Monthly Archives: February 2015


24 Feb

Hike n Bike

Posted by on February 24, 2015 at 11:00 pm

I’ve been planning on posting about our summer hiking and biking adventures for months but I didn’t want to do so until the season was decisively over. Well, since it is now February and it oddly feels like warm weather is nearly upon us again, at this point I think it’s safe to summarize last summer’s trail flings.

This nameless path up the North Fork of American Fork Canyon provided great views and no company.

This nameless path up the North Fork of American Fork Canyon provided great views and no company.

Silver Lake was secluded and stunning.

Silver Lake was secluded and stunning.

We frequented American Fork Canyon with both bikes and boots last summer; it was our most common outdoor playground. Besides a few trips to Lambert Park and Corner Canyon, it monopolized our mountain time.

The peaceful waters of Silver Lake doubled the expanse of the encircling summits.

The peaceful waters of Silver Lake doubled the expanse of the encircling summits.

This is my favorite meadow and a frequent pedaling point of ours in AF Canyon.

This is my favorite meadow and a frequent pedaling point of ours in AF Canyon.

We were rambling in AF Canyon on foot before the ski resorts even closed last spring, hitting both renowned and anonymous paths. Silver Lake, not to be confused with plainer Silver Lake Flat Reservoir, is about a 4.5-mile hike roundtrip and was our favorite destination discovery last summer. Its trail gains about 1500 feet but it’s too short to be too difficult. The lake is situated in a narrow basin surrounded by towering peaks and boulder-strewn hillsides; ideal about covers it. We walked around the whole lagoon at Jason’s request, or insistence really. Circumnavigating Silver Lake was a little rough, especially where chutes of rock chunks invaded the shore, but we had a good time boldly going where no man had gone for a few days.

Although barely a hike, Jason and I enjoyed walking to the Silver King Mine at Park City Mountain Resort.

Although barely a hike, Jason and I enjoyed walking to the Silver King Mine at Park City Mountain Resort.

As fun as our two-legged meanderings were, we pedaled in American Fork Canyon more than we trekked. We regularly visited our usual tracks, like Great Western and Ridge Trail 157, but we also checked out an area in the canyon we’d never been to: Pole Line Pass. Pole Line Pass separates Utah Valley from Heber Valley at a little over 8,000 feet. You have to travel 8 miles on a dirt road to reach it. Eight miles doesn’t sound like much but the path is pretty bumpy so our Subaru needed an hour to churn through it. Unfortunately, that left us less time than expected to fling ourselves, and our cycles, down Pole Line’s dusty crest but, taken as a whole kit and caboodle, it was still a gratifying adventure.

Heading south from Pole Line Pass, valleys hugged both sides of our path.

Heading south from Pole Line Pass, valleys hugged both sides of our path.

Fall is a terrific time to bike American Fork Canyon when cooler conditions turn the aspens and oaks into fiery forests.

Fall is a terrific time to bike American Fork Canyon when cooler conditions turn the aspens and oaks into fiery forests.

Summer, like its cooler counterparts, provides ample opportunities to get your heart tuckered out in scenic style. Jason and I are not ones to save our energy and waste a season. No sir, we like to expend and experience it all.

17 Feb

Films in Good Taste

Posted by on February 17, 2015 at 9:36 pm

As all of you are well aware, Jason and I have enormously good taste. Where we go fashion follows without reservation. Remember Jason’s Mario speedo? Need I say more? Here’s yet another example of our legendary discernment in action.

The Sundance Film Festival has been a January tradition for us for about a decade. We attend five or six films each year. It’s hard to choose which shows to go to, out of the over a hundred available, based on the small paragraph provided for each, especially without critics’ opinions to sway you. We know how to pick them though. On that note, I present to you our Sundance selections for 2015.

Dark Horse was an inspirational documentary about a racehorse called Dream Alliance bred by a group of regular Joes from a small mining village in Wales. This “cheap” thoroughbred took that sport of the privileged by its snooty hock and galloped all over it. Dark Horse was moving and funny and won the World Cinema Audience Award at the festival.

It was cool hearing from Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, and Jemaine Clement during the Don Verdean Q&A.

It was cool hearing from Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, and Jemaine Clement during the Don Verdean Q&A.

Meru, a U.S. made documentary, covered the story of three American climbers and their two attempts to scale the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, a perilous route to the top of Meru’s 21,000-foot peak that had not yet been successfully ascended. What was so remarkable about this film, and probably one of the primary reasons it won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award, was its abundant footage of breathtaking scenery and heart-pounding action that was mostly taken by these mountaineers as they were navigating this hazardous fin.

Our Meru screening was followed by a great Q&A that featured the climbers and creators of the show.

Our Meru screening was followed by a great Q&A that featured the climbers and creators of the show.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic this year went to Slow West, another movie we attended. Slow West was a Western of a curious sort. Although it took place in Colorado, it was made by a Scottish director/writer and filmed in New Zealand. Yet, it captured the spirit of America’s tangled heritage quite well.

John Maclean, the Scottish director/screenwriter of Slow West talked about his motivation for making a Western.

John Maclean, the Scottish director/screenwriter of Slow West talked about his motivation for making a Western.

Strangerland, an Australian-made picture featuring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, was undeniably hard to watch. It was part thriller and part psychological drama and all a bit raw and disturbing. The characters weren’t particularly likable but their portrayal of human nature was refreshingly candid.

I'll be famous tomorrow for sure...or possibly the next day.

I’ll be famous tomorrow for sure…or possibly the next day.

