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MacGyver series « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


Archive for the ‘MacGyver series’ Category

outdoor swimmin’ in February

Monday, February 28th, 2011

when you grow up as a triathlete in California you take things for granted and don’t really appreciate them until you move somewhere with a cold snowy winter.

Like gorgeous, sunny, above-freezing weather and temperatures. All year round. Outdoor pools. Outdoor long course pools. In February!

I used to think it was weird that some pools in this country aren't open year-round.

Contrary to popular belief I’m not heading to Thailand right now like most of my teammates. I’m back home in sunny California for a couple family birthdays (Grandma’s and Papa Wongstar’s) before I go to Las Vegas for the Red Rock Canyon Marathon. Should give me a brief respite from the butt-cold First State, and then when I get home (oops I just realized I refer to two places as “home” now–I mean home = Delaware) then it will be March and should be spring already!

I’ll get over to Thailand in April and race the Samui Island Triathlon. That’s the official tri season opener for me. Woohoo!

And for those curious, here is my current pull buoy:

yes I have a cap that says "Superstar"

I MacGyver’ed it from two Speedo pull buoys. It’s pretty awesome as all things I make are.

Tiggers + White Tiger = no bike fees

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

the most wonderful thing about Tiggers? no bike fees.

Well here I am at the Philly airport, first flight of the year with my new smartphone and my new bike box. Meaning I got to test out if I get charged for my bike and then blog and tweet and facebook about it! Instantly!

I decided to tell them the box contained “paintings for an art show”. Because that’s kind of what it looks like, plus I recently cut my hair short again and put in purple streaks so I could certainly pass for the artsy punk chick type. It’s important to have a look to go with your clever little lie. The check-in ladies loved the bike box and I don’t think it even crossed their minds to measure the box or charge me.

Win win!

MacGyver’ing Bike Box 3.0, part 1

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

It’s that time of year again! Time to break out the MacGyver skills and make another new bike box. Now, some people are freaked out that I travel with a cardboard bike box but hey, this is what they come shipped in from the factory, and I haven’t ever had my bike damaged in my travels (knock on wood). For the amount I fly with my bike, it’s all about skirting airline fees and not having to lug around an uber-heavy ginormous hard plastic case.

The bike box does get a bit beat up by the end of a year and I’m always trying to improve upon the previous year’s design, so this is the third year I’m making my own bike box. Here are the previous designs:

Version 1, the 2009 edition:

very basic and went with me to the Philippines, Singapore, China, Korea, Turkey, Switzerland, and Mexico

Bike Box 2.0 (2010 Hello Kitty edition):

much prettier and a better shape, complete with website advertising for theWongstar.com...but still too big

What you’ll need to make your own:

  • 1 cardboard Cervelo bike box
  • 1 hot glue gun
  • 1 staple gun
  • duct tape in various pretty colors
  • butcher paper…or grocery store advertisements
  • a sharp razor blade knife thing

Bang! Bang! I love my new staple gun

While shopping for a staple gun at Sears, I got a bit distracted by their huge winter coat clearance sale. I found two I absolutely loved and couldn’t decide which I loved more, so I decided on: BOTH. (When in doubt, the answer is always both!) After all, they were both about 85% off…you can’t argue with getting two coats for under $20 each that are originally over $120. Plus the sales guy in the tools & hardware department told me I didn’t need a fancy electric staple gun for cardboard, so I got two coats AND a manual light-duty staple gun for less than the price of a heavy-duty electric staple gun.

Like a good Asian, I love a good deal.

But I digress.

multi-tasking = shopping for the best meat and produce prices while making a bike box.

I didn’t have butcher paper, so first I traced an outline of my Cervelo P3, White Tiger, on grocery store advertisements. Then I made a pattern so I could make the smallest conceivable box and have it fit within the 62-linear-inches parameter.

See, because airlines aren’t supposed to charge you for bikes if they come in a box whose total dimensions add up to 62 inches. I’m not a short girl with a peewee size bike–I ride a 54cm frame–so this proves to be a challenge. This is the first time I’m taking the fork off in the bike-packing process but it’s necessary.

original bike box from Cervelo, becoming MacGyverized and Wongstarized

The plan is to make a mock-up version out of this cardboard (which is like a quarter-inch thick and is essentially doubled when made into a clamshell-like box) and then do a final version out of corrugated plastic.

Stay tuned for more!

bike box 2.0 sneak peek

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Best date so far:  the one with my inner MacGyver.  Duct tape fixes everything!

