Silent Archimedes

Archive for the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category

Q&A on the baseball steroids scandal (FAQ)

Posted by silentarchimedes on February 13, 2009

1. What are steroids?

IUPAC recommended ring (left) and atom numbering (right) of the steroid skeleton. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

IUPAC recommended ring (left) and atom numbering (right) of the steroid skeleton. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

There are many types of steroids, and most of them are natural and required by animals, plants and fungi to survive. The scientific definition is a terpenoid lipid characterized by a carbon skeleton with four fused rings, generally arranged in a 6-6-6-5 fashion. Common steroids include estrogen, testosterone, and cholesterol. Technically, cholesterol is a sterol, which is a combination of steroids and alcohol. The former two are in a category called steroid hormones. These steroids include the sex hormones, corticosteroids (topical steroids are used for skin rashes, etc), and anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are the ones used by athletes because their main purpose is to increase muscle and bone synthesis. Because they are related to the testosterone sex hormone, they also have effects of maintaining masculine characteristics, such as growth of  vocal chords and body hair. Anabolic steroids were first identified and synthesized in the 1930s.

2. What is the legal status of anabolic steroids?

Most countries classify steroids as controlled substances, which means that they are illegal to produce, distribute, possess and use without written prescriptions from authorized medical officials. These countries include the United States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands (NL), and the United Kingdom (UK). However, they are readily available over the counter in Thailand and Mexico. Hence the underground availability of them in the U.S.

However, the status of anabolic steroids is recent considering its 1930s identification. They had no legal status prior to the 1980s and were common in many sports, including football and bodybuilding. It was not until the Ben Johnson controversial Olympic victory that they were placed under the Controlled Substances Act in the United States.

3. When were steroids banned in Major League Baseball?

1991. There is a huge misconception that steroids were not illegal in Major League Baseball (MLB) before 2004. This is completely false. The truth is that they were officially banned in 1991 when Commissioner Fay Vincent sent a memo to all teams and players that illegal drugs, including steroids are illegal. [1][2]

This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids or prescription drugs…

The exact same memo was resent by the MLB office in 1997. [3] The reason 2004 is used as the official year was because the rule was not enforced from 1991 until the pressures of Congress forced testing to become official in 2004.

4. Who is responsible for allowing steroids to become a problem from 1991 to 2004?

MLB Commissioner during the Steroid Era

MLB Commissioner during the Steroid Era

This is the ultimate question. Although guilty players have gotten most of the blame for the problem, logically they were only the end result of the problem. The commissioner and owners turned the other way because the lockout of 1994 had caused baseball to drop precipitously in popularity. An historic home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa seemed the perfect antidote for low ratings. The players’ union, in trying to protect their players’ privacy and rights, instead seemed like they were protecting cheaters instead of looking out for the interests of innocent players. The players who used were at fault because they cheated and lowered the integrity of the game. However, it is unfair to fully blame players who felt pressured to take PEDs after seeing a culture that created unnatural stars. It seems, at least for the moment, that Arod fell into this camp. Innocent players should also shoulder some of the the blame because almost all chose the silent route when questioned if their was a problem in the game. Instead of looking out for the interests of the game, they chose to stick to union lines and protect cheating players that indirectly hurt themselves. It’s hard to fault fans that wanted to see more offense, especially home runs, simply because baseball without all the hits and runs can be construed as boring. Finally, testing for steroids and especially HGH was simply not at a point yet that MLB was comfortable with.

5. What notable players have been tainted by steroids, HGH or other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)?

Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, Andy Pettitte, Benito Santiago, Gary Sheffield, Lenny Dykstra, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Ken Caminiti, Matt Williams.

This is only a list of notable players. Tens of second tier players have also been outed by the Mitchell Report. Another 103 are on the list of 104 anonymous players who tested positive in MLB’s steroids survey in 2003. Alex Rodriguez is the first name to be leaked from that list.

6. Should players tainted by steroids allegations be allowed into the Hall of Fame?

This question won’t be answered for at least a decade. There’s a reason why retired players have to wait five years before becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame. This is to allow any attachments and emotions to the player to subside before making a more objective decision. However, the criteria for entering the HOF has always changed with the times and generations. As much as people question the statistics of the Steroid Era, baseball has always allowed questionable players into the HOF. Until the whole steroids influence is fully understood, statistics of all players who played during this era cannot be fully appreciated. At this point, the steroids players are simply the ones that have been caught. To assume someone is clean because they haven’t been caught is naive. It is getting to a point that either all players are treated equally in the Steroid Era (whether they were caught or not or were clean) or that no one gets into the HOF. However, this question won’t be answered for a decade and perceptions may change through the years.

