Thursday, October 12, 2006

Like shooting fish in a barell

One of my projects at work is to learn how to color terrain in the presence of time-varying lighting conditions. This includes things like lighting effects caused by the weather and the time-of-day. The current approach, which is working great until I have more time to spend on this, is to aim a camera out my office window and record images of the mountains during the day. After an image is recorded, a program visits several weather stations on the web and records the weather. Since the images record objects with known colors (like the orange brick building in the lower right corner) we can take the difference between the actual color and the recorded color and compute a function which describes the effect of light under those conditions.

And so this image was captured last night at around 6:45 pm. It is one of our better images and the goal is to lift the lighting function from this image and use it to relight synthetic terrain images as if it were 6:45 pm.
  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My first collision on Provo River Parkway

It's the 11th of the month, must be time for a blog post...

I was riding the Provo River Parkway in Provo Canyon this afternoon on my sweet road bike (my next road bike will be a sweet, sweet road bike I hope) when I hit a pedestrian for the first time. There was a group of small boys playing in the woods off the trail and their parents were on the other side of the trail walking away while calling to their sons/friends. Being moderately observant, I quickly surmised that young boys were about to run across the trail in front of me without looking. Which they did. No problem, I was going way slow we didn't even come close.

The problem was that a third boy, deeper in the trees whom I did not see, also came out onto the trail. And that would have been ok if he had been facing forward while he was walking down the trail. Which he wasn't. I weaved a couple times trying to guess where he was going to go. I guessed wrong and hit him at a very slow speed. Well, actually, it was more like he walked into me just as I came to a stop. Fortunately, I de-clipped my pedal just in time to avoid a turtle. Nobody got hurt, he barely came to a stop and all was well.

What does the careful cyclist learn from this experience? Well, I learned three things. First, be very careful when small children are present on the trail. Very very careful. Excessively careful. Second, teach my small children to be careful when walking on the Provo River Parkway Trail. Third, ride somewhere else. The parkway trail is a pedestrian path. It's sad but true. I was talking to one of my neighbors about it tonight and he said he doesn't even ride the parkway trail anymore and suggested a nice 18 mile loop near our houses. Now that's a good neighbor and he's even in my LDS Stake Presidency. That's enough for me, Church leaders must be inspired after all ;).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Utah County Republican BBQ

I like, Utah Conservative attended the republican Utah County BBQ last week. It was about what I expected. Out of order questions that can be answered by reading the bylaws and food followed by a unanimous vote. I came for the meeting to fulfill my responsibility as Neighborhood Chair then left before the BBQ because, no offense, but I'd rather be home with my 3 year olds than hanging out with the county power structure for the party.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Free markets and internet pornography

Pete, you pretty much got what I was trying to say. Let me propose an alternative position that plays to your strength on this issue, might be more consistent with your personal values and makes it clear that you want to do something to help families handle internet pornography. You own Senator Hatch on this technology thing (this is no surprise though).

My impression is that the free market idea doesn't work well here because many families are technology-aliterate in the sense that they are afraid of technology and don't spend the time to figure out what their options are. In 20 years, that will be different, but for now, that's the way it is.

The FDA (or whoever it is) puts out the food pyramid which is supposed to give nutrution-aliterate people a quick and easy guide to making good food choices. It is still a free market in that people can buy whatever food they want, but the government has done something to help people understand their choices.

Why not propose a similar thing here? ... "As your senator, I will work with a broad bi-partisan coalition to help American families understand the strengths and pitfalls of their Internet filtering options. An educated populace can then make choices that will enforce their family values on Internet content. I will alos seek to increase Federal funding of research that investigates better filtering solutions" (I threw the research thing in because research is important to me :))

The closest parallel I can think of is movie ratings. In a free market, ratings would be optional and families would just choose which theaters to visit. And really, that's what we have. We have a ratings system which puts clear, simple information in the hands of families and then they decide. A similar rating system for Internet Service Providers may also be helpful for families that don't understand Internet technology.

And finally, the miracle of the free market isn't always a good thing. For example, public education may or may not thrive in a free market. The charter school experience will bear that out one way or the other. Government welfare and social security, while serving a critical role our society, is completely contrary to pure free markets.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Best Disc Golf Course in Utah (County)

Would be the new Art Dye Course in American Fork. We played the first 12 holes this morning (before I had to get home). Interesting layout, unlike Bicentennial in Provo. Challenging, but not overwhelming like the Rock Canyon Course.

The course at Solitude, discussed in the
Salt Lake Tribune a while back, is fun but I lost 2-3 discs. I made an epic 1,229 foot drive downhill on no. 18 at Solitude but sadly I was about 500 feet right of the hole when it finally hit the ground. That's another par 4 at most courses.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What I wish Pete Ashdown would have said about Internet pornography

Recently, I mentioned that I wouldn't vote for Pete because of his position on Internet pornography (that was buried in a post about how much I like his thinking on the feed-the-hungry reverse fundraiser). Pete left a comment on my post in his usual unassuming way, which is a refreshing attitude to see in a political candidate.

Here's the gist of what I had hoped Pete would have said:

"At Xmission, I've done a lot to give families the tools they need to control the information that comes into their house over the Internet. While we haven't solved the problem, we have made significant progress. The Federal Government can and should play a role in requiring internet service providers to give all parents the same tools. In the 10 years since the rise of the WWW, very little has happened in the private sector to solve this problem. It is time for the government to intervene. In addition, the Federal Government can and should fund research into more effective ways to identify and classify objectionable content. This is a particularly difficult problem since the United States Government can not regulate the creation of content throughout the world. But with some ingenuity and creativity we can and must do a better job of giving families the tools they need to filter content.

My opponent, and most other sentors, lack the experience and knowledge needed to understand or propose such legislation. I do. I have the vision and the know-how needed to give parents the tools they need to filter material that they find objectionable. Rather than make empty promises and spew hollow rhetoric, I have plans and an agenda based on my N years of experience as one of Utah's first [or Utah's first?] internet service providers."

The thing about Pete is that he's not a phoney on this issue. He's got the background to make some progress on the issue and he's done good stuff at XMission, but that's not what his platform is about. I respect that, but I wish it was different.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jordan School District Money for the Sandy Soccer Stadium: In what universe does that make sense?

I had to study modal logic as part of my education--and I use it surprisingly often. Basically, modal logic is a kind of logic in which the truth value of a statement depends on the Universe in which the statement is evaluated. For example, you could say that in Universe A the statement "the sky is green" is true and in Universe B the statement "the sky is green" is false. Obviously, we are more likely to inhabit Universe B (depending on what else is true or false in Universe B).

So when my sister out in Daybreak forwarded this little gem about using school money to fund the new Sandy soccer stadium despite explosive growth in her part of the Universe: | Funds from Jordan District sought for soccer deal.

My first thought was: in what universe does that make sense? I am not convinced that such a universe is consistent with the one in which I currently live.

I'm all about soccer and my niece had a great time at the Real Madrid Real Salt Lake game, but school money on a soccer stadium? An Alpine School District Board Member (I think that's the right title) lives in my neighborhood, so I realize that school funding is often more complex than my brain is prepared to deal with, but I am having a hard time on this one. Fortunately, the Jordan School District Board Members also made cautious statements like: let's see the proposal, we are waiting on the numbers etc.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Way to go Pete!

Pete Ashdown's putting on a sort of reverse-fundraiser dinner to raise money for charities that deal with hunger. Very creative thinking by a political candidate. Now if Pete could switch his stand and become more like a tradiational Democrat and favor government involvement in the regulation of pornography on the internet, then I could actually vote for him in November.

I asked Sen. Hatch at a pre-state-convention lunch about regulation of the internet. His answer convinced me that he doesn't really understand how the internet works and what role government might play in regulating the internet. I think Pete gets it (I've been using the internet since 1994 so Pete's got 7 years on my) but I don't agree with his stand on Internet porn.

[Pete Ashdown%u2019s Campaign Journal � Feed the Hungry not Politicians]

Monday, August 21, 2006

Romney will never win

Because his great-grandfather was a polygamist. That settles that. I suppose then that Karl Rove will begin digging for dirt on Hillary's great-grandparents as well? There's 8 of them and at least 1 of them had to have done something, maybe one of them opposed abortin or gay marriage?, that should cost her the presidency.

Salt Lake Tribune - Could ancestors haunt Romney?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why Democrats can't get Elected in Utah

A Democratic politician inviting an acrid anti-Bush protestor to his anti-war rally that just happens to coincide with the President's visit to the American Legion convention is going to loose a lot of casual voters. And the democrats wonder why they can't lure in the lemming-like voter who hasn't read the platform of either party.

From a public perception angle, it's almost funny to protest the war and the president during an American Legion convention. Most of these guys are old men who fought in WWII or Vietnam era people who are sick of protestors anyway. - Utah's Online Source for Local News & Information Sheehan Invited by SLC Mayor to Participate in Protest

Friday, August 11, 2006 Tour of Utah Combativity Award goes to...

Todd Hageman of Team End!

So me and some colleagues grabed our roadies and headed up the Nebo Loop to get some riding in and watch the Tour of Utah go by (four CS professors on road bikes is not as pathetic a sight as one might normally imagine, but still inspires some pity).

After the race went by, we decided to keep riding up. After those of us in the slow group of professors had been dropped by the fast group of professors, rider #92 from the Tour of Utah, Todd Hageman, came cruising up the hill. It appeared that Todd had wiped out somewhere on the course and was gutting it out to the finish. I was impressed.

