Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sad Loss

I lost a close friend this weekend.  He was 45 and he took his own life.  The senselessness of that act is just sinking in.

We hadn't seen much of him and his family in recent years.  A few years ago we reconnected for a moment and we had them over for dinner.  We then went to a play he was in to see his performance.  I often remember fondly the times when we were working together and spent a lot of time on vacation and in other parts of the country for our company. 

He was funny, really funny, comedian funny.  He was always thinking of ways to express his artistic nature.  Once we were in a company meeting.  A retirement plan was being proposed and the speaker was telling us how we could manage our contribution from the company to maximize our return.  He blurted out "Put mine all on black 17".  We couldn't stop laughing and the presenter seemed a little sheepish.

He once played a practical joke on me by sending me a letter saying I was being sued.  His timing was perfect.  I was having a bad day and he slipped the letter into my box at work.  Just as I was reading it he knocked on my door.  That was it.  I blew and he just laughed.  It was perfect.  I had been had in a major way and I knew it. 

More than being funny he cared about his job.  He worked very hard and was always thinking of ways to creatively solve challenges.  He was a real asset to the company and often they just looked at his antics and not his accomplishments.  I'm sure that is how it was for other areas of his life.

Its really sad when someone takes their own life.  I feel like there is something I could have done.  Maybe I could have told him I appreciated his work more.  Maybe I could have stood up for him more often in meetings.  I will never know.

We all have dark thoughts but what keeps us from following thru?  Maybe if we were slower to judge and quicker to be empathetic someone we know would stop short.  This is the 6th time I know of where a friend or aquaintence has taken his or her life in the past 4 years.  I wish there was something I could do to let them know someone cared.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snow More

Its snowing again!  I don't mean to be ungrateful, we do need the water, but this has been a very prolific year for snow.

In past years when we have had a dearth of snow we all prayed we would get more.  I was disappointed that I couldn't go skiing as often as I liked.  We worried about the water for the summer and generally a year doesn't feel like a full year if you don't have snow season.

This year has been unusual even for a good snow year.  In a typical abundant snow year we have the stuff piled up everywhere and it gets in our way.  This year the snow comes in small bunches and we can handle that.  The white stuff is piling up in the mountains but so far we haven't had that epic snow storm in the valley that takes out power lines and prevents clean up on side streets for a few days.  To date the only ill effect has been a really cold snap about New Year's. 

The weather guys (and gals) didn't predict any snow for SLC today so that's why I thought it was weird when it started snowing this morning (the weather professionals wrong? no way).  I thought it would just brush by and sprinkle a little.  No real accumulation but just enough to powder the driveway. 

It kept coming. On my way to work the snow whitened the roads.  Cars left those tracks where the rest of the road is white.  I got to work and had to go back out to my car and the snow had piled up about 2 inches.  As I gaze out my window trying to avoid work the snow is continuing to fall at a steady rate, covering everything.  We have about three inches here in Sandy and it doesn't appear to be letting up. 

The skiers are going to love this.  It will add to our water for the summer and it really is better than being in Florida for the winter, I think so anyway.  The really funny thing is all this talk does nothing to change the amount, variety and frequency of the snow, rain, sun or clouds.  They were here long before us and will continue, unfazed, after we are gone. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mineral Bottom Road Update II

I heard from my contact at the Grand County Commission that the Mineral Bottom Road has received funding for it to be fixed and the work has begun.

The first of at least two blasting events has taken place.  This blast was done to clear the debris from the road.  The second, which may have already taken place or will in the near future, is to create the topography necessary to put the road back in place.

There is no time frame set for completion of the project.   As I am sure you can imagine rain, snow and unforseen consequences will most likely dictate the completion time frame. 

I also called the National Park Service's office for backcountry permits and they said they didn't know when the road would be finished.  They were still going on the assumption that if you wanted to camp on the White Rim you had to go in and come back the same way. 

Both entities appear to be doing all they can to get this recreational treasure opened and functional for visitors.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cultural Void

I have been listening to the debate over the prosecution of "pot hunters" in the Utah desert Southeast.

This post isn't about whether the gatherers (modern day "pot hunters" - not the hunter-gatherers of ancient civilizations) deserved their prison sentences.  My interest here is in why the pots were left and why we have the notion that we can take anything laying around.

The pot hunters say they are entitled to the pots because they found them.  Isn't that like saying "I found this money in this bag so I can keep it?".  The law requires you to surrender any unattended property for a reasonable amount of time to give the rightful owner the opportunity to claim it. 

I know the Anasazi aren't coming back for their pots, but the gathering of ancient artifacts from federal lands is strictly prohibited.  In addition the "pot hunters" destroy valuable information when they take their finds.

