Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reconfiguration

Brandon and I watched the documentary "Mitt" following Mitt Romney (and his family and campaign team) during the 2008 and 2012 election campaigns. Really good documentary - very humanizing of Mitt Romney without much in the way of an agenda.

I both love and hate the presidential campaigns/elections (in particular - as opposed to some of the other elections we see). I love how interesting they are and how it brings everyone out to talk about politics and things they deem important. I love that it pulls me out of my little sphere long enough to consider some of the bigger issues. However, I hate what it does to some people. I hate the constant feed of nasty political posts on facebook, particularly the negative posts.

A less noticeable but equally frustrating feature of these campaigns is that I usually come away from the debates disliking the opponent of whoever I was in favor of. This happened in the case of John McCain and again with Mitt Romney. Don't get me wrong - I never stooped to attacking either of them. I supported who I supported and left the others alone. But, in my mind and in conversation with others I was happy to discuss why I felt inclined to support who I did. And watching the debates usually helped me to feel validated in the decision I'd made. The constant barrage of negativity towards all of the candidates and the name calling and attacking that occurred - it was just awful. It was easy to find a hundred reasons why "Candidate A" wasn't a very good person and probably wouldn't make a very good president.

Both with John McCain and Mitt Romney I've had the pleasure and discomfort of having to reconfigure my perspective on them. These campaigns rarely bring out the best in people and almost always bring out the worst. Only after the fact is it easier to see these people as normal, flawed, but generally good. And I'm thankful for that reconfiguration. I know that there are plenty of bad people in the world, but it's always nice to discover that the superficial understanding you had of someone was probably wrong and that maybe they're not so bad after all.



In other news, we're going to dinner (pho!) tonight with Peter (one of those on the Vietnam trip) to collect Peter's photos from the trip. Following that we're off to do some rock climbing!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Accent Misdirection

I just had a random call from someone who didn't know who they were calling in for (hadn't listened to their voicemail yet) and I may have inadvertently walked myself into using the phrase, "Give that a listen." Aside from squirming a bit after that came out of my mouth because it's so uncharacteristic, the guy on the other end of the phone then asked me where my "accent originated" and I'm sure I confirmed his suspicions of all people Midwest sounding like that by telling him I mostly grew up in Indiana. Sorry Midwesterners! I don't normally sounds like that and neither do you!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pirate O's

Several years ago I had someone mention Pirate O's to me as a place I might enjoy going. I completely forgot about it until yesterday when I was looking for an import store (maybe because I was also looking for some Gurana Antarctica - if anyone knows where I can buy that here in Utah, let me know!) and the thought popped into my head that someone had mentioned one down in Draper.

Brandon said he remembered going to Pirate O's growing up. Reading the reviews of the place on Yelp, I was pretty sure I needed to stop by, particularly as it is less than ten minutes from my work. So today I did!

For family, Pirate O's is a little store about a 100th of the size of Jungle Jim's. Filled to the brim of it's small walls with all kinds of delicious items. :) I'll have to go back.

And random find of the day - did you know that Kinder Surprise can now be legally sold here in the states? I had no idea, but there they were on the shelf staring down at me! Yes, please!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rasputin

Brandon discovered this on reddit last night and I thought I'd share it. I think it's wonderful. :) It's a funny little combination of all sorts of things.



(Just Dance 2 - Rasputin (side by side)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Midway Ice Castles

We headed out to Heber City to meet Clint (from Brandon's work) and Julie (Clint's wife and a Marine Biologist/Bear Specialist) at the Spin Cafe there. It was surprisingly delicious. I'd definitely recommend it. We split a salad, four cheese ravioli, and then a large helping of gelato (two flavors: creme bruelee and Baci/hazelnut). All fantastic. For a small city that doesn't have very many high reviewed restaurants, we really hit the jackpot. It's just a shame it's 40 minutes away or we'd go there more often!

Following the delicious dinner we headed West to Midway to the Ice Castles. Very cold, but also very cool! One of the oddest things from the evening was that while there were a few packed walkways inside the ice castle, we were mostly trudging through seven or eight inches of unpacked loose snow. The consistency was strange because it was cold like snow, but otherwise more like fluffy sand. It didn't pack at all under the thousands of people walking on it. Very interesting.

One view from the outside

Random fire performer.

Julie and Clint!

:)

And attempt at a piggy-back photo...