So Todd Hageman of Team End, you get the combativity award for your gusty finish of Stage 4. Nice work and I didn't realize how fast you all go until I'd been passed by one of you on the road during a race.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Herrin Twins Updates

Maybe it's because I have 3 year old twin girls (not conjoined and not even identical) of my own, but this Herrin twin story just grabs me every day. Fortunately, the Herrin's post updates in the most web-literate of fashions. This is, for me, the most interesting blog in Utah right now: Updates from

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I have now seen it all

An article at CNN today about 9/11 conspiracy theories in academia quotes a guy from the American Association of University Professors as saying, basically, "academic freedom doesn't include conspiracy theories" like those advanced by Dr. Steven Jones at BYU. (Dr. Jones was quoted earlier in the article).

Now I have seen it all. Back in the good old days, the AAUP censured BYU for limiting the the academic freedom of one Gail Houston. Now the AAUP is getting after people like Dr. Jones and BYU (my extrapolation) for excercising too much adamic freedom. Nice work.

I suppose we should just invite the AAUP to come and run the University for us to make sure we get it just right.

All kidding aside, if you read the AAUP carefully, they are advancing a very logical arguement dispasionately and I've got to admire them for that even if I don't think they understand BYU very well. Their deal is that academic freedom should include all and only the work that lies within the boundaries of a well-defined academic discipline. Dr. Jones' work on 9/11 probably lies outside those boundaries, so I agree with them on that, but I am still waiting for a good qualified peer review on Dr. Jones' work. - 9/11 conspiracy theorists energized - Aug 6, 2006: "Faculty can express any opinion outside the classroom, said Roger Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors. However, 'with academic freedom comes academic responsibility. And that requires them to teach the truth of their discipline, and the truth does not include conspiracy theories, or flat Earth theories, or Holocaust denial theories.'"

Monday, August 07, 2006

Snow in Provo? In August?

It's either hailing in a really strong wind or snowing outside my office right now. If it's hail, then the wind is really strong because it's flowing in the wind like snow would. If it's snow, then that would be a first for me in August, in Provo.

I'm back from the blogging-dead. July was, let's say, a very busy month. Things appear to becoming more reasonable. This was bad news for my cycling goals, but good news for my job security goals.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Robert Gehrke: That's almost as bad as a blog!

Today's headline article in the Tribune asserts that the recent letter from the LDS church may have aided Cannon's win over Jacob. That's a baseless yet lurid headline that one might find in a blog. Nice work for a real, professional journalist. But Robert acknowledges the "solid" rhetorical foundation for his piece with: "It is impossible to quantify exactly how either moved the final results, but [more baseless statements]."

[Salt Lake Tribune - LDS letter may have aided Cannon win]

Thursday, June 29, 2006

(AirMed|Lifeflight) can land at Aspen Grove in the Dark

We took our 3 year olds on a little campout up to Aspen Grove last night for some peace and quiet high in the mountains. On our way back from Cascade Springs (perfect for a 3 year old by the way), we noticed LifeFlight executing a landing at the Aspen Grove trailhead. Curious. We noticed that AirMed was already there. Even more curious.

Then the airlift began. I believe there were 3 flights upto somewhere higher on the mountain. Probably ferrying SAR upto to some late evening situation. Just before dark, one of the helicopters made it's last trip and shot out of there south toward Sundance and out of the moutains. I assumed that the helicopters couldn't fly missions up there at night and that SAR would be up there for the night doing their thing

At 1:15 am last night, I discovered that helicopters can land at Aspen Grove at night. It sounded like their landing pattern took them directly over our tent. Unfortunately, the pilot missed on the first approach and had to come around again. They sat at the trailhead forever and then finally took off. I have a vague recollection of a police or ambulance siren in there somewhere too.

At about 30 minutes before sunrise this morning, another helicopter arrived and began, I assume, ferrying SAR off the mountain. That took about 3 trips.

So much for peace and quiet. But good news for a Provo man who took a long fall on the trail while hiking solo. I am curious to hear what the whole story is later today or tommorow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The VV-PAT made it!

I used to be involved in the electronic voting thing a little more than I am now. One of my academic role models, David Dill at Stanford, was very heavily involved in the whole thing.

What little I did to influence the Utah decision was focused on getting a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VV-PAT for short). Magentic images on disks or other non-volatile media are so easy to modify without leaving any trace of the previous image that I thought a VV-PAT was essential.

I wasn't sure where it ended up, but I was happy to see a beautiful easy to read VV-PAT when I voted this morning.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Whom to vote for tommorow

If you are in the same disticts as I am, then you can help tommorow's close races be not so close by voting for the following...

1. Stephen Sandstrom over Jim Ferron. I struggled long and hard on this one. I liked voting against the UEA's guy (Sandstrom) at the convention and I like Ferron's positions on local transportation and finance in general. However, I didn't like Ferron as a Charter School investor and a State Legislator. I know that might be a reasonable thing, but I just don't like the conflict of interest. The thing that put me over the top was Ferron's latest campaign mailer that included an LDS Church statement designed to support his position. I don't like that, alot. So I am going Sandstrom.

2. Joe Cannon over John Jacob. First of all, Jacob is way too tight on immigration. I visited Berlin while there was a wall. I don't like walls as an immigration policy. The problem is INS. INS is a disaster. If we make legal immigration possible without requiring a team of lawyers or 5 years of beaurocracy then we can get more people in here legally and we can all get along just fine. I like that children of illegal immigrants who graduate from a Utah High School can get in state tuition. I mean, come on, these kids got dragged here by their parents, succesfully completed high school and want to go to college. Let's give them all the support we can. Let's not create an oppressed underclass like they have over in France. Utah is relatively free of car burnings perpetrated by hopeless, voiceless immigrant children. Let's keep it that way. Jacob's campaign was just weird too. The Satan comment was an unfortuate lesson for him in how to work with the media (which I believe is "say as little as possible" if read REAL reporter correctly).

3. Jerry Grover over the other guy. I wasn't sure I wanted an engineer on the County Commision or Council or whatever it is called, but after meeting all of the candidates, I decided that a real engineer on the County Commission is exactly what I want.

That is all. Happy voting and don't get freaked out by those touchscreens!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nice work Robert Gehrke.

Robert Gehrke's piece on John Jacob leads off with Jacob's belief that Satan is opposing him in the race against Cannon. Gehrke even includes Jacobs' request "I don't want you to print that."

Nice work letting people talk off the record, Robert. Good to see that weak journalistic ethics are still alive and well at the Trib. Have you all sold any inside information to a tabloid yet this year?

[Salt Lake Tribune - Jacob's bad luck: Is it . . . Satan?]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bicycle Tour of Moab with the Scouts

We recently returned from a 4 day 3 night bicycle tour of Moab with the Varsity Scouts. No scouts were lost, killed or (permanently) injured during the entire trip. We did have some injuries, but they were just scrapes and bruises.

We set up a trip around the White Rim in Canyonlands (that's 100 ish miles of moderately difficult dirt roads). For scout groups who've trained and have competent adult leadership, the White Rim in mid-June is a difficult journey in which there is a significant chance of severe injury in a remote location with a difficult evacuation. We found that we could travel at about 7 mph, we had an injury accident every hour and experienced a tour-ending bicycle failure every 2.5 hours. That's why we opted to take the Potash Road back to Moab after the 20 mile ride into Airport Tower camp (going clockwise).

It was great. We got all the desert dirt road riding we wanted and our 50 mile day ended with 22 miles of paved road into town. Every scout finished the 50 mile ride for the merit badge. We even had overcast with light wind all day for the 50 miler.

We did Slickrock on Friday. For a scout group, Slickrock on a sunny day in June with a 7:30 am start will require about 2.5 liters of water per person to complete safely. Unfortunately for us, we only had about 1.6 liters per person and there was no opt-out option when the water got real low and the sun got real high. Fortunately for us, Dan Mick of Dan Mick's Guided Moab Jeep Tours carries a case of water to pass out to less-prepared scout groups such as ours, and the one behind us. Dan drives a tricked out jeep and we meet one of his clients on Saturday. She and her family had a great time. That should sound like an endorement of Dan's jeep operation. It was meant to be. Good karma should come to good Samaritans like Dan.

Slickrock was fun with the scouts. We experienced about 6 injury accidents. All injuries were minor and 4 were mine. My Canari jersey looks like swiss cheese and my knees look like strawberries. But it was a blast. Although the riding was more technical, a serious injury here would be less serious than an injury on the far side of the White Rim.

Friday afternoon, we cleaned up a park in town for our service project then lazed about in the shade while the scouts played soccer in the park. That evening, we rode down from Sand Flats to the Moab Community pool on 400 North for a shower and a swim. A perfect end to the riding part of our tour and a good set up for our spiritual meeting friday night followed by the 1/2 day whitewater trip on Saturday on the Colorado past Fisher Towers.

When I got home, my 3 year old daughters were very concerned about my "owies" on my knees and elbows. I told them I fell of my bike and they thought that was ok. Later, I told them I would take them down to Moab. Megan got a scared look on her face and said she didn't want to go. I asked her why. And she said she didn't want to fall off her bike and get owies too. I admired her courage, but I don't think her tricyle would make it far on slickrock. We'll have to take all the bikes and do the Millcreek trail in town instead.

Monday, June 05, 2006

RSL wins several games ahead of schedule

Previously, I extrapolated a bit to project the date of RSL's next win to be sometime in August. Well, it turns out that they've won 2, lost 0 and tied 1 since my projection. Nice work. I suppose that my projection must have appeared on the locker room bulletin board, fired up the team and now they are winning. Just happy to help where I can.