7. What paths have players accused of steroids and PEDs taken when ‘outed’?

Ranging from complete silence or denial to complete admittance and regret, players have had a wide range of reactions when cornered by PEDs allegations. The ones that have been most apologetic have had most success in resuming their playing careers, even if it meant a tainted legacy. Those that have shown completely no remorse or have put the blame on non-believable entities have been vilified by the public. The paths taken by the most notable players include, from strongest denial to strongest admittance:

Complete denial and knowledge of taking steroids, even when confronted by overwhelming evidence and federal investigations, continue to stick to their stance (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens)

Complete silence and avoidance of issue (Mark McGwire)

Complete denial then silence when overwhelming evidence surfaced (Ralphael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa)

Vague admittance and apology when caught (Jason Giambi)

Full admittance and regret but with excuses such as injury or peer-pressure (Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez)

Full admittance and then assisted officials with information about steroids, suppliers and other players (Jose Canseco, Jason Grimsley)

—–

Notes: This Q&A is not official and is simply my personal interpretation and understanding of the steroids scandal. I will add more questions and answers as they come up. If you would like to see a Q&A added on here, please add it in the comments section and I will gladly update the post.

Posted in Ethics, Health and Fitness, Science and Math, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The need for greed. And they all fall. What Arod, recession and global warming have in common.

Posted by silentarchimedes on February 7, 2009

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

What is going on with the world today? Many of the institutions and systems we grew up with and believed in have crumbled faster than a crumb cake in front of Santa Claus. This morning sports fans were shockingly (or not) met with news that one of the few remaining baseball superstars to not be tainted by the steroids scandal, Alex Rodriguez, failed an MLB steroids test in 2003. Considering that this news was corroborated by four independent sources, and based on past evidence of such news, this story likely has meat behind it. As the Barry Bonds’, baseball’s all-time home run king, steroids perjury trial heads to court, we wonder if there is anything sacred anymore in sportsmanship and fair play. The list now includes Bonds, Arod, Marc McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Raphael Palmeiro. All were heroes and idols to millions and millions of kids and sports fans.

Bear Stearns

Bear Stearns

Sports is nothing, however, compared to the deepening economic crisis affecting the country. But, then again we need to ask ourselves how did this country fall into such a dire situation in the first place? With news of unemployment reaching 7.6%, worst since 1982, most Americans are sensing a pessimism in the country and its leadership they have never felt before. Corporations that have long been stalwarts have wilted after years of trustworthy service. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG, just to name a few. Even General Electric has fallen on tough times due to untrustworthy leadership expectations and financial exposure. Then there are the frauds of individuals, such Bernie Madoff, and corporations, such as Enron and Global Crossing.

Polar bear cub

Polar bear cub

Then there is the global warming and energy crises. Due to the  irresponsible and rampant use of oil and other natural resources, and the irresponsible output of chemicals into the air, river and ground, the natural balance of Earth has come under question. Dire predictions of sea levels, global temperatures, forestation, glacial coverage, droughts and diseases have left us wondering is there any hope left? Will there exist a viable Earth in 100 to 200 years?

It is truly amazing that all three of these problems have one major thing in common. Greed. Greed. Greed. What is most disturbing is that the situations did not become problems until the ultimate greed kicked in. Arod was already a once in a generation baseball player back in high school. It is fair to say that he did not do steroids as a teenager as his body structure was simply too small. Bonds was a skinny player with the Pirates but was already a five tool player on the path to the Hall of Fame. McGwire  was an amazingly talented rookie with the Oakland Athletics. Why did they feel the need to use steroids and become even better than they already were? Why risk already amazing career trajectories with such greed?

Similarly, the financial companies that have gone bankrupt or bought up were very viable and successful companies (some for over a hundred years) before the ARMs and hedge funds became en vogue. Why the greed to do such risky investments in order to raise the bottom line and stock price?  Was it all due to increasing stock compensation packages of executives? Was it all worth it? To dupe millions of unknowing citizens just for more personal money? What about Madoff? An already well-respected and wealthy investor; what caused him to risk everyone’s money (including hundreds of other wealthy individuals and companies), just to make more money for his firm?

Finally, the earth has remained relatively stable ever since the existence of man. However, since the Industrial Revolution and especially since the widespread use of combustible engines, there has been this disregard for the side effects of using such resources. Coupled with research in biochemistry and synthetic compounds, the effects of pesticides, mercury, lead and carbons have led to a precarious global balance. Millions of animal species extinct or on the brink of survival.

Progress?

Progress?

Are humans, the supposedly most “intelligent” species with opposable thumbs, in fact, the dumbest species ever? Just imagine outsiders writing about the history of man and what they would write about, especially the past 150 years. Just imagine what they would write about western civilization. Just imagine what they would say about the population numbers. Or about technology and medical research? Is this the final goal of evolution? We have reached the ultimate in special survival… our only enemy is ourselves? The whole purpose of natural selection is the survival of the strong. However, part of natural selection is natural balance. A species never wants to become too powerful because then their food sources and natural enemies would disappear. Humans have, in essence, overcome both these natural laws. Through natural selection (our brains and opposable thumbs) we are far and beyond the most powerful species. In a relatively short time, our population and power increased beyond control. Humans have no more natural enemies. The machines we have created are unmatched and only destructible amongst ourselves. So what does this all mean?

