Monday, November 30, 2009

The modern name for Persia

Despite the early-season teaser, it hasn’t snowed in earnest yet, so rather than making good on my predictions of skiing in October, it’s now the last day of November, and I still haven’t been on skis.

Sure, I could have been on skis by now, but my general policy is not to switch from biking to skiing until the skiing is better than the biking and not to switch back in the spring until the reverse is true. The little bits of snow at upper elevations notwithstanding, there isn’t enough base for skiing to have turned that corner. Which is saying something, because the bike riding isn’t so great right now either.

Desperate as I was for some post-gluttony exercise, on Saturday morning, I went for a run. I know. The earth is spinning off its axis. The fourth horseman of the apocalypse just rode through your front lawn. Something is clearly wrong. But I figured running was better training for ski season (the uphill part) than cycling is, so I’d give it a try.

The cardio part was no problem. I could have kept going for hours. My legs, however, started to give out on me after about 50 minutes. Good thing I was five minutes from home at that point. And since I was back in the neighborhood, as much as I wanted to walk, I had to keep running lest the neighbors think I was some kind of ninny that couldn’t finish his run.

Obviously it was a good workout. So good in fact, that yesterday I could barely walk. And this morning when I pulled into the parking garage and harbored thoughts of taking the stairs up seven floors to my office, that notion was abandoned as soon as I bore weight on my legs. But I think I’d get used to it and the soreness would go away with time.

The really cool thing about my run was what I saw while I was out there. I ran from my neighborhood west along the Traverse Mountain ridgeline towards the high point/summit where there’s a surveying beacon, the same one I hiked to several weeks ago with JunkieBoy and Keiki (cool map of my neighborhood courtesy* of Alex).

*Is it still “courtesy of” if you didn’t ask first?

As I crested the second-to-last hill and could see clearly the summit ridgeline, I saw silhouetted against the sky a large bull elk, similar to the photo below. The only difference being the elk I saw was facing the other direction, and I wasn’t quite close enough to see the detail you see in the photo (not mine).


After the bull looked down the other side and evidently gave some sort of all clear, his harem of some 20 or so cow elk followed him up over the ridgeline. They just hung out and foraged while I ran, eventually moving out of site by the time I reached the summit.

A wildlife sighting like that is cool in pretty much any context, but when it takes place during a run of less than an hour that starts and ends at your house, I think that makes it extra-cool.

Whether it’s cool enough to get me to go running again is another matter entirely, though.

[Bows head and utters unheard prayer for snow.]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I’d like to take the high-minded approach and claim that this is because setting aside a day to just give thanks is a good way to accentuate the positive things in our lives and remind ourselves of all that should make life enjoyable. Notwithstanding the day-to-day difficulties we all face, most of us have much to be thankful for.

When I was younger and perhaps more passionate about such a noble cause, that would have been the complete answer as to why it’s such a great holiday.

Over the last twelve years or so, my worldview has changed. Because for that amount of time, Thanksgiving has also been marked by delicious pie. Such as pecan, my favorite, but also pumpkin, apple, peach, chocolate cream, or whatever else my dear wife has decided to treat us with.

As far as turkey goes, I can take it or leave it. Stuffing is nice, as are sweet potatoes, but I could forego either one if it came right down to it. Pilaf is a family tradition and would stand out for its deliciousness at any other meal. But my goal every year when I sit down for Thanksgiving is to just not eat too much. Because it’s all just a savory prelude to the sweetness of the main event: pie.

Rachel’s pie fillings are nearly perfect. The sweetness of the fruit, the richness of pecan, the creaminess of pumpkin. It’s all dialed, and each filling could stand alone. But then she wraps them in the most divine all-butter crust you can imagine. My hand gets slapped from time to time during the preparation because the dough is so good, I’ll eat it raw. There are very few foods I consider worth getting fat over, but any of Rachel’s pies would make that list.

I love Thanksgiving because I’m thankful for pie. But as much as I love the pie, I’m way more thankful for the pie maker.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A modest proposal

I’m no fan of dopers. I see why pros do it. There’s money at stake, and the guys that win get most of it. But that doesn’t make it right.

When I hear rumors of doping at the amateur level, though, I’m dumbfounded. Seriously? You’re a Cat. 4 and decide that upgrading to Cat. 3 is so important you’re willing to dope to get there?

I race because it makes me happy. I can’t imagine anyone being happy with a result he cheated to get. If there’s a bunch of money at stake, I can see someone cheating anyway. But when the winner gets back in cash what he paid as an entry fee, there’s just not that much incentive. And yet it happens.

One of the problems with dopers is that there’s no way to know for sure who’s doing it. Sure we have the guys who test positive, but they wouldn’t have been doping if they thought they’d get caught. And the main reason to think they wouldn’t get caught is past experience. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that there are guys who are doping and not getting caught. At the amateur level, there aren’t even tests.

I’ve heard it suggested multiple times that doping rules should just be done away with. If someone is willing to accept the risk of side effects, more power to him. Allow unrestricted doping and see just how much athletes can achieve. Or create two leagues, a doping league and a clean league. If you ever ring the dope-o-meter in the clean league, you can never compete there again.

The prospect of running redundant leagues for the same sport is problematic, however. First of all, it would be expensive. Multiply the cost of everything times two. Second, we as fans don’t want to admit that star athletes aren’t just well-trained and genetically gifted, but also juiced to the gills.* As long as there’s testing in sport, we can pretend like these are legitimate performances. There’s also the question of which would be more popular. Are we ready to embrace a world where the doped league outshines the clean league in television ratings and therefore sponsorship dollars? It’s much easier to just bury our heads in the sand.

*Remember William “Refrigerator” Perry from the ‘85 Bears? At 6’2” and 302 pounds, he was MASSIVE. Now we have high school kids that size. I spent a lot of time in the weight room in high school. I watched a lot of tall kids between 6’0” and 6’5” desperately try to bulk up to get above 200 pounds. You think a high school kid that’s a relatively lean 300 pounds is natural? Think again. There might be one on every five teams. But not five on any one team. 

