Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top Eight Stories of 2010

I wanted to post this a week ago but I couldn't get to it until today.  Maybe I should resolve not to do things at the last minute in 2011.  Anyhow, here are my personal best stories from 2011.

Number 8 - Our Last Daughter in the House Started Driving -  This is cool because it signals the beginning of the end.  We are unchained from the responsibility of being personal chauffeurs, meaning she can drive herself to school, work or the mall.  Lots more time for me and Mom.

Number 7 - The Release of the 33 Chilean Miners - That was cool to see those men extracted in a pod from half a mile in the earth after 70 days underground. 

Number 6 - Rappelling in Southern Utah - We went camping this summer and my nephew brought rappelling gear.  We saddled up some ropes on top of a fin and I put on all the gear.  I was a little nervous, I had trouble completing the rock climbing wall at REI one year.  I pushed off backwards and slowly made my way down the slope, about 60 feet to the ground.  It was so fun I did it again. 

Number 5 - Elk Hunt - This year I went Elk Hunting and shot an Elk.  I cleaned it.  This was a far more spiritual experience than I was expecting.  I had a moment of connection to the animal, the land and some longing for a lost art; that of providing your own food.  I felt grounded and connected to the earth that day.

Number 4 - Volunteering at the TOU - We volunteered for the Tour of Utah this year, as we did last year.  We helped at three events and for one we got to follow the day's winner to the doping trailer.  We were in the thick of it, much more than a spectator.  I have found that volunteering for events like this make a much more satisfying experience than paying for a ticket.  It also helps others. 

Number 3 - Any of My Motorcycle Trips - This year I spent a lot of time on a motorcycle.  I rode to Death Valley and back in March along the "Loneliest Highway in America", we spent a week in Canyon Country exploring the area just north of Canyonlands National Park in April, I rode along the old Pony Express trail into Western Nevada along mostly dirt trails in May,and in September I spent a week riding trails from Barcelona Spain into the Pyrenees and to the Mediterranean Sea.  All in all a motorcycle has afforded me much more an intimate look at our world than I could have gotten by being a tourist. 

Number 2 - My Colonoscopy - I am over 50 and this year I vowed to do it.  I put it off until the end of the year.  I kept seeing those commericals about Doug Miller and I finally broke down and made the appointment.  The procedure was a relative breeze and I am free for 10 years.  That gave me a lot of piece of mind.

The Number 1 Event for Me of 2010 - The Birth of My 7th Grandchild - I know this is an easy one and when most people ask for top events they exclude children or grandchildren as too easy, but this is my blog so I am using it.  Our seventh gift from God is a wonderful, sweet boy.  He is just like all the others, perfect in every way.  If I had known grandkids would be this great, I would have skipped the kids and gone right to the grandkids. 

Well, I hope your year was as full with blessings as mine was.  I wish you continued love, sensory satisfaction and prosperity for 2011. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

True Grit

I am a fan of the Coen Brothers but even if you aren't, their latest offering, True Grit, is a great movie.

My wife and I wanted to see a movie.  We heard the Coen Brothers remake of John Wayne's 1969 movie True Grit was good.  That 's a huge underestatement.

The Coen Brothers are true to their reputations as the best film makers around.  This is much more than a western.  The cinematography is phenominal, the acting is superb and the music, as usual, makes the movie.

Jeff Bridges is not the Dude from the Big Lebowski in this film.  He is rough, crude, solvenly and thinking about himself first.  OK that also describes the Dude, but you have to see his performance to see what I mean.  He brings something extra to a part that John Wayne won an Oscar for.  Like Wayne's character, you both loath and like him all at once. 

The newcomer who plays Mattie Ross, the 14 year old who hires Rooster Cogburn to avenge the death of her father, is perfect.  She is tough but still 14.  Her command of the fine art of haggling when selling back the horses her father bought before his untimely death, made me laugh. 

The cast is rounded out by Matt Damon and Josh Brolin.  Both provide substantial support to the lead actors and make the movie fun to watch. 

Like most Coen Brothers movies the dialogue is key to the success of the movie.  It's rich without being confusing.  It is believeable but at the same time it seems period correct.  Some of the idioms sound out of place in the 21st century, but they seem right at home in the late 1800s. 

The other thing the Coen Brothers do so well, and it is perfect in this movie, is the setting for the scenes.  You feel like you are there more than other movies.  The visual pleasure of this movie really lends a lot to the story.  The characters are dirty but not clownish, the inside of the dugout they bust into is rough but you believe someone in the 1800s would live there.  It doesn't look made up, it looks real, and so does the rest of the movie.

The Coen Brothers have also managed to bring something new to this classic.  Their interpretation of True Grit is much fuller than the original but there are a few nods to the original that bring a familiarity to their movie. There is the scene where Rooster Cogburn falls off his horse, Rooster and Mattie lay in wait for the bad guys outside the dugout and the famous scene where Rooster Cogburn rides toward 4 bad guys with both guns blazing.  All these scenes are both familiar and yet have somthing new.  In each there is a new twist that makes the scene.

This is one of the best westerns I have seen.  I highly recommend it to everyone over the age of 16.  There isn't any cussing, no nudity and the bloodshed isn't excessive, but when it is there it is real.  You feel like this could have happened a few years ago.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Renovation Realities

My wife got a wild hair this past month and decided we needed to update the rooms on the main floor before Christmas.

We put on a second story to our house about 5 years ago.  Since then the old part of the house has looked a bit dull next to the new part of the house.  We matched the common areas because of a 2 story great room, but the inside each of the rooms was still without much character. 

The door and base trim was vintage, the windows had tile for sills and there was no crown.  The lights had been removed from the center ceiling and the switch was re-routed to a plug for a floor lamp in each of the rooms, very 60s.  No matter how updated we made the paint scheme, the rooms still looked out dated.

Enter supermom.  She hired an electrician who put center lights and updated all the plugs.  Then our son-in-law who is terrific at home renovations put on sills, base, moundling and crown.  She did all the painting.  I tried to keep out of the way.  I did some of the mechanical things but I hate to paint. 

Its not all finished yet but already it looks great.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ever Wonder

Ever wonder why advertisers use people with English accents to represent their product?  I don't have a definitive answer just observations.

Maybe it is because we as Americans think the British are smarter?

Maybe we think it's more exotic than when an American tells you to buy the product.  Remember when manufacturers used (or maybe they still do) say that something is European or sold all over Europe, now available in the first time in the US?

Any other suggestions?

Friday, December 17, 2010

All I Hear is Blah, Blah, Blah

Congress voted on extending the tax reforms providing tax relief to the wealthiest Americans.  This will cost billions of dollars.  The theory is that wealthy people will create jobs.

I am not referring to the extension of the unemployment benefits.  That is a whole different discussion and benefits Joe Worker not the wealthy. 

There was a lot of posturing by members of Congress after the mid-term defeat of the Democrats that it was time to stop the outlandish spending spree.  They said we needed to get fiscally responsible and if elected they would (Mr. or Ms. Congress Person Elect) to get things done.  They would save the economy from the spend thrifts.

Apparently it was just a bunch of hot air.  The Senate passed the tax relief extension bill 81 to 19 and it is expected to pass through the House but not after a vote.  This gives the do-nothings more time to complain but won't change the outcome.

When I hear a Congress Person talking now all I hear is Blah, Blah, Blah (I want to save my high paying, benefit filled job). 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Elk Hunting

I went Elk hunting with my friends last weekend.  I had a tag for a cow Elk and I borrowed all the gear necessary for a successful hunt.

