouse downtown this morning at 7am--a good hour early--thanks to waking up at 5:30am and driving on already crowded highways for an hour. From 7am to 8am, I sat in a large room, reading a book on real estate, and watching the various and sundry people enter the room to take a seat like me. Continuously, in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, a tv told us that we can not serve on a jury if we are criminals, and there are many reasons to exempt. Don't forget to exempt! But excercise your civic duty and waive the exemption....but don't forget to exempt! But exercise your civic duty and waive the exemption....but don't ... (you get the picture).

    I could have exercised my exemption (student) because I am in med school now, but I wanted to get picked. So I sat there, reading, staring at weird people, remarking at how truly multicultural my county is (and how even MORE varied all their backgrounds must be), looking at the old guy's dandruff in front of me, and generally trying not to sleep (since I stayed up last night watching Kiba until 2:00am).

    At 8am, for the next hour, they waited for stragglers and picked up our papers saying who we are, what ethnicity we are, what we do for work, who our favorite baseball player is, what we ate for breakfast, and where we were on the night of Nov. 25, 1976--you know, the standard info that lawyers need to weed out the good jurors and pick the ones biased in their favor.

    Finally, a nice lady with a monotone voice got on the loudspeaker and announced where we would all be headed.

    "Will the forty people with numbers one thousand one to twelve hundred forty nine please go downstairs to my right to the orange waiting area? Court 4 needs twelve jurors. Numbers one-zero-zero-one to one-two-four-nine, please go down the stairs to the right to the orange waiting area."

    However, my grandiose dreams of furthering the democratic ideal and rule of law were shattered when a nice cop in a southern drawl got on the PA and announced:

    "Sorry, y'all. All courts are currently filled with jurors. You must stay here and wait to see if any additional juries are needed. We will turn on the televisions. If y'all don't want ta watch tv, y'all can head outside for a smoke or to the snack room where the tv will be on but muted. If nobody comes in a reasonable amount of time, ya'll are free to leave. By reasonable, I mean 11:15am."

    I looked at the clock; it read 10:00am. "Man, I'm in for the long haul," I thought. At that moment my hopes were dashed. My number was 3795 and they barely got to the 2000s. I would spend my whole morning reading a real estate book in a large cold room behind an old man with dandruff...*sniff*

    At 11:15am, the cop came in again and released us, and it felt like elementary school again, fighting the kids through the hall to recess. Everyone young and old bolted for the doors and the elevators. Remarkably, nobody died. Merging into the long car line trying to leave the parking garage, I inched my way to the ticket-taking-lady-guard-person. I handed her my ticket and my credit card.

    No go. Evidently, even in 2006, someone (namely Harris County) still doesn't use debit or credit cards--only cash or checks. Aren't checks being phased out everywhere else because of processing fees? Am I dreaming of the 1980s? What do I do, m'am? I have no cash or checks. What? You've never met someone from the future? Well, pleased to meet you too.

    So I had to park at the exit (after going through the arm-guard-thingie, and "on my honor" go back into the courthouse, find an atm, get cash, walk back to her stall, pay her, find my car, and leave. At least I felt I did the right thing and paid instead of just driving off. Oh wait, I feel used because they called me to jury duty and then make me pay $5.50 to sit and read a real estate book in a large cold room behind an old man with dandruff....


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    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Wireless Issues

    I have issues. Most people who know me are probably laughing, nodding, and quietly saying "yes," but seriously, I do. My wireless doesn't work anymore.

    This is a large problem because it's how I get on the internet. Posting has been scarce because I've been moving, and right when posting can pick back up again...*poof!* there goes my notebook adapter card.

    What is wrong??? I dunno. I got it for Christmas last year and it worked fine with my family's 2WIRE router (DSL) at that time. Then I went to Vietnam and didn't use it. Then I got back to the states and it worked fine in Utah at BYU. But coming back to Texas did something, because it doesn't work.

    It doesn't work on my wife's computer, or my friend's laptop either. And my wife bought a similar one for her comp yesterday and it didn't work on our comps either.

    So, if you have a clue why Netgear 108mbs wireless notebook adapters (PC slot) don't work with fully updated windows XP SP2 and a 2WIRE router, please, please, tell me.

    That, on top of reformatting my parents desktop to fix driver issues caused by old viruses, and then having to listen to constant querying as to when my family can use the internet again has kept me pretty busy.
    Categories:

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Ponderances on Vietnam

    As the wife and I return to life in the United States, I thought I would give some remembrances of Vietnam.