A simpler solution would be to just require all doping manufacturers to put a substance in their product that turns the user’s skin purple (this is easier than you might think—according to a well-informed acquaintance who works in the pharmaceutical industry, anabolic steroids have this side effect, and chemicals must be added to counteract it). Doping tests would be completely unnecessary because it would be obvious. In fact, we could use the chemicals already added to steroids to color code the drugs: purple for anabolic/androgenic products such as testosterone and HGH; orange for blood boosters such as EPO; and green for stimulants such as amphetamines. Then we’d not only know that someone is doping, but in what way.

Organizers and competitors could be left to decide how to handle it if someone entered an event but had the wrong-colored skin. Cyclists could pull a Theo Bos at any point during the race to take out a doping competitor.

If the athletes took matters into their own hands, officials would have to decide how to respond. Would it be justifiable if the person taken out had orange skin? Would promoters have signs saying “colored racers not allowed” at registration? Would colored leagues be established to provide the dopers a place to compete if they were shut out from competition? Such matters are not without precedent.

Sponsors would similarly have to decide whether they want a purple-skinned running back pitching their product on television. Would we as viewers eventually become numb to it, accepting green, orange, or purple skin as typical of our heroes? The multi-colored Olympic rings would take on a new, albeit likely more appropriate, meaning.

Would the phenomenon become so rampant that children begin dying their skin, not for the performance benefit, but so they can look more like their role models? It would be like Star-Bellied Sneetches, except in real life. Actually, I can really see this happening. Look what’s happened with athlete tattoos, after all. They’ve gone from a subtle statement of belief or aesthetic to ridiculously ignorant and misguided ideological billboarding in less than a generation.

Maybe orange, green, or purple skin would eventually become no different than having a tattoo, however absurd. In fact, tattoos are a great test case here, because as ludicrous as I think they are, I’m the last guy that’s ever going to give MMA fighter Melvin Costa crap about his tattoos. But that doesn’t mean they won’t keep him from competing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nature versus nurture

Before I get into today's post, I'm extending an invitation to anyone who cares to join me for a Turkey Day ride on Thursday morning. Trails are a mess in Draper right now with more snow falling last night, but the road up American Fork Canyon was dry yesterday. 7:30 from the 4-way at Suncrest or 8:00 at the mouth of AF if you're interested. Or you can go play touch football and risk a PCL tear, a broken tooth, or a permanently crooked finger.

More than half a century ago, my mother and her family decided to go see Baldface Mountain. Baldface Mountain is supposedly one of the more spectacular peaks in the Eastern US, since, as the name implies, it's bare rock rather than forested.

Like so many other points of interest, the government charges a fee for the privilege of seeing Baldface Mountain. When the party arrived at the fee booth, the sky was foggy, and they were skeptical about whether or not they'd actually be able to see the mountain they'd come for. The Ranger in the booth assured them that they'd soon be above the fog and the mountain would be in full view. Taking his word, they paid their money and proceeded.

When they arrived at the view point, the fog was no less dense than it was at the fee booth, and they couldn't see a thing. Everyone was disappointed but willing to let it go. Everyone except my grandmother, that is.

As they reached the fee booth on the return trip, my grandmother told my grandfather to stop the car. She got out, walked over to the booth, and told the ranger she wanted her money back since he said they'd be able to see the mountain and in fact they couldn't.

He indicated that there were no refunds and he was unable to return her money. She encouraged him to give her a refund anyway, but he held firm.

She then walked up the road a bit and waited for the next car to arrive. As it did, she told the occupants that the mountain was socked in with fog, that the ranger would tell them it was visible but it really wasn't, and that they should turn around and go back.

They thanked her for the information and turned around. My mother, who was five years old at the time, was horrified. She knelt on the floorboards trying to make herself invisible. She was aghast at the embarrassment and shame her mother was bringing on the family. My grandfather and his sisters just sat there and waited. They'd seen this before and knew there was no sense in trying to talk her down.

Another car came, and my grandmother did the same thing. Then another, and perhaps another. My mom isn't sure, since she was hiding rather than counting cars. Finally, the ranger came out and offered a refund if she'd just go away, an offer she gladly accepted.

When my mother told me this story, more than fifty years after the fact, it was apparent there was still some residual embarrassment that she wasn't quite over.

Whatever the gene governing such behavior is, it evidently skipped a generation. Because I just laughed and told her I would have done the exact same thing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Worth a thousand words

Rather than writing a full-fledged post today, I have two photos I want to post instead. I’ve got a topic brewing, but I haven’t had time to write it all out yet, and I haven’t quite figured out how to handle a somewhat sensitive, potentially controversial even offensive aspect of it. So it will have to wait. Enjoy the pictures in the mean time.

There are no women on the upper floor of Steve’s office, but there are men’s and women’s restrooms. This was not staged.


Second is courtesy of my brother-in-law. I’m not a big fan of Christmas lights. Seems like an enormous waste of energy for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the nominal basis for the holiday. But I really like this yard.

Rudolph the field-dressed reindeer

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spooning your tracks

A backcountry ethic espoused in some circles is the notion of “spooning your tracks.” What this means, in a nutshell, is that you ski down essentially in adjacent (think parallel, even though they’re not really parallel since you’re not going straight unless you’re Ben) lines so as to minimize the amount of snow disturbed on the descent and to maximize the amount of “virgin” snow available to subsequent skiers.


To those advocating this position, I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Seriously, you want me to spoon my tracks? I got up at 4:30 in the morning and hiked for these turns in the dark. As often as not my group broke the trail. And you, who apparently don’t have a real job, want to sleep in until nine, use the skin track I put in, and have me leave the snow as pristine as possible for your benefit?

That. Ain’t. Happening. I’m going to ski down where I feel like skiing down. If the tracks get spooned, lucky you. If they don’t, that’s my prerogative.

For one, I don’t see the need. Most of my skiing is done in what locals lovingly refer to as the sheep pen, the tri-canyons of Little Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and Millcreek. For what it’s worth, most of my time is in Little Cottonwood, the most crowded of them all. The one where the most popular backcountry runs have actually become bumped out on occasion. I’ve never even skied Millcreek.

And yet I rarely if ever feel crowded. I might cross over someone’s tracks now and again, but that really doesn’t ruin the experience for me. If it does for you, get up earlier, or go somewhere else. We have thousands of acres with approaches that would be considered negligible in Colorado or Idaho that hardly ever get skied because they take five minutes longer to get to.