While I was eating Elk steak last summer at my friend's house he casually mentioned we would have a better chance at success this hunting season if he put me in for a tag.  I agreed and in November I received a notice from the Utah Division of Wildlife Management announcing that I had been successful in securing a tag to harvest a cow Elk for the 2010 season.  We had from December 1 to 15 to fulfill the permit.

I haven't been Elk hunting ever and the last time I went deer hunting was about 30 years ago.  I figured if nothing else I would get a good winter camp experience and we might see some wildlife.

I started telling people I had this permit and brothers in hunting started coming out of the woodwork. They offered to lend me all sorts of gear (rifle, stand, camo backpack, range finder, binocs, cow caller) and give me all sorts of tips. 

We went into the wilderness two weekends ago and had a nice winter camp.  One of my friends has a really nice camper so we didn't have to tent it.  We hiked all day and then enjoyed dinner and our beverages in a very warm camper along with movie night (Yes Man, Wild Hogs, The Shootist - John Wayne's last movie and Easy Rider).  We saw a lot of Elk and shot at them but I am rusty after so long and we didn't hit anything.

Last weekend we were determined not to come home empty handed.  We devised a plan to find the Elk herd and have one of us push them toward the others who would have walked up to the ridge in the foot deep snow so we would be in position.  As things often happen we were distracted by our intense planning when I looked out the window and saw a herd about 300 years to our left on the hillside. 

We took our positions and I placed the rifle on the hood of the truck.  The Elk moved off a little but then they stopped.  Majestically posing broadside to get a better listen to us.  I pointed the gun and slightly squeezed the trigger.  The animal I was aiming for stumbled, walked about 10 yards and fell.  It was over in an instant.  I used the range finder to lock the distance from the truck to the cow at 367 yards. 

The wounded cow then tried to get up.  She stumbled and rolled down the slope toward us.  She ended up in a tree about 100 yards from the truck.  All in all it was a lot easier than the stories I heard of having to butcher the animal on the mountain in the dark and then take the meat out by sled. 

Since I shot it, it was my duty to clean it.  I had done it a long time before when I shot a deer.  There is something primal about cleaning an animal you've shot.  You can identify all the organs.  You feel the animals body heat and you get "up close and personal" as my friend says when you disembowel the animal.

I left that experience with a renewed respect for animals and the sustenance they provide us.  In our regular life we are so removed from that connection to securing food that we don't even think about where the meat under plastic wrap in the super market came from. 

I fear we will loose some part of our humanity if we don't have this connection, as we do when we remove ourselves from interpersonal relationships with others or the land.  This is an integral part of who we are and we can't replace it with virtual images.

I didn't eat part of the liver or smear my face with the blood but I did see and smell things that I don't usually get a chance to experience.  I feel bad for the fear and pain the animal had to go through.  I will use the meat and be reverent about the animal that gave its life so I could have this experience.    

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Instant Karma

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.  On this date in 1980 John Lennon was shot to death by a durranged fan outside his home in New York City.   We lost a musical genius, and a cultural icon who was truly ahead of his time.  For those of us who remember his influence on the world first hand we long for a simpler time when "All we are saying is give peace a chance".

I guess in honor of this austire day a bit of good karma came my way.  It started when I went to lunch and pulled my computer bag out of the back seat of the car. 

In the winter I carry a few things in the car just in case; a blanket, a shovel and a hat and gloves.  The hat I have in my car is one I picked up in Scotland a few years ago.  Besides being part of my winter kit, it is a treasured piece of memoribilia for me.

When I came out of the resturant, about an hour and a half later, I put my computer in the back seat and got into the driver's side seat.  On my windshield was my Scottish hat and gloves.  I had dropped them when I went in and someone was kind enough to pick them up and put them on my windshield.  For that I am gratetful.

In John Lennon's world that is the way it should have been.  In my cynical way of thinking I was very lucky the kind sumaritan didn't need a really nice hat and gloves.

I'm sure God and John Lennon are having a laugh over this. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Investment Bankers - The New Lawyers

I was at a conference last week and the topic of lawyer bashing came up.  The speaker said, probably because it was a conference of lawyers, that because of the recent financial meltdown, Investment Bankers have leaped over lawyers as the most despised group of professionals.

Here were a few of the jokes about investment bankers:

Because of the financial meltdown they had to redefine a few terms - CEO now means Chief Embezzelment Officer, Broker is what your investment counselor has made you and the new theory of economics being taught is no longer buy low/sell high, it is buy low/sell lower.

If you bought $1000 of stock in Delta Airlines before the economic meltdown, it is worth $49 today, $1000 of AIG is now worth $39 and $1000 of Leaman Brothers is worth nothing.  If you bought $1000 worth of beer and drank it instead of investing in these companies you would have $214 worth of aluminium.  The moral of the story is drink beer and recycle.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

McDonalds and their Lawyers

Last week I was at a legal conference.  The topic of lawyers and their public perception came up.  It was interesting to hear from an insider that things are not always what they seem.

Everyone has heard of the lady who was burned by coffee at a McDonalds drive thru.  We know she settled for over $1M and the public sentiment seems to be that she was taking McDonalds for a ride.

It turns out:
1.  McDonalds knew, and admitted, that coffee served at the temperature they served it was not fit for human consumption.  The coffee was served at 190 degrees, which will cause third degree burns within 7 seconds of contact with the skin.
2.  Over 700 people had been burned by McDonalds coffee before this lady sued.
3.  She offered to settle with McDonalds for her medical bills, they refused.

It has been my experience when we hear of a verdict or settlement that is too good or bad to be true, usually we are not getting the whole story.  Whether it was McDonalds management or their lawyers, they shouldn't have allowed their egos to get them beyond the point of no return. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

The TSA Isn't Doing Its Job

The TSA Isn't Doing Its Job

I don't mean the TSA isn't protecting us from the next terrorist threat.  I fly a lot and, like everyone else, I'm inconvienced by the gauntlet of procedures we have to go through, but the alternative is much worse.  I don't know enough to know whether the TSA is effective or not in stopping terrorist threats.

The TSA is charged with conducting security screenings at America's airports.  Recently they instituted a full body pat down program.  As I understand it you get a full body pat down if you refuse the full body imaging test or you continue to set off the metal detector even after a few tries.

The full body pat down has raised a lot of concern and generated several U-Tube videos because they seem invasive and unnecessary.  I saw a young guy's phone video of him telling the agent "If you touch my junk I'll have you arrested" and another video of a 7-10 year old boy with his shirt off and a TSA agent patting him down. 

I don't believe the TSA is overstepping their authority, I think they aren't adequately addressing these situations.

I would feel my privacy was compromised with these tests, but that is the price we pay for the world we live in.   If the TSA could do it another way they would.  We know the terrorists will take advantage of our conventions and will go to all lengths to find our weaknesses and exploit them.  Airplane travel is annoying, this isn't the TSA's fault.

What the TSA should do is 1) train their people to handle irate passengers better.  This would probably mean paying them more which isn't going to happen with teachers so why would I expect it to happen here.  The TSA should also 2) remind the public that these incidences are isolated and are sometimes the fault of the passenger. 

In the case of the guy with the touchy junk he had refused a body scan.  Maybe he didn't want certain anatomical revelations.  In the case of the kid, it was his dad behind him that yanked off the kid's shirt because he was irate. 

Travel by air is not as fun and exciting as it used to be.  If you are the type that gets irate easily maybe you should consider driving or taking the train.  Both can be relaxing and don't require security checks.  For those of us who have to travel by air, if you don't have anything to hide, the best thing we can do is be cooperative, come to the airport prepared and expect these sort of delays until we competely stop terrorist threats.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anal Cinema

Not what you think it is.