Being a fair weather fan, I might even get out there to watch a game this summer.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Patagonia Ambassador's Climb of Delicate Arch not so Clean After all?

Outside magazine has a three-page story on Dean Potter's Climb of Delicate Arch. The article mentions that the climb was filmed from above, implying that a cameraman was above him on the arch. The article discusses how ropes were used and the article includes close up pictures of rope damage at the top of the arch. While it's not clear that Potter's rope created the rope damage, it is clear that he used more than just chalk.

What's amazing about this whole thing is that neither Patagonia nor Potter have backed down. Patagonia stands behind their ambassador while saying that "not all of his actions represent the company" (in which case they should call him a part time ambassador).

The online poll at Outside online is running just under 9 to 1 against the climb, by the way.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

May was Bike Month: The White Rim in a Day

We did the White Rim in a day to preview it for a scout trip in June. Unfortunately, we had to drive most of it. That is somewhat unfortunate because cycling the White Rim is a lot more fun than driving it. The Park Service helpfully informed us that doing the whole thing requires at least 10 hours non-stop and that doing it in a day "doesn't leave much time for sightseeing." Well, they were right. We needed 9 hours and spent very little time looking at the scenery.

That made a 15 hour day in the truck. Lots of time to talk and I think we listened to all of General Conference on my ipod. I think the people from Colorado that we saw were a little confused to hear an LDS apostle blaring in our truck at Monument Basin.

A few observations that fill in what you might find in the many White Rim trip reports available online:

  • The Murphy Hogback itself isn't that bad. A short climb before (going clockwise) the Hogback was more intense.
  • The climb out of Hardscrabble Bottom (still going clockwise) was more technical than Murphy Hogback.
  • The road after Hardscrabble Bottom is narrow enough that we had to fold in the passenger side mirror (in a Nissan Frontier) to avoid scraping it off.
  • We did the road in a stock 2005 Nissan Frontier (as mentioned). No clearance or turning radius issues.
  • The Airport Tower camps are fully exposed to the sun.
  • The Potato Bottom camps all have shady cottonwoods. Sweet.
  • There are no picnic tables in any of the camps.
  • Monument valley is pretty darn amazing. Kind of like Bryce Canyon except fewer hoodoos, fewer people and different colors but a better backdrop.
  • The drive has no serious clearance obstacles the main challenges were climbing without slipping, making the switchbacks on Hardscrabble and the narrow road.
  • There are very few places in which one can drive faster than 10 mph. You'll be tempted to speed up, then road will quickly remind you that it is an unmaintained backcountry road. The ditches are deeper than you think and the slickrock is bumper than you think.
  • Most of the time, you can ride a bike at an average speed of 13 mph. You need to know that because the bikes can easily outride their support.
  • I had to take a break from driving to get on my bike and ride for a while. Driving is bumpy, hot and dusty while riding the bike is way fun.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

May? is Bike Month: How to get hypotheromia

My sister came down from Boise so we hooked up with my brother-in-law for a ride up the South Fork party ride. Turns out that that cold front didn't miss Orem, it was just delayed.

I kept going up South Fork Canyon because I seriously underestimated how cold it would be coming down. My sister kept going up because "I knew it would be too cold to go down" Nice logic.

The weather up South Fork was perfect for hypothermia tonight: a little chilly, light wind and rain. Throw in three people wearing a lot of spandex without a lot of body fat, send them down the canyon at 25 mph and you've got a serious situation at 8:40 at night.

So we called my wife on the cell phone and hudled in the men's room til she got there to save us. It was cool (well, cold).

Hopefully Search and Rescue won't have any overdue hikers out there. It's miserable. I was not this cold when we took the Scouts snow caving last winter.

This is May?

Is CNN always this wrong?

Lou Dobbs' insinuation that the LDS church is recruiting Mexicans to relocate to Utah to fill the pews is just funny. How many CNN achors' assertions are similarly unfounded? (I am willing to admit that I have been duped by a vast LDS conspiracy on this one, but I haven't seen any facts to support Dobbs' claim yet).

If the LDS church realy is recruiting Mexicans to come to Utah, then I don't know why an they aren't doing a very good job. In my neighborhood, there are two LDS churches within 1/2 mile of my house and about 4 churches within 1 mile. They are all full every Sunday from 9am to 4pm (with 3 wards per building) and there are plans to build another 1 or 2 within 1 mile. Ironically, the smallest church congregation in my neighborhood is the Spanish speaking congregation. Of the 5 Latin American families I know of in my neighborhood, only 2 are LDS families that attend church. By contrast, 6 of 7 American families on my street are LDS and attend Church on Sunday.

[see | The winners and the losers]

Friday, May 26, 2006

Simply Unacceptable.

It is simply unacceptable that Utah County has slid down to 8th place in the nation in "Largest Families in US Counties" according to income tax report statistics at ksl today [ - Utah's Online Source for Local News & Information Utah Counties Have Largest Families in U.S.].

It's probably all those single BYU and UVSC students that brought our numbers down. It's nice to have two Universities in our county (UVSC will be one soon enought), but I guess there are tradeoffs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Patagonia Clothing Company is Lame

My sister sent Patagonia a little email letting them know what she thought of their Patagonia Abassador climbing Delicate Arch. She says that this is what she got in reply and said I can post it (I sent my own missive to Patagonia, but they haven't replied yet. If Patagonia doesn't want me to post it, then I assume they'll get in touch with me.)

I would have given Patagonia some slack and just let this die, but this reply is amazing. Basically, Dean's climb was OK because it didn't break any NPS rules and, you know, its OK for climbers and the NPS to not agree on resource management. Sure no problem. But, Dean's actions also violate well-understood Moab climbing community rules that forbid climbing named arches. And that's not cool.

----- Original Message ----- From:
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 10:06 AM
Subject: RE: Comments from


Thank you for writing us with your concerns. Patagonia ambassador Dean
Potter's May 7 free solo of Delicate Arch has generated significant
controversy about the legality and appropriateness of the climb of what has
been described as a national icon. We will be interested to follow the
controversy and to listen to views of those on both sides.

A few facts are in order. First, no crime has been committed. The National
Park Service has conceded that its regulations were ambiguous and that they
will not cite Dean for the ascent. They have said they will seek to clarify
their regulations to prevent a second try. The Park and a number of opinion
leaders have argued that Delicate Arch is an icon that should not be

It is important to note that Dean did no harm to the route or to the rock.
He free-soloed the arch, placing no anchors and creating no impact beyond
blowing dust off the holds. As he says, "No one reveres rocks more than me.
I consider all rocks sacred, as do most climbers."

Dean, like all Patagonia ambassadors, undertakes his own climbs on his own
terms. He told us about the climb afterward.

We have taken positions in the past on a number of issues of climbing
ethics, including bolting. We take no position on this one. As Casey
Sheahan, our CEO, notes, "From the early days in the Tetons to the
rebelliousness of Yosemite's Camp 4, every generation of climbers has had
its run-ins with government regulations that attempt to restrict climber's
freedom of expression. At Patagonia we don't control the ways our sponsored
athletes conduct themselves except to encourage respect for the environment
and uncommon approaches to every challenge. Dean is at the pinnacle of free
solo climbing, makes decisions for himself, and has our complete support."

Again, we thank you for your time and your opinion.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2006 6:33 PM
Subject: Comments from

First Name: Dawn;
Last Name: Muhlestein;
Zip: 83716;
Comments: I am writing in regard to Dean Potter, one of Patagonia's
sponsored climbers. I recently read an article regarding Dean Potter's
recent ascent of Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah. I am disgusted that Mr.
Potter would even consider climbing Delicate Arch with or without climbing

I am a climber myself. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Potter's
climbing accomplishments. Dean Potter's noteriety as a climber makes his
recent climb of Delicate Arch worse. Are there different rules for "famous"
climbers than the rules for the rest of us? Everyone knows that the arches
are not to be climbed. Climbers have to share resources with many other
recreational users, his recent actions shed a negative light on climbers in

Dean Potter claims that he did no damage to the Arch and that he did nothing
wrong. How many others will say, "Potter climbed it... I can too"?

I have always respected Patagonia's commitment to the environment, but Dean
Potter's recent actions do not reflect that same level of commitment.
Perhaps Patagonia should reconsider Dean Potter's sponsorship.

Dawn Muhlestein
Boise, ID;

Provo is complete again

Provo now has an Indian lunch buffet again. Bombay House quit doing lunch a few years ago (allegedly, the owner wanted more time at home). The new Indian place is on Center Street at about 100 W in Provo where Beuno Vita used to be. Yes, it's true, Beuno Vita is gone. The Indian buffet was very good, but the prices are a little steep. I hope they make it!

May is Bike Month: First close call

I had my first close call on the roadie today. Turns out that a car and I wanted to both get into a construction lane on BYU campus at the same time. That was a little awkward for me because I didn't know we were racing and I was in front doing 20 ish MPH and the car came speeding up behind me to cut me off in the construction lane and squeeze me into the cones (I hit the brakes rather than hitting the car or the cones).

The dumb thing about it was that we all arrived at the red light at the end of the block together. I was surprised that I was more angry than scared by the whole thing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

May is Bike Month: A quick 10 with the scouts.

