Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Size matters?

A little humor, sent by my friend Bill Benson.

A man wakes up in the hospital, bandaged from head to foot. The doctor comes in and says, "Ah, I see you've regained consciousness. Now, you probably won't remember, but you were in a pile-up on the freeway. You're going to be okay, you'll walk again and everything, but something happened. I'm trying to break this gently, but the fact is, your willy was chopped off in the wreck and we were unable to find it."

The man groans, but the doctor goes on, "The good news is you've got $9000 in insurance compensation coming and we have the technology now to build you a new willy that will work as well as your old one did, and better in fact! But the thing is, it doesn't come cheap. It's $1000 an inch."

The man perks up at this.

"So," the doctor says, "it's for you to decide how many inches you want. But it's something you'd better discuss with your wife. I mean, if you had a five inch one before, and you decide to go for a nine incher, she might be a bit put out. But if you had a nine inch one before, and you decide only to invest in a five incher this time, she might be disappointed. It's important that she plays a role in this. Making decisions together will help you through this tough time."

The man agrees to talk with his wife.

The doctor comes back the next day. "So,' says the doctor, 'have you spoken with your wife?"

"I have," says the man.

"And has she helped you in making the decision?"

"Yes, she has," says the man.

"And what is it?" asks the doctor

"We're getting granite countertops."

Staplehead is gone

Jasper has had his staples out for a few weeks now. He is doing great and now we are just waiting for all the hair to grow back in. It's a pretty big difference from this.

Little Red Riding Hood

My mom sent me the pointer to this modern day interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood. You have to hand it to the creator, it's impressive, mostly in that it is so different. Takes about 2-3 minutes.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Pond skimming 2009

This Saturday we went to The Canyons ski resort to check out the annual pond skimming event. This is one of our favorite events in Park City.

Several thousand people came to watch the 100 participants head down the hill and try to ski or board across a pond of very cold water.

All the participants dressed up. They ranged from fairly simple things, like a chicken...

or this guy who seems to just have a duck and little floaties...

to something more complex. This horse was two teenagers. How they managed not to ski into each other boggles my mind.

One of the more entertaining outfits was the Octomom. You can't see the media without hearing about this lady who added 8 kids to her existing batch of six.

It was a guy, dressed with big, ugly lipsticked lips. He had little baby dolls attached to him everywhere. He was pulling a raft that had even more kids and some signs. Quite the timely costume. You can see some of the dolls came off and are floating around in the pond.

I wasn't in a place to capture many of the big splashes. Too many heads in the way. However, you can get a sense of what it was like from this guy. He was dressed up as the black knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Some were a bit crude. This guy was quite proud of his thong draped butt. If you wanted to see a guy in a thong, this would not be who you wanted to see.

Entry number 69 took his position to heart...

Some old style. This guy found an old Nevica one piece ski suite and was skiing a monoboard.

And now my favorite. This race car was built with a wooden frame riding on two skis. The driver sat on the frame and his friends put the cardboard race car on top. The problem was steering It seemed to go to the right at quite a clip.

To make it more interesting, he started an orange smoke bomb before the car got going.

Almost immediately, the car crashes into the barrier that kept the spectators off the course.

In an obvious hit a run, the driver gets out and runs off. He eventually dove into the pond to complete his run.

The ski patrol guys running the event grabbed the car and took it to the pond in an effort to extinguish the putrid plume of orange smoke. No such luck. This must have been a military grade rescue smoke bomb. It was quite happy in the water, air or snow. It just kept on going.

Not great pictures, but great fun. The Canyons somehow managed to time the event to squeeze one day of good weather between several serious snow storms. It was a wonderful day for hanging out and watching the show!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring in Utah

While I was off golfing last week, Park City had highs in the 50s and 60s. That's pretty hard on the snow pack. Everyone was seriously worried about the last few weeks of the ski season. Since then, Park City has reported:

  • Sunday - 4" snow
  • Monday - 6" snow
  • Tuesday - 6" snow
  • Wednesday - 18" snow

This appears to be a normal Park City spring. Warm, then cold, then snow, then more warm, .... and so on. This continues through April.

On some other big positive notes, Barbie Reid can drive now after her ACL surgery and Bruce Kahn skied with Julie and I today!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let the fun begin

I have now started running again. My hope is to run a marathon in the fall and qualify for Boston. So far, I have learned that not running for the last four months took the edge off my conditioning. Starting from scratch.

