Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This is a blatant request for music. As much as a creature of habit as I am, the current training mix on my iPod is killing me. I'm looking for some good, new-to-me training tunes. I'm really up for anything as my current mix includes stuff from Boz Scaggs to Morrissey to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! I'm looking for a good rhythm. So, help a bradda out. Please.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Driving Parents

I need to get a new alarm clock. My old standby has stopped working so that I can no longer set my alarm and raw laziness has kept me from getting a new one. Or is it forgetfulness? I can't remember. Anyway, without the alarm I've missed the bus a couple of times this week and had to drive to Trax in Sandy and in one case all the way to down town. I've noticed an interesting phenomon as I pass the bus stops during the drive. Apparently, the combination of a child in the car and the sight of a bus stop turns parents into idiots. The standard process seems to be to slow down while remaining in the middle to left side of the lane. This makes for some good times on the single lane roads I drive to get to the freeway. Often, the parents then stop suddenly. And then nothing happens for a few seconds. Either they start talking to their kids about the plans for the day or they start looking for the perfect place to pull in and wait. I can at least understand this part, though I absolutely don't approve. The next series of moves are a complete mystery to me. It's like some kind of strange dance. The main step is to erratically swerve between the shoulder and the road. They also throw in some sudden stops for good measure. Apparently, the dance paralyzes their left hand as nary a turn signal is seen during the entire process. When the child is finally out of the car, you can only hope the finale of the whole performance is a u-turn. This is no normal u-turn, and if I weren't so lazy I'd name it. Predictably, the turn signals are still omitted. The excitement comes as the parent fails to even glance back into traffic while simultaneously hammering the accelerator. It really does take talent to pull it off. Try it some time when you're not dropping off your kids - your common sense will keep you from doing all three moves at the same time. I just hope my commuter dance doesn't tangle with their drop-off dance.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not Safety Minded

During the summer between my 2L and 3L years in law school I lived and worked in PDX with Bryan while our pregnant wives stayed at home and kept the jobs that provided our insurance. Bryan's wife was due before the summer ended, so he headed out a couple of weeks before I did. On the night before he was to head home, Bryan and I decided to go for a bike ride in Forest Park with Dave - a ride that was a little different than our preferred route. I seem to recall it being the 8A-8B combo, but I'm not sure. The lower portion is pretty steep. The last time I had been on that stretch it was raining. The train had made the mud so slick that I tumbled down most of the lower portion in a series of falls. I have a pretty sensitive toughness-reset switch, so I was tentative heading down that part of the trail as it was. Some of the local BMXicans had built a jump by stacking logs at the beginning of the runout of the steepest section. I use the term 'runout' loosely as it was a very short flat section that ended with a 90 degree turn down another steep pitch with exposure beginning at the turn. All the scenarios that I imagined when I looked rickety construction and the steepness of the approach ended badly. Bryan must have seen something different. Perhaps he saw a fluid jump and flawless landing. Maybe he saw a perfectly executed tripod turn that flowed him into the corner. I don't know. Whatever he saw was enough for him to ignore me when I said jumping off that ramp was stupid. He hiked his bike back up the approach - which was too steep to ride - and headed back down. He picked up what appeared to be the right amount of speed on the approach. His front wheel launched off the ramp at the perfect trajectory. As his front wheel angled skyward off the ramp the top log, that had compressed with the load from his front wheel, rebounded. The rebounding log caught his rear wheel in time to turn his perfect jump into an airborne nose wheelie. Amazingly enough, Bryan landed the nose wheelie and rode it for a while. He was riding it so well, it looked like he could hold it indefinitely. The impending turn, however, forced him to make a decision. Instinctively, he grabbed his brakes, which sent him toward a pile driver. Just before his head hit the ground, he was able to tuck his head and neck enough that he landed on his shoulder and back, which rolled him into a somersault. I followed proper crash etiquette and asked if he was okay. "That wasn't safety minded," he said as he gathered himself to stand up. Seeing that he was apparently okay, I started laughing and we started the usual post-crash analysis. The banter was interrupted when Bryan spit out some blood. I asked him if he had hit his mouth and he said he hadn't. Then he coughed up some frothy, bright red - almost pink - blood. Dave reactively blurted out, "I shot a deer and it bled like that once. Then it died." Yep. Dave actually said that. Banter turned to concern. I left Dave to keep an eye on Bryan and I hurried back to the car. Once Bryan was back in the car, we tried to assess the situation. I wanted to head straight to the emergency room. Bryan flatly refused. Only someone who's tried to talk Bryan out of something to which he's entirely committed would understand the futility of trying to change his mind. He wanted to avoid the emergency room if at all possible and ask some people who might have some answers. As we made some calls, it became clear that there was 9,999/10,000 chance that it was a spontaneous pneumothorax (or something like that) that had collapsed his lung and that his lung would reinflate on its own in short order. The other possibility was that it could be something much more serious and that if it went badly we had 30-45 minutes to get to the hospital. Bryan decided to try his luck (against my strenuous objections) and assured me that if he felt worse, we'd run to the hospital immediately. So, we headed back to the apartment where I spent a stressful night watching Bryan while the "Royal Tenenbaums" played in the background. It turned out he was fine and he left the next day for home (again, over my strenuous objections). As he left he said, I'll try to be more safety minded this time. That story is as good an excuse as any as to why I avoid jumping my mountain bike.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I thought I'd write down the unwritten rule of parking because some of the people who visit my neighbors apparently haven't heard it. Here it is: if possible you should park on the street in front of the house that you are visiting. People who visit one set of neighbors in particular don't seem to get it. A single car will park on the street in front of our house even though the street in front of the neighbor's house is empty. Strange. One time an unknown young man lingered in front of our house for so long that I considered calling the cops and instead walked out to talk to him. He could tell I was a little worried, so he rolled down his window to note that he was waiting for someone else to arrive so they could both show up together at the neighbor's house. I'm not saying there aren't circumstance where they shouldn't park on the street in front of my house - if the street in front of the neighbors is full, like when they're having a party - by all means park in front of my house. Now to convince my neighbors of that.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cabin Fever