The human world does not have a checks and balance system. Nature and other species have always acted as the equalizers. The closest thing that comes to that is the United Nations, and everyone knows how ineffective it is. Additionally, idealistic political systems such as communism and socialism have proven futile. Even checks and balance systems, such as the one in the United States, has a limited efficacy, as witnessed by the politics, lobbyism and other issues. Nature is having a difficult time balancing the effects of human greed and power. Diseases and natural disasters are becoming minimal in damage due to medical research and better disaster predictions. Without any natural enemies, we are left to govern ourselves and our future. As exciting of a possibility that is, the track record of that has been phenomenally pathetic.

Posted in Economics, Ethics, Health and Fitness, Opinion, Politics, Science and Math, Sports, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Book Review: 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 3, 2009

50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Author: Sally Beare

By Sally Beare

By Sally Beare (2006)

WHY I READ THIS BOOK

Catchy title. Bargain book at the local Barnes & Noble. This book was an easy choice to pick up. Who wouldn’t want a list of tips from the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people? I”m at the point in my life where youthfulness doesn’t protect me anymore from the stupid lifestyle decisions I make every now and then. The occasional chocolate cream puff or the yummy CPK garlic chicken pizza are not one-night stays in a hotel but treat my body like a three-month summer home. The staying up until 4am late nights affect more of the next day than back in college. And for all the years of fighting for independence from the parents, well, planning healthy daily diets and exercise now has become chores rather than reflex. A nice book to motivate and light a fire under an young adult passing 30 was necessary. So how did this book do?

THE AUTHOR: SALLY BEARE

I could not find an official webpage of Sally Beare’s or any Wikipedia or other page devoted to her. The short biography on B&N shows that her background is not in nutrition but in English, Psychology and Russian literature. After taking on several diverse jobs, she became a nutritionist only after she noticed dramatic improvements in her health after changing her diet. She has since written three books on the matter (GoodReads). She was born in England and now resides in Islamabad, Pakistan with her family.

SYNOPSIS

In glancing at the title, you might quickly think that the book is simply a list of 50 secrets that were gleamed from people who lived a really long time. Although the list is obviously part of the book, it is actually only half the book. Beare has done her homework and talks in great detail about the five long-living communities that she researched for this book. Part One of the book describes the lifestyles of the Okinawans, Symians and three others, and offers insights into their similarities and reasons for long life. Part two is a listing of the 50 secrets, but each secret is accompanied by how the communities put the secret to action. The final section puts it all together and suggests recipes that would help in living these secrets.

THE REVIEW

To many people that pick up this book, the 50 secrets sticks out more than reading about the world’s longest living people. There is this assumption that people that live a long time live simple, stress-free lives. Although we know this, we don’t adhere to it because we don’t really think that is possible in America, the age of work, work, work and money, money, money. However, taking the time to read a book like this would help nonetheless because it would put your crazy busy life in perspective. The fact that the high quality of life in America does not lead to longer lives (as compared to simpler communities around the world) has to be disconcerting.

The majority of the 50 life secrets in the book are very insightful. I have heard many of them before, but to read about them with strong evidence that a certain long-living community adheres to them sinks in more. We are inundated with contradicting health suggestions on the news and Internet  that we become confused with what to follow and tune them out. We also become jaded by the confusion surrounding health advice that used to be taken as a given. For example, the efficacy of multi-vitamins has been thrown into question lately. This book does not seem like it has ulterior motives. It is simply a relay of observations by an author that did her research. I like the book for that.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, where Beare talks about each community in detail. Most people have heard of long-living people from Okinawa, Japan, but how many have heard of the Symians in Greece, or the Hunzakuts in Pakistan? The third part of the book was also nice. Putting everything together, offering suggestions on how to put the advice to use in busy livelihoods and giving good healthy recipes.

So, how was the major part of the book? The 50 secrets? Unsurprisingly, 37 of them are diet-related. The other thirteen are lifestyle-related, such as the importance of exercise and  living a more simple and emotionally-balanced life. Most of the secrets are useful and can be done with only a little bit of consciousness when going grocery shopping. The problem I have with this section is its length. It takes 174 pages for the 50 secrets in my edition. That’s roughly 3.5 pages per secret. Now that may not seem like much, but do you really need to spend six pages on Finding Good Fats in Fish (secret 11) or seven pages on how to Choose Buckwheat, Brown Rice, and Other Whole Grains (secret 3)? The problem is actually not in the secret description, its the stories that come from the longest-living people about that particular secret. At first, this was fun reading and actually helped the validity of the list, but then it started becoming repetitive and it seemed like the author was straining to fill pages on certain secrets. For example, many secrets are closely tied to each other and stories from the communities are obviously going to be similar regarding the secrets. For example, the whole grains secret mentioned above and Have a Handful of Nuts and Seeds Daily are pretty self-explanatory. In the end, most of the diet stories have the same examples, the people use them in their meals. No need to go on and on about each one. Most of these stories should just have been left in Part One and leave Part Two solely on the secrets and the scientific evidence  behind them.

