Monday, June 22, 2015

How To Create the Best Birthday Ever


No it's not.  It's not awesome.  

Summer school is for fools, so I guess that makes me a fool.  I'm about ready to wrap up my one and only summer class, titled Writing in the Sciences.  This class was 100% online, and for the record, writing classes work better when your critic is a human being that you know or have met.  This nebulous on-line professor of mine is mean 'n picky and looks like Severus Snape.  (She doesn't really look like Severus Snape.  I'm just being dramatic.  She's a very nice person, and genuinely cares about her students, but she doesn't appreciate my snarky comments and claims there's no room for them in scientific writing.  Go figure.)

For this class, I had three major writing projects: a research proposal, a documentation "how to"showing how to do something scientific and a research review.  They were not easy.  They were very hard.  However, going to college in this decade is out of control, sick and riduculous.  I am doing all of my scientific research on the couch.  All of it.  Not at the library.  Not with 3x5 cards.  Not with microfiche.  Not with WordPerfect 4.2 on 5 1/4 floppies.  Can you believe that?!  And can you believe how badly I just dated myself?!  I can!  Because I'm about to date myself even more by telling you I turned 43 this weekend. 


It was the best birthday ever.  It topped all birthdays.  So good was this birthday, I felt I needed to pay it forward by letting you in on the recipe for the best birthday ever.  Then you can either a) have a birthday just like it, or b) help someone you know have a birthday just like it.  I also plan to use my new 'n improved scientific writing skills to provide said birthday instructions in the form of a documentation "how to."  Hang on to your hats!  Prepare to be amazed!

How To Create the Best Birthday Ever
In many steps

1. Make Bike Ride Plans In American Fork Canyon

This would include riding this trail called "Joy" the night before with a girl called Hillene.  While driving home, you could dream up an epic tour of American Fork Canyon's best, which goes like this:
  1. Up Mill to the Horse Trough.
  2. Dirt road across for a bit.
  3. Ride Ridge to 4-Way.
  4. Down Joy.  
  5. Up Deer Creek to Summit Parking Lot.
  6. Across Ridge to 4-Way.
  7. Down Tibble Fork.
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Here's Hillene, Making Plans

That, is the perfect ride.  I was so excited I couldn't sleep.  

2. Invite Friends

This is the part that is very flexible.  And if you're like me, you begin the inviting at 8:00pm via text message.  This time I conned Spouse and the Biking Borchert Babe. Hillene invited Bry because the wildflowers were out and we needed someone to educate us on their classification.  Last minute, I decided to invite a couple of my crazy neighbors, both of which are scary fast.  Every time I ride with them I'm always in the back crying "Hey... Wait for me!"  I figured that since it was my birthday and because I'm special on this day, they could hang and I would therefore be free from "fat kid in the back" syndrome.  (I hate that.  I'd rather wait for people than be waited on!)

I was wowed by the RSVP of seven whole people.  Seven!  I have Seven Friends!

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Here we are.  Note the motorcycle.  It ain't ours.  
It belongs to the friendly gentleman who took this picture.

3. Arrange Transportation to Trailhead

Unless you live in the mountains, getting to the single track requires some vehicular mobility.  Spouse and me both have racks on our vehicles, enough for seven bikes, so that was taken care of.  Also, if you have a truck, get one of these tailgate things.  They have velcro straps that keep the bikes in place and will hold four to seven bikes.  It's magnificent.

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4.  Go to Bed, But Don't Sleep Because of Excitement

5.  Bring Bling for the Birthday Babe

Hillene brought bling for my helmet.  It was really silly and made for an excellent day of attention.  Everyone knew it was my birthday and provided well birthday wishings.  Grown men on motorcycles, little girls, middle-aged tree huggers – all were hollering a happy birthday to yours truly.

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6.  Drive to Tibble Fork Reservoir

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7.  Park and Ride

Complain for the first two miles because Mill Canyon is a beast.  Provide assurance to those who've never seen this beast that the whole ride is not this way. Take pictures, drink water, eat every 45 minutes and enjoy the view!

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8.  Stop Periodically and Sing Happy Birthday While Circling

9.  Finish Ride and Admire Map for its Lady Parts Resemblance

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10.  Watch Video of Ryan Hall Wishing You a Happy Birthday

Say "What the...? How the...?" over and over while scratching head.  How did this happen?!  I love it!

