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Suspension of disbelief and gravity

H and I began the weekend with a trip to see the American version of Hauru no ugoku shiro or Howl’s Moving Castle. This film is yet another work of art by Hayao Miyazaki and is a must see. I have not historically been a fan of anime, but Miyazaki’s films have for us been the ambassadors of the genre. Sure, I had watched Speed Racer and Battle of The Planets as a kid, but as an adult, I have been largely ignorant of the genre until seeing Miyazaki’s films. We’ve seen four of Miyazaki’s films to date and Spirited Away is still my favorite, however Howl’s Moving Castle is quite worthy of your time.

His films do what all cinema should strive to accomplish. Specifically involve the viewers to the point of suspension of disbelief and envelop you within the story with well crafted characters, good writing and an attention to the detail and art that well rendered movies always possess. The movie is being distributed by Disney who apparently can recognize quality movies for distribution but cannot create them on their own. Its been a looooong time since I’ve seen a movie created in house by Disney that has been worth watching, (over a decade) and it seems like just about every movie distributed by Disney that had any quality to it has come from either Miyazaki or Pixar. Interestingly, it was principals at Pixar who introduced Miyazaki’s films to Disney and Pixar continues to be involved in their distribution including Pete Docter being involved in the voice dubbing in Howl’s Moving Castle. As much as I am loathe to recommend anything associated with Disney these days, I heartily suggest you spend some of your time seeing Howls Moving Castle.

We finished the weekend by taking a trip up to Deer Valley to watch some of the best mountain bikers in the world compete in the NORBA national off road bicycle competition. There was fierce riding to be had complete with the always amazing technical skills required to navigate through the rock garden, fierce determination to make it over some truly harrowing jumps and mad props given for anyone even attempting the downhill descents. The spot I tend to favor at the Deer Valley venue is a combination drop off and technical decent compressed into about fifty feet of fear. There are two options to this portion including an alternate technical decent that adds a few seconds or a straightforward huck off a ten foot drop followed by the technical work required by both paths to navigate this portion of the course. Most of the semi-pro riders took the alternate path, but the pro riders go straight off the edge. We watched the action and I took many photos here before deciding it was time for lunch. However, just when we were leaving, a rider hucked off the drop I had been perched below. I had my back turned but could hear the sound of bike frame hitting rock and rider eating dirt. I spun to see him get back up, look at his ride and then jerk it upright. These riders runs on adrenaline and competition drives them, so he did what all pro level riders do and remounted his ride. He rode for about twenty feet, before his pain overcame the adrenaline and he realized that something was wrong. I too recognized that something was wrong, and after seeing that his ride looked good, realized it was not his bike that was broken. He stumbled off his ride, and stripped off the armor covering his arm to reveal a massively avulsed wound exposing a ragged extensor digitorum communis. I could clearly see the musculature of his arm and had the rider sit down as he suddenly realized how badly he had been hurt. The first words I heard him say were: “Ow…Owww……Owwwwww……SHIT! At this point the blood began to flow and I yelled up the course for the medic. The wound was not terribly severe, but he would have to have it cleaned and sutured up, and he would not be able to continue the race. So, while we waited for the medic, I checked him over for other wounds that may not have been apparent while we were surrounded by people wanting to gawk. Some woman walked up in front of us and started to take pictures of the wound with her camera phone and another guy pulls out a disposable camera to take pictures. The wounded rider hammed it up for them, but I guess my emergency medical training was the first thing I thought about and did not really think about getting my camera out to document his wound. Perhaps I should have so he would have had a photographic document of his crash, but…..oh well. All riders enjoy having photographic evidence of wounds to document their feats (including myself, but that is another story). I do have to wonder though, why is it that people feel the need to photograph somebody else’s wounds or pain? Is it the same facsination people have with graphic war photographs? Is it that they somehow feel the need to be involved, but are unable/unwilling to participate? After the medics showed, everything appeared stable, my job was done and we hiked down the hill for lunch and the drive home. I never got the riders name, but hope that things turned out OK.

Deer Valley, a great place for summer music, mountain biking and winter skiing.


This woman’s eyes were huge as she approached one of the more technical portions of trail on the entire NORBA circuit.


She seemed a bit more intense.


The infamous Rock Garden is one of the most technical descents on the NORBA tour.


This woman was in some serious trouble after having taken the wrong line. She wiped out a split second after this photo was taken.


What happens when your bike stops and you don’t. Wear your helmet kids.

My favorite bike company, Cannondale sponsored this rider who just landed after an eight foot huck.


This rider took the alternate path, but looked absolutely bad assed doing it.


Almost home.


Speaking of home, now that the temperatures have started climbing, we are now enjoying the benefits of central air for the first time. The low humidity here allows the use of swamp coolers, but they are high maintenance and I was tired of climbing up on the room four or five times a year to perform maintenance. We had Manwill Plumbing and Heating perform the install and so far are very happy with the work. We’ll see what the delta in electrical bills happens to be but for now, I give you the end of our swamp cooler.

Finally, last week was also the last day of one of our graduate students, Lincoln Hunt who is leaving us for a job in environmental science. To celebrate, we went out to Wings & Things to celebrate with some tasty wings and beer. Good luck to you Lincoln.

Koji Takahashi.


Lincoln Hunt.

Carl Watt.


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