Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PDX '02, Part I of N

Those who know me at all also know, or at least have heard me speak about, a few people. I met B the winter semester after I married Cindy through a mutual friend. In short order, we were fast friends. We studied together through undergrad as well as law school, and then worked together at the same law firm for three years. As such, B is one of my oldest friends that I didn't grow up with. Between our 2L and 3L years, both of our wives were pregnant. We were each relying on their respective insurance plans from their jobs. We each ended up getting jobs in the Portland area. So, we decided to leave the wives at home to take maintain insurance coverage while we headed to Oregon where we would share an apartment. B had a truck, so we rented a U-Haul for him to haul most of our stuff. I loaded 5 bikes on the top of my sweet 96 Subaru Loyale and headed for Oregon. Why so many bikes? I needed a road bike, a mountain bike, and a bike to commute in to downtown PDX. More on my commuter in a subsequent post. If you've been across eastern Oregon, you know it can be pretty bleak. We were making our way through the hills near Baker when the front end of my car suddenly resembled a guyser. The temperature gauge confirmed the obvious as the needle was almost instantly in the red. We pulled over to assess the situation. As I opened the hood, the remaining liquid in the radiator spilled out on the ground. Water drawn from a nearby stream similarly drained immediately out of the radiator. Upon closer inspection, we realized that the axle that supports one of the fans had broken loose and made its way through the radiator. No big deal, I'll call a tow truck and get it fixed in Baker. The problem was there was no cell service. What to do? We needed to get to PDX in time to move in the apartment so we could be to work the next day. So, we had a broken car, no cell coverage, and we needed to keep moving. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. I'm not so proud of our 'invention'. B had a tow rope but nothing to fix it to on the trailer. So, we threaded the tow rope through the door latch on the trailer and pinned it in place with a tent stake. We made our way toward Baker with the truck towing the trailer and the trailer towing me. We kept this makeshift train moving all the way to Pendleton. On the way to Pendleton, it all started to go wrong. You see, there's a massive descent on the way into town. Any number of warning signs tell you of the curvy, long, steep descent. The trailer provided the perfect draft. That was great on the flats, but it made for an interesting descent into Pendleton. B did his best to keep his speed up, but there were a lot of vehicles going slowly down the hill, which made for lots of breaking. The brakes heated up quickly and started to smoke. They continued to smoke until I wore through the pads and the calipers were pushing on the rotors. It turns out calipers don't work so well. Unfortunately, we weren't even close to the bottom. What to do? Only one option, the clutch. So, I got braked with the clutch as much as I could. Finally, we made it into Pendleton, my nerves frazzled. The final damage? The clutch drove the engine at high enough rpms to burn up the alternator. And not surprisingly, the clutch wasn't doing very well either. So, we packed everything as best we could into B's truck and the trailer, pulled the radio and plates from the car, and left it in a junky part of Pendleton, and made our way to Portland.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Illustrative Example of Why Triathletes Suck

This weekend we packed the little ones and all our geek gear and headed to Burley, Idaho for the Spudman. My wife is from Burley and this race has been an annual tradition since long before triathlon was cool. This year there were ten of us affiliated with the Christenson-brand racing. Prudently, they put the fat kids in the last wave so we're out of everyone's way. I entered the water an hour after the first wave and waited for the gun. Once the announcer gave the 30 seconds to go countdown, my adrenaline spiked and I was ready to go. Only to be pulled back. Seconds of waiting turned into a couple of minutes before they pulled us all to the side. More and more minutes passed and I finally climbed out onto the docks. During this time, the announcer's incomplete description of the situation downstream fed speculation and rumor. After a few more minutes or relief-society style gossiping the race director called us all together. A man had been seen by some others in his wave to yell for help and then had slipped under the water. It had been nearly 10 minutes and it was clear that the rescue effort had now switched to one of body recovery. As the recovery effort continued, the race director told us all to head to T1 as the swim was cancelled. As the crowd walked by the river near where the boats were doing the search, we were called back to the start line as the body had been recovered. Immediately, the race director started getting heat to restart the race. That wasn't a typo. People immediately began pressuring him to allow them to swim past the same spot where literally seconds earlier Donald Morehouse's body was pulled from the river. His now widow was actually waiting for him at T1 and broke down at the news that circulated that they found him and he didn't make it. I stood there in disbelief at these people, who made up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the crowd. They shouted, "It's not fair, we trained for this." "If you're going to cancel the swim, I want my money back." Seriously. My wife noted that the problem with triathletes is that their focus makes them selfish. That's why they can't go on a ride for fun or have fun on a ride that also doubles as training. Nothing is more important than the next race. Unfortunately, I saw the limits of how far that thought extends - for those sorry bastards, nothing is more important.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Funniest Thing I've Read So Far in July

The word smithing in this post is beautiful. For those of you who don't know him (I've only met him once), this is Dug's brother-in-law Sleepy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Official Luau Invitation

