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June 30, 2006

A New Vehicle for My Adventures

I broke down last night and managed to convince my wife that a Jeep Wrangler was a good idea again. We sold out my old Jeep the day my brother moved in with us again. It was a fluke coincidence that I closed the deal hours before he arrived.

With three kids and gear to haul, my old Jeep just did not offer enough room in the back seat or behind the back seat for the kids and a cooler and some luggage and... I opted this time for a 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited. I bought it at 7:00 PM last night and just got back from taking a couple baby trails by the house. The Rubicons are so different from the regular old Jeeps. They just grab and go. The lockers rock and this is an automatic so no more burning the clutch or shifting. Makes life so much easier.

My cousins have a Rubicon too and are using the condo this weekend for their wedding anniversary or we would be out on the trail as we speak. That was a big factor in buying it. I absolutely love trailing with them and with the place in Utah, there are so many areas in the mountains to explore.

The downside to living in a city is that if you don't get out of it occasionally, you lose touch with reality and nature. Hence why I ski. Humans were not made to live in massive cities, but then again, I don't exactly want to be Ugh and eat raw meat that I killed with a spear and die at 35 either. So skiing, the condo, the mountain bikes, and now the Jeep let me balance the Ugh side of me with the side that likes Suns tickets and Starbucks.

Posted by Justin at 03:32 PM | Comments (4)

June 26, 2006

Where Did the Rebel Factor in Being a Snowboarder Go?

So Adam at Highly Obsessed and I have been having a discussion on his site relating to smaller board companies and just the industry in general. Transworld Snowboarding had an article about the small snowboard manufacturers that got Adam thinking about the maturation of the snowboard industry.

It is my premise that snowboarding has become exactly that which it set out to destroy--namely the ski industry. Snowboarding is the new skiing--a sport that cuts across virtually all age groups and is tailored to the wealthy high end niche of people that can afford to head up to the mountain and drop $1000 a day on lodging and lift tickets and another couple grand on equipment. Hell, Burton is marketing jackets that contain headphones in the hood and iPod controls for a stiff $600+. They are no longer selling to the grungy edgy kid, but rather, they have moved beyond the original core of the sport and the skaters that gave the sport its popularity as a countercultural statement against the masses of skiers that dominated winter sports.

I am constantly in these discussions with my friends who almost all snowboard about how lame it is to two plank it. Skiing is not cool like snowboarding. Skiers are 60 year old men on straigh as an arrow 210's wearing 80's hotpants and hanging out at the lodge in their sweaters. Then it is from my baby brother who wants to snowboard at 11 and who I have offered to allow to do just that when he pays for his equipment, lift ticket, and condo to stay in. It was when he said, "But skiing isn't cool like snowboarding. None of my friends ski, they all snowboard" that I realized that the snowboarding phenomenon has gone beyond something rebels do to be rebelous. Now, I ski unlike all my friends to be a rebel and to be different. And with that, it takes some good natured teasing, but I dish it out back at them. There is nothing rebelous about snowboarding anymore. And there is something that is emerging about twin tip skiing that represents a new counterculture. Shawn White is phenomenol, but so is Tanner Hall. Throwing crazy stuff in the pipe, but one represents the commercialized and overhyped and supermarketed winter sport, and the other is a name rarely heard of. Bode gets all the attention, but Jeremy Bloom and Tanner Hall are no names outside of the industry unlike the entire world that knows who Shawn White is.

This is an article from Nagano and 1998:

Snowboarders like to be different and they cultivate the image of radical youth.

They love to rail against authority and don't care who knows it, but that seems to be as far as they want to go. They'll talk about wanting to spare the environment, but don't seem to give a thought to the fact that someone bulldozed a substantial part of it to give them a place to ride.

They say they don't like the stilted formalities of other organized sports, and especially the stuffy, over-regulated world of the Olympics.

Fair enough, but at the same time most admit they longed to be here if only so that they and their sport get the recognition only the Olympics can bestow. They carp constantly about what amounts to a very unrestrictive Olympic dress code, but rarely mention the fact they signed an agreement to abide by it. They claim the creeping commercialization of their sport is crass, but several of them are said to be making high six-figure incomes. And those who don't are pressing hard for their sponsors to come up with more cash.

On the plus side, they seem to truly understand the dangers of second-hand smoke, but that's a column for another time.

The bulk of the riders who showed up for a Nike-sponsored press conference here did so to announce that they were getting new clothing or would push new products for the company that has a nice little ambush marketing scheme playing out of a car barn here. None mentioned the apparent conflict between being "free to be me" and "just doing it" for cash. Most seemed to not even recognize it.

