When Life Gives Me Lemons

After I'd run some errands Saturday I had a few hours before dark (5 pm, ug) and it was 40 degrees - ride time. Both tires were flat from my last ride on my mountain bike so I brought them into the house to fix.

Rear tube had 3 punctures so I chucked it. I have this rule about patching tubes - 1 or 2 patches then chuck the tube. So I removed the thorns (evil goat heads) and put in a new tube.

On to the front tire. A pinch flat. I patched it. When I inflated the tube it had two more punctures so I chucked it. Last tube, no spare.

Put the wheels on the bike and rolled down the driveway. I pumped the brakes to make sure they were good and heard a horrible screeching sound from the front. Turned around and back to the garage. The spring that holds the pads apart had been sucked into the pads and were mangled.

I found another spring in my junk box and eventually got it installed. It made a clicking noise but seemed to be working. I didn't want to risk it. I guess the pads are worn out. I didn't have a spare so I was done with the mountain bike.

I pulled out the road bike. The tires were flat. I pumped up the front. I started pumping up the back and heard a hissing sound. Took the wheel inside and patched the tube. Pumped it up and it held.

A half hour past when I had expected to leave, I headed out for a road bike ride instead of a mountain bike ride. Even though I was a bit grumpy from the string of mechanical problems, once I was riding my mood improved and I had a good time.

I rode down University Avenue and roamed around the BYU campus. It was dead, due to Christmas break and the BYU-Utah game. There was a new building there I'd never seen before. I rode through Timpview then back to Orem.

I stayed warm and enjoyed the fresh air and moving under my own power. I like lemonade.

(And I'll be going to the bike shop to stock up on parts tomorrow.)

127 Hours

I saw the movie 127 Hours last night with some friends. I liked it. Scenic cinematography, creative editing, keeps moving, excellent acting by James Franco, and a gripping story. I give it a B+.

I do have some bias. The film was shot in the canyon country of Utah, a place I've visited many times. The film also features canyoneering, something I was heavily into for 3 years and very much enjoy. In fact, I've hiked parts of Bluejohn Canyon 3 times. I also read Aron Ralston's book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

Spoiler Alert - I'm going to comment on the film below.

Aron did ride his mountain bike to where he dropped into the canyon, and he did crash once, but pretty sure he stayed on the road. I don't think there are any big stretches of slickrock to ride out there. Still, it was fun to see a good stand-in rider ripping it up a bit on a bike.

"The Dome" doesn't exist. There are many slot canyons where you have to stem up off the ground, but very few have water underneath and none have pools of clear water. The water in canyons is muddy at best and usually scummy, sometimes with a floating rotting carcass. Canyoneering is not for germaphobes. The pool in the film is actually the crater pool at the Homestead in Midway. Some have complained about the film taking this fictitious detour to "The Dome", but I was OK with it because there are some magical hidden places out in canyon country and they are worth the effort to see.

The book kept me engaged during Aron's 6 days stuck in the canyon, but I wondered how the film would keep it interesting. I thought Danny Boyle (also directed Slumdog Millionaire) and James Franco did an excellent job showing Aron's attempts to free himself, his video-tapped messages to family, his daydreams / hallucinations / memories. Some scenes may have gone a bit long, but I was never bored.

There is no narration conveying Aron's thoughts, just acting. Cody Clark (review here), the critic for the Daily Herald felt this was a mistake. In general I like Boyle's call here because with no voice-over you are more fully aware of the silence and emptiness of the canyon. However it does mean the viewer doesn't know exactly what Aron was thinking.

Narration is most missed when Aron finally figures out how he can break the bones in his arm to get free. This was a high point in the book - Aron reported that it filled him with hope. In the movie the impact of this moment is lost.

The amputation scene was hard to watch. It was graphic. I've seen worse gore, but it's more distant - in this film you can't help put yourself in Aron's place and wonder if you could cut off your own arm. It's more personal. I was determined to watch it, but it was uncomfortable. I had to tell myself it was just surgery. Watching the amputation impacted me more than reading it - seeing left little doubt what amputation entailed.

Back in 2003 when this happened to Aron and I heard the story, I thought about what I'd do in that situation. To be honest, I'm not sure I could have cut off my arm. It would be so easy to keep telling yourself that someone would come along and you'd be saved from having to cut off your arm.

The high point of the movie for me was when Aron made the last cut and staggered back from place he had been stuck for 6 days. The feeling of freedom was strong and poignant.

This wasn't the end, Aron still had to scramble down the rest of the canyon, rig his rope and rappel over 100 feet down into Horseshoe Canyon - one handed. The film handled this well.

At the end of the rappel was a pool of turbid water which he immediately drank from since he ran out of water days ago. I heard some audiences had almost as much difficulty with this scene as with the amputation. Really? If you've ever been truly thirsty you know you'd drink any water in this situation.

The end of the film was moving. Seeing the real Aron Ralston with his wife and young son the message is unmistakable - you are only seeing this scene because Aron did something very difficult and he very well could have died. Life is precious.


Defenestration - the act of throwing a thing or especially a person out of a window.

This montage of movie and TV defenestration scenes is art. And very entertaining.

Grouping the scenes into categories was brilliant. People crashing out windows, in windows, diving, blown backwards, thrown, kicked, through windshields, animals (horses?!), motorcycles, cars, people on fire - even one mountain bike.

That's a lot of candy glass. I'll probably be hearing the sound of breaking glass all day, but it's worth it.

