Sunday, February 28, 2010

The mini ski group

Every year we have a big gathering with a bunch of skiing friends, but this year it was different. Our friends the Kahn's have moved to Australia. Anne Schick had a sore hip, so she and Tom didn't come. Sherrie Smith couldn't come and Katie and Cameron were in school. For a while, it looked like the whole group would be John Walker.

In the end, it worked out OK. We had John, Mark Nickels and Bill Hogan come to ski with us. These three were the creators of this ski group, years before Julie and I joined in.

Our first day of skiing was on about 8 inches of fresh snow over at Park City Mountain Resort. It was a splendid day of effortless skiing with a wonderful lunch at the Silver Star Cafe. If you ski Park City, you really should grab a lunch down there. It's at the bottom of the Silver Star lift.

Our next day was at Deer Valley. Sunny and warm but a bit windy.

We met up with John for lunch at Goldener Hirsch, one of John's favorites. He would have been skiing with us, but he ripped the tongue out of his custom ski boot liner. Fortunately, when you buy stuff at Sure Foot, you get repairs for free. I don't think any of us had ever heard of ripping out a chunk of boot liner.

Bill (left) and Mark riding up the gondola from the bottom of Deer Crest at Deer Valley. We still can't get Bill to buy a helmet. He is the last of our 14 skiers without a helmet.

Day 3 of skiing was back at PCMR. We skied down into town for lunch at the Bridge. Another fine choice. After skiing we hit the new High West Distillery. They had a good band, but the sound system wasn't doing them any favors. That's JohnQ up front, listening to figure out what was wrong. On their break he went up to give them some feedback. The rest of us were just checking the door to make sure we could leave quickly if it came to that.

Bill had almost perfect camouflage to hide in this sign.

John and boots weren't doing well together. After killing his ski boot, he discovered that the soles of his hiking boots were peeling off as though he had walked through acid. If you look carefully, you can see little chunks of shoe on the wood floor. This happened even thought we were just sitting at a table.

Bad boot karma.

When grocery shopping, John and Mark managed to come home with a box of Easter Peeps. This one suffered a violent death.

The skiing has definitely become something to do between eating and drinking. Days off. Half days of skiing. Long lunches. Watching Olympics on TV. I think it was very relaxing for everyone, but we may have to rename "our ski group".

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Skiing with the Fletcher family

I used to work with Jim Fletcher at IBM. He was one of the ones that managed to combine good work, no bureaucracy, and a lot of fun. We realized that it has now been almost 20 years since I left IBM. Wow!

Jim and his family came out to Park City to ski again this year. His injured wife went cross country skiing while the two kids joined Jim and I at PCMR. Hannah and Matt are either 10 and 11 or 11 and 12, I forget which.

Jim had knee surgery and wasn't thrilled about skiing the bumps. The kids were more than happy to ski anything and everything on the mountain, including a few double-black bowls and tree runs. No fear to be found. The strategy evolved to me taking the kids down something big and ugly, and Jim meeting us at the lift. His knee lived to fight another day.

Hannah got to spend some time hiking up and sliding down to reunite her boot with her ski. They didn't seem to want to stay together.

We had a great time and the kids made a huge improvement over their skiing the year before.

By the way, I hate the camera in my iPhone 3G. It really does take poor pictures. I had to edit them with Lightroom just to make them look this good (bad).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Updating Google Maps

I asked Google Maps for directions to one of the national parks I was visiting. It gave me an incorrect direction, routing me through a private, gated community. It was correct on the shortest route, but it was unavailable to most of us. I clicked on the link for problems with the path and followed the directions. About a month later, I got this:

Hi Steve,

Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right! We'll update the map soon and email you when you can see the change.

Report history
Problem ID: BD4F-2DBA-2BBD-230E

Your report: This is a private community. There is a gate house both at the bottom of McKinnley Gap Trail and at Deer Hollow Rd. The subdivision is called Deer Crest and they won't let anyone through unless you are a resident.
Thanks for your help,
The Google Maps team

Looks like they actually listen and fix things. Cool.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An inspirational meeting

This weekend, Friends of Animals Utah was having a snowshoe event out at the new Brown's Canyon facility. It was an opportunity for supporters to come out and see how the construction is progressing. One of the board members asked Julie and I to bring someone who needed a ride.

We got to meet an incredible young lady. She broke her neck in a snowboarding accident four years ago and was left paralyzed from her C5 down. She is a quadriplegic and was not expected to regain much motion or feeling. With lots of work, she has regained enough mobility to walk. She can use a laptop with a good bit of extra work.

So, if you suffered such an accident, what would you do? How much help would you need? Expect? She packed up from Australia and came to the US. By herself. To a city where she only had one acquaintance. To train at the National Abilities Center as a snowboarder. Her hope is to get snowboarding in the 2014 Paralympics. She was friendly, easy going and interesting.

Why was she going to the FOA event? She was interested in finding somewhere to do some volunteer work. Some people handle adversity well. A tiny handful seem to go through life as though the adversity didn't even exist.

I feel lucky to have met her.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic opening ceremony

I thought the opening ceremonies were pretty boring. I'm never a huge fan, but compared to the summer games in China, these were way off. Way too much tribal Canada for my interests.

The one exception came very late in the program, when K.D. Lang sang Hallelujah. If you didn't see it, watch here. It is the most emotional version of this song I have ever heard. Just beautiful. What a voice.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A grocery store question

When shopping for Superbowl food this morning, I noticed that when the mist sprayers for the vegetables came on, there was a sound track for thunder playing. Does anyone ever get tricked into thinking it is really raining in the store? Is that sound track a value-add to our shopping experience?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Dick and Cosette come to visit

We had some visitors from Raleigh this week. We met Dick and Cosette on our ski trips to France (2003, 2007 and 2009). They come out to ski at Snowbird for a week each year and this year we talked them into coming out a bit early and hanging in Park City.

The snow was nice and we did a day at Park City and then a day at Deer Valley.

Not sure whether Cosette is celebrating or adopting a very upright skiing style.

Even though it hadn't snowed for about 4 days, the bumps were still wonderfully soft.

And Julie got to test out all she had learned from her DV Ladies Ski Clinic. Definite improvement in the trees and steep bumps. Go Julie!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Celebrate the 2500th year with a marathon

Ever thought about running a marathon? Perhaps 2010 should be your year. It was 2500 years ago the Phidippides ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens.

The good news is that they didn't decide to copy the 140 miles runs he did before the 26 miler. You can read an interesting summary of his history here.

So, if you have ever considered a long run, you aren't going to find much bigger than the 2500th anniversary!

The orchid that keeps on giving

This time last year, Barbie Reid sent us a lovely orchid. In August, I posted that the relentless orchid just refused to die, and better, refused to stop blooming. About 2 weeks ago, it went wild again.

It is currently blooming better than any time since we received it.

I've just never heard of a flower that you can ignore so much and have it continue to be so beautiful.

Thanks Barbie!