November 21, 2006

First Ascent

Well, ski season is here again. Of course, we've been anxiously awaiting the snowfall while trying not to take for granted the charm of autumn. Early snowfalls have draped a decorative blanket on Park City's ridgeline that pacifies us each morning through our commute. Annual rituals mark the locals' shared sense of anticipation: the Warren Miller film, Off The Grid, played to a sold out crowd at Park City High School's Eccles Center; The Park City Ski Swap took over the High School as well drawing huge numbers in support of their ski team; friends have been buying gear, collecting ski passes, and comparing notes on which area might have the most rewarding hike-to terrain until the resorts open fully.

Last weekend I was baptized into the world of backcountry touring. Sarah's father, Gary had been making an almost daily trek up Alta's in-bound territory to get in shape for the upcoming season. Last Sunday looked to be an epic affair as the base was just starting to build up enough to ski comfortably and the forecast called for a few fresh inches on top. Gary invited me to join him and I couldn't refuse. Gary let me borrow a set of skins and a pair of Alpine Trekkers to create a makeshift randonee setup. Skins are directional felt straps that fasten to the base of the skis with a layer of adhesive allowing the skier enough friction to walk uphill. Alpine Trekkers are a binding insert that temporarily frees the skier's heel to walk uphill at a more natural angle, effectively converting an alpine binding to a telemark binding.

I hopped in the car at 5am to make it to Gary's house in Sandy. Despite some remaining weather and wind-blown snow on the roads, plus a stop at McDonalds for breakfast, I arrived by 6:30 or so. By 7, we hit the Alta parking lot. There were as many as 6 other cars already there. We hopped out next to Gary's new friend, Dan, a younger hippie kid with dreadlocks and a cheerful disposition, apparently unaffected by the still-rising sun. We fiddled with equipment for a while and headed up from Alta's Goldminer's Daughter Lodge, under the Collins Lift and up the main thoroughfare. Under the hissing snow-guns ice built up a crust on our outer layers, justifying any price paid for waterproof gear. About halfway up, the remaining cast of heavy cloud cover dispersed and the overwhelming but familiar sheen of the surrounding bowl was illuminated under a rich, atmospheric blue. The terrain I knew so well last year was different because I was looking uphill without definition of groomed trails. As far as we could see in all directions was untracked powder, aching to be churned by the most willing participants.

At the top, we encountered a handful of giddy co-conspirators, each praising himself for not sleeping in. This group included Dan, who we hadn't seen since the parking lot, but who was now on his second run. We exchanged friendly banter while adjusting gear and clothing to prepare for the descent. Gary and I munched on celebratory cookies Sarah had baked and packed for us and drank the last of our water. We had taken a less worn route to the top, through a grouping of trees between the top of Collins Lift and the powder field, Ballroom. There we saw such deep socked-in snow and fresh lines that we decided to keep it quiet.

We bid adieu to the other skiers and snuck back into those trees. I let Gary take the first turns and watched him float effortlessly down between the trees and stumps. With deep breath and an even deeper "WHOOHOO", I dropped in, hoping I still remembered how to turn. The plunge could not have been more worth it as I made a few quick moves and gained enough speed in the fall line to start splashing that light, Utah snow all about. We made our way down alongside of some new buddies we met at the top from one favorite stash to the next, each pitch as satisfying as the last.

At the bottom, it became apparent that we had definitely made the right decision to come up early, as there was a swarm of would be adventurers climbing up from the now full parking lot. Gary and I exchanged a high-five and headed down-canyon, still aglow from our victory. Now the resorts are opening and it's time to actually participate in a normal ski day, with lifts and multiple runs, hot chocolate and chili; all in search of that weightless euphoria. But, as with any drug addiction, the first and ultimately best highs are free.

