Prognostications and other thoughts

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Interesting words to live by

Two recent quotes.

First is from my boss, Chris Saito.
"Be a thought leader". Meaning, set an example and lead by example by asserting and directing in meetings and interactions.

"Learning Posture". This is from a guy who was interviewing for a job. He said great people to work with/for have a good learning posture-meaning they are always listening/receptive to new ideas and try to understand new technologies. The great ones are the ones who will listen to and validate comments from any one, no matter how far up or down the food chain/org chart.

Monday, June 20, 2005

New PR - Old La Honda Bike Climb

Finally broke a personal goal on Father's Day.
There is a ~ 3.3 mile bike climb called Old La Honda road; it climbs 1260 feet from portola valley to Skyline Blvd. The ride ends with a short steep uphill filled with potholes and rough that truly adds insult to injury.
Previous record was 20:04, on 7/7/04. On 6/19/05, did it in 19:55. Amazing how hard it is to average 10 miles per hour!

Here is what pain looks like:

This essentially means the heart rate was pegged at 170+ and remained above that for about 19 minutes straight. I averaged 176 bpm (97% of max) and touched 188 (103% max). To ride this hard, you have to be at 100% physical effort with complete mental focus. The key is to "red line" your heart rate yet back off slightly to recover if you start to blow up. You can do this by standing or shifting to lower gear and spinning more. But once you've recovered, you need to push up the pace again from the "not comfortable" to "really not comfortable" zone. There is something very intriguing about being simultaneously mentally and physically focused-which is rare in typical daily life. In any case, a 20 minute effort is 5 minutes longer than is humanly very tolerable--it's almost impossible to not let your mind wander and loose focus.

The most impressive display of physical and mental focus like this is Lance Armstrong's climb up L'Alpe d'Huez in 2004. That climb is 9.6 miles long-and he did it in 39 minutes, with lunatic fans spitting at him and standing just in front of him. I can't imagine all that additional distraction piled on top, let alone holding that intensity for not 15 or 20 minutes-but 39. Impressive.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Toyota Prius!

So my wife has a big ole '98 Land Cruiser. It's great for our 3-year old, camping trips, and the like. But it gets 13 mpg. Last week, the ignition switch (where you stick the key) simply broke.

In any case, finding the parts would take a week, so Toyota 101 gave me a Prius as a loaner. Talk about pleasantly surprised.

Functionally, it is incredible. Huge back seat, plenty of leg room, room for baby seat. Fairly useful trunk, though not huge. Very airy, open feeling in the front. Gas mileage is supposed to be ~50mph, but i was getting 37 or so. Still, not bad.

What they did though that makes it remarkable is to change the paradigm of what you know as a car.
- there is no key, only a remote. You simply need to have it in the car; wear it around your neck on a lanyard, for instance
- get in, put your foot on the brake and hit the START button. The electric motor turns on instantly but silently. The dash tells you "ready". Pull the shift lever into R or F and you are ready to go.
- the dash. it sweeps away from you "way out there". Different than normal cars. No tach, but all the info you need to know
- there is also a color touchscreen that shows you if the electric motor is running or being recharged and if the gas engine is in use or not. Plus all the HVAC controls are managed through the screen. Very different but cool.
Check out the engine(s):

Driving it?
Sure it's a little gutless, but there is plenty of power for hills. And because it so aerodynamic-there is little wind noise. I hit 104 in this thing almost unknowingly. It could handle a bit better-wanders on the freeway a bit, but otherwise very pleasant. Also, when you are driving one, you start to notice how many there are on the road. Pretty cool.

In a word, I looked forward to driving it each time. That's the mark of a great car.

PS-the big news about a potential recall for them stalling unexpectedly hit the press on the last day I was using it. Amazing how so many people knew about it.