I finally went and got a colonoscopy.  I have been pestered by my wife and doctor for two years to get one.  What really did it for me was the television ads with a television reporter who died at 58 from colon cancer because he didn't get a colonoscopy.  That really got to me.

The worst part was the 24 hours before.  I couldn't eat anything, which for me is impossible.  If I don't have something to eat every two hours I go crazy, really. I'm hypoglycemic and I get light headed and grumpy - more grumpy than usual some would say.  I keep a protein bar in my brief case so if I'm at work and can't get to lunch for a while I won't go crazy.

If that weren't bad enough, about 6 hours before the procedure I have to take a stool softener and about 4 times the normal amount of laxative.  It was a good thing I didn't go to work that day.  When they say everything comes out, everything comes out.

When I got there they gave me the sedative and literally the next thing I knew the nurse was putting my glasses on.  I didn't feel any discomfort and I wasn't washed out like I have been with other procedures.  I highly recommend it to everyone who is of age or has a history.  The alternative is much, much, much worse.

I got my results back a few days later, with pictures, and all is well.  I don't have to go back for 10 years.  Now I can watch those public service announcements without puckering.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is Anyone Awake in Congress?

I think our esteemed Congressional representatives continue to demonstrate that they are so far removed from the people they represent that they are on another planet.

I was listening to  NPR this morning.  Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi was the guest.  She was saying that the Democrats and Republicans were continuing to butt heads on tax relief.  The Republicans are still holding onto making the Bush Era temporary tax cuts for the top wage earners (the wealthy) permanent.  She went on to say that the Democrats would consider making these tax cuts permanent only if there were also tax cuts for all.  As a side note she said the Bush Era tax cuts did not create jobs as expected. 

Are you kidding?  We have spent ourselves into future bankruptcy and now you want more tax cuts?  I like to get things for free but we need to be responsible.  We can't just keep getting the best of government services and cut taxes.  Do they really think this is the solution? 

This is short-sighted thinking and is the type of thinking that got us into this mess in the beginning.  Is this the "less government" route the Tea Party people are calling for?  The American people have spoken and this is not what they have said. 

I believe the American people want government to get their house in order.  I believe the American people want some fiscal responsiblity.  They know it will hurt, but again they have put their trust in Congress and this trust is being violated. 

The program also went on to attack the mortgage interest deduction as a possible place to cut back.  Ms. Pelosi said this is huge program so it is a place to make a huge impact, and therefore is a natural target.  After hearing the discussion I believe we (our government) should not promote everyone getting a mortgage but this seems to be a simplistic way to get at the problem.

Rather than do a precision cut of wasteful tax and spending programs piece by piece, they would rather take a machete to one program, hack out a large chunk and then be done with it.  It didn't take one reform to get us into this mess and it will take more than one reform to get us out. 

When will our candidates quit telling us they are going to Congress to do what is right, and do it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Free Speech and How To Make Everyone I Know Mad

My brother says that if I weren't an asshole I would have no personality at all.  I don't try to be one but I seem to step in it more often than others.  I guess it is because I went to law school and have been in the profession for a number of years.  I'm not using that as an excuse, just an explanation.

A few days ago one of my Republican friends sent me another hate filled diatribe about how Democrats are going to hell because they are directed by lawyers and the Republicans are the good guys because they are lawyer-free. 

At first I just shrugged it off as another "Democrats Suck" jab.  Then I thought about it some more.  I thought it was childish of the author and forwarder to throw jabs without solutions.  Sort of the - if you don't vote you can't complain - logic.

My purpose in providing this witty retort is not to show how blindly some people will vomit what others say, but to point out that you can't sit on the sidelines and get mad at the other team unless you are playing. 

Here it is - straight from the asshole lawyer's mouth:

Free speech is a wonderful thing, even when it is full of lies, half-truths and distortions.

There are 81 Republican lawyers and 123 Democrat lawyers in Congress (I found this in the Internet - it probably isn't updated for the changes of last Tuesday). Not the huge disparity the author pretends.

Lawyers are taught to think critically and to put their client's best interest first. The majority of lawyers do this within the bounds of the law. Lawyers are also taught to be fearless and speak their minds. The fact that Barack Obama was a lawyer and the editor of the law review at Harvard (this position goes to the valedictorian of the class - the person who will graduate number one in their class) was a positive in my mind when I voted for him. I thought he could reason through the issues and attack them with clarity and without emotion.

The one thing that has become clear to me is that people are mad. They are mad at the government for not preventing the economic melt down in 2008 and not getting things back on track once it happened. Whether either of these is or was possible will be the subject of debate for many years in barrooms and civic centers, classrooms, living rooms and the halls of Congress.

Apparently the Democrats couldn't get things done fast enough. Now the Republicans have their chance. The worst thing they can do is react emotionally and make bad legislation and cut necessary government programs for the sake of their appearance. Even worse is remaining divisive and the party of "No", stalling critical advances and wasting precious time.

The Republicans need to rely on their critical thinkers to come up with real solutions that help all of us, not just the upper 5% of wage earners. They need to get rid of selfish wasteful spending for a small minority and make government cuts that will serve everyone well. They also need to find ways to serve our nation without pandering to special interests. We are all in this and we all should be considered when making changes.

The Republicans need lawyers to hash out the critical issues and to agree to dialogue. The Republicans need lawyers who can compromise and who are willing to fight for their clients (the public) but who are willing to be realistic and come to a good solution rather than hold out for a great solution which may never come.

The democratic process (notice I used the little "d") was created by lawyers and in my opinion is the best means of government on earth. It has withstood the test of time and is still serving us all very well long after other options have come to an end. It may be messy and take time, but it is better than the alternatives.

The best thing we can do is to be involved, not as Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Socialists, Constitution Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, Tea Party Coffee Party members, but as US citizens. Call your congressman or congresswoman and tell them what you want.

If you are angry and don't know what you want, listen to others, for and against your position, and form your own opinion. Hear competing opinions, debate the issues with your friends, write about it, and you will really get a feel for the heart of the issue. Regurgitating what you hear on MSNBC does no one any good. Know what it is you believe and specifically what you want done about it and the labels will take care of themselves. We can't waste any more time yelling across the table.

It is time to sit down and get a few things accomplished or we will be living in a post apocalyptic waste land protecting what little resources we have with fear and anger.

Now is the time to get involved. With enough thoughtful consideration and debate on the issues, who knows, you may decide you want to go to law school.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Hate Banks

I hate banks.  I mean I hate those banks that made loans they couldn't live with.  I mean the banks that turned to the American public when these loans started to go south and asked for money to help them survive.  I mean the banks that took the money and then gave the government the bad loans.  I mean the banks that used the money to boost their own bottom line, not improve the economy.

The latest selfish activity of the banks is that they refused to help those who filed bankruptcy because they couldn't pay their loans.  In bankruptcy loans on your primary residence are not negotiable.  I thought that was the point of bankruptcy, that you could negotiate more favorable terms to debts.

It appears that loans on the home that you are able to keep are not able to be renegotiated in bankruptcy.  In 2008 Congress attempted to get this changed because so many people with loans they couldn't afford were filing bankruptcy.  The financial institution industry lobbied very hard against this and this reform didn't pass.

I heard on NPR that if this change to the bankruptcy laws had passed we would not have needed the Federal Government's loan modification program.  I hate banks.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Political Fall Out

The elections are over and the populace has spoken, at least 34% of them have (the percentage of voters in Utah who voted on Tuesday - 45th in the nation). 

