Friday, September 30, 2005

Photo: Provo River on a Snowy Morning

Taken on an early morning run with Eric Mercer on the Provo River Parkway. How to get there: Got off I-15 at Provo Center Street, go west almost to the entrance to the Utah Lake state park. Turn right, then take another quick right into the trailhead parking lot. Photo taken about 1.5 miles east of the trailhead. Go early morning after a light snow for best effect.

Ceiling tiles at the University of Utah

This is mostly an experiment to see if I can get some asbestos class action lawsuit traffice going, but the story is true.

When I was at the University of Utah, it was decided to replace the ceiling tiles. This took like 3 years or more but the rumor was that the contractor lifted the first cieling tile, observed asbestos in the ceiling and let the university know that they'd be back after all the asbestos had been abated. The university didn't want the class action lawsuit so we enjoyed asbestos abatement tents all through the building for the next few years while the asbestos was abated. I believe there are now ceiling tiles at the University of Utah CS department.

Louis Vuitton Utah Man Purse Collection

A fine assortment of man purses including a fanny pack the bags include the Comanche, Mohican and Huron. You'd think with a name like "Utah" that they'd at least name the bags names like Ute, Navajo, Ouray, Goshute or even Anasazi. But when you are only charging $855 for a fanny pack, its hard to afford the market research you'd need to name the Utah collection after tribes with Utah connections. Besides, the kinds of people who actually know which tribes come from which parts of the country and not likely to be the kind of people who spend $855 on a fanny pack.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Almost worth going to Temple Square to see how this turns out.

Various LDS choirs have obtained the proper permits to sing on the sidewalks outside conference this weekend. It should make for some good video to have the street preachers sreaming at nice LDS kids trying to sing.

Photo: Cairn on slickrock pass betwen Big Spring and Squaw Canyons

Taken in November on our 6th aniversary hike in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. I like the low-angle light in the desert this time of year. How to get there: Take I-80 to Crescent Junction, get off and go south past Moab to the entrance to the needles district of Canyonlands NP. Drive like 18 miles to the visitor center. Pay your fee. Drive to the Big Spring canyon trailhead. Hike about 2-4 miles (distance on the NPS map). Negotiate the slickrock pass (scrambling to about 4.5). Photo taken on Squaw canyon side of pass. Hike back to trailhead. Go in November, December or January for best light and temperatures.

Speed a factor in USU van crash?

It looks like the USU van that crashed
may have been going 95-100 mph.

I spoke with a collegue at USU today, she's in a different department but it sounds like the whole campus has been affected by this thing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Spaghetti Dinner Benefit for Tori Schmanski Oct 11 from 630-830pm at 65 E 1600 N in Orem

I am pleased to invite everyone to a benefit dinner for Tori Schmanski that will be held at the LDS chapel at 60 East 1600 North in Orem. We will be accepting $3 donations per person and $15 per family. You may, of course, donate substantially more and you don't have to stay for dinner if you don't want to.

We are planning for 300 people. We may run out of food. If we do, don't worry: everyone will get a chance to donate even if they don't get a chance to eat spaghetti :) The Schmanski's have a page about how to make donations by buying pray4tori merchandise online if can't make it to Orem in person.

Photo: Aspens near Timponooke

In memory of Spring and Summer, here is a picture of one of my favorite aspen stands. The cool thing about this stand is that the aspens are quite tall and there's lots of open space between the trees for free wandering through the woods. The aspen stand is located west of the Timponooke trail off a side trail that starts at the north end of the first meadow along the trail (the one with the stream in the middle). If you carry on south and west long enough, you will end up back at the Timponooke campground.

The next "permanant" bridge to Bridal Veil Falls.

The last bridge to Bridal Veil falls (a waterfall in Provo Canyon on the way to Sundance Utah. You man recall that Jon Kraukaur dropped an ice axe through his calf while ice climbing here--as described in his book Into Thin Air) was destroyed in an avalanche along with most of the tram house (including the bench I sat on on a date at Bridal Veil Falls at which time my wife decided I was marriable) in 1996. Interestingly, I was skiing the paved Provo Canyon parkway that day in the epic snowfall. I would have skiied Sundace nordic center, but my nissan sentra couldn't make it through the snow. Fortunately, I didn't ski through the avalance path that night. But I digress.