September 9, 2006

Home Improvement Update: The Deck

3 months into our tenure as bumbling rookie homeowners, we’re starting to settle into our space. Knick-knacks (BTW: we just spent a good 4 minutes debating the spelling of “knick-knacks” and the philosophy behind it. Hopefully we got it right) are finding their places on shelves, shelves and pictures are finding themselves on walls, and walls are happily adjusting to their new colors. We still have some touchups and final coats left to do on the walls. But thanks in no small part to help from Patty and Gary, we can soon put our paint supplies into long-term storage, deep in the abyss of our cluttered garage. The garage and its organizational well-being are also on our “List”. Recently, we’ve been chipping away at “The List” with other learn-as-we-go conquests like adding pergo flooring, new trim and crown moulding, and hanging track-lighting, and rigging a lighting kit for Patty’s hand-made tiffany chandelier in the kitchen. We also had the bedrooms re-carpeted, and hung new blinds on the southwest facing windows of the house. Even smaller victories are cause for celebration these days. For instance: we finally cropped and framed the tripdic panorama of Gooch’s Beach we shot 2 or 3 years ago. Reversing the swing of the refrigerator door was another life-altering experience for us. But it also granted the fridge itself a stay of execution as it’s asinine orientation had us temporarily baffled as to how and why (a professional handyman) the previous owner had lived with it so long. Another ongoing more ambitious task – one we delay by lying in bed this Saturday morning with the dogs in our new sleigh bed, 40-or-so inches above the ground on our new discounted pillow-top mattress – is the development of our backyard garden landscape. The addition of a raised “lazy” flowerbed along the back fence with a stone retaining wall as well as some trees for ambiance should compliment the mother of all home improvements: THE DECK.

Down the back of each row of townhomes in our neighborhood one sees the small complementary perches attached to the second-floor kitchens and third-floor master suites. Just large enough for a small grill or a single chair (but not both) these crows-nests are often replaced by a more substantial, family-sized deck. That was our goal when we enlisted our resident wood-master, Gary. He studied other decks in the neighborhood and drew up plans to suit our needs. Our ultimate design was to be a 14x14-foot space off the second floor kitchen, with stairs down to the yard and a balustered railing with gaps underneath for convenient snow removal. Future considerations may include the integration of stairs from the bedroom perch as well. Our additional concept of a 3-story fire-pole may be met with some opposition from the town office. So we’ll have to wait on that.

After receiving our permit from the town, and approval from our Home Owners Association, we set Gary into motion. His time is now being divided between the deck, his own home-improvement efforts at their new house in Sandy, Utah, and his new job in the tool and hardware department at Home Depot. Since acclimating to his new house he has been making regular trips up to Heber to complete his mission. His progress is starting to add up. Having removed the old deck he laid out and planned the footprints, dug holes and poured cement for the footings, installed the support cleat and he was ready for the large, pressure-treated posts. Joe helped him steady those beasts as the angles all fell into place as planned. The long boards that Gary had pre-cut and stained went up next completing the first and most important structural asset, the post and lintel (thanks Art History 101). A day later, like a man possessed, Gary had finished installing the entire framework with all the beams set up in their parallel glory, outlining the actual shape of the deck. As the deck starts to come together we are excited to pick out deck furniture and have people over. What’s more is that we can see the culmination of efforts as this house becomes a home. Our home. And we have to thank Gary (and Patty cheering him on from Maine) for all his hard work and patience, helping us along the way.

July 25, 2006

Things I’ve Learned: I Mow Therefore I Am

Having recently become a homeowner, it has become abundantly clear to me that mowing the lawn is a man’s last true refuge. More seasoned homeowners may prefer chopping wood or pounding nails. But I believe mowing to be the purest masculine pursuit. For starters, mowing involves the obvious: a motor. The gnarly roar is a powerful draw from the time we first toddle upon fresh cut grass. The allure is engrained in our fabric like the color red in our first double-stitched Woolrich shirt. I contend that even the most basic mower engine stirs a mysterious sense of pride in any man who ever primed an engine; who ever yanked a start cord; who ever so much as scooped a clump of grass from a clogged side shoot with his bare hands.

Easily overlooked however, is the very premise of cutting grass. There is something perfectly primal about beheading billions of insolent blades of grass per second. It's an underrated rush. We defend our castle. The idea that we as men are sworn to uphold our perimeter at all costs is an honor. We represent the delicate balance between the overtaking of weeds and a smooth, clean carpet. Perhaps it is our love of field sports that inspires our compulsion to create the perfect yard, the idea that an epic athletic battle could break out at any moment. Or perhaps more simply the aspiration of perfection, to whatever extent we may require it.