    1. A Vietnamese friend is a friend for life.

    I've believe that the native Vietnamese--those who grow up and live in Vietnam--are incredibly friendly people. But being friendly is different than being a friend. The Vietnamese do not make friends easily. They will be courteous and kind and helpful, but a friend is someone who shares your personal life, and they keep that sacred.

    Over the last 6 months that I was in Vietnam, I think I made maybe one true friend that was not a student. Interestingly, I have made friends with a couple students, but all told, the total is probably around 4.

    That does not mean I didn't have lots of fun--people were friendly, I knew lots of acquaintances, but only 4 that I could (and would) sit down with and talk about life.

    That said, once you have a Viet as a friend, that bond is incredibly strong, and almost never fades. It is a great thing.

    2. Can you not like Vietnamese food?

    I love food. Period. I love to cook. I love to eat. I think cooking is truly an art. The Vietnamese are masters, from the big restaurants down to the street stalls and home-cooked meals. I am already missing the pho, bun thit nuong, rau muong, etc. that is so hard to find in America. Take that back...so hard to find done well in America. There are some great Vietnamese cooks in the States, but pho there misses something you find in a small bowl in the corner stall.

    3. Social society

    I miss talking to people every day. I miss the wonderful Vietnamese way of sitting outside in your hem after work or school and talking with each other, or heading downtown to play during the evening. The karaoke places are always packed, the live outdoor concerts rock, and you can't beat sitting atop the Hoa Duong cafe on Quang Trung street, chatting, eating ice cream, and watching the planes fly overhead and land at Tan Son Nhat airport.

    4. Motorbikes

    I love driving--absolutely love it. Leaving my motorbike was a hard thing. Driving a car is great, I love the speed, but there's something about feeling the wind in your hair, and having your wife hug you tight while sitting behind you that makes riding a motorbike intoxicating...

    It's amazing, now driving a car again, how 40km/hr can feel so fast. I keep telling my wife that we should look into getting me a bullet bike in the States for going to medical school, but she won't buy it. She cuts out the "bullet" and says I can ride my "bike." Bummer. I mean, bikes are great and all, but they aren't motorbikes.

    In addition to riding, I miss seeing a million people stuffed on one motorbike or bicycle. The Vietnamese are so industrious and ingenious--they use ever part of the animal for food, and every part of the motorbike for work. What's the most people you've ever seen on a motorbike?? I've seen 5 (counting children), but my brother swears he's seen 7 in the Philippines.

    4. Pollution

    My second week back in America I went mountain biking. Man, who wants clean air and mountains?? Why would I want to get away from people, and noise, and actually hear myself think?? Actually, I loved it. No matter how far out in the boonies you go in Vietnam, you still can't be by yourself. My wife and I went to see the tomb of Gia Long in Hue--the farthest tomb out, away from everything--and we were never out of eyesite of a house. Crazy. And in the city, the sleep in my eye was always black and oily and stained my clothes if I wiped it on my shirt. I know I lost years off my life riding behind busses that have never met any sort of EPA standards. Like smoking 400 cigarettes an hour, is riding behind those things...

    But I do miss seeing my students enthusiasm at how much they loved Vietnam's environment and wanted to protect it. One day in class, they went off for 30 minutes on various ways to clean up Ho Chi Minh City, including planting trees and starting enviornmental clubs in schools. I hope that someday one of them does it, because a great HCMC would be even more amazing if it was clean.

    5. Orphans

    Finally, although I'm sure I could go on, I miss my orphans at the Phu My Orphanage. They are so innocent, so pure, so fun and loving. I grew more volunteering there than doing anything else in Vietnam. I know they served me far more than I served them. The men and women who work at the orphanage make pennies on the dollar, really, for the work they do, but they continue to come to work every day, and serve these children. Most are poor themselves--the salaries don't allow for much. They pool it with their husbands' or wives' salary and rent an apartment from which to raise their two children, always hoping that their kids will do well in school and have a better life. At moments they share their fears, that they do not make enough money to send their children to extra school, and so their children will not do well enough to enter college and will lead a life no different from theirs. Still, they give it all for those children. They are my heroes.

    The beautiful thing about Vietnam, is that even when you leave it, it never truly leaves you.


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