THE VERDICT

This is a good book. Although the length could have been much shorter, I respect the author for doing thorough research. Of the 37 diet secrets, I would say two-thirds of them are definitely doable right away. Some like Use Hemp and Sprout Your Own Superfoods, are unrealistic, especially for a young adult male like myself. The 13 non-diet secrets are very good because it really puts our busy lives into perspective. We realize how we have neglected the value of sleep, exercise, laughing and breathing all for what? Money? Instant gratification?

The value of the secrets and Part One of the book makes this book worthy of  8 stars.

8 out of 10 stars

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Posted in Books, Health and Fitness, List, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Why NFL diva wide receivers and Olympic sprinters are the same breed

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 30, 2008

Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens

There has been all this talk about talented NFL receivers that are headcases for their team or the NFL. This year it has been about Chad Johnson and his Ocho Cinco name change, or Terrell Owens and his tears for Romo and complaints about playing time, or Plaxico Burress and his lack of time management and suspensions. In previous years, it has been about Randy Moss and his “I play when I want” or Joe Horn and his cell phone celebration or Michael Irvin and his complaints. The list goes on and on. Many people don’t understand this “me above the team” mentality. However, I think many times their outward confidence and look at me mentality is closely intertwined with their ability to succeed and make remarkable plays. To understand why, simply look at the  brethren of wide receivers, Olympic sprinters.

Both professions require an inner and outer confidence in order to succeed. Both require an almost cocky persona that transcends team sports. Sprinters are divas at a much greater scale than NFL receivers because they are the epitome of individual sport, the divaness can quickly reach an uncontrollable level. There are no constraints from team members or coaches to control their “me first” attitude. Look at Michael Johnson and his golden shoes. Look at Usain Bolt and his “staring at the cameras too early” or dancing. Look at Maurice Green or Donovan Bailey.

Usain Bolt - 100m world record holder

Usain Bolt - 100m world record holder

There is something about speed that is exhilarating, from car racing to supersonic jets to horse racing. But when the speed is the natural speed of humans, this brings a completely different feeling of freedom and power that person feels. The runner feels invincible and for that particular moment feels free from all that drags him down in the world. When he consistently runs faster than everyone he competes against, this invincibility and confidence increases in strength. When he breaks the world record, he is on a stratosphere that no other human has ever been on. He IS invincible. He is Superman.

Similarly with wide receivers, once they realize that they are playing among boys, the cockiness increases. Once they see themselves week after week being lauded on ESPN for their highlight catches or game changing plays, they start feeling that same invincibility. They feel that they are above the team; that the team needs them more than he needs the team. For most receivers, this invincibility has  been forming since the days of high school and college football. However, most of them also are greatly tested and humbled in their early NFL years. But to a few, like Moss, Chad Johnson and T.O., their natural talents quickly carried over to the NFL. The invincibility continued to grow without a hitch.

Faster than a speeding bullet

Faster than a speeding bullet

What one will notice is that the divaness in football and sprinting only exists at the cream of the crop. It is only at this level where the public and especially the team’s fans are willing to look the other way. This is especially true in sprinting, because it’s an individual sport. Although there is public pressure against divas at the mid-level talent of receivers and sprinters, the main reason that divas don’t exist at lower levels is more of a natural reason. The biggest fear of receivers and sprinters is failure.  Tyson Gay in the 2008 Olympics is a good example. His fear of failing in the 100m and 200m due to recovering from a  quad injury left him lacking in confidence and staring at defeat. He looked like a beaten man, even though the entire world still saw him as one of the elite sprinters. He had no confidence and no invincibility and therefore, the look at me attitude became a “don’t look at me” attitude. It is also this fear of failure that leads many sprinters to seek questionable methods to maintain or achieve that invincibility. The prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in sprinting was confirmed by the numerous convictions and suspensions of high profile sprinters, such as Tim Montgomery, Justin Gatlin, Ben Johnson, and Marion Jones. Similarly with receivers, if they have no confidence in beating a cornerback or making a catch, they prefer to stay quiet until they make some big plays.