In my own political analysis, which is the result of listening to CNN, MSNBC and FOX for as long as I could take it, I believe the public are angry that things aren't turning around quickly.  Other than that I believe it is the political pundits that are spinning that into a condemnation of specific Democratic programs. 

The trouble is now the Republicans can't just be angry, you red guys (and girls) have to do something. If we voted we have the right to complain, now we all have the obligation to get involved. Write your congressman (or woman), voice your opinion and tell them what you want. Go to local political meetings where your representatives will hear you and tell them what you want. I'm not talking about the vitriolic rantings the Tea Partiers call rallies.
If you are angry about something specific, write it down and give it to someone in charge.  If you are angry and don't know quite what it is that is angering you, put in the time to find out.  We have the greatest political system in the world and the ability to effect it.  Exercise your Constitutional rights.  Get out and make a difference.  The voice our elected officials hear should truly be the voice of the people, not what they want to hear. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Humorous Headstone

I was watching a documentary on Halloween about graveyards.  This headstone hit my funnybone.  It's in a cemetary in Key West, FL.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let it Snow

It's that time of year again.  You would think I would be used to going from the 60s and sunny to the 30s and snowy in an instant after living here for 30 years.  But, like driving in the snow, I have to learn it all over each year.

Yesterday we had our first snow storm in the valley.  I had about 3 inches at my house, the airport got about 1 inch.  Earlier this week it was in the 60s for a high and this weekend it will again be in the 60s.  Many trees still have their leaves and suffered under the weight of the snow. 

Although we will suffer through the back and forth of Autumn for a month or so before actual winter sets in, I love this time of year.  It is great to see the trees turning.  You can finally turn off the air conditioner and winter brings snow which brings ski season.  I like bundling up and putting up wood for a fire, I like the holidays, I like putting away the lawn mower and getting the snow blower out and ready for action. 

I heard this year, due to the La Nina pattern of weather we can expect a very snowy winter.  This pattern brings 600-700 inches of snow in the mountains in a season as opposed to the usual 500 inches in an off year.  I can't wait to get my snowmobile fired up and run it up to our cabin.  Have I told you I love this time of year?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mineral Bottom Road Update I

Last weekend my brothers and I went down to Moab and we visited the Mineral Bottom Road.  This road is the westerly access to the White Rim Trail, a very popular mountain biking and 4x4 trail in Canyonlands National Park.  This road was washed out on August 19 by heavy rains and has been inaccessable ever since.

I blogged about it and was contacted by the Grand County Council to, in part, represent the casual tourist usage of this road in their assessment of the impact on the economy and tourist trade in Grand County. 

They must have been persuasive in their appeal for repair funds because last week Rep. Jim Matheson announced this road (or what is left of it) will qualify for emergency disaster relief and Grand County will recieve funds to repair the damage (see the article in the Moab Times October 21, 2010).  They were also able to get the attention of someone here in SLC.  There was an article about the road washout and the economic impact in the Salt Lake Tribune on October 20, 2010. 

Rep. Matheson said the repairs would be completed sometime during the summer 2011.  The exact date would depend on an engineering assesment that was scheduled to be completed this week.

My personal assessment of the damage is that it is a lot worse when you see it in person.  A lot of material was washed down the canyon.  We walked a way down the switchbacks and continually marveled at the power of the water to completely obliterate whole sections of the road.  In some places the bedrock was exposed.  I have attached some pictures.

Good luck to the Grand County Council and the engineers.  I hope they get it done sooner rather than later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Annex Mexico

I thought of the solution to the drug trade and the attendant violence along our border with Mexico.  We should annex Mexico (and all of Central America down to Colombia) as the 51st state of the United States.

Before you start trying me for treason listen to my reasoning:

1.  This would cut out the violence along the US-Mexico border because now there would be no border.  All those people trying to get into the US would already be here. 

2.  As a US State we would have the ability to send in the national guard to take out the drug cartels and we would settle this area in 6 months. 

3.  The US border would now be with Colombia.  Five Marines with machine guns could guard this border. 

4.  All the money we save guarding the border could go to upgrading the infrastructure in this new state.  The Mexicans could have luxuries like running water and a sewer system. Under my plan they would be seperate functions, not the same thing as they are now.

5.  You wouldn't need a passport to visit Mexico or anywhere in Central America. 

6.  With increased tourism the drug cartels could turn their hideouts and battle grounds into tourist attractions.  Like Disney World only with machine guns.

7.  Tequila wouldn't have to be imported.
8.  We would get the Panama Canal back.

9.  Mexicans could get free health care and education for their children.  Oh yea, they already have that in California. 

I think we should start a petition to annex Mexico.  It's just what we need to kick start the economy.  It would allow families torn apart by a border to be reunited and it would give us another war to take our minds off the problems we are facing at home.  I think this idea has real merit. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worst Camp Host Ever

Last weekend we went to Arches National Park.  We had reservations for three camp sites since March.  The problem is that this was a long weekend for public schools and typically the last camping weekend for families. 

We got to the campsites and set up two trailers in one site (we had three sites and three trailers, just two in one site).  We abided by the rules by having only 9 people at the site and both trailers fit in the site without going outside the lines. 

The host came along and asked us to move the trailer to the other site.  There is a rule we were told that only one trailer per site.  The trouble was that the trailer in front was incapacitated and would be a lot of trouble to move. 

We asked the hosts to reconsider because of the trouble and the potential of danger for little kids if we moved the trailer to another site.  The other site was at the top of the hill and the site dropped off precipitously.  Kids could get hurt if they ran around too much.  The husband host told us this wasn't his problem, we made the reservations.  I should have seen our eventual run-in coming from this comment.

The hosts said it was a rule and if they let us stay then they would be overrun by rule breakers the next year.  We told them we wouldn't do it again and besides we have been coming to this campground for many years, often putting two trailers in one site and had not heard of this rule.

We looked on our reservation, the posted rules at the campsite and online.  We found rules about quiet time, number of people in the site and parking cars but nothing about the number of trailers in the site.

The next day we (my youngest of the oldest daughters - a real spitfire and a great kid - I am really proud of her for sticking to her guns) went to the camp hosts to ask to see the rule about one trailer per site.  This is when it got fun.

They said the rule about one trailer per camp site wasn't written but they make the rules and they said so.  While the wife camp host was calling the ranger for verification her husband gets up from his seat and starts telling us that if we don't like it "there are lots of great hotels in Moab". 

After some discussion with the Ranger we were allowed to keep both trailers where they were.  All it would have taken was a little diplomacy on the part of the camp hosts to get us to see the dangers (I can't for the life of me see the security or hazard concern) of two trailers in one site and we would have been more willing to move.  Instead they chose the "my way or the highway" attitude and we had a battle of wills on our hands.

Camp hosts are supposed to help make your visit to our national parks more enjoyable.  They are usually laid back retired couples that are just happy to be there.  Maybe because it was the weekend I described above, they were on edge.  I can only say that our experience was less than pleasent.

I will still go back to Arches and I will probably try to put two trailers in one site and see if they make a fuss (sorry Mom, I just can't help it).  I just won't go back during this particular weekend, not just because of this experience with the camp hosts, but also because of the traffic, the inconsiderate slob who washed her hair in the sink clearly marked "Dish Washing Only" (I actually saw a woman do this) and because of the guy who continued to run his Blazer up and down the road all day at 30 mph (the speed limit is 15) after being told to slow down and watch out for kids. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh the Humanity

The coverage of the sucide of a college student humiliated by classmates brought up a base theme I have been concerned with for awhile.  When and why did we loose our humanity toward others?

