Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creamer Man

With the new job has come a new set of employees to get to know. And while generally these are smart, capable, friendly people, I work in the software industry. Which means there are some shockingly weird people. And I'm not talking butterflies on their titties* weird like you get if you're a barista. I'm talking live alone with their cats and pose a real risk of creating need for what Alex describes as the one useful HR skill: the ability to fire people without inciting a shooting spree.

*Actually, there is one woman with a tattoo, possibly a butterfly (it's completely obscured except when she wears lower-cut shirts, and even then only partly visible), in that general region. And she is way cool. Like how-did-you-end-up-in-Utah-County kind of cool.

Anyway, I've been suppressing the urge to blog about one weird person in particular for some time, until, as Tim Minchin describes in the superb beat poem linked to above, my diplomacy dike burst for a reason I will get to shortly.

We'll call this person "Creamer Man," so named because of what I've observed when he's in the break room making "coffee." Coffee is in quotes because as you can guess from the moniker, there is more creamer than coffee involved. Seriously, he may be Coffee Mate's best customer. The concoction involves a fascinating blend of liquid and dry creamer, with various ingredients heated in the microwave before being added to his mug in a prescribed order. I'm not a non-dairy creamer fan myself and don't dig sweet at all, so I can only imagine how bad it would taste to me. But you can't account for taste.

Really, though, I have no quarrel with the "coffee" making. Not something I'd ever want to drink, but unlike so many others, he cleans up after himself and doesn't leave kernels of slightly-parched-by-the-microwave corn on the counter after he's left the room.

Being somewhat environmentally conscious, I reuse the same water cup over and over day after day. As is my wont, I left said cup* on the table in the break room while I walked into the restroom across the hall. When I returned to the break room to fill my cup, there was Creamer Man, treating an open wound by applying antibiotic ointment and a knuckle bandage, with the wounded hand not more than a span and a half away (we're doing away with metric and going with Biblical units today for effect). I'm pretty sure the septic impact radius of a flesh wound is at least three times that. At least.

*A cheap plastic cup that my coke came in at Invesco field when I attended the AFC championship game--the only NFL game I've ever been to--back when the Broncos didn't suck. Seems like a lifetime ago.

I swallowed hard to keep from vomiting, grabbed the cup, and headed for the sink and began sanitizing. It never occurred to me to throw it away. Until now. The only thing holding me back is that Creamer Man looks so much like a reincarnated Barrel Man that I worry if I throw the cup away, it may turn into the Broncos' equivalent of the curse of the billy goat. But I can keep it without ever drinking from it again, right?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good intentions

We got another spring storm, which meant ski season got extended. After one lap, Dug, Steve, Rick, and Rob decided to be responsible and head to work. The rest of us went for another lap, which made sense because the canyon was closed for avalanche control and wasn't supposed to open until 8:30.

After enjoying another round of high-speed turns through knee-deep powder, we returned to the parking lot to find that Dug, Steve, Rick, and Rob were still there.

And an hour later, so were we. Due to some problems with the heavy artillery used to knock down avalanches, the road opening was delayed. Small price to pay to avoid having a debris pile the size of house come down on top of you. Wonder if Dug, Steve, Rick, and Rob will get credit for their good intentions in their performance reviews this year.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Machine pitch

I'm of the opinion that baseball is the hardest sport to master. To wit, how many teenagers play in the major leagues versus how many teenagers play in the elite divisions of say football (soccer) or basketball? It's exceptionally rare for a teenager to make the majors, while Lionel Messi at age 23 is widely regarded as the best footballer in the world and made his first team debut for Barcelona at age 16.

Why do I bring this up? Because Junkie Boy played in his first ever baseball game last night. He's six. It's his first season--he never played T-ball. Neither did most of the other kids. Which made for some fine entertainment. For instance:
  • In his first at-bat, he made contact, the ball rolled a few inches in front of home plate, and he stood there and watched it before finally realizing that all the people yelling "run" were talking to him. He carried his bat to first base with him.
  • In his second at-bat, he made contact again, this time remembering to run with much less encouragement. He advanced to second where he proceeded to look at the ground while another teammate got a hit. He again realized the people yelling "run" were talking to him just before his teammate reached second base. He still made it safely to third. TheZeph asked if I needed oxygen from yelling.
  • From third base, his next teammate up also got a hit*, and JunkieBoy ran, but he ran to the opponents' dugout instead of to home plate. I yelled to him to "touch the plate." He began looking around for something with food on it and for some reason thought that if he started climbing the chain link fence forming the backstop, he might find it. With only a moderate amount of encouragement and pointing, he realized what we meant and still managed to step on home plate before being tagged out.
*"Hit" in this sense is a term we'll define loosely as any situation in which the batter puts the ball in play and reaches base, whether he reached base on what should be scored as a hit or as a result of a fielding error. Considering maybe 10% of the balls that were struck left the infield, you be the judge regarding the portion of these instances that were errors rather than hits. Thankfully, we don't track errors in machine pitch.

