Life, liberty and the pursuit of cool pictures

Brother Tom classying up the subway

Brother Tom classying up the subway

We sit here Sunday night after a feast of pork chops, chicken thighs and pie (in no particular order) and I’m happy. Dishes done, floors swept, songs sung and children whipped and put to bed. Nothing like a good old-fashioned Orem city Sunday. Family city USA strikes again. Paige reads about the creation of the earth from her geology book while her dad reads about the creation of the earth in the scriptures and I look through photos on my laptop computer. Faith vs. Fact vs. Photos. Or belief vs. belief vs. photos. Or Fact vs. Fact vs. Fact. All truth is relative right? Or maybe not. I once read a fake article that got me all excited about the Pope’s new ideas about truth, only to get my excitement handed back to me swiftly by a smarter friend than I who showed me it was a hoax. Such a good hoax though.

So, tonight the earth, round and rough, floats along through the sky like a racquetball in a rec center with no walls. No one around but random chunks of space-rock to knock it out of place and potentially kill a bunch of little species. Neil deGrasse Tyson told me about a space-chunk that passed closely and might come back around in twenty years to kill us all. Wikipedia says once every 80,000 years we can expect a big asteroid to get us. I’m not sure where we are on that countdown but I sleep easy and the stars are my friends, not my worries.

The crust is only 1 percent of the earth’s mass – a little plastic wrap on the outside of a balled-up bunch of corn bread. I’d never thought until tonight how the earth has never cooled down since it was formed. Fires from below burn deeply and will continue to burn like the testimony of a small Jehovah Witness woman until hell freezes over. And if hell is in the outer core those two things are going to occur at approximately the same time.  But, no one wants to invite the outer core to the party – the poor kid is made up of iron, oxygen and sulfur. Just your basic rotten egg of the core world. 

Uncle Marion caught by Google

Uncle Marion caught by Google

Uncle Marion on the other hand, caught here by the Google car, one sunny day on Lamplighter Lane in Logan, Utah, is always invited to the parties. I was sad to see my high school car, which had been featured on google maps prominently on the side of my mother’s house until just recently, get replaced by a more up-to-date photo of my Volkswagen van. The quality of vehicle hasn’t diminished at all, but the last living record of old Chester has fallen prey to progress and updating.

Kate and Blake in technacolor

Kate and Blake in technicolor

One of the most important things ever formed on this earth has got to be 80s dancing. No matter how much molten rock was smashed together and wrenched around in the first 30,000 birthdays of the earth, there was a little dancing gnome hidden in the works whose only job was to make sure to plant the technicolored seed of 80s dancing in the hearts of one or two well-placed kids. The same heat that burns in the outer core, the same nuclear heat that had to be jumpstarted in the 21st century’s greatest film the Core, that heat burns in the feet of every kid who has ever been lucky enough to stumble upon Area 51 in Salt Lake on a Thursday night.

Where fun is

Where fun is

And a truer representation of the creation than the picture above couldn’t be found. So, to start a new week, to create our own little worlds with burning cores and tiny crusts, let’s cruise along with this cool thought from Neil himself:

Exploration of the unknown might not strike everyone as a priority. Yet audacious visions have the power to alter mind-states—to change assumptions of what is possible.

– Neil deGrasse Mike Tyson

Cheers dude.

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Gobs Vals

DCIM508GOPROLittle gets at the human spirit like a rousing game of ghost in the graveyard. The suspense, the intensity, the heavy breathing and the pounding heart are things that are replicated but not often replicated well. When you pound out a game or two in the midst of hoodoos and youdoos and do-whats and babes with power you get a whole nother level of intensity. Without toppling what god the great gave to us and instead toppling our own fears and anxieties, we did good, worked hard, and gave Goblin valley the crew of loud-mouthed Utah County-bred energy that it has been missing for years.

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Power of Media: Sandra Bullock vs. Coffee Shop Pirates


I’ve been thinkin.

Art comes in many forms, many different mediums that impact the world from different angles and with different weights. Some break records and have authors who become rich and famous and written about in history books. Others fulfill the owner and creator, bringing peace to their life and giving them something to post to Facebook or show friends while giving a tour of the new apartment. Albert the Einstein said, according to a brainyquotes website, that “true art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” So the act of art-ing and the impact it has or has not on the world are separate beasts. One fulfills the irresistible inner urge of the human singular, while the other, the world’s reaction, fulfills the pocketbooks and status of that human.

I am sitting here at the Cafe on First in the Avenues of Salt Lake city looking up at a painting of a pirate ship flipped upside down in an ocean somewhere with sharks swimming around it and palm trees growing up out of the exposed bottom of the ship. A well-done pen and colored pencil piece, this painting does no screaming for attention, in fact, does quite the opposite. It is encased in a plastic sleeve and hanging by one of those bomber black plastic triangle-shaped paper holders with the two metal finger levers to spread apart the stiff metal. This artwork accurately portrays a fine likeness to what it is, a pirate ship, has some interesting color choices (the ship is gold like the Pixie dusted pirate ship that Peter Pan flies home from Neverlandkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Woops, fell asleep during mid-writing. Hahaha. Woke up a little embarrassed.