I recognized maybe 10 scenes.

Boat Loads Of Shame

In a recent post, Watcher mentioned being introduced to and liking the Avett Brothers. I'm always interested in good music so I investigated. Watcher said he likes Talks on Indolence, it's fun but frantic.

I found their song Shame for free on Amazon and really like it. It's mopey and morose. Perhaps they meant it as a serious song, but I find it amusing and, well, funny.

Have a good weekend.

Ding Dong The Cast Is Gone

Today Jolene got her cast off. She's happy about that. It was a long seven weeks for her.

The leg looked gross. Mottled red skin, some nice scars, swollen. I wanted to take a picture but was forbidden. So how about pictures of the cast, as decorated by the family last night in hopes it would be off today (so that totally worked).

From the x-rays the doctor says it's healing nicely. Now the leg feels unprotected without that cast and she's concerned about bumping it. But she's looking forward to sleeping better tonight without the bulk cast.

Today I had an, epiphany? No. Revelation? No. How about a realization.

I've been doing some household stuff Jolene usually does. I drove carpool this morning. Helped Kade get dressed, fed and off to school. Microwaved some leftovers for Jolene. And made a run to the grocery store - that's where the realization occurred.

I parked the van, snagged a cart outside and as I head in I noticed the Stovetop stuffing right inside the door and remembered it was on the list so I snagged it right there. Usually I hardly notice the specials by the door. But this was just a small realization.

The bigger realization came a few steps further when I saw our preferred brand of corn chips on sale. I instantly recalled they usually cost $2 per bag so when I saw the 2 for $3 sale I knew it was a good deal and bought two. Then it hit me, I never noticed grocery prices before but now I do. I guess I'm learning grocery shopping by repetition and exposure. Didn't expect that.

Bathroom Surprise

I had an odd bathroom experience last weekend.

I stopped for breakfast at the McDonalds in Cedar City. As I opened the bathroom door I hear two men having an intense discussion. As I entered I noticed they weren't at the sink to my left, nor at the urinal to my right. Could they be in the stall?

I sensed awkwardness. Not hair standing up, but suspicion and a touch of creepiness. And not enough to make me retreat, although I wasn't discarding that option.

I took a step or two toward the stall and was becoming aware that the voices didn't sound right, even with the echo-y acoustics of the tiled bathroom. One more step and I figured it out.

The video below attempts to recreate the event.

Yes, there's a flat panel television above the urinal. And it was tuned to a sports show with two guys energetically recapping the recent college football games. It startled me to hear this in a bathroom, and that's not a place for startling. Imagine if it had been females talking on the TV.

I'm all for nice bathrooms, and I was impressed that a McDonalds would have such a well-appointed facility, but the TV is too much. There are no TVs blaring at the library, the same should be for bathrooms. A little music to distract from any unfortunate noises, but no TV.

G & G Weekend

It was a Guacamole & Gooseberry Mesa weekend.

The weather was perfect - it was hard to believe it's November.

Here's the view from Guacamole:

Alex on Guacamole.

We found a new (to us) trail marked with spray-painted dashes. It was a playground of small but fun and interesting technical moves.

After the ride we camped on Gooseberry Mesa by the windmill. The view of Zion bathed in evening light was spectacular.

I forgot my camera for the Gooseberry ride. We did a figure 8 route starting on Windmill then the Practice Loop, Cattle Grate, God's Skatepark, Hidden Canyon, Yellow, The Point, Rattlesnake Rim, Hidden Canyon again, Bowls and Ledges, then Windmill back to camp.

Here's the group shot on the point:

I did pretty good in Hidden Canyon. Some stunts I finessed smoothly, others I just mashed through, flubbed some. At times I was smooth on the technical stuff, other times not. But I had fun the whole time. I made it down the Rattlesnake, one dumb dab on the way up, then down again - such a fun feature.

The pace was brisk yet relaxed. No bad crashes or mechanicals. Just a good, good ride.

We made it back to camp around 3 pm and rested a bit. Some of us wanted more so we headed east on the north rim trail (Rim Job) and roamed around for a while.

Vicente cooked shrimp and steak paella for dinner. It was delicious. He's from Spain and knows how to cook it right. Check out the gas-fired paella skillet he brought:

Two days of biking, eating, camping, sitting around the fire, talking, laughing, sunshine and starry skies. Good living.

Burning Down The Car

With the Hell-O-Ween ride in my backyard I decided I should be a good host. So I put up a sign (because that turn by the Orem Cemetery is hard to see in the dark) and bring a fire.

The fire was a roll of quality toilet paper soaked in kerosene in a metal bucket. As people arrived I lit it up. Everybody likes a fire, right? Provides light and heat. Riders gathered 'round. A nice touch.

When we left it was still burning a bit so I tipped it over and it went out.

After the ride I put the bucket in the back of my car. I thought about dumping out the charred TP, but Rick reminded me that I was a Life Scout too so I packed it out. When I got in it was a little smoky so I rolled down the windows - don't want smoke smell in the car.

As I went a bit faster the wind fanned the smoldering TP and next thing I know I've got flames in the bucket. Not good.

I quickly pulled over, opened the hatchback, and dumped out the flaming bucket and spent the next 5 minutes stomping on it until no more embers remained.

When I told my wife the story she laughed and laughed.

The car smelled like smoke for 2 days. At least I didn't burn it up.

No one can question my commitment to Hell-O-Ween (but questioning my intelligence is fair).