Besides, most of the time in the Wasatch if it snowed today, there’s a good chance it’ll snow tomorrow. My tracks will be hidden. I may put new tracks down the following day since I’ve been known to get up early for consecutive powder days. But yesterday’s tracks will be a faded memory. You’re more than welcome to get up early and put in your own. With 500 inches annually, we don’t have a shortage of fresh snow.

The place where spooning tracks actually makes sense is in the resorts. Resort skiing concentrates thousands of skiers in one tiny spot where they have the ability to get back up the hill incredibly quickly and with zero effort. Unless you consider eating a PBJ or a handful of M&Ms effort. Yet nobody ever considers spooning their tracks at the resort. It’s every man for himself, get the freshies as fast as you can. And it’s usually gone by noon.

The Wizard, on the other hand, rarely skis anything but powder, no matter how long it’s been since the last snowfall. It’s out there. It’s almost always out there if you know how to find it. But please don’t ask me to save some for you if you’re home in bed while I’m skinning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

True grit

My sophomore year in high school, one of the tackles on the football team would frequently lead the running back 40 or more yards down the field and into the end zone. Running backs are supposed to follow the lead blocker, but only to a point. Eventually, they’re supposed to run past the lead blocker, given that they’re supposed to be faster. In this case, however, #77 was outrunning his backs all the way to the goal line.

Apparently this propensity to defy convention was genetic. Three years later, #77’s dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He was expected to live between 6 and 24 months. Five years after the diagnosis, I was sitting around his campfire listening as he spun his yarn while on a fishing trip to Island Park, ID. The following spring when JunkieGirl was born, he claimed partial credit, insisting she was conceived on that trip (Rachel claims the math doesn’t quite work out, but I wasn’t going to argue).

N.J. lived with myeloma for sixteen years. He was too tough to die from just one disease. It took the help of esophageal cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and pneumonia to finally take him down. He was adamant that it be mentioned at his funeral that he was a John Wayne fan. I don’t think the Duke ever played a character that tough. You’ll be missed, N.J.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rivalry of the decade

Much was made of last night’s Patriots – Colts matchup (a game I hope you didn’t miss—it was that good), with NBC lauding it as “the rivalry of the decade” and lots of debate as to which of the respective quarterbacks is better.

That’s an easy question to answer. Tom Brady is the quarterback of a good team. Peyton Manning IS the team. And clearly the better quarterback.

I’m not saying Tom Brady isn’t capable. He is. But put Tom Brady on another team, and he’d be mediocre. He was drafted 199th for a reason. He’s outperformed his draft position, to be sure. But Peyton Manning is an order of magnitude better than any other #1 overall pick in the game today.

One need look no further than Matt Cassel to see what I’m talking about. Cassel finished and won the first game of the season last year and went on to start the remainder of the season. He led the Patriots to an 11-5 record, with a laundry list of offensive achievements.

Does that mean Cassel is a great quarterback? Some would think so. But he never even started a game in college, and since leaving the Patriots is 2-7 with the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m sure the Chiefs are ready to choke him with that six year, $60 million contract at this point.

Clearly, it wasn’t Cassel that was so good, but the Patriots system. Likewise, Brady isn’t a great quarterback, he’s the quarterback of a great team. He has an outstanding supporting cast—Randy Moss would be a superstar with me throwing him the ball. He’s got a great offensive line, and Kevin Faulk and Lawrence Maroney make the passing game possible. Take Brady out of New England, and he’s a journeyman quarterback that would never make the Pro Bowl.

Contrast that with Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning makes decent players into superstars. I’m sure a BYU fan somewhere will put a contract on me for saying this, but Austin Collie would not be a regular on any other team, if he even made the roster. Collie has (not atypically deluded) BYU faithful calling for rookie of the year honors, which he doesn’t deserve, because Manning isn’t a rookie. The Colts have one of the worst running games in the league. Everyone knows Manning is going to throw the ball on almost every down. Yet somehow, they’re still unbeaten.

Just how good Peyton Manning is was made clear at the end of last night’s game. With 4th and 2 in their own territory and two minutes left, Belichick decided to go for it. He had absolutely no confidence that his defense could keep Manning from scoring a touchdown, regardless of where on the field he got the ball.

All Brady had to do was convert on 4th and 2. He failed. Manning seemed to take his time as he went 29 yards for the winning touchdown. That would never have been a gimme for anyone else, Tom Brady included. But when the Patriots failed to convert, everyone on both sides of the field knew the game was over.

So you tell me—who’s better?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The expurgated version

Happy Friday the 13th everyone. You’re all scared, right? I’m staying off the bike today just to be safe.* Because bad things happen exactly as superstition dictates. Why else would these superstitions exist if they weren’t true?

*Or more precisely because I haven’t had a rest day since a week ago Monday, and I’m overdue at this point and likely unable to pedal up a hill even if I wanted to. Besides, I have to pick up about 800 pounds of chocolate this morning—that and walking to 7-eleven for my diet coke fix should be exercise enough.

I’ve mentioned before the truth mingled with lies approach that, according to Christian theology, Satan uses to tempt God-fearing people to go astray. Well not much gets by these evangelical types, because after millennia of getting snared by this approach, they’ve apparently noticed just how effective mixing a chunk of BS into otherwise accurate information can be, and are fighting fire with fire.

1980’s teenage heartthrob and star of the blockbuster Fireproof, Kirk Cameron, along with his pal Ray Comfort* are distributing on college campuses, at no charge, copies of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

*Has there ever been a preacher with a better name than Ray Comfort? Seriously. Either it was divine intervention on his birth certificate or he applied the stripper stage name selection process to church.

Here’s the catch, though. It’s the expurgated version. And just like removing the gannet (and the robin and the nuthatch) from Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds because they wet their nests, Comfort has likewise removed the sections of Origin of Species that he doesn’t like. And he’s removed the author’s preface and replaced it with one he wrote instead.

I understand how someone could feel compelled to share their religion with others—I spent two years doing the same, after all. What I don’t get is how any rational, marginally educated, reasonably intelligent person can read the Bible and genuinely believe that the earth was created in six 24-hour days, at the end of which God snapped his fingers, and Adam, Eve, and everything thereon instantly came to life.

A heart surgeon who also happens to be an apostle in his church doesn’t believe it all happened in a week, so why do these fundamentalists think they can make that case to anyone, let alone at institutions of higher learning? Moreover, how can they think anyone will take them seriously if the book they’re passing out has been altered to suit their purposes?

