Thursday, January 27, 2011

It’s Not You, It’s Me

So anyway, about this blog…

Tangent: But first, 2 things about the last post. First, if you ever want to find out how many coworkers really read your blog, do a post like that one. All week long, coworkers have been coming up to me, saying (mostly) nice things* about how they’ll miss working with me, mentioning that they read the post, and sometimes asking a follow-on question or two to try to get a handle on the details of the past-blown-up deal or B or C or some other aspect of the LQC*.

*A couple even hugged me, which I thought was kind of nice. In general, I’m not a Gratuitous Hugger, but I have some great co-workers. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever did a tangent on Gratuitous Hugging, which is a rich, rich topic. Oh well, possible material for Part 2.

**Never gonna tell. But contrary to what Co-worker Matt is spreading, there is no anagramming involved. Seriously, the guy sat down in my office yesterday trying to Da Vinci-Decode “ABC…” One of the odd things in my life, BTW, that I think has been if anything exacerbated by this blog, is that people generally assume I’m smarter than I am. Really, I’m not all that bright- I’m just interested in a lot of things and like to run off at the mouth. Lots of times I’ll be talking with someone and they’re looking at me and I can tell they’re thinking, “Boy, I wonder what he’s thinking about right now- probably some deep, important stuff…” But mostly I’m just thinking about when I can next go for my next bike ride. Or lunch.

Second, I’m sorry- especially to male readers- about the “We Have To Talk” teaser. Because men are terrified of that phrase. When our wives/SOs say it to us, we simply have no idea what’s coming next. We honestly don’t know if they’re going to ask us for a divorce, or our opinion on the color for the new drapes. Really, we think it could be either. Because in relationships- and this is the truth- men never really have any idea of what is going on. Oh, we like to think we do, but we’re pretty clueless. We’re like long-distance drivers who have absolutely no idea how an engine works. We know we’re supposed to fill the tank with gas when the light comes on and maybe check the oil every once in a while. We generally think that when we get back in the car and start up everything will run just fine, but for all we know the next time we turn the key the engine might just blow up, like at the end of The Mechanic. That’s kind of like… oh, you get it already.

Monday night OCRick and I drove down South to Gooseberry Mesa. After a quick night-ride on the Bench level we drove on up onto the Mesa and camped. I looked up at the stars for a while and saw Perseus, Auriga, Gemini, the Big Dipper, Draco*, Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades, Jupiter, Cassiopeia, and much more.

*Thanks, Doug M.!

Tangent: We have a new favorite Phenomenally Awesome Campsite on Gooseberry. For years we had an Awesome Campsite, but about a year ago it got taken out by a cell tower. Then back in October, we stumbled across the new, Phenomenally Awesome Campsite, which turns out- incredibly- to be even better than the Old Awesome Campsite. It’s 2WD accessible, private, right on singletrack, and the view, well…

View no captions No, I’m not showing it on a map here. If you’re headed down there, email me and I’ll give you the beta.

View captions The next day we rode all over the mesa. We pedaled past Piñon and Juniper and Cliffrose and Sagebrush and Mormon Tea and Prickly Pear and Turbinella Oak, and rolled over the Shinarump Conglomerate and the Lower Sandstone Member of the Chinle formation. The rock surfaces were dotted with bits of crustose lichens, and shady spots bore bright green swathes of moss. Away from the trail, in the open spaces between the trees, Grate captionI spied rich black patches of mature cryptogamic soils. We heard the calls of Pinyon Jays, caught glimpses of the banded red & white Moenkopi members below the rim, the Wingate cliffs and Navajo domes of Zion in to the North, and the massive laccolith of the Pine Valley range to the West.

Tangent: So you’re probably wondering how I like my new bike. After careful testing, I’ve assembled this highly technical Evaluation Assessment Matrix (may be too advanced for non-technical readers):

Eval Matrix Seriously, I love it. The low bottom bracket requires a bit of “awareness”, but gives the bike a wonderfully stable feel on fast descents. And the brakes deliver a masterful sense of effortless controlled power, even if the sounds emanating from them remind me of the zombies in The Walking Dead. I could prattle on about this or that feature, but the most remarkable (and surprising) thing about a full-suspension carbon 29er with a through-axle fork is that you don’t get tired. After a full day on Gooseberry in the off-season I just can’t believe how good I feel. My wrists, butt, neck, legs, arms- everything feels great. And the next morning I feel, well, normal.