Time is rapidly approaching for the annual luau. Per tradition, I have scheduled it the same day as the first BYU football away game. Unfortunately, this year it happens to be the same day as LOTOJA. So, it'll be on September 6 at 5:00 at the park linked below. In particular Dug, Kenny, Fatty, Rick S., and Botched; if you're not doing LOTOJA, I'm hoping you'll be there. Hopefully, Ricky can make it as well. The park is 5 acres big and has two huge swingsets so it should be a good time for the entire family. From Racer's:
View Larger Map From SLC Bike:
View Larger Map

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spudman Predictions

Last Saturday I got up early to a light but steady headwind and made my way to Racer's house. He joined me and we continued south. The headwind fought us all the way to the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. For a brief time after we made the turn, the wind pushed us back toward Springville. At Mapleton, we turned east and climbed up through the houses to the mouth of Hobble Creek, where we then headed toward home. Racer patiently hung with me as I struggled up the hills. As we rode through Springville, the wind switched and we had a light but steady headwind on the way home. Normally, I'd be complaining non-stop about a headwind both ways. This time, I was just glad to be riding outside and especially glad to be riding with a good friend. My job has me riding less than I'd like on my own. Even less of that is done outside and pitifully less of that is done with friends. The abscence of pain has convinced me that I'll be fine for the Spudman, so I'm going to do it. The swim will be interesting, as I've only been swimming very slowly to work primarily on range of motion. So, the swim will be slow. Good thing it's down river. If I can do it in less than 30 minutes, I'll be pleased. The bike is going to be slower than last year, since I have been working primarily on long rides rather than power. I'm guessing 1:10 to 1:15. The run will be ugly, probably in the 1:10 range as well, which will put me at around 2:55 hopefully. Normally, this would be enough to discourage me as well. This time, I'm just glad to be able to do it. Amazing what being cooped up for four weeks in the middle of summer will do to you. The Vikingman plus Saturdays ride puts me at 734 miles to go. Commuting by bike starts again tomorrow hopefully.

Be a Traveller, Not a Tourist

First of all, I need to publicly admit that Ben is almost always right. Like with the 29ers. And Pizzeria 712. And those apple cider ribs. And yet, I often find myself questioning some of his recommendations. One of Ben's recent recommendations was that I check out Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations" on the travel channel. To that point, my only exposure to Tony was his work on "Top Chef." As a judge on top chef, he was negative and a bit smug. So, I resisted Ben's recommendation. Then, one evening after I'd been through everything interesting on the DVR, I switched it to Tony's show. And it was great. I'm pretty confident that Tony would hate Kneader's as much as I do. I wouldn't imagine he'd have good things to say about Cafe Rio either. (Though it is a guilty pleasure for me). On the last episode Cindy and I watched last night Tony went to Namibia and spent some of his time with the Bushmen. The Bushmen were eating some pretty awful stuff. The worst of which was a pig anus that had only been squeezed out and then cooked. Tony choked it down and did his best to be gracious. In his narration, he noted that though it was the worst meal of his life, that in order to experience the truly great food, you've got to be willing to leave yourself open to getting some bad. So Ben, I'll try and do better at leaving myself open to your suggestions, though some of them may end up being bad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The People's Committee for Pets

A friend of mine, we'll call him JG, has been deliberating about adding a new member to his family - a dog. After thoughtfully talking through the issues with his wife and kids, they decided they could commit to getting a family dog. I suggested he check with the operation formerly known as the Utah Humane Society. They're having a half-price sale on older, heavy, black dogs. Apparently not their best sellers. However, JG isn't one who can pass up a bargain. He's also a bus commuter. So, we packed it up a little early and I drove him down to the People's Committee for Pets. JG found a calm, friendly looking black lab mix named Atticus. After taking forty minutes to run and play with Atticus and see how he played with other dogs, JG figured Atticus would be a good fit. He filled out the paperwork and submitted it to the interrogation committee. The interrogation committee consisted entirely of a lovely young lady who had a healthy BMI between 10-12 and who's skin had a nice methamphetamine-spotted glow. She asked several preliminary questions about the application after settling on the issue of accomodations. You see, JG had make the mistake of proposing accomodations that included several kids to play with, a large yard with a radio fence, a full-time house maker to watch after him while the kids were out, and a dog bed in a garage. What was he thinking? He was given a flat denial in one of the smuggest tones I've ever heard. She explained that if the dog didn't have his own accomodations inside the house and was only outside to poop or to play, they simply would not allow him to go to that home. Seriously. In disbelief, we walked out. You see, the People's Committee has decided that unless a dog receives accomodations that are as good or better than most people have, they are perfectly willing to let the dog hang out in a small cage that reeks of shit until they euthanize him. Heaven forbid a dog sleep in a garage after spending a day playing with the kids or playing outside. What was he thinking?

Honestly, Doc, I Fell Down the Stairs

I'd like to say that I'm surprised about this. I really would. The strange thing is that since I didn't have any realistic expectations it would be any different, I'm not actually disappointed. I had a sneaky suspicion as I watched the Cobra leave the field for dead that he was probably doping. Ricco's nickname lends itself well to one of my favorite cliche morals: You knew what I was [a snake] when you picked me up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Remember When . . .

