Thursday, July 31, 2008


One time this couple from California came to visit some relatives in Utah for the weekend and were surprised when they went out for a movie on friday night that the Utah relatives didn't lock their car.
"Aren't you going to lock your car?" the California couple asked.
"Nah, it's pretty safe here. We won't have any problems," the Utahns answered.
The next day they all went to the mall to do some shopping and again the California couple was surprised when the utah relatives didn't lock the car.
"You don't have to lock the care here at the mall either?"
"Nope," replied the folks from Utah.
But then they were really surprised when the following day, Sunday, the Utah relatives pulled into the church parking lot, got out of the car, and promptly locked it.
Confused the California couple queried, "we don't get it. We went to the movie and you didn't lock the car, we went to the mall and you didn't lock the car, and now here at church you do lock the car. What gives?"
"If we didn't lock the car when we went into church," replied the Utah relatives, "by the time we came out it would be full of zuchini."

I told this joke to a couple of friends from out of state who don't have much gardening experience. They didn't get it.

What to do with all the zuchini that grow so prolifically is a summer time challenge for any gardener, but a happy problem. Zuchini, besides the cool season greens, are usually one of the first garden vegetable to arrive as well, and such was the case for me this year. From my first zuchini i made a great appetizer that's easy and super tasty. Sliced zuchini with gorgonzola filling, cherry tomato, basil, and parmegiano.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

cyclocross dreaming!

As i stood at the start line of the chalk creek RR today, and was already dripping sweat before the race had even begun, i was longing for a nice, cool fall day of cyclocross. As the race progressed and it only got hotter, i dreamed of cool autumn temperatures, and the refreshing sting of snowflakes against my face. Mmmh! Cyclocross! I can't wait!

As for today's race. It's hard to get a break with 50 miles of rollers. A couple of us pushed it hard at the beginning and i think we were just about at the point of popping some people, but then we had to slow up and ride neutral for a small herd of cows a rancher was moving down the middle of the road. That pretty much neutralized the attacks and we rode as one big group for the rest of the race. I tried a few more attacks (as did a few other guys), but couldn't make anything stick, so we rode into the finish as one big group. I just knew i wanted to hit the final hard right before the last 1 km uphill ahead of the main group because i knew it would be ugly. It was for my teammate/cousin kevin. He got cutoff hard and went down.

I was at the head of the peloton coming down the last couple of clicks, somewhere i normally wouldn't have put myself, but i didn't mind knowing the corner was coming up. About 300 meters from the turn a few guys jumped and attacked, so i came around the corner in about 7th or 8th position, and pretty much held that for the last k up the hill, passing a few guys and getting passed by a few. I hoped to do better today, but at least i still have all the skin on my ass.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For MaryJane

If you're still lurking, here they are, pics from/of the Pisa apartment (sorry, i know i'm about 7 months later than promised). I used to have one from which you could see the leaning tower too, but i think it ended up in one of my sibling's school projects or something.

This is the apartment (taken with my back towards the leaning tower).

View from the balcony of the apartment. The leaning tower is just out of the frame to the left.

The great rose garden our landlords kept in their courtyard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Three, it's a magic number!"

"Yes it is, it's a magic number."
Schoolhouse Rock (and later Jack Johnson, De La Soul, etc) hit it right on the money. Three is my magic number. Actually 3 and 4 are my magic numbers. I always liked 13 when i was a kid and always chose the no. 13 soccer jersey, but i didn't make my high school soccer team, so i guess it wasn't all that magic for me after all.

But three, that's a different story. After this weekend's Capital Reef Classic i have now taken the 3rd place GC spot in three stage races this summer: High Uintah Classic, Gate City Grind, and now the Capital Reef Classic. The irony of it all is that i have not placed better than 4th in any single race. In fact, i have placed 4th in 4 of the races now: 4th at the High Uintah RR, 4th in the Gate City Crit, 4th at the Capital Reef RR, and 4th at the Capital Reef circuit race. So i have won 3rd GC in 3 stage races by taking 4th in 4 of the individual races. Mmmh, i'm sure my friend Cait would be able to interpret that by looking at the stars or something. It is oddly suspicious in a superstitious sort of way, so i'm knocking on wood right now because i'm not sure what other intercessions there are for this sort of alignment of the numbers. Who knows maybe it's a good thing and next i'll place 2nd in 2 races to take 1st GC.