There used to be a moral code.  People used to treat each other with some basic respect.  There were fights and disagreements but people seemed to respect a certain line.  Over that line and you were not part of regular society.

That moral code protected most people from public humuliation.  Most people would not do things that would bring shame on themselves or others in public.   

Of course I am not so naive to think that this isn't a huge generalization.  There were exceptions, but they were few and far between.  You didn't regularly see a person strike another in public.  You didn't regularly see someone's intimate details broadcast for all to view and judge.

But it isn't the exposure that concerns me, it is the willingness to commit the act without thought to how what is done will hurt the person who is the recipient of the act.

When did we give ourselves permission to treat others like they didn't matter.  Like we were the only thing that mattered and it was OK to blow up at someone because we were mad or humuliate someone for our entertainment.  People are our brothers and sisters, no matter where they come from or what they believe, and they deserve our respect.

It starts with intentionally interrupting someone speaking, or cutting across traffic or in line.  After all I have been waiting and I deserve to go next.  The one thing that really gets to me is when I'm at a counter in a store and the clerk, who is supposed to help me, is talking to a friend.  The conversation continues even though I am standing there with the item I want to purchase dangling from my hand, addressing the counter.  Why do you continue to talk to your friend about your day off and let me stand there?

The internet has hastened this age of vanquished morality.  What used to be an act by a crazy guy in your home town that only you and your friends witnessed, is now available for all to see.  But is isn't just the internet.

We have been given permission to do these things to each other.  We think it is funny to see someone punk someone else.  We think it is entertainment when a husband sends in his video of his wife with her hair stuck in the dishwasher. 

Our acts in public are now potentially videotaped and available for playback by any authority to review in the event a crime was committed.  Even this blog entry would have been relegated to my deepest thoughts or revealed to a close friend rather than laid out for the whole world, a potential employer, or my friends, to see. 

I don't know where I'm going with this.  I don't think I can reverse the tide that is moving in that direction.  I guess I am just asking each of us to consider what we do before we do it.  Consider how it will feel to the person on the receiving end.  We owe it to each other to treat our fellow humans with respect and to expect the same from others.  We should follow a moral code of kindness and respect even when the majority won't.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Being Heard - Mineral Bottom Road

My blog report on the Mineral Bottom Road caught the attention of someone in Grand County.  They are working hard to put together the funding to get the road repaired but they need our help.  They have made an assessment of the commercial use in the area but not of the casual visitor, the weekend traveler who goes into this country without a guide or organized commercial group. 

They need us to let our local representatives know that this is important to us.  They need to know how we use the Mineral Bottom Road, what our financial impact on the Moab area is when we go down there and how this road being unusable will impact our future plans.  You can put together a short, personal email with details about your experiences.

Please write to your state representative and the Governor and tell them you want the road fixed so you can visit Moab and Grand County.  Contact Governor Gary R. Herbert (Utah) at, Senator Orrin Hatch at and Senator Robert Bennett at  I believe there is an underscore between the first and last names of each contact for the senators.    Please pass this plea onto anyone you know who visits Moab and Grand County.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mineral Bottom Road Closed Indefinately

One of the things I really look forward to each spring is riding the White Rim Trail in Moab.  I have done it several times on a bicycle and a few times on a motorcycle.  This year it appears it is not to be.

Each July I submit my request to the National Park Service for a permit for the following March.  Usually my request is answered by mid August.  This year it hadn't come by mid September.

As it turns out one of the major access roads to the White Rim Trail was washed out in an August downpour.  If you look closely at the picture you can see two rangers, this will give you a sense of the scale of the washout.

The National Park Service has suspended all travel to this area and has stopped issuing permits, mine being one of them.  They say the road won't be repaired until sometime in 2011, they don't know when.  They don't have the funding and it will take 12 weeks to repair when they do.

If you want more information type in "Mineral Bottom Road Closure" into Google and go to the websites. 

Oh well, there is always next year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Mind is Catching Up With My Body

I am finally feeling like my mind is in the same place as my body.

I came from Spain on Saturday, 8 time zones ahead of SLC.  I did all the things they tell you to do; drink water, don't drink alcohol, set your watch to the new place as soon as you lift off, get a light nap and don't eat unless you have to. 

Until today I still felt like I was on another planet.  This weekend I was constantly tired, woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep and I said and did things as if I were drugged.

They say it takes a day for each time zone to feel right.  I have been doing this for a number of years so I feel I am ahead of the curve.  I can get back in about 3 days from a trip from Europe.  If I have to I can function in those three days (like when I went to Spain I attended business meetings the day after I arrived) but I won't be happy and I wasn't up for drinking after the meetings.  I just went to bed and crashed.

I really think your mind has to catch up with your body.  With modern transportation you can get to Europe in less than a day.  This trip used to take weeks, your mind had time to adjust.  Now you don't get this luxury so your mind doesn't quite know where it is until you can get your rhythms back in sync.  This is hard to do when you are awake in their middle of the night. 

My best remedy is not to do too much in the first few days and let yourself recuperate; let your mind catch up with your body. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spain Motorcycle Trip

Today I'm back in my own home and seem to be adjusting well.  I slept through the night last night and am not falling asleep today, yet.

I do have a few lingering effects from the bike ride.  My hands are swollen, my butt hurts and I feel weird not wearing layers of plastic motorcycle gear. 

Here are a few pictures from the trip. Basically we rode 100 to 150 miles a day across mostly dirt roads with a few trails thrown in.  The trails consisted of single track paths through the woods or up a mountainside.  It provided a lot of fun and challenge but was separated with some long stretches of relaxing riding. 

Every 20 miles or so we would come down into a small village and ride through the narrow streets.  The houses and the towns are all ancient relics of a past age when they needed to be close for defense.  The streets are coblestone and there always was a tower at the center of the town.  I never got tired of the beauty of the country side and these villages.

I really enjoyed the trip. I wished we had stopped more often but I feel like I got a realistic look at the countryside and the people.  We rode through a lot of fields on the way up the mountains so I saw and smelled a lot of farm animals.  There also was a lot of forest and logging operations.  I wouldn't thought of Spain as a wood producing country but I guess it is. 

One of the neatest things was when we came on a goat hearder and his charges.  We stopped and tried to converse with him.  We communicated through lots of hand jestures and attempts at single words in Spanish.  We talked for about an half hour.  He was very pleasant.  It doesn't get much more local than that.  

I can't wait for next year.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Northeastern Spain by Motorcycle

I have been somewhat remiss in my posting because this week I have been on another motorcycle trip. 

Two weeks ago I went for a week across northern Nevada on our annual fall motorcycle tour.  This one took off west from SLC and we moved relatively even with the Pony Express trail through western Utah and Eastern Nevada.  It was a week of camping, trail riding with a heavly loaded KLR 650 and some light duty days of circuit riding.  All in all it was an easy trip from the standpoint of technical off road motorcycling.

Last week I was in Barcelona Spain on business.  This week my business partners organized a week long motorcycle trip.  Unlike the previous motorcycle trip this one was fully supported by a van that met us during the day with lunch and got to the hotel every night to set up our accomodations.

This isn't a package trip, it is set up by one of the guys on the ride.  Sort of the manifestation of having taken many of those organized trips and saying "I can do a better job on a lot less money".

We have two young guys riding with us and all the other older guys have a lot more experience riding than I do.  This means we ride hard and fast most of the day.  We are riding KTM 450s.  A lot lighter and higher performance bike than my KLR.

Here are the bikes before we began.  They are nowhere near as clean now since we have had four days of riding and two of them were in the rain.  We do about 70% of the ride off road, about 10% is classified as difficult or very difficult.  The van on the right is our support vehicle.