The last two shows we saw at Sundance were premiers. We enjoyed them but they weren’t awarded anything beyond our prestigious presence. Experimenter was a stylistic look at Stanley Milgram, the conductor of the Yale “obedience experiments.” Don Verdean was a satire about biblical archeologists that was written and directed by Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame. It had that same random funny-yet-awkward feel.

In total, we attended six films at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Three of them won festival awards and all but one were followed by a Q&A. I’d say that picking 50% award-winning and 83% famously-followed shows entitles us to a certain degree of confidence in our tasteful selectivity. Yup, we know about popular.

11 Feb

EL Wired

Posted by on February 11, 2015 at 12:05 am

Last September, Jason and I took a Salt Lake Comic Con cosplay class: Adding Light to Cosplay. There we learned how to make hoods accented with EL wire but we didn’t finish our course projects for months. Now they have finally been masterfully completed so allow me to masterfully tell you all about it…or tell you about it as masterfully as someone who keeps using the word “masterfully” like they don’t know any other adverbs can.

Do your eyes deceive you? No, this manly specimen is stitching away.

Do your eyes deceive you? No, this manly specimen is stitching away.

Adding Light to Cosplay was an interesting class. It demonstrated that EL wires really aren’t too tricky to sew with. Plus, as an added bonus, it included an Arduino lecture with programming techniques for those nifty microcontrollers. Although sewing machines and supplies were prepped so attendees could theoretically take home a completed hood at the end of the evening, I didn’t want to wait in line to share a machine when I could hog my own luxurious appliance at home. Consequently, instead of being stitched that night, our hoods waited in pieces near my elegantly-needled contraption for months. After the fog of Halloween and Christmas distractions dissipated, I remembered that we still needed to complete those glowing cowls and was shocked to hear that Jason actually wanted to assemble his himself.

Jason was going for more of a sinister looks with his color selection. I, on the other hand, was not about to join the dark side.

Jason was going for more of a sinister looks with his color selection. I, on the other hand, was not about to join the dark side.

While tutoring Jason was nearly as time-consuming as just making his myself, I appreciated that he didn’t simply expect me to assemble it for him, which is what I expected. Despite Jason’s supervision needs, the hardest thing about fashioning our hoods at home wasn’t my apprentice, it was my memory. Since the instructions were given to us orally months ago, I couldn’t recall their exact details. Luckily, thanks to years of fumbling with threads, my adlibbing resulted in items perceivable as hoods to the naked eye.

Jason and I are both satisfied with our EL experiments. I am particularly pleased that Jason’s didn’t turn into a luminescent blob. Nicely done hubby! Interested in EL attire? If Jason can sew with EL, anyone can. I mean that literally.

3 Feb

A Race Case

Posted by on February 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm

Despite what they tell you, slow and steady doesn’t usually win the race. With that in mind, I present to you the strange case of my rise from the dregs of race mediocrity. I will share last summer’s asphalt battles, their outcomes, and the perplexing questions that they leave unanswered. Then, perhaps, you will fare better than I at unraveling the mysteries of this counterintuitive tale.

The first race of the 2014 season, for Jason and me, was the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival 5K. This event took place at the end of April but the weather felt more like February. Unusual chilliness combined with relentless moisture to create a vortex of sopping unpleasantness along its entire path. I dripped through the finish line at 29:39, coming 6th in my category, an unimpressively run-of the-mill conclusion to be sure. Jason placed 5th in his group at 23:14.

Although it was almost May, the Thanksgiving Point 5K was quite cold and wet.

Although it was almost May, the Thanksgiving Point 5K was quite cold and wet.

Color Me Rad was our next 5K but it wasn’t timed so we’ll never know if we sprinted or sauntered through it, though I suspect the later. Then, we ran the Lehi Roundup 5-Mile in June. We both somehow managed to rank 2nd in our respective Roundup divisions with a time of 48:41 for me and 37:59 for Jason. Sadly, they only gave out medals to the 1st-place winners so I got no bling for what I thought might be my only victory forevermore.

In August, we did the Midnight Moon 5K in Sandy. I sped it up to 29:18 for this race and Jason slowed it down to 23:32. These times were good enough for 2nd place in my division and 1st in Jason’s. Another 2nd place for me? How was that possible?

The crowning achievement of our 2014 racing careers transpired in October. I guess I dash better deceased because I booked it during the Night of the Running Dead 5K, dressed as a zombie, and finished in 26:33. Jason crossed the line at 21:32, 5 minutes before me. In full disclosure, our reanimated muscles weren’t the only reason for these curiously-quick outcomes, the course was slightly shorter than a true 5K. Undersized route or not, our paces secured us both 1st place in our categories.

Our nephew, Jadon, participated in the kids run at Thanksgiving Point, despite the rain.

Our nephew, Jadon, participated in the kids run at Thanksgiving Point, despite the rain.

Why all the wins? What’s in my secret sauce? (Jason’s sauce is no trade secret.) I’m certainly not a fast runner, as my race times verify, so I’m a little perplexed over my fresh success. I didn’t enter a new age category this year so I can’t blame the other old farts. Is the world slowing, making me seem swifter by comparison? Alas, I’m afraid my sauce will forever be spiced with enigmas.

While I’d love to be a running superstar with the trophies and medals to prove that I’m the non-rodent equivalent of Speedy Gonzales, my legs aren’t really onboard with that. Consequently, I’m not sure how to make my recent triumphs fit into my philosophy of the universe. Can slow and steady truly win the race more times than can be accounted for by flukes? Maybe when the 2015 racing starts I’ll find out.