Receivers and sprinters without the invincibility

Receivers and sprinters without the invincibility

Since we do not expect Olympic sprinters to change their “me, me, me” attitudes, it is somewhat unreasonable to think that just because that breed of athlete plays in a team sport, that the divaness will not exist. Many of the receivers were track stars in high school or even college and they have already tasted the feeling of invincibility from God-given speed. From a team first mentality, this attitude is obviously a distraction and curse. However, there will always be a breed of them. The fall from invincibility of wide receivers can be a very  humbling experience. Many successful diva college wide receivers become quiet support pieces in the NFL, if they even make it in the NFL. Even one time NFL divas can become humbled. Randy Moss without Tom Brady is a skeleton of his old self. He has lost his invincibility and desire to attract public attention. This is the key to controlling the divaness. The receivers need to know that unlike sprinters, their invincibility is highly contingent on someone else, their QB. If they do not recognize that, and they still cause a problem, then it’s time for the team to move on without them. One perfect example of this was T.O. and Donovan McNabb of the Eagles. The Eagles did the right thing by trading T.O. after his public disdain of his QB brewed over. Now that T.O. is in understanding that Tony Romo makes or breaks him, then his divaness and crying is at least acceptable, although a distraction, to his own team and Cowboys fans. As long as wide receivers and sprinters perform, the divaness can be somewhat acceptable. The difference is when they falter. When a sprinter falters, he solely takes the agony of defeat. However, when a wide receiver falls from grace, his teammates, his coaches, and the fans also feel strongly the agony of defeat.

On a quick note, just look back to the days of playground football when you were a kid. What were the two positions you always wanted to play? Either quarterback or receiver. If you have the speed, being a receiver and making amazing catches was a sense of invincibility, freedom and flying.

Update – December 01, 2008

It’s amazing what has happened in the few short weeks since I wrote this article. Chad Johnson was suspended by the Bengals for a game due to team policy (unspecified). T.O. finally complained to the media that in order for the Cowboys to be successful, they have to be more like the team of 2007. In other words, give him the ball more. And, how can we forget Burress “accidentally” shooting himself in the thigh at a nightclub and facing possible felony weapons charge. Unbelievable.

Update – December 12, 2008

Finally, T.O. and QB tension. I was wondering how long that honeymoon between Owens and Romo was going to last. Today, reports are surfacing that Owens is “jealous” of Romo’s close friendship with TE Jason Witten and that Romo passes to Witten even when Owens is open because of their friendship. Then Owens  proceeds to say that Romo and Witten secretly meet to plan extra plays! Hahaha! Make it 3 for 3 on Owens and his QBs.

High school background information:

Randy Moss – Won the West Virginia high school state championships for the 100m and 200m as a sophomore.

Plaxico Burress – Was a national semifinalist in the 400 intermediate hurdles at 52.6. Won the state 300 intermediate hurdles title at 37.6 as a senior.

Terrell Owens – Lettered four times in track in high school. Anchored the 4×100 sprint team his senior year at University of Tennessee – Chattanooga.

Related Link:

What’s going on with the NFL wide receivers brat group?

Posted in Health and Fitness, Observations, Opinion, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Rest in peace, Alexei Cherepanov, 19.

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 13, 2008

Today brought shocking news to hockey fans all over the world. The news was especially shocking to New York Rangers fans and Avangard Omsk fans. The bright and unlimited ceiling of 19-year old Omsk player and top Rangers prospect, Alexei Cherepanov, was quickly wiped out today. In the middle of a game, Cherepanov collapsed on the bench. Medical personnel were unable to restart his heart. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. The cause of the collapse is still unclear. Rumors of an accidental elbow  to his chest during a collision with teammate Jaromir Jagr have been circulating.

The Late Alexei Cherepanov

The Late Alexei Cherepanov

As a Rangers fan since the late 1980s, the past few years have finally brought happiness and hope to Rangers fans for the first time since the 1994 Stanley Cup season.  Besides their recent playoff success, the excitement of up and coming young players from Hartford and the junior leagues  has kept fans excited about the future of the team.  Since their 1994 Stanley Cup, the Rangers have had very limited success in the playoffs and having high-ceiling prospects pan out (Remember Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark, and Manny Malhotra?) However, it wasn’t until the pick of Cherepanov by the Rangers in the 2007 NHL draft has a player caused so much excitement for the fans.  Would Rangers fans finally be treated to a player on the level of an Ovechkin, Malkin, or a young Bure? Cherepanov had only dropped to the Rangers at the 17th spot because of the lack of clarity on the expiring transfer agreement between the Russian leagues and the NHL. On talent alone, Cherepanov was easily a top 5 pick, with a potential ceiling higher than most of the other picks. He shows finesse and speed in his skating, skill in scoring and passing and has the potential to be the  complete all-around player. He continued showing those skills by besting season points of now-NHL stars Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk in their first seasons in the Russian Super League. He also surpassed the Russian league rookie goal scoring record previously held by Pavel Bure (17 goals).

Cherepanov had been off to another great start this year, recording 7 goals and 5 assists in 14 games for Omsk. Rangers fans were very hopeful that this would have been his last year in Russia as his contract with Omsk expires. The thought that he could be plugged into the Rangers new high-powered offense was scintillating.

With the Rangers looking good at 4-0 this year, and many new faces contributing, this news is very difficult to digest. The addition that the player that accidentally collided with him was Jagr makes it even more difficult to swallow. In a way it’s better he passed away in the game he loved rather than for any other reason.