Some of the fine loot i've received for my 3rd place GC finishes:

I also won $90 at High Uintah, which at least paid for my hotel room.

And I did catch a spectacular sunset up near fish lake while driving the course friday night, though my cell phone camera doesn't do it justice.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cyclists Beware!

Roadies have long been wary of rednecks in diesel trucks who lug their engines to spew clouds of black exhaust in our faces, teens who take pleasure in throwing the remains of their blood-clotting, obesity-inducing fast food meals at us, and jackasses who drive while talking or texting on their cell phones and never see us, BUT, there is a new danger out there that is equally as disturbing and dangerous. I have had a few recent run-ins with this threat, and one of the guys i was riding with last weekend didn't fare so well when he encountered this particular danger: the overly cooked (often fake-n-baked), big hair, convertible-luxury-car driving grandmother.

Incident no. 1

Last fall i was riding home from doing some intervals on Wasatch Drive. It was later in the evening, so the sun was low on the western horizon. I had just gone through a green light on a pretty busy intersection and was riding through a residential area when I thought i heard someone yelling, but looked around and didn't see anyone, so i continued. As i approached a stop sign at which i had to turn left, however, a convertible lexus with a woman easily in her sixties, big hair, and a black tank top pulled up next to me and the woman started to blabber on about how she had almost hit me. I don't know where she came from, and i hadn't had any close calls, so i wasn't sure what she was talking about. She kept going on about how she had almost hit me and how it would have ruined her life. I assured her it probably would have ruined my life even worse. At this point we had come to the stop sign and i had stopped. She kept talking about how awful it would have been, and in an attempt to solace her about this near miss (that i still couldn't place) i told her that i had been hit a week earlier and had survived the collision. As i said this i hit my thigh were the car had hit me. Wrong move. Her eyes lit up and with infinite pleasure she responded, "oh yea, spank that spandex!"
What? i was dumbfounded! i wanted to get away, but i didn't want to turn left in front of her since she had already confessed she had almost hit me. She went on and on now asking me if cycling had changed my life and if i thought i was a happier person because i cycled and on and on. I kept telling her that cycling was great, but that i had to get going because after all, it was getting dark and i really didn't want to get hit. I pointed out that i had to turn left in front of her, and as a clipped in and started off i heard her parting comment: "oh yea, i guess i'll go home and spank my own spandex."

Now i'm not sure how close she really was to hitting me since i didn't even see her until she pulled up along side me, but all in all it was a very disturbing incident. Jim, did not fare so well in his encounter with a pretending-to-be-30-years-younger grandma type.

Incident no. 2

Last weekend a few of us decided to pre-ride the mt. Ogden road race course. We got up earlier than i would've liked, but since everyone else has kids and wives to appease we had to get the ride done early so they could get home and be good husbands and fathers. We set out at a mellow pace and rode the first half of the course down to Ogden and back up the North Ogden divide without incident. Just as we were starting our descent of the North Ogden divide back towards Eden a brand new black convertible corvette crested the pass and started down, splitting our group into two. There were four riders up front, the convertible, and then another rider and i behind. The descent is narrow and curvy and the road is in pretty lousy condition with lots of potholes. As i'm tailing the corvette i see that she keeps signaling for me to pass her, but she didn't slow down or pull over to allow me to do so, and there was no way i was going to pass around blind corners on a double yellow with all of the F-350s pulling horse trailers and boats up and down that road. Ahead of me i see that one of our guys has pulled off on a pullout, and at the same time the corvette pulls over and slows just enough for me to pass on a short straightaway. i catch the other three guys and we finish the descent and are coasting along the rural roads at the bottom waiting for the other two to join us. I tell them that Jim had pulled over, but i'm not sure why so we soft pedal for a minute waiting for him to catch us. About t his time the corvette comes down and pulls up next to us and the driver, a big haired blonde in her sixties, faked-and-baked to basted turkey orange perfection, tells us, "your friend pulled off up there, but there wasn't anything i could do," and with that she drove off. I had seen him pull off, so i thought that was what she was referring to. We thought maybe he had some sort of mechanical, so we turned around and started the climb back up to offer assistance. Just then he came down, blood dripping from his chin, handlebars askew, and visibly shaken.
"Does it look ok?" he said referring to his chin as he pulled up to us. I could see the piece of skin hanging from his jaw from which the blood pooled and dripped onto his jersey, hands, bike, and road. No, it didn't look ok, but no one wanted to tell him. Seth did his best to say it wasn't that bad.
"That woman rode my ass [i'm not sure if he really said that, because i don't know Jim well enough to know if he would use that word, but this is my version of the story, sorry jim if you didn't say that], then when i tried to pull off to let her pass, she forced me off the road and i went down in the gravel."
"i saw you pull over," i said.
"yea, that was just to fix my water bottle, but when i started down again she was right behind me riding right on me. when i went down she just honked and kept going."
Seth observed, "so when she came down and said, 'your friend pulled off up there, but there wasn't anything i could do,' what she meant to say was, 'i just ran your friend off the road and he crashed and i left him for dead.'"