We took the scouts up the Shoreline trail (at 1600 North 800 East in Orem) East to the Great Western Trail and then down into Canyon View park in Provo Canyon. No scouts were lost, killed, injured or maimed on the entire trip. Nobody got a yellowjacket in their jersey either!

My neighbor rode a stock WalMart Huffy on the whole thing and after watching him, I wished I rode my spiffy Trek Fuel 1/2 as well as he did his Huffy.

This ride brought me to 80 miles for the week. A 25 mile ride with the Scouts tommorow will take me over 100 for the week. Not a lot by some standards, but a good dose of riding for a guy like me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May is Bike Month: Roadie Nirvana

My brother-in-law hooked me up with a Specialized Allez Sport from George's Bicycles in Logan. We did 25 miles this morning. That worked out well except for when I got a yellowjacket stuck in my jersey. So I got the first scratch on my bike when I jumped off to get the yellowjacket out. He was biting me. It hurt.

I get a little twinge of grattiude when I ride by the former WordPerfect campus on my roadie in my spiffy WordPerfect team jersey because Alan Ashton funded most of the last two years of my undergraduate degree. His example not only helped me get through school but helped me see the value of philanthropy. We aren't sponsoring any 140% of tuition scholarships yet, but we do what we can with what we have.

Bring on the Tours (de France and of Utah)!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Real Drought is Over!

RSL wins a game, on the road! On Grass! RSL's next scheduled win should come 18 games from now when they meet the Galaxy again at Rice-Eccles.

Bring on the World Cup!

The Republican Utah State Convention

Parking was bad enough to make me wish I was a Democrat. I bet their parking situation wasn't as bad as ours ;) Plus, I could have worn jeans and a tshirt and fit in at the democratic convention. I wore "bussiness casual" because I hate being underdressed.

I thought the state convention was run pretty poorly compared to the Utah County Convention. We spent a lot of time while Cannon and Greene fumbled through explainations of the rules and what each motion meant. But, they had a tough tough job keeping that rowdy crowd, well, the rowdy elements of that crowd, under control. If they'd have arranged for the Payson High Pipe and Drum band it would have been a lot cooler.

I should have read Ethan's blog post about Mike Ridgway this morning before I left. Then I wouldn't have been as surprised to see Ridgway give his talk. Which, by the way, was a somewhat rambly pity-inspiring monologue.

It was fun, I'd do it again. Now I know whom I want to vote for in the primaries, even in the county races, without driving by my neighbor's house to see who's signs they have in their yard.

Phil's report from the convention, with pics!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Why we need two viable parties in Utah

Bob Bernick's analysis of the Utah primary system is an interesting read in the DesNews.

Bob points out that the conventions (for both parties) tend to pick more extreme candidates than the general public. Yup.

Imagine this: Imagine that the Republican party feels sufficiently threatened by the Democratic party that at our State Nominating Convention we actually think about "well, will this person run well against the Democrat?" Currently, the delegates and the candidates sort of realize that winning at the Convention is roughly the same as winning the general election. That's certainly true in utah county races.

The exception this year, at the state level, may just be the upcoming Hatch/Ashdown race. Pete's a non-whiney moderate Democrat who's strong where Hatch isn't. It will be interesting to see if Pete's strong positions on digital copyright and the regulation of technology force Hatch to change his position.

The other solution to extreme candidates emerging from conventions is for more people to actcually show up at their neighborhood caucus. Guess what: delegates are elected by their neighbors. If only extremists show up at the caucus, then they all elect eachother.

A Democratic Blog that might help Utah Democrats emerge from obscurity

Rob Miller over at The Utah Amicus has been blogging from the left for some time now. The thing about Rob's blog is that (a) He's not whiney (b) He's very reasonable and (c) He sticks to the issues and advances the Democratic philosophy.

As a moderate (by Utah standards) Repuplican activist, my advice to Utah Democrats is: find more people like Rob Miller and give them more power and visibility in your party.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

How I decided to vote for Cannon at the Convention

I got a fine letter from "Team America" supporting Merrill Cook in the upcoming convention. The letter went on and on about securing the border. I am happy to say that this letter is the final piece of data I needed to decide to vote for Cannon. We don't need a border that looks like East Germany in the 1990s.

I love being a delegate.

Boycott Patagonia Clothing.

So this climber down in Moab climbed delicate arch in Arches NP and he can't seem to fathom why that's not cool. He's sponsored by Patagonia. Patagonia appears to be all environmentally aware, they even have an "action alert!" page.

Let's take action by boycotting Patagonia until this guy is no longer sponsored by Patagonia. That's easy for me because I can't afford any of their stuff anyway. But if I was willing to pay too much money for a fleece jacket, I'd buy a The North Face one instead.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Just doing my civic duty

Paul Rolly got it right. This is indeed a good time to be a Republican Delegate to the State Convention in District 3. My only regret is that I got to one of John Jacob's breakfasts at Mimi's a little late and missed ordering the main course.

Why the Democratic Party in Utah will Remain in Obscurity (part 1)

Chuck Lambert's missive in today's DesNews gives the first reason why Utah Democrats are destined to obscurity. Memo to Chuck (and the rest of you): quit whining about Utah voters being Republican lemmings and figure out a way to make you party platform and candidates appeal to more Utah voters while remaining grounded in Democratic principles. You might also quit calling the majority of voters "lemmings." And someday you might see that Utah voters can be lemming-like Democrats too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

If I do vote for Pete Ashdown, this will be why.

Pete says: "One of the motivations I had for getting politically involved was watching many in the Republican party, who purported to be against regressive regulation and excessive taxation, reverse course when it came to the Internet. " [Pete Ashdown%u2019s Campaign Journal � Net Neutrality]

Right now, I need to figure out which Republican to vote for in time for the State Convention next week. That shouldn't be too hard. None of the Republican candidates appear very viable.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Easy there Linda

Linda Hamilton's piece on the new Tour of Utah in the DesNews casually mentions SLC's "cyclist-mayor Rocky Anderson". Let's not get hasty.

I saw the "no fossil fuels (except electric trains, but that electricity could have been nuclear, so it's all good, except for the fuel rods situation in Skull Valley) trip to Turino" documentary on KUED. It included a clip of the good mayor gamely chugging up a pass in the alps on some road bike. It wasn't pretty and certainly didn't solidify the mayor's standing as a "cyclist mayor."

As I was watching the documentary, I did have two thoughts about Mayor Anderson. First off, kudos for getting on a roadie in the Alps with a camera rolling knowing that the ensuing footage would be less than flattering. Second, I was impressed with how well the Mayor interacted with young people. Not everyone has the knack for that and it appears that the Mayor does.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Reflections on the Utah County Republican Convention

First off, every high school in Utah needs a bagpipe and drum band. The Payson High Bagpipe and Drum band was simply amazing. It's comlpetely irrational, but I love live bagpipe music and it always makes me emotional. The first time I went to Edinburgh, I popped out of the train station and there was a guy busking with bagpipes for tourists. He was playing "Scotland the Brave", and I though "wow, what a stiring tribute to Joseph Smith--oh wait, that's Scotland the Brave" Plus we had some delicious fajita's at a mexican restaurant in Stirling so it was a good visit all round.

Second off, could the Utah County Republican Party please arrange for classrooms that are big enough for the House and Senate Caucases? I stood against the wall sort of sideways (to make room for other people standing) for all of both of my caucuses. Almost makes me want to be a Democrat. I would have to swallow some tough philosophy, but I am sure there'd be plenty of seating at the convention.

Third off, and this one is directed mostly at my fellow House caucus delegates, if Dr.Patti Harrington, the state superindendent of pubic instruction, walks into a room and has to stand for an hour and you are sitting in a seat, then you should get off your rear end and offer her a seat. There's no way you can make a public education official like Dr. Harrington stand in one of her own schools. I thought it was disrespectful.

Fourth off, many thanks to all the men and women in the armed services for allowing us to have a political convention without fear of violence or reprisal. I know how cheesy and trite that sounds, but I was at a funeral for a WWII veteran last week and the words "on behalf of a grateful nation" (which were said to his 75+ year old widow by an even older American Legionaire) and still stuck on my heart and brain. Thanks for being willing to put yourselves in harm's way on a moments notice on behalf of people you don't even know.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Utah County Republican Convention

You heard it here first, or second (depending on whether or not you read Utah Conservative and whether or not they post the results) ...

County Attorney Kay Bryson goes down to Buhman and Larson places a distant third. I think everyone there still respects Larson. That's a tough thing for him. He passionately believes in what he was doing and risked much to run.
Steve White retains county commission seat A without a primary.
Parley Hellewell looses w/out a Primary.

Jerry Grover will face Gary Anderson in a primary. This will be the most interesting primary in the county.
Jim Ferron will face Steve Sandstrom in a primary with Sandstrom ahead by 2% at the convention. This will be the second most interesting primary in Utah County.
Cary McConnell will face Bryan Thompson in a primary for Clerk/Auditor

You'll notice that I spoke as if winning the county convention is like winning the general election. That's because, in Utah County, it is. Some day the Democratic Party in Utah County will get its act together and produce a viable platform grounded in democratic principles. Until that day though (which I hope happens, but I'm not the one to do it because I don't believe enough Democratic Philosophy to make it happen), Utah County is a one party County and that's too bad.

In the end though, I got to say that Utah County is one conservative place. wow. At the U of Utah I felt like a close-minded John Birch-er. In that room I felt like moderate liberal democrat.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Skull Valley is a Bad Place for Nuclear Waste

I don't really have time to write this post, I really should be working on my paper for FMCAD, but Utah Policy is putting together a blogswarm on this topic. So if I miss tenure because this paper gets swatted into the cheap seats during peer review, then I'll get both a pay raise (by switching to a non-academic research job) and a safe, friendly West Desert. A true win-win situation.