We started from Barcelona and went north.  We do about 100 to 150 miles a day.  Tonight we are in Andorra, the country.  The terrain is very hilly and beautiful.  I wish I could paste a few more pictures but I broke my Blackberry phone which I was using as a camera.  The data on the phone appears intact but I won't be able to get to it until I get back home.

Anyway tomorrow we ride east through the Pyrenees strattling France and Spain.  I have a great life and a great wife don't I?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dinner in Barcelona

I am traveling for work and have been in Barcelona Spain for the past few days.  Last night a few of my colleagues went out for dinner and I stayed back to finish up some work.

I went to the local supermercado to get some dinner.  I find it a lot easier to go to a supermarket and pick up some bread, cheese, meat and an apple than sit in a restaurant and look like I am not alone. 

Here is what I picked out.  I ate almost everything.  The flan cups were a real treat and the salad was surprisingly fresh.  Buenos noches.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Into The Wilds of Nevada

Last week I spent a few days riding my motorcycle across the desert.  We went west from SLC across what we in Utah call the "West Desert", into eastern Nevada and then turned north to the Idaho border.  Along the way we saw a lot of country.  I had no idea there was so much unspoiled landscape out there.

We usually think of this area as a wasteland.  I'm sure the people who live out there are glad this is the common misconception.  We ran into a few and they were nice but guarded.  You could tell they were apprehensive.  Whether we were seen as a symbol of the water robbing Las Vegas council woman who wants to stick a large straw in the ground and suck it dry, or just a momentary intrusion on their way of life, you got the feeling you were an outsider.

This land is very primative.  There isn't much out here and aside from taking enough water, you need to plan your gas stops.  You also have to be able to be self-sufficient.  If things fall off out here you had better be able to put them back on or you will be out there for a while. 

All in all it was a very enjoyable few days away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.  Here are a few shots of us on our trip.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I'm sure you all remember that on 9/11/01 a horrific event befell the American people.  We watched as commercial airliners, commandeered by terrorists, plunged into the Twin Towers in NYC, symbols of the heart of capitalism.  It was a life changing moment for all. 

America no longer appeared invisible.  We had again been goaded into war as we did in 1941 by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  At the time it seemed to shake our base beliefs. 

In the following days, weeks and months, NYC, and the country, banded together and helped each other.  Like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the attack on the Twin Towers came to symbolize the best in people in this country as they rallied around their beliefs and fought to protect their way of life. 

In observing this horrible event, we should honor those who lost their lives both at the time and in the ensuing conflicts brought on by this attack.  We should remember and be thankful for our freedoms and liberties and never take them for granted.  We should work to protect those less fortunate than us and we should work to encourage cooperation and understanding. 

This is what I believe the remembrance events this weekend should be about.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Holladay Blvd ReSurfaced

I got out this morning onto Holladay Blvd to go to work and ran smack dab into a line up of heavy equipment.  They are resurfacing the road and it doesn't look pretty.

Aside from the momentary inconvenience of the actual work it looks like they are doing the gravel and tar thing rather than actual asphalt.  That is cheesy. 

The gravel and tar method is a lot messier than asphalt.  With asphalt trucks dump the material on the road and a huge machine manicures the surface and steamrollers smooth it out.  It is ready for full use in about an hour.

With gravel they dump a lot of tar on the road and then spread out gravel.  The cars running over it mash the gravel into the tar and eventually it becomes a solid surface.  In the mean time you have the potential of tar covered cars and broken windshields from wayward gravel. 

I know we are in an economic ice box and everyone wants to save money but Holladay Blvd is a major thoroughfare through the Salt Lake valley.  Save money on the side streets and use the good stuff on a road that will see a lot of traffic.

Also there are other users besides the cars.  Holladay Blvd is a major corridor for biking and running.  With the gravel method this surface is unuseable for at least a week and rough thereafter.  The gravel doesn't get squashed into the tar on the margins so it has to naturally settle, as slow as molasses running up hill in the winter.

This is dangerous for runners and for bikers.  Holladay took the cheap way out rather than thinking about its exercise conscious citizens. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Point Exactly

I read this in the City Weekly and thought it summed up what I was trying to say a few days ago.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Big Box Blight or the Costco Quandry

OK, so I probably read too much of the SL Trib this week.  I seem to be on the cheesy headline express here.   My point is that it is a blight on society to buy perishable goods in bulk if you are just going to throw most of it away.

You go to Costco, you see 50 lbs of lettuce for $3.99.  Now you know one head of lettuce at the "neighborhood grocery" costs double that.  You get the 50 lbs and only eat 1 pound before it goes bad.

You think "what a waste" but the next time you are in the Fresh Market you look at lettuce and it is now $6.99 a pound.  You wait until your next Costco run and then pick up the 50 lbs bag.  You ask yourself how can they do that?

The truth is someone is being asked to farm 8 billion acres of lettuce and make only $.01 a head but they will sell Costco a trillion heads of lettuce.  All that plowing, all that fertilizer, all that harvesting equipment, all that packaging, transportation and refrigeration (the average meal travels 1500 miles to your plate) just so you can eat only a portion of it to throw the rest away. 

Seems like a huge waste of time, materials, money and energy. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Time for a Tire Change on My Motorcycle

Last night I put new tires on my KLR. Both front and rear. Both are Dunlop 606 full dirt tires. I have run only the 606 on the rear in the past but this last time I tried a 50/50 tire, a Kenda. I didn't like it. It was fine in the pavement but when I got on the dirt, particularly with a load, it seemed to have a tendency to break out in front of me, as if I was going to go down. Not a good feeling.

Here are some pics of the dirty deed. The front came off and went on well. Its a 21 inch tire on a skinny wheel. The rear objected more. Its a fat wheel that is only 17 inches. I also have a bead lock on the rear. I fought with it and with a little help from the shop forman (Bob) I was able to wrestle it into submission.

Did I mention that Bob has a really awesome shop with lots of tools, like the lift the bike is on and the tire changer.  He also has a welder a metal chop saw, lots of grinders, drills and hand tools.  He also offers great 60s blues music and libations.  What more could you want from a man cave?  Oh yea, did I mention the two vintage Harleys he is always tinkering with and the 3 vintage British bikes (2 Triumphs and a Norton - the yellow bike in the first picture.  The MG in the second pic is another project Bob works on inbetween bikes).  My lowly KLR looks like a cast off next to these
Bob and I went on a ride afterwards and all was well. The new tires felt really good. Nothing like new rubber under you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Go Lynx Baseball

Well, things seem to be going wrong all over so I thought I would share this story I read recently about a local sports team.

The Salt Lake Lutheran Lynx baseball team almost had to cancel their season because they had less than 9 players signed up to play.  The coach asked the student body, all 55 of them, if someone would join the team to make up a squad.

They got enough responses so that they could field a full team with 3 subs (12 players in all).  Some had never played baseball or softball before.  The pitcher hadn't pitched, ever, until the day before their first game.  One kid had never been to a baseball game. 

The coach didn't hold tryouts, he just played catch with them.  If they could catch the ball they played infield, if not, outfield. 

This would be disheartening for most.  Especially since they lost their first game 39 - 2 and their second game 24 -2.  But these kids say they're having fun.  They enjoy learning the game and look forward to the next contest.

They didn't appear to have any dreams of playing pro ball, they weren't looking for scouts in the stands, they just wanted to play baseball.  I thought those days were gone, when guys played because it was fun. 