11. Go for a Boat Ride and Watch Yahoo #1 Wakeboard for First Time

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12.  Eat Thai Food and Cookies

13. Read 58 "Happy Birthday" wishes from E-mail, Texts and Facebook Friends.

14.  Feel Loved.

Did all of that really happen?  It sure did. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Opinions Are Like Fonts

As was mentioned earlier, I've made a giant leap into that awkward territory called "college as an old lady."  It's been great fun and I'm learning and acquiring all sorts of things, including opinions.  I already have loads of opinions – maybe you know this already. Opinions are not in short supply around here and I dare say I might be jam packed without room for more.  But this is college, and college requires that you learn and grow opinions, so in the name of collegiate affiliation, fortification and supplication, I shall sacrifice and acquire more opinions.  For (dissing) the greater good of mankind.

The interesting thing about opinions is that as you acquire more and more, the heated ones have a tendency to float to the top. In this particular stage of my life, I have three fierce and fiery ones atop the froth of my opinion cocktail.  They are: gluten (love it!), computers (the only way to write!) and fonts (judge books and people by ‘em!)

See, you could quit reading now and get the gist.  But being as gluten, writing on computers and fonts are intense nail-biters, I have no doubt you'll continue.

My love for gluten (and it's spongey texture) has no relation to today's post, so I’ll move on to my preferred platform for sentence composition: the computer.  During an in-class writing exercise last semester, we were asked to write with multiple platforms. There were three options: computer (using the software of your choosing), paper (again using the hard and softwares of your choosing) and the smart phone.  We were all assigned to write using one of the aforementioned platforms. First, I was assigned the computer and did a happy dance as I snaked a sideways glance at those stuck on paper and phone. Just when I was about to get comfy, however, the professor pulled a fast one and switched us all to a new platform. I was sentenced to paper.

Paper! Oh the horror.

Nothing stumps me more than paper. I have this condition called acute paper-writing-induced-hand-ache. I don’t do the pen and paper thing much any more, which means the hands are out of shape. So when old-fashioned writing is required, I get the acute paper-writing-induced-hand-ache. And then there's the fact that writing by hand is slower than tar.  My thoughts are like water and evaporate quickly, so if I have to wait for my slow 'n clumsy hands to translate these thoughts? Poof! Nothing will materialize.  It’s important to note that while doing the paper method of writing, I did another happy dance because I wasn’t stuck on my phone. Because, well, the phone? It’s great for notes, but actual writing? Not sure. Perhaps I should try it before acquiring this opinion.

This writing platform exercise grew a new 'n intense opinion. I knew that I preferred the computer to other forms of creation, but I had no idea that it was the happy-dance type of preferred. Paper feels so permanent, and sloppy, and exposed. Computers, on the other hand, feel temporary, and adjustable and private.  (Because my passwords are rock-star solid!)

Now let’s move on to fonts. Fonts are everywhere. There are thousands, maybe even millions and my opinionated mind says 80% of those fonts are garbage. Perhaps there should be some sort of registration office for fonts so that we can keep track of them all. We could assign each a social security number and make them pay taxes.

Also during the semester, we were required to read excerpts from a book called Design Principles by Robin Williams (but not that Robin Williams).  This book has some basic how-to tips for designing documents and images so that the desired message is communicated effectively.  During this reading, I was reminded of my inflexible and rigid platitude for all things font. While Williams’ design segments were informative, easy to read and provided many ways for us non-designers to improve, there was this “font” thing about it; meaning she used that one font that I hate, that font called Comic Sans.

Nothing, aside from the chalkboard scratch, prickles my neck hair more than the Comic Sans. Not only should that font pay taxes, its existence is felonious. It should go to jail.

Needless to say, I didn't learn much from Williams' how-to for design tips because I was too plagued with disgust over her Comic Sans discourse.

I'm no design junky, so I'm rather awed by my font particularity.  Why do I care, exactly?  Not sure. I'm not alone though, because I've been around long enough to know most of you have opinions about fonts too, just like you all have...  you know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weather Woes - Tuesday Tunes, vol 125

Oh this weather.  It has me singing the blues.  Rain, rain and more rain.  And when there's no rain there's some wind and thunder and lightning.  This is one of the problems with bike riding: it requires semi-decent weather.  (Although I should prolly clarify and say that one of my problems with bike riding is that it requires semi-decent weather.  Some of you might not have a problem with it.  Me on the other hand?  I'm no weather warrior.)

On the road, rain is a bust.  On the trail, rain can lead to mud which is also a bust.  Rain can be a bust all the way around unless you hit the trail right after the proper amount of rain, which can lead to this strange phenomenon called "hero dirt" (this "hero dirt" requires a post on some other day).