As part of the background for the article on the "pot hunters" the journalist interviewed an archaeologist who speculated the pots were left because the ancient people had to leave quickly.

Doesn't this assume a lot?  Doesn't this assume that if the ancient people could have, they would have taken all their possessions when they left this area?  Doesn't this also assume that if someone isn't holding onto something tightly there is an overriding reason they left it behind, meaning that people wouldn't just leave things behind?

What I mean is that the settlers of the US who pushed west during the 18th and 19th centuries thought of the land as free and available to them.  As long as someone hadn't come along earlier and claimed it, they could have it.

As I understand it, the Native Americans believed, and still believe, the land was to be used by all and they were only stewards, charged with keeping it in good shape for the next group to come along and use it.

What if the Anasazi left those pots, assuming someone would inhabit this area later, and could use them?  I know this goes against centuries of manifest destiny thinking but wouldn't it be better to think of our natural resources as shared rather than owned?  

I know some of this comes from my hippie upbringing but in my opinion there is a respect for nature that is lost in this conquering mind set.  Part of getting along with others is trying to understand where they come from rather than trying to subjugate them. 

In light of the recent events in Tucson, maybe if we tried to see where others are coming from and understand their motivation we could find some common ground, rather than point out, in hurtful and inflammatory language, our differences.

I guess Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's words have again impacted me this day that we celebrate his birth and influence on our society.  If you have a chance read his "I have a dream" speech. It will send chills up your spine.

Goin to the Land

Saturday we took my snowmobile to the land.  Our objective was to get to the cabin.  There was a lot of snow but I made it.

What I mean by I made it was that we tried to get the trucks up the unplowed road and we couldn't go more than a few feet.  I then got the snowmobile (or is that snowmachine as per our Alaskan political hottie Sarah Palin?) and followed a track up the main unplowed road that led past our gate.  I figured I could go up alone (lighter) and blaze the trail so the trucks could follow.

The track continued up past our gate and the entrance to our land was unplowed, untracked and snow drifted.  I charged ahead and promptly got the machine stuck in the deep snow.  I got off the machine and sunk down to my knees.  I struggled to get the machine out and finally got it to the gate. 

I did get the machine up to the cabin, not without burying it two more times in deep drifts.  There were several broken limbs across the road.  This is unusual for our land; broken limbs.  The first picture is of a particularly large limb down across our road by the cabin.  The snow must have been heavy when falling and come down really fast.

When I returned to the trucks I was exhausted from pulling the machine out of the drifts.  My brothers had been trying to get the truck up the now machine blazed trail but without any success. The guys did manage to get their truck stuck in the snowbank while I was gone.  The second picture is of the impression the front bumper made in the snowbank.

My wife and I had visions of getting up to the cabin alone with the snowmobile but I guess we will have to wait until the snow melts a bit or I track it up a lot more. 

Any way it was fun riding up to the cabin.  The air was fresh and clean. my lungs appreciated that.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Shoe Tree is Gone

Last week I read a small article in the Salt Lake Tribune saying the Shoe Tree along Highway 50 in Nevada was cut down.  What a tragedy.

Last March a few friends and I rode motorcycles from Salt Lake to Death Valley, CA and back.  On our way back we stopped at the Shoe Tree to pay homage.  Its located on a very desolate stretch of one lane highway litterally in the middle of nowhere.  Surely it was safe from vandalism.

I guess some people can leave well enough alone.  The Shoe Tree was not hurting anyone, it wasn't blocking anyone's view or disrupting traffic or encroaching onto the highway.  It was one of those weird bits of Americana that made the trip all that more interesting. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Heil Fido

There was a really funny article in the paper yesterday.  It seems the Nazis were angered by a dog in Finland that raised his left paw in a mock Nazi salute as a trick.  The headline to the article read "Hitler-mocking dog in Finland infuriated Nazis".

"The Foreign Office in Berlin commanded its diplomats in the Nazi-friendly Nordic country to gather evidence on the dog and even came up with plans to destroy" its owner's business (By Kristen Greishaber, Associated Press, Saturday, January 8, 2011, page A8 of the Salt Lake Tribune).  The article goes on to say They "were looking for ways to bring [the dog's owner] to trial for insulting Hitler, but in the end, none of the potential witnesses were willing to repeat their accusations in front of a judge.".

Can you imagine the trial?  The owner is asked to demonstrate the trick and he says "He vont do zee trick mine furher, unless General Goebels commands him."  They should have been concentrating on the Battle of the Buldge or the Normandy Invasion rather than a Furher mocking dog.