Unlike a lot of people who live in Utah, I don't head out into the back country much during the winter. I used to snow shoe a lot, but haven't been in a while since I haven't been able to get excited about the zero degree temperatures at night, which is when I have time to go. As result, I spend most of my winter indoors. For some reason, the three hour training rides on the spin bike were starting to get a little stale. Finally, this Saturday it wasn't snowing and was above 40 degrees. As I headed to the AF Fitness Center I saw a surprising number of people out to take advantage of roads that were merely wet rather than covered with ice and temperatures that were above freezing. You would have thought it was spring time. It was good to see others were suffering from cabin fever as well. In the afternoon I headed out for a road ride. I'd forgotten how good a nice ride outside could be. The sushi endeavor was okay. I hate getting up in front of people. Predictably, it started late, which made the rice a little clumpy. The organizers did a good job of setting up and decorating. I probably could have served Uncle Ben's and it would have been okay. It was also no surprise that we had entirely too much food.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Blame Game

I've somehow made it on the do-not-call-to-ride list. Either I changed to make it off the list or the list changed and I just didn't make the cut. Unfortunately, I'm not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg. With the lack of riding partners, I've found myself turning more to triathlon. Or was triathlon what got me off the list? These are two of the possibilities. Is it that triathlons drove me away from mountain biking. Could it be that I turned down invitations to go on really good rides and/or that I was intolerable company by turning a fun ride with friends into a training session for a triathlon that left me lagging so far behind that the others simply couldn't put up with it? Or is it that the lack of riding partners drove me away from mountain biking. It could be that I turned to triathlon as my former riding buddies decided, for whatever reasons, to leave me off the call list. I'd understand. In year's past my complete lack of fitness made me a less than ideal riding companion, especially for my riding buddies. But for the last few years, I've been in my best shape ever, making me a more suitable riding buddy. That leads me to think that maybe most of my old time riding buddies have moved on from recreational rides to racer types, thereby embracing Elden's theory that every ride is a race. If every ride is a race, I'll never be a worthy 'riding' companion for the racer types. So, I've looked for something else to pass the time. After all, I don't need other people to train for triathlon - solitary suffering is kind of the point. Regardless of how I got here, there are a couple of things I need to come to terms with. That I'm slow is not one of them, I came to terms with that years ago. Primary is that I need to start looking for riding companions who ride for the same reasons I do.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Impending Doom