Hello Kitty edition

Hello Kitty edition

Off season project:  completely custom bike box for my 54cm Cervelo P2C.

Materials used:  5mm foam board, hot pink and silver duct tape, some white glue, and Hello Kitty wall stickers.  Straps re-used from last year’s.

theres no bike in here.

there's no bike in here.

Not quite finished yet but I have a few days :)

Oh and notice the ingenious pattern of the duct tape and unique octagonal structure.  It’s an optical illusion to make the box look smaller than it actually is.  Did it work??

Herman the Pull Buoy

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

So I was feeding my pull buoy the other day, and my coworker Natalie said something to the extent of “aww, you love your pull buoy don’t you?  You should name it something.  Like Herman.”

I agreed…yes, I do love my pull buoy, and besides, something you put in between your legs almost every day should have a name.  And thus Herman the Pull Buoy was born.  I thought about naming him something else, maybe a good pool boy name like Rico or Miguel.  But then I kept thinking “P.B. Herman” and it has a familiar ring to it.  My siblings and I were big fans of Pee-wee’s Playhouse growing up.  :)

Anyway, Herman is a growing buoy.  He is now a very big buoy.  Because you see, the relationship with a pro triathlete girl and her pull buoy is sort of an inverse relationship, body composition-wise.  The leaner I get, the less I float in the water, so then I must fatten up Herman so that he compensates for my new skinniness.

So when the Wongstar traded Nutella and peanut butter for celery, surely she couldn’t waste the Nutella.  Herman is a very hungry buoy.  I have been feeding Herman all my Nutella and peanut butter, so now he is nice and fat.  Heck, I used to go through a jar of peanut butter every week, so Herman has been eating very well.  He kind of looks like a pull buoy on steroids, but we on teamTBB don’t believe in doping.  Herman is just a big fatty.  In his line of work, similar to sumo wrestlers and opera singers, it is better to be fat than to be muscular.

Herman is so fat that I have been having a little trouble getting him in between my legs when we are in the water.  He just floats so well!  Here is a picture of him with my other gear, Doc’s favorite paddles and the evil donut tube (who I think I will name Duncan.  Duncan Donut, hahahaha).  I found an anorexic pull buoy to pose next to Herman so you can see how much more massive he is.  Obviously this other pull buoy doesn’t understand the job description.

P.B. Herman and friends

P.B. Herman and friends

Wongstar’s MacGyver Series: How to Make Your Own Pull Buoy

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

all these blog posts bragging about how great their pull buoys are, and emails trying to convince me to buy a certain other pull buoy, ha! well it has brought me out of my swine flu-induced blogging stupor because Beck needs to see the creation that is the patented Wongstar Pull Buoy. Sorry, but the blog post about Mac’s farm will have to wait again, this one is much long overdue. Because you see Beck, the attempt at copying your pull buoy was not a complete failure as it was deemed salvageable and still better in its semi-deteriorated state than the piece o’ crap pull buoy I once had…for the piece o’ crap swimmer I once was…oh wait a sec…never mind. ;)

So the story begins in the original rookie camp during October of yesteryear, when Miss Beck Preston shows up to camp a few weeks after the rest of us. The airline had lost some of her luggage and she was most frantically concerned about… a… well, a pull buoy. !!! Yeah, my reaction exactly. “OOOO-kay…What could be so great about a pull buoy?!” Luckily the luggage was found and Beck’s pull buoy was the strangest little alien pull buoy I had ever seen. It was shaped like a friggin’ SQUARE. And she LOVED it. You could tell. One day at the pool Coach insisted I try it on. I was very skeptical. And then….OH!

I wanted my own! I searched high and low on the internet and Beck said these must have gone obselete 20 years ago. There was/is nothing sold in the States that even resembles a “Beck’s Pull Buoy.” So like most things that are hard to find, too expensive, or don’t exist yet, I decided to channel my inner MacGyver and well, make my own. Apparently making things runs deep in the Wongstar bloodline. My dad is an engineer and my mom majored in fashion design. She made her own wedding dress and all our Halloween costumes. (Ok, she still makes us Halloween costumes and they are FABULOUS.) And oh yeah, I do make prosthetic legs for a living, so a pull buoy? a bike box? easy cheesy.

So yes…I bring you the first of Wongstar’s MacGyver Series. Our slogan is “Make it yourself! Only better, cheaper, and at the very least prettier…” Cuz that MacGyver, he sure was a pretty boy…


1) Get Beck to email you her pull buoy dimensions and some pictures from different angles.