From the time a boy is first exposed to the art of lawn maintenance, his father passes on a legacy. Dad’s not looking for cheap day labor, but rather sharing in the one true experience that makes and bonds men: the satisfaction of a smooth clean lawn. Having mowed since I could walk, I never recognized that satisfaction until I recently acquired a patch of my own. The pleasure I derive from simply cutting the grass is a weekly highlight, as is the pride I enjoy upon copletion. It’s my rite, my escape, my destiny. When we mow, we mow to our own satisfaction. We have routines, techniques even. We mow the right way, however that may be for us: in grids; in patterns; quickly; deliberately. We pick up poop. We trim. Sometimes we make two passes. We prep the grass. We water it before bed. We fertilize. We thatch. We move furniture around to even out the light exposure. We obsess over details not because of how it looks, but because we don’t know any better.

I remark in partial jest that the lawn may be the only component over which a man exercises true control. It can be the only time he is right. Certainly there are variables over which he has little or no control, but a man who mows is never wrong in the eyes of the lawn. He is not second-guessed and he need make no apologies for his actions. No one would dare take the mower out of his hands for every house has only one true lord of the lawn.

A man who mows is accomplished. The lawn is either done or it’s not. A man can grill but is constantly catering to his family's tastes. A man can set up the electronics, but only with the majority approval of all parties. A man can change a fuel belt but there’s only one right way. A man who mows however, needs only simple words to completely recognize for his usefulness: words like “Lawn looks great, Hon.” Or “Nice job on the grass, Dad.” No more, no less. When we mow, a sunburn becomes a badge of honor. Pink shoulders and backs despite the sting are actually a comfort at night.

Mowing prowess is admittedly self-explanatory. There are some tricks to the trade, but basically any idiot can do it. It speaks to the hunter-gatherer in us. We need these simple tasks to keep our strength in the absence of hunting and/or gathering. (Please note that I make no nostalgic comparisons to quick trips to the grocery store or the conspicuous, hand-written notes I require to complete my gathering mission.) Ah but mowing. Mowing is a refuge for the every man. Even guys like me who thought it would be nice to buy an electric mower because it might save the earth. Although I assure you I feel less like Bono and more like Curly Howard tripping over that cord, even THAT mower delivers the clean precision a guy needs.

I say next time you’re feeling docile, or contemplating if you’ve been having too much red meat, go out and mow something. You’ll need your own patch of grass. You can borrow a mower to start, but eventually you will need your own. A push mower, a riding mower, electric start or straight manual—doesn’t matter. Just mow the shit out of it. I promise you’ll go to bed satisfied knowing that the grass is clean, the weeds are at bay and your old sneakers, beautifully stained with chlorophyll, are grinning in the closet.

June 30, 2006

New Roommates

This week marked the arrival of Sarah's parents, Patty and Gary from Maine. After they successful sale of their farmhouse in Maine, they packed up a 26-foot yellow Penske truck and headed west to live with us for the summer in Heber City, while they scout out houses in the Salt Lake Valley. The 2800-mile trip which normally takes 5 to 6 days was over in a record-breaking 3 days as they pulled double duty in the big rig.

Although Sarah and I have been very busy this week it has been nice having them so far. In fact they have done nothing but work since they arrived in the Beehive State. Wednesday night for example, we came home to a magically repainted kitchen which looks fabulous. Aside from pursuing health and happiness with diet and altitute training, both Patty and Gary plan on earning their keep around the house. Patty has been helping to decorate and quarterback the kitchen remodeling efforts, while diligently scrutinizing the Salt Lake real estate market. Gary, a finish carpenter by trade, plans to finish the kitchen, build a workshop in the garage, build out the second floor deck, and make various customized pieces of furniture for the house. Many jealous co-workers have offered to take them in as indentured servant. We've had to decline as they're already under contract with us.

June 27, 2006

Rough Morning

This morning Sarah and I left a little early for her meeting at Deer Valley. Sarah dropped me off across the street from my office. She was stressed because we were running late. I had my little silly BMX bike in the back so I hopped out with my coffee in a travel mug and grabbed my bike. For some reason it wasn't enough to simply push my bike across the street, I had to prove I could ride it. So I rode across the street into the parking garage where two old tourists were meandering about. I swerved slightly to avoid them with my coffee in hand and awkwardly hit a bump that laid me flat out on the floor. My bike' s headset loosened up on the bump and the handlbar bent forward. I skidded on my face into the parking garage trying to save my coffee while my legs doubled over my back from the momentum. Now I had half a cup of coffee, a busted bike, cuts on my hands and elbows, and filthy greasy skidmarks all down my shirt and splatters of coffee on the back. As I started to get up, the woman said, "Well I guess that'll teach you to steal your little brother's bike". She has no idea how close she came to death. If this day gets any worse it's because I was hit by lightning. Twice.

