Tuesday, February 24, 2009

At 44 Carpenter is again the King of High-Altitude Running

I'm starting to gather that I really like reading about athletes and their amazing natural traits. (Perhaps it's comes from reading comic books as a kid). There's a NYTimes article on Matt Carpenter, an apparently naturally gifted phenom in high-altitude running:

At 44, Carpenter is known as the grand paladin of high-altitude distance running...

...In part, Carpenter has owed his prowess to his physiology. His resting heart rate has been measured at 33 beats a minute, lower than those of Michael Phelps and many astronauts. In a test at the United States Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Carpenter’s VO2 max, a gauge of the body’s ability to process oxygen, registered at 90.2, perhaps a record high for a runner. (Only Bjorn Daehlie, a Norwegian cross-country skier, has scored higher. Lance Armstrong recorded an 81.)

NYTimes: At 44, A Running Career Again in Ascent

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's Wrong with Summer Stiers?

NYTimes has a fascinating article on a program at the National Institute of Health called the Unidiagnosed Diseases Program. As their name implies, they take on patients with the most mysterious set of symptoms that have just eluded a simple diagnosis. (A simple way of looking at it is: the TV show House, except with real life consequences and minus the nice tidy diagnoses at the end.)

The Undiagnosed Diseases Program was designed to move past that halting first step — the inevitable result of the organ-by-organ orientation of most medical specialties — to achieve a more coherent view...
...This is especially important in someone like Stiers, whose doctor back home described what happened to her as a “cascading collapse of systems.” Over the past 20 years, her health declined bit by bit, unpredictably, from her head to her toes: one eye removed, retinal bleeding in the other one, cavernous hemangiomas in her brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding, osteoporosis, bone-tissue death in both legs.

It's certainly an interesting, if not slightly discomforting read: What's Wrong with Summer Stiers

Monday, February 16, 2009

Toradora! by Yuyuko Takemiya

I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've been watching the Toradora romantic comedy anime series [Japanese] for some time. (If you want to watch, it's on various video sites. Just Google it)

However, I've started to read the original Toradora light novel, translated into English here and I've found it to be surprisingly enjoyable. Humorous, personable and descriptive, it surprisingly plays out semi-realistically. It's certainly a lot less cartoony well then the anime version. Here's a quote to give you a taste.

The Palmtop Tiger had an amazing name called Aisaka Taiga. Her height was 145 cm. Aisaka Taiga and Kushieda Minori were what you would call good friends. From the various whispers Ryuuji had heard, it was rumored her father worked as a fixer in the underworld. There was another story that her father was actually a karate master ruling the underworld in America. And then there was yet another that said she herself was a karate expert, but was expelled from her dojo for attacking her master.

Back when she first entered this school, a lot of people were fooled by her beauty, and many guys lined up to confess to her. Of course their dreams were all ruthlessly shattered as they were intimidated, bitten, torn to shreds... There were quite a few that never did recover after they were mercilessly belittled by her. Wherever Aisaka went, her path was drenched with the blood of countless corpses of male students.

That is all. I've yet to finish, so this isn't a full review, but just wanted to give a heads up.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Successor by Ismail Kadare

The Successor
by Ismail Kadare

I did not like this very much. The parts about intelligence agents being downright lost about analyzing Albania downright irked me for its utter lack of logic. The names of characters, "the Architect" literally representing an architect character made me want to bang my head into a wall. And the vague language just seemed like a 5 year old boy's attempt at making a story sound more mysterious than it actually was. Ugh, what a waste of time.