We finished out the evening by driving back to Clint and Julie's house in Lehi and playing Five Crowns and Clue. Both very fun. Clue is one of those games that you don't need to play very often. However, this particular round of Clue was quite exciting. Brandon discovered the correct combination fairly quickly but didn't know that he needed to return to the center of the board to make an accusation. Thus began a mad rush to get to the center of the board first. Clint, however, did something odd by heading in the direction of another room and accusing Miss Scarlet (Julie) of something in that room, pulling her to that room rather than the handful of spaces she was from the center. A clever and quite amusing move. Rounds of that continued for a bit (I made it my personal goal to discover exactly what everyone had in their hands rather than beat everyone to the center) and then Brandon finally did make it to the center and won (as he ought to have). Very fun. :)

A few more pictures (of course) can be found on facebook.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Handful of Vietnam Videos

I haven't been keeping up with the new video posts, so here are a bunch of them!

Cycle Problems



(Cycling Problems)

Cycle Trucks



(Vietnam - Cycle Trucks)


Halong Bay



(Vietnam - Halong Bay)

Stops



(Vietnam - Stops)


Tight Places



(Vietnam - Tight Places)


Switchbacks



(Vietnam - Switchbacks)


Villages



(Vietnam - Villages)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

More videos from Vietnam.

A few more. :) They keep coming and I'm loving it!




(Vietnam - Bridges)



(Vietnam - Eucalyptus Wood)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vietnam - Photos and Video Link

Ok all you non-Facebookers! ;)  Clay has finally given me the flicker account link to allow you to page through all the pictures and video that are uploaded by everyone. It's not all there yet, but they'll continue to upload it as they can. You'll see much of the same things I've already posted here, but instead of a picture here or there, all the pictures! And some of the smaller videos that I didn't get YouTube links for. I think right now the majority of stuff is just Clay's, but I'm under the impression that everyone who went will be adding to it.

Fun, fun!

And just in case that link above doesn't work, here's the address:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mclayjohns/sets/72157639860936515/

Vietnam Single Track Roads

The most recent video post - Single Track Roads. Clay's comment: "These were probably the best parts of the entire trip. Once you get out in the middle of nowhere the scenery is so beautiful and the roads are so much fun!"




(Vietnam - Single Track)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Open Road in Vietnam

Another two little Vietnam videos - Open Road and Hanoi Traffic. I suspect that there will continue to be more and more of these. :)



(Vietnam - Open Road)




(Vietnam - Hanoi Traffic)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Few Videos from Vietnam

Oh, hey!

Things are pretty chill around here. Not much to report. My work meeting this morning existed of going to the nail salon and having pedicures done. No complaints there - although I've never worn those little foam flip flops they give you and next time I'll bring my sandals in rather than waiting to change into them at work. ;)

A fun video for your enjoyment!



(Vietnam - Raft Crossing)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Brandon's Home!

For any of you who are still left wondering, Brandon is home! And hopefully sleeping off jetlag as you read this. He's happy and healthy (aside from a serious lack of sleep) and has a plethora of wonderful stories to share.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vietnam - January 6th and 7th

They're back in Ha Noi tonight and then they'll have some free time tomorrow before they catch their flight in the early evening. Update: Scratch the free time! I finally connected the dots that they're catching a flight in the morning from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Update from Clay: Last two days recap: got to Ha Long, got on the boat, explored a cave in one of the rocks in the bay, went kayaking, had a boat party. Took a picture of Grant so people would stop asking about him. Jordan has a bit too much coke and climbed on the awning. Today we drove back to Ha Noi.




:)









Finishing out Vietnamese adventure the way we kicked it off! - Grant

They'll arrive in San Francisco tomorrow evening around 6:30 PT, spend the night there and then catch an early morning flight to SLC! :D

From Brandon: "I survived! No injuries after a 8 days of motorcycling in a chaotic country!" I couldn't be happier about that!

Update from Wednesday morning: Brandon and his crew made it on their flight to Ho Chi Minh City and on their flight to Taipai. Their flight to San Francisco left at about 9:40 this morning and I haven't heard from him since, so I'd assume he's on his way home!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Update from Vietnam - January 5th

I think the internet may be a little spottier these last few days, but there are still a few pictures and brief updates mostly every day.

From Clay: Day 7: Ha Long bay. Took highway most of the way. Peter had issues again (actually his bike, not him). I tried the Thai Red Bull knock-off brand called "Red Goats", it wasn't very good. Finally got to Ha Long bay about 5:00pm. We get on the boat tomorrow.

From Brandon: We just pulled into Ha Long Bay. Hotel tonight, and cruise tomorrow. The trip is winding down for sure. We just went out and got some dinner. We had shrimp, squid, and fish. All of it still looked like the animal before it died. The fish came to the table cooked, but still completely whole. It was kind of fun to pull off the skin with our chopsticks and start eating. Kind of gross to look at though... Clay gets a lot of attention here. People are not used to seeing anyone overweight. Everyone points at him and then runs up to touch his belly. Super awkward but kind of funny.