June 21, 2006

More On The House

Just checkin' in. Happy Summer everyone. Sorry we haven't written much lately. Our computer hasn't been set up for a while. And we're still getting settled. Most of the painting is done. We Pergoed the kitchen floor and still need to replace the trim. The bedrooms are newly recarpeted and we're setting in to those closets.

We ripped out a bunch of the old fixtures and have been carefully decorating. We've hit a few snags here and there. Soft drywall and poorly laid anchors have made for some interesting patch jobs. But nothing too bad. We've also become painfully aware of the trials of hard water. So a water softener will be the next major purchase.

We'll also be looking in to some basic lawn maintenance items. We're borrowing a manual mower with the rotating blade which gets the job done. It's a little silly, but not as silly as some of our neighbors who have riding mowers with headlights and cup-holders to mow a 0.1 acre lot.

We have also officially pimped out the garage. Our various shelving units are savng lots of space, but our Rubbermaid© FastTrack System is awesome for storing the 6 bikes and 12 (or so) pairs of skis that are currently in there. Plus with Patty and Gary moving out in a week or so, we'll be building a work bench so space is at a premium.

We love the neighborhood too. We have a nice cross breeze that comes through so we pretty much never use the central air conditioning. And we're able to run out the front door with the dogs and let them off leash 100 yards down the road. Our road becomes a dirt road that extends for miles between cow pastures with a 360° mountain view. Plus there's irrigation ditches and stream crossings where the dogs can cool off. The town of Heber is also a wonderful place. The main drag has all kinds of stores and restaurants. Nothing fancy, but everything you need. The movie theater has one cinema and gives your change in $2 bills and 50¢ pieces. The bowling alley is the happening place on Friday nights. We haven't been yet, but the parking lot is always jammed. There's also a rodeo down the street so close we can hear the PA announcer at night.

Anyway, that's the latest. I might head home to let the dogs out at lunch. Tonight I might sit in the back yard with a glass of wine and watch the sprinkler water the lawn. It's a lot more exciting than it sounds.

May 16, 2006

We Bought a House

Well it's almost a year to the day since we moved to Utah. When we moved out we figured, we'll give it a year, get acclimated, be sure we like it, and then figure out where we want to buy. Apparently that's exactly what happened. Our apartment in Midvale has served us well. Close to the mountains and the city, we've enjoyed a spacious, comfortable apartment with a killer view. But for all its conveniences, we lacked the sense of permanence we desire. After considering neighborhoods from south Salt Lake to Oakley, we focused on budget, location, and practicality. Our new townhouse fits all of those requirements. And after a 45 day "not so typical" real estate ordeal, we closed escrow and can officially call it "ours". We apologize if anyone feels out of the loop, as we tried not to jinx the deal by telling everyone.

Our House ( a very very very fine house...) is in Heber City, a small rural valley town 15 minutes southeast of Park City, where we both work and do a majority of our playing as well. It's a 3-story townhouse with an attached garage and a relatively large fenced in yard. It has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Sarah is particularly excited to have a bathroom all to herself as our morning "routines" often compete. The neighborhood is a newly constructed suburban oasis amidst honest-to-God cattle farms and breathtaking Wasatch and Uinta Mountain vistas. Heber boasts 1 grocery store, a couple gas stations, and the most happening bowling alley this side of The Great Lebowski.

Not only will our new commute be less than half it's current length, but rather than drive the congested Parley's Canyon stretch of I-80 every day, we now drive on the more civil and luxurious route 40. Instead of driving 9 miles up a 6° grade mountain pass at breakneck speeds while jockeying for position between lurching semis commandeering 2 of 3 lanes at 20 mph and big-boy, flag-waving pickups roaring up the hill at 90 mph — we'll be enjoying a casual stroll through farmlands, mountain lakes, and green, rolling hills, far from the hazy inversion of the Salt Lake Valley. And coincidently, when The Sundance Film Festival comes roaring into town like Puff Daddy on a parade float, we'll be able to skip the nonsensical red-carpet bottleneck at Kimball Junction and sneak into Park City via "the back door".