There's a new bridge. Any bets on how long this one will last? I'll have to go see the placement and make an informed guess later.

Serious kudos to the people that made it happen.

Now that's good governance!

Apparently the Mayor of SLC didn't know that there was a city policy against using tax payer money to pay for alcohol. I guess the mayor spends too much time on national and international issues (such as the Iraq war or global warming) to be troubled by city-level issues and policies.

Its not quite the scandal that KSL is making it out to be, but it does raise an interesting point:

Do the citizens of SLC want their mayor to use tax money to promote the city as a city with an active alcohol-based nightlife? I like that SLC is a strange place. I don't live in SLC, so I don't get to vote on it. But it will make an interesting campaign point if remember by the time the next mayoral election comes around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Photo: Jailhouse rock in Capitol Reef National Park

Taken from a Cessna late in the evening (as you may have guessed from the shadows). In the bottom left corner you can see the road to the desert overlook. We took this picture when my Dad and I flew down to scout out hiking spots for the scouts. I was trying to help them visualize topographic maps. I figured a picture would be helpful. I think it was but the flying was great either way.

How to get there (on the ground) Get off I-80 at the road to Hanksville. Go south to Hanksville. Turn west toward Fruita. Drive into Fruita and check road conditions at the NPS visitor center. Drive back to the west and turn north onto the Cathedral Valley road. Ford the Freemont river in you vehicle if it looks safe to do so. Drive to the South Desert Overlook. Get out of your car and look at the overlook. Marvel that you can be so close to your car yet feel so isolated.

How to get there (in the air) fly down to Fruita, if you go on a Saturday morning, stop by the Richfield airport for fuel and sourdough pancakes on your way to Fruita. From Fruita, fly around to the south, north and east for best views. Avoid flying into scenery while viewing scenery. Go late in the evening in marginal VFR conditions that clear up right as you hit the waterpocket fold for best results.

My take on... the morality of stem cell research

This question came up in a comment. These ideas have been percolating in my head for a while. Here they are. I invite opposing views from responsible citizens.

I don't know the BYU policy on stem cell research. I don't think any of our labs are set up to do stell cell research but I think that's because we don't have a medical school. To my knowledge, the LDS church doesn't have a stand on stem cell research. Some LDS people strongly oppose it others support it. Orrin Hatch, one of Utah's senators, supports stem cell research and is openly, actively LDS. Steve Urquhart, who is running against Hatch in the next election cycle, opposes stem cell research and if I had to guess, I'd say he's LDS too.

Personally, I support it. I think you avoid the "stem cell research is destroying a human life" issue when you restate the arguement against abortion. The typical arguement (as I understand it) is that abortion is immoral soley because it is the murder of a human. And abortion isn't immoral when the fetus isn't a human yet. In that case, it is something like clipping of a hangnail. But if the fetus passes the "is a human" test, then abortion is murder. Using this arguement against abortion, stem cell is a research because (a) the embryo is a human and must not be murdered (this is, I think, where the Snowflake people come from.) or (b) conceding that the embryo is not human begins the process of saying that later and later term fetuses are not human and thus abortion becomes OK later and later in the pregnancy. I think people who hold this arguement don't like conceding (b), even though its perfectly rational, because deep down inside they know abortion is wrong even if they can't be rational about it. I am ok with that, but I rind that must faith and moral beliefs can be given a rational foundation (given the right set of axioms and inference rules, of course).

So I have a different arguement against abortion in which the morality of stem cell research is different. That arguement is based on a great article in the Enisgn (the official LDS church magazine, published monthly, anyone can subscribe) about abortion in which the author explained that abortion is immoral when it "undoes" the consequences of choosing to create a life. And in this definition of "immorality" abortion is immoral even if the fetus isn't officialy a human yet. Also, abortion is moral (but not required) when the woman did not choose to create the fetus or when the life of the mother or fetus is in serious jeopardy and the choice to create the fetus must be undone. In this framework, the morality of abortion is based on the principles of choice and consequence and stem cell research does not pose a dangereous threat to the theory of morality of aboration. And, stem cell research is OK when the person who decides to create the embryo decides that using the embryo for research is an acceptable use for the embryo (sharp readers will note that this is the weakest part of my thinking, we'll have more to say on that at the end). Thus we see that a correct understanding of why abortion is wrong avoids potentially irrational arguements against stell cell research and may explain why otherwise "normal" LDS people (like Senator Hatch) can support stem cell research and still be respectable in the LDS church.