What if I started passing out Bibles that had a new preface, written by me, claiming that God is merely a metaphor for the big bang; that the word “day” in the context of the Genesis creation story signifies a period of time of roughly 650 million earth years; and that the ten commandments were a set of instructions that would help you get along with others, have a happy, fulfilling life, but that not following them would not lead to eternal damnation because your consciousness will cease at the end of this life?

Would Cameron and Comfort be amused? Or more importantly, would they be convinced? Some of what I claimed in the preceding is true and some of it can’t be proven one way or another, but I suspect that not one word of what I said would be taken seriously because I had the audacity to alter the Bible. So what gives them the authority to alter someone else’s work and then try to use the altered version to disprove the same?

My favorite fundamentalist argument against natural selection is that it’s a theory and therefore not proven. Well guess what, so too is gravity a theory. If you stop believing in gravity simply for it’s theoretical nature will you float off into space? Let’s try it. Ready? 1-2-3-go! Still there? Thought so. OK, that wasn’t really a fair experiment because there’s a difference between pretending or wanting to believe something and actually believing. But you get my point.

Just as not believing something doesn’t make it not true, neither does believing in something make it true. Wonder how those 9/11 attackers are enjoying their 72 virgins? Or was it 72 white raisins? I don’t remember.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don’t taze me bro!

Has there ever been a worse idea in the history of police work than the stun gun? Seriously, what’s the point of these things? If you’re close enough to use one, the target clearly isn’t armed with a deadly weapon. So why not use that police training and get in there and subdue the guy the old-fashioned way (assuming that’s even necessary)? Stun guns are for lazy and/or cowardly police officers unwilling to do their jobs properly.

Nothing makes this point more clearly than the “don’t taze me bro” incident.

Now the family of a New York City police officer is suing the city after the officer committed suicide. The alleged reason for his suicide is that he was disciplined after ordering a stun gun be used on a man who subsequently fell to his death.

Let’s review the facts of the matter. The man who was tazed was mentally ill. He was waving a large fluorescent bulb after running naked from his apartment onto the fire escape. The officer ordered the use of a stun gun to subdue him.

A few things are obvious here: 1) the man was not armed other than with a light bulb—he was naked, so he clearly wasn’t hiding another weapon; 2) the officer who ordered the use of the stun gun was not alone, since people generally don’t give orders to themselves.

Not obvious but easily inferred is that a naked man waving a light bulb is probably not a threat to anyone but himself and at a distinct disadvantage in a confrontation with multiple armed police officers, at a minimum carrying firearms and handcuffs and likely also wearing bulletproof vests and carrying a club of some sort.

So why was a taser necessary? Answer: it wasn’t. In fact if we use this as a model for most police confrontations, we can carry it out to its logical conclusion. When is a taser ever necessary? Answer: never. Police work has been done effectively for centuries without them, so why are they needed now?

I’ll concede there are situations where it’s useful or convenient, but using it because it’s convenient is wholly unjustified.

“Ricky Bobby, why did you throw a stick of dynamite in the lake?”

“Because I wanted to catch some fish.”

Sure, dynamite may be more convenient than a worm and a hook, but does that mean it’s justified? So why do we allow police officers to use tasers just because they’re convenient, even when other methods would be just as or more effective? The answer is that we shouldn’t, because they’re bound to be abused.

Anyone who doesn’t think they’re prone to abuse need only look at Wikipedia to read about their use on children:

Police officers that patrol schools, including grade schools, in several U.S. states (including Kansas, Minnesota, Kentucky, Virginia and Florida) have been carrying Tasers since the early 2000s. In 2004, the parents of a 6-year-old boy in Miami sued the police department for tasering their child. The police said the boy was threatening to injure his own leg with a shard of glass, and claimed that using the Taser was the only option to stop the boy from injuring himself. Taser International asserts that the Taser is safe for use on anyone weighing 60 pounds (27 kg) or more. Nevertheless, the boy's mother told CNN that the three officers involved might have found it easier to reason with her child. Two weeks later, a 12-year-old girl skipping school was tasered in Miami-Dade.[68] In March 2008, an 11-year old girl was shocked by a Taser.[69] In March 2009, a 15-year-old boy died in Michigan after being tasered.[70]

In the case of a six year old boy, he was threatening to injure himself. So here’s an idea, stop him. With your hands. There were three of you, after all. I have a five-year-old boy whom I can subdue, without injuring him, at will, with two hands every time and with one hand 90% of the time. We call it “bear trap,” it’s his favorite game, and he only ever escapes if I let him (shhh, don’t tell him that).

If the kid was threatening to injure himself with a piece of glass, how the hell was sending an electrical current through his tiny body going to produce a better outcome? The first question is why an officer who would do such a thing is working in schools in the first place, but even allowing that, why was he carrying a taser?

Amnesty International and the ACLU (if any right-wingers (hi, dad!) are still reading, they just checked out—as if I weren’t preaching to the choir already) have suggested that taser use constitutes cruel, unusual, and degrading treatment and therefore violates the UN convention on human rights. When confronted with this, the CEO of Taser International countered that the UN was “out of touch” with the needs of modern policing. I love the use of the word “needs” in this context.

Back to the case of the New York City officer, his suicide was unfortunate. But frankly, disciplinary action in this situation was wholly justified. He should have been removed from his position and put in one where he couldn’t irresponsibly order the use of what was in this case a deadly weapon on a mentally ill and defenseless man.

The trouble is that not only could he not accept the consequences of his actions, but now neither can his family.

"They ripped his heart out," Susan Pigott said of her husband, Michael. "He was treated so unfairly."

He was treated unfairly? What about the naked guy who got shot up with electricity and fell to his death? Was Pigott’s use of force “fair” to him? And now Pigott’s family want the taxpayers, the victims of police tazing, to foot the bill. It’s disgusting and unnecessary. In this case, two lives would have been saved, along with an as-yet-to-be-determined amount of taxpayer dollars, were the New York City police not equipped with tasers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

John Adams

I've read* a couple of popular histories lately about the American Revolution. In the process, I've discovered that if ever I were typecast to play the role of an historical figure, it would be John Adams.