2) Buy a big sheet of styrofoam from Home Depot for $6. They call it “insulation foam.” for insulating buildings or something.


3) Cut 2 square-shaped pieces. The sheet only came in a 2″ thickness so I figured I would glue them together when all was said and done. The cutting part would be easiest with a jigsaw; well, I don’t own one so I asked “WWMD?” What would MacGyver do? He would use whatever was in his garage and kitchen. Well, no, he would probably use the Swiss army knife in his pocket and his bare teeth.


4) Take your Styrofoam squares to work and glue them together. Luckily your boss warns you just in time that solvent-based glues might dissolve Styrofoam, so you better test it first. And he’s right! The website that says spray adhesive would work was lying. Elmer’s Glue is water-based and seems to work. Phew.

5) Use the Trautman in the lab to shape the block into the pull buoy design outline you have drawn on the edges with Sharpie.


The Trautman is a carver you can attach different size and shape sanding cones to when making things…like prosthetic legs. Or pull buoys.


Don’t have a Trautman at your work? Well, ask WWMD?

5) Know you are done with the shaping process when your boss yells at you for tracking Styrofoam all over the office. eeeep. Ok, I’m done with being a perfectionist for now.


pb6 pb7

6) Time to test out the pull buoy after work. It’s great!! What an effing genius you are!!!

…1 hour into the workout, you experience a weird rubbing between the legs. And you realize the funny thing about water-based glues is that they dissolve when put in water. Oh quandary!

7) At this point, if you really were an effing genius like MacGyver, you would’ve just duct-taped the two pieces together and called it a victory. But we can all only hope to aspire to such greatness. Instead, read on if you want to follow the Wongstar’s pitiful and unworthy path to potential greatness….which is at least twice the steps MacGyver would’ve taken.

8) <–that was supposed to be step #8 but turned into the smiley sunglasses guy. LOL! good to know… Ok. HMM. I’m going to combine many steps into one so I don’t seem as idiotic as I am, but I basically had the quandary, how do you water-proof a pull buoy to protect the water-based glue holding it together? A string of misinformation and mistakes followed, climaxing with a Home Depot guy telling me that spraying it with wood lacquer finish would definitely waterproof it, and it wouldn’t dissolve if I painted it with a water-based latex paint. I was skeptical, but I had also been skeptical about how great Beck’s pull buoy would feel…so….




9) By now it is the night before you fly off to Subic Camp #2, so what do you do… you sigh and pack the old useless little pull buoy. As an afterthought, you throw in this scary cottage-cheese-looking blob of styrofoam that you worked so hard on…

10) You realize in Subic that you should’ve gone with step #7, even though you had thought of it already but dismissed it because you didn’t think duct tape would make the “pretty” clause (you had yet to discover hot pink and purple duct tape at Target). Of course now you realize that your pull buoy looks like a thigh full of cellulite, and dagnabbit, duct tape would’ve been SO MUCH PRETTIER. But before you get the duct tape, you figure you should fill in the craters…maybe that gap-filling stuff for sealing up bathtubs would work.


11) You then look for duct tape in Subic but all you can find is this weird aluminum foil tape at the 88 Mart that is labelled and sold as “Duct Tape.” Huh. You wrap it up and it looks like something you can put on your head so the aliens can’t read your mind. BUT the two pieces of styrofoam stay together. Effing genius you are! Draw red Wongstar logos all over it with the “Permanent Marker” you bought with the foil “Duct Tape.”

(Unfortunately there are no photos of the Wongstar Pull Buoy in this state. sorry!)

12) Try it out at the pool again! Elite teammates and coach are a little puzzled and intrigued. But it works so much better than that piece o’ crap one you had! Some people think it looks like smuggled Cuban contraband. Does it work? Well, the foil is a bit slippery in the flip turns and it becomes obvious after a few swims that the “Permanent Marker” is no Sharpie.

13) Add some of this red tape (also from the 88 Mart in Subic) as a middle stripe down the length of the pull buoy. It seems to help keep things between the thighs during flip turns as it is a tad grippier than the foil tape. Excellent! Effing genius! Just like MacGyver, but a little slower! Just a little.

Here are recent photos I took of the pull buoy. Guinness is modelling in the background.




It lasted in this state quite happily since February, and now it’s June.

14) I decided it was violating the “pretty” clause and was tired of the lifeguards asking me if I left my lunch on deck as I was warming up, so time for a little makeover. Now it matches my very pretty bike box.


Comes complete with motivational slogans for when you can’t bring Coach home with you.