So, back to this painting, looks good, interesting choice of content and a fine piece of skilled creation. And a reasonable number of people will look at it. A hundred people are in and out of here every day and a couple for sure look over at it. Let’s say 15-30 a week see this beauty. The author of this piece may have intended it for a small audience, putting it out in the cafe in order to expose it to a potential customer to drop 75 dollars off at the cash register and take it home to order a frame off Amazon and hang it in the bedroom closet. And that could be the life of this art. That 75 dollar bill would buy beers and brats for the author.

In contrast, I went to Gravity at the Jordan Commons IMAX theater Wednesday night. It was in 3D, cost $13.75 and the speakers were so loud that the bass beat my heart for me and pumped blood three percent faster through my body. The theater was fairly full, impressive for a school/work night, and the popcorn barrels were overflowing. In its first weekend, debuting in a non-holiday season, it pulled in a gigantic $55.6 million dollars. Already being heralded by critics as a foot-in for awards and a much-needed boost to the declining 3D market, this thing is viral to say the least. Some simplified math, excluding any kind of additional revenue paying into that 55.6 million other than ticket prices, at 10 dollars a ticket that means that 5.5 million people saw this thing in its first weekend. Surely a million shed tears, another 500,000 screamed out of fear, 2 million cuddled with a loved one and left feeling closer to them and 5.5 million had some damage to their hearing. The names Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are huger than ever and their bank accounts are overflowing with intergalactic space coins.

The upside down pirate ship, on the other hand, sits quietly next to me at the cafe, unknown, unfamous, unbought. I can’t see the name of the author and I’m not about to get up to walk over and read it. Its statistics: one dude looking at it and blogging about art on a lazy Friday afternoon when he should be working on grad school applications.

ART. A Real Treat. Actual Factual Truth. Any Free Triumph. Or maybe just fart without the F.

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Pete the Snake makes somethin cool

When Pete the Snake signed up for a class presentation on paper airplanes, he thought he would have no trouble putting together a mundane demonstration with some silly plane-flying taking up the majority of his allotted minutes. His class was small; growing up the child of Frank Cole, the rich and famous beef burger tycoon, had its privileges and he was enrolled in the best schools from the time of his childhood. Group work and public speaking were the only topics emphasized more than Arabic and abstract design. And Pete excelled, like most snakes, at presentations.

Confidence in snakes, you see, begins at the tail and coils its way around the slithering stomach and up to the head. Annunciation comes naturally to the creatures, due to the large and maneuverable forked tongue, and the sharp fangs add a visual impact that makes it hard to ignore whatever is being said.

But Pete the Snake was worried. A wild weekend in Reno had left him with a bursting cold sore on the right tip of his prized tongue. Instead of “pay close attention to the creases you make to form the wings,” he spit out sloppily “pay clothe attenthion to thhhe creathes you make thoo foam the wingth.” He sounded like a jar of molasses on a first date with a sticky spoonful of peanut butter.

With his honor and the reputation of his family on the line, Pete the Snake, like any reptile in a tight spot, innovated. A quick trip to his nephew’s lego stash and a long night of engineering was all he needed.

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Tell it to my heart

The Hansen Family Reunion that I just got home from attending gave me a few things to write about. One hundred and who knows how many children, grandchildren, great-grandkids and girlfriends and spouses gathered 16 miles outside of Coalville, Utah for an incredibly well-organized weekend of catching-up. Of catch-up. Of ketchup. They drove in from all over the country, some flying from the East coast and some just driving up from the Avenues in Salt Lake.

Like a good family, we started with some athletics to break the ice. Two-hand-touch football is proven to be the most effective way to help estranged cousins get to know their now-grown-up counterparts. I mean, if you think about it for more than one second it makes sense. The ones that play well are the cousins you were always afraid of, and so as they now, with bigger and better-coordinated bodies ram you into the ground play after play after play, those same fears come flooding right back and you get to know each other again. It’s like you never spent 10 years apart.

So, we had our football game. Due to my enormous growth-spurt that I went through from the ages of 18-21, I was one of, if not the most talked about shocker at the reunion. “I just grew so much.” “I just used to be such a little guy.” “I just can’t believe it.” I also was expected to perform as if I had lived with this lanky body for my entire life, and was quickly elected as the quarterback of our struggling team. As I dealt with my anxieties about being the quarterback that have plagued me since 5th grade when I threw an interception to Harvey Unga on our last drive down field before recess ended, I threw bad pass after bad pass and quickly became disheartened. Like a deadbeat dad living up to every kid’s disappointments, I let my team down and gave up the pigskin to a slightly chubbier and better coordinated cousin. It was a fun time, but typical Abbott-family clumsiness.