*When I say "read" if I were being precise, I would say "listened to," but that just sounds silly. Almost all of my reading save what I do for work is of the audiobook variety, and I get through a book every week or two that way. Actual print on paper books take me up to several months to complete, depending on their length and my level of engagement and interest.

Adams was short and stout (actually, by all accounts, Adams was fat. But I'm not presently fat, so we'll call it stout since we have that in common) and his favorite form of conversation was an argument. Sound familiar?

I argue not out of malicious intent, but because I can't abide ignorance, either on my own part or the part of others. Arguing seems the most efficient way to root out the ignorance. If I'm wrong, I typically admit it. Although I'm stubborn, so getting me to admit it can be challenging. Moreover, perhaps the most annoying aspect of my predisposition to argue about everything is that going into it, at least, I generally assume that I'm right. Why would I argue otherwise aside from for the sport of it? Not that I would ever argue just for fun.

Generally this doesn't get me into too much trouble, as those similarly inclined to argue will enjoy arguing back. And those disinclined to argue have long since learned to avoid me.

Occasionally, however, I wonder if I've taken it too far. For instance, recently one of the blogs I read made an assertion with which I disagreed. I made a counterpoint in the comments. Rather than argue back, the author pulled the post. Even though this person lives nearby, I don't actually know him. And I can't help but wonder if he was offended or dislikes me as result. Is he a lurker on this blog? Perhaps so, and he knew I'd continue beating the dead horse well beyond when the point was conceded.

Regardless, I think it was fair play. 1) Because I know whereof I spoke. 2) Because anyone who posits an assertion on the web, even if it's preposterously self-serving, should be prepared to defend it or retract. Pulling the post is one way to retract, albeit not the most entertaining. For me at least.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Turkey day

I am a terrible bowler. I like to attribute it to the fact that the ring finger on my right hand is crooked thanks to a flag football injury.* A bowling ball often gets hung up on the crooked finger, but that’s only part of the problem. The rest of the problem is that I suck at bowling.

*Two of my three worst permanent injuries were sustained playing intramural flag football—one as an undergrad, one in grad school; the third and worst of the three was sustained in a pickup soccer game—what’s up with that?

When we lived in Michigan, where bowling is quite popular,* some of my classmates formed a bowling league, and every Monday night from ten to midnight, I would be at the lanes with my three teammates, about 50 other MBA students, and a bunch of inebriated restaurant workers (the other league playing that night).

*One of the guys who graduated a few years ahead of me from the B-school forewent an opportunity to work on Wall Street or at a Fortune 500 company to join the PBA.

We were only allowed to bowl three players per game, so unless one of us couldn’t make it, someone had to sit out. Since Jake is good at every sport (assuming you consider bowling a sport), and Aaron was* Canadian and there’s no such thing as a Canadian who can’t bowl, at least none I’ve met, it was almost always Carolyn and me that alternated riding the pine.

*I say “was” here not because he’s dead, but because he’s now a US citizen—wonder if he can still bowl?

When it was my turn to play, my goal was always simply to not embarrass myself. Not embarrassing myself meant scoring at least 100. I think I actually fell short of this mark once.

Anyway, fast forward six years, and I’ve bowled exactly once in the interim. But on Sunday, JunkieBoy got it in his head that he really wanted to go bowling. He somehow was reminded of the one time we went a couple years ago and remembered it fondly.

JunkieGirl was less excited, I think because the first time she went bowling, also in Michigan, on the very first frame she slipped and fell, splitting her chin open on the bowling ball, requiring several stitches. Nevertheless, Rachel and the kids met me at the lanes last night after work.

Keiki was the first up. At two years old and 26 pounds, she needed some help, even with the six pound ball. It’s a good thing the lanes have a downward slope, otherwise the ball never would have made it to the pins. The highlight of the evening was watching her as she rolled the ball and then laid down on the floor, kicking her feet with excitment as she watched it knock over one, maybe two pins. JunkieGirl and JunkieBoy both made good use of the bumpers on their turns and were likewise pleased if any pins got knocked over. I chided Rachel that they should have left the bumpers up for her when her first ball went in the gutter.

She knocked down nine pins with the second one, though, and I got off to my usual, pathetic start and was sitting on 21 points after three frames. I was starting to get nervous that my two goals—to score over 100 and to beat Rachel—may not be realized.

Then I rolled a strike. Unfortunately, Rachel, or rather “Michigan,” since those latent midwestern bowling skills were waking up, answered with one of her own and held her lead. I rolled another and was feeling good. Rachel answered in kind.

I panicked. I knew that any kind of hot streak was going to be short-lived for me, and competing against a bowler who grew up in the Midwest is like starting a land war in Asia or having a battle of wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line.

My game was riding on getting the Turkey—I needed that third consecutive strike. I also knew the odds were against me, as I’d only ever bagged the turkey once before. I grabbed the ball and held it in my left hand as I held my right over the air drier. Focus. I put my fingers in the holes. Step, aim, release. It was going left of the headpin. My only hope was with the Brooklyn. The ball had good velocity and struck between the one and two. They all went down. The gobbler flashed on the monitor overhead. Michigan had no answer and never recovered. The game was mine.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Observations from Fall Moab 2010 (Fiscal), Fruita Edition

The last four days have been busy—in a good way. I didn’t go to work, church, or anywhere else where I had any sort of obligation. I just hiked, rode my bike, ate lots of good food, and generally goofed off. Today I feel great and have already accomplished more as I sit here eating my lunch at work than I would have by the end of the day or even the middle of the next day last week. I guess I needed the break.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the weekend, I thought I’d share some brief observations. It’s what you may have had in real time if I were Lance Armstrong and my blog were twitter and you had the patience to check for updates every 6.9 seconds. But I didn’t feel like interrupting my leisure time to update my status, so you get it this way, as I think about it, in not necessarily chronological order.

