Wednesday, September 29, 2010

8 Bikes

Since I've been a little bit obsessive about bikes recently, I'm going to write another blog about bikes because they are so cool that they deserve 2 posts in a row. Even though I'm stuck riding a bike every single day, I absolutely love bikes and biking.

When I was cute
It all started when I was a wee lad. I was 3 years old apparently and I somehow learned how to ride my sister, Sarah's bike. No training wheels. I just rode it. I only vaguely remember riding a bike when I was that young, but my parents told me that I learned when I was 3, so I'll take their word for it.

Disclaimer: I'm just going to write this post like it actually happened, but some details may be incorrect. I realized that sometimes I make up my own memories, but that's okay!

First Bike: Spiderman Bike (possibly a figment of my imagination)
So my first bike was a Spiderman bike! It was awesome. You know in the movies when some kid is walking along some snowy sidewalk in New York City and they see some awesome bike in the store window and fall in love with it? Well that's what happened with me. And somehow, I got the bike even though my family never buys That Awesome New Product That You Have To Have. At least that's what I remember.

The Purple Deathmobile
I then moved on to my purple bike. Yes, it was purple. Purple happened to be my favorite color back in the day. I didn't know any better. It was a Roadmaster! That bike has very few memories, well none really, except one awesome one. That bike was handed down to my brother, Josh (I seriously don't know if this bike was his originally or if it was handed down to him, but we'll move on). Well that bike was pretty old and starting to rust in some spots, especially at the stem, which held onto the bmx style handlebars. So, those handlebars had a tendency to bend over...a lot.

In our yard, there's a ditch next to the road and a metal pipe that sends the water in the ditch under our driveway. Well it's really fun to ride your bike and drop down the drop at the pipe. I did it a few times and then told Josh to try it out. Being the fearless Josh, he went for it at full speed on that awful rusty purple bike. Well he went off the jump, the handlebars bent completely forward, causing him to lose his balance and fall down onto the ground. He started bleeding like nothing else from somewhere on his head and gave that awful bloody murder scream. I kind of felt bad for telling him to do it, but not that bad.

Yes, I rode BMX, kinda
The reason I'm good at riding bikes is because of this one. My dad got a white elephant gift at a youth group party one year and it was a bmx bike. I thought it was stupid at first, but then I realized that it was a BMX bike and I wanted it. It came in a bunch of pieces so I asked my dad to build it for me. I rode this bike to ALL my baseball games and practices. Out of all my bikes as a kid, I rode this one the most. I would hang out at the ball parks on Saturdays watching baseball and riding bikes with my friends. We would go off jumps and do tricks. I could almost do a standing tailwhip and definitely hit some good sized jumps on that thing. It had pegs on the back, which I used for doing bar-spins and carrying my little sister around. That bike was so cool and I really enjoyed riding during the time that I had it. I liked this bike so much that one year the only thing I asked for for my birthday was a wheel with a freewheel hub, so I didn't have to have the coaster brake on it. And that was the only thing I got because it was expensive.

The Red Mountain Bike that didn't grow as fast as I did
My next bike was a red mountain bike. I can't remember the brand, but I liked it a lot. I put a lot of miles on that bike actually. I had it from 4th grade till I was a sophomore, so about 6 years. That happens to be the time in life that boys tend to grow a lot, and the bike didn't grow. One day I was riding home from baseball practice, which was a 10 mile ride. I had several moms picking up their sons saying, "Wow, you're riding home? I can give you a ride, you know." Well it was an uneventful ride, however very tiring. I took the Eagle River Road trail home instead of going up Meadow Creek Road and I ran into the Burress family. Mr. Burress looked at me and told me that my bike looked a little small for me (It was a lot too small, I just didn't notice) and that he had an old mountain bike that he could give me. I was a little hesitant to accept the help, but ended up going over to his house to pick up the bike later that week.