Never in my life – aside from the times that I was busy chasing the Powder Day – have I watched the weather so closely and with such obsession.  Four times a day I check the hourly postings on  Obsessed, I say, obsessed!  Some check Facebook and whatnot while I check my weather app.  I don't just check the weather locally, either.  I check the locales of various friends and such:

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If you look closely, you'll see rain flying in every city around me.  Boo.

It's Tuesday and it's raining so I thought I'd bring back the Tuesday Tunes.  Today's chapter is all about my Weather Woes.  Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Top Ten Reasons Not Running is a Good Thing

About ten days ago, I had this genius idea.  I could present a top ten list of why not running is a good thing.  Sometimes I'm known as a one-door-closes-another-one-opens kind of gal (not right away though) and figured the best way to demonstrate my one-door-closes-another-one-opens virtue would be to fashion a top ten list.  I would present ten glorious pieces of evidence to demonstrate that giving up the mileage slog has some sort of benefit.  I stewed over this for many days.  Ten, even.  And here's what happened:


And then when I heard these crickets (I really did and do!), it occurred to me that this is very strange, this use of cricket chirps to demonstrate silence.  Obviously a diversion transpired and my quest for the top ten not-running accolades was sidelined as I went straightaway to investigate the origin of this crickets phenomenon.  If I don't get to the bottom of this – and now – someone might die.

You might think otherwise, but searching for this information was not as easy as it seems.  There's this whole insect thing to contend with.  (With which to contend?)  And a game and all sorts of other variants to disambiguate. After three googleings, 24 mouse clicks and a scrolling-induced hand-cramp, I'm still without information on this subject.  Lots of articles and whatnot say why it's used (because, like, duh, it's because you can only hear crickets when there is silence) but no one really says when or why it was first used or who started it.  One guy, who calls himself Earl Snake-Hips Tucker, solicited a response via with "the first time I recall it was in a Pink Panther cartoon @1970. The Pink Panther is conducting an orchestra, possibly at the Hollywood Bowl, and after he finishes the concert, he sees that there's only one (enthusiastically applauding!) person left in the audience. Before we see the sole attendee, I think there's the sound of crickets chirping. Anyone with any earlier cite?"  

You know what Earl Snake-Hips Tucker received from his request?  Crickets.

No one responded! Laughed my ass on for real!  I say I laughed my ass "on" not "off" because when was the last time you saw a get-thin-quick offering that included laughing your fat ass skinny?  To this day I don't get why "laughed my ass off" is used.  But before I move down that tangent (and do three more googleings, 24 mouse clicks and acquire another scroll-induced hand-cramp), I must return to the task at hand: a top ten list of why not running is a good thing.  I still have no idea where I'm going with this so I guess I'll call this a writing exercise and just start already.

Top Ten Reasons Not Running is a Good Thing:

10. No more black toes! That is, until you squeeze your wide hairy hobbit feet into shoes that are too small, walk about campus for an entire day and choke the big toe.  Luckily you have this Megan girl, who does not have wide hairy hobbit feet and you can give them to her.

9. Save money because you can eat less now!  Yeah.  Reaching.  I don't eat less now so I'm not saving money.

8. New friends!  Because your old ones are too busy running. Which leads me to:

7. No more running group drama! Better leave that one with a no comment.  For now.  Although it just occurred to me that I might have been the reason for the drama.

6. Sleep more!  Truly, this is great.  The bed (and the couch and my office chair and the front seat of the car) have this new fun permanent indentation.

5. No stress about staying healthy!  Which means no more ice baths, frantic massages, foam rollers, tens-unit electrocutions, panic, missed races and lost cash.  And if by chance you're splattered with the stomach flu, cold or pneumonia?  Big deal.  Sleep.

4. More Spontaneous Fun! Now that you don't have a magnum fartlek or long run or hill repeats to do in the morning, there's plenty of room for a late movie on a whim, a quick out-of-towner or whatever suits the present fancy.

3. Saturday morning pancakes with the Yahoos!  Try new varieties, like pumpkin, sourdough, raspberry, molasses and chocolate chip.

2. Live Longer! Too much running might actually shorten your life.  I heard this first on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and did a sort of happy, you-suckers victory dance. The claim was published by the Copenhagen City Heart Study through the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

1. More time for bikes! Yes. Bikes are rad.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Saturday Morning! Who's Gonna Play With Me?