  • A multi-hour hike is not likely to get better if you have the thought “I think these shoes are worn out—hope I don’t get blisters” in the first 200 meters.
  • I can cover the distance from my house to the top of Jacob’s Ladder MTB trail way faster on a bike than on foot.
  • There are some very cool vistas on the Lone Peak massif just a stone’s throw from where we ride bikes. I bet most riders don’t know they’re there.
  • There’s nothing like the sight of a Rhino with a rifle case mounted to it parked at the top of the trail to make you second guess your choice to wear tan pants.
  • Moleskin is of no benefit if it’s in your other backpack.
  • If you’re not trying to summit anyway, cutting a hike short is way better than tearing up your feet the day before a mountain bike trip.
  • Chocolate is a remarkably effective way to attract women to your house.
  • Lightweight XC bikes do not help you go faster on technical trails in places like Fruita, CO. Ryan and Rocky on their squishy bikes were the rock stars in Fruita. Of course it helps to have mad skills.
  • Lots more women ride trails in Colorado than in Utah. I’m guessing that this is because the women in Colorado are less likely to be home with the kids while their husbands are riding said trails. Thanks, ladies.
  • If your friends all rode their bikes off a cliff (or a sizeable rock ledge, as the case may be, even one you would never, ever consider riding off of if you were by yourself) you probably would too.
  • In a strange bit of irony, both the likelihood of the preceding and the fear of crashing in the process are much, much higher if someone is filming the whole thing.
  • The stakes are higher still if that someone has one of the more popular cycling blogs on the planet.
  • In another bit of irony, we take all sorts of care to arrange our bikes on the racks so that they aren’t damaged in transport. Once at the destination, we effectively throw them down a stone staircase. Repeatedly.
  • If anyone can objectively determine which of a bratwurst around a campfire or a bacon cheeseburger at Ray’s Tavern tastes better, please let me know. I’ll take either over fine dining nine times out of ten.
  • The best reason to carry a camelback is that you can have a cold diet coke halfway through the ride.
  • Ryan may be more of a diet coke addict than me—he’s willing to drink it warm.
  • 22 PSI is a bit too low for tire pressure in Fruita; I discovered that it is, in fact, possible to pinch flat a tubeless tire.
  • If a movie theater in Grand Junction ever goes out of business, it’s not because of revenue problems. I think 11 of 14 shows were sold out at 8:00 p.m. on Friday.
  • The guys from across the way who came over and said hello at our campfire probably weren’t as interested in making friends as they were in finding women and/or weed. No wonder they didn’t stick around long.
  • If ever someone were named appropriately for the types of trails he likes to ride, it’s Rocky.
  • Speaking of Rocky, having a tour guide throughout the weekend was nothing short of fantastic. Thank you!
  • If Rick was on the hook for new shoes after 24 hours of Moab, I can’t even imagine what this trip is going to cost Eber after the poop and puke incident Sunday afternoon.
  • Kessel run was worth lapping, even if I did get a flat the second time through.
  • Though I doubted it at the outset, it is possible to go three days of riding every day and no showers without getting leprosy of the crotch.
  • The Smith Brothers, Joseph and Hyrum, made Fruita a day trip. If that were my only option, I would have done the same. I don’t think they regretted it, and it was great to have them there.
  • The Banksmobile was the perfect vehicle for the trip—captains chairs meant we were never close enough to have to smell each others’ funk. Thanks, Evil, for driving.
  • As great as the weekend was, coming home to have JunkieGirl looking out the window for me and then run into the driveway to give me a hug was a nice way to finish.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The problem with immortality

Unless you're up really late, as you read this, I'm probably hiking Lone Peak from my house. I have no intention of reaching the summit--I expect there's too much snow. I'll be in running shoes, and I'll be alone. Slipping on snow or ice while scrambling to the top of the cirque with no safety equipment and no belay is not high on my priority list.

I'm doing this hike in this manner for two reasons. First, the transition from biking to skiing is always more difficult than going the other way. I need some training walking uphill. Second, I stare into the Lone Peak cirque from my front window. I've lived in the shadow of that mountain for much of my life. It's a dominant landmark that conjures thoughts of home whenever I see it. If I can walk there and back without a shuttle or parking at a trailhead, why shouldn't I?

Friday I head to Fruita for the weekend, so this is it until Monday. I thought I'd leave you with something substantial to chew on in the interim. But first, a note about chocolate.

If you were reading way back then, you may remember my post about hauling
710 pounds of chocolate from a distribution center in Salt Lake to my former house in Boise. Well, it's that time of year again. Rachel is about to place another chocolate order. If you want in, or just want to sample some of the things she does with what always seems like an unreasonably large amount of chocolate but that gets consumed anyway, then stop by Thursday evening. But please, let Rachel know you're coming so she has enough treats for everyone. Rumors are that after about 8:30 or so there will either be skis getting waxed in the garage or ski movies being viewed in the basement. With lots of chocolatey refreshments.

I've brought up religion before, and while it's not a major theme of this blog, it's a major theme of my life. It occupies a significant portion of my non-working time, either participating in church functions or pondering, reading, or otherwise engaging myself mentally in it.

I'm neither a social scientist nor a statistician, but my gut feeling is that there is no correlation between church attendance and morality (I hate to use this word, but it seems the best fit). Some of the finest, most upstanding people I know--people who are honest and kind and care for their families and friends better than most (my definition of moral)--don't go to church. Though I didn't know it at the time, I've attended church meetings and perhaps even shared a pew with a child molester. I've sat in the same worship service as murderers. I've also met some crummy low-lifes that didn't go to church and seen shining examples of the kind of person I want to be from people who do. You come across all kinds, and you come across them within and without the chapel.

And while I'm not here to argue metaphysics or whether or not God or Gods exist or whether or not there's an afterlife, I do find that what is taught in more or less all religions is a useful framework within which children can learn right from wrong and adults can be reminded of where their priorities should be and how they should treat those around them.

Moreover, the belief in an afterlife, particularly one that is paridisiacal in nature, wherein we can be reunited with loved ones who have passed on, is sometimes the foundational hope that keeps people going day after day and allows them to carry on even as the challenges, disappointments, and even tragedies of life would otherwise tear them down to a state of unrecoverable depression.

But I fear that this belief in afterlife, which gives many so much hope, may also too often be a cause of pain and sorrow, not out of a fear of a final judgment, but because it takes away some of the urgency of today. If we think of our existence as a temporary thing, we may be more compelled to live life without regrets. To seize the day. To pay attention to the world around us. To not let a day go by that we didn't spend quality time with our children, our spouse, or other loved ones. When the days are finite, each successive one becomes that much more valuable as those that remain become increasingly scarce.