Green Piece
Again, I forget the brand, but it was a green mountain bike that actually fit me. I was getting close to never growing, at least upwards, again so the bike stuck with me through most of college. I was very happy with the bike and defended it when people said it wasn't a very nice bike. No it didn't have any suspension on it, but you don't need suspension to have a good bike. I put some miles on that bike too. In Eagle River (the town I grew up in in Alaska), there's a big river. It's called Hawk River, just kidding. Well next to the river there are these trails. People sometimes hiked on them, but it was actually pretty rare to find another person on the trail. Well, I would ride down to the river and ride along the trail for a while, till I got tired of riding over all the roots and then I'd just park my bike and walk. I had told my parents that I went down to the river to explore, but they were probably pretty curious about exactly what I did whenever I "went down to the river." Keep in mind that I always did this kind of stuff by myself because I only had like 2 close friends in high school and they weren't into stuff like that. I was mostly just curious to see how far the trail went. I usually ended up walking far enough that the trail just diminished to nothing and I was just climbing through a bunch of trees and bushes. I guess I was always hoping that the trail would lead somewhere cool and link up with some other road or trail that I had never been to. They never really went anywhere interesting. The most interesting thing that ever happened was when I was just sitting down, thinking about how sketchy that trail was. Nobody was ever on the trail, so if some creeper happened to be hiding near the trail and saw you coming, he could do whatever he wanted to do and no one would ever find out. Well I was thinking about that and all of a sudden I heard all this rustling in the leaves. A moose ran out in front of me, like 15 feet away and just ran away from me along the trail. Like I said, nothing interesting.

Well, I brought that green bike down to Colorado with me for college because I knew I wouldn't have a car and would be living a half mile from campus. It was very good to have that bike. It took me everywhere I needed to go and I soon realized it was faster than a car, coming down to campus. And ridiculously faster if you include the time it takes to find a parking spot and then get to class. I mostly just used the bike as a commuting bike aside from a single mountain bike ride on it.

Special Bike
I met Zach that first year of college. When I first met him, I didn't think much of him. He was an alright guy when I first met him, but I didn't really know him well enough yet. He told me he was pretty big into mountain biking and that blew me away. I never would have expected him to be a mountain biker. I apparently thought he didn't fit the image of a mountain biker. He took me out to Aurora one day in Soobie (His Subaru) and helped me choose a good mountain bike. I chose a 2005 silver Specialized Rockhopper and it was certainly a step up from my green bike. The specialized actually had front suspension and V-brakes, which are so much better than the cantilever brakes I had before. Oh, and the bike was WAY lighter. Turns out aluminum frames are a lot lighter than steel ones. Well Zach got me into mountain biking, so for the next 3 years I went on quite a few rides with him and used the bike every day to commute to school.

My college (Colorado School of Mines) is in one of the best towns in the country for mountain biking. One day, Zach and I decided to do an Epic Ride. Normally, we would just go up Chimney Gulch and down Apex, but Zach, being a ridiculously intense guy at times, decided he wanted something more epic. So the ride started out at the Mines Park parking lot. We rode up lookout mountain rode for a bit and then got on chimney gulch. Chimney Gulch is a great uphill ride. It's moderately technical and definitely tiring, but not exhausting except for the last mile, which seems like it's never going to end every single time I ride it. The thing about this trail is that every time I ride it with Zach, he's always certain that we could beat the road bikers going up the road and we always least the slow ones.

We got to the top, and of course I was tired, but the fun part was yet to come. We rode down the road till we got to Apex trail, which is ridiculously fun, especially when you take the Enchanted Forest detour. There are countless woop-de-doos (little bumps in the trail that launch you in to the air), some kind of technical stuff, it's a very fun steepness, and it's a very nice length. We cruised down that and as always it was ridiculously fun. Note: One time we shuttled apex and it was no where near as much fun as every other time we slaved up chimney to get to apex. The uphill makes the downhill so much more fun.

The next trail in line was Dakota Ridge. This was a couple miles down the road and I was uncertain what was to come. I had never ridden dakota ridge before, but zach said it was pretty technical...Yeah it was technical. There were tons of rocks in the trail that you had to ride over and the trail starts off with a ridiculously steep climb that just makes you beg for mercy. We felt pretty proud of ourselves because we passed a group of riders that all had really nice bikes. Ah, how sweet it is to stick it too the rich peeps who can't actually ride well.

The last ride we had planned was the Red Rocks trail and it was a good choice. After already doing 3 trails, my legs were shot and I was about ready to be home, taking a shower. But Red Rocks was a really cool and easy trail. Except for the initial climb, that's not too bad, the whole trail is pretty flat and just relaxing. It's in wide open fields in a valley between hogbacks and foothills and it's just beautiful. Oh and there's a bunch of sandstone structures that are really cool.