So now we have a conflict. Just as Bode Miller is conflicted because he wants to play the "Small Town Kid from New Hamshire who did not even have indoor plumbing", he also wants to sign massive endorsement deals, wants to appear on 60 Minutes, have his own radio show on Sirius, then wants to complain about all the attention that gets paid to him. Burton does not pay Shawn White's paychecks out of Jake Burton's personal account at a fledgling startup, but rather the corporation writes the check out of their massive bankroll from selling gads of product.

Now, I firmly believe that Snowboarding is being turned into a punchline as a counterculture statement by politicians and by 60 year old men trying to be hip and young and cool like all "them damned kids these days" by dropping their skis and doing what the cool kids do and snowboarding. There is a term for them, crossovers. Crossovers from skiing. I have another term for them. Combovers. They are the 50 year old mid-life crisis victim that pays for the hair plugs at The Hair Club for Men and drives a Corvette.

It isn't that I have a beef against my buddies who snowboard. I own a snowboard or two and planned to learn to do both so that I can write about both. There are several camps within snowboarding, but the big ones are the pothead-burnout stoner kids that have to sell something to pay for a lift ticket or got their gear as a trade from one of the guys they sell to from the basement of their mom's house. That is the root of the sport. These kids smoke on the lift, and not cigarettes. Then there are the wannabe rich kids. You know, the kids that mom and dad can afford to pay to take ski vacations with and who get the $1000 board and bindings for Christmas from mom and dad. There are the parents of these kids as a seperate category that want to remain young and hip and so they stop skiing because they think snowboarding at 50 helps you stay cool. Finally, my friends that I ride with are twenty and thirty somethings that are doing well, have good jobs, have disposable income, and do it as a group activity.

But notice, that the first category is what the sport was orignally about. And now, lift ticket prices and gear prices have washed these kids out of the sport, yet people still want to believe that snowboarding is a countercultural statement. That it is edgy still.

This may be the worst example of why I think snowboarding has lost its edge:

Notice the cute little flower on the vest.

Notice how John Kerry rides Burton. That is what Burton is marketing to because these guys have the bucks. Burton is not about being edgy, but rather about selling gear. How can Jake Burton represent a countercultural non-corporate element when he is selling gear and marketing Nike style?

Posted by Justin at 12:03 PM | Comments (3)

June 24, 2006

Retarded and Uneducated Trolls

I just got back from the condo. Jeremy and I were heading up to Montana to do some fishing and camp out for a few days, but got to BH and stayed at the condo and decided to come home. I have a bunch of stuff to take care of including completing another patent review meeting and getting another patent idea approved for search and hopefully filing. This will mark my eighth patent application in the last five years at my job. Again, background on me, I have eight patents either in process or pending at my day job, own this site and blog, and have several other business interests, etc. I graduated top of my class in business with a 4.0 GPA and am working on an MBA.

I got a note from an occasional reader and annoying troll the other day who stumbled onto my blog and stated the following:

By the way, good website, but you should quote the entire contents of the articles that you discuss, that way you can report a true unbias story! Journalist or writers write on both sides of the story not narrowed minded. Not just the opinion of a schooled boy, but as an educated adult!

It is obvious this person is first, retarded, and second, has no clue what my site is about. So just in case, I am posting the wikipedia definition for all of my readers of what a "blog is:

A weblog, which is usually shortened to blog, is a website where regular entries are made (such as in a journal or diary) and presented in reverse chronological order. Blogs often offer commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Most blogs are primarily textual although many focus on photographs, videos or audio.

The first blogs were known as "online diaries", and started in 1994. The term "weblog" itself was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997.

Sometimes, you laugh at people. I got the e-mail and will not identify the source, but will tell you that it indicates a complete lack of comprehension of the way that the Internet works, what blogging is, and what my site is all about. I know who the person is and that she is scouring my site for personal information, much like a stalker going after people on myspace. I put personal information on the site and the person reads my site to keep up on personal information. But come on. Don't call me a "schooled boy" and then talk about "narrowed minded" journalism and "unbias story" and then attack my education. Learn how to speak English and figure out that in my "schooling" I learned the terms are "narrow minded" and "unbiased story".

The Internet is full of trolls, but if you are going to attack my site and my education, at least do it with some kind of intelligent comment and good grammar. Especially if you are going to read my site only to scour for personal information.

BTW, this is how I spend my time in the summer when I am waiting for ski season. I was up in Brian Head checking on my second condo's building progress and working on investment loans. The place is coming along nicely, but I have to pony up 10% of the $400k to finish the contract and get the mortgage for the new condo approved. I am debating on whether or not to buy the place still, but the construction looks very good. I am stoked to see the framing done, and not just the foundations poured.

When will football and basketball season start so that the snow will start falling again? It is almost July, so the countdown is around five months now before Brian Head should open.