Although the Lynx are from Salt Lake Lutheran High (4020 South 900 East) they are practicing at Lindsay Gardens (8th Avenue and M Street), upper field, and will have their games there most likely.  If you want to make sure call the school before a game and ask where they will be playing. I talked to Patty, she was very helpful.  Their phone number is (801) 266-6676.

The Lynx's next 4 games are all at Lindsey Gardens (8th Ave and M St.), upper field on Wednesday, Sept 8 at 4:00 pm vs. St. Joseph, Wednesday, Sept 15 at 4:00 pm vs. Intermountain Christian, Friday, Sept 17 at 4:00 pm vs West Ridge Academy and Friday, Sept 24 at 4:00 pm vs. Christian Heritage.

"Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!

We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel.

Oh, put me in, coach - I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, coach - I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be centerfield.

Well, I spent some time in the mudville nine, watchin’ it from the bench;
You know I took some lumps when the mighty casey struck out.
So say hey willie, tell ty cobb and joe dimaggio;
Don’t say "it ain’t so", you know the time is now.

Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat, and brand-new pair of shoes
You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride.
Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all - a moment in the sun;
(pop) it’s gone and you can tell that one goodbye!"

Lyrics to song "Centerfield" by John Fogarty

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Day in the Sunset

Nothing much going on.  I am burried in this project I am doing for my client, my wife is busy with work and between these things and harrassing our senior to get to school on time so she can graduate, we barely had enough time to steal a bit of yesterday afternoon for ourselves.

We had ambitions of getting in a long bike ride or a hike.  Both things we like to do but the day dragged us both down enought that that sounded like too much work.

We ended up going to our favorite shake shack and ordering two shakes to go.  I had peach and my wife had mocha with butterfinger crunch and hot fudge. She has always been like that.  She is Dutch so all things chocolate are always good. 

Like Emeril said about garlic; someone asked him about what to do if he put too much garlic in a recipe.  He said he didn't know because he had never been there.  I figure my wife would never say there was too much chocolate.

We took our shakes up to a spot on the bench and watched the sun set.  It was a very relaxing half hour.  A much needed break from our day. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Its a Dad's Life

This is way to close to home. I'm the guy on the rider mower.  Enjoy

It's A Dad's Life - Watch more Funny Videos

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mosque in Manhattan

I get why people are angry about a mosque going up near the site of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. 

The problem is that we are a culture based on equality for all.  Our country was founded on the principal of religous freedom and if we forget this we are likely to forget other fundamental principals of life.

It is easy to get angry at something that sounds wrong but we need to let all people in the US practice their religious beliefs wherever they desire.  If we chip away at this right, we all suffer.

We can't make exceptions.  We can rationalize away a right this fundamental. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Personal Responsibility 101

8 people were killed this weekend in Southern California when a desert rally truck left the course and plowed into the crowd.  The people killed were at the edge of the course, within 4 feet of the trucks competing and there were no barriers.

I have watched with horror for many years the Baja 1000 where the exact same thing occurs.  Not that people get killed all the time, but some do, but that spectators stand so close to the trucks traveling over uneven ground at 70 miles an hour.

The talk in the press is that the driver of the truck should be proscecuted for manslaughter.  That is rediculous.  If you tried to cross the freeway and a truck couldn't stop and hit you, should the driver be proscecuted?

People need to take personal responsibility.  They need to know the dangers and take reasonable precautions.  This is the same attitude that allowed a couple from the east (the guy was from the UK) to rent a jeep in March in Las Vegas and ride into the Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument with a leather jacket, dress shoes and no concern about the weather. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Help Pakistan Flood Victims

I get why people are angry at Pakistan.  We are spending tons of money, lives and political clout to bringdemocracy to a part of the world that many there see the US as the enemy and who want to kill us. 

The floods have taken many lives and the aftermath threatens to take more from disease and hunger.  We should help those in need.  Many innocent people are dying.  We should not let politics prevent us from helping our fellow men, women and children. 

Others have said Pakistan is corrupt and any aid we send will just be diverted and not get to those who need it.  This is a cop-out.  Relief organizations know how to get around this. 

If for no other reason but to show the Pakistani people we care we need to help.  Please consider making a donation to the Pakistani relief effort.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I was reading a blog from a friend of my brother's who lives in Indiana and he said he was going to a cornhole party.  I've been accused of having a dirty mind but I am not the only one who thought this meant something perverse.

I asked a friend from Nebraska what was meant by a "Corn Hole Party".  He looked a me sheepishly and said it was a derogatory term for something not spoken of in mixed company.  My suspiscions were confirmed.

I still couldn't believe this seemingly updtanding citizen would be so brazen about his perversions.  I wracked my brain to think of another explanation but couldn't come up with one.  It appears I was stuck in the mud.

I shut my door in my office and hesitantly typed "Corn Hole" into a search engine.  I was afraid I would be scarred for life by what would come up.  I was supprised and relieved.

The first entry directed me to the American Cornhole Association's website ( and no, you aren't going to go blind if you go to the site.  It turns out Cornhole is a bean bag toss game like horseshoes.  It's also called Corn Toss or Soft Horseshoes.

I guess I should get my mind out of the gutter.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lame Discipline

Did you know that in Utah it is OK to stay in the left lane of a multi-lane road and let others pass you on the right?  I had no idea.

About 10 years ago I learned to drive in the United Kingdom.  I had been driving in the US for over 20 years.  I had to learn a lot of things besides just driving on the other side of the road.  In the UK it is illegal to pass on the left (the equivalent of our right) on a multi-lane road.  The British are very committed to their lane discipline.  You are to stay to the left unless you are passing and then you are to return to the left immediately. 

I thought the same thing was required here in Utah and that Utah drivers are just without "Lane Discipline".  Not so.  Here in Utah you can coast along in the the left lane to your heart's content on a multi-lane road unless you see one of those pesky signs saying "Stay Right Except to Pass".

I looked at the Utah Drivers Handbook (you can get it online by going to public  There is nothing in the handbook saying you have to stay to the left on a multi-lane road except to pass.

There is one interesting thing in the UDH that seems to encourage this lack of lane discipline.  On page 12 it says you can pass on the right on a multi-lane road.  "Are you kidding me?" I thought, but, there it is in pictures for all to see.  (I can't figure out how to copy the image and put it here or I would).  

Doesn't that seem a bit weird?  Why should it be OK to stay in the left lane?  Shouldn't we have a single direction code of conduct so we all know to stay on the left until passing on the right rather than encourage multi directional passing so we don't know where someone will come from?

How often has someone just put on their blinker and leaped out in front of you without really knowing you were there?  I believe not having a standard code about staying left leads to a lax attitude toward driving that leads to people doing what they want without looking in their mirrors first.  I know it sounds like a stretch but if we don't teach a strict code in driver's education class we won't have disciplined drivers.

The drivers in the UK have to go through a lot more than we do to get a license.  As a consequence they are, on the whole, better drivers.  They have a sense of duty and obligation to the road, almost a professionalism, that doesn't exist here, especially in Utah. 

As roads get more crowded we will need to adopt this attitude or a lot more people will die.  We all are trying to get somewhere and to think you are the only one on the road is ludicrous.  Please slow down, look in your mirrors and be courteous.  I know that goes for me as well.  I promise to try.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Fastest Thing on Earth

This past Sunday I went to the Southern California Timing Association's annual National event at the Bonneville Salt Flats known as Speedweek. 

I've lived in Utah for almost 40 years and have never been out to Bonneville Speedweek.  I guess it's like living in New York and never going to the Empire State Building.  Lots of people aren't tourists in their hometown.