So, I, personally, at the end of the day, give great great deference to the embryo parents that created the embryos. And it kills me to see good people like Steve Urquhart almost tell in vitro parents what is and is not moral in their decisions about the disposition of their unused embryos.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Photo: Mesa near Bicnknell Utah

Taken November 2004 after a scout trip. It was snowing hard that night when we drove into the first campsite location (Sunglow campground) so we drove into Fruita in Capitol Reef and camped in the NPS campground there. In Fruita, it was a light rain with no wind. On the way out the next day, we saw this.

RAP tax in Utah County? How about transportation?

I guess I am a little reluctant to support new taxes until we sort out the taxes that we are going to need to pay to support transportation needs in Utah county. A recent drive through Lehi (on the way to camping last weekend) suggests that Lehi is ardently ignoring its transportation needs on the west side.

A recent drive through, well just about anywhere, in Orem suggests that Orem residents are ardently ignoring their rapidly decaying transportation infrastructure. I say "Orem residents" because the city recnetly proposed a bond to fix the roads and the bond failed.

So if we can't find it within ourselves to tax ourselves to support our transportation infrastructure, then why should we find it within ourselves to tax ourselves to support the arts?

As a fiscal conservative, it kills me to say this, but I'd like to see both taxes pass.

I heard my tradition calling at 9:17 in the First Quarter, but then I couldn't hear it anymore.

The wife and I attended the BYU-TCU game. Well, we sat through the first half, and then went home because we don't have very long attention spans. At 9:17 in the first quarter, I heard the BYU football tradition calling. It was fun. We were passing for long TDs, scoring all over the place and even playing some nice defense. Just like when I was a student and Ty Detmer was the QB (and every offensive holding call was no big deal, it just meant 10 more yards on Ty's passing yards record).

But at 9:15 in the first quarter, TCU ran the kickoff back for a 100 yard return ending in (not surprisingly for a 100 yard return) a touchdown. I couldn't hear my tradition calling any more. And then we managed to fritter away the game in the last quarter and quietly loose in over time.

I am still a big Bronco Mendenhall fan and, assuming that we can figure out special teams, I am confident that I will hear my tradition calling again. Bronco is young, he'll need some time to get the whole thing figured out, but LaVell was young when he started too. The ideal scenario would be to keep Bronco around for 20-30 years and win another national championship (I am assuming that the BCS will go away, it has to) or two. | 3-game Y. homestand wasn't good beginning

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Camping on the Playa

So we took the twin toddlers camping out on some playa near Five Mile Pass this weekend. Playa is a flat expanse dirt in which nothing grows. Loosely speaking. The main problem with playa is that it gets hot and windy. We avoided the hot part by going late in the evening in September. Lets just say we didn't avoid the wind part. Ashley loved it she played and played and ran around in the tent and outside the tent. Megan did great until it got dark. We had glowsticks and Megan seemed to take alot of comfort in holding a glow stick in the dark. We left the fly off the tent because the tent was already severly deflected in the wind without the fly.

Overall, good idea. Glowsticks were great, wind was annoying but the kids slept through it, watching the stars in teh tent was a big hit. Wish we'd had some kind of heat source in the morning.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The BYU MOA has an exhibit of the Photographs of Rodney Smith. As a big Ansel Adams fan, I was intriqued by another exhibit of high-end black and white photography. Adams' work takes the cliffs, trees and mountains to a whole new level . Smith's work takes people, places and things to a whole new level. I loved it. Highly reccomended. Plus, there's a really fascinating picture of Cyndi Lauper in the exhibit. The Lauper portrait makes you think the Cyndi is a credible artist that spent significant effort pursuing her dream.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A deal was signed today that will allow the Legacy Highway to be built north of Salt Lake City Utah. How long will it be before the Good Mayor Rocky Anderson weighs in on the issue? I bet it will be at or before 9 am Thursday September 22. Of course, he might have made his comments already ... if only he had a PR person. I think he's still got enough time left on his current term to work through 2-4 more public relations people.

As always, I love Rocky Anderson as someone else's mayor. I like a politician that says what he wants when he wants to and doesn't pay attention to the consequences (apparently) of his words or actions. I do like the honesty. It is refreshing although Rocky and I rarely agree on the issues.