Posted by Justin at 03:19 AM

June 20, 2006

Season Tickets

OK, so I have renewal notices and season ticket notices for all the sporting events that I have going for this fall and winter. Lets run down them:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • ASU Sun Devils
  • Season Passes at Brian Head

I have a pretty full plate coming up. Jeremy and I are already starting to plan the winter at Brian Head and hoping that the season starts early. He bought his Cardinals tickets from me and his season pass at Brian Head using student loan money. Kinda sad, but students have priorities too.

UPDATE-- Always close your html tags.

Posted by Justin at 07:11 PM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2006

Some Much Needed R&R

My wife and I celebrated our tenth Wedding Anniversary this past week and we took a short vacation--hence the lack of postings.

Not a lot going on right now, but got to watch Lefty double bogey 18 yesterday to lose the US Open. I am not a huge golf fan, but will watch the last round of most majors. We flew on a Delta 757 home yesterday that had TV's in the seat in front of you. Unfortunately, the connecting flight later was a 737 with no TV and I missed the Miami-Dallas game. I bribed the captain and stewardess to give me scores, so I found out just before landing how it turned out.

It is sad that I am a sports junkie. There must be a 12 step program for it, but it is getting closer and closer to ski season, and I can quit any time, right?

Posted by Justin at 12:26 PM

June 08, 2006

How to Support Democracy and the Judicial Process--Snowbowl Edition

Is this what the folks at Save the Peaks and the Navajo Nation are all about?

Flagstaff Mayor Joe Donaldson got a nasty surprise after attending a candidate's forum where his support of snowmaking at the Arizona Snowbowl was a point of contention.

Vandals had littered his car with toilet paper, and placed a urine-filled commode on top.

Donaldson took it as an extreme example of opposition to using reclaimed Flagstaff wastewater to make snow on the nearby mountaintop.

He's a backer of the plan, and it wasn't popular with many in the audience at the Wednesday evening forum sponsored by Native Americans for Community Action.

So sue in the courts and make a case. When you do not win and while appeals are still pending and before a single shovel of dirt has been turned, start threatening and harassing elected officials that disagree with your point of view.

Boy, for a group preaching about how the rest of us should show racial tolerance and respect the tribes and their viewpoint, it seems that the vandals don't respect the rights of politicians to have differing opinions on the matter.

Let's ask Joe Shirley if having urine, toilet paper, and a commode placed on your car is like "a mother being raped in front of her child" or perhaps it is just like genocide. Does Joe Shirley support vandalism of property being done in the name of his cause?

Posted by Justin at 09:27 PM

June 04, 2006

Don't Look Now, but Phoenix has a Baseball Team

Alright, enough crying and sulking about the Suns coming so close to the Finals. The day after the season ended, it still feels like the Suns won it all in so many ways simply by getting this town excited about NBA basketball for the first time since Jason Kidd was beating his wife and Cliff Robinson was taking bong hits doing 100 mph down Shea.

Now it is time to focus on the other team that is playing right now in downtown Phoenix. The team that has the leading NL Cy Young candidate with a 2.01 ERA and 8-0 record. The team with the second best record in the NL. The team that has scored the second most runs in the NL. The team leading the NL West.

I almost forgot what it was like to have a winning baseball team in town. And for the last two months, so did Phoenix. This is a Suns town. This is a town that wants nothing more and will not feel whole until the Purple and Orange win it all. This is a town that JC built that started onto the sports scene in the madhouse on McDowell.

And now that the Suns are at the forefront in Phoenix's mind, the Diamondbacks don't want to be outdone. And they are playing like it. So let's enjoy the dog days of summer with America's pasttime and get ready for some NFL football with Leinart, Edge, Quan, Fitzgerald, Warner and the leagues best offense. Suddenly, this is a three sport town again. So place your bets on which of these three teams is the closest to a championship. I hear that there is a new sportsbook open at the Glendale Arena. Sorry, I wanted to include the Coyotes in this conversation somehow.

Posted by Justin at 09:18 PM

June 03, 2006

Eulogy for the 2005-06 Suns Season

It started similar to the way it ended. The Suns up 83-66 with 7:11 left in the 4th quarter and the Mavs on the ropes. Then the Mavs went on a huge run to end the game and sent it to double OT. The Suns started the season 3-4 and were without Amare. This was a lost season without Amare. A placeholder before the Suns had a chance to win it all next year with a healthy Amare.

It ended the same way. The Suns up 18 at one point only to let the Mavs dominate the second half. Bookends to a wonderful and exciting season and my first full season as a Season Ticket Holder.

A disappointing two wins away from a trip to the finals. But that is better than last year. And without Amare, Kurt Thomas, and a shell of what Raja Bell was. What a wonderful year. We stopped at the Arizona Center and celebrated the season. My brother and oldest son got to watch so many games with me. My brother became an NBA fan. This is our team.