The cool thing about this event is that it isn't one event, it is hundreds of events.  Each minute detail for a vehicle can garner its own land speed record.  There are classifications for production cars, motorcycles, trucks and other vehicles.  Within each vehicle classification there is a motor designation and production designation.  You can challenge the world speed record in any of these categories or sub categories, such as a vintage (1949 to 1981) American made production car with a 300 to 350 c.i. engine without modifications or something as obscure as a pre 1960s 175 cc motorcycle of Japanese origin. 

Each vehicle has to go through the tech people.  They are very thorough and are looking for safety issues as well as differences that would give one racer an unfair advantage over another.  We were there for only about an hour all together and we saw a discussion over whether it is safe for a 230 lb guy who just barely fit into a dragster, to a guy who's motorcycle was disqualified because he build an oil cooler with fins and his classification didn't allow any alterations that would provide him this aerodynamic advantage. 

It was tech overload.  We walked up and down the pits and were able to stand right next to cars that went 400 mph.  We also saw lots of 1930s roadsters cut down to resemble (or actually were) 1950s hot rods.  Everybody was riding everything.  It was a sensual trip to wander and take in the sites.

The people who built these machines were very approachable.  They wanted to talk about their vehicles and each time we stopped we spent a half an hour talking about their classification, how they did and what they wanted to achieve this year.  Everything from getting into the 200 mph club (going at least 250 mph or breaking a 200 mph+ record) to breaking the record for a pre-WWII motorbike of 66 mph.

We then wandered to the start line.  Where else in a major sport could you stand 5 feet from a competitor as they started off without knowing the President?  It was exhilarating, scary and interesting to watch them prepare and go through their routine.  Another sensory assault that made this a wonderful experience.

All in all I don't know why I didn't do this before.  I like cars, trucks and motorcycles and this is a world class event in my own back yard.  All I can say is it was way too long a wait for this.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  So much to see so little time to see it all.   Next year I'm going out for the weekend.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A New Car

I borrowed my son's new Mercedes today.  Actually he wanted to borrow my Durango to haul some things and he left me the Merc.  It is a wonderful car, but I didn't realize there were so many perks to borrowing a Mercedes.

First of all people don't expect you to drive considerately in a Mercedes.  All those selfish things I used to do in my Durango that I rationalizd as "its a big truck they'll get out of my way" come a lot easier in a Mercedes.  I don't even flinch when I switch lanes without signaling and I believe I am expected to cut across three lanes of traffic without looking.  After all, I have to get into that lane. 

I can talk on my cell all the time, people expect it.  They think I am doing some big deal.  I don't want to let them down. 

Also I can park wherever I want.  It is expected that I would take up a reserved space or park on a red curb, and if the car gets a ticket - I don't have to pay. 

If my son comes to return my Durango he will be out of luck, I am on a road trip to Vegas.  He can pick the car up at the Lucky Lady Tow Service on Tropicana Blvd sometime this weekend. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stats are Cool

Thanks to Max's suggestion I found out I have an international audience. My blog has been viewed more than once from Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Brazil and a smattering of other single entries from around the globe.  Thanks to everyone for taking an interest in my blog. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

What is Facebook?

I don't get Facebook. I know I'm closer to being able to collect social security (If there is any left, but that's another blog topic) than most Facebook participants are to turning 30, but I can't seem to get into the groove (as we older folks say) of the whole Facebook thing.

I signed up. I don't have that many interesting photos of me and I don't really want to reveal a lot of personal information so my Facebook page is rather bland. I use email, texting and this blog for cyber communication so I don't get to my Facebook page that often.

I get on Facebook mostly to see what my kids are doing; sorry kids. I like the pictures they put up and the comments from some of their friends I know. I guess it's like hanging out with them without having to start turning off lights at 9:30 so I can go to bed.

Is that it? Is Facebook like cyber hanging out? Is it a way to talk casually with others, tell them about your life and share pictures and stories without traveling or making something for potluck?

I would appreciate it if someone would ping me and let me know, or better yet tell me how to update my Facebook status (if that is even the correct terminology). I'm tired, I think I'll turn out the lights and watch Perry Mason before I go to bed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pat's BBQ - A Review

We went to Pats BBQ just south of 21st South and west of West Temple yesterday for an early lunch. I've heard lots of good things about this place and wanted to try it. I was disappointed. I know it had a lot to live up to but I thought it could have been better.

Maybe it was that I have created a lot of good BBQ myself. I know it takes a lot of time and effort and I haven't made it for commercial production, but from Pat's reputation, I expected more than what I got.

The food was good, it wasn't great. It was like chain restaurant food. High quality chain restaurant food. It compared to Good Wood in Draper (a project from the local Chilli's Restaurants). The BBQ was done well but with a factory or institutional quality. I had both the ribs and chicken so I wouldn't base my opinion on just one dish. The ribs didn't have any bark, you know, that black crispy outside that says it has touched flames for a long time. Both the ribs and chicken had a standard sort of flavor. The rub was good but not distinctive. The cole slaw was standard without any flair. The corn bread was dry although my wife liked it.

It was as if a little white boy took out a sheet that told him exactly what to do and he followed it to the letter. I will bet my culinary expertise these was no brother drinking whiskey into the wee hours of the morning tending the fire and mopping the ribs as a true pit master would.

The atmosphere was funky and lived up to its reputation but the food was just good. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hospital Jeopardy

We went to the emergency room last night, it turns out nothing serious and all is better today.

While we were there we had a long time to wait. As each new case presented itself we tried to determine their ailment. They were far enough away that we couldn't hear but we could see their gestures and sense their pain.

One guy showed up with his right fist blown up to the size of softball. We assumed that wall wouldn't do whatever it did, ever again.

A girl showed up looking very faint and had to sit in a wheelchair. My wife thought dehydration, I thought drug complication. Another two girls showed up, apparently without ailments and not obviously intoxicated, but they had two Murray police in tow. That was interesting.

The rest were common run of the mill stomach aches, babies won't stop crying and the typical large cut. No GSWs (gun shot wounds) I asked.

At least the time went by faster.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hollywood as Subversives or What's All the Fuss

I followed the Federal District Court ruling striking down Proposition 8 last week with interest but was not suprised.

Judge Vaughn Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger held that California's denial of same-sex marriages was irrational and that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. Justice has this thing where they have to consider constitutionally based principals like equality and protection for all rather than devisive fear mongering.

Politics aside, why was everyone aghast at this ruling? We have been getting alternative relationship role models for a while. Hollywood TV has many examples over the years of plot lines that showcase equal opportunity relationships.

I was watching Perry Mason (1958) a few days ago. Perry was on a cruise with his able personal secretary Della Street and asked myself, where is Perry's wife? Apparently Perry didn't have one or she left, died or he is just "comfortable being a bachelor". Paul Drake of the Drake Detective Agency was also on the cruise, as he often accompanies Perry on out of town assignments.

What about Andy Griffith (widowed - hangs out with Barney, Floyd, Goober and the guys), I Dream of Jeannie (married to NASA and his goofy friend), My Three Sons (a bunch of guys in the house with an ex-Navy cook?), Beverly Hillbillies (granny, Jed and cousins Jethro and Elly Mae), Mary Tyler Moore (single girl with close neighbor Rhoda), McHale's Navy (again guys in the Navy), Hogan's Hero's (and guys in the Army)? Not a hetrosexual couple in sight. They tried to cover it up with girlfriends but ultimately the characters went back to their "friends".

Even a show like Bewitched seems normal on the surface but they changed Darins in the middle without an explanation. And what about Batman - two rich guys out at night in costumes? Tell me that would pass Proposition 8 scrutiny.

Hollywood was way ahead of its time.