Condolences go out to the Cherepanov family, the Omsk family, Russian hockey fans, the Rangers family, and all hockey fans around the world…

Posted in Health and Fitness, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Time to step back at times of bad to look at the good…

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 9, 2008

With everything so depressing in this country and the world right now, it’s time to step back in our lives and look for the good that is happening.

IF YOU ARE…

1. If you are a football fan, it’s football season! Especially if you are a Giants fan!

2. If you just started a loving relationship, cherish these moments where everything just seems right.

3. If you have good physical and mental health, cherish the genes and hard work you’ve put in.

4. If you just got married or engaged, enjoy the comfort that you two will face the future together.

5. If you love movies, music, and photography, enjoy the technological revolution going on now.

6. If you love the free flow of information, enjoy the internet revolution.

7. If you love autumn, enjoy the next few weeks of cooler weather, falling colorful leaves, and comfy clothes.

8. If you are a college student, enjoy your only years of irresponsible independence.

9. If you consistently play sports or exercise, enjoy its stress relief, health benefits and competition.

REALIZE…

10. Realize that at the worst times are when heroes and financial opportunities are made.

11. Realize that the eight years of this presidency is finally almost over, and things can only get better.

12. Realize that many economists have been saying for several years that a REAL recession is good for this country in order to purge all the greed and evil that has permeated the economic system, from government to corporations to consumers.

13. Realize that this is a great opportunity for America to return to its true democratic and founding values. (Hint, hint… vote for you know who…)

14. Realize that there is still 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Everything bad happening are just local minimums in history.

15. Realize that you are only one of over 100 billion humans that have ever graced this Earth. Does it really matter?

16. Realize that your life here on Earth (avg 70 years) is nothing compared to the age of Earth (4.5 billion years). That’s only 0.0000016%! Enjoy your time on Earth!

17. Realize that life has been so good for this country for two decades, it’s okay to retreat a bit in order to fix the system.

18. Realize that the majority of people on Earth are still worse off than you. They have more extreme short-term worries like food, shelter, clothing and diseases.

19. Realize that everything in existence is cyclical. Nature, history, emotions, economic times, etc etc…

20. Realize that you have the power to do something about it! You are not helpless and thus it’s not hopeless! Vote!

AND FINALLY

If you are reading this, cherish that you have freedom of speech and your vision.

Bless you…

Silent Archimedes 🙂

Posted in Health and Fitness, List, Opinion, Sports, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Product Review: Dynacraft Tony Hawk Boom Boom Huckjam 20-Inch Silver BMX Bike

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 13, 2008

Front Angle View

Front Angle View

I’ve always wanted a BMX bike as a kid, but we were never able to afford one. Now that I’m too old for one, I decided to get one anyway for my short commute to campus. I ended up getting the Tony Hawk Boom Boom Huckjam 20-inch Silver BMX bike at KMart for $149.99. I have seen it on sale at KMart for $134.99.( On a side note, KMart has by far the worst customer service ever.) Here’s a short review of the bike after riding it for about a month.

The bike is a series of BMX and mountain bikes released under the Tony Hawk Huckjam name, although its not listed on the current list of bikes on the website. These bikes are built and distributed by Dynacraft. Since I bought this as is from KMart, I did not have to go through the assembly process. There are front and rear hand brakes and no coaster brakes (good). There were two main the reasons I wanted to get a BMX bike. One, they are usually much lighter than mountain bikes. This bike, although lighter than mountain bikes, is still heavier than typical BMX bikes. Even the fncluded and removable four freestyle pegs are pretty heavy. According to Amazon, the shipping weight of the bike is 43.2 lbs, which makes the bike roughly 38 lbs or so. I had wanted a bike under 30 lbs. The second reason is my height. I am 5’8″ and I feel most comfortable on a bike when my feet are flat on the ground while I’m seated on the bike. It’s also safer when I can plant my feet quickly during emergencies. A 20″ BMX bike fit the bill. However, I had to raise the seat to its maximum height.

I am using this bike purely for transportation and fun, and not for exercise, so I didn’t want to spend too much money on it. I had wanted a bike closer to $100 bucks, but it was definitely difficult to find one I liked at that price. All the Mongoose ones that were priced cheaply were either of poor quality or too heavy. After searching for a while at Walmart, Target, Sports Authority, Dick’s, Modell’s and KMart, I couldn’t stand it anymore and settled on this one.

Side View

Side View

I also wanted a dull inconspicous color since I did not want to draw attention to myself. The silver on this bike is more of a multi-silver, with different shinyness. I plan to sandpaper and spray paint the bike with a clear matte to dull the color.

BMX bikes contain one gear. The gear on this one is roughly gear 5 on a 10-speed bike. It makes uphills difficult but doable for short distances less than 1/4 mile. Another advantage to one gear bikes is that the gears don’t jut out to the right of the bike too far. This allows you to wear long pants and jeans without worrying about it catching on the gears. This bike also comes with a plastic gear protector anyways.