Clearly some of the kids on the team have had more exposure to baseball than others. Thankfully for the egos of kids and dads alike, it doesn't seem to make a difference. Just because one kid can throw doesn't mean the teammate he's throwing it to can catch. Likewise, even if the kid can catch, it's tough to catch a ball that lands in the dirt well out of reach.

Machine pitch plus five strikes makes strikeouts surprisingly rare, so even though the kids all suck, the degree to which the competition sucks somehow makes each of them walk away feeling like Henry Freakin' Aaron. And since the failure to advance bases or run home still resulted in a 2 for 2 night with a run scored, how can you dispute the kid leaving the game thinking he would be the envy of anyone's fantasy team?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

West Mountain Road Race

Saturday, UVU Cycling team put on an omnium*, with a team time trial in the morning, followed by a road race in the afternoon. Certainly nobody gets into the race promotion business except out of love for the sport, but the UVU guys seem to be more motivated by the love part than the money part.

*An omnium is a race with multiple stages, but unlike a stage race, you can pick and choose the stages you want to do and skip the others. Can you imagine how many guys would stop at the bottom of the Tourmalet (if they made it that far) if Le Tour were like this?

Registration consisted of filling out a release form, handing the guy a twenty, and grabbing a number. And instead of yet another T-shirt or water bottle, they fed us lunch after the race. I wish they were putting on races every weekend.

The 1-2-3 field raced three laps around West Mountain, a distance of 123km. Or about twice as far as I've ridden all season. Considering this was my first road race as a cat. 2, and my winter training consisted of skiing, eating, and a firm commitment to avoid the trainer, my goals were simple: 1) stay with the main bunch; and 2) try to sprint it out with whoever is left at the end, with the first being much more important than the second.

First lap saw some early attacks, with my team (Revolution-Cafe Rio), Ski Utah-Marketstar, and Bike Shoppe having sufficient numbers to ensure that nothing got away unless we were represented. Eventually a group of seven or so, with two of ours, got free.

We didn't quite get into Sunday group ride mode, as Ski Utah wanted to narrow the gap to try and get Sleevie into the break. That idea fell apart when we rounded a tight right-hander and noticed Stormin' and Manny on the pavement. With those guys crashed, the impetus for the break fell apart, and we were all back together.

Early in lap two, the same three teams got one guy each away. Nobody who was left was willing to chase, so we were assured someone on the podium.

Early in lap three, Sleevie and my teammate Curt got into a second break, but this time others made some efforts to try and either catch them or get away themselves. It was on again off again for most of lap three, with Eric from UVU getting away solo and the rest of us just making a lot of accelerations that ultimately didn't do much. A couple times I thought I was going to get popped, but I managed to keep it together.

At 1K, Cam from Ski Utah launched an early move. Steve got right on it, and I was about six riders back waiting until I saw the 200 to go sign. Before I knew it, I heard my wife screaming my name, I wondered briefly why she was so far out on the course, and then I noticed the line painted across the road that we had just gone over. I never even got out of the saddle. I had the legs to at least try and sprint. Unfortunately, I lacked the brains to pay attention to where we were on the course and notice how close we were to the line. Dum-de-dum-dum-dumb.

Steve held off Todd and Turbo to take the best of the rest sprint for seventh. Spence and Curt finished third and fifth, respectively, with Garrett from Ski Utah taking the W. Our guys won the TTT in the morning, so nothing to complain about with the results. In fact, there was nothing to complain about at all, because in addition to the sandwiches, UVU also arranged for complimentary massages after the race. Did I mention that I wish these guys were putting on races every weekend?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why the face?

Having missed out on the first season of Modern Family due to ignorance, my wife and I are joyfully doing our penance thanks to the miracle of Netflix. In the pilot, "cool dad" Phil attempts to validate his coolness by claiming that he "texts" and "knows the lingo." He then proceeds to rattle off the various acronyms and what they stand for: "LOL - laugh out loud; OMG - oh my god (or gosh, if you live in Utah*); WTF - why the face?"

*My little brother came up with what I think is a great idea for a Utah t-shirt: "heck is the place for people who don't believe in gosh."

I had my own "why the face?" moment earlier today when Dug sent me the following via email:

National Forest Service accepts Snowbird expansion proposal

Effectively this expansion will take one of the best early morning ski zones and make the slackcountry lift access from Snowbird even easier than it is already. And already if you're not there early, it gets bumped out thanks to people accessing it from Snowbird backcountry gates.

I was disgusted, making a face indeed. So I responded, via chat, to Dug. And I expressed my disgust. And I used a word for Snowbird management that starts with "f" but isn't "face."

To which, I got the following response:
hi mark. it's kim.
don't know why dug is logged in here.