It's coming. I like to help out in the ward where I can and so I agreed to help out with a ward activity. The idea was that 4-5 couples would show up at somebody's house and I'd show them how to make some basic sushi rolls. No problem. I have enough equipment to turn out enough rice to turn out 8-10 rolls in one go, which would be enough for people to get a demonstration and try their hand at it. Those 4-5 couples are up to 26+ and it's going to be at the church. With sushi, timing and moisture content are everything. The timing and logistics of making 50+ rolls at a time in a foreign and unstocked environment is more than 4-5 times more complex - it's more like an exponential function. I'm going to crash and burn, but I'm already on the hook. I predict sweating, nervous banter, snapiness (if you've helped with a luau, you've taken more than one pointed instruction), and several instances of profanity. I have a feeling I'll be off the hook from now on.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ice Fishing

Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Several years ago I joined B on an ice fishing expedition. He had initially planned to go do some ice fishing with his Young Men and his co-leader Lee. I had no interest in a Young Men's activity, so I declined his invitation. The morning of the event, he called to say that none of the young men had shown up. He and Lee for were already all set to go and figured I'd be interested. I didn't have much else going on, so I met them at the mouth of Provo Canyon. I jumped in Lee's big ol' truck, where I was joined in the back seat by Zach. I greeted Zach and received a two-pronged response. The verbal component was something most akin to a Chewbacca groan. The ohter component was an overpowering fecal smell. Not like he'd passed gas, but more like Zach had filled his pants some time before and nobody had bothered to change him yet. I mentioned I changed the name of the innocent - Zach was not really his name, but is rather a reference to how his breath smelled 'xactly like his a*$. When we stopped in Heber to get snacks for the day, I excused myself from changing him - "Not it to change Lee's special younger brother's depends," I whispered to B. It was then that B pointed out that Zach was neither Lee's younger brother nor did he have specially needs - at least not technically. Although he did point out that he wouldn't disbelieve that Zach could have had a brown out. As we piled out of the truck at Strawberry my lungs burned as I gasped as much of the -5 degree air as possible - anything to get the stench out of my nose. I got a short reprieve as Lee took Zach on his snowmobile as we headed to the fishin' hole. Once there, Lee and B set up their ice fishing tent, complete with a heater, seats, and a fish finder while Zach and I sat on the snow mobiles. Unfortunately, I'm not Han Solo and can't understand wookie. Fortunately, like Chewie, Zach understood English. As the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold. Since my eyes and nose were pretty much frozen shut, I figured it'd be a good idea to get a little payback. We hadn't had so much as a nibble the entire day. I had deciphered some of the gestures and grunts as questions from Zach as to why we weren't catching any fish. I told him about the magical fish finder Lee had and how it showed how many fish were around as well as how deep they were. I also told him that I didn't really understand how it worked, but that he should definitely ask them about how it works. I also mentioned they might have snacks. And maybe something about warmth. For nearly half an hour, the comfy enclosure that was keeping my companions warm served as a steaming pouch for the aromatic goodness Zach had to offer. To get Zach's head out of the tent, Lee suggested that Zach take the snow mobile out for a spin. Zach got the feel for speed quickly. Unfortunately, his skill didn't follow. Soon after he started riding he took a huge jump and pancaked the landing. Instead of falling off, he held on to the handlebars for dear life. His death grip on the handlebars had him maxing out the gas. After digging a 50 yard trench with his legs, the snow mobile sucked him into the tread, pulling his hands from the handlebars. His plaque-caked grin belied his shreaded overalls and ice-encrusted whiskers. Apparently, he'd never had more fun. Lee and B on the other hand had already had a gut-full of ice fishing by then, so we loaded up and headed for the truck. All the excitement had stirred up Zach's odor enough to what I had thought were impossible levels. Seriously, it was overwhelming. Lee couldn't take it and cranked up the fan as high as possible. Nothing. Lee rolled the windows down, but even though it had warmed all the way up to 10 degrees, the highway speeds still made the truck a blast chiller. In desperation, Lee ripped open five or six Tree-Deodorizers and started jamming them into the vents. Lee tried in desperation to wolf down his sandwich while the trees masked the odor. He was still working on his first several bites when he started sputtering the sandwich out into the wrapper. "You've got to be kidding me!" he screamed in disgust as he threw his sandwich out the window. After a while, the smell settled in the back (with me). Lee opened a bag of chinese crackers and offered us all some. Zach was happy to get involved. Lee asked whether Zach would like more and then promptly offered him the entire bag. I was confused. Lee was starving and he was giving away a nearly full bag of tasty crackers. Sensing my confusion, Lee glanced at me in the rear view mirror and then fake licked his fingers. Apparently, Zach had been licking his fingers after each handful. Lucky for me, that wiped out any appetite I might have had. As fun as that was, I haven't been ice fishing since.