January 29, 2006

Another Tri-ing Weekend

Yesterday morning I swam at Aquatic Park: water temp was about 53F, so I definitely needed a wetsuit. It stung for the first ten minutes or so, and then I got warmed up and did two loops of the perimeter plus some extra buoy line swim: about two miles total. It felt great to get back in the wetsuit. One thing I learned about cold water on this swim: I gotta get my fingers locked into the position I want them in, within the first twenty minutes or so. After that, I'm unable to really move them.

Afterwards, we ran about 10 miles from AP, through Fort Funston, along Marina Boulevard, Crissy Field, up and over the stairs to GGB, then along the trail near Lincoln Boulevard to Baker Beach, then back via the sand stairs. This was basically the same run course as they use for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, but we tacked on a couple miles with the Aquatic Park start.

This is my new favorite online thing:

Today's bike ride on Yahoo Maps Beta. They now allow you to enter multiple waypoints on a route. Very handy for figuring out exactly how far you went on a bike ride, and sharing the route with your friends. We rode about 42 miles today over mostly rolling hills with just a couple of climbs. My legs were pretty tired after yesterday's run, but the ride went well overall.

Tomorrow I get the day off-- no training!-- and I'm really looking forward to it.

Posted by todd at 09:15 PM

January 26, 2006

Big Island Love

Somehow I completely forgot to post pictures from our 2004 trip to the Big Island, before our wedding. It was an awesome trip-- very relaxing and mellow.
Anyhow, the pics are posted to my gallery now:

Big Island Honeymoon - Hawaii

Posted by todd at 11:44 PM

January 23, 2006

You are a Mastermind

Every once in a while I get sucked into taking a "personality test" of one sort or another, just for kicks. I found this simple "What Am I Like?" test from the BBC pretty entertaining and pretty accurate.
Posted by todd at 05:51 PM

Todd Run Far

Yesterday, in preparation for the Kaiser/Pamakid Half-Marathon in two weeks, I ran 12 miles in and around Golden Gate Park. I ran with a bunch of folks from the "other" tri club, SF Tri Club, and we did most of the Kaiser course at a little under 10-minute-mile pace. This is actually the longest run I've ever done, and it went well. I started to fade around mile 8, but then for some strange reason I picked up speed on the uphill and was able to keep pace with an Ironman guy. It was probably a matter of switching muscles. Anyhow, I'm feeling a bit sore today, but feeling a lot more confident that I can complete the half-marathon at a decent pace.
Posted by todd at 01:37 PM

January 14, 2006

Meteor's a-comin'

I'm currently listening to the sound of meteor pings as the NASA Stardust capsule is only hours from flying over Northern California. The capsule should make for some interesting listening as it flies over.
Posted by todd at 07:23 PM

Google phrase of the day

"sea of broccoli"
Posted by todd at 04:17 PM

January 13, 2006


One real problem I've encountered with exercising so much, this week, is the constant HUNGER. I'm hungry pretty much all day, every day, with the exception of (1) when I'm actually exercising and (2) about a half-hour after I eat.

Some people seem to like this; however, it's kind of a drag. I'm hoping that as I get stronger, this constant hunger thing will level-off into some kind of reasonable truce. A similar thing happened to me when I first started swimming, and I was insatiable after each swim. That vanished after about a month of regular swimming.

Posted by todd at 01:54 PM

January 05, 2006

You've got a friend in the wine business

Over the holidays I found out exactly how my Dad's side of the family got U.S. citizenship back in the 1890s. It turns out that my great-great grandfather somehow immigrated to the U.S. and was working as a winemaker in the Napa valley back then, and a local judge naturalized him (see the extended entry for more info). It appears he moved to Napa in about 1883, then departed back to France in the late 1890s after selling his winery. When my great-grandfather re-entered the U.S. some twenty years later, his papers claim that he was already a citizen, because he was born in Napa.