Ok, the heart of this post is the realization that extended family is actually a special thing. Somehow, due to both a long series of awkward shared experiences and the genetics that we have in common, there is a bond that is found in groups such as this. Jokes are funnier, boring sports are slightly less boring, life stories are more interesting and you want to actually catch up with each other.

So, like a good Mormon family, Sunday morning we had our very own, full-fledged sacrament meeting. Grandpa Hansen presided and Uncle Kim conducted. Five short talks were given, a children’s choir and a full adult choir performed well-rehearsed songs, the bread was broken and we drank from the tiny little plastic cups of salvation. We, like any good Mormon family, (or EFY group or missionary district or group date) ended the meeting with the song “God be with you till we meet again.” Whoever wrote that song was a masochistic human being who reveled in the depressing dark dirty things in life. Like saying, “who knows when we’ll see each other again, and I probably won’t be able to talk or help out or be there for you until then, so I’m just going to sing this song and wish that God is there for you.” Everybody cries, everybody holds their partner, everyone lets all embarrassment go and just emotionally cliff-dives. So, I found myself in the front row of this little service, across the aisle from my Grandfather the presider, the producer, the builder, the fixer the laugher the grump the wise the adventurous the wonderful, and we met eyes. His, red and shaky, mine, redder and shakier. 60 years of life between us. A puddle of shared experiences but a Mariana Trench of different ones that we will never share. Neither of us are criers and there we were, broken down and soggy. So, like any good grandson who grew up in the 90s, I reached across the aisle and offered him my fist. And we bumped.

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Six packs come and go but the truth never is not true.

Physical limitations are the only thing in life that I really fight against right now. I have a good job, a car that works even though the check engine light has been on for months and the oil needs to be changed badly, a bachelor pad set up in my mom’s upstairs and almost a six pack. What’s not to feel good about? AmIRight?

So when Brandon texted me this morning inviting me to ride our old friend Zoro the trail, I sat on the toilet watching the highlights from the Real Salt Lake tie with the Whitesomethings of Canada and texted him back reluctantly. “I’ll go with you if you give me twenty minutes.” 20 minutes to shower, wash off the grimy climbing sweat and smoke smell from Saturday’s climbing trip to Maple Canyon. 20 minutes to cram my face with the two-for-one Cinnamon Toast Crunch special they had at Harmons yesterday (R Jacob Buckner if you are reading this I bought 10 boxes). 20 minutes to convince myself that even though I had climbed really hard in Maple and had worn myself out thoroughly, I needed that 11 percent grade climb up Zoro to the fire road. I needed that 10 minutes of very concentrated and poignant pain. Like worse pain than inhaling the burning charcoal smoke from our brat cookout at Maple. Like worse pain than trying to scrape a little piece of drywall mud that has caked onto the kitchen counter and burrows itself deeply under the fingernail and draws blood. Like worse pain than hitting your head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet. Bad pain. 

So, I put a little air into Brandon’s front fork and feel good about my new shock pump I dropped a healthy amount of my hard-earned money on and we leave for the trail head. An hour and a half later we are running laps on the world’s worst jump but he’s better than me so I keep trying. And the whole time I think “if I cared as much about doing things with my mind as I do about doing things for my body I would be way smart.”

And then I thought about Kobe tearing his Achilles tendon and how much I know about NBA basketball and I recommitted to studying for the GRE and getting way smart. 

ImageThat poor guy has played for like 17 years and is the best out there (I say that very painfully as an avid Laker-hater who had a hard hard time in a relationship once because the girl was a big LA fan) but now he can’t deal with it all. His facebook status after the injury:

This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that?? 
I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that 
was. Maybe this is how my book 
ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me…Then again maybe not! It’s 3:30am, my foot feels like dead weight, my head is spinning from the pain meds and I’m wide awake. Forgive my Venting but what’s the purpose of social media if I won’t bring it to you Real No Image?? Feels good to vent, let it out. To feel as if THIS is the WORST thing EVER! Because After ALL the venting, a real perspective sets in. There are far greater issues/challenges in the world then a torn achilles. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, same drive and same conviction as ever. 
One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day. 
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear”. Ive always loved that quote. Thats “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.
I know it’s a long post but I’m Facebook Venting LOL. Maybe now I can actually get some sleep and be excited for surgery tomorrow. First step of a new challenge. 
Guess I will be Coach Vino the rest of this season. I have faith in my teammates. They will come thru. 
Thank you for all your prayers and support. Much Love Always. 
Mamba Out

What is the purpose, I echo, if I can’t bring it to you REAL NO IMAGE?? So what? Maybe I’ll get that six pack and maybe I’ll dominate the GRE and maybe my sprained ankle will heal before our first mountain bike race of the summer. Pray for me. 

DJ Sammy Cat out. 

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New Baby!

Love you Nate and Ellie!

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