Monday, June 29, 2015

Now you see it, now you wonder

I promised the publicist for "The Illusionists" I would write a review on their show when we talked about my doing an advance for The Deseret News.
I would have written one anyway because I liked their show, a lot!
And that's considering I hadn't heard about this group of magical people before I was asked to do a piece about their stop in Salt Lake.
I had to look them up and read press releases and talk to John Tellum and to Kevin James (who plays "The Inventor" in the show).
I found out about their appearances on "America's Got Talent" and the many, MANY, awards and prizes they've won across the globe competing in various magic contests.
Yu Ho-Jin, known in the group as "The Manipulator" is just a teenager from South Korea...who must have the ability to hide multiple decks of cards in his open hands because he keeps bringing another one out.
Jeff Hobson, "The Trickster," is a kind of Liberace clone who is funny, warm and good with magic as well. (Just ask the people from whom he lifted watches while everyone was looking on!)
He and "The Futurist" make the show fun with a variety of mind-blowing tricks that are one thing on television, quite another in real life.
I enjoyed Dan Sperry, "The Anti-Conjourist," when I didn't expect to. He's painted and shaved and has long greasy-looking hair and basically resembles a movie zombie but he's funny and sweet.
I grew to look forward to his appearances on stage even though some of his tricks were gross...pulling a string from his mouth and then a vein in his forehead and eating razor blades that he later retrieved in a line.
"The Weaponist" had an interesting attitude also as he brought a couple up to help him perform dangerous tricks with an arrow and an apple.
 "The Inventor" somehow helped a young girl from the audience make the clump of paper in her hand wiggle and squirm. Then it turned into a real rose.
He made snow fall up.
The only one I had trouble watching was "The Escapologist." I hate those kinds of tricks because there's too much of a chance that something could go wrong and I would have watched someone die. (Spoiler alert: Andrew Basso doesn't die. He gets out of the water, the handcuffs, and the foot locks just in time!)
The show is over in Salt Lake but they have a tour starting up again in September with shows that are fairly close.
If you get the chance, take it and go see these guys:
They can make a whole train appear with them on stage.
They can cut people in half and staple the pieces back together. They can build a little person out of spare parts.
They are professional, creative, funny and totally engaging.
It's magic that entrances.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moving in Maui

And suddenly, you realize you can't look at the sun

I was actually fairly alarmed when my husband told me about the bike ride down the volcano in Maui.
He was so excited that he didn't even consider I wouldn't want to go with him.
He practically had his biking gear all packed before I could even go on the website to check it out.
A 26-mile downhill run from the summit of the Haleakala volcano to the center of the island at Paia, what could go wrong?
I signed on before I  really thought it through.
But for weeks afterward I'd go to bed reminding myself that I didn't have to worry about it yet. It was a long way off.
Then in late March it dawned on me: if I was going to ride a bicycle for that long of a ways I would have to prepare.
I realized I needed to get on my bike at least every other day and work out enough that it didn't kill me to go for a 26-mile stretch.
We got me some biking pants that didn't tangle with my spokes. I started wearing my helmet and I began to plan my wardrobe.
Since the ride started before sunrise it would be cold, then warm, then really warm.
A pair of kids in Maui, right?
I would need to layer and wear clothes that didn't necessarily co-ordinate color-wise.
I needed to get used to wearing closed-toed shoes instead of sandals or thongs.
(I know, these are basics for serious riding, huh?)
We watched a movie on the plane over to Maui where the coach was telling the kids on his running team., "Get to where when you see a hill (to run over), you smile!)"
I reached that point, I'm happy to say.
After the van picked us up (at 2 a.m.) and the staff handed out our bikes, our helmets and our outergear, I marshaled my courage and my wits and took off, smiling.
It turned out that we weren't riding in a straight, fast line to the bottom of a crater.
We headed out in kind of a single file herd down paved roads with a lot of curves.
Basically our guide wanted us to lean in and keep our wits about us.
Our bikes were heavy and came with wide saddles (thankfully) and drum brakes.
I was pretty proud of myself for a while there, riding along without trouble and mostly trying not to run into the lady in front of me. (She'd been put there with others who looked like they might need the guide's help and guidance.)
I figured I looked like I knew what I was doing. I wasn't crashing or veering or tensing up.
Or so I thought.
Partway through we stopped for a water break and the guide said, "Good! You are all doing well. Sharon, let's move you up to the front, ok?"
Oh well. OK.
It was still a beautiful, refreshing, remarkable ride.
I recommend it.
It's cold in the morning at the top of a volcano