From Cal Archives Napa



It is with peculiar pleasure that we here place on record a notice of the important work that is being done for Napa Valley and the wine interest, not alone of this section but of the State at large, by the experienced and indefatigable labors of Mr. V. Courtois. During the eight years that he has been a resident of this valley, he has accomplished a great deal, winning the confidence of grape-growers and winemakers alike by his knowledge and enthusiastic attention to the business. Mr. Courtois is a native of Cette, France, on the shores of the Mediterranean, one of the centers of the wine industry of France. His father has an extensive wine-house in that city, having trade covering the whole of Europe, and the family has been connected with the wine business for several generations. It will thus be seen that Mr. Courtois comes of an experienced family, and should know what he is doing. After an experience covering many years in France, and afterward at Naples, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain, Mr. Courtois determined eight years ago to come to this State, to examine into the possibilities for wine and brandy making, and with a possible view of going into business here. His investigation was sufficiently favorable to induce him to locate permanently in Napa Valley, where he has for the past four years carried on an extensive and rapidly increasing business,—that, too, against the most vigorous opposition of those who were satisfied with the slow-going and old-fashioned ways of doing business, and did not care to see the energetic and enthusiastic Frenchman come in with his new ideas and improved methods. He has steadily enlarged his business, however, and to-day occupies a commanding position in the wine business of the Napa Valley, having many cellars rented, where he makes wine on contract, and acting also as broker and commission merchant in the purchase and sale of wines. His trade covers all the United States, Central and Southern America, etc., but is chiefly confined to San Francisco, finding it more profitable to concentrate his attention to one market. Mr. Courtois is very energetic in forwarding any course that will be general benefit to this section, sparing neither time nor money to further the best interests, and making many improvements. The question of killing the phylloxera, which is such a pest in California, has occupied his attention deeply, and this summer he proposes to visit France to examine the new means adopted there, with the intention if possible of introducing it here, making at the same time an exhaustive report to the department at Washington. It is his intention to make a study in London, Paris, Bordeaux and the other centers of the qualities and styles of wines that are called for in those markets, with a view of profiting by it afterward here. He is a broad-minded and public-spirited man in his efforts, aiming as much to benefit the wine interests of the State at large as himself personally. He will also go to Cognac in order to interest capital there to undertake the manufacture of real cognacs here, for which this section is eminently well fitted.

Mr. Courtois is introducing on this coast the celebrated Malligand, Michel, Pere & Fils ainé ebullioscope, the most successful instrument devised for testing wines. He has the sole agency.

Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

Transcribed by: Wendy Sandino

Posted by todd at 06:05 PM

Who Are You when you're Not Looking?

As part of the effort to answer the ongoing "WTF am I doing with my life?" question:

Exceptional Efforts

These are things that I've done in my life, that nobody really asked or enticed me to do. There are probably more that I can't remember, and I've arbitrarily cut it off at about 1998.

  • Disassembling clock radios, TVs, other appliances to see what made them tick (2 yrs-present?)
  • Figuring out that dry dog food makes a fine cookie substitute, and teaching the neighbor kid (3 yrs old)
  • Making random chemical concoctions from whatever I could find around the house (until 4th grade)
  • Trying to make a crystal radio from a chunk of quartz and some earphones (3rd grade)
  • Building an electromagnet out of a nail and some wire, and sticking it in a socket (3rd grade)
  • Making a portable "fish caller" circuit, sticking it in a ziploc bag, and trying to catch fish (5th grade)
  • Repairing old CB radios and entertaining truckers (5th-6th grade)
  • Coding a simple BASIC computer game for the Commodore VIC-20 (6th grade?)
  • Creating tiny wearable weird blinking lights with newfangled LEDs and hearing aid batteries (6th grade)
  • Coding a LOGO program that would draw out the mission logo of a then-recent space shuttle mission (7th grade)
  • Designing and trying to build a robot that could climb up stairs, vacuum, and mow the lawn (7th-8th grade)
  • Designing a new kind of low-cost space shuttle during Thanksgiving holiday (8th grade)
  • Hacking long-distance calling card numbers (8th-9th grade)
  • Trying to make nitroglycerin (9th grade)
  • Trying to build a new kind of room temp. methane-air fuel cell (9th grade)
  • Experimenting with high voltage and vacuum (9th-10th grade)
  • Building a rainwater collector for our house (10th grade)
  • Designing and building a circuit to remotely turn down your stereo when your phone rings (10th grade)
  • Theorizing about "cold fusion" (1988-1990)
  • Packaging up weird blinking lights based on 555s and cheap LEDs (1990)
  • Learning C and coding up wacky sound-making programs on an old PC (1991)
  • Designing and building lamps from found objects (1991-present)
  • Coding a web browser for the Newton PDA (1994)
  • Trying to port java to Newton (1995)
  • Trying to replicate sonoluminescence experiments (1996)
  • Designing and trying to build a propane-powered popcorn popper for Burning Man (1997)
  • Coding and building robots at SRL (1998)
Posted by todd at 11:21 AM

February Half Marathon

I'm signing up for the SF Half Marathon in early February: anyone want to come watch me run through Golden Gate Park?
Posted by todd at 11:01 AM