Riding along the road, back to the car, we linked up to the bottom of Apex, where there's a paved bike trail that goes all the way to Mines. There are few things more refreshing than that cruise coming home. You don't have to pedal at all and you just fly down the nice paved trail. So relaxing.

Fixerupper and Oldie
That Specialized holds a lot of my memories, including all the random tricks that I learned, but that'll be for another day. I moved to Denver during my last summer of grad school and people in Denver like to steal bikes. Well some punk stole mine from a bus stop and I will forever be constantly paranoid that someone is going to steal my bike when it's locked up. To replace the specialized, I bought an old Schwinn road bike, which I rode for only about 1.5 weeks, then I couldn't help myself and bought my Bianchi fixie from a guy on craigslist. I never ride the Schwinn because it's heavy and small and I'm just in love with my Bianchi. It is such a fun bike and it just makes me happy to ride it. I don't have any significant memories with the Bianchi, but I'm sure more would come.

I'm sure by now you're begging me to stop writing. For how little I talk, I sure can ramble when I'm typing. Now you know about all my bikes that I've ever owned and how I have precious memories with most of them.

Song of the day: Ain't No Reason by Brett Dennen

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Car For Young Man

Left: My Specialized Rockhopper that got me through college. She was stolen in August.
Right: My Bianchi Campione Fixie that I now ride everywhere I go.

The car-free life came to me by accident. I was practically an international student since my home is further than Canada and it's hard to bring much of anything to college when you're from that far away. I brought a bike, guitar, trumpet, books, and clothes. Everything else has been accumulated since I moved to Colorado (which isn't that much really). I couldn't afford to buy a car since every year of college I survived off of summer job money and the money my parents were able to give to me.

Inconvenient Truth
Over the years in college I kept on saying, I'll probably buy a car next year because it's really inconvenient to not have a car. It really was inconvenient. I couldn't get to school and back just fine since I never lived further than 2.5 miles from campus, but I felt so limited in doing anything else. This included going to church, picking up groceries, going out with friends, skiing, going out to eat, you get the idea.

Independence=Hatred of Dependence
I was always very fortunate to have friends who would loan me their cars whenever I needed them. As you can imagine, it was kind of annoying borrowing cars though. I felt bad about free-loading off of them and the thing I hated the most was that I could not be independent. Independence is the reason I am so glad I have a bike. I really hate being so dependent on other people. It makes me feel irresponsible, cheap, and poor. So the way that I avoided this feeling was to try my hardest to always ride my bike places, unless it was completely convenient for somebody else to give me a ride. I would ride my bike at 2 in the morning coming home from friends' houses, ride when it was pouring rain, or blowing wind at 30 mph in the opposite direction. Thankfully I could draft with Z-dub often when I had to practically ride through a wind tunnel called South Golden Road to get to school.

Where'd all this money come from?
After a while, I started to realize that I kept putting off buying a car. When I became a grad student I finally realized that I didn't really want a car and that I'd just wait till I got a real job before I started seriously looking for a car. My method of saving money has always been just to not spend money that much and after a while I'll look in my account and see a bunch of money in there that I accidentally saved up. Not having a car is great for this method of saving money. As a grad student, I made more than enough money for my living situation, so you can imagine that the money in my account quickly piled up. I mean I spent $287.50 on rent, like $25 on utilities, and however much on food. Grad students get paid really well if you're single, in my opinion, especially when you include tuition.

Why's my heart beating so slow?
In addition to the large amount of money I was saving, riding a bike kept me in decent shape. I rode everywhere, so I was always exercising at least a little bit. Recently, since I moved to Denver, I've started riding more miles per day, sometimes having to ride to or from Golden (like 14 miles). And I tested my resting heart rate last night and it was at 48bpm! This is the best RHR I've had in a very long time and the only exercise I ever do is ride my bike places and volleyball every other week (which is not very intense exercise). So I'm really happy that biking everywhere is contributing to my health.