All of these things- and the stars the night before- I not only recognized, but now knew something about their stories: what they were, where they came from, why they were here- pretty much none of which I knew 3 years ago. Though there will always be new bugs, birds, rocks, shrubs and stars to learn about, by any reasonable measure, I’ve completed the project. I’ve watched the world wake up.

OCR DD My plan was always that this project would have a start and an end. And this is probably a good point to wrap it up. Except…

Now that I finally have all kinds of time and freedom, I’m going to get to go to all sorts of cool places and see all sorts of cool things- stuff really worth blogging about. So I’ll probably blog again, which means starting a new blog. I’d probably leave a pointer here to the new blog for any readers who were interested, which is kind of silly, because then, well, it’s really the same blog… So here’s what I intend to do:

Next week I’ll complete the project, which I’ll call Part 1. After I wrap up Part 1, I’ll take a brief break from blogging- probably around a month*. Then, I intend to start Part 2.

*Couple reasons for the break. First, I’ll have said my piece and feel I can let it sit for a bit. Second, I want a break. Third, I’ll be traveling light in a third-world-y kind of place where I don’t really want to be dragging a laptop around.

All About Part 2

Part 2 will be more focused on travels, places and experiences over the coming year- it won’t simply be a continuation of blogging about the Wasatch and Northern Utah. And it’ll be different than Part 1 in other ways. Posting will be less frequent, and there may be other changes in tone, perspective and focus.

Note that I said “intend”. I’ll start Part 2 when- and if- it feels right. I’ve always felt this project worked best when I wanted- was itching- to blog, which fortunately, was most of the time. When I felt I had to blog, well, it felt kind of like a job. I’m taking a break from jobs- of all kinds- for a bit. I think (and hope) that I’ll be itching to blog again soon, but if not, Part 1 will stand on its own.

So that’s the “plan”, such as it is. Next week I’ll finally get around to explaining the thing I probably should have explained when I started the project- the Wasatch. And some other stuff.


Enel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enel said...

1. Don't worry, I don't really think you are that smart.

2. If my wife asks for a talk, my first response is always "Am I in trouble?" If the answer is negative (and I have no clue if it will be or not), I can relax until the scheduled talk time.

3. This is your first 29"er, correct? You may be feeling the stability of the wheels but I agree low bbs are a double edged sword in ledgy terrain. I am gravitating toward lower and lower bbs and find they keep me out of trouble....until they don't and I hit a pedal.

4. Happy travels. Good on you for doing the blog. I personally pretty much never get the itch to write, but love to read. You always said your next blog would be anonymous?? I guess now that you can't hold down a job anonymity is less important:)*

*Original response edited because I am an A student and couldn't stand the typos.

El Gaucho said...

Though I've never met you and can't even remember how I first lucked my way into your blog, I'd like to pass on my genuine appreciation for the year or so I've spent following your writing (I couldn't respond to the last breakup post because it made me sad). I'm not saying it was life changing or perspective alerting or anything, but every time a Watching the World Wake Up post appeared in Google Reader I thought "Sweet!!". Each post also led to subsequent inevitable Interwebs research or scrambling to find some old book that I swear I had somewhere.

Thanks for writing an informative and amusing blog and I look forward to Part II. Best of luck in your travels/adventures.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

I'll go one up on El Gaucho and say that your blog has been life changing for me, but that's mostly because through it I met you in real life and have had some way cool adventures and conversations as a result. I'm looking forward to the post on the Wasatch and to hearing about your adventures. And now that you have free time, hopefully tagging along on some of them. Buena suerte!

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Oh, and for the record, I share your assessment of low bottom brackets. I'm sold on disc brakes. You learn to deal with the noise, and sometimes you can even figure out what's causing it and fix it, but usually not. I also use some really old (I think first generation) Shimano Deore hydraulics for the simple reason that they are zero maintenance beyond an occasional pad replacement. I don't think I've ever even had to bleed them.

Rabid said...

You have friends that don't read your blog. I have a love affair with my non-blog-reader friends because: A) You feel as if you have a "secret," B) You can retell the story and they won't notice that you've already written about it, and C) They provide great material without too much overhead (wink, wink.)

I'm really excited that your moving away from the Utah thing for a while. I've lived here my whole life, and, well, have grown sick of you talking about Utah. Grin. Sometimes I wanna say stuff like, "Watcher. Dude. Utah really ain't all that cool." Or is it...?

Rabid said...

Dang. 'YOU'RE." Not "your." Hate it when I do that.

Dave said...

Congratulations on moving on! I've enjoyed your blog and wish you good luck.