KEUR has the best visual information on where the nuclear waste storage site will be and what it will look like. There are three reasons that nuclear waste should not be stored at Skull Valley.

First, Utah's West Desert is a beautiful place. If you've ever enjoyed the mathematical perfection of a desert sunrise, or you've watched a huge harvest moon rise in the east at exactly the same instant that the sun set in the west, or you've played with your kids on hardpan in the soft diffuse light of a desert sunset then you know what I mean. People who haven't been to the West Desert just don't get that. Storing more of the nation's garbage out there will ruin it a little more and eventually it will be gone. If you look at the KUED map, you can see that the West Desert contains it's fair share of the nation's waste. Let's let someone else have a turn.

Second, the Skull Valley Goshutes information page titled "Storage Problem" clearly states that "Many US nuclear reactors will exhaust reactor storage space by 1998. Without a storage or disposal facility, the viability of many of these plants is seriously in question." Well, 1998 came and went and the US power grid is still up and humming along. So either the Goshutes are using a different calendar than I am, or the 1998 crisis wasn't as bad as we thought itwould be and we don't need Skull Valley as bad as we thought we would. Let's leave the low-level nuclear waste where it is. It's safe to transport and store right? So let's just skip the transport step and just store it.

Third, we should turn it into a giant golf course for foreign tourists. That wasn't my idea, it was Scott Carrier's. Scott's onto something there. Lots of empty space, lots of jobs for local economy. And, the half-life of a biodegradable golf-ball in the West Desert is about 144 days and that's a lot shorter than the half-life of a spent nuclear fuel rod.

There may be other reasons not to store nuclear waste there. If you can think of them, then send them to Pam Schuller over at the BLM.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's already been 20 years since Chernobyl

[ - Chernobyl�agony felt 20 years on - Apr 24, 2006] And that makes me feel old because I was on a train to Leningrad on a Junior High field trip when the Chernobyl disaster happened. We found out about the disaster the next day on the radio in an English language broadcast in Leningrad. At the end of our trip, we flew back to Luxemburg and we had to stay on the airplane until a guy with a geiger counter checked us over.

Later that day, we returned to our Junior High at Ramstein Germany and they had a kind of triage thing set up in our gymnasium. They scraped dirt from our fingernails, asked us if we ate any seaford, waved Geiger counters over our shoes etc. I think they were trying to get a picture of how much radiation ended up in Leningrad on the dates we were there. The Commies weren't saying much about what happened and we were, apparently, important test subjects to get a picture of what was going on. Turns out that we were ok.

I am profoundly grateful that for me and my family the long term lasting impact of the Chernobyl disaster is that I can tell my kids about it. Many families in the Ukraine are not so fortunate.

I see that they are having a Conference on what can be learned from the disaster. I guess the big lesson would be "don't have a multi-national enviornmental disaster inside a closed country that won't tell the rest of the world what's going on"

Friday, April 21, 2006

Democracy in action?

This little gem comes from the SL Tribune: Salt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake Tribune Home Page: "Normally pragmatic, Utah Democrats try to avoid wasting time and money on the in-party fights that lead to primary elections. But party leaders obviously didn't succeed in discouraging everyone from running against hand-picked favorites. "

So um, the Democratic party avoids that whole pesky representative democracy thing and just has a central committee hand pick their candidates for office? Nice. Sounds like a Communist Party election back in the USSR.

It's in the Tribune, so it must be true.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Senator Hatch running unaffiliated?

The world according to Bob Aagard points at that Hatch's party affiliation is left blank on his declaration of candidacy. [see The World, According To Me: Hatch = No Party Affiliation?].

Hmm. I suppose that's a strike in favor of the gentleman from Utah. While I identify more with the Republican party than I do the Democratic, I find strident conservatism in the Republican party tough to stomach sometimes. The farther Hatch is from that the better. I should add for completeness that I find strident liberalism or progressivism in the Democratic party so unappealing that I am a Republican.

In the end, I bet it is much ado about nothing. A clerical error easily fixed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lunch with Senator Hatch

So I had lunch with Orrin Hatch this afternoon. Well, I and about 40 other state convention delegates had lunch with Orrin Hatch this afternoon but it sounds cooler if I say it the other way.

It was interesting. When I shook his hand I was surprised at rough his skin is. It was like shaking hands with a farmer. Either he's not used to the dry air in Utah anymore or the guy just works hard. I think he just works hard.

During the question and answer part I was impressed with his compassion on the DREAM act that allows states to give in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants, I was happy to see that he's a lot less strident than the average Utah County Conservative, I was impressed by how technology illiterate he sounded and I was impressed by how well he understood how to make things work in the Senate.

I did ask about digital copyright and the flow of information on the internet. His answer on digital copyright centered on protecting copyrights overseas. He didn't get back around to the flow of information on the internet, but I weaseled in another question about NSF funding which I think threw him off. He did say that I should contact his office if I thought they could help me land some NSF funding. Sweet!

Overall, I was very favorably impressed. The guy's not a technocrat but he seems to be a fine senator. Most of all, I am glad that he's not a far right wing conservative. He seems moderate, compassionate and conservative.

Pete Ashdown's giving a talk tonight at BYU. I need to go to that and get an impression of Pete's personality and where he stands on all kinds of issues.

My short political career so far has taught me that it's important to meet the candidates and get to know their personalities.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A bridge too far: The skybridge downtown

The LDS church's plans for the downtown mall rennovation project specifically include a skybridge. Rocky's thoughts about the downtown project have specifically excluded a skybridge from the beginning. Should be interesting.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Curtis Larson: running for Utah County Attorney

Now that I'm a delegate to the county and state convension, I get all this mail and stuff about the candidates.

So Curtis Larson stopped by the house today (between conference sessions, of course, a nice touch). And outlined some of the issues in the race. [ Curtis Larson for Utah County Attorney homepage]. First off, he looks a lot more distinguished and qualified in person than in the campaign pictures. The guy looks like a statesman, and that's a good start. I also noted from Curtis' biography that he could run a sub 6:00 mile well into his 40's. Wow. I ran a 6:00 minute mile once about 4 years ago and I thought I was going to die. As a distance runner, that might be just enough.

It turns out that there's been some turmoil in the family life of the current Utah County Attorney and The Daily Herald isn't a big fan of the current guy either.

The Utahania editorial board isn't ready to make a formal endorsement yet, but we are working on it...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Scout Canyoneering Trip on which Nothing Bad Happened

We too the Varsity Scouts through Ding and Dang canyons near Little Wild Horse canyon last weekend. We set up a rappel in Dang canyon and encountered three water pockets in Dang canyon that we weren't expecting. Although we got home three or so hours later than planned, no scouts were injured, mained or hurt on the entire trip.

We did Ding and Dang counter clockwise. The rappel is optional, the ledge system around the dry fall is quite safe. The water obstacles were tricky but Varsity Scouts with competent adult leadership can get through it with some coaching. Be careful with shorter scouts because they may not be able to wedge into and across the water puddles through the narrows. This is a more adventurous and less crowded alternative to Little Wild Horse and Bell canyons. Though Little Wild Horse is still more beautiful.

Why the BCS is bad for college football.

Four teams are still alive in the NCAA basketball tournament. The basketball selection committee picked 8 teams with 1 or 2 seeds and of those 8 teams, only 2 are still playing. Of the 4 top seeded teams, 0 still have a chance to win the championship. An 11 seed, George Mason, beat a 1 seed and still might with the national championship.

That's not meant to demean the selection committee, nobody expects the selection committee to actually predict who will win the tournament. That's why they play the games.

Well, except in football. And that's why the BCS is bad for college football.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Should Have Made my Wife go Instead

I went to my Caucus meeting last night. It was a fascinating experience to see my neighbors in a political setting rather than just at church or around the neighborhood. I am fortunate to live in a solid neighborhood.

But I should have made my wife go instead because she would have had the good sense to not get elected as precinct chair. My Republican neighbors were undeterred by the facts that this was my first precinct caucus and that I currently support the Democratic candidate for the upcoming Senate race (though I will talk to the other Rebuplican candidates for Senate). If she would just quit laughing at me, then I'd feel a little better about the whole thing.

I was surprised to find that I have some opinions about state and local government and I'm genuinely excited to push my agenda to the extent possible as a precinct chair.

The highlight of the evening, however, was listening to Debbie Taylor, who is on the Alpine District School board and a newly elected county convention representative from our precinct (Orem's 37th Precinct, the Fightin' 37th), talk about working with various state legislators during the last session. It was a compelling lesson in civics and local politics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Clarification about that Scout Ski Touring Trip

A couple people wondered if that was me in that previous picture. I am flattered but, no, that wasn't me, but it was Steve Frandsen our assistant varsity coach. And he really did get that high on free heel skis. Just for comparision, here's me on the same jump from the same angle with the same guy in the red hat standing in the same place in the background. What you don't see in the picture is how I succesfully used my knees to absorb the jump rather than actually going in the air. I am not comfortable in the air.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Do you need to unpimp deine auto?

If so, consider buying this 2001 black VW Jetta on ebay. My friend's sister needs to sell it and it is located on the Wasatch front which means that you might just get a good price on it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Scout Ski Touring Trip on which Nothing Bad Happened

We took the scouts skiing up by Strawberry this weekend. Nobody (not even the adult leader in the above photo) was injured, killed or lost during the entire trip.