Those are the 2 main reasons I am very happy that I live without a car. Some side reasons I like it are that bikes and buses have very low pollution, bikes are easy to repair, bikes are a ton of fun (especially fixies), buses are great for reading and meeting really weird people, and I'm forced to do a lot of planning ahead of time and manage my time well. Yes it is inconvenient sometimes, but I haven't been overwhelmed by the inconveniences yet, so I am enjoying the life.

Song of the Day: Leave by Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Musical Genre: Good Music

People often ask me what kind of music I like and the question is always really hard to answer for me. Instead of giving a genre that I like, I always give different groups I like. Like Iron and Wine, Mason Jennings, The Postal Service, Beirut, Coldplay, and of course Lady Gaga (Just kidding). Although my favorite groups are somewhat similar, I like lots of different genres.

The honest answer to the question of what kind of music do I like is that I like Good Music that Doesn't Annoy Me. You may ask, what makes music "Good Music?"
  1. It cannot be somebody that originated on the Disney Channel. Sorry Rachel, I just don't like that kind of music. It's as catchy as an angler on the Russian River but not that great.
  2. On the topic of catchy, it has to be catchy. I'm not in the least bit impressed with some shredding guitar solo that sounds like a soaking wet cat. Catchy is dependent on having a good melody. Keep in mind that catchy isn't everything...I mean just listen to I Kissed a Girl by Katie Perry. It's catchy, but horrible.
  3. It can't be sappy. For example I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. Very catchy song, but very sappy and lovey dovey. I think it could be a good song without the sappy lyrics and the do-do-do chorus. Like these lyrics, "Scooch on over closer, dear and I will nibble on your ear." So lame.
  4. It can't be annoying. An example of music that I would almost consider good music is Surfjan Stevens. He has some pretty cool songs, I just have a hard time listening to very many because they just annoy me a little bit. Yes, all music gets annoying if you listen to it over and over again, but some music gets annoying really fast.
  5. It can't be modern country music. Old school stuff is great though and Blue Grass, and the non-sappy stuff.
  6. Oh and just because it's popular doesn't mean it's not good. It annoys me when people hate all popular music. For example, Coldplay, Outkast sometimes, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.
  7. Can't be repetitive Techno or Trance music. I challenge you to try to change my opinion on that. p.s. Postal Service is not Techno.
This whole rant may make it look like I'm extremely picky about music. Maybe for me to really love the music, I am picky, but I can at least enjoy listening to lots of different music even if I wouldn't include it in my favorite music.

Song of the day to listen to: Boy with a Coin by Iron and Wine

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Light Switch

I love living in Denver. I really do. It's great living with a family with a 6 year old and a 1 year old. It's so different from living with other college guys. It is just refreshing to have a different life.

One of the funny things about the house I live in is my bedroom. I love the wood walls and having cable tv in my bedroom is awesome and is great for being ridiculously lazy. But the funny thing about the room is that the light switch is on the other side of the room. The wall was put in after the house's initial construction, so the light switch is in a kind of awkward spot. I spent the first month or so just using my cell phone to give me enough light to get to the light switch.

This had to stop.

I remembered my friend Rebecca's room. She had a piece of string attached to her light switch so she could turn the light off from her bed and then turn it on from her bed in the morning. It was a brilliant idea and would be perfect for my setup.

So I went to Lowe's and bought some rings that screw into the wall and some string that I could send to my door. I put the rings in the wall and sent the strings through so that when I pull on the top string the light turns on and when I pull on the bottom string, the light turns off. It's great.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Summer Baseball Consumed My Life

My peak in athleticism, relative to my peers, was when I was 12. I was on the Blue Devils baseball team in Knik Little League and we were on fire. We were the best team in the league and it was very rare that we were beaten. I think we may have had 2 losses that entire season. I was one of the main pitchers and I also played short-stop, 1st base and 3rd base. This was one of the most memorable summers of my life.

