Thursday, September 29, 2011

The rest of the day should go smoother

My very first day at my current job began much as you would expect it to begin when working for a Fortune 500 company: I walked into the main lobby and spoke to the guy sitting at the front desk. Or at least I tried to talk to him, but I was shushed. He was listening to General Conference on his computer, and apparently, I had walked in during a really riveting part*.

*Having listened to more than a few General Conferences over the years, I'm not sure what could have been so captivating four months after it was originally broadcast. I mean, it's not like when in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.

So I patiently waited until he had heard the part he needed to hear and was free to give me his full and undivided attention. In the intervening months, I have seen him maybe once or twice and interacted with him not at all, since my office is in a different building, and if I go in his building, I go in through the back door.

This morning, however, I had just finished a meeting (OK, fine, I was just chatting with Aaron about things not work related) and stopped in the restroom on my way back to my building. As I'm washing my hands, who should walk out of the stall but the front desk guy, whom we'll call "Jamie."

I'm not typically chatty in the restroom--it's a get in, do your business, get out kind of environment as far as I'm concerned. But since General Conference wasn't on, Jamie seemed to want to talk. He tried kicking off the conversation with some small talk:

"Well that makes things a little better."

By "that," I could only infer he meant what he had just "accomplished" in the stall. I steadfastly focused on washing my hands.

Undeterred, he continued:

"The rest of the day should go smoother now."

Uninterested in how this act would lubricate the remaining hours in the day, I remained focused on rinsing my hands and began drying them so I could make an exit.

"Is your day going OK?"

If by "going OK," he was asking whether or not I had already "made things a little better," I wasn't in the mood to satisfy his curiosity or to clarify his intent with the question.

"So far, so good," I said with my back turned, heading for the exit.

I was relieved that he didn't cut the hand washing short in order to continue the conversation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clammy Cross #1

I remember reading last year, before I had ever done a cyclocross race, T-money's description of the first race of the season:

The thing I have learned over the years is the first cross race of the season is a shock to your system. It’s not like any criterium, time trial, road race, or mountain bike race you have done in the last 9 months leading up to cyclocross season. It hurts way more, and no matter what sort of form you thought you had, after the gun goes off, you feel like the biggest pussy until you settle in and claw your way into the midway point of the race. Then it just plain sucks, because you are only half way done.

I lined up for Clammy Cross #1 on Saturday with the intent of getting that shock to the system out of the way. I lined up with another motivation as well. Specifically, my good friends Adam, Rick, and Daren would all be racing in the same flight. We all typically race in different categories in UTCX, so I was looking forward to the throwdown.

The first lap went about as well as could be expected. I lined up early enough to be on the front row (no callups in first race) and was able to get the hole shot. I stayed on the front through the first few turns and into the technical features in the trees. Then on the first anaerobic climb, Peter, Keegan, Cody, and Joe got past me. Going into the second climb, Joe spun out in the loose dirt, so we were all forced to dismount and run the hill.

I wasn't concerned about Peter, Cody, or Keegan getting away. I wasn't going to beat those guys anyway. Towards the end of lap one, Daren came around me, and I was content to follow his wheel for as long as I could hold it.

That plan lasted about 500 meters. While approaching the first climb of lap two, my chain somehow dropped between my ring and my chain catcher. It was stuck. I had no choice but to dismount and wrestle with it until I got it out. Which meant watching the entire field ride away from me while I sat there helpless.

After what seemed an eternity (but was in reality probably a couple of minutes), I managed to get my chain back on and took up the chase. At this point, I was just racing to catch someone, anyone, to avoid being last.

I felt like I was riding pretty well, but then I hit a bump and dropped my chain again. In the process of getting it out from behind my chain catcher, my chain catcher had moved enough that it was no longer doing its job. Over the next couple of laps, my chain dropped several more times before I finally stopped in the pits for a screwdriver so I could adjust it to get it working once again.

With a working machine, I managed to reel in one racer. I could see Adam and Seth hitting the bottom of the descent as I was starting the climb and knew I wasn't catching anyone else unless that person had some really bad luck.