And about the campsite, if you are willing to share with another "leave no trace camper," send me an email. I will treat it well, and it looks like it is about 3 hours from home.

Thanks again for your enjoyable writing and tangents.

HBMabry said...

I have really enjoyed your blog/work/tangential whatever... I wanted to thank you for doing this project. Just so you know that people from all over are interested in the same types of things. I have actually sounded smarter as a result of reading your stuff. Heh heh. I'm heading to gooseberry in a few months and I promise to keep your campsite secret. If I find it...

All the best.

Watcher said...

All- thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

Enel- Yes, 1st 29er, and the big wheels are also a huge factor. On Gooseberry I felt that the while the "big moves" were still "big", the big wheels minimized the in-between rough "chatter", allowing more recovery in-between the bigger moves, leaving me way less beat up at the end of the day. Oddly, the wheels already don't seem "big" anymore; when OCRick (also a recent 29 convert) and I encountered 26ers on the trail, we both had an instant why-are-your-wheels-small? gut reaction..

Dave & Brad- Happy to send you campsite beta. Email me at (Dave- if I already have your email I'm spacing it, forgive me).

Rabid- I have a "theory" that Utah born & bred natives are hopelessly spoiled. I don't think we non-natives ever really get over, no matter how long we live here, how amazing this place is.

Anonymous said...

Is the BB on the 29er lower than on your 26er? I've never looked into it but it would seem that it would be higher and that your whole center of gravity is an inch or so higher (as compared to a 26er). Does it feel that way? I've never tried a 29er so I have no basis for comparison but it would also seem like the turning radius would be larger (and, thus, perhaps, less nimble). Is that not the case? Anyway, sorry to get off a tangent but this is WTWWU (for at least one more post).

I agree that non-natives in any cool place will always be amazed at their surroundings while natives are often bored by it. Perhaps it has to do with childhood development. Childhood surroundings are ingrained into you so that you always see the world compared to it (but such childhood surroundings then become boring and never new and exciting). But, as an adult, anyplace different from your childhood will always seem new and different, a place for exploring. Anyway, that is a guess. Colorado is the same way - most natives almost never go into the mountains but transplants (no matter if they lived here 2 or 20 years) can't get enough of it. Oops - another tangent!

Good luck with wrapping things up at work and preparing for your new adventures. Looking forward to your last post (unless, hopefully, you decide to continue blogging whether here or with a new site). Please keep this website up for a while - occasionally I look things up from past posts. You are like wikipedia, but much cooler. Afterall, how many wiki's entries have such colorful and entertaining tangents?

mtb w

Enel said...

Reading back over my prior comment, it seems unreasonably harsh. Hopefully you realized it was tongue in cheek mostly. I have really enjoyed the blog, and you writing style is a hoot, combining science stuff, bike stuff, and witty observations about normal life in a great way. In other words, you may be an excellent camper, but you are also an excellent story teller.


29" bikes use the same botttom bracket heights as their 26" brethren. The difference is the axles are 1.5 inches higher, so the "bb drop" is lower on a 29" bike and generally they will be more stable for a given absolute BB height. To the pilot, they feel no higher.

The Tallboy has an absolutely low, regardless of wheel size 12.5" bb height.

Watcher again: What I fine is that 29" wheels in any terrain or amount of travel are much smoother feeling than smaller wheels. This has to do with the angle of attack of the front of the wheel on an obstacle. It does not ramp up or spike as much and generally if one is not doing a lot of big drops, one can get away with a lot less (or no) travel on the big wheels.

Colin said...

I'll miss the twice weekly tangents from work.

The BB is low on the Tallboy but I just got used to it and all the plusses outweigh it. I also swapped out the stock pads for the organic pads which got rid of the noise (they are supposed to be better suited to dry climates, like Utah).

Bon Voyage.

Watcher said...

mtb w- don't worry, existing posts will stay up for as long as Google allows!

Enel- no worries, I read it as intended!

Colin- yeah, I switched already, and definitely some improvement, though not yet "silent running".

Kevin Vigor said...

A friend and I were talking yesterday about how facebook et al are creating a false impression of how happy everybody is. They all pick the best, brightest moments of their lives to share and we look at it and think, why the hell do *I* have do do dishes and pick up kids and go to work?

But in reality, nobody's that happy. They just cherrypick their lives to keep one-upping each other in the happiness race.

So, I'm gonna keep that in mind as a means to keep my jealousy in check...

... but seriously, thanks. This has been a fantastic resource for me, and it's great to see one of the good ones make it out of corporate land. Have fun and let us know what it's like out there, eh?