We rode jim the last few miles back to the car where Seth had some handiwipes he used to clean the cut out. Seth snapped this photo, then we loaded up and drove him home where his wife took him to the instacare. Tyler almost threw up in the car when he got a good look at the damage.

Seventeen stitches later the moral of the stories is, beware of older women with big hair in convertible luxury cars. They will do you harm.

20 yrs. later

Today i got an email from one of the organizers of my 20 year high school reunion. Yea, crazy, 20 years! He emailed me a photo from our high school newspaper, you know, the "most likely to . . ." edition.

Yes, that's my vw bus, aptly named the "green turtle" for both its speed (or lack thereof) and color. And if you look closely you can see the papermache brook trout i made in my art class sitting on the dashboard.

So here i am, 20 years later in a photo published in the Utah Daily Chronicle
(full article here: Students and U Staff blast Buttars)

This time reading poetry at the capital to protest the homophobic and racist senator Buttars, who i think is summed up perfectly in this photo from the SLTrib.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

why i like cycling in Utah

Last week i was riding Clark's Trail on my mtb. As i started up through the little s-turns before the bridge my ipod shuffled Gotan Project's "Queremos Paz" into place and i made my way through the switch backs with the chill accordian and argentine back beats. I noticed, however, that the song was amplified by another whole beat. "Wow!" i thought, "i've never noticed that," but then it occurred to me it was the cicadas in the scrub oak keeping perfect time to the Gotan Project. It was a perfect, beautiful combination.

Today i rode the Alpine Loop for the first time this season. Yesterday i went with a few other guys to pre-ride the Mt. Ogden course and my legs felt really flat on the North Ogden divide climb. Today, however, i felt much better. Best of all, however, is the scenery. Everytime i ride the Alpine loop i am amazed at the views. Beautiful! and it's nice that it's usually 10 degrees cooler than the valleys, and a lot of the climb is in the shade of the aspen trees. I get to ride this kind of stuff from my doorstep!! Can't beat that.

Pics my bro took last week on the same ride.

Catching up!

Wow, it's been so long since i've written anything i forgot my username and password to log in. Good thing they have the "forgot your password" little link so i could look it all up.

So much has happened. First, i defended my dissertation and passed with minor revisions!

My committee all had to split right after i finished, so i didn't get a picture of everyone, but i did get a picture of myself sitting in my rental car outside of the 501 N. Park building.

lunch with my committee chair Sandy Dolby and my friend Danille,

the party house across the street from the Folklore Institute,

the raspberry chocolate tart thing i bought myself to celebrate,

and my lucky cufflinks i wore to the defense.

I was told by many friends and colleagues that the defense is rather anti-climatic. You spend all those years of work, and then you finish your defense, sign some papers, and that's it, you're done. They were right. The defense was good, my committee had good questions (and some odd questions), then they sent me out of the room. I left for about ten minutes, then they called me back and they congratulated me, we started signing papers, they told me what changes they'd like to see made, and that was it. I was done. One of my committee members had a plane to catch, another had another defense the next day, and so everyone left pretty quick and i walked out to my rental car, sat in the driver's seat watching the Indiana drizzle and thought "my plane isn't for another five hours, what now?"

Luckily i had made lunch plans with my friend Danille and Dr. Dolby joined us, but it was a bit anticlimatic. I still have to finish up my revisions, so i'm not official, but i am glad to be done!