They'll stay in a hotel in Ha Long City tonight and then get on a boat tomorrow and cruise around the bay, spending tomorrow night (6th to 7th) on the boat before they head back to Hanoi on the 7th. Grant should be rejoining then tomorrow morning!

They definitely won't have wifi on the boat, so I probably won't hear much in the way of updates until some time on the 7th (if then).

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Vietnam Update from January 4th!

Didn't hear from Brandon this morning, but here are a few pictures of the first half of their day from Clay!

Day 6 (pt 1): Short driving day down curvy paved highways. Stopped at Chinese border to see what there was to see. Border guards didn't want us to get near. Checked out the market in Cao Bang before leaving and checked out the wares.

Clay also posted a short video of a cat in a loose woven basket. An odd sight....

Most of these pictures are at the border crossing with China and the market.















Pho! :D
Tonight they're in Lang Son and tomorrow morning they head to Halong City.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Vietnam Update from January 3rd

It always seems a little odd to be posting updated from the end of a day that is just starting for me. I guess that's what a 14 hour time difference does.

It sounds like Day 5 was an easier day than Day 4, though with a small hiccup in the middle of the day. Today their itinerary had them going from Cao Bang to Quang Uyen and then staying at a home (though from Clay's comment, I'm not sure whether it was a home or hotel.

From Clay: Day 5: Peter broke down for two hours so we had to skip lunch and haul ass down the mountain to make it to the hotel before dark. On the other hand I am so glad Grant suggested bringing protein bars.

From Brandon: Take a look at this cat. The eyes are cool. The animals here are different than the pets at home. The cats and dogs don't behave the same way around humans. They shy away. People don't touch them and form relationships with them the same way. Today was fun. Some rough riding, but the roads were wider so I didn't feel like I was going to die. We spent three hours broken down when Peters bike wouldn't start.








After some rest tonight, they should be heading to Lang Son in the morning. Fun, fun! And from a small update from Grant, it looks like he'll be rejoining them on Monday for the tail end of the trip. Hopefully he's been having a good time in Hanoi!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Resolutions?

I don't really enjoy making resolutions because they rarely are accomplished, but I'll make a few for this year all the same.

Last year's resolutions were the following:

-Complete last four pre-reqs (already signed up for three of them).
-Apply to grad schools starting this summer.
-I'd still like to run a marathon, so on top of running more, I'd like to make that a priority. I don't even know that I'll be doing a half this year, now that we don't live close to the Indy Mini, so I'll really have to focus on that on my own.

I did complete several pre-reqs but I have two particular ones that I'd like to get done. I never got around to applying to grad schools, but I'm still not certain what I want to do in that department. And hey, I ran a marathon, so that one was completely knocked out. ;)

Here's my list this year:

1.) Run a Spartan Race (signed up with Brandon!)
2.) Run at least one Half-Marathon (I'm thinking the SLC Half...)
3.) Try to do 100 push-ups near to consecutively...(I started working on this one but fizzled with the holidays)
4.) Learn to swim properly (so I can maybe do a triathlon some day...)
5.) Hike a new mountain
6.) Grow some herbs or vegetables (I have a yard! I should take advantage of it if I stay in one place long enough to do that!)
7.) Read 50 books. Reading dwindled for me with college and though I did better in the past year, I'd really like to improve.
8.) Figure the whole knitting thing out properly. I've knitted scarves since I was a freshman in college, but I'd really like to learn the fundamentals so I can expand what I'm able to do in that department.
9.) Join a rock climbing gym and learn to boulder. Gear acquired, let's do it!

Brandon Update - January 2nd

It sounds like yesterday was a fairly exciting day for the Vietnam crew. Not a long day, but less room for error.

From Clay: "Day 4. The views just keep getting better and the roads just keep getting smaller. We crossed a rickety suspension bridge and a ferry made of bamboo that was just barely buoyant enough to hold up a bike. The last road we were on was dirt about 8 inches wide with a rock wall on one side and a cliff on the other. I kid you not. Will post GoPro videos when I get back in the states." Clay also posted two little videos that show Peter getting his bike off the little ferry.

From Brandon: Before they went out, "Today is going to be a shorter day but a lot more technical. Steep dirt roads and mountains. More tribal people in bright clothing. We are about to go down to breakfast. Some crepes with bananas and honey probably. Very simple crepes, not like the ones we are used to in the US." After "Day 4 was pretty stressful and terrifying... These trails were insane. Off-road does not quite capture the trails we were on. I am glad we are done for the day. Today was like riding a dirt bike from the top of the grand canyon to the bottom."

So handsome. :)







After a good nights sleep they'll head from Cao Bang (where they're at tonight) to Quang Uyen. They'll have their second home stay there.