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Leaf 2, the sequel

I've promised a bunch of people I would keep them posted on our Leaf and how it's going.
Since we bought this beautiful little electric car, we been asked a lot of questions.
"What happens when it rains?" from a concerned granddaughter.
"How far can you go before it dies?"
"What if it stops on you out in the country?"
"How much is your power bill going to be?
All good questions and I don't have all the answers yet.
We do know that it's working just fine so far to simply plug it into the regular house outlet in the garage. And it didn't explode in the last thunderstorm.
Every morning we start out with about 100 miles to go on a charge.
Then as I drive around doing my chores, I come home with about 100 miles left. (The kinetic energy generated from braking builds up the battery.)
If we go on the freeway or if we haul a load of kids up and down hills, we use more miles, not a lot but more.
The closest I've come to running out of battery power was coming home from shopping in Salt Lake. The light on the dashboard starting blinking and telling me I had 14 miles to go but when I stopped at my daughter's house, her neighbor came over to share Leaf stories and told me he has a dedicated 240 plug that I could use when I'm running low.
We've checked out the charging stations nearby. The Nissan dealership even told us to drive right up on the sidewalk to plug in (for free).
The Walgreen's store in Springville acknowledged our SemaConnect card and charged us up for $1.18.
We haven't been overly worried but we have been doing an unusual amount of adding and subtracting. We're also having a great time earning trees! (The car keeps track of economical driving habits and rewards us with trees when we do a good job!)
We are also making new friends. There's kind of a subculture of people who own and drive electric cars. If we wanted we could even join PlugShare where people offer their home chargers to strangers in need of a little power.
We are a teeny bit concerned about the tow hinge and the tow rope and assorted towing equipment that comes free with the car.
And when we asked about the spare tire, the service manager showed us the complimentary patch kit that comes packed in the side panel.
He reassured me — after I must have blanched — that our free roadside assistance and 3-year warranty would take care of anything like that.
So on we go.
We haven't had a power bill yet but we've been told not to worry. Our insurance went up a little bit but our gasoline bill is way down.
It'll all work out.
It'll be fine.
We'll see and I'll let you know!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Share and share alike

So we're at the parade in Cedar Hills.
Our grandson was marching with the Lone Peak High School band so we hopped on our bikes and pedaled over to see it and specifically him.
We parked and grabbed a patch of grass, put down a blanket and settled in, right next to a family with two little girls who came for the candy of which there was an abundance.
(A lot of kids came for the candy. You could tell by the plastic bags they had ready for holding their loot.)
The older girl was maybe 8 or 9 years old and clearly more experienced at grabbing candy.
The younger one (probably around 5 or 6) was new at this.
She'd hang back and wait to see if the candy landed  right in front of her feet. Then she'd reach for it.
Usually she lost the prize because she wasn't aggressive enough quickly enough.
Other kids around her were faster or her big sister took what she was headed for.
We watched this go on for a while and despite the father's urging, the littler girl mostly waited too long.
We helped when we could by handing her whatever landed in our laps.
But still, by the end of the parade, her bag was only a third as full as her sister's.
They weren't my grandchildren so I didn't feel like I could noticeably intervene but I was increasingly annoyed that the big sister wasn't being nice. She didn't help the little sister out.
I thought she was unkind to race in and take whatever the little one had in her sights.
Sometimes she just reached in and snatched the candy without any apology.
But finally, somebody tossing treats at the kids noticed the smaller girl and threw a nice snack-size candy bar right at her.
She caught it and dropped it into her bag. She smiled.
The big sister noticed but she didn't dare just take it from her because the dad was watching.
However, she didn't like that the younger one got something she wanted.
She stood there a minute and then she said to her sibling, looking at the two bags.
"We're sharing, right?"