I had two pitches in my repertoire: a 2 seam fast ball and a weird changeup/breaking ball pitch. That change-up fooled all kinds of hitters. I thought it was so great whenever the batter swung and the ball would drop down to home-plate at the last second, striking the batter out. I thought I was a hot-shot with that pitch. Then one day we were up against the Green Berets (I think) and Erik was up to bat. The team as a whole wasn't amazing, but Erik was great. He was one of the best home-run hitters in the league, but I still thought I'd be able to strike him out with his huge strike zone. I got two strikes on him, one he missed and the other he fouled deep in right field. That worried me a little bit, but I was ahead in the count, so I thought I'd try to get him with my change-up. The pitch was always best when it looked like it would be a strike, but dropped to the dirt. But this time I messed up. I threw it high, letting it drop right to the middle of his strike zone. Erik had seen the pitch before against his team mates and he was too good of a hitter to just get ahead of it and miss it. He watched it drop like it always does and gave it a hard whack. It was a high fly ball right over my head. I knew it was bad as soon as he hit it, and sure enough, it was a home run. A humbling experience for me.

We ended up winning the league championship later on in the season and when we won we all ran out to the mound jumping and laughing like we had just won the World Series. We had the best coach in the league and we were pretty sure all along that we could win the championship because he did such a good job coaching us. Bob Jones was his name. I always remember that he always told the other coach to call for the coin toss at the beginning of every game and he never ever ever lost. The regular season was fun and all, but 5 of us still had the All-Star season to come and things started to get serious.

I have a hard time remembering who our coaches were, but I think it was Coach Spink, Travis' dad, and maybe ole' Coach Bob helped out too...can't remember. We bumped it up to 2 practices every day for the next week as we prepared for the district tournament, which was to be held at our ball park. I honestly don't remember much from this part of the tournament. Seems like we were really confident that we would win this series because we had watched the other teams and they weren't all that great. Sure enough, we won the district championship and it was a Round-Robin tournament, so it was pretty anti-climactic.

After district, comes state, so we started getting ready to go to Fairbanks for the state tournament. I couldn't believe this was happening because there was talk among the parents about the possibility of us winning the state championship and going immediately from Fairbanks to California. We were so excited but started to finally get nervous. My mom bought me a bag to put all my soap and tooth paste and stuff in and bought me some sandals too. She told me that I'd probably have to shower with other boys if we made it to California and she didn't want me to get athlete's foot and sandals would help prevent that. We flew to Fairbanks, and once again I felt like a hot-shot. I had never flown to Fairbanks. It's just a 7 hour drive, so I always drove it, but the league paid for us to fly up there, so I felt like a celebrity.

We made it to Fairbanks and met the families who would keep us at their house. The family who kept us at our house was great. They came to our games and cheered us on. And let me tell you, their daughter was cute! She was a year younger than me I think, but boy was she cute. Oh and they had a trampoline and there's nothing more fun than a trampoline. I remember staying up late at the house watching a 21 inning Mariners game while practicing our golf putting on the little green they had in the basement. They had a Haro mountain bike in the basement and I thought it was the coolest bike ever.

There were 3 teams there: Knik (us), Fairbanks, and Ketchikan. We watched the other two teams play and after that game we were thankful that we played Fairbanks first. They were pretty bad and Ketchikan had an amazing team. They were all taller than us and their pitchers were FAST! Ketchikan seems like they always win the little league state championships in Alaska, so we were a bit afraid of them. Well our first game, like I said, was against the Fairbanks team and we whooped them. Pretty sure we won by like 10 runs and I got to pitch that game. I only let in maybe 1 or 2 runs for the whole game and had a sweet home run (I still have the home run ball from that game). This was one of the coolest games I had ever played because I was interviewed by a Fairbanks newspaper. I really felt like a celebrity. I thought for sure that girl at our house would fall in love with me after my performance that game. She didn't.

I can't remember much about the 2 games we had against Ketchikan, but we lost both. We were behind by no more than 4 runs in the second game and my team had given up before the last inning. One thing I love about baseball is that there's no time limit and it's possible to come back from any gap in the very last inning. I still had hope we could win, but many of my teammates threw in their towels.

We flew back to Anchorage and were horribly disappointed, but it was still one of the best summers ever.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Concerning the famous hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha

This is a drawing I did of a statue of Don Quixote that my friend Cynthia gave me from her trip to Spain.

Some People:

Don Quixote's that guy who ran into a bunch of windmills thinking they were giants right? Yeah... that's the guy.

Yep Wishbone (the old PBS show) got it right. He's the guy who ran into the windmills. Normally I am very pleased with the summary Wishbone does of books, but not Don Quixote. Sorry.

Oh he's the guy that the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha is about right? Yeah... that's him too.