Overall, I am pretty happy with this bike. It seems pretty well built. Although there appears to be a paint chip inside one of the aluminum bars, that makes a sliding noise when I have it stored in my car. While I ride the bike, there is no sound. The seat of the bike is also pretty comfy. I remember riding BMX bikes as a kid and they seemed hard, narrow and uncomfortable.

I am sure I would’ve been happy with a Mongoose at this price also. But I got this one and I’m happy with it.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this post or email me.

PICTURES

Lower Angled Bar

Lower Angled Bar

Gears

Gears

Wheel

Wheel

Front View

Front View

Freestyle Pegs

Freestyle Pegs

Seat

Seat

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Observations: The Campus Rec Center at the Beginning of the School Year

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 9, 2008

It’s that time of year again. The beginning of the school year on college campuses all around the country. High hopes are abound…

A campus weight room

A campus weight room

For ten years and counting, I have been on a college campus. First as an undergrad, then a master’s student, and now a doctoral student. As an undergrad, the beginning of each school year is very exciting. There’s high hopes for better grades, hanging with new and old friends, maybe finding a significant other, and of course, the ambitious workout regimen.

Now as a grad student, we know better. We’ve been so beat down about high expectations and random events, that all we want is some stability and discipline in our schedules. Couple with maturity that comes with age, and you appreciate whatever comes your way in life. Going to the gym and doing my workout is now entrenched in  my busy schedule that there are no useless impractical goals at the beginning of each school year. What happens now is having the joy at watching undergrads go through their obviously high expectations in the gym in early September. Let’s see what I’ve seen of undergrads in the gym just in the past week since school has started again:

  • A boy doing lat pull-downs with a weight twice what he can accomplish. Worst form I’ve ever seen. Whole chest is caved inwards. Arms are shaking. He then moves to the back rows machine. Tries one rep, realizes it’s too light and doubles the weight. Then he does a rep, and you can see that he is struggling to pull the bar even with his chest. Commences to do only 4 reps and slams the weight. To top it off, he then gets up, turns around and flexes in the mirror. Hahahaha!
  • A guy running in the opposite direction the track. I tell him he’s going the wrong way. He tells me, no, it was this way the other day. Proceeds to almost crash into a bunch of joggers going the right way. Changes direction…
  • The funniest is seeing guys do the most complicated stretches and routines. I bet those people don’t last two weeks in the gym. Three boys, obviously working out together, hold 10 lb weights to their head, lie down and rotate in unison together for like 3 min. We’ll see how long that lasts.
  • Guys slamming the weight stack on a machine as they finish a set. I hate that! Show some etiquette!
  • Guys obviously running on the treadmills and track must faster than they can. If they really ran that speed, they would last at most 5 minutes. Guys doing mad wind sprints on a 1/10 mile track.
  • Little skinny Asian workout partners in the gym acting like they’ve been lifting for 10 years.
  • Nothing against weight-challenged people, but I haven’t seen so many of them in the gym since I saw Battle of the Yokozunas on ESPN a few years ago.

Testosterone

Testosterone

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s just the guys. When I was at the gym during the summer, it’s mostly girls, grad students and old guys. People that have the discipline to keep their workouts even when really busy. The only thing most guys keep doing during the semester is play basketball. I guess it’s the whole 18-22 year old boys’ testosterone and sexual energy. It’s funny because most girls go about doing their workout, but it’s quite obvious that guys are well aware of their surroundings, the competition (other guys) and the hot girls around them. I admit, I was like that when I was an undergrad. I wish I was more mature then, but I guess that’s not nature’s way.

Well, in a month I’ll have the gym back to myself. And this annual ritual will once again go back into hiding…

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Book Review: Why Men Die First, How to Lengthen Your Lifespan

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 30, 2008

Author: Marianne J. Legato, M.D., F.A.C.P.

WHY I READ THIS BOOK

Why Men Die First

Why Men Die First

Dr. Marriane Legato

Dr. Marianne Legato

So after reading three books on the current economic downturn in America, it was time for a change of topic. I started going to the gym consistently again the past couple of months and a book on health seemed appropriate. It was actually by chance I came across this book on display at the campus library. Why Men Die First had just been released and was on display in the new book section. If you’re a  health conscious guy and you accidentally come across this book, chances are you do a double take and at least read the back cover; especially when it appends the title with How to Lengthen Your Lifespan. So I checked it out and it took two tries to get it done. You’ll see why in my review below.

THE AUTHOR: MARIANNE J. LEGATO

Dr. Legato is an internationally known women’s health specialist. Which makes it interesting that she wrote a book about men. However, she is also well known as the founder and director of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. The partnership is interested in research that produces a better understanding of the differences between men and women. It is also apparent that her observations of her dad throughout her life tremendously influenced this book. Her residency was in cardiology and branched out more into gender-specific medicine a few years later. She is also the author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget.