Our new home is "cozy". 1500 square feet divided between 3 floors. The warm burgundy entry way may be the only area that doesn't see a coat of paint right away. The former "artist in residence" had a different vision for color and design. He also had 4 kids and a trampoline (read "Utah swimming pool") and a swing set in the back yard. The back yard is enclosed by a 6 foot vinyl privacy fence, perfect for the dogs. And since our townhouse is an "end unit" the yard actually wraps around the side of the house, doubling the size. The second floor kitchen is well laid out, including a permanent center island and (soon to be) hardwood floor. A half-bath separates the kitchen/dining room from the sunny living room with gas fireplace. The upstairs has two symmetrical bedrooms with ample (not abundant) closet space and two bathrooms. the guest room has a clear view of spectacular Mount Timpanogas, home of Robert Redford's Sundance Resort. Fittingly, our first guest in that room is a lifelong Robert Redford fan.

We're very excited about this stage of adulthood. It still seems unreal to us. But we have many plans for the place. Suddenly we're excited about mowing a lawn, because it's ours. We'll be planting our own trees and gardens. We'll build out the second floor deck (with the experience help of Sarah's dad, of course). We'll have a place to clean and maintain our bikes! Our garage will most likely never see a car for all the "projects" that will go on in there.

Anyway, feel free to come on out for a housewarming. We're at:
488 W. Inverness Ln.
Heber City, UT 84032

April 22, 2006

Tri-ing Times

Sorry we've been so out of touch. Many things going on right now, so this is just a quick note to say that now I'm in the club too. I was out of town when Sarah did her first Triathalon in March. But Sarah, Mary and I did the Saratoga Springs sprint triathalon. Despite a cool morning, the sun came out just in time. Tracy took care of the dogs and cheered us on.

The swim was my big question mark going into it. All those bodies in the water at once can be scary. But the format is fairly civil and most people are nice enough to keep from drowning you. A last minute change in vanues had the swim distance as (only) 250 yards, snaking up and down the pool lanes. I survived that only being passed once. I then made up for a slow swim and even slower transition on the bike. The transition to the run, was even more difficult than anticipated. I spent the first mile clumsily pounding the pavement, before I was able to convince myself that the difficulty was all in my head. I then passed another racer, and another, and another. By the end, I was just starting to reach a respectable pace. My total time was 1 hour, 12 minutes and 22 seconds. I'll happily take that and work towards the next one.

February 27, 2006

New Job with American Skiing Company

Well it's official. I've given my notice at my current job with Whitney Advertising in Park City. Starting March 16th, I'll be the new "Interactive Media Designer" for American Skiing Company. Headquartered on Historic Main Street in Park City, ASC owns The Canyons, and Steamboat (CO), as well as New England Resorts Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Killington, Pico, Mount Snow, and Attitash/Bear Peak. The corporate office employs a streamlined marketing department, to service each resort as a group of clients. So although I'll be leaving agency life behind, there are many similarities.

My role will predominantly entail high-end Flash and new media design, rather than general web design. I will also be working with several great developers to execute and populate sophisticated interactive applications. Our goal will be to find new, slick and useful ways to integrate rich Flash media into the ASC sites. So it should force me to step up my game a bit. But there will also be opportunities to take courses to advance my skills.

And while the money and benefits associated with this job are attractive, it also seems a logical progression for the transformative process Sarah and I have undergone in the past year. Although I don't plan on completely becoming a "Ski Bum" per se, being here in the mountains puts things in a new perspective. Moving here was a way of proclaiming our priorities of life over work. And while I expect to continue to work hard, it makes sense to apply my passion to an industry that inspires my personal pursuit of happiness. ASC seems to understand that its employees are very lifestyle oriented and they encourage people to take advantage of the outdoors. I'm even told that a "powder day" is a perfectly acceptable reason to be out of the office. No questions asked.

February 12, 2006

Deer Valley, An Elegant Kick in the Ass

Sorry it's been so long since our last entry. These winter months have been busy. But as the sun starts setting later, we find ourselves getting motivated again. We're training for some triathlons this spring...Well Sarah's training. I'm starting to think about training. And we're still skiing our butts off. Which brings me to my story.

This weekend was one of the only weekends since November with no fresh snow in the forecast. So we decided we'd take advantage of Sarah's free passes to Deer Valley in Park City. Deer Valley is among the swankiest ski resorts in the country. We half expected to feel out of place, but we were able to adjust our mindset from fresh tracks and big drops to corduroy and sweeping GS turns.

