Tuesday, December 22, 2009


As anyone who knows me will verify, I have a love/hate relationship with running (I love when I'm not running, and hate when I am running). Last Wasatch Back I decided I'm past the point of being able to run it without training. If I run this year, I get an awesome 5-year medal, so I want to run.

Last night as Tash, Morgan, Katie and I were visiting some friends topic of running came up and Jared (friend) began extolling the virtues of barefoot running. I had heard mention of it before, and everyone knows about those crazy barefoot running Mexicans. So I decided I would look in to it for a couple of reasons.

a) Jared said there is less impact and you feel lighter on your feet so you can get into more of zone, which not only makes running bearable, but it makes it fun.And you don't feel so beat up afterward.

b) If it works and I can run faster and farther, then I look totally awesome with no shoes on. If it doesn't work, and I'm stay slow, I can blame my lack of shoes for my poor performance. So really, it's win-win.

Anyway, I thought I'd check it out this morning so I started googling and the auto fill feature gave me this:

Barefoot running shoes? If they are shoes, you aren't really barefoot anymore, right?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life on State II

I think you will probably hear more about this Life on State project in the next few weeks/months than you really want to. But in 30 years, when State is a jewel in the Salt Lake Valley diadem you will appreciate it.

Anyway, the Midvale meeting was, to put it nicely, a bust. The South Salt Lake meeting, on the other hand, was a success. Because we are really, really excited about this project and we want a bucket of public input, we are having a couple more meetings

July 8
Jordan High School

July 9
Murray High School

Not only will these be exciting forays into the magical world of planning, but there will be ice cream (cus summer).

If you can't make it to the meetings (even if you can make it, actually) you can still help give us some direction by taking this survey. If you take the survey and want to give us some more input then email me cclifford@planningcenter.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I want a 10 gallon stetson and a horse that bears my brand

The other day Tasha asked where I would go if I could go back to any time period, any place. The answer, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me, is the southwest of the late 1800s. While the only things I have to show for my love of the southwest/cowboy/ranch ideal is a couple pairs of boots, a stetson, and some second hand cowboy shirts (which I'm too chubby to wear now, by the way), I would live that life in a heartbeat.

I wouldn't even have to go back in time. I drop everything to be a rancher/farmer (I know their is a big difference between the two) and never look back. Which is saying something because I really do love my job. I can easily see myself in just about any Marty Robbins song.

Anyway, that love was reaffirmed last week when I was scouring flickr for pictures of downtown Logan, Utah for a project a work. Amid the pictures of the Bluebird, Logan Canyon, Main Street, the tabernacle and the rest of the Logan landmarks I found this beautiful piece of cowboy poetry carved into the back of a headstone in the Logan cemetery.

I would have liked to know him in real life, I'm sure he had a wicked sense of humor.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Life on State

I think about three people read this blog. Since the three of you know me, you know that I am an urban planner. You know this because it is the only thing I talk about. Well, that and bikes. You also know about this project I am working on at work, the one about State Street, yep, that one. The one I've droned on and on about for months.

Well, it is in full swing now. We have a website (it will look much, much better in the near future), a facebook page, and we are even twittering (tweeting?)!

I think I may be the first person to get a facebook profile because my boss told me to.

Anyway, we are having two public meetings at the end of the month. These are the first two of the process and we are looking for a) a lot of people and b) a lot of input about State Street. We have done some existing conditions analysis (did you traffic volumes haven't changed much on State since 1970), but the process is still in its very early stages. These meetings are really going to be the jumping off point for our work in the next few months. And we do actually listen.

The meetings are:

May 26
Copperview Elementary
8449 South Monroe Street
6:00 PM

or (because they will be the same meeting)

May 28
Columbus Center
2531 South 400 East
South Salt Lake
6:00 PM

You should come (and tell everyone you know to come) because it is one of the rare opportunities to get involved in the planning process at the beginning as opposed to right at the end when it is too late for your input to matter.

Tell us what is working on State, what isn't working, and how we should go about fixing it.

Oh, and there will be food.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

There is a woman sitting in her car at my dad's house blasting Mormon pop with a gigantic plastic sack of bagles on her lap. So there's that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Garden, 2009

This year we are taking our little piece of land in a different direction - flowers. I love the idea of growing some of our own food, and our urban farm (in the smallest, loosest sense of the phrase) was my little baby last year. However, we just don't get the necessary sun to grow much food. So we are going to scale back the vegetables to a couple of tomatoes (not five like we had last year), some pepper plants (probably anahiem and jalapeno), and various herbs.

That said, our HOA decided to convert some of our common area into a community garden. So we might try our vegetable hand again.

Our little flower garden, on the other hand, will get the attention it deserves and has not gotten the past few summers. As most 20-something-environmentally-conscious-Obama-supporters-living-in-a-dry-climate do, we want to use mostly native, water-wise plants. At the same time we want some color and texture variety.

As much as I would like to think otherwise, my green is in the horns, not the thumb (a little gardening humor for you). So with the help of my mom and the landscape architect in my office we have a great starting place.

We are heading to the Red Butte Garden plant sale this weekend and the Wasatch Community Garden plant sale next weekend. Hopefully we will come back with a trunk of plants we wanted and a couple of surprises.

When I cleaned out and organized our little shed last weekend I discovered we have about a dozen pots of various sizes and quality. So our front door step will get a floral treatment and we will have a potted herb garden behind our house.

I am excited to get some plants into the ground. I'll post pictures and probably write geeked-out, step-by-step explanation of the process. I'm sure you can't wait.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The End of Days

Bikes, soda, me being fat, blah, blah, blah. I'll get to that later. Right now I want to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately - Zombie Apocalypse. Everybody has a zombie exit strategy, I don't care who you are, you have thought about it. Everybody has at least a cursory "I know the fastest way to the freeway so I can get the hell out of Dodge" type of plan. If you say you don't you are a liar.

Anyway, I am sure it will be a 28 Days Later type of outbreak. We will not be slowly chased by shambling, mindless hordes. It will be a virus, it will make fast, strong zombie warriors. And it will be bad.

Without going into too much detail I'll just say Tasha and I have non perishable food, easily accessible outdoor sportsman gear, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle that always has at least half a tank of gas. I am sure it will bite me that I don't own this yet, but I will get one, .357, of course. (If it's not too late. I'm looking for some power, and a longer barrel length increases accuracy, cus I want to hit those blood thirsty freaks from as far away as possible. This one wouldn't be a bad idea as a back up. Its handkerchief duel design is perfect for when zombies ambushe and I need to clear leather in a heartbeat.)

We will head south (viruses have a more difficult time in hot, dry climates) and stay away from cities. I'm confident in my hunting/fishing/survival skills, so we will wait it out in a defensible position with a (preferably) spring fed water supply. We will teach Morgan the old ways and tell him stories of sky scrapers and civilization.

Anyway, one detail I am ashamed to say I overlooked in our Zombie Apocalypse preparation are pandemic barriers. Coveralls, respirators, gloves, anti-viral hand gel, etc. Thanks to the Internets I can take care of that.

The most reassuring thing is that Tasha and I can protect Morgan too (at the bottom).

I can't believe I thought we could get out of the Zombie Apocalypse alive without pandemic kits! We will, however, put shoes and gloves on our zombie pandemic-escaping baby.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I am two days into my "commute 15 times in 30 work days" self challenge. So far I'm right on schedule. I didn't ride yesterday, but I did today. Again, my math is not so good, but it seems like 15 is half of 30, and 1 is half of 2, so that is on schedule, right?

Well, it killed me. I'm not sure what has happened in the last couple of months, but I don't think 11 silly miles has been that hard for me in a long, long time. I am ashamed to say it, but I had to make use of the smaller of my two rings up front. It took me 20 minutes longer than it used to. What a sad sack I am.

As Tasha said, though, "[I'll] only get faster."

I imagine that is true. I like to think I have enough base miles in my legs that I will be back on track pretty soon. To ensure that happens, I have made some goals for myself.

Ride I Think I Canyons.
Not just plug along through it, actually ride it in a decent time. I don't know what a decent time is yet, I'll figure that out.

Get a top 10 finish in one of the local crit series races.
One top 10 might not seem like a serious goal, and it might not be. I raced a fair amount in high school, and I did ok a some of the races. But that was in high school and on a mountain bike, I haven't ever raced a road bike. I am also 25. I think most of the other 25 year olds who race the series think they are a few equipment upgrades away from going pro. I'll test the waters and adjust accordingly.

We will see how it goes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm kind of a joke

Last night I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning. I figure that gives me enough time to get ready, eat a bagel and ride my bike into work. So this morning the alarm goes off, I get up, look out the window to see no rain or snow, and a forecast of upper 40s to low 50s. The perfect day to start riding again after a much, much too long hiatus, right? The answer is yes, it was the perfect day. So what did I do?

I climbed back in bed and slept for an hour.

Granted, Morgan stared crying, so I fell asleep feeding him. And our kitchen sink is clogged, so Bruce is coming down with a drain snake at 5, so in order to be home when he gets there I would have had to leave work on my bike around 4. But those are justifications in the weeniest, laziest sense of the word.

Driving to the freeway with the window down made feel like enough of a tool that I decided I needed a shot of will power, so I started my lent a couple days early. I haven't developed any major vices since lent last year, so I'm giving up soda again. So far, so good. Water and grape juice all day today (which is big considering the fridge full of soda 20 feet from my desk).

I am also working on how to give up being lazy. Lent starts Ash Wednesday (the 25th, this year) and goes till Easter (April 12th, this year). Subtracting weekends, a conference in southern Utah, and accounting for my poor math skills, I'm left with around 30 work days. I don't think a goal of riding to work no less than 15 of those 30 days is impractical. Of course, I'll shoot for more, but let's honest, lazy isn't an easy habit to kick.

18 year old me would be bummed that my goal is 330 miles in 46 days, because that is around 7 miles a day. But 18 year old me can bite 25 year old me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


At first glance to day is going to be a relatively uneventful day. I woke up at the regular time, got Morgan ready for the day, got myself ready for the day, drove to work. Later I will see some friends, chat, then probably go to bed at a reasonable hour.

But looks can be deceiving, right? All of the regular thing that will happen today (I must say here that I truly enjoy the "regular things." I'm not doing too bad at all in the game of life) will be trumped by one plane taking off at 5:00 this evening.

See, Mike will be on it.

Now, as anybody who knows me knows, I'm not a mushy, sentimental, sad sack. But this is a big deal.

I have always had a cadre of friends. I'm not a social butterfly so this group usually consisted of a handful of people I consider close friends. However, I don't really think I've ever had a best friend, at least not in the standard elementary school definition of the phrase. Until I met Mike.

I will spare the details of our friend romance, but long story short -
I have lived in Mike's house
Been a witness at his wedding
He has been instrumental in me landing 3 of my last 4 jobs
We've built bikes
We got into fly fishing together
We've been elbow deep in deer guts
Camping buddies
Class mates multiple times
Graduated college
He is the other one in my profile picture
And on and on

Hell, he is Michael Charles Maahs and I am Christopher Mason Clifford (MCM and CMC), if that doesn't mean bro-ul mates, I dont' know what does.

He and his wife are off to New Zealand where he will start a Masters of Urban Design program. It is extremely exciting and he will do a great job. He understands what makes a city livable and he has a gift for visual representation.

So good luck Mike.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BS x 2

I am a college graduate right. I had my advisers sign paper work, I stood in line at the office of the registrar to fill out more paperwork, I checked my DARS a million times, and I finished my classes a little over a month ago.

I did all of that but I haven't felt done with school. The past few weeks since I took my last final have felt like winter break, that I should be going back soon.

When I got home today there were two white envelopes from the University of Utah, my diplomas. Being graduated really hit me when I looked at those pieces of paper that said "Bachelor of Science Environmental Studies," "Bachelor of Science Urban Planning," and my name.

So now I can say with authority -

Eat it suckers! I am done with school!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

TIcket to History

The Presidential Inaugural Committee is having a contest. Write an essay about what this election means to you and win a trip with a guest to the inauguration. I'm sure there will be a million entries and they are only picking 10, but I decided to write one.

So here is my essay:

2008 was an eventful year, on a global scale, but personally as well. I celebrated a three year anniversary with my wife, graduated from college, got my first career job, and welcomed my first baby in to the world.

When I held my baby boy for the first time on a warm afternoon in July the world melted away. It could be one of the most over-used clich├ęs, but looking at the face of this little baby, suddenly, nothing else existed. I had my family, we were healthy, and we were together.

The world is different now than it was even a handful of years ago when my dad held me for the first time. The media is filled with gloomy to apocalyptic predictions. Wars, a bleak economic picture, poverty, peak oil, hunger – the gamut of hardship is represented.

But I am not convinced all is lost. The outlook for my little boy is not dark. There is good in the world. For every story of depravity and destruction I can see a story of somebody doing good, of somebody helping to lift.

That is what the November election and the next four years represent to me – a collective realization that things can be better. We have it in us to be great. The election of Barak Obama will be remembered as historic by future generations for a myriad of reasons. But I believe this time will remembered as a time when the selfishness and schisms so prevalent today were set aside to accommodate the greater good. I believe this will be seen as a time when we stepped up and became our best selves.

Years from now, when my boy and his wife come to Sunday dinner, and we stay at the table well into the night, like my family does today, I hope President Elect Obama is not the only thing we talk about when he asks about this time. I hope we talk about the early 2000s as a time when Americans realized their potential and regained our reputation as a country of opportunity, acceptance, and prosperity for everyone.

President Elect Obama is not the panacea for global or national ills. His message of change and hope represents the goodness inherent in each of us and the opportunity we have to affect change for those around us.

I don't usually enter contests so I don't know how my luck is. But I did call Arrow 103.5 last year and won a Led Zepplin CD, so who knows. Here's to hoping they like it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

In Review

2008 is done.

Looking back these past couple of days it has been a rather eventful year.

I got this guy

Finished my time here

Got a real job here

And got this

On top of that I've been married for three years, my little brother got hitched, my older brother and his wife are having a baby (which means that little one up there will have a friend), and we are at the door of what will be an exciting political shift (I think it is exciting. At the very least it will be interesting - regardless of your political stance).

Even with school wrapping up and a baby being born and work I have been able to spend time with good people and family, ride my bike a fair amount, run the Wasatch Back for the third year, do a little camping, hunt, play pung, win a few hands of pinochle, grow some tomatoes & carrots, and put my fly rod to good use. I even had some nymphing success with it (I've only caught fish with dry flies till this year).

The people I love are healthy generally doing well. So, yeah, 2008 was, by all accounts, a good year.

2009 looks like it will follow suit. Another year with my family and friends (although one of my best friends moved to New York [for medical school, so good for him] and I found out that another one of my best friends is moving to New Zealand [for an Urban Design Masters program, so good for him].), a good job with buckets of potential, no school for the first time in my life - aka more time, and my baby will start walking and talking, our bikes are in working condition and Morgan will be big enough for me to pull him around in our trailer. While the
two friends I mentioned above were two of my fishing buddies on top of just being great friends, my little brother and another good friend are still around and eager to spend time on the water. And I have the tools to start tying flies.

Of course, life has its ups and downs and things won't always be so rosy. So I figure I'll take advantage of this up while I'm this high up.

It turns out I like blogging, when I remember. Since Planning Workshop is done (our project was a success and we have presented it to the Zoo, and are going to present it to the other organizations in the near future), this blog will become a little less planning related and a little more Tasha, Christopher, and Morgan related. I am a planner, I enjoy the built environment and how it functions, planning is 1/3 of my life, and it affects me/I pay attention to it/talk about it in the other awake 1/3 of my life. I even occasionally dream about it in the sleeping 1/3 of my life. So I imagine this will still be dominated by planning related material, but I'm sure there will be some not strictly planning related pictures and anecdotes.

So here is to 2009. May it be a well tracked, eventful year.