THE REVIEW

Prostate Exam

Prostate Exam

The chapters are organized in the stages of male life and describes the challenges and vulnerabilities of each stage. For example, the second chapter, Beginnings: Surviving the Womb and the First Weeks of Life describe how the female fetus has a much better chance of surviving until birth than the male fetus. Not just surviving, but being more developed and self-reliant at birth. Some of these chapters are already well-known, such as Men and Cancer, Sports: The Price Men Pay, and The Male Libido: Men and Sex. The chapter on cancer is pretty much what one would expect. Legato goes through the dangers of the cancers that men are most vulnerable to, prostate (image right, courtesy of Abbot Diagnostics), lung (mostly due to smoking), colon and testicular. She mixes stories of her experience as a doctor to show that men are afraid to get preventive exams. The stories are a nice addition to the typical scientific relay of information. However, the fact that the people she talks about are nameless, there’s not as much oomph to the stories. Also, there are so many stories because she has seen so many patients, that it also makes it a little detached. Her writing is easy to read and understand.  Each chapter is sectioned off into smaller topics and nicely labeled. However, in books like this, it’s hard to avoid using medical terms, such prostate specific antigen (PSA), adenomatosis polyposis coli (APC), and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).

Man and Sex

Men and Sex

There’s not much persuasion to get men to be a proactive and responsible person. The only methods are equating it to women going through gynecological exams, or the usual “catch it early and you’ll have a better chance to survive” saying. Another chapter is The Male Libido: Men and Sex. Pretty straightforward here as well. Men love sex. Men always think about sex. Men by nature are not meant to be monogamous. A lot of men have erectile dysfunction. Testosterone is both good and bad. The suggestions are also well-known. Use condoms. Be as monogamous as possible. Have regular exams if you are promiscuous.

Male Depression

Male Depression

I was more interested in the chapters that most men do not know about. The ones that don’t define the stereotypes of manhood. The silent killers. The two chapters that stick out with this in mind are Educating Boys: How Well are we Doing? and Male Depression: It’s Causes, Expression, and Treatment. Legato brings some interesting ideas from the field that most of us are not aware of. One suggestion is having gender specific education for children. In other words, all-boys classes and all-girls classes. Because boys mentally mature slower than girls, it might be a good idea to taylor teach each gender. The idea of depression and man is tough to understand. It is under-diagnosed due to the stigma that males should just work through it. However, more and more people are understanding that females deal with stress and challenges much better than males. Males are pretty unidirectional and goal-oriented that all other aspects of their lives are neglected. This was the most interesting chapter, that I wished it was longer. Maybe it shows how little male depression is known. However, the number of statistics used to convince the reader that males have issues with depression is probably a little overboard.

Since the second part of the title, How to Lengthen your Lifespan, is one of the reasons I picked up this book, I expected a long final chapter on what a man can do to, well, lengthen his lifespan. Maybe something of a checklist through life or a lifelong way of living that would help in having a more healthy and longer life. There was no such chapter. It seems that what the author had in mind for this part of the title was the little suggestions in the chapters and the small little boxes at the end of some of the chapters that ask you to keep some things in mind. Were the numerous statistics used throughout the book supposed to scare the reader into change? I must admit, as a guy reading this book, I skipped some of the statistics. That’s when I put the book down the first time. The statistics and some of the obvious stuff started boring me. The second time I picked up I finished it, but skimmed half the time.

THE VERDICT

Male Cardio Work

Male Cardio Work

This book is a nice start because it’s a book in a new genre about male vulnerabilities and gender-specific medicine, which I find very important to the survival of the male gender post-feminism. Legato mentions that what men need is something equivalent to the feminist movement. Men need to start realizing their own vulnerabilities and taking action before it’s too late. However, not enough suggestions are made. She mentions having a healthy diet and exercising, but she doesn’t go into detail about what to eat and how to exercise to increase lifespan. For example, she might have mentioned that doing cardio work is healthier than the more popular weighlifting. She mentions reducing stress and talking about personal problems to reduce the potential of depression. However, these are obvious suggestions and doesn’t offer any new insight into male longevity. The title of this book should simply be Why Men Die First. This is a why book and not a how book. Even as a why book, I found myself skipping several sections that either didn’t pertain to me or interest me, like Syphilis: The “Great Imitator” or Firemen (we know why firemen have dangerous jobs).

Overall, this book is a fun read for the most part. Too much in society has focused on women being the weaker gender. “Be a man!” “You throw like a girl!” “Stop being a pussy” “Men don’t cry!” “Being in touch with your feminine side” It’s time the scientific community see men as being vulnerable. In my experiences watching and talking to men and women, I must say, although women are more outwardly emotional, men seem to have a tough time being open-minded, patient, mentally strong and responsible. It’s time to openly discuss this. Or soon, as many people have alluded to, women will not need men! 🙂

6 out of 10 Male Mars Symbols

Rating: 6 out of 10 Male Symbols

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