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.