Friday, March 10, 2006

How to Campaign for Pete Ashdown in Utah County

The proper method would be:

  1. Get an old beater American-made truck. Uglier the better.
  2. Get some kind of Republican bumper sticker. This will be easier ethically if you vote Republican most of the time. Avoid Orrin Hatch stickers
  3. Get a Pete Ashdown bumper sticker (thanks Pete! We also put one on our bike trailer in which we haul our twins around, family values count down here)
  4. Place them in close proximity on a bumper. See picture on right. I thought Peter's on the left and the Republican one on the right made the most sense.

If I see it a again, I'll get a picture of a Japanese made car in the BYU faculty parking lot that demonstrates how NOT to campaign for Ashdown in Utah County.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Global Cooling has begun and it all started in Utah

I know that because the average temperature for Salt Lake City in February 2006 was full degree cooler than average. The NWS report writer even said "cool with above normal snowfall ... for a change" Looks like the global warming thing was just a fad after all. I am going to spray some old cans of CFC laden spray paint into the air to celebrate and maybe I'll puncture some freon storage lines on old refrigerators if my global cooling party gets crazy enough.

[see National Weather Service - NWS Salt Lake City ]

Yes to IKEA, no to DI? I don't know, but yes to Curtis Ravsten.

Utah Centralist points out that Draper is eager for a new IKEA, but not a new Deseret Industries. Fascinating decision. So they'd rather have Volvo station wagons and Subaru Outbacks cluttering up their roads than DI trucks driving around with humanitarian supplies. I suppose that large blue and yellow IKEA trucks are ok. It's just those DI trucks that are annoying.

Hopefully, DI and LDS Humanitarian Services will be able to roll their big trucks into Draper during the year when those annual mud slides on Traverse Mountain finally get bad enough to merit more than just channels 2/4/5/13 rolling their news trucks in to cover the story.

We need more people like Curtis Ravsten in our society. He is the director of DIs. When a reported breathlessly asked him (I am making this up) "Draper doesn't want you! What are you going to do about it?!" He replied, according to the Trib, "We just need to take a look at what the language [of the ordinance] is and see if we can be a service to this community," said Curtis Ravsten, director of DIs. "We hope to be able to work with the city." Wow. A reasoned answer in which the speaker was slow to anger and quick to see what good he could do. Fascinating, rare and wonderful.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Housing costs rising, not neccesarily a good thing.

Utah Centrist points out that rising housing costs are not neccesarily a good thing for the average Joe.

Indeed, the wife and I have figured that out for ourselves. We currently live in our first house. Let's say our current house is valued a X dollars and that someday we want to move into a nicer house with present value Y where Y > X. If housing prices go up 20% a year (uniformly across present house values) then the future value of Y minus the future value of X will be greater than the present value of Y minus the present value of X. What that means is that, everything else being the same, we will be even less likely to afford the nicer house than we are now if housing prices continue to rise.

So for a long time now we've been hoping that housing prices would fall or stay flat in Utah. Which it looks like the finally aren't :(

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Minions of Satan Force Utah's Crazy Eddie out Bussiness

KSL reports Utah's version of Crazy Eddie, Dell Schanze (or however you spell that), has thrown in the towel at Totally Awesome computers. Super Dell says that the Satanically inspired murderers that we call "the media" has forced him out of bussiness. Super Dell says we are supposed to pray for them too so that they can repent before they die.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ever wondered what a Catholic BYU Chemistry Professor would say about evolution in a BYU devotional?

Well, now you can find out by reading or listing to Prof. Juliana Borero-Goates recent Maeser Distinguished Faculty award lecture.

The first 35 or so minutes are pretty good description of a bunch of chemistry. If you are into that kind of thing you'll probably enjoy it.

But, the last 10 minutes are fascinating discussion of evolution and intelligent design mixed with quotes from Catholic and LDS leaders. The take home point is that people on both sides of the arguement should show a litle more humility, we shouldn't draw boxes around God and say he did or did not do certain things and I think she was adamantly against Sen. Buttars bill because it creates a false dichotomy.

Visiting Moab in February with 2 year olds

The net contains surprisingly little information on the topic of traveling with small children. In an effort to correct that problem, here's how we wish we'd visited Moab for a three day weeked in February with our 2 year old twins.

Where to stay: Stay at the Holiday Inn Express north of town. It gets dark around 6pm and the indoor pool is an ideal place to play with the kids after sunset. It isn't the cheapest place in town but having something to do after 6pm is worth the money.

A note about the desert environment: That National Parks around Moab see many many visitors and are rightly concerned about protecting the critical parts of the fragile desert ecosystem. I wasn't sure how well my two year olds would respond to "stay of that sand" and "don't touch the dirt in the water holes" on top of the slickrock. But to my surprise, they responded remarkably well. One of them still asks which sand is the special sand when we look at pictures from our vacation.

What to bring: Warm clothes for the kids. It will be cold. About 40-50 degress plus wind most likely. We had two-layer coats, ski hats, gloves and extra fleece hats for the kids. We used all of it many times. We also brought some floppy sun hats for them and used those as well. Toys for playing in the sand much like you might bring to the beach (but be careful to play in the right sand).

Where to go:
Sand Flats campground. A picnic in one of the many empty campsites including playing in the non-ecologically sensitive sand while running around on slickrock is ideal.
The BLM "campground" across the road from the Newspaper rock rock art panel on the way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The campground was 90% empty with a stream at the bottom of the ravine. If you work your way down at the west end of the site you can walk right down to the stream and, of course, play in the non-ecologically sensitive sand some more.
Park Avenue Trail in Arches NP We packed our girls down the Park Avenue Trail in their Kelty baby carriers. About 1/2 way in they wanted to walk and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll down the wash bottom while allowing our 2 year olds to friction climb on the slickrock obstacles. They picked up very well. About 3/4 of the way down, I ran back up the trail, got the car, drove to the end and then ran back to the family. So I got my trail run in and saved carrying the girls back out.
Picnic Area in the Needles District of Canyonlands NP While we were a little sceptical of a picnic area right next to a road, we were a little surprised when three (3) cars drove by in the 1.5 hours we spent there. About 2 miles from the picnic area is, literally, the end of the road.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Reflections after getting hit by a drunk driver

We had the good fortune of getting hit by a drunk driver last friday night in an accident in which nobody was hurt. As I try not be vindictive about the whole thing (he didn't stop and it has been a monumental hassle to get the car fixed), I have a different attitude about beer commercials and DUI laws.

It is an interesting thing to juxtapose the happy prancing horses pulling beautiful carriages loaded with beer through pristine meadows or some guy walking through a crisp cold alpine forest in Colorado with the scene of our family stading on the sidewalk holding our daughters waiting for the police to come in the cold. As we stood there, there were no cute talking frogs, no well-dressed (but casual) nth generation beer makers, no clydesdales. It would seem that the idealized reality of a beer commercial is far removed from the hassle inconvenience and toddler-trauma of a drunk guy hitting our car and fleeing the scene. I can image how much worse it would be if someone in my family had actually been hurt. Maybe we should make Beer company execs attend at least one funeral for a DUI car accident fatality each year. Just to help them keep perspective.

So that leaves me advocating extremely tough DUI laws, but only in the sense that one should loose the privelige of driving with a DUI conviction. First conviction = 1 year w/out a license. Second conviction or driving during the first year = 3 years w/out a license. Third conviction or driving the during the three year suspension = lifetime ban. Driving during lifetime ban = not sure what.

And that in turn leaves me in the even more awkward position of trying to figure out how to read President Hinckley's LDS General Conference talk from last October and not feeling like exactly one of hte people that might need to change their attitude. It's not like some kid threw a frozen turkey through my windshield thus destroying my face or anything. Yet I am more vindictive already than the person in that story.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Saw this one too.

I happened to see the police and medical response to this one while I was preparing for class friday morning: BYU NewsNet - BYU Motorcyclist in Fair Condition. I couldn't see much of it because there was a tree blocking my view, but I did see a policeman get the white sheet out of the back of his cruiser. Glad this wasn't a fatality accident and hope that Ryan makes a full recovery! That makes 2 accidents I've seen in the past 2 weeks. Plus we got rear-ended friday night in Orem (just a fender bender but the other driver fled the scene and was caught later, what a hassle for us). Hopefully that will be it for a while.

Friday, February 24, 2006

So that explains it, and KSL got it right

I had wondered if the fatality in Rock Canyon was indeed in Rock Canyon because there was obviously something going on at the Y mountain trailhead Wednesday night. Turns out that there was a lost hiker at Y Mountain Wednesday night and fatality in Rock Canyon as well.

When climbing Y mountain it is important to take the second draw to the north after slide canyon and not the first. There used to be a tipped over Aspen tree at the correct turn off. If you take the first draw to the north then you end up in what the DesNews calls "a steep area of the mountain". Basically it is the cliffs above the Y.

And, when climbing the north side of Rock Canyon it is important to use ropes.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rock Canyon or Slide Canyon?

We saw tons of lights from Emergency Response vehicles at the Y mountain trailhead last night as we scurried back to our car from the Marriot Center toward the end of the BYU game (had to get the babysitter home). I wonder if that is the same incident as this one reported in the desnews. If so, that would put the incident at Slide Canyon and/or the cliffs above the Y rather than Rock Canyon.