By and extra large, the most difficult and trying result of this not-running business, is the Saturday Morning.  Oh how I miss the Saturday Morning.  For 17 years (aside from the couple of years in which I was carrying the Yahoos), I'd wake around 5:00am, meet friends for play, run my guts out and return home to eat like a horse.  Each Saturday would have been in the ball park of 15 to 20 miles.  And strangely enough, I'd come home with more energy than I had when I left.

Saturday Mornings now are just about me sleeping in, me dragging my butt out of bed to go ride my bike (by myself), which doesn't usually happen until the afternoon, and then I get bored because I have no one to talk to and bail early.  I usually sing "Saturday Morning! Who's gonna play with me?!" all the way home.

On this Saturday Morning, one in which I'm sitting in bed, waiting for the motivation to land, I decided that it was time to do a Saturday Morning playlist.  First up?  Saturday Morning (Who's gonna play with me) - Eels.  It's a great tune...

Friday, May 01, 2015

In Sickness and In Health

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Just finished this intense nail-biter (In Sickness and In Health: Exercise Addiction in Endurance Athletes).  If you care to read my three-star account of its reading, visit my GoodReads review.

It's not exactly the book I was looking for so I guess I better keep looking?  Fun!

Monday, April 27, 2015


I suppose each life is full of addictions.  We find something we like, it improves our quality of life and has a considerable impact on our physical and emotional well-being.  And when we find this something (or somethings), it’s only natural to do it again and again and again. 

There are many things in this meager little existence of mine that improve the quality of life and boost my emotional and physical well-being.  Things like internet access, hot water, cake, bike racks, caffeine, sunshine, snowstorms, books and itty-bitty moleskin notebooks. 

But of all the well-being uppers, Running, trumps them all.

I went to bed each day with hopes and dreams of the next morning’s run.  The anticipation of each morning run was alarm clock enough – no further motivation or stimulus was needed.  Each run started slowly, to work out and stiffness or fatigue, but then, after a mile or two, the methodical thump-thump of both feet and heart produced a “YES!  I am alive!” euphoria.  Each run was five (or six or eight or ten or twenty) miles of pure, clean crystalline dopamine, which, after finishing, guaranteed a cool, calm collection and an amped brain. 

Nothing compares to the post-run high.  Nothing.  The post-run high is emotional and physical bliss. My skin and all major organs, cells and bones would buzz with a gooey sort of electric current. I had more patience. I had more energy. I liked me more.

What’s wrong with that?!  Nothing!  Unless you can’t do it anymore.

The trouble with dopamine or other feel-good brain chemicals is this thing called tolerance.  The more you use it, the more you need.  So one might be able to run five miles, five days a week and be great for a while.  But soon that won’t be enough and you’ll need six miles, then seven, then ten, then twenty, then... you’ll run until your body can’t run anymore.

There’s a lot of talk about “healthy addictions.”  About how, “If you’re going to be addicted to something, it might as well be exercise. It’s good for you!” Or there’s also “As far as addictions go, it’s not a bad one.”  All of that addiction justification works really well, when you are able to run.  But when you can’t run?  The world crashes and it crashes hard.

I have spent the last two years in a vicious cycle of run-injured-crash-run-injured-crash.  Each crash sidelines me for days.  I cry, I mope, I feel like shit and my confidence and self-worth are shot.  After a few weeks, I feel okay again as my brain finally adapts.  But then a few more weeks will go by and I’ll think “I can run again, but this time I’ll stretch more…” or warm up more, or eat more broccoli, or blah-more-blah-more-blah.

They (the folks who wrote that one article that I looked at in my school library) say that running is similar to heroin in a lot of ways.  It utilizes opiate receptors in the brain and causes an intense withdrawal when one stops cold turkey.  You get the fidigets, you sweat some, you bark at people for no reason and you want to remove every square inch of your skin with a dull cheese grater.  I have stopped running cold turkey several times.  I know what this is like.  It’s horrible.  And after you do it a few times, a little fairy shows up and says, “Girl?  Yer addicted.”

But it’s a healthy addiction!  If you’re going to be addicted to something, it might as well be running!  As far as addictions go, running is not a bad one!

Running doesn’t get in the way (not counting the thousands of times in your life that you scheduled the family Saturdays ‘n vacations ‘n everything else around it) unless you can’t run any more.  And then when it stops suddenly, and you feel as if your first born pet was strung up and shot before your eyes, you begin to think seriously about hangin’ at the high school to see if you can score some smack.

So here’s my question for today: Is there such a thing as a healthy addiction?