Unfortunately, it is quite difficult for me to run six months without injuring myself. I'll give it a shot though.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Golf Fest 2009

Every year for the last 25 or so, I have gone golfing with some friends from college. We head down to Myrtle Beach in the late winter or early spring, when the rates for golf and lodging are still low. We fill out the group with some other friends to get a nice even eight.

This year we had some beautiful weather, although a bit chillier than a normal late March day. We stayed in Cherry Grove and played up at The Big Cats at Ocean Dune. We ended up with two OK courses and two very nice ones.

On our final day, we teamed up for some Superball. Team 1, from left to right, is Darrell Baber, John Steigerwald, Lewis Petree and Jason Shive.

The stunning team 2 was Mark Reid, Steve Joyce (me), Dave Allred and Jim Saunders. Although I think we were an all around better team (better looks, better attitude, better drinkers, ...) we did not appear to be better golfers and we got our butts kicked.

Here's Jason winding up on one. Notice that there is water in almost every picture. That's not a fluke.

Mark, either admiring his shot or pondering why he plays golf. For those of us with high handicaps, there is a lot of fluctuation from swing to swing.

Darrell, as always, beat all of us.

Lewis played well throughout the weekend.

...and the award for toughest shot goes to John Steigerwald. From a long way out, he almost cleared the little pond in front of the green. Somehow his ball lodged in the rocks on the water's edge. He actually got a fairly clean hit out, which is amazing.

For me personally, I have to laugh. No matter how good or bad I play, my team almost always wins our Saturday bet for dinner. In the 25 years we have been going, I probably have 20 free meals. This year I acutally hit well on Saturday and played some part in getting our free food. I wish I could apply this good kharma to a more important part of life. Oh well. I'll take what I get.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wear a damn helmet!!!

I am sure many of you have already read:

Natasha Richardson, a film star, Tony-winning stage actress and member of the famed Redgrave acting family, died Wednesday after suffering injuries in a ski accident, according to a family statement. She was 45.

According to a statement from Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, Richardson fell during a lesson on a beginners' trail. "She did not show any visible sign of injury, but the ski patrol followed strict procedures and brought her back to the bottom of the slope and insisted she should see a doctor," the statement said.

If you ski with us and don't wear a helmet, you already know we can be quite a nag. We hear silly things about "I don't ski that fast" or "I don't ski near the trees". The only reason not to wear a helmet is if your brain just isn't worth the $100 it costs to buy a good ski helmet.

Jasper update 2

Jasper the staple dog is getting better. While we were in France, he had a minor setback. A dog on his doggie adventure got rough with him and 4 staples came out. They took him to the vet and had new staples put back in. As a result, his "all staples out" date moved from Monday to this Friday.

Other than still having a bad case of staple head, he has no idea that there was a problem. He seems disappointed that we won't let him go at his normal 120%. I think he wonders why we don't let him play with his toys that have a hard rubber ball at the end of a rope. If you've seen him, he grabs the rope and swings it so hard and fast, he beats himself silly with it. Oh well.

Thanks to everyone who checked in on him!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Skiing in France

Julie and I took off for a ski trip to France. Fortunately Delta added a direct flight from Salt Lake City to Paris. We used frequent flier miles to fly business class, which made the 10ish hours each direction more reasonable. (Unrelated, the same Delta got rid of our direct flight from Salt Lake to Raleigh, which is causing great problems hauling the dog)

We had one day to wander around Paris before the rest of the group arrived. We decided to take a walking tour of the city. It was interesting and entertaining. The guy with with his hand up is our guide. It was a combination of real history with things like "Do you remember the bridge in The Bourne Identity? This is it."

We wandered by the Louvre and saw this group of radical extremists who thought it would be fun to do an impromptu Ring Around the Rosie. While you might think this is harmless fun, the Louvre's security didn't. They immediately came over to end what they must have viewed as a satanic ritual.

This just seemed too appropriate. The two pigeons sitting on the statue seem to be causing him to scream in angst. I can see him saying "Get these damn pooping birds off me!"

The rest of the group arrived that night and we all went out to dinner at one of our favorite Parisian restaurants, Aux Deux Canards.

These are the two people who have coordinated all of our French ski trips: Norm and Ginny Andrews. Until a month or so ago, they owned the Wine and Things store in Raleigh. They are now happily retired and are figuring out what that really means.

We went skiing Meribel, which is part of the Three Valleys ski area. The area is monstrous, with as many lifts as all the ski areas in Utah combined. This is the fourth time we have skied in France and it was by far the best. It snowed about 15 inches two days before we got there. Then it snowed another 18 inches during our first few days. Having established a nice base of powder, it turned sunny and warm. Just awesome!