For my first run I used my Salomon X-scream 9's, the very skis I had learned to ski upon in the seemingly distant past (through last year) at Sunday River in Maine. I figured they would handle the groomed conditions with ease. However, I have evidently become so accustomed to my newer, wider Salomon Pocket Rockets, that I immediately switched back. With 30 millimeters more girth underfoot, I strutted back into the lift line with Sarah and some friends from Park City.

A few runs into the morning, I was looking for a diversion from the groomed superhighways we had been skiing. I hopped in and out of the trees, scoped our rocks to huck and even happened into a few mogul fields. Most people who ski with me know that I'm not a traditional skier. I learned late in life and skiing for me is more about adrenaline than peaceful bliss. What's more is that without any formal ski training, I also don't possess some basic ski disciplines, such as skiing moguls. You might call them my "nemesis". Fundamentally, I understand some basics of skiing moguls, but have never been fond of the idea. Today, though, I lost sight of that...momentarily.

I stood on the edge of the groomed run, staring down a line between ice-filled snow goblins. A voice inside said, "Forget it. Take the Groomer. You have nothing to prove. This will end horribly." It's that same voice that tells you not to put your coffee on the edge of the table. You ignore the voice, thinking "Well it's not like I'd be stupid enough to knock it over!" Then in the same instant, as if predestined, you're swatting the hot coffee to the carpet and kicking yourself.

That said I decided to give it a go. As instructed (directly or by eavesdropping atop other mogul runs) I pictured myself as a stream of water, falling down the path of least resistance. It seemed simple enough. I made about 20 turns fairly convincingly (to myself at least). Then the pitch lessened and gave way to a point of rest before the next section of lumps. Feeling confident from the first pitch, I entered the next section without so much as slowing down. As I came over the lip of a cat-track I saw my line for the first time. I was no longer a babbling brook happily trickling down a serpentine path. Instead I was a bucket of murky rainwater tossed from a rooftop on an unsuspecting patsy; neither necessary, nor funny.

I absorbed the first few blows like a series of sucker-punches in a bar-fight I had not only initiated, but deserved to lose. With a feeble sense of self-preservation, I pointed my heels and leaned back trying to slow down, or at the very least, hoping to live. My evasive maneuvers proved too little too late, as one large disapproving ice-lump kicked me skyward. My internal soundtrack went from pounding speed-metal to a serene adagio movement. Then my calm was interrupted by the crunching noise of torso meeting mogul. I had landed on my lower spine at the crest of an unrelenting bump. Maybe I bounced a few times, but my immediate thought was that I might have broken my back. I struggled to breathe as well-meaning passersby rushed to my assistance and proceeded to ask me essay type questions. With the wind-knocked from my chest cavity, I simply gave a weak thumbs up and weezed "How did it look?"

I laid motionless for a minute or so, going through a checklist of self-diagnosis. First, I wiggled my toes to eliminate paralysis. I started to rock back and forth looking for the sharp pain of broken bones. Then I laid back to open my lungs and overcome the tendency to hyperventilate. Sarah and her friends caught up. I decided I didn't need Ski Patrol's assistance, especially considering that a ride in their sled, although it looks like fun, is not covered by insurance. (Thanks Patty Caret for finding that out for us.) I made my way up and clicked into the one ski that had released in the process. As I met up with the groomer and headed for the lift line, still weezing and suffering mostly from blow to my pride, i noticed a lack of edge response from my left ski (the one that stayed on). When I met up with the rest of our party waiting in line, they noticed the tail of my ski was sticking up in the air. So to literally add insult to injury, I had snapped my ski in half.

We decided to call it a day and headed right for the emergency clinic in Park City. (Readers may remember this clinic from the previous story "Utah Rocks...") X-rays on my spine came back negative for compression fracture. However the doctor was amazed at the almost perfect alignment of my discs. So thanks Dad for the lifetime of free chiropractic care. He wrote several pain prescriptions, which I was uncharacteristically quick to accept since my muscles had at this point seized up completely.

So as I sit here, on a bright Sunday morning, medicated through the roof while my wife enjoys a safe bluebird day with friends, I suppose I caution you readers to listen to that inner voice. Don't spill your coffee. Don't leave your plate on a chair. Don't pee into the wind. And don't ski stiff moguls, under the chairlift, with a bunch of friends if you SUCK at skiing moguls.