When we think of ourselves as immortal and our lives as eternal, some of this urgency goes away. The tomorrows become endless, as do the excuses to procrastinate some of the important things that we know we should be doing. Further complicating things is the prevalent doctrine that we as mortals are imperfect beings, born in a fallen state, bound to make mistakes. This too easily becomes a crutch. We may neglect a relationship, thinking it's not working because of the inherent flaws of our fallen nature. We may consider it in an eternal context and decide that it will be patched up when mortal weaknesses are no longer getting in the way.

But what are we missing out on in the process? Worse, what if we're wrong, there is no second chance, and this is the one shot we have of making a relationship work, leaving a legacy, learning, or otherwise finding joy? No redemption, no resurrection, no continuation. Would we make decisions the same way? Would we choose to attend a meeting instead of a child's ballgame or recital? Would we choose working late over a date with a spouse? Would we take better care of our bodies, knowing that we may as well be as healthy as possible so as to enjoy the years we have as much as possible?

Regardless of whether or not there is an afterlife and whether or not the family bonds and personal relationships we know and enjoy will continue in a hereafter, what's certain is that they will not and could not be the same. Your children cannot remain your adolescent children; at best they will be peers that were raised by you in mortality. The hierarchical family structures we know in this existence are a special, unique aspect of this life that will never be repeated.

Indeed, it will never be the same once our children move out on their own. Those twenty or so years are when our greatest legacy is made, in this, the next, or any other notion of life. Perhaps the only legacy more important is our relationship with a significant other, with whom the legacy of children is shared.

If I view my own life through this lens, in many ways I find energy and comfort in approaching my days as if they were finite, knowing that I need to make the most of each. Centuries ago, monks were known to keep skulls on their desks as a memento mori, a reminder that they will die and that they must make the most of the time they had. While I don't need such macabre reminders that regardless of what lies ahead, this is a temporary state, I don't think it hurts to once in a while turn our beliefs on their heads, however deep our convictions, and ask ourselves what, if anything, we would do differently if our notion of life, nature, and eternity were wrong.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Embracing my demons

I don’t really like getting up early in the morning. But an analysis of my behavior would never suggest that. A long time ago, before I began cycling, I used to meet a friend every morning at six to run for an hour. Exercising at that hour is never my first choice, but if it comes down to exercising early in the morning or not exercising, I’ll choose the early start every time.

After I moved to Boise, I decided to sell the second-hand, ill-fitting road bike in my garage and get a mountain bike. I figured a mountain bike I rode once-in-a-while was better than a road bike I never rode. But I never intended to ride it daily. I was still a runner (albeit not a very good one), after all. I just figured I’d tool around the neighborhood and occasionally hit the trails.

Then Psycho Rider started inviting me to ride with him and another friend before work. Before I knew it, I had given up running altogether and was on the bike almost every day.

I’ve had the best ski days of my life after 4:00 a.m. wakeup calls. It never gets easier to get up early, but seldom if ever do I regret it once I’m out of bed and on the trail or the skintrack.

And so it was this morning when Alex and I met for a ride on the Pipeline trail. Evidently it was too early or too cold or too whatever for anyone else to consider it worthwhile to be out. With the time change, we were able to start at 6:20 without lights, and aside from a couple runners, we had the trail to ourselves.

Conditions were perfect—the trail was milk chocolate tacky with just a few mud puddles. If ever there was a time to clean the Rattlesnake Gulch climb, this would be it. In fact, I was disappointed when Alex dismounted after I hit a rock wrong and had to put a foot down, because I think he could have cleaned it had he kept going.

Of course early mornings aren’t the only things I’ve found difficult or disturbing but have embraced and been glad to have done so. The 7-eleven two blocks from my office is another. I know at one point I swore off it and vowed to go elsewhere. But as I’ve mentioned before, I backslid out of convenience and a lust for popcorn. Well, the staff and other customers have become no less savory, but rather than being disturbed by the experience, I’ve chosen to enjoy it for what it is.

Had I not, I would have missed out on some fine entertainment. For instance:

  • The woman who would buy a loaf of bread there, eat half of it, stick it in her cupboard until it molded, and then exchange it for a new one. After three or four times of this, the clerks got wise and sent her packing. And threatened to call the cops when she refused to leave. I watched the unraveling of her ruse go down, and it was awesome.
  • The city worker who was cleaning leaf debris out of the gutters. I walked out of the store, rounded the corner, and the first thing I saw was a good six inches of butt crack as street worker squatted to scoop up some leaves. I did a double take, not believing someone’s pants could be that far down without falling completely off. Unfortunately, I was too slow with the camera phone.
  • And last but certainly not least, today I saw an honest-to-goodness, Rocky Horror Picture Show transvestite with legitimate looking boobs AND five-o-clock shadow. This time I had time to get out the phone and snap a picture but chose not to because a) I figured someone that gender confused was already tormented enough and, more importantly, b) I did not want to risk getting beat up by a “woman” in downtown Salt Lake.

And these are just the things I’ve seen in the last five days. Seriously, the diet coke has become secondary to the entertainment. I’ve got the diet coke. I’ve got the popcorn. But the show is better than anything in the theaters.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review of Halloween

I don’t care much for Halloween. I know a lot of people really get into it, which I’ve never quite understood. For kids, sure, it makes sense. Knock on doors and get free candy. What could be better? But for adults, the appeal seems to be for women an excuse to dress like hookers and for men an excuse to look at women dressed like hookers. Which, I guess could be as appealing as free candy now that I think about it.

Part of my problem with Halloween is that adults have a hard time finding the right balance. I mean, if you’re an adult, and you’re going to dress up, you need to actually dress up. None of this putting on a black headband and expecting people to know that makes you a ninja stuff.

Or if you really are going to dress up, be sensible about it. No wearing a black cloak and carrying a stick and painting a scar on your forehead thereby coming clean about the fact that you are way more into Harry Potter than is healthy. I don’t want to know that. Dress up as something that’s not part of your weird, delusional, fantasy world psychosis, because I’ll never think of you the same if you don’t.

And if you go to a church party where there are lots of little kids, don’t dress in a gorilla suit and mask and walk around scaring two-year-olds. And then, if the dad of one of the two-year-olds, whose daughter is petrified and clinging to him as if to save her life, asks you to take the mask off, don’t shove the mask in the two-year-old’s face as if that’s going to make her OK with it. Because if you do that again, I will punch you in the nose rather than restraining myself like I did this time. Even the six-year-olds were scared by the creep in the gorilla suit, as evidenced by Jonnie J’s daughter who wrote (in six-year-old spelling) “I’m scared of the gorilla” in crayon on the paper table cloth.