[A quick check of the Provo Daily Herald online gets no response from their server and a quick check BYU's Daily Universe won't be useful for another couple of days. They tend to be a little slow. A quick search of the Utah County Sheriff's office web pages revealed this cool story about an old rare tree by the County admin building but nothing about the incident]

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Orem Utah Medal Count Update

As of Tuesday the 22nd, the medal count for Orem is at 1 silver (S. Rohbock in Women's 2-person bobsled). That ties us with Great Britain, Bulgaria and Slovakia and just ahead of Latvia but well behind Park City.

Winning the World Leadership Award costs 3,000 pounds this year

As it clearly states on the entry form for 2006, if you get shortlisted then you have to pay a fee of 3,000 quid to cover the judges' expenses to come and pick between the three shortlisted cities. It also looks like the awards have a self-nomination process.

So two questions: first, did short-listed cities have to pay the fee last year when SLC won? second, if so, who paid it?

I don't want to mitigate Mayer Anderson's award too much, but I am skeptical of awards that (1) require a fee to win (2) use self-nomination. This sounds to me like the "join the Who's Who list" ads that one used to get coming out of High School. You pay a fee and get yourself listed in a book with other people who paid the fee. In this case, three cities pay the fee and one gets to be listed in the book.

Still, this is a non-trivial award in which the city of Salt Lake City (to use the IOC phrasing in honor of the Olympics this week) beat at least _2_ other cities to win, and maybe more cities applied, but the numbers aren't available.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Utah Stamp

Looks like Tom Till got himself a stamp: - Utah's Online Source for Local News & Information New Stamp Features Bryce Canyon. I wonder if professional landscape photographers look at getting a picture on a stamp as a good thing or an annoying thing? I thought about being a professional landscape photographer but then I discovered that I am good at it but not _that_ good at it and that I can make more money in less time doing other things. Someday when my kids are older I will get back into it. Right now, telling my 2 year olds to "wait here 3 hours in the cold while Daddy waits for the sun to get in the right spot" sort of spoils family outings. Besides, photographing my own cute children is plenty enjoyable as it is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Solving the LDS obesity problem

You may recall Jamie Pierre skiis off cliffs as a way to witness his faith. I think a lot less Mormons would be obese if we bore testimony not only by waddling up to the microphone but also by skiing of cliffs and other extreme sports. Think about the cultural shift that would happen in parts of Utah if one's devotion were measured by how fast one could run the Wasatch 100.

Also, I think the author misses the point on why Mormons tend to be obese. The problem isn't comfort foods at funerals, the problem is that once a person gets done doing their calling, going home teaching and raising a family then there just isn't alot of time left to work out. And there certainly isn't a lot of time left to work on being an avid your-favorite-past-time-here. Besides, one can not reach the levels of obesity that one might see at the LDS ward house by simply eating funeral potatoes 3 times a year.

Fortunately for me, my calling associates me with 14 and 15 year old young men and keeping up with them keeps me in shape. Once I tried to race one of them up a hill at camp. He's on the Waterford Lacrosse and Basketball teams. I run half marathons. Even race? Not even close. Not only did I cause extreme pain in my wind pipe sucking wind but I also lost the race by a wide margin. He didn't even have the decency to act out of breath.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Snow Caving: does it work and how do you build one?

We took the varisity scouts snow caving last night as Apsen Grove. There were at least 3 other scout groups there as it got dark (and only two or three including us in the morning). (To my knowledge, no scouts were lost, injured, killed or mained in any of the groups this weekend. )

Building a snow cave is simple but time consuming. Before we went snow caving, we went up and piled our snow so that it could consolidate for a few days. Life happened and we had to delay a week. So we actually let it settle for 1.5 weeks. We made our snow pile in a tree well so that we could start the entrance well below the top of the mound. The trick to the entrance is to make it as small as possible (we could crawl through it) and make it slope up into the cave to trap warm air inside. After carving the entrance, start working on the chamber. We used a cheap plastic walmart type tobogan sled to muck out the snow. That was a good idea. We also used an electric light to light the cave during digging. Ideally, the cave will be dug while its still light out so that one can use the sunlight to guage the thickness of the walls. The walls and cieling should be thin enough that you can barely see sunlight shining though (too thin = cold, too thick = collapse risk). In the dark, we just used a flashlight to gauge thickness. You'll have to turn on the inside light to guage the thickness, but the way. We used an avalanche shovel to dig. That was perfect.

It's probably a good idea to bring a pair of clothes to wear while digging because you'll get sweaty and covered with snow during the process. Once the cave is done and you are inside, its just a matter of spreading out the sleeping stuff and calling it a night. We stayed above 25 at night even though it got down to 6 outside. I was surprised. It actually works and that was one of the best nights I've spent sleeping in the winter.

This trip was the second time that I've had my snot freeze as it dripped from my nose (my nose runs clear and slow at about 25 degrees). The scouts thought that my snotcicle was cool, as did I. The other time was XC skiing out to Doughnut falls back when that was allowed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Best new Utah-related photoblog for 2006

This guy Adam Bateman is working on a photoblog that, well, it has pictures of icons that form part of the Utah identity. And there's a bunch of "art project" mumbo jumbo that I didn't understand. But I like the idea and think it is a fascinating new Utah blog. See: Utah/Mormon Identity. It is heavily biased toward the Utah-Mormon identity, but you can probably figure that our yourself.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Yet another brush with something in the news

I drove by this accident at 4:02 pm today. There were not yet any public safety people on the scene. There were quite a few people wandering around with very worried looks on their faces. I guess I know why. I did whip out the old cell phone and dialed 911 in an abundance of caution, but dialed the wrong number.

A now famous plane I've flown in

would be the Diamond DA-20 out at Salt Lake Airport #2. Turns out that some guy tried to steal it. This was also the first "glass cockpit" plane I've flown. If you fly it without looking out the windows, its just like a video game (except turning hard in the real plane is very different than turning hard in a video game). My Dad took my on a flight in the plane "in the name of research" to see if we could get some insight on avionics software verification problems by taking one for a spin. We didn't, but it was a fun flight.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A theater outside of Utah that did not show Brokeback Mountain

Would be Kersotes Theaters in Terre Haute
  • . Oh the outrage, the horror and the intollerance! Makes you wonder why this didn't make CNN international? Will this hurt tourism in Terre Haute?
  • Monday, January 30, 2006

    A Day in Phil's Life in Antartica

    Phil Jacobsen is a writer from Salt Lake City for the City Weekly amung other things. My earliest memory of meeting Phil was when we met in an LDS meeting house lobby in Montgommery Alabama while he was home from BYU for a break. I think he had a pink mohawk at the time.

    Anyway, my sister went on to marry Phil's brother and Phil went on the spend lots of time in Antartica. He's there now and here's the pictures to prove it...

    Phil Jacobsen: Day In Photos

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    Skiing off cliffs as a way to bear testimony

    This Jamie Pierre guy, from SLC, is really onto something. According to the desnews, he skiied off 245 foot cliff as a way to "open up doors so I could witness my faith in Christianity" (note to Mormons: in the rest of the Christain world "witnessing" is what you might call "bearing your testimony").

    Imagine how Pierre's idea could liven up the Elder's quorum meeting in your local world. Instead of collecting data about home teaching visits, the quorum president would stand up and cajole everyone into "grabbing knarly air off a bigger and bigger cliff" as a way to bear testimony. Fascinating.

    Unfortuantely for Pierre, he couldn't keep his skiis under him during the 4 seconds of air time and landed upside down forming a 6 foot deep crater with his head. I laid-out off a 4 foot bank to catch a frisbee once and made about a 1 foot crater. My testimony isn't strong enough for much more.

    Nice work Pierre and message recieved at Utahania.

    Rocky Anderson: King of all Media?

    Rocky's letter to the DesNews will appear soon in this spot. Meanwhile, I was minding my own bussiness listening to Jack FM the other Friday night when Rocky Anderson was the guest DJ or some such thing. That was a shock to the system. I liked it better when Rocky confined himself to print media and political radio. Please no more! Even worse, the Rock and I have very different tastes in music.

    Friday, January 27, 2006

    The farce that is mass transit within Utah County

    Gary Thornock mentions that Utah county is exploring mass transit options that my not involve UTA [Gary Thornock's Weblog � Utah County exploring transit options].

    How bad is it? For me to ride the bus to work, I would walk 1/2 a block to the bus stop near my house, so far so good. Catch the bus to University Mall. Transfer. Take the next bus to the Wilkenson Center and walk across campus. Assuming that all busses are running on time, that would take about 45 minutes.

    I often ride my bike into work in the summer and the fastest trip so far took me 28 minutes on the bike (I am a time/pace/speed freak, so I watch these things very closely). That day I averaged 17.2 mph. The first ride of the summer is usually at around 14.0 mph and around 35 minutes).

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Rival IVF clinics in Utah

    The recent suspension of Dr. Larry Andrew's license has sparked up a bit of a debate about in vitro fertilization in Utah over at the Daily Heralds. The interesting wrinkle in the debate is that there are two main clinics, one in Springville and one at the U of Utah. The one in Springville is/was run by Dr. Andrew and was not board certified. The one at the U of U is. The one in Springville is two guys doing their work and the one in U of U is more like an establishment scientific facility with lots of Drs interns and journal articels. The debate is an interesting look into the world of hi-tech, high-cost and low success rate infertility treatments (mixed in with a million posts in support of Dr. Andrew)

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Intelligent Design in Utah, most Utahns won't like it

    In what could be the first insighful editorial I've ever read in BYU's Daily Universe, Shawn Curtis voices his support for the decision against intelligent design. Then makes this point "Mormons in Utah are often willing to allow religion to enter the public domain because we are in the majority. Remember that if we allow people like the Dover School Board to endorse religion, the beliefs portrayed will seldom be your own."