Whoever did that musical should be forced to do something horribly unpleasant for making that musical.

Enough ranting. Don Quixote is a cool guy. If you know me very well, then you know that Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes is my favorite book. I'm secretly obsessed with the book and not many people realize it. It is a hilarious book with really cool insight into the character of Don Quixote.

Don Quixote is a crazy old man who was obsessed with chivalry books, so much that he believed they were all real. He dedicated his life to a life of chivalry, living as a knight going from town to town, righting the wrongs that he encountered. He is absolutely ridiculous (and his squire Sancho is even more ridiculous).

What I love about Don Quixote that really impresses me is how ridiculous he looks to everyone around him, but how ridiculously good he is to those he feels have been wronged. Everybody thinks he's stupid for running around in armor and a washpan as his helmet, but he is so honorable and kind. He protects servants from their abusive masters and he even treats the ugliest girl in town as a princess. He spends so much time dreaming of his beautiful Dulcinea, forcing his foes to swear that she is the most beautiful maiden in Spain. He also had this scrawny old donkey, whom he called Rocinante and spoke of the animal like it was a great stallion. Poor thing had to carry him across Spain.

Don Quixote dedicated his life to defending the weak and beautifying the ugly. Good guy. You should read the book, but please promise me not to watch the musical!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How The World Could Be

Pain indicates that life has potential for meaning: I'm reading a book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and Miller made this statement after reflecting on a story of a Nazi who saw all the pain the Jews were put through.

The world was once gray, flat, and inanimate. The world had nothing pretty and nothing ugly either. No stories to tell about the painful adventures climbers had climbing Denali. No wedding celebration or baby shower celebrating a beautiful covenant or a new life. We never saw a sunset or caught a glimpse of a 4 mile high mountain from hundreds of miles away. Nobody ever discovered the theory of gravity or cared what happened when you sent electrons through a double slit.

The good thing about this world was that we would never worry about being hurt. No one ever put their trust in someone, so there was no way to be betrayed. No one ever loved anyone, so there could never be heartbreak. No one ever had aspirations to raise money by selling text books to give the money to people who were in pain. Why would anyone think of this anyways since there was no earthquake and there was no genocide? No one expected the father to love his family and stay committed to them for his lifetime. Nobody ever lived an entire life in depression. They had no chance to encourage a friend who struggled with the same pain they felt.

I could never claim that I've lived a painful life but the pain I have felt and seen and the joy have felt and seen indicates to me that life has meaning.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Just admit it...You know the trumpet is the best

Ask any serious trumpet player and they will undoubtedly tell you that the trumpet is the best instrument ever. This is one of those band stereotypes that are totally true! Maybe some day I'll write about band stereotypes like how goofy trombone players are and how much percussion likes making ears bleed, but that'll be another day. Or maybe not, cuz there's not much to it. I'm here to tell you why trumpets are, in fact, the best.

I've used this trumpet since I was in 6th grade, so, like 12 years. It is my favorite instrument I own just because I've had it so long and I'm secretively proud that it's a Yamaha beginner's trumpet that I still used through college (Don't tell anyone). I would have bought a new trumpet if I had $1,000 lying around that I wasn't already using for survival in the deep woods of the Anchorage suburbs. I'm going to try to tell you a few stories that I have shared with this trumpet over the years to show you why the trumpet is so great.

In eighth grade I was a hot-shot, er I thought I was. I was in the Gruening Middle School Jazz Band and, let me tell you, we were good. We mastered classics like chatanooga choo-choo, La Bamba, In the Mood, and other such songs that I thought were the coolest jazz ever 'til I realized they're all not that amazing. Anyways, one day we got to skip class for half the day and go around to the elementary schools and show them our skills. I was certain they all thought we were amazing musicians and they all wanted to be just like us when they grew up. Some 5 little kids at Birchwood elementary shouted out to me when I was walking next to them, "Trumpets Rock!" This confirms the first fundamental of the trumpet's coolness: Everyone knows the trumpet rocks!