The Mavs were a better team. There is little doubt. The Suns were undermanned and undersized. But they had the heart of champions. Raja coming out of the tunnel injured in game 4. Him hitting a three against the Clippers in Game 5. Timmy T hitting the three against the Lakers to save the season in game 6. Two blowout game 7's. Three of the best playoff series ever and I got to be there for all three. 11 home games. 20 playoff games. 10-10 in the playoffs. But a gritty 10 wins and a heartbreaking 10 losses. Just a rollercoaster of emotion. But almost two months after the season ended, you see the heart of the two time MVP and a bunch of scrappy role players who played way more than their roles.

Tip your hat to the Mavs for a 60 win season and a trip to the finals. And hope for next year that the Suns get their opportunity to feel the joy that the Mavs are feeling now.

Posted by Justin at 11:27 PM

June 02, 2006

Canadian Healthcare Update

Adam at Highly Obsessed has been having some knee troubles. I have covered the process of getting an MRI in Canada and the umpteen month wait list, but it turns out that he could drive to Buffalo and get his MRI the next day for $450. Well, he got the MRI and went in to the Ortho in Canada for the results. NOT GOOD!

The folks in Buffalo think I tore my ACL. The surgeon is apt to believe them (and rightly so. Also, I don't think I've mentioned this, but this surgeon is a great guy, very smart, and coincidentially operated on my mother several years ago when she shattered her wrist while in-line skating. But that's another story altogether).

There is a chance, depending on the type of tear, that it will heal on its own. But regardless, the surgeon recommended getting scoped. That way, they can at least have a look at where I tore the ACL/the severity of the tear. If I don't need anything done, then no procedure is performed and away I go. If I do do need some work done, they will perform it then.

So of course, this being Ontario and all, when will I get the surgery? Six to eight months from now.

Six to Eight months. It is free, but by then, the problem could already be partially healed and need further treatment. His Doctor told him basically, just go about your business. Not a lot you can do but wait six to eight months.

But healthcare in Canada is FAR FROM FREE. You see, Canadians pay huge amounts for their healthcare in the way of taxes. And for their hard earned tax dollars, this is what they get. They get universal healthcare, it is just universally frustrating to wait months for routine proceedures.

We take a lot of things for granted in this country, and if you have no healthcare coverage at all, a six month wait for free care is a good deal. But for the 10-15% of our population or so that does not have any health coverage, this may be a good deal, but for the other 85%, I think I would rather pay my copays and my $350 a month premium contributions to my work's plan, and get in right away and get quality healthcare.

There is an old saying: you can have quality, speed, or low cost service, but never all three. When it comes to my health, waiting months for an MRI or Arthroscopic surgery is not an option. I don't mind paying more to get my care quickly and at the highest quality.

Posted by Justin at 12:25 PM

June 01, 2006

Down to Six--Two More Against Dallas

Tonight, Tera, Jake, Jeremy, and I are going to US Airways Center for a Season Ticket Holder's game 5 party at the Pavillion. The biggest game of the year was Game 5 against the Lakers, when the Suns blew them out and sent it to a Game 6. Wait, no, it was Game 6 when Tim Thomas hit the last second 3 to send it to overtime. Nah, it was Game 7 to decide if Kobe or Nash went on to play the Clippers. Or perhaps it was Game 5 against the Clips when Raja hit the miracle 3 to send the game into another OT. Or that Game 7.

The whole point is that the Suns have played in two seven game series and made big shot after big shot. Like the NCAA tournament, you have to be both lucky and good to win it all. You need a friendly bounce here, a miracle shot there, and six wins. In the NBA Playoffs, you need 16, but can lose 12 along the way.

It is a roller coaster and then some. Every loss stings worse and every win feels better the farther you advance. Now, the Suns are in territory that they have not been since Sir Charles, KJ, Marjerle, Oliver Miller, TC, Ced, and others were here and I was a senior in high school. My wife was a Freshman at the time. Couldn't even drive yet. The Suns are not only in the Western Conference Finals, but have already won two games. It is a best of three.

I was going through some of the old posters that I have from when my son Jake as probably 2 and we put up sports posters in his room. My two favorites--a Suns poster with KJ, Jason Kidd, Rex, and Wes Person; and a New Jersey Nets poster of Keith Van Horn. I kept them rolled up since we repainted Jake's room at the old house and got them out. I made sure to taunt Jake with the Van Horn poster. Every time I mention the similarity, he gets madder. Good times.

I have been scouring the Valley to find a metal bell for the games. I finally found one at a Gourmet Kitchen supply store in Arrowhead. Bought two of them. Raja just keeps answering the call. Big shots, suspensions, injuries. TNT issued a challenge that Suns fans are burnt out from the long playoff series. We are quiet. So now, we know the season and a trip to the finals comes down to one home game sandwiched between two in Dallas. I am doing my best to rest my voice.

Posted by Justin at 11:46 AM