Here's the whole ski gang on our first day out. From left to right, Julie (my wife), Cosette Serabjit-Singh, Dick Philpot, Paul Simson, Jennifer Van Anda, Norman Andrews, GinnyAndrews, David Beam, and Ilona Linnoila.

We were staying at a great chalet. Not only is it ski-in/ski-out, it comes complete with a wonderful couple who prepared most of our breakfasts and dinners. Sean and Kim are from England and have done this chalet hosting for three years. They were great fun, cooked well, and took great care of us. If you ever go to that area, I highly recommend using the company Ski Cuisine (out of the UK).

Julie and I, up at the top of the mountain.

This is Jennifer Van Arda. She is a great skier and was having a great trip until late Wednesday. She was skiing a nice line down the side of a slope when a snowboarder came zipping in from off-piste. He ran into Jennifer and took her out along with several other people. The bad news is that the board fractured her tibia and fibula. For the third time in a month, we had a friend go down the mountain in a toboggan.

It turns out the breaks were both bad. She was shipped to a hospital about 90 minutes from the slopes where she had surgery the next day. One steel rod and eight screws later, she was "fixed". Cosette went with her and stayed at the hospital. Our group of ten was down to eight until we reunited in Paris.

Very sad.

Ginny is plowing down through the powder. It looks like an interesting mix of skiing and running.

Julie was enjoying the powder with everyone else.

Cosette demonstrates one of the important lessons in skiing, you tend to head in the direction you are looking. Unfortunately, she was paying quite a bit of attention to me taking pictures. She stopped about a foot or two from me, spewing powder everywhere.

I love skiing in Utah but where do you find scenery like this? It is like this every direction you look.

One of the downsides of having so much snow is that you need to ski in a bit of bad weather. We weren't in the clouds that often, but when we were it was eirie.

Up on the top of Mount Valon, the winds were howling. You got a free dermabrasion with every run! Dick is fighting his way off the ridge line. Once you dropped a few hundred yards, the winds dropped to almost nothing.

The French Alps are spectacular. As they are much younger geographically, they are dramatic spires, steep and huge.

The lighting was really interesting one day. There were clouds moving in and out but the sun was shining through the holes. It was hard to really capture on film, but the mix of lighting and texture of the mountains was beautiful.

Dick and Jennifer stop in front of a glowing cornice. The wind had blown interesting patterns in the snow.

The powder was fantastic. There is so much off-piste skiing that you could find powder everywhere.

Sometimes you would be skiing along in the clouds and suddenly a distant mountain range would begin to appear. It was almost mystic.

The high winds at the top of the mountain were blowing the snow off, making even a bluebird day interesting for pictures.

Norman, having just jumped off the huge cliffs, is looking for his next hop. OK, maybe he really skied around them, but they sure are a sight.

I tried to get artsy and catch the reflection of the mountains in Julie's goggles. It worked, but barely. At least she's cute!

Other than Jennifer's broken leg, the trip was fantastic. Great snow. A nice place to stay. Awesome French food. Even a direct, business class flight. Wish they were all like this.

Now, back to NC this afternoon to get in my annual golf trip to Myrtle Beach.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Jasper update

Jasper had his Mast Cell Tumor removed. This is basically a form of doggie cancer. The good news is the biopsy reported that it was cleanly, completely removed. This is apparently a bit of a challenge for these tumors, which is why the vet took out such a huge chunk of dog.

The bad news is that it was bad enough that we will need to be really diligent about any future bumps or problems.

Now we just need him to avoid disrupting the surgical staples until they are removed in two weeks.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Skiing with more Raleigh folk

This week, two different families were out in Park City for ski vacations. I managed to ski with both of them yesterday.

I used to work with Jim Fletcher at IBM. His wife was taking a day off from skiing, so it was Jim, his daughter Hannah and his son Matt. They were both excellent skiers and spent quite a bit of time zipping through the trees. Jim and I tried to keep up through the hard packed bumpy trails.

We ate at the Mid-Mountain restaurant. I was afraid to come close to any of Hannah's food. She seemed quite protective.

Then I got a call from Christine Tyburski. She was not only at the same resort, but the same lift. That made it pretty easy to catch up with Christine and her dad. She was a good friend from NC State. A number of girls in her suite became friends with guys on my hall.

OK, I didn't ski with this guy, but I did think he was funny. The liftees at the bottom of the King Con lift had built him. He seems to be trying to pick up snow chicks.