This lack of sense some adults seem to have when they put on a costume is precisely why I’m not a fan of Halloween. It’s worse than if they were drunk. And if they get drunk, watch out.

On the other hand, Halloween did afford some good times this year. First, I got to blow off significant steam after the gorilla incident on Rick’s Helloween ride. Seeing Aaron dressed as an 80’s hair metal rocker, singing “Kick Start My Heart” as he rode the pipe,* was the highlight of the event.

*The “pipe” is a section of trail where there’s concrete-covered water pipe that’s about a foot wide and drops at about a 30% grade for 25 feet or so. It’s rideable, but in the two times in my life I’ve ridden that trail, I’ve never tried it. Most people walk that section.

The ride itself was challenging for me without even thinking about riding the pipe. I blew up in the first 100 yards deluding myself that I could contend for the cash. Then I had a metallic taste in my mouth for the next hour as we climbed endlessly at race pace. Then I had the impression that we were going to keep climbing and suddenly somehow end up at the parking lot without ever descending. Then we descended and the trails were somehow steeper than what we went up and I was scared for my life because I was wholly unfamiliar with them, they seemed to drop off hundreds of feet on one side, my light sucks, and I still don't have my mojo back after the crash. Then we were back at the car and I realized I had thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Most people were in costume, with two notable exceptions. First was Kyle, who won the cash. I thought you had to be in costume to win, not that it would have made much difference. The dude can climb. Second was Mike Young. Someone asked him why he didn’t dress up and he said something like “I don’t know. Couldn’t think of anything.” When it was suggested he dress up as his brother he responded “Huh. Never thought of that. That one would be easy too, since I already have his jersey and pants.”

I guess that’s how it is. To you and me, Steve’s a Hall of Famer, Super Bowl MVP, and Monday Night Football analyst. But when he’s the guy that gave you noogies* growing up, he remains first and foremost the guy who gave you noogies and not much else. Nice perspective.

*Inevitably, one of you, probably one with no older brothers or who has older brothers but who knows noogies by a different name (I’m sure there are regional variations), doesn’t know what a noogie is. It’s when someone, typically your older brother, puts you in a head lock and rubs his knuckles on your scalp. I can’t imagine they feel good, but since I’m the oldest brother, I have much more experience giving than receiving.

Believe it or not, I’m eleven paragraphs into my review of Halloween, and it was just barely officially Halloween when the ride ended and we headed to Denny’s. The actual day brought a great deal of dread because I knew we’d have to take the kids trick-or-treating.

I know it defeats the purpose, but I would much rather just buy the candy and give it to my kids than take them door-to-door for it. Besides, that way, all we would buy would be butterfingers and heath bars and snickers and reeses cups, which my kids like less than I do. Fewer cavities and more treats for me and no two-year-olds throwing up in bed on Halloween night.

On second thought, that’s a bad idea, since one of the reasons I dislike Halloween is that it’s the beginning of my annual weight gain. The combination of lots of sweets and limited daylight hours in which to burn them off usually always results in my waistline expanding a few inches and my weight going up about ten pounds between Halloween and whenever I start dieting in the spring. I try to keep it under control, but Halloween is followed closely by Thanksgiving, which involves pie, the first thing against which I am powerless. Thanksgiving is followed by the season of giving, and the giving usually involves cookies, the second thing against which I am powerless.

Anyway, I’m never real thrilled about the idea of trick-or-treating. Except this year, my kids wanted to go with their cousins, so we went to my sister’s house to trick-or-treat in her neighborhood. I actually have no idea how her neighborhood compares to mine, since this was our first year in our neighborhood and we went elsewhere, but I can’t imagine any neighborhood being better.

Her kids told me that one of the neighbors gives out soup. I told them we could skip that house, because I thought that was lame. Until I got there. She didn’t just hand out candy, she invited us all in, where she had hot soup and cider on the stove as well as an array of cheeses and crackers and veggies. She gave the kids candy and toys and glow sticks, and I left thinking trick-or-treating was cool.

Not to be outdone, a couple blocks away, my sister’s dentist was in his front yard with a fire in the firepit, hot cocoa, and hot dogs on the grill. The kids sat by the fire and ate hot dogs while he made sure my sis’s father-in-law’s root canal was doing OK. Then I found out he was also a Big Ten guy, so we talked about our mutual hatred of Ohio State, even as some fat kid in an Ohio State hoodie ate his second and third of generous dentist’s hot dogs.

Finally, when the kids’ candy bags were approaching the too-heavy-for-them-to-carry point, we got to the best house of the evening. As we approached the door, we were informed that this friend was a fantastic cook and also a reader of Rachel’s blog.

When the door opened, I could smell something frying. As we chatted, we talked about food and Rachel’s blog, and fantastic cook neighbor mentioned she was making spudnuts. She offered us one, which my sister and wife tried to decline because they are not as sensible as I am and were aware that they had already eaten plenty of junk for the evening.

I accepted the invitation, so we all went in. Again, the girls foolishly took half a spudnut, but I took a whole spudnut. They took a half thinking that if it didn’t live up to hopes and expectations, they wouldn’t be stuck with the whole thing. I knew if it didn’t live up to hopes and expectations that we were leaving anyway, and I could throw it in the gutter. Because if food doesn’t taste as good as I want it to and the effort of burning the calories is greater than the satisfaction their consumption brings, I have no qualms about throwing treats in the trash. Or in the gutter or bushes or neighbor’s backyard as the case may be.

I wish I could have snuck a second one without looking like a pig. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. Fortunately, Rachel has been promised the recipe, and I suspect it will make its way onto her blog. They were dense and heavy and had to have had a whole lot of calories, but they were delicious. Fried food is challenging because if the oil temperature isn’t just right, it can either be soggy and soaked with oil or burned on the outside and raw in the middle. These were perfect. And if she’s making them again next year, perhaps I’ll look forward to Halloween.

Either that, or we’ll have hot dogs, soup, and spudnuts at the ready at our house so that people in our neighborhood go from haters to evangelical about trick-or-treating in one night. The guy in the gorilla suit will not be invited in, though.