Warning: This post isn't nostalgic in any light-hearted way. Last night some friends from home stopped by and I cooked them up some dry-aged ribeyes. Good times were had by all. These friends are a rare couple in that 1) they're both my friends and 2) they're both from Blanding. The wife in the family is the sister of a former friend. It is indeed a rare thing indeed that someone makes the move from A-Ring friend to former friend. Her telling of the former friend's (FF) side confirmed that I made a good move in letting him go. Basically, his side of the story is that the only thing he did to merit my disdain was the thing that broke the camel's back. As Dan and I drove in to work together today, we thought of an apt analogy that applies: a friendship as a bank account. With relationships, I'm not the kind of guy that worries about a balance. My basic approach is to try to contribute and avoid taking. In the end, my best friends are those who also contribute and our friendships just get better. FF had a decidedly different approach. He figured that because of our long history (we grew up together) that there was enough in the account that he couldn't ever possibly spend it. I believe he stated it loosely as "I could piss in his face and he'd not only take it, he'd be cool with it." And so rather than contribute, he did his best to make as many withdrawals as possible. He chose to make his withdrawals by doing his best to piss me off just for the sake of pissing me off. Like many who've had their accounts closed, he made his withdrawals to impress others. I'm not talking about the good natured ribbing, I'm talking about comments like: "You say you went for a run? You don't run. You jog. Running means going fast. You jog." Thanks for making sure that I know that I'm slow. That kind of crap went on non-stop for a long time. After a year and a half, his account total was quickly down to zero, but because of our history I gave him a line of credit. He blew through that as fast as he could. A year later and he'd reached the point that I simply had to cut him off. It wasn't that big of a thing that did it, more of a cumulative effect. It just wasn't worth the resources and time to maintain a relationship with someone who had explicitly stated that my only value to him was as someone to mock. Last night, FF's sister noted that FF figured it was his last withdrawal alone that got him cut off. That would be like a situation in which a guy tries to buy something only to have his card declined and then assumes that his last small purchase drained his entire account. Nope, it was a constant series of withdrawals over a period of time without making any contributions. That's how you run an account dry. Anyway, just a confirmation for me that if I hadn't closed the account, FF would have continued to make withdrawals without contributions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's a Go!

I'm not the biggest proponent of the exclamation point as I think it's often overused. But I am giddy about the news from the doctor this morning - I've been cleared to return to the road bike and running. Four weeks of indoor training during the middle of the summer has been killing me. I plan to head out this weekend with some friends and pedal for a good, long time. I'm hoping for five hours of saddle time this weekend. Afterwards, I think a nice summer barbeque of salmon, watermelon, corn on the cob and other garden vegetables and fresh fruit should do the trick nicely.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

That Guy, Those Guys

I'd like to think I'm not that guy. You know the guy you do a favor for (at no benefit to you) and then he proceeds to berate you about how it turned out? That guy. I'm not him. But I am realizing that I just might be one of those guys that BSNYC likes to make fun of. No, not the fixie-crowd guys that ride around in their sister's Capri's. The other guys. The unnecessary/fancy bike crowd. One of those guys who buys cool stuff to make himself feel good about his lack of cycling prowess, as if cool equipment will make up for a dearth of fitness and talent. Let's see, I'm fat, I'm an attorney, I have several bikes for each occasion, including Serottas in the road, mountain, and 'cross variety. I don't ride that much. Yep. I'm one of those guys. Now that I've come to that realization, I've decided there's no point in fighting it. I've given in to the one last piece of magpie equipment that I don't have. Fatty had something to do with that with his beratement of Assos. I've realized that not wearing a pair of Assos shorts won't stop my from being one of those guys. So, I might as well try to see if those shorts will make riding any more comfortable, despite my fat ass. That's right, I've completely given up on pretending.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Damn Those French

The Godfather Part III sucked and we all know it. But, it did have one good line: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." For Michael, it was the mob. For me, it's french food and that damn Tour. Much like I can't say no to well-executed steak au-poivre or escargo, I find myself drawn back into the TdF. And I'm not sure why. Just days ago I was discussing with a co-worker the complete disregard the ASO has for their own rules and procedures. Fatty made some great points about how the race this year appeared to be slated for a bore-fest with no prologue, no time-bonuses, no TTT, and fewer mountain stages. Neither of these even address the absence of the defending champion. ASO are even smug about it, much like the narrator in Ratatouille. For these reasons I had planned on not watching any of it. In fact, I hadn't planned on watching the opening stage. Then I found myself at my parents house on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do. The only thing on was the Tour. When I switched to the Tour, my brother even asked why since I'd voiced my plans to avoid it. I answered because there was nothing else on. And then I saw the sights and heard Paul and Phil. And the next day, a break stayed away and the jersey changed hands. And then . . . .. So now, I'm back watching the Tour. It's pulled me back in. Like the spouse of a prolific philanderer, I'm making myself believe the promises that this time it will be different. This time I can get behind Garmin-Chipotle and Team Columbia because of their anti-doping programs. Big corporate sponsors surely wouldn't get into a troubled sport unless they had assurances that the teams were doing what was necessary to ensure their riders were clean, right? Or at least doing everything they could to keep them out of a scandal. Yep, this time it's going to be different.