Oops. Sorry, Kim. Please don't tell Dug he isn't allowed to come over to my house anymore.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Your versus you're and terns versus turns

I finally decided to make myself a permanent resident of the 801 and get an 801 phone number. Which has been entertaining, because in the recent past, that number belonged to someone else. And occasionally I get calls and messages intended for him. For instance, someone recently sent me this via picture message:

Except the version that was sent to me was animated, so I had to make it PG-13 for the blog.

This morning, I got an intriguing message. Which led to an engaging exchange. Rather than describe it, I'll just publish the dialogue that I had with someone whom we'll call "Leah." Spelling, grammar, and punctuation will be left as written.

Leah: I cant believe you did this to her George..... She loved you so much! Why, after everything you've been thru why?

Leah: YOU BASTARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leah: And i thought you 'Loved her".... you dont know the first meaning of the word love!

Leah: i hope your happy

me: What did I do?

Leah: You know exactly what you did!

me: No, I don't. And I don't know who George is or who you are for that matter. But now I'm curious.

Leah: Your a Liar.

me: After all, it isn't every day I get text messages calling me a bastard.

Leah: You need it more often....

me: Seriously? Do you even know who I am? Because my name isn't George. And as far as I know, you and I have never met.

Leah: Oh you are so full of shit! ok if your name isnt George what is it!

me: Mark. But let's keep this conversation going because my coworkers and I are getting a real kick out of all your accusations.

Leah: yeah thats what i thought!! George your such a freak...

Leah: Whatever.

me: And by the way, it's "you're" and not "your" in this context. Which should be a clue that I'm not really George because based on the conversation so far, I don't think your friends would be smart enough to know that.

Leah: F*** off! Dont ever talk to me or anyone of my family memebrs again!

me: You're the one that started this and now won't leave me alone. Seriously, I'm not George. I've only had this phone number for a month. My guess is all your rage is intended for someone else. Call this number if you want to find out for sure. I'm happy to talk to you.

Leah: I dont believe you!

me: Call me and find out.

Leah: i'll pass, thanx

me: This is awesome. Can't wait to post this conversation on my blog. I've only told you five times my name isn't George, and you don't believe me. OK if I use your real name on the blog post? [Withheld], right?

Leah: Yeah. so what

me: I'll send you a link when it's done. You can figure out from there whether I'm George or not. He sounds like a real winner.

Leah: A real LOSER


Leah: I don't know if you are george or not! if your not then im sorry, if you are then George you need to go to hell!

me: Remember, your is the possessive, while you're is a contraction for "you are." Commit that to memory. It will pay off, I promise. If George would know that and has a masters degree, then I may be George. If he wouldn't know that, then apology accepted.

me: This is still going on my blog, though.

me: Thanks for the entertainment.

me: It's been fun.

Leah: Why would you do that?

me: Do what?

Leah: he messed up my sisters life and i was just really mad!

Leah: i thought this was his number

Leah: She told me not to talk to him or anything, and i did it anyway. i was os mad at him.

me: Sure, I get that. But I told you half a dozen times you had the wrong number, and you called me various names and accused me of lying. I should get something for that, don't you think?

Leah: i really did think this was his number

me: Obviously.

Leah: i know, but thats just the way george i, hes a liar, i didnt know if it was him or not! it sounds like something he would do

me: Tell you what, I won't use your name on the blog if you promise to learn the differences between your and you're; there, they're, and their; and to, too, and two. Deal?

Leah: ummmm, ok

me: Oh and I'll even make sure everyone knows that George is a jerk. I'll even use his last name if you want.

me: You'll have to tell me what it is, though.

Leah: thats a wierd deal, are you obsessed with that kinda stuff or something?

me: No, not obsessed. I just like helping people learn to write intelligently. Most of my success has been predicated on my ability to communicate.

Leah: Oh thats cool

me: Anyway, good luck. Some years ago a guy like George messed up my sister's life. It's worked out just fine over time. Just be there for her when she needs help.

Leah: I will..... no matter what happens :)

Leah: Who Exactly are you??

me: If I help will be "turns" with us too. Quid pro quo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

68 minutes

I think Gary Bywater needs a new watch. He announced at the beginning of last night's RMR crit that the A flight would be racing for 55 minutes. I had arrived later than I wanted to due to traffic congestion. My warmup consisted of riding one lap.

The first twenty minutes were  a special kind of punishment only slightly less miserable than the countless winter hours spent on a trainer by those administering it. After that, it was clear that the gap to the leaders was open, and I wasn't going to close it.

I contemplated bailing out, but with the wind blowing and the rain starting to fall and my objective being to train rather than to get a result, I persisted. My small chase group caught another group, dropped some of our riders, got caught by another group, such that the faces surrounding me were completely different by the time I crossed the line.

About that--crossing the line. After 58 minutes, we started wondering when, exactly, Gary would start counting down the laps since we were supposed to be done by now. We were over an hour when I rode by with outstretched arms, as if to ask "how much longer?"

"Three laps to go."

If where they have me in the results relative to the people I know I was ahead of is any indication, it should have been two. But at that point it really didn't matter. Gary, if you need my watch in the future, just ask.