I never really understood the trumpet until I was a sophomore in high school in the jazz band at 6:30 in the morning (an hour of the morning a high schooler would only be conscious for for the sake of jazz). Good ole' Boysen told me, "Jon, you need to just play louder and don't give a crap whether the notes are right or not. So get your dad to let you in the church and play in the auditorium so you have to work hard to fill up the room with sound." Of course I never did this because no trumpet player would ever accept help from a trombone player (or anyone really). Don't tell anyone, but I started playing louder. I sucked as much air into my lungs that they could hold and just blared that trumpet. I finally started to get better and realized that trumpet parts are very often designed to just blare out notes really loud and it's not that big of a deal if it's wrong. This confirmed the second fundamental of the trumpet's coolness: Trumpets know how to play loud and it's essential for surviving

So back to the whole playing jazz at 6:30 in the morning. I woke up every day during the last 2 years of high school at 5:45 in the morning so I could play jazz. I wasn't really a morning person and my dad knew it, so one day on the ride to school he asked me why I was willing to wake up at 5:45 for jazz band. I told him that it was the only thing keeping me sane in high school. Honestly, I didn't like most of the people at my school and with my business in taking all honors classes and playing sports every year, the only refuge I had was band. Science and math classes were cool and I had a very small group of friends that I liked outside of band, but band was the only class I ever went to, looking forward to seeing the people. Maybe I'll explain why I didn't like the people at my high school (and why I feel bad about it now) some time later. All that said, band and being able to play jazz trumpet kept me sane through high school. Therefore: Playing the trumpet keeps one sane.

Now, possibly the only legitimate reason the trumpet is cool is because of it's simplicity (which it also shares with the tuba, trombone, and baritone). It is 3 buttons for goodness sake. Pianos have like 66, Saxes, Clarinets, Flutes, Oboes, Bassoons all have a bunch of buttons too. It's like a fixie. The simplicity is just beautiful. Why make the instrument have billions of buttons when your body has the ability to control a significant portion of pitch. On a fixie, you just have to have the ability to ride at different cadences if you want to ride at different speeds. On a trumpet, your lips just need to get tighter or looser if you want to make adjustments to pitch (you can also make all kinds of tones by adjusting your mouth in other ways too). So, The simplicity of the trumpet (and other brass) is beautiful.

That's probably enough for now. Most of the reasons I gave aren't actual reasons and you could easily destroy me in a debate about it. I just like the trumpet and you should too.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Yesterday I was waiting for the bus in Golden and it was 9:30PM. It was dark and cars were passing every minute or so. The bus was supposed to get there by 9:19, so I was starting to get impatient and started pacing. I'm not much of a pacer, but that was the best thing I could think of doing at the moment. I noticed the shadow of the bus stop sign moving whenever a car would pass. The headlights were shining on the sign and the shadow would move along the bench. In my pacing I started walking along the shadow and wondered, if I know the speed of the shadow, can I calculated how fast the car is moving? Nope. Can't do it.

I was so disappointed, but i realized why I couldn't do the calculation. The shadow is just a projection from a moving light source, past the sign, onto the bench. The shadow doesn't contain every piece of information that the light source and object contains. There's always a loss of information for a projection. Like if you saw two shadows of people with identical head shapes, but different noses, you'd never be able to figure out who had the bigger nose. It's sad, I know. And even if you had an infinite number of shadows, you'd know who had the bigger nose, but wouldn't know if either person had eyeballs, unless they had particularly bulgy eye balls. So projections are cool, but they always have a loss of information.

Thecool thing is that the more projections you have, the more information you have. That's why 2 eyes are better than one. Two different perspectives or projections allow you to have depth perception. And if we had 2 more eyeballs on our hands, then we'd have even better depth perception. We only have depth perception for things that are moderately close, because when you're looking at Russia from Palin's backyard, the picture in one eyeball is about the same as the picture in the other eyeball. The eyeball separation is so close compared to the long distance that it doesn't really make a difference. It's basically two copies of the same picture.

In calculus, a derivative is a loss of information (like a projection) and an integral is an increase of information (like an antiprojection (whatever that is)). So it goes to show that an integral is way cooler than a derivative for this reason:
  • A derivative is an old fashioned overhead projector that your high school literature teacher used to tell you that The Great Gatsby is the best book ever.
  • An integral is the hologram that your high school physics teacher used to set-in-stone that physics is so much cooler than any other subject.
'nough said.

So now you know that I like physics and math, but don't really like The Great Gatsby...One of the things that I passionately dislike. Sorry for the extremely nerdy post.