    Shawn is right. Mormonism while oppresive and dominant in Utah (I'm told, it seems fine to me) is so far into the Christian religious minority in the US that some people don't even know what it is.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Hoping for the best

    Hopefully the Stardust SRC reentry thing won't land 111.71 miles long because if it does then it might hit my house. It looks like it will land 20-60 miles south of I-80. [see HYPERSEED: Hypervelocity reentries and deposition of organics in large meteors at NASA]

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    I am boycotting Jordan Commons too and Larry's other stuff (except Miller Field at BYU)

    But only because I don't go to the movies any more (twins will do that to a person and I am fundamentally cheap) and I don't do restaurants where the cliff divers are the main attraction.

    Best post on the Brokebake flap was over at SLCspin. What's worse an artsy movie about gay cowboys or an insipid bad soap opera movie about LDS pioneers?

    I suppose I am boycotting the car dealerships too because I am too cheap to buy a new car (unless it is a mid-range Hyundai). And I guess I am boycotting the Jazz as well because I went to a Jazz game once and the tickets cost more than my tickets for BYU. Except the Jazz players weren't as into it and the seats were high enough to see the ladder on top of the jumbotron.

    Turns out that SLCspin covered that angle too. I've been in South Carolina all week. Weather was nice, but the flatness was starting to get me down after only 3 days. I didn't realize how bad the Katrina thing was until the pizza delivery guy had a strong New Orleans accent.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Jordan Commons is Utah's Moral Compass

    Or at least that's the impression you might get from reading More Utah "morality" over at the Casserole Bar. That's a nice piece of generalization. Good work.

    Oh that felt good.

    For the first time in who knows how long, a BYU team beat a Utah team at something. Football, basketball, women's volleyball, women's soccer, you name it and Utah has beaten BYU in it over the last 2 years.

    There were about 5 minutes left in the second half of today's basketball game when it occured to the Utahania editorial board (mostly just the wife and I ) that Utah might loose, to BYU, in Provo. It appeared that there were only minimal incidents between stupid BYU and Utah fans and that was nice too.

    It felt so good that it makes #5 on the Utahania all-time favorite in-perseon sporting events. Some people go see the symphony, we go see sports. The list is now:

    1. BYU over Wyoming for the MWC championship in overtime in Las Vegas.
    2. Apollo Anton Ohno gets blocked or whatever it is to win a gold medal in short track speed skating at the SLC Olympics.
    3. Every BYU men's volleyball win over UCLA, Stanford or Hawaii in the fieldhouse in the late 90's.
    4. BYU and Luke Stahli beat Utah in Edwards stadium in a thriller.
    **5. BYU beats Utah in the Marriott Center to break the drought in 2006.
    6. US Men's national team beats some no name Central American Team at Rice-Eccles (our first and only trip to Rice-Eccles as well).
    7. BYU football shuts out the vaunted Rice option offense in Provo.
    8. BYU baseball player hits for a perfect cycle at Miller field.
    9. Timpanogos High School Freshman football team closes out an undefeated season in a cold dark downpour in a game that came down to the final play.
    10. BYU beats USU in Logan. Aggie fans proved to be amazingly classless in an embarassing loss.
    dropped from list: Lots of XC skiiing, spandex, dried spit and snow at soldier hollow for the biathlon in the SLC olympics.

    Best summer ever on 1600 North Orem

    Because the fine city of Orem is planning to completely close portions of 1600 North for two months at a time for resurfacing, utilities and etc. Ah the quiet of a summer's evening along the North Union Canal (after the construction people are done for the day of course) will be ours this year. There is an open house January 17 at Orem Senior Friendship Bldg on 93 North 400 E from 530 to 830 pm to discuss the plans. There's a schedule for when you should go based on where you live but then it says go whenver you find it convenient, so I'd say just show up.

    Visit the Orem City Transportation Forumfor more information on other projects in Orem, but not this one. Email Orem's Transportation Engineer to let them know what you think of their busy yet uninformative web page.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Why there needs to be a college football playoff

    First off, because no Utah team will ever play for a national championship under the current set up.

    Second off, the BCS rankings aren't that good. The BCS rankings correctly predicted the outcomes of only 8 out of 16 teams in the top 16 (I picked 16 because that would be a 4 level tournament, if we go top 8 for a three round tournament then the BCS comes in sub-500). But the BCS masters will tweak the rankings and see what happens next year. I got to say though, the national title game this year was outstanding.

    1. USC lost to #2 Texas [BCS fails]
    2. Texas beat #3 USC [BCS fails]
    3. Penn State beat #22 FSU [BCS correct]
    4. Ohio State beat Notre Dame [BCS correct]
    5. Oregon lost to #23 Oklahoma [BCS fails]
    6. Notre Dame lost to #4 Ohio State. [BCS correct]
    7. Geogia lost to #11 West Virgina [BCS fails]
    8. Miami lost to #12 LSU [BCS fails]
    9. Auburn lost to Wisconson [BCS fails]
    10. Virginia Tech beat #19 Louisville [BCS correct]
    11. West Virginia beats #7 Georgia [BCS fails]
    12. LSU beat #8 Miami [BCS fails]
    13. Alabama beat #15 Texas Tech [BCS correct]
    14. TCU beat Iowa State [BCS correct]
    15. Texas Tech lost to #13 Alabama [BCS correct]

    [ - NCF - College Football Rankings]

    USATF - Utah's Running Routes - Search Results

    The US Track and Field group keeps a database of running routes in the US. The routes in Utah are somewhat sparse but I hope they'll fill in as awareness grows. The database includes a line segment laid over a google map so you can get a rough idea of where the route goes. Not adequate for backcountry trail runs but even then one gets enough of an idea to find the run on a more detailed map.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Jumping into the Evoluion and Intelligent Design Fight

    I've been stewing on this topic for a while and finally wrote my thoughts down as a comment on The Senate Site: Bill Text: Curriculum and policy on theories relating to the origins of life.

    It took me so long to write the thing that I thought I'd better get some more milage out of it, so here it is. You should probably make comments over at the Senate Site to be part of that forum instead.

    Props to Senator Buttars for proposing a bill that he feels strongly about. I like to see politicians acting on their principles. However, I think the bill is a bad idea for two reasons.

    First, the biggest problem with the bill is that forced combinations of science and religion cheapen science and weaking religion. Let us resolve to teach science in science class and religion in religion classes (or even better at home!). The religious scientists that I know and have read about have a remarkable amount of personal humility which allows them live with unanswered questions about both religion and science.

    Steve Urquhart has an insightful letter from a real scientist on this topic at his self-titled blog.

    Second, looking more directly at the text of the bill, the problem with the bill is that the fact that not all scientists agree on a thing is not surprising. Oddly, top-flight scientists are just normal people. Like normal people, many different scientists have many different opinions on many different things. When a non-expert attempts to make judgements about the validity of a scientific theory, the non-expert is well advised to stick with the mainstream. Just because a scientist has an opinion about a topic in that scientist's area of expertise does not make that opinion correct or even accepted.

    If we follow the logic of Sen. Buttars bill, then we should also teach different theories about, well, just about everything. So we should have a bill that requires teaching Stephen Jones at BYU (no less) thinks that the WTC was brought down by internal charges. Other scientists think that it was brought down by the fires caused by two large airplanes. Try reading the bill with "origins of life" replaced by "destruction of the WTC".

    And we should teach Linus Pauling's ideas on vitamins as a treatment for psychological illnesses in psychology class. And we should think about teaching William Shockley's ideas on eugenics in social studies.

    An appeal to pure logic doesn't work to resolve these differences of opinion because pure logic is surprisingly un-useful in answering questions about the real world. The problem is that when connecting logic to the real world it is difficult to agree on what the axioms should be. Even worse, pure logic isn't that good about reasoning about pure logic--even though the axioms are completely artificial.

    I think the one redeeming quality of this bill is that a future version of the bill may drop all the origins of life language and simply require that students be taught that not all scientists agree on lots of different and important topics.

    Another Reason to Live in Eagle Mountain

    would be easy access to the Jordan River Parkway. I've always felt kind of smug because I live near the Orem section of the Bonneville shoreline trail and the Provo Canyon part of the Provo River trail. And those are nice trails, in the summer. But I did a 5 mile jog on the Jordan River trail yesterday and saw so many birds that I wished I were an ornithologist so I could name some fraction of them. The view to the East of the Wasatch Front was inspiring even with my high heart rate and tendonitis pain.

    I saw 0 other people during my journey. I felt miserable the whole time though (except for a brief span near the end) but I think that is due to my fitness level rather than the trail.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    Fun in the snow!

    So the wet windy snow over the holiday weekend brought us one avalanche fatality, one stranded snow boarder from Califorina ("we waited for him for like 40 minutes man!" before leaving said his cousins). Some number of lost snow mobilers and another avalance incident in SL County. Wow. Let's try to be a little more careful out there people.

    A guy I know was lost for a few days in the Uintah's in a snowmobiling incident. It is interesting to talk to him about it because the seriousness of the incident unfolded so slowly that they make bad decisions from the begining. The odd thing is that they didn't know they were in a full-on epic survival situation until they'd already made all their bad decisions (like leaving their sleds and trying to hike out, etc).