And that's how things finished. Daren raced great, finishing fifth. Rick was sixth. My result wasn't what I wanted, but it was the shock to the system that I needed. The great thing about cyclocross, though, is that as seriously as you take the racing while you're racing, it's not about results. You suffer so you can feel like you've earned the good time. Every week, it's as if someone threw a party and a cyclocross race broke out.

Looking forward to UTCX season kickoff with a double cross weekend at the State Fairgrounds. And you can bet I'll be back for the upcoming Clammy Cross events. Those guys put together a fantastic course.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Green tea for weight loss

I was at the mall last night with my kids. One of the kiosks was selling "green tea for weight loss." I noticed, while stopped looking at the directory (for I am a hunter, not a gatherer at the mall), that the girl staffing the kiosk was offering free samples.

On our way from our first destination to our second, we walked past this kiosk, directly in the line of fire of the sample offerings. My lack of racing has resulted in a lack of discipline, which has resulted in a September weight that I am more accustomed to seeing in January. In other words, I'm feeling a bit plump. And yet, as I walked past the kiosk, I received no offer of a free sample, even though I would have gladly accepted it. The couple behind me was offered and declined.

I decided to pause for a bit to verify that there was a pattern. There was. Apparently I didn't meet the criteria. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not racing, racing

I've been doing a lot of not racing lately.

Which means I have no idea where my fitness is. We'll find out on Saturday at Clammy Cross #1 in American Fork. Only three categories, which means I get to throw down against friends that usually race a different category at UTCX. 'Cross is in the air--can you smell the tubular cement?

Friday, September 9, 2011


Rick has warned us about this:

Makes me think twice about the night rides, especially when road racing, according to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, offers such a compelling alternative.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Book of Mormon

I can assume since you're reading this that you also have Internet access, which means I can probably also assume that you have heard that one of the most popular plays on Broadway right now is The Book of Mormon. Rachel and I recently returned from a trip to New York, where we had the good fortune of seeing the show.

I find it interesting that a great number of people have opinions about this show without having actually seen it. The irony here is that many of these critical opinions are along the lines of "the show ridicules Mormons without knowing what Mormons are really like."

Since my opinions of Mormons, Mormonism, and The Book of Mormon (both the book and the play) are all based on first-hand experience, I thought I would share my reaction. And while my opinion may not be yours, I don't think you can argue that I don't know whereof I speak.

The writers of the show know quite a bit about Mormons and what Mormons are really like. Consider the song "I believe," which was performed at the Tony Awards.

Mocking? Yes. Inaccurate? No. I don't see anything that's contrary to what I learned and later taught at the Missionary Training Center or have read or heard in General Conference. So is the problem that it's not presenting those beliefs in a flattering light? I'll concede that point, but let's consider the claims for a minute.

"The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur" is not all that different from "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me....When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air."

If you believe in the latter, you have to admit that, to an outsider, it doesn't sound too different from the former, especially when you throw in the part about digging up gold plates in your back yard but not being able to show the plates to anyone except with their "spiritual eyes."

And certainly, the Book of Mormon musical doesn't shy away from accentuating how ridiculous some of these claims might sound to an outsider. But that's not all the show has to offer. The play is set primarily in Uganda, a country where for the majority of residents, life is pretty terrible. Warlords, AIDS, and female circumcision are everyday hazards. And if someone from a whitebread, comfortable, first-world existence shows up and tells a bunch of fantastic stories and tells people how much better life will be if they only believe those stories, it rings a little hollow.

Believing a story will not cure AIDS. The stories about AIDS being cured by having sex with a virgin are proof enough of that. The real message of the Book of Mormon musical is that whether you are a literal, metaphorical, or non believer in a given belief system, it doesn't really matter. What matters with any belief system or philosophy is that you use that belief to be a better person and to improve the lives of the people around you. In many cases, religion is as much about community as it is about belief, and what the community believes is less important than what the community does.