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Todd and I hang out a lot, which breeds a sort of familiarity that leads to every phrase being shortened as much as possible. For example, if one's laptop batteries were very low, the word "critbatts" might be invoked. So when we found ourselves standing outside of the VIP area of the X Games in LA, and Todd said, "Dude, let's just smash it", I knew exactly what he was talking about: the Gaijin Smash.

The Gaijin Smash is a term used to describe a certain way of operating as a foreigner in Japan. The Japanese are extremely polite and sometimes nervous around foreigners (Gaijin), so as a foreigner you tend to get your way. I think the phrase came about from some guy smashing his way through the subway barriers without paying, and not being stopped. Todd and I mostly used it to ride our hilarious fold-up bikes like maniacs.

Anyway, back to the X-Games. Thanks to my brother and his good friend Chase Hawk, Todd and I had passes to this year's event in LA. But our passes were weird: they were only meant to give us access to the skate park section of the course, because Chase was only riding the park. But we also had friends competing in the street course, so we found ourselves standing outside the entrance to the VIP area of the street course, wanting to watch them.

The Ferris Wheel is My Life

On Mike Dariano

The ferris wheels has taught me two things, new things that look scary can be thrilling and the ride serves as a nice metaphor for life.

My two daughters, five and three years old, and I rode the ferris wheel at our county fair this year. Our older daughter had also ridden it last year but was somewhat timid when she first saw it and began talking about the other rides she wanted to do. Our younger daughter was dead set against it until she saw that her sister was having fun and that she might want to get in on the action. I didn't really want to ride anything but some of the rides required adult supervision and I was the chosen one.

The girls and I entered the ferris wheel, which like all other ferris wheels looks like it was made at least seventy years ago. We were buckled into the seat, warned not to swing, and began to glide backwards into the afternoon sky. The first trip up both girls were none too thrilled. They weren't scared but they weren't embracing their elevation. After a few laps around they began to enjoy it more. At the top they quickly listed all the things they could see. On our descents they listed all the people they could see. When we stopped they asked why we were stopping, who were in the other cars, and all the other questions that queued up when they weren't listing things. I answered to the best of my ability as I tried to limit our seat from swinging.

We did a number of rotations, I lost count, and it was enough for me but as our seat slowed, docked, and was opened the girls asked if they could go on again. We rode it many times that day but not until I listed the other things they might like to ride.

As the kids were heading towards the next candy colored spinning or sliding ride I thought about our time on the ferris wheel. The ups and downs of it. Those ups and downs match parts of our life easily but there's more. On the ferris wheel there are times when you have a great view and times you don't. Riding up all you really see is the mechanics of it. The motor, arms, and lights. You need to peek through and among things to see anything else. This is like the time in our lives when we need to work. We need to put in time to learn or do so that when the view changes we get to reap the rewards, a panoramic view. It's the highest point at the fair and you can see everything laid out. During the descent you get to continue